Who needs insurance for their horse?

Who needs insurance for their horse? This is the question that I asked and insurance agent. What do you think he said?

I was expecting him to say “everyone” but to my surprise he didn’t.  His answer was, “If you can’t write a check to replace the horse, then you should consider insurance.”

Hum, this sounded a lot like the training I had received about insurance when I took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class. And it was fairly similar to advice I have given over the years.

I have never, personally, insured a horse…but I have recommended that other people do. Why the difference?

The last person I helped walk through this decision was a lady who had been saving up to buy a really nice reining horse for several years. She purchased a horse that was ready to show for about $20,000. What she had purchased was a sane, sound and ready to show horse that had several years of training with a professional. She had also purchased a friendly, kind horse that was a joy to be around. Insurance would not be able to help her through the pain of losing her horse but it would give her the ability to purchase one trained to the same level again.

The most valuable horse I have personally owned was my stallion, Vaquero. I purchased him when he was three and he died at the age of six. I had considered insuring him but I chose not to. My reasoning was that I could not walk out and buy another one that was trained to his same level. If something were to happen to Vaquero then I knew I would be starting from scratch with another horse and would be investing years in training. Essentially, I could have insured him for his ‘raw’ value, the untrained value, but either way I was going to be putting in the time again.

I had no idea that I would lose Vaquero so young. He died in 2012 and I just now –almost -have a horse trained to that level again. Although I didn’t have insurance I did have the ‘next’ horse already standing in the barn, Newt. Insurance would have paid me for my time but nothing can help me know if the horse I am investing my time in will ever reach bridleless competition level.

Do I regret not having Vaquero insured? Yes…and no. The money would have helped pay for the vet bills that I ran up trying to save him and it would have given me the opportunity to possibly purchase another young prospect. But, there was one moment where I was very happy NOT to have insurance.

THE FOLLOWING is not a reason to skip insuring…but I do wish I had been more emotionally prepared.

When things were looking really bad for Vaquero and we were at the vets they have to try to tell you how bad it is. One of the ways they tell you is they will say, “Insurance company guidelines will allow…” and this makes sense. You don’t want vets declaring horses beyond saving…if they really aren’t. But when the vets told me that, had Vaquero been insured, the insurance company would have approved euthanizing…I remember feeling conflicted. There was a moment where I was glad that he wasn’t insured because I WANTED the feeling of loss and I didn’t want a feeling of gain. I didn’t want to wonder why I made the choice.

In hindsight this was a very emotional reaction at a very emotional time, but I am still thankful that I experienced it. I know I made the choice I would have made either way. Maybe in the future I will have an insured horse and will have to make the same decision again. I really hope I’m NEVER in that situation again though. Maybe it will benefit someone who reads this though. From my experience when the vets say it is this bad…it is bad.

The majority of horses that I have had in training over the years have not been insured. Do you have your horses insured? If so, what are they insured against?

*               *                 *

Vaquero after his second trip to the vet, just before his last trip to the vet.

Vaquero six months earlier.

For the rest of Vaquero’s blogs:


  1. Joyce Pickering on December 19, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Stacy, how do you get over the grief of losing your beloved horses?. Roxy & Vaquero. I lost my Paint gelding, Boo, last year. I had to put him down on Christmas day. The closer it gets to Christmas the more emotional I get. I am in tears as I am writing this. I miss him so much. In July my Paint mare Montana collicked and I had to have her put down. I raised both of them from babies and it has been really hard for me. I am riding again but I still miss them so much.

  2. Paulina on December 17, 2014 at 2:41 am

    I have my horse insured. If I were to lose him I could never afford to replace him without it. I also couldn’t afford the vet bills if something major happened. This way I know I can afford the excess for the vet bills and eventually would replace him but after all we’ve gone through together …. it would take awhile.

  3. Joe Edwards on December 16, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Yes, and to date, the insurance company hasn’t paid a penny for the horses that died accidentally. The insurance company? American Family Insurance. The last one slipped on ice and impaled herself on a sharp stump and it broke off in her gut. They said this wasn’t an accident. So, was it a suicide? They informed me that the cause of death had to include farm equipment, like a bale fork. At that point I hope they’ve made their peace with GOD, death awaits them

  4. Linda Smith on December 16, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Yes I had it on my last horse and the insurance covered all his meds and xrays and when he had to be put down I got full payment for what I paid for him. My horse now will be insured in January 2015.

  5. Guy Ramsey on December 16, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    BTW our insurance paid for the care needed for colic treatment, totaling nearly $10,000 without discussing euthanasia.

  6. Guy Ramsey on December 16, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    We insured our OTTB with fantastic bloodlines. He was saved from a bout of colic by the insurance. We insure horses under our care while under lease agreements. It minimizes risk for the owners.

  7. honeycomb on December 16, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    That is her in my profile/gravatar photo.

  8. honeycomb on December 16, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Thank you for posting about Vaquero and the insurance question. Our family horse Lady(bird) died of similar issues, plus seizures some years ago. She was so beautiful and sound, inside and out, and I am positive had she been yours she would have performed at Roxy’s level. We were amateurs and she did whatever was needed, in reining or otherwise, at the slightest hint. The horses we have loved never leave us, do they?

    Health issues can be so stressful and heartbreaking. When I own horses of my own someday I will keep this in mind, I had not thought about insurance before as I was only in college when she died (26 now). I am sorry you had to go through this with Vaquero. Thank you for sharing your story.

  9. honeycomb on December 16, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    I don’t know if my parents had insurance for any of our horses, and had never thought about it, but I would assume so since they are big on insurance for everything else. I can see how it could be helpful and will keep that in mind for when I have my own horses. When I was in college our horse Lady(bird), who was only a few months younger than me at the time, died of seemingly similar issues to Vaquero.

    She was having seizures also, and would damage the stall and herself at times, and once backed into a steep muddy creek while my mom was riding her. She was a mentally and physically beautiful and sound horse, and had she been yours she would have been able to do 100% bridle and saddle free riding I am positive. As it was, we hardly had to do anything to get her to do what was needed and we were amateurs compared to you. We all loved her so much. If you can see my profile photo icon in the comment that is her I am hugging.

    Watching that video really brought this home to me, and I teared up a bit. You are right, there are no easy choices, and it can be hard to know exactly what to do. I am so sorry you had to deal with that for Vaquero. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Connie Fowler on December 16, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    About 25 years ago, when I was buying only $1,000 trail horses, I finally splurged and paid $1,400 for a really nice (by my standards) trail horse. A few months later, during the night, he was either kicked by another horse in the middle of his forehead or clunked himself somehow and died. (His forehead was skinned down to the bone.) I was devistated because I had a hard time coming up with enough money to replace him, and it felt like the end of the world for me to not have something to ride. After that, my policy was to have insurance on any horse that I would HAVE to replace if it died, knowing I could not afford to replace it without insurance. I was never sorry for spending the money on the insurance premiums. It gave me peace of mind.

  11. Kristy L on December 16, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    I had mortality on my horse. I actually lost her 2 weeks ago. So I’m in the middle of dealing with the insurance now.

  12. Linda Craig on December 16, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    I had insurance with Hep Insurance but to my surprise, they dumped me when my horse became 16. I had a vet certificate, yearly – basically reapply yearly, at their whim to continue or not. So basically, the medical/surgical insurance was no longer re new able automatically. To me that is not really “insurance”. Just make sure your company will not cancel the insurance on you, based on the age of the horse. She is healthy and I had had her insured for a very long time with that company.

  13. patsy24 on December 16, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I do have it. I have mortality and major medical with a livestock insurer as opposed to homeowner. It just gives me peace of mind. The value of training is also considered in total value. I hope I never have to use it and I would not do euthanasia if I disagreed with it no matter what an agent said.

  14. Kim S on December 16, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Thank you for your transparency and honesty. I just love your commentary on everything you post on. 🙂

  15. John Hennessey on December 16, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Going to post this to my grand daughters page she had a special experience with one of her horse’s i would like her to share with you Stacy Westfall and everyone else!Casey Hennessey Colby.

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