Hello all, long time poster here who lost her login info.
Hello all, long time poster here who lost her login info.
Sorry! Accidentally hit reply before I meant to.
I live in GA. I'm a senior in college intending to graduate this upcoming May. Depending on the job market I will either work at a job within my field or go to grad school. Like most college kids, I'm broke. I live hand-to-mouth despite budgeting and cutting unnecessary expenditures.
Keeping my horse has always been a bit of an issue. Thankfully my father has absorbed the cost of my horse's board for some years now. My mom is sick, and with her medical bills, it's really just not feasible for him to help out any longer. Nor would I want him to!
I'm currently boarding my horse at a small private boarding facility. The BO has been wonderful to me and has helped keep the cost of board low. It's doable, and I've been working my tail off to make sure that extra money is there, but in the next few years I can see how the cost of having a horse might be prohibitive. I'll be graduating...job market sucks...nobody is rolling in dough in grad school...I need a new car at some point...I need to move out of my parents' house at some point...blahblahblah.
So I'm hoping to use the experience of the COTHers here. Either from direct experience or just to receive advice that may help me think more broadly on this issue. I love my horse. I love my barn time; it helps keep me sane. But I also know that sometimes life requires sacrifice. I just want to make sure I'm doing all I can to prevent letting go such an important part of my life.
My options as I see them:
(1) Sell her - obviously my least favorite, but probably the easiest option
(2) Lease her - BO is finicky about people at her barn. She's made it clear that she would really prefer for me not to have a leasee. Unfortunate for me, but it's her property. If I lease her, it would have to be at someone else's barn. This is the option I've thought of most. I think I might put out ads to have her free leased at another barn. I'm wary of the legality of it all, though. What happens if she's majorly injured while in their care? What if I don't like the way she's kept?
(3) Board her really cheaply - this option obviously has its issues. $100 or less would be feasible for me. Know how many barns there are in the metro Atlanta area with that price? Practically none. I've gone and looked at a couple of cheaper barns. They were either clearly not a good situation (horses look terrible, property looks terrible...what you would expect), or it's 3-4 hours away from where I live. I would be okay boarding her far away as long as I trusted the situation.
So I don't know. I feel like my post is disjointed. I'm just looking for any advice I might not have considered.
Any self-care options? That's how I did it when I was in college...
Would the BO allow you to work off any of your board?
The answers to all your questions about option 2 (what if she's hurt, what if you don't like the care, etc. etc) is "You have a contract." Now, the more stipulations you have, the harder it will be to find a lessee willing to put up with it for a free lease (even "free" most people don't want one where the owner's breathing down their necks, the horse "must" have ten different supplements a day and only these brands, she has to only eat $$$$$$-Brand Feed, needs this and that joint injection, etc.)
Even around here $100 with a much lower cost of living than Metro Atlanta, $100 or less would get you field board and if you want grain or hay, you better bring it yourself. Blanketing, a stall, all that would be absurdly out of the question at that price point unless you did self-care.
A half lease maybe, either at your current barn or a different barn? Or find a lessee, really vet them, and take the time to introduce them to your barn owner?
I think there may be some additional options/combinations that you've not yet considered.
1) PT job. I have picked up PT jobs or weekend projects off of CL when I was needing to finance my horse habit whilst applying my regular income to things that weren't necessities per se--such as horses.
2) Talk to your current BO. You say that she'd PREFER not to have others at her barn. What if she was part of the selection process? What if there was a 30 day trial for a half lease situation where ultimately, you're still 100% responsible but the person leasing is paying you? I've done this several times. Worked out great for the most part.
3) With a free lease, you can put whatever you and the other person agree to in that lease. So look at good leases. Think about the kind of care you want your horse to have and when you're interviewing potential folks, make sure those bases get covered.
4) Consider selling/rehoming--you already mentioned this. But let me tell you, if you THINK you're going to need to do this at some point, don't wait til you've been eating ramen for 6 mos and only the change in your couch to your name. When you're desperate, you can't be as choosey. You may be coming into a time of your life where horse ownership isn't feasible financially.
What I probably WOULDN'T do is try to move to a self care or cheaper barn. Why? Because if you can't be there every. single. day. due to your work schedule (which you may not have a lot of control over) or because of distance, then you don't want your horse to be in a place where the care may be sub standard or not happening at all unless you're following up daily.
I have had horses at home, boarded at several places, and leased land/done self care over the last 23 years w/ my current horse. The WORST situations were those where I was boarding but felt that if I couldn't be there twice a day, my horse might not be getting turned out, or fed, or watered. And those places do exist and such places do count on the fact that you might not figure it out. Don't put yourself or your horse in that position.
Looks on craigslist for alternative boarding options. I'm in Nashville & there certainly aren't any commercial boarding barns in the area at anywhere near $100 a month even for self care pasture, but on craigslist there are dozens. If it were a sell horse or keep him scenario and I knew he was an easy keeper, I'd at least try giving one of the cheap options a shot for a couple of months. Someone I know moved to a backyard barn on the same street as the expensive one we were both at and her horse is like a member of the family for $150 a month. No arena, just grass to ride on but he's fed, watered & perfectly happy. Just know that you will need to commit to going to see him on a daily or near daily basis till you're sure all is ok.
I used to work off my board until I was in my mid-20s. I did this at several different barns all throughout high school, college, and after. It was usually 1-2 hours of work a day-- maybe cleaning stalls,feeding horses, or riding youngsters. But I got to keep my horses at the barns for free or very little cost to me.
Since I was a teenager I've always owned anywhere from 1-3 horses at a time and there's NO way I would have been able to afford them otherwise. If there's a will, there's always a way to keep your horses.
I had a good reputation and usually found the situations through word of mouth. Sometimes these days I see opportunities advertised on CL or in local equine publications. Ask around, you may be able to come up with something!
Maybe post an ad of Craigslist asking around about people who are willing to swap chores for board? Maybe a small, back yard place is looking for some help. In college, I wasn't ashamed to go door to door and ask people in person and I found a really nice situation for the horse that I had.
I agree, though, that a lease is probably your best option. Have a chat with your BO about the process. I think that she will be much more open to the idea if she is part of things as well. You can even write certain things in the contract about the behavior of the leasee around the barn, etc. Be really upfront about what YOU want and what your horse's strengths/weaknesses are for the best chance of finding a leasee who will fit you both.
Finally, does your college have an equine program? If they do, ask around and see if somebody is looking for a part/full time lease around there.
Well, tell us where you are in GA. Some of the college programs will take a horse, and use it in the riding program. And yes, some take free lease horses. I know "of" a woman locally who has her horse in such a situation now, and is trying to put her daughter's horse in same situation with local riding program for university. Of course the horses will be living out in a large herd on small average 24/7, not an idea situation.
I also recommend that you try getting part time jobs, either at a barn or elsewhere to support your horse.
And while it is costly when you get out of school, my friend who was in pharmacy school at UGA used part of her student loans to support her great old eventer until she graduated and could pay for his support herself. Her parents had wanted her to sell him, and she did once, but he would not get on the trailer. So she kept him and he trailered to school and she supported him with student loans.
Check the cothers helping cothers thread, I think it's on the giveaways forum? And she if anyone on there is in your area.
I feel your pain--I'm in the same boat; after a year of unemployment, I've run through all my savings and am barely scraping by. Moved to a cheaper boarding barn that's closer and saves me on gas, and I found a really great teenager who's going to half lease him, which is pretty ideal. I was always too "no, it's my pony!" to ever think about leasing him out, but a half lease is great in that I still have my pony, and he gets extra attention with a very sweet, horse-deprived girl who is already so excited about him that she bought a leather bracelet with his name on it at the county fair. And I can't afford lessons right now, but she'll take lessons on him with our current trainer, so he gets to stay tuned up and I still get to ride him to make sure everything's going well.
Undergrad here with two horses.
I live with my boyfriend and pay rent, car payment, insurance, groceries, cell phone, gas. And we also have two large dogs. I work part time at a barn and I'm also a barefoot trimmer whose business is really picking up. If I couldn't do those jobs I would probably waitress.
I also do chores at my horses barn in the mornings on weekends and one horse gets to stay for free.
There is no way I would sell my horses and neither are suitable to lease out at the moment. Board is expensive here compared to where I grew up so they live on outdoor board. It's not top notch care but they're on 5 acres, always have hay or grass and their water trough has never been below half full. BO puts on fly masks and blankets/sheets as needed. It's basic care but they're both healthy and happy.
If your expenses are low, get a job, even if it's not in your field of study. If you want to keep the horse there is a way to do it. It takes a lot of work and you have to be very careful about how you manage your time, but it can be done.
I would really try to hook up with a trainer or BO who will let you work off alot of the board. I have been very poor and always thought at least I can always find time to work at the barn. I'm luck my trainer lets me and my granddaughter work for lessons. My horse is on lease to my trainer's daughter, so its a good lease, otherwise, I wouldn't do it. I've always tried to work off board, too. One barn I worked off part of the board maintaining the barn's web page. I feel for you. Find a freind or a rider you admire who admires your horse to lease him or part lease him? Good luck.
Is your horse a good riding horse for lessons? Maybe find a barn that will give you free board in exchange for your horse being used for lessons? Maybe not the ideal thing but at least you would be keeping him and still be able to ride. On the other hand, if you are working and going to grad school how much time will you have to devote to your horse and/or riding? Will you be able to afford vet care, horseshoeing costs, all those unexpected things that pop up? Would you be able to part with him? If you also need a car on top of school costs and the prospect of moving out on your own; horse ownership might not be a viable thing for now. Tough choice but you need to make an honest assessment of the situation and do what is best for you and your horse.
Maybe consider getting a job rather than grad school. You may need it for your field, but it would get you working sooner.
I take #1, sale the horse.
From reading the way you presented the question and the alternatives it appears you have good vision of where you want to go. It appears the horse is a restraint.
As for being at a barn, you can volunteer with youth groups or as help at shows, who are always short handed.
Without the horse in the picture it will release you and your family of current and potential financial obligations; especially given the failing health of your mother.
sell her. that way you can concentrate on your education.
An off-farm free lease would be your best option and actually the most attractive to potential lessees. It is perfectly within your rights to require that they carry insurance (I have never had a horse on lease, regardless if they are on my property or off, that has not been insured at the expense of the lessee) and that the policy is paid out to you should anything catastrophic occur.
I think option 3 is the most risky; yes, you might be able to scrape together the funds to pay cheap board each month and to keep feet trimmed and teeth floated, but what happens if your horse becomes injured? One of mine ulcerated his cornea about three and a half weeks ago and between the initial vet visits, his stay at Peterson and Smith, the round-the-clock medications and now his stay at a medical layup facility that is willing to continue the every 2 hour treatments, my bill is upwards of $6000 that I was NOT expecting. And these places do not work on a payment plan. You very well may get lucky and have everything stay status quo, but if they don't, it could mean financial ruin if it's not in the budget.
Best of luck, OP!
If owning a horse and the rather extensive resources it takes of money, time and energy on your part makes owning not sensible, there is your answer, you are not in a position to have a horse.
Once you decide that, for whatever reason you do want to keep owning a horse, regardless if it makes sense or not, then you have plenty of advice about what you can try to do just that.
I think that owning a horse is not always the sensible way to go for those wanting the horse experience, because of, see above, the very large investment we have to make to do so.
Not everyone and especially those starting their adult life are in a position to use those resources on a horse, or make those sacrifices needed if you don't have those resources.
I didn't have the resources to own a horse when young, being a student.
My cousin went early into the workforce and had an excellent job, so she did have resources for a horse.
She bought a nice mare, competed with her in endurance and just had a ball.
Looking back, her riding stalled just riding that one horse and, being a very talented rider, just never did get the experience riding many different horses will help someone acquire more and more riding skills.
I was not as talented, but didn't get stuck with one horse.
I went on to start horses for the riding center, eventually had my own riding school and have been a horse professional all my life, having the skills to do more and more with horses and so many horses to enjoy.
Owning your own horse is a great experience, but it is and can be a limiting one for many.
Now, if your horse is your pet and that is what you want from the horse experience, a pet to have for many years, that is different, you have not indicated how you want to proceed with horses.
I see many people your age and circumstances do get out of horses for some years, get their lives established and later come back to it, if that is what they still want and can do so then.
That is one more option.
Just more to consider.