I know I'm not the only one who feels poor sometimes at their barn (unless you're of the upper strata). I'm a teacher so I'm obviously not at the top, more like the bottom. However I teach bilingual kids who are in definately financially disadvantaged; so to them I may appear well off.
I'm at a nice barn w/ a great trainer. I usually take an average of 6-7 private lessons a month. I put down my first horse of 12 years in August. Coincidentally I had just purchased a mare in April. She is a very nice horse that I could possibly compete at in rated shows. My last horse was not as talented. I could probably compete in one or two A shows a year, but not enough to rack up points for the end of the year.
In any case I need to become more competitive (I'm not an aggressive rider). Possibly w/ my new horse I'll progress b/c she is patient and jumps what she needs to confidently. B/c of my lack of competency at this point renders the whole racking up of points null. But the fact that my horse could be competitive brings me back to the point that I could not compete at A shows b/c of my finances.
I see kids who go to 2-3 A shows a month w/out batting an eye. However I really don't think I'm financially badly off compared to the general non-horsey population. So how do you classify people at the barn- as really well off, kind of well off, or just poor? I hope I'm not sounding sour b/c I know how lucky I am. Some people can't even afford a horse. Also my question has the possibility of bringing in humorous perspectives.
Last edited by teal tea; Jan. 20, 2012 at 10:50 PM.
I do know what you mean as I was always low on the $ totem pole and even as an employed adult (teacher also) was still a barn rat/barn slave. I was never able to afford to own my own horse. That said, it is a matter of perspective. I've never had to wear donated clothes, ride the bus, wonder where my next meal was coming from, or go without medical care. So many can't afford a pet of any kind, much less a horse. Please enjoy what you have and encourage others to do the same.
My boarders are typically above middle class, but below the income levels of "show" barns. I try to keep riders of the same basic socio-economic group to keep things less...bitchy.
But aside from discussing budgets for horse purchases, lessons, and showing, I dont' really care what someone's take home wage is; it is a personal decision to spend what ever they want to spend at the barn...and that amount isn't always reflective of their income, more of their priorities.
It frustrates me to see how some trainers set their students against each other to see who will spend more on a horse to get the attention and be the student du jour....or guilt parents into buying a horse they can't afford so that little Suzy doesn't get left behind.
Riding should be fun. What makes it fun is an individual decision. it shouldn't have to be about who spends what and how.
Thankfully I ride at a casual/local show barn. So, with that in mind, I'm probably in the middle of the pack. I can afford twice weekly lessons, riding gear and I'm looking at half or full leasing a horse somewhat soonish. But outright owning a horse, much less going to A shows, is definitely out of my range.
I've joked about it before, but riding really is like the kids book, 'If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.' It feels like no matter what you're currently doing, there's always something more to do or buy or pay for.
To keep my sanity I have to draw a hard line at what I can do and what I can't do. It does change sometimes - like when I've paid off a certain debt, or when I get a promotion. But if I didn't have some sort of cutoff programmed in my head, I'd run myself crazy thinking about how I can't afford a five-figure horse, or go to A shows or buy a new saddle or the show clothes I really want, etc. I just try and set up small goals for myself and build up to the bigger/long-terms ones.
However much money you have, it is likely that there is someone else who has more. I feel fortunate to own a wonderful OTTB mare who was relatively cheap. I board at an inexpensive place (there is no barn). My girl is happy and healthy. I do several schooling shows per year, trail ride frequently, and have a great time with my horse. The current rig is an old beat up pickup and a serviceable but definitely older tailer. Could things be "better" as in nicer place, regular lessons, bigger shows, nicer rig? Sure. On the other hand things could be much much worse. You will feel much happier in life if you are the type who can count your blessings. And I would imagine that folks that seem to "have it all" may not be as happy as we imagine them to be. If you are lucky enough to have horses in your life you are lucky enough.
When I was a horse-crazy kid, I was poor. Trailer park resident poor. I got two one-week sessions at Girl Scout camp where I got to ride for an hour a day, and one year of weekly lessons as a birthday gift when I was 11. Once those were done, I saved so that I could go for an occasional guided trail ride or lease a pony for the day at a friend's barn.
So the first thing I did when I had a full-time teaching job at 23 was sign up for lessons, at the most high-end barn around (which happens to be closest to my house). In the lesson program, I felt like the poor relative as compared to the boarders who could afford horses that cost twice my salary and the over $1k a month board, but I didn't really care because I at least got to ride.
Then I got my own horse, and although I now board and lesson at barns with equally fancy horses and plenty of well-off owners, they're a super friendly group and very welcoming. I may envy their Antares or ability to go off to A shows every weekend or to go to Florida, but then I think about my horse, and I'm completely happy. When I was a kid, I would have given everything for the opportunity to ride at all, and now I somehow ended up with the best horse in the world.
While I understand your question, and I really do, I think you are not focusing on the positive aspects of your situation.
I try to be the eternal optimist, but my own sense of being is very pessimistic. If I talk to anyone horsey, I don't feel qualified. I feel completely inept. I don't think I measure up. I don't feel good enough to even go to the show series just up the road from me....I mean, it is a 2 minute hack, actually less.
I don't feel that I am good enough to even set hoof in the ring with others.
My situation isn't money. It is experience and confidence. I have none in this area. I don't work with coach or instructor. Nor do I really care to. I am riding to have fun. I am showing to have fun and track my progress! Not for anyone else, for me, for my horse!
So I am at a conflict internally. I am in it for me, not anyone else, yet I don't feel that I should be there. I feel odd man out....strange.
Worrying about financial strata: Don't worry about it! You are able to afford what you currently have. Be very thankful of that. Your situation could be very different either way.
Others wish for what you have. You wish for what others have. Be truly grateful that you are able to do what you can, right now! You truly are rich!
Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!
Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!
I don't care what barn you're in chances are you're going to have more than somebody else there and less than others. Same with life. You can either be happy with what you have or bitter for what you don't. It's your choice.
If you want to be one of the "richer" members of a barn community than go to a different barn.
\"In all manners of opinion, our adversaries are insane.\" Mark Twain
This is an expensive sport, and there are many people in your situation. Just be honest with yourself about what you can do and what you can afford and don't worry about it. I'm in the same situation. Can't afford to do what the other heavy duty show clients do. Still, I'm lucky to have the horse I have, and the riding opportunities I've had.
Um...I don't know...how about classifying people by how they RIDE, treat their horse and others around them...not by the amount of money they have?
Same here, I don't worry about anyone else's financial status. I have little interest in what anyone else is doing...comparing yourself to others is a recipe for unhappiness. There will ALWAYS be someone richer, prettier, more talented... there's no point in playing the "who is better" or "who has more" game. Do the best you can with what you've got, that's how you live a satisfying life. And, the barn isn't the entirety of life...teaching is an important career, you contribute to something positive to society every single day...more than those who devote all their time and resources to "chasing points".
I've never had to wear donated clothes, ride the bus, wonder where my next meal was coming from, or go without medical care. So many can't afford a pet of any kind, much less a horse. Please enjoy what you have and encourage others to do the same.
I always have; I still do!! Goodwill and my loan shark are my best friends, and I make no bones about that fact. But if you're serious about your sport and try to do the best you can with what you have, people will respect you for *that*, irrespective of your/his/her/their socioeconomic class.
Plus, it's kinda fun to sneak one over on the rich kids sometimes. Learn to train your own; learn where and how to buy (or sometimes simply "acquire") the best for less; watch for new competitive opportunities that other people may not have even noticed yet. (Hint: If I were an ambitious young rider on a budget right this second, I would SO be ***all about*** those AQHA Hunter Derbies.)
Sure, we'd all LOFF to be able to do endless "A" shows, but that is NOT the be-all and end-all of equestrian sport. So I'm off to the American Saddlebred convention next month to pick up a NATIONAL title that the "rich kids" and their trainers didn't even know was there b/c they didn't read the rule book. I'm not saying this to toot my own horn - the situation just happened to play to my skill set (Hotbloodz, Hunterz, and Legalese) and frankly I just sort of figure I'm waving the flag for Trailer Trash Ammies everywhere. If you're going to be dirt poor in this sport you CAN DO IT - you just have to be smarter, work harder, be more inventive, pay more attention, and look around for great competitive opportunities that do not necessarily involve the letter "A". And GET OVER IT that other people have more money than you. Concentrate on building your and your horse's skills and becoming a better equestrian in every sense. It'll pay off eventually, even if you have to wait until you're 50+.
"The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief
In the past two years, I realized that I will likely never have enough money to show on the rated show circuit. In the past year, I realized that I will not have enough money to own a horse (at least as long as I live in this region). Now I am full leasing a horse much nicer than I could ever afford for less than his upkeep per month while I take 1-2 lessons a week.
On one hand, I feel extremely lucky. I have relatives who can't always afford phone service so the luxury to ride seems amazing. On the other hand, I am spending every spare dollar I have on riding (no cable/smart phone, no vacations, no eating out/movies, used clothes) and while I enjoy it, I'm currently struggling with whether I want to spend so much money on what I now realize will always have to be a recreational-level hobby for me.
I feel no jealousy or resentment towards those who can afford it, but I am wondering if it's worth paying so much to play at the highest level I can or if I would be happier to sink back to the "twice-a-week on a lesson horse" level and be able to do other things besides riding. In the end, those sorts of decisions are personal and whatever balance makes you happiest (without putting you in debt) is the right choice. Coming to the best answer on those decisions, however, can be quite tough .
I think that what horses give back to me is worth every dollar I spend.
At 57 I'm going to hit every horse trials I can till I can't jump anymore. If it kills me, that would be the best way I can think of to die, no old folks home/wheelchair for me thanks.
I compete on a very skinny budget, and am so happy to be able to do what I do.
frankly I just sort of figure I'm waving the flag for Trailer Trash Ammies everywhere. If you're going to be dirt poor in this sport you CAN DO IT - you just have to be smarter, work harder, be more inventive, pay more attention, and look around for great competitive opportunities that do not necessarily involve the letter "A".
I'm at the lower end of horse ownership, IMO, in terms of money. But honestly, I like that, and I'm not broke, and am able to have a feeling of financial security. I see people spending money right and left on "stuff" that doesn't make them ride any better, it just makes them feel superior. I do just fine with the middle to low end equipment. A $400 bridle doesn't make you ride any better than a $40 one. I'm as frugal in my horse life as I am in my regular life. Someone slaps an equestrian label on something and immediately its worth more....lets look at breeches, which on average for a decent pair run you $100 or more. I wouldn't buy jeans for $100, why in god's name would I spend that much on breeches???? No thanks, I'll find someone who is selling theirs used on ebay because they need to buy a new fashionable pair.
I know people WAY above me in terms of money and opportunities and you know what? Good for them! If I had that kind of money, I'd take advantage too. I don't think any of us would go "well, I have $100,000 to spend on a horse but I'll buy one for $1000 because I don't want to make anyone feel bad"
Am I jealous? No. Am I envious? Maybe. But I guess I think, its not meant for me, and I'm pretty satisfied with the life I have. I dont' really think about the what-if type scenario.
Thanks for everyone's insights. . It's nice to get the opinions of others. Trake girl, I posed my original question in the manner I chose b/c that is what I was interested in inquiring about. There are many ways that you can judge or classify other riders- as you said by ability and by many other manners- by intelligence, by weight, by stature, by age, etc. But those are topics for other posts that can be pursued by others wishing information in those areas.