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Is this "gap" real?

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  • Is this "gap" real?

    Need insights for a Between Rounds idea.
    At the USEA Convention, I asked a noted tack business owner what his key demographics are.

    He answered "Teenaged girls and their mothers."

    The premise being that there is a sort of "missing piece" ,the age group of women between late teens, early 20s, when their parents cease to support "the horse", and late 30s and up, when time and finances allow a resurgence of horse involvement.

    So is this a correct premise, or even partly correct? That those years of maybe college, maybe marriage, maybe kids, maybe low income/high expense, all that, puts a real kink in the riding years?

    I know lots of 20-late 30 year old women who ride, but are they a minority?

    (Forget males as statistically significant. Tack shops don`t even believe we exist!)

    Thoughts from the real world of real riders???

  • #2
    I'm 34, no kids, but barely have time and money to ride- in fact would not be riding if not for the grace of others.


    • #3
      I'm 21, in my 4th year in college. I haven't been to a recognized event since senior year in high school. I work like crazy to afford to have my horse, so yeah... new anything is a big deal, and doesn't come often. Everything that I ask for as holiday gifts are for my horse, because I can't usually afford to buy anything new...

      so I definitely believe that there is a gap. I'm in it!
      T3DE 2010 Pact
      Luck is the residue of design -Branch Rickey


      • #4
        absolutely. I started back riding after college and had very little extra money so I really didn't buy much. Not until I hit my 30's did I start buying quality stuff again. And I had a decent job since out of college.
        I went shopping with a crew of hunter riders though. And they were like what I had to deal with working the Nordstrom sale. They bought a complete outfit 'for the year' because of what's in. And the 20-somethings had their mothers with them to foot the bill.
        Even duct tape can't fix stupid


        • #5
          I can speak for myself. I was heavily involved in horses and competition until I went to college at age 21. I retired my mare, put her at a friends house, mucked stalls to work off board for her for 4 years. I bought a house in town. Worked two jobs, went to school full time, paid a mortgage, mucked stalls and cleaned her house for board, and don't think I entered a tack shop again until I was 27.

          I was a typical broke college student. Could not dream of showing until about a year after I graduated. I bought the farm 2 years later and my shopping until this day consists of farm equipment and tools.

          I finally have the farm, rig, nice horses, etc and have no time to ride. I actually sent my horses south to be sold and still have 9 freeloaders here- that are almost all rideable/showable. But now- at almost 35yo- I have a farm to hold up, clients horses to care for, a full time job, a marriage, and a one year old daughter.

          I can safely say that my tack shop trips will come back in a few years when my daughter starts showing. So.. your contact may have been onto something when they stated the demographic gap.

          Although- I do have friends that are in their late 20s early 30s that do not have kids and they are still going strong in the ring!

          eta... my friends event and have equipment and apparel that still work- they do not go to the tack shop for the latest outfit, etc. A new blanket or bridle of course- but not the latest in rider gear! LOL!


          • #6
            That sounds about right to me. I know a lot of professional women who needed to quit (at least from the perspective of a tack store owner) either in college or just after due to lack of finances, lack of time, lack of access, etc. I personally quit mid-way through college because I could no longer afford it and didn't have a car to get out to the barn. I started again halfway through graduate school when I groomed for a polo player in order to get saddle time.

            I didn't start really buying tack and equipment again until my very late 20s/early 30s. As a customer, I am still not nearly as much fun for tack store owners as the teens at my barn.
            According to the Mayan calendar, the world will not end this week. Please plan your life accordingly.


            • #7
              Hey Denny,
              I believe the gap is very real. I really haven't competed very often in the last 3 years. I think that its due to the fact that my kids are at an age that they are getting into team sports and that takes up almost all weekends with games and such.
              Gwen Dean
              Erie Hunt & Saddle Club HT Secretary


              • #8
                I think there is a bit of a gap. I'm 33, no kids yet, but fortunately have a job that affords me my hobby. Most of the other woman at my barn though who have their own horses are 40+ with kids already. The rest are teens. The couple other people I know close to my age who have their own horse don't have or don't want kids and so they can afford it.


                • #9
                  I think there is some truth to it. I am 25 and still riding, but not competing nearly as much as I used to. I had a very fancy young rider horse that had to retire around the same time that I graduated college and had to start paying the bills myself. I have several friends that I competed with in the same boat- now we are all riding young horses and hoping that the cash flow catches up by the time the horses are ready to really start going. I don't think it is so much a gap that girls my age aren't riding as we just aren't putting a whole lot of money back into the industry because we simply don't have it yet.


                  • #10
                    I quit riding at 21, and started again at 30. At 21 I decided I had to quit the barn where I worked and get a "real" job. Then I had to buy a decent car, since I no longer lived on the property where I worked. Then I got married, and he wasn't into horses (big mistake!), but because I was married I had a little extra money, so I got back into horses. That's when I remembered how much better horses are than men, so I left him and haven't been without a horse since
                    "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George


                    • #11
                      Yep. I'd believe it. I'm 25 and in my second year of showing recognized (eventing, anyway, I showed hunters until I was 17ish), I'd been ready since I was 20 and couldn't afford/find rides/get away etc. The folks I travel with are all 30+, with the majority being above 34. Horses are also my profession, so thats why I'm able to find the time/money now. I wouldn't be able to do this with a real job.
                      Big Idea Eventing


                      • #12
                        Except, of course, for you Denny. You're wonderful
                        "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George


                        • #13
                          It's probably a real gap. I couldn't really ride after college (rode in our riding program, didn't own a horse) because I was working/in grad school & didn't have the money. I'm not breeding kids, but not exactly raking in dough either. I finally bought my horse when I was 26, am now almost 31, but still don't have any money, LOL.
                          Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                          Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                          We Are Flying Solo


                          • #14
                            This is a good question. Some random thoughts:

                            I am 35. I Pony Clubbed and evented my appy mare at the lower levels until college on the parents' dime. I rode throughout my 20s but on other people's horses, only dabbling in competing. At 31 I got a horse again; at 34 I sold him and leased, then bought, a more fun/ competitive horse, and this year I competed more than I ever have.

                            In my case the difference was indeed school (grad school until 28) and a nice job (landed right before I got back into horse ownership). I'm not rich now by any means but I live modestly so I can pay for the horse. No kids, and an understanding SO.

                            I would guess that the 20-somethings you see are the full-time riding ones who are on the upper-level track. Is this true?
                            Taco Blog
                            *T3DE 2010 Pact*


                            • #15
                              I'd say that's true.

                              We didn't have a ton of money growing up, so we weren't exactly knocking down the tack store door.

                              I was lucky enough to take my horse to college and then to law school, and while i rode, I honestly cannot remember a single item I bought at a tack store during those years. I certainly wasn't showing, I was barely making board.

                              Funny thing is that when I really started showing again about 8 years ago, I was a tack store junkie (granted, for a while there I was starting young horses for the owner of the local tack store and was paid in tack) and it took me a while to get caught up on all the improvements that came along and styles that evolved.

                              I'd say my gap was probably 19 - late 20's. No kids, just school and associated debt that created my gap.


                              • #16
                                I'm 34 and FINALLY in a position where I can afford to go to the tack shop and buy NICE stuff again.

                                When I was in high school and even college to an extent, I took it for granted that if I needed something, I could go to the Saddler, sign for it, and mom would get the bill (I know, spoiled).

                                Then rent, a job and the real world sunk in.
                                I didn't have time or money to own a horse, so I didn't need to buy horse stuff, I rode borrowed horses when I wanted to ride, eventually found horse-related jobs (Arabian Nights dinner theater, rode for a lady in Europe, taught lessons) and when I finally got a horse a few years back, I did a LOT of eBay and swap-meet shopping while I was trying to figure out a workable budget that covered board, vet, shoes, etc ALONG with the car, the rent, the insurance for the first time ever.

                                Three years ago I quit trying to work in horses and rejoined corporate America. I brought a horse along but saddle time is definitely a squeeze.

                                Last year was the FIRST year that I'd consider myself financially stable enough to make it all work without really having to scrape by at the end of the month - and even now, I've learned to be thrifty... The time thing is still an issue but I'm finally making enough to keep said horse with a trainer.

                                I still love a good sale and watch TOTD for a bargain like a hawk. I typically pass over Dover for the Schneider's catalog, or HorseLoverz. My last two saddles came from www.usedsaddles.com. I broke down and bought a Stubben bridle from the tack shop for myself for Christmas but honestly, that's the biggest purchase I've made in years!
                                Last edited by JWB; Dec. 15, 2009, 12:59 PM.
                                The rebel in the grey shirt


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by eponacowgirl View Post
                                  The folks I travel with are all 30+, with the majority being above 34.
                                  Really? We are all that old? How did that happen???

                                  And you also fall into my theory that it is the full-time rider 20 somethings who are giving tack shops their business/ taking lessons with Denny.
                                  Taco Blog
                                  *T3DE 2010 Pact*


                                  • #18
                                    My parents stopped paying for anything horse related beyond lessons in high school. Luckily I was at a barn that enabled me to work a lot off & I was able to get in a few recognized shows each season.

                                    After I graduated from high school, I had a 7 year break from competition - recognized or unrecognized. I still rode a little - but college and trying to find a real job and a place to live AND be able to afford everything on my own took priority.

                                    I'm now in my mid twenties and own a great horse that I will be showing at novice next year. I still try to limit my spending at tack shops, by using old stuff or borrowing from friends if needed.


                                    • #19
                                      Yes - for both tack shopping and riding in general.

                                      You see it all the time - kid rides, parents are Very Supportive (horse, gear, trailer, etc), all the way through college.

                                      Then Real Life enters in, and the 20-somethings are SHOCKED to find out what everything really costs. Most of them stop, and many are not quite as motivated now that THEY are responsible for the $$.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by denny View Post
                                        Need insights for a Between Rounds idea.
                                        At the USEA Convention, I asked a noted tack business owner what his key demographics are.

                                        He answered "Teenaged girls and their mothers."

                                        The premise being that there is a sort of "missing piece" ,the age group of women between late teens, early 20s, when their parents cease to support "the horse", and late 30s and up, when time and finances allow a resurgence of horse involvement.

                                        So is this a correct premise, or even partly correct? That those years of maybe college, maybe marriage, maybe kids, maybe low income/high expense, all that, puts a real kink in the riding years?

                                        I know lots of 20-late 30 year old women who ride, but are they a minority?

                                        (Forget males as statistically significant. Tack shops don`t even believe we exist!)

                                        Thoughts from the real world of real riders???

                                        I don't think it is a real gap.

                                        I've always been around a ton of riders in their 20s and early 30s....I can rattle off 15-20 right off the top of my head right now......but the ones that shop a ton in tack stores tend to be in their teens or older adult riders.

                                        I supported my own horses since high school....have owned my own horses from about my mid 20s..when I hit my mid 30s, I had 3-4 horses typically at a time....and currently have 4 (I'm in my late 30s).

                                        BUT..since I have a career and 4 horses...I don't spend much time in a tack store. Do most of my ordering online.

                                        I know many others who are similar to me...so I don't think I'm that unusual. But we are perhaps not as noticeable?
                                        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **