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What sacrifices?

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  • What sacrifices?

    Just what the title says...what sacrifices have you had to make in your life in order to afford to ride/compete? If you're married or in a significant relationship, how does your SO deal with these sacrifices? Just curious how everyone makes this sport happen for them.

  • #2
    Riding has expanded to fill a considerable chunk of my life, but I did not consciously sideline any other activities. I never really wanted to do any other sport as much as I want to ride.

    I have been careful to make my horse keeping fit easily within my income.

    I see a difference between prioritize and sacrifice. I do no recreational shopping for non horse items anymore but I don't feel I am sacrificing new sheets and towels and blenders and shoes. I just don't want them, and I have plenty.

    I am however not competing. That would get scary expensive fast once you moved beyond schooling shows.


    • #3
      Scribbler is right in differentiation between prioritizing and sacrificing.

      I sacrificed damn near everything, financial security, relationships, to play at the upper levels for years, around the US, self-funded. And I am paying dearly now for those years. I have no home, no girlfriend/wife, no family. Was it worth it? In some ways yes. Few will ever be able to say they followed folks like Bruce Davidson Sr. in the ring, or having gotten to jump in a grand prix. But we all get old and memories don't pay bills nor fill your days with companionship.

      I have a dear friend who did the same thing to be a race jockey.

      In the end it comes down to what you want and the price you want to pay. There is always a price. You need to think about what you are ready to live with 10, 20, 30 years from now.

      My priorities are now financial security, family, and having fun with my horses. If we compete and go big,....that is icing. I will try to do it, but I will not sacrifice the other things again.


      • #4
        I spend every day working at the place where I keep my horse as a trade off for keeping her there, which is tough some days after a long day at work or when it's in the teens and I don't want to bundle up and go out there. Sometimes I miss not being able to do that kitchen remodel I want or go on that vacation I want, but I still like the trade off.

        I also work a job that has more flexibility but less money and every time my brother tells me to get a regular, 9-5, I just can't bear to be in the office until 5pm then go out to the horses. Yeah, I could afford to pay board and not do so much work, but I mostly like or at least don't mind the work and I get there at 4pm so I have time to get stuff done.

        As far as relationships go...I think I'd be in the same boat if I didn't work with horses. I just can't be bothered to look. I would like to have someone, but the thought of going out and wasting time to find out it isn't going to work just does not appeal to me. I have been in relationships but meh.


        • #5


          Most definitely sleep has been sacrificed to ride and compete. Everything else I would say are more or less life choices and not directly related to just horses.
          ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


          • #6
            Actually... the most delightful thing has happened to me after a lifetime of being obsessed with horses. My husband retired (he's a bit older than me) and discovered how much he likes the barn. He comes with me every day (I'm a rough boarder) and cleans my stall and my turnout while I ride and graze my horse. He was there when I had the unfortunate accident with the longe line two years ago and broke my ankle and tore the meniscus in the opposite knee... was reading the paper and happened to look up and see my horse wandering around the ring and no sign of me, and was the one to come lift me out of the half-frozen mud puddle I was lying in. After decades of not allowing him to come to any of the events I competed in, I now ask his opinion about whether we need to pick up more hay or shavings.... He's taking some lessons.... What did I sacrifice? Nothing I really cared about that much. I would like to have my horse at home. THAT'S when I think I'll have to make some sacrifices. Like, never being able to go away for a weekend easily, ever again.... Better to ask, What did I gain? A lifetime of doing what I care about most. I stayed out of trouble during high school because of my horse. Someone I could tell secrets to and a warm shoulder to cry on. The greatest memories of sailing over a huge stone wall and landing perfectly... being able to think "We need to be on the far side of this field," and suddenly we would be there (Thoroughbreds, God love 'em). Eh. I don't regret a goddamn thing.


            • #7
              I have to say, I feel like a life without an obsessive interest would be rather dull. I've always been able to fully commit to my current interest, which sometimes led to a career (grad school, writing) and other times didnt and was never meant to (horses as teen and adult returning rider).

              I don't know what people who "lead a balanced life" do with their days.

              I am mystified when I meet teens who have no propelling interest and wander around moping.

              I think it's a basic personality trait, whether you get fully involved in your interests or not.


              • #8
                Came here to say "sleep" looks like its been covered.


                • #9
                  I agree with sacrificing sleep.
                  My house is a little messy so I sacrificed organization and some basement/garage cleanliness.
                  I drive an older car with higher miles.
                  There are some basic house remodeling I have put off: redo mud room, new windows, pave gravel driveway, new back deck, replace flooring.
                  Fewer vacations (both time and money).
                  Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


                  • #10
                    I wouldn't really consider the choices I've made to move my life the way I want as sacrifices or compromises. That implies that making the other choice would have led me somewhere I wanted to be. I don't date men that don't like animals. That's not really a sacrifice for me. I wouldn't be happy with a guy who hated my horse. I'm not looking to marry an all American cowboy, I just like to be accepted for the hay covered girl that I am. I more or less regret the choices I made that caused me to take a long break from horses. I stopped riding for most of my college days and much of my early career. I regret that choice a lot. I made that choice for other people. To please my parents. To do what I thought was best for me from an educational/financial standpoint. And while it worked out well enough, I was miserable without the horses. I could have at least taken lessons. I could've done something to stay in the mix of it all. No moment with a horse is wasted time.
                    My horse has resting Mare Stare.



                    • #11
                      I feel like I sacrifice more in my equestrian life so that I can have a "real life" than I do in my real life to have an equestrian one. I think I have a decent balance, but if you asked what I wanted to do and couldn't, it would probably relate to the horse side of things.

                      If I had to say, it would be the following, but to me it isn't quite a sacrifice (I guess, as everyone said, it's priorities):
                      -more/nicer clothes
                      -living in or closer to the city
                      -home cooked meals
                      -free time
                      -hair/nail maintenance (but I don't really like doing this anyway)
                      -being able to go out for drinks/dinner more (but then it would be harder to diet!)
                      -more travel (work limits it anyway so I can't really blame the horse)


                      • #12
                        It's true, when I think about what I'd like to do that I can't, or can't as much as I want, it's all horse things!


                        • #13

                          None whatsoever. I only ever wanted two things: (1) to have horses in my life and (2) to travel. Decisions were made so that these two things would be possible. If it didn't get me closer to those two goals, I didn't do it.

                          If anything, horses kept me on track and organized in my actions. Yes, it was a different life than my friends who didn't have those odd obligations and/or bits of hay in their hair. It was what I wanted so what other people were doing didn't matter much to me.

                          The only real downside the occasional inevitable heartbreak when you lose a horse. That's a big downside - there were times when I'd think I couldn't take it anymore. But the good moments far outweigh the sad and every morning when I'm working with my horses I'm very aware just how wonderful life can be.


                          • #14
                            I had an eye-opening convo with a fellow rider yesterday. Just to set the scene we are around the same age (40's), she has children - i do not, I compete, she does not.

                            Anyway we were discussing kids wanting to go into horses as a career, and I said thats probably my biggest regret in life, working with horses instead of getting a well paying job. I have a career in a completely different field now, and I finally have financial security, I finally own purpose bred horses, not free OTTB, I can afford to compete, I have my own trailer and am free to compete in whatever I please.
                            I could have done this a lot earlier had I gotten a well paying job a lot earlier, and bought what I wanted to ride, rather than trying to create it.
                            My main limitations now are my various injuries from my years riding racehorses and doing break in/reschooling work. I do appreciate the skills I got from there though (esp staying on buckers - im too scared to fall off!)
                            So my advice to these young people is to get a career and keep riding as your hobby and enjoy is with financial security.

                            My friend disagreed with me, saying working with horses is a safe job/sport/hobby, and she is certain it keeps people from falling into less desirable hobbies (horse people mostly cant afford drugs lets be real)

                            I think for me the sacrifices are holidays, travel, things for me (I buy $10 pants for work, I dont own anything nice, unless its riding gear) and social activities. I have few friends that arent horse people, and I never do social stuff - im too tired from horses.

                            I gave up horses for a few years and took up triathlons. I was just as obsessive about that, so I suspect im just one of those people, regardless of what its directed at.

                            I have had plenty of relationships go down the tubes over it (hey 40's, never married, no kids) but was that a sacrifice? My current SO is odsessed about his sport so this is the most balanced relationship ive ever had.


                            • #15
                              Nothing I cared about more than horses. A social life, nicer clothes, free time, a healthy sleep schedule.

                              I'm very lucky to be married to a wonderful man who has never asked me to skip the barn, what took so long, or ever pressured me to do anything other than pursue this crazy hobby to the fullest. I get so frustrated for my friends who have the opposite, and I can't imagine living my life with someone like that.


                              • #16
                                I try to keep my horse costs contained so that it doesn't impact my family too much. I rough board and I foxhunt, which isn't anywhere near as expensive as showing. I gave up on the idea of competing many years ago. It was too expensive and took up too much time.

                                I have my own business and can easily pay my horse expenses as well as contributing to our household income. It also gives me a lot of flexibility over my working hours, which allows me to take care of my horses myself and to ride during the day. When my kids were at home, this was a huge benefit because I could ride but still structure my schedule around them.

                                My husband would say that the cost of my horses over the years negatively impacted our finances and that we made choices based on my "need" to have horses. We have had many fights over them but he also had expensive hobbies/passions.

                                Have I been selfish? Yes. But riding helps keep me sane and is a huge stress reliever.

                                There are always tradeoffs.
                                Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                                • #17
                                  I'd have a hell of a lot more disposable money and time without the horses and dogs.

                                  But you know what? The hearse doesn't have a trailer hitch, so I ain't bringing it with me when I die. I can comfortably pay all my bills and slip some into savings. The horses bring me purpose and joy and keep me active (for a reason, hate working out in a gym honestly) and going places. For some people it's a social thing but for me it's solitude. Me and the horses, the dog tagging along.

                                  And what would I do with all the time I spend at the barn, clean the house better? Mow the lawn more precisely? Screw it, let's ride.


                                  • #18
                                    What have I sacrificed to do the horses? Everything.


                                    • #19
                                      I think the concept of sacrifice is highly dependent on what the person wants to do. To just ride and go to local shows and not really go above prelim, there are few real sacrifices as pointed out by several responses.

                                      Having a supportive spouse at these levels is very helpful.

                                      BUT, if the OP wants to play in the upper levels, sacrifice becomes the reality. Money, time, physical health, etc. This sport doesn't pay for itself so you need either a supportive spouse who is financially well off, or a good paying job with a nice vacation policy. And to have your own money means you need to work and not be at the barn. What's the trade to be?

                                      Consider that there are only a handful of Advanced courses is in the US. You better be ready to travel and spend time on the road. Not many spouses are up for that. When I played, the closest one was 800 miles away from home and the next closest was 1000. Do you travel or do you pick up and move to be closer? I have friends who run at Advanced/3-star who live on $10k a year. They also live in some of the most desolate, removed country in order to afford spending all the rest of their dollars to compete around the US.

                                      Yes, there are always priorities and trade-offs. Sacrifices are things you want/need but are willing to give up, perhaps forever, to do one thing. Priorities are malleable. Sacrifices have real risk.


                                      • #20
                                        Travelling has been the biggest sacrifice for me I think, I was able to travel in my early 20s with riding jobs, but wanting my own farm and horses to event forced me to get a job and a salary to take care of those things. I would love to travel more but with the cost of owning, showing, training, and then finding good horse sitters, it is few and far between I get to get away somewhere other than the event formally known as Rolex!
                                        Boss Mare Eventing Blog