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  1. #1
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    Jul. 11, 2011
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    Default When you just can't afford it anymore

    My daughter is a hard working and very dedicated rider. Over the past few years it has become harder and harder to afford lessons, showing etc. I am at a point where I just don't know what to do anymore. My daughter is planning on a career with horses, not to mention it is all she has ever wanted to do since she was 5, so stopping does not make sense. We both work to try to make it affordable, but as she has moved up, it is becoming more and more stressful on both of us. Our barn has been wonderful and creative with helping us, but there is only so much they can do. Leaving for another barn would mean leaving her life-long friends. If she was going to college I would apply for financial aid. Has anyone ever heard of anything for equestrians? Any suggestions/ideas are very greatly appreciated.



  2. #2
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    It's time to have a talk with your DD about money. Horses are a recreational activity. They are discretionary spending. You need to have a budget for what you can afford for your discretionary expenses and then live within it. You know, the world will not end if your DD can't do everything at her barn. This is an important life lesson.

    More concerning is this idea of a horse career. Again, it is time for an adult chat about careers. I also loved horses since an early age, but I realized that in order to have horses all my life, I was going to need a job that paid a good salary and benefits. Jobs in the horse industry tend to be low wage, without benefits, and not much future. Your DD needs to be thinking about college and investing in herself so that she can have a job that allows her to have horses. It doesn't matter if it is community college -- she needs an education.

    It's time to ease DD into the adult world, not enable a fantasy world. Treat her like an adult and don't be surprised if she learns to make adult decisions.
    Where Norwegian Fjords Rule
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  3. #3
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    Sep. 28, 2005
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    Default

    I feel the same way...my daughter is an adult now so she doesn't show as much anymore and our horse is older and it is better for him to do less shows, but we still have all the horse bills! Board, supplements, shoes,ect. We are going thru a really hard time financially right now(Construction business) and I just incurred a 12,000.00 vet bill for a fungal eye ulcer
    Does your daughters school/barn have an IEA team? Almost every barn in our area has one and it is a great way to keep showing without the cost.
    With the regular show season over you can save $$ and adjust her lesson schedule and have her just spend free time at the barn with her friends.
    Do only what you can and don't stress over it! Where there is a will, there is a way!



  4. #4
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    Oct. 14, 2010
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    Ditto what Ironwood said. Horse trainers are no longer a vital part of society.

    A gal at my barn will be graduating from VATech in December with an Animal Science degree and thousands in debt. She is now qualified to work in the local feed store. What a waste of time and money.

    I would hazard that most of us on this board have been into horses since we learned to walk. As a kid I wanted to be a trainer, then I realized that I really liked the suburban middle class lifestyle I had growing up, and that as a trainer that would be going away.

    If she were going to college, she would likely be leaving her friends at the barn. To be a successful trainer, she is going to have to work as slave labor for several trainers, which will probably require moving. Leaving high school friends behind is a part of growing up.

    It may not be what the "follow your dream" guidance counselor tells her, but as an owner having dealt with young, green trainers, they would be better off if they had at least an associates in business and be literate enough on a computer to design a website. Six months at a real job would help her have an idea how life outside the barn works, even if it were just McDonalds. She might even like it.



  5. #5
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    Jun. 12, 2009
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    I agree with IronwoodFarm.

    When I was younger, riding was my life and I often thought about a career with horses. I was at a H/J show barn where all my good friends were riding expensive horses and showing nearly every weekend. My parents could never afford that lifestyle but they did the best they could and footed the bill for a while but then they decided enough was enough and that they weren't going to do it anymore. It was a real wake up call for me but looking back it was the best thing they could have done for me.

    I had to sell my high maintenance horse and get a cheap baby that I could spend my time training instead of worrying about showing. I had to work my butt off to keep him through high school and college but he's the horse of a lifetime. He's one of those amazing athletes who EXCELS at anything he tries. At times it's been hard knowing I have this amazing horse but knowing I don't have the money to show and then I realize how lucky I am just to be able to have him.

    I learned from my experiences the value of money and that it doesn't grow on trees. I also learned that if I wanted to continue to have horses that I'd need to get a paying degree. So that's exactly what I did, I went through a grueling top 5 engineering program. I'll be the first one to admit that I often thought about just dropping out and going back to horses but I stuck with it. It wasn't easy and it wasn't as fun as a horse career; but now that I'm out and can afford three horses on my own, I am much happier than I probably would have been had I been in a horse related career always wondering where next months paycheck would be coming from.

    Your daughter is lucky that you've been able to afford her hobby for this long but it sounds like you need to have a talk with her about it. She might be upset (I sure was!) but then I got real about it. You might be pleasantly surprised how well it actually ends up if she truly is that dedicated.
    "Be the change you want to see in the world."
    ~Mahatma Gandhi



  6. #6
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    I felt the same way as your daughter but listened to reason. Had to sell my horse at age 17 when I went off to college. At age 50, I was finally able to own my own horse again. The only reason I can afford it is that my graduate degree (obtained at age 35) enables me to make enough money to afford a comfortable lifestyle and a horse.



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by red mares View Post
    A gal at my barn will be graduating from VATech in December with an Animal Science degree and thousands in debt. She is now qualified to work in the local feed store. What a waste of time and money.
    I don't know VATech's curriculum, but I know at my uni, an animal science degree takes all the same courses as pre-med, with the addition of some animal-specific classes. At least at my school, there is nothing limiting about it. Just saying.



  8. #8
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    Nov. 4, 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by IronwoodFarm View Post
    It's time to have a talk with your DD about money. Horses are a recreational activity. They are discretionary spending. You need to have a budget for what you can afford for your discretionary expenses and then live within it. You know, the world will not end if your DD can't do everything at her barn. This is an important life lesson.

    More concerning is this idea of a horse career. Again, it is time for an adult chat about careers. I also loved horses since an early age, but I realized that in order to have horses all my life, I was going to need a job that paid a good salary and benefits. Jobs in the horse industry tend to be low wage, without benefits, and not much future. Your DD needs to be thinking about college and investing in herself so that she can have a job that allows her to have horses. It doesn't matter if it is community college -- she needs an education.

    It's time to ease DD into the adult world, not enable a fantasy world. Treat her like an adult and don't be surprised if she learns to make adult decisions.
    This to a T

    Bottom line: horses are a luxury. Reality is what it is. Help her learn that now before she's up to her eyeballs in debt.

    And in the meanwhile, sign her up for a Financial Peace University course by Dave Ramsay. It'll save her years of checkbook-ache.
    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- "When they try to tell you these are your Golden years, don't believe 'em.... It's rust."



  9. #9
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    Sep. 12, 2006
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    how old is she? if she's 16, I think that's different than if she's 12... Life with horses doesn't end after a junior career, but it will likely have to be put on hold until she is financially able to support herself and a the luxury that horses are. A career in horses isn't all it's cracked up to be, as many will attest to on this board. I'd much rather make money at a different job and then spend money on horses, rather than try to make money on horses. Some career counseling should include discussions of careers outside horses that can be lucrative.

    That said, if you can't financially make it, you need to be creative. No there are no riding scholarships out there for the pre-college set, that I now of at least - so you have to have a hard look at finances, and priorities. You don't say much about what she's showing, her goals etc, so can't comment on specific ways to cut down.



  10. #10
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    Oct. 14, 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by supershorty628 View Post
    I don't know VATech's curriculum, but I know at my uni, an animal science degree takes all the same courses as pre-med, with the addition of some animal-specific classes. At least at my school, there is nothing limiting about it. Just saying.
    I went through another school as chem major with several chem/pre-meds, and this person's classes don't sound anything like that. Maybe that she left all the fluff for her last semester, but I'm glad I'm not the one trying to find a job with her degree.



  11. #11
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    Mar. 12, 2006
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    I would try and help her find a working student position for the summer to see if this is the career she wants. That's the closest thing to a scholarship.

    When you say you don't want to leave friends- is it truly the horses she likes or the environment/friends? If she TRULY wants to be a professional, she should relish the idea of leaving and learning from someone new, not be bummed that she can't ride with her friends.

    The other thing is talent.... if she has talent, she should be able to find free horses to ride through college. OMFG, I would KILL for a young rider to be hungry enough to hop on my horse 2-3 x a week.

    And I truly think allowing your kid to go to adulthood without any type of college education is not smart. If she is talented enough to be a pro- she can find catch rides and help at barns through college while taking coursework. Even getting a 2 year degree at a community college would be helpful- a basic business degree. And it would help her run her horse business if it is in the cards.

    And practically- as a client.... well lets just say my area has plenty of "trainers" who showed a bunch as juniors that lack business skills and honestly, a lot of training skills. My trainer worked as a working student and rode greenies and doesn't appear to have a show record- she is more useful to my horse's issues than someone who showed a bunch. (my only criticism of her- she could use a business course or two!)

    So really, going broke paying for showing and lessons isn't the best use of your money if she wants to be a pro.



  12. #12
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    Jan. 21, 2010
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    Default

    I agree with everyone. Talk to your daughter (assuming she's old enough as Mayaty pointed out) about the realities of money.

    I went to college in the equine science route and ended up switching less than a year into it into a more science-based field. I went on to graduate school and now have what I would consider a successful career that I love, and that allows me to afford to have my horses on the side. Lots of amateurs with regular 9-5 jobs do very well on show circuits. I know lots of them.

    I remember posting on a similar thread a few months back the story about my college roommate. She got into it with me when I decided I didn't want to be a trainer anymore, and instead wanted to find a job that actually pays. She said I clearly didn't love horses if I didn't want to do it as a job. I told her to stuff it.
    She's now a trainer barely making ends meet, and I have a career I love and enough money to support three horses.

    I should also note that when I left for college, my parents told me if I wanted my horse at school, I had to pay for him myself (and my riding). And I did. You learn the importance of money really quickly that way.



  13. #13
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    Oct. 4, 2003
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    Ironwood's reply is the sensible thing to do. For a less sensible option, send her to work at the local TB racetrack. Change of discipline. She must be 16 to be licensed. Still working with horses, and plenty of opportunity to learn, and to ride, and get paid for it all. Horse shows these days are the playground for rich people, at the racetrack, the rich people may be the majority of the owners, but horses can actually earn money, and workers get paid an approximation of what they are worth and can advance. Regular people can purchase, own, and train and compete with good horses, and it can be an economic situation because the horses claim their own competitive level no matter what they cost. And can earn money and be successful at that level, even if it is not a top level. Working in the racing industry will teach the realities of economic horse ownership.



  14. #14
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    Mar. 26, 2010
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    When I was teaching my kids all used to say to me that they wanted to do this as a career. I would come from my day job during the week to teach them and I used that as an example. Sure it wasn't a regular show barn, but it was a lesson mill barn. While it provided a wonderful part-time position, there's no way I could've paid my bills on it solely.

    I agree with everyone's suggestions. My recommendations to my kids were always to go to school, get a good education in a career that paid well, and have your horses as your hobby. The level of commitment to that hobby was going to be purely based on the career choice that you made.

    She'll have plenty of other oppurtinities like being a working student to pay for lessons.

    Unless she wants her career in horses to be a large animal vet. Then she's set!



  15. #15
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    Jul. 22, 2010
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    I think almost every trainer tells their kids not to do this for a living.. mine included.



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ponymom88 View Post
    My daughter is a hard working and very dedicated rider. Over the past few years it has become harder and harder to afford lessons, showing etc. I am at a point where I just don't know what to do anymore. My daughter is planning on a career with horses, not to mention it is all she has ever wanted to do since she was 5, so stopping does not make sense. We both work to try to make it affordable, but as she has moved up, it is becoming more and more stressful on both of us. Our barn has been wonderful and creative with helping us, but there is only so much they can do. Leaving for another barn would mean leaving her life-long friends. If she was going to college I would apply for financial aid. Has anyone ever heard of anything for equestrians? Any suggestions/ideas are very greatly appreciated.
    Your daughter is very lucky to have you helping to support her equine interests but perhaps now is the time for that reality check and for her to go it on her own. She could look into a working student position at her barn or at another facility? I found several threads recently on CoTH addressing that very topic (people interested in such positions and others looking to hire). It may not be the ideal situation for your daughter, but it is a way for her to continue her involvement with horses and most importantly, to save you financially.

    Back in day my parents had no money for anything extra let alone my horse interests. I remember when I was 12 and my best friend was taking riding lessons. She and her Mom would stop by my house to pick me up each weekend so I could go along and watch. Yep, I sat on the rail and watched my best friend taking lessons. What a bummer...

    But it also never stopped me from pestering my parents for riding lessons and to get a horse. Finally when I turned 14 my Dad said "YES. When you graduate from high school and get a job, you can buy yourself a horse." I'm now 55 but can remember that day as if it were yesterday. I was a high school sophomore at that time and put my plan into action and before I graduated I started working, paid for my own riding lessons and saved up enough money to buy my first car and my very first horse... a big ole grade mare for $500.

    Before I jump off my memory train I just wanted to say I wouldn't change my experiences for the world... and hope that you and your daughter will be able to find that balance that will make you both happy and to ease your financial stresses!
    Life is short. Hug your horse!



  17. #17
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    Sorry to say this, but cry me a river!!! Horses, riding and showing are LUXURIES. A child can stop and restart later. Or "dumb down" and catch ride, help start ponies or horses, etc. If you cannot afford the hobby, it's time to be realistic. These are the days of NO income for many. It is a great time for you to teach economics at home.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by IronwoodFarm View Post
    More concerning is this idea of a horse career. Again, it is time for an adult chat about careers. I also loved horses since an early age, but I realized that in order to have horses all my life, I was going to need a job that paid a good salary and benefits. Jobs in the horse industry tend to be low wage, without benefits, and not much future. Your DD needs to be thinking about college and investing in herself so that she can have a job that allows her to have horses. It doesn't matter if it is community college -- she needs an education.
    This. Getting a good education that will enable DD to keep horses in her life on her own terms is a much more realistic (and better) option than working in the horse industry for little money, no benefits and 24/7 without vacations.



  19. #19
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    Default Some comments, and some questions...

    Ponymom, how old is DD?? The advice that might make the most sense to you depends largely on if she's 12, 16, or 20-something.

    That being said, the next question I would ask is what does DD contribute to her riding financially? As parents, we all want to provide more opportunities for our kids than we had, but that isn't necessarily a good thing.

    I'm an only child, and my parents were middle class, but did not have a lot of discretionary cash. They could afford 1 lesson a month. Since the age of 11 I worked after school helping my neighbor with her horses, on the weekends at my lesson barn, and babysat any chance I could in order to afford more lessons and $$ to attend local shows.

    As I got older, I had more jobs, but really, I think if I'd had more gumption and really wanted it that badly, I would have done everything I could have to have gotten a working student position. Heck, I grew up a couple of miles from Hunterdon -- if I'd wanted the horse thing THAT bad, I should have sat on George's doorstep until he either gave me a job mucking stalls or gotten a restraining order. I didn't do that, so either I did not want it enough or did not have enough courage to believe in my abilities.

    I worked to pay 1/2 my way through college, to get my first car, and to finally afford a horse in my late 30s. What did that give me? A serious appreciation of what things cost and the life lesson that if I want something badly enough I need to work hard to get it, as what we want most in life doesn't alway drop into our laps.

    There are grants, though not very large, out there for young and developing riders -- have her check the USEF and USHJA websites.

    You sound like a wonderful mom who has started a very capable child. It sounds like you've done a tremendous amount for her. At this point, again, depending on her age, perhaps the best way you can support her and help her learn a valuable life lesson is to step back a bit and see what she is willing to do to contribute to making her dream happen.

    Best of luck to both of you!
    Me&MyBigGirl
    My Blog: A Work In Progress



  20. #20
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    It's nice you want to help your child fulfill her dreams.. but part of being a parent is helping them realize when those dreams are unrealistic, or would be inadvisable to do, and I don't think very many people in the horse world would advise anyone to continue into as a pro, especially right now. People are losing houses, and having problems affording basic necessities for themselves, much less being able to pay to have a horse in training.



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