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I'm thinking about taking a break from horseback riding?

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  • #21
    OP, you have lots of valuable horse experience but only in a limited slice of the horse world. You have been watching the worst possible peers for your peace of mind and self esteem: juniors with well-off parents. The kids don't need to have jobs, just ride, and they don't really know the cost of anything.

    Realize that's a bit of a bubble. All those kids are also going off to college, and most will give up riding for the college years. If they return as adults they will need to balance busy careers, motherhood, and general adult life with riding. They will be in the Catch 22 situation of needing a "big" career to fund the horse if they want to stay in H/j but not having the time to devote to riding that they had at 15.

    ​​As far as career, I find a lot of young people understandably only know about the jobs categories they've observed in daily life. Nurse, doctor, teacher, dentist, vet, fireman, policeman .

    There are so many more jobs out there! If you have the science ability to do well in pre-vet you are admirably placed to do a huge range of jobs in research, health care, government, etc.

    Just remember that anything to do with people pays *way way more* than anything to do with animals. And that by and large there is more money looking after small animals (especially dogs) than farm animals (including horses).

    I would say pursue your science courses but also keep an eye out for other career paths. You might find something unrelated to horses that fascinates you and pays well.

    It is not a bad thing at all to have horses be an entirely amateur part of your life, to be the bill payer and not need to have to earn money at the expense of horses.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #22
      Originally posted by kwpn_01 View Post
      There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break. I for one was almost in the exact same situation as you; my parents paid for lessons once every 2 weeks when I was young (< age 10), and that finally moved to every week, but that's it, on lesson horses that were less than sub par.

      I was finally granted a working lease opportunity in my early years of high school, and it was like a dream come true. The horse owner, however, could use some work and was very hard to please. She was the spoiled kind who didn't have to lift a finger because mom and dad paid for EVERYTING - or I did it to cover my lease. I dealt with it anyway because I wanted to ride. This was where I was granted my first opportunity to show the provincial 'B' circuit. I did this for almost the entirety of my high school career. I, too, had friends with the fancy warmbloods, who showed the 'A' circuit, received 2+ lessons a week, had the full support of their parents and acted like it was no big deal. It was very hard to be around and the envy showed. I always had "one day, that will be me" in the back of my head. I convinced myself that I would appreciate it more if I managed to get myself there, without my parents (who, quite frankly, didn't care for my riding and often told me I should just quit altogether). It sucked, but that's life I suppose!

      High school came to an end and I was faced with having to pay for my own post secondary education. My parents helped a little, but it was mainly my responsibility. I knew at this time I couldn't afford riding on my own, and my working lease demanded too much time. I said goodbye to said lease and riding for almost 4 years and unfortunately didn't leave the lease on the greatest of terms.

      Fast forward to today, I spent 4 years working my ass off for a bachelor's degree in engineering and graduated with honors. I was fortunate enough to land myself a very well-paying gig right out of school. I saved for an additional year (I was lucky enough that I lived at home and didn't have many bills to pay), and bought my first warmblood filly a month before my 23rd birthday; AND I got the fancy saddle that I never had. Prior to this, I managed to land myself a 6-month lease on another mare at the show barn I was at, so I could get back into the show ring and regain my confidence. It was literally a dream come true. Fast forward another year, I'm out of my parents hair and into my own home.

      Looking back, I don't think I would have had it any other way. I appreciate everything so much more, and ironically, the spoiled brats from the past were forced to sell their fancy warmbloods (parents were exhausted of paying), and because they had no work ethic, were late in getting an education and are struggling to find jobs that barely pay any more than minimum wage.

      Sometimes, taking a break is the best thing you can do for yourself! It'll always be worth it.
      It is really inspiring to hear a story that started out much like mine work out so nicely. I think that I've gotten into a slump where I just do not see any of this ever happening for me. But I am the type of person to make it happen if I really want it (I can be very stubborn). But I think a break similar to yours would be smart for me, the trainer I am with right now is very flexible and she always has horses for me to ride so I am less worried about never riding again.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story!!

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #23
        Originally posted by cruisecontrol View Post
        I think you have a typical story. If you want to ride in college make it happen but do not get so caught up that you skirt your college education that ish is expensive whether you pass or fail you still have the debt. I wish I had taken a gap year to know that I did not want to be a vet. I took 3 years of pre vet and then decided it wasn't for me and took a 2 year break as a pro groom. I also got burnt out on that. Working 12-16 hour days for other people left me no time for my own horse but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything it allowed me to become the horsewoman I am today. OCD about my horses care lol. I got to travel to high end shows and got paid for it. Saw the top level competitors and was able to chat with them and figure out how they got to the top. You'd be surprised at how many of them were in your shoes at 19, 20, hell even 30 year olds.

        I went back to school really focused got a full time job and catch rode for 3 years until I graduated and was able to decide what I wanted to do. Your life is not over, take a break if you want, study hard, horses are always there I know I know they aren't the horses we see and envy and want right now but they will always be there. Keep in mind the ages of some of the top riders in our sport 50s and even 60s and still winning grand prixs! I would suggest you listen to some of the podcasts like Major League Eventing or other pro riders. Be willing to work hard and say yes to the right opportunities. I can no longer groom or do super heavy labor as I have many creaky things in my body but I have a full time job and I house/farm/animal sit to pay my horses bills. If you want it go get it, but do not whine about what you have or have not been offered. Call up or even drive over to a farm you like and make an offer to the trainer. They know a good working students value and if they don't not worth your time.

        Best of luck to you OP
        I've always been very apprehensive about becoming a vet. I've talked with veterinarians who have been in the business for a long time and all of them say the same thing-- you've got to have a huge passion for animals and really be in it for them. I've also been told that I should not make any decisions until I get my feet wet with an internship in the field and see what it is all about.

        Your story is fascinating, I am with you on all of it. It scares me even more to hear that you ended up not wanting to become a vet. I will be doing some extreme soul searching before I make any big decisions. Thank you!!

        Comment


        • #24
          Hi! I enjoyed reading your story- it seems like you are a very committed and passionate equestrian. I think that if you don’t want to take a break from riding, you don’t need to! It is possible to own/lease/ride horses on a budget! I would start by looking for free leases- this is something that is very common in my area as many owners don’t have time to ride their horses, but want somebody to keep them in shape. You could also consider stopping the barn work in exchange for lessons, but actually find a paying job. I opted to serve and bartend through college, which also payed for my horses and kept me riding . I’m not sure how much minimum wage or average cost of lessons is in your area, but if you’re working 10 hours for 1 lesson, that seems like a bit of a rip off. Average lesson prices here are usually around $65, so you are literally working for just $6.50/hour. In my serving jobs I would usually make at least $20/hour. I’m sure there are lots of other jobs, too, where you could make reasonable money! Just something to think about!

          Comment


          • #25
            Originally posted by hmb.equestrian View Post

            I am not proud of it, but I've always silently envied the people who have their fancy horses and tack handed to them, and I think I always will. But I also have learned great lessons, the most important in which is that you have to work for what you want.. and work hard. I've realized (after years of unrealistic expectations) that l will never be the girl with the fancy horse and tack unless I work for it.

            I enjoyed reading your story and I am glad that you were able to make horses work... I am hoping to do the same.
            I was you. I worked my tail off mucking/feeding/teaching etc at a nice hunter barn and riding whatever horse was bucking/throwing lesson kids or any horse that came straight from the tack while my buddies were being handed gorgeous expensive horses, tack clothes etc. My parents helped a little more than yours but I was jealous of what the other girls had.

            Those girls now, a number of them I'm still friends with on fb, have half turned out a hot mess. I'd say 95% of them don't ride or aren't involved in horses, some have landed in jail, one super sweet girl ended up overdosing. A group of them have semi successful lives but struggled badly once the parents pulled the plug.

            I never took a true break from horses but I had many many years owning unrideable horses because they were cheap, then they broke and couldn't be fixed. Now, I own a house on 2 acres with goats/chickens/dogs/cats(my lifelong dream) I have a super sweet amazing young gelding who is a dream to ride and a truck and trailer plus my daily commuter car. I board him and last weekend I trailered out with my friend and we rode in a new ring, around a cross country course (he's not jumping yet) through water and I had the time of my life. It took a long time to get here but it's possible! I was able to earn all of this because I'm a really hard worker which I learned by working hard to be able to ride horses.

            I would suggest focus on school but see if there's a less demanding way to still be around horses. Can you help at a therapeutic riding center walking beside kids taking lessons in exchange for hack rides? You should also be able to find some cheap trail ride places you might only walk but it's relaxing, on a horse and usually gorgeous so that can help the bug. Go to audit free clinics or if you have any horse expos near you.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #26
              Originally posted by raririches View Post
              Hi! I enjoyed reading your story- it seems like you are a very committed and passionate equestrian. I think that if you don’t want to take a break from riding, you don’t need to! It is possible to own/lease/ride horses on a budget! I would start by looking for free leases- this is something that is very common in my area as many owners don’t have time to ride their horses, but want somebody to keep them in shape. You could also consider stopping the barn work in exchange for lessons, but actually find a paying job. I opted to serve and bartend through college, which also payed for my horses and kept me riding . I’m not sure how much minimum wage or average cost of lessons is in your area, but if you’re working 10 hours for 1 lesson, that seems like a bit of a rip off. Average lesson prices here are usually around $65, so you are literally working for just $6.50/hour. In my serving jobs I would usually make at least $20/hour. I’m sure there are lots of other jobs, too, where you could make reasonable money! Just something to think about!
              Completely agree with this. I too thought that my work was valuable enough for a couple more lessons. Also lessons here are around $65 as well. But I am aware that working student positions are a ton of work. I am job searching for a part time job as of now. Most of my checks will be going into savings, but I will definitely put some money towards taking some lessons here and there. Thank you!!

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #27
                Originally posted by stargzng386 View Post

                I was you. I worked my tail off mucking/feeding/teaching etc at a nice hunter barn and riding whatever horse was bucking/throwing lesson kids or any horse that came straight from the tack while my buddies were being handed gorgeous expensive horses, tack clothes etc. My parents helped a little more than yours but I was jealous of what the other girls had.

                Those girls now, a number of them I'm still friends with on fb, have half turned out a hot mess. I'd say 95% of them don't ride or aren't involved in horses, some have landed in jail, one super sweet girl ended up overdosing. A group of them have semi successful lives but struggled badly once the parents pulled the plug.

                I never took a true break from horses but I had many many years owning unrideable horses because they were cheap, then they broke and couldn't be fixed. Now, I own a house on 2 acres with goats/chickens/dogs/cats(my lifelong dream) I have a super sweet amazing young gelding who is a dream to ride and a truck and trailer plus my daily commuter car. I board him and last weekend I trailered out with my friend and we rode in a new ring, around a cross country course (he's not jumping yet) through water and I had the time of my life. It took a long time to get here but it's possible! I was able to earn all of this because I'm a really hard worker which I learned by working hard to be able to ride horses.

                I would suggest focus on school but see if there's a less demanding way to still be around horses. Can you help at a therapeutic riding center walking beside kids taking lessons in exchange for hack rides? You should also be able to find some cheap trail ride places you might only walk but it's relaxing, on a horse and usually gorgeous so that can help the bug. Go to audit free clinics or if you have any horse expos near you.
                Your story is admirable!! I aspire to be like that. I think I have gotten frustrated about the working-for-lessons part. I would much rather get a "normal" paying job and spend some of my money towards lessons and things. I hope that if that were the case then riding would seem less of a chore and more for my enjoyment. Thank you

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by hmb.equestrian View Post

                  Your story is admirable!! I aspire to be like that. I think I have gotten frustrated about the working-for-lessons part. I would much rather get a "normal" paying job and spend some of my money towards lessons and things. I hope that if that were the case then riding would seem less of a chore and more for my enjoyment. Thank you
                  Once you pay your way you become a client and the relationship totally changes. It's very common for young people in your position to get taken advantage of in work / ride barter situations. The coach puts all the paying clients first on the lesson schedule and never has time for you. Once you are a paying client then you get the time you pay for!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #29
                    Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                    OP, you have lots of valuable horse experience but only in a limited slice of the horse world. You have been watching the worst possible peers for your peace of mind and self esteem: juniors with well-off parents. The kids don't need to have jobs, just ride, and they don't really know the cost of anything.

                    Realize that's a bit of a bubble. All those kids are also going off to college, and most will give up riding for the college years. If they return as adults they will need to balance busy careers, motherhood, and general adult life with riding. They will be in the Catch 22 situation of needing a "big" career to fund the horse if they want to stay in H/j but not having the time to devote to riding that they had at 15.

                    ​​As far as career, I find a lot of young people understandably only know about the jobs categories they've observed in daily life. Nurse, doctor, teacher, dentist, vet, fireman, policeman .

                    There are so many more jobs out there! If you have the science ability to do well in pre-vet you are admirably placed to do a huge range of jobs in research, health care, government, etc.

                    Just remember that anything to do with people pays *way way more* than anything to do with animals. And that by and large there is more money looking after small animals (especially dogs) than farm animals (including horses).

                    I would say pursue your science courses but also keep an eye out for other career paths. You might find something unrelated to horses that fascinates you and pays well.

                    It is not a bad thing at all to have horses be an entirely amateur part of your life, to be the bill payer and not need to have to earn money at the expense of horses.
                    Honestly I have never thought of my situation this way!

                    You are completely right I have only viewed the horse world in the junior rider "light". I also really value what you said about the career path. I know being a veterinarian is VERY risky. There is very little money and a ton of school and debt to be had. I have been tooling with the idea of choosing another career path but I just have no idea what else interests me.. you would think I would know my own interests haha. The only other career path I have thought about was in psychology but I know there are only a couple paths you can take with that degree. I have definitely have some researching to do.

                    Thank you for your post!

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #30
                      Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

                      Once you pay your way you become a client and the relationship totally changes. It's very common for young people in your position to get taken advantage of in work / ride barter situations. The coach puts all the paying clients first on the lesson schedule and never has time for you. Once you are a paying client then you get the time you pay for!
                      This was exactly the situation. I was almost free work, I get it though. The clients are paying a crap ton of money so in the trainers head they're a priority. Sadly us working students are left on the back burner.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by stargzng386 View Post

                        I was you. I worked my tail off mucking/feeding/teaching etc at a nice hunter barn and riding whatever horse was bucking/throwing lesson kids or any horse that came straight from the tack while my buddies were being handed gorgeous expensive horses, tack clothes etc. My parents helped a little more than yours but I was jealous of what the other girls had.

                        Those girls now, a number of them I'm still friends with on fb, have half turned out a hot mess. I'd say 95% of them don't ride or aren't involved in horses, some have landed in jail, one super sweet girl ended up overdosing. A group of them have semi successful lives but struggled badly once the parents pulled the plug.
                        I'm going to second this - at my last barn I was the one essentially putting free training on the too-green horses that people bought because I was a poor college kid who was just desperate for saddle time. Eventually I wised up to how long I'd been taken advantage of, but not early enough to prevent the whole thing from blowing up in my face (so props to you for thinking about this now). I know the feeling of starting to resent it all too well, and my first clue that I needed to get out probably should've been how often I cried in the car driving home, but hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

                        I wouldn't say I have money now, at least not like the girls and adult amateurs at that barn, but I went to college for business and I'm employed with enough money to pay for my car and my student loans (which will be paid off many, many years earlier than their true deadline, hallelujah) and my horse every month. I took almost a year off after leaving that last barn until my current barn owner (an acquaintance at the time, now a very good friend) invited me out to ride her 4yo Quarter pony, just so I could have some saddle time, and within six months of moving to her place, I bought a cheap OTTB. I'm training him largely by myself, with a few lessons here and there, and keeping him at a barn that is much more low-key than the last one that I was at, and it has done wonders for my relationship with riding. There's no pressure to go to big shows, I can do what I want to do when I want to do it, and I don't feel compelled to prove anything to anyone (namely, that I deserved to be there) like I used to.

                        Half those girls that I knew at that last barn? They went off to school and sold their fancy horses and it all just turned into another teenage phase. I don't love what I do for work, but I've got my horse and I'm riding on my terms and that really is a blessing (as is the fact that, by picking the career path that I did out of school, I'm actually better-positioned to go back for an advanced degree in anthropology (my second major), which is the field I'm most passionate about and want to work in long-term, likely without having to sell my horse in the process). It takes some pragmatism, but if you know what you want and you make choices that will allow you to have it, you'll be able to look back in five or six (or ten) years and see just how many of those people who inspire such feelings of envy aren't even involved in the sport anymore.

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          My vote would be to take a break; there's no sense slogging away at it when you're feeling resentful towards the whole situation and may end up burning out from horses in general.

                          I also feel that there is no shame in preferring to exchange money as opposed to labour for riding, especially after what sounds like a huge amount of time and energy you have poured in. I don't think your work ethic is questionable here. I work a good day job so that I can pay my barn manager a monthly cheque and my time can be spent enjoying my horse and I feel no shame in that whatsoever. I've worked as a barn manager in the past and, as much as I loved the physical work and management of it, it's not a long term lifestyle for me personally. Maybe it's not for you either, and that's great.

                          I intended most of my life to become a doctor for the simple reason of it paying a ton and allowing me to own horses. I started taking pre-med classes out of high school and immediately realized I could never see it through due to my immense dislike of school. I'm glad I didn't pursue it because I have friends who are doctors and free time is almost a fantasy to many of them. I changed careers a few times but at 30 have settled into an administrative day job which pays nicely and allows me the freedom to spend my evenings and weekends riding. I never wanted or expected to work in administration or enjoy it, but it checks a lot of boxes for me and the big one is "allows me to fulfill my horse needs." So don't feel like you're bound to one avenue.

                          Sure, I envy the local girls in the event circuit who get a second horse to bring along, or are picking up sponsors, etc. My mare is on her way to aging out and I yearn to find a younger prospect that I can continue to move up on... But I can't afford to keep 2 horses, and I'm not willing to sacrifice my senior mare just to get a "newer model", so I just have to keep making my peace with it every day. It's an active decision that I have to make not to dwell on the things that I don't have, but instead direct my focus to what I do have. Even just this morning I was feeling a bit woeful about some things, so I scrolled through pictures of my mare and reminded myself of how beautiful she is and how thankful I am to be her person; even if she's just a lawn ornament most days this winter!
                          thebaybondgirl.wordpress.com

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Chiming in as another grown-up kid whose parents didn't support (and often couldn't afford) my horse obsession. Taking a break is fine! After finding ways here and there to catch-ride and swap lessons for working or volunteering, I took a long break from college until I was 28, which was the first year I could afford lessons and a super-cheap partial lease at a very unfancy barn. I then had a second break in my mid-30s where I rode occasionally but couldn't find the right barn, right price, right situation. (In hindsight, I was also grieving the horse I had to leave behind when we moved.)

                            Now I half-lease at a place that's perfect for me, and I find I'm enjoying my lessons so much more because I knew what kind of training I wanted and was able to be picky and find it. Taking time off is pretty normal. All of the adult barn rats at my place are coming back from various periods of time off. Sure, occasionally I have to check myself when I want to roll my eyes listening to the sweet but not-so-self-aware 15 year-old complaining that her parents will *only* support thrice-weekly lessons and a half lease, but you know? I'm happy to be where I am. I tried being away and always needed to come back, but it was good to confirm that horses meant so much, because it's basically where my spare time and money go. Sure, I may not be able to breeze over jumps without thinking about them, but I am so much more interested in the whys and hows of truly good riding than I was as a kid.

                            Take a break if you need one. Horses will be there when you decide to resume.

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                            • #34
                              There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break! In fact, sometimes its the best thing you can do to find your way, and set yourself up with a successful career where eventually, you WILL be able to afford your own horses.

                              Your story is not unlike many others....myself included. I, like you, was that same "horse crazy" girl growing up who from a very young age would do anything and everything to spend time at the barn. I was the quintessential "horsey girl" at my school. Every book I read? Horses. Every school paper I wrote? Horses.

                              Unfortunately, my hardworking blue-collar parents also were unable to afford anything more for me than one lesson each week, and that was pretty much it. I would volunteer around the barn just to get more riding time or offset my show fees. While I bounced around from trainer to trainer for years, I eventually was lucky enough to land with a trainer who recognized my passion, and very generously let me ride her client's horses, and often never charged me barn bills for the showing I did with her since I helped out grooming and hauling equipment.

                              However, all this aside, it was still never easy to always feel like "the poor girl" at all the barns and shows, which all seemed to be brimming with wealthy riders who had wealthy parents, and their fancy imported "push-button" warmbloods in gleaming new tack. Although difficult at the time, I now look back with a new appreciation for the fact that despite having less time in the saddle, less money, old tack, and only lesson hack horses to ride in the shows, I was still winning against those girls in many cases! I recall one instance in which I beat another girl at our barn in multiple classes at one show - I was riding my usual lesson horse, and she, her own fancy warmblood. Her mother ended up pulling my mom aside prior to the next show, and asked which division I'd be riding in, that way she could enter her daughter in a different one so she wouldn't have to ride against me again. I'll never forget that, not to be smug, rather to remember that although there are a lot of riders with money in this world, PASSION and the will to work hard does indeed count for something!

                              I - for the most part - stepped away from riding during my college years as I chose to focus on my studies and working towards building my career so that one day, I'd be able to pay my own way and return to the sport that I loved. After many years out of the saddle, I began taking lessons again at a local show barn, and when the time was right, I was able to purchase the imported warmblood show hunter that I'd only been able to marvel at from afar while growing up. I lesson weekly and have managed too, to return successfully with my own remarkable horse to the show ring, riding at venues I'd only ever dreamed of as a kid. And let me tell you....there is something SO incredibly satisfying about the fact that I have made this life for myself. NO one has handed it to me. I have WORKED for this dream, and I promise, you can, too. Stepping away for a bit is hard to do, but if you have the love for horses in your heart, you will come back to them again, and I promise it will be worth it. Wishing you the very best of luck, and don't stop dreaming!

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                              • #35
                                Take a break. My parents were able to pay for one lesson a week and I worked to pay for a second lesson, shows, leasing, etc. I only continued in college since they had an equestrian team and the trainer offered a discount for team members. I took out "loans" from my parents to be able to pay for lessons and shows at the beginning of the season and worked to pay my parents back.

                                I stopped riding once I did my four years on the team and focused on school as I had to spend another year to finish college. I rode a bit after I graduated by taking part time jobs with horses while getting into my career. Then I stopped riding for a few years to have kids. In this time we saved money, bought a farm, saved some more, built a barn and put in fencing. I started taking lessons on and off about 2 years ago, and almost a year ago was finally able to buy my first horses!

                                I thought I would want to start working towards competing again but I'm finding now that I really enjoy the time I spend taking care of my horses and doing some ground work. After years of lessons and working in large barns, having them at home has shown me a whole other side of horses.

                                So take that break. Focus on school. Save money. Get a job. Do all of those things or none of them. If you do take a break I promise you will find your way to back horses. I have so many friends that took breaks for one reason or another but they have always found their way back.

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                                • #36
                                  I thought I would chime in.

                                  I’m an equine vet. I’ve taken several breaks from riding, and all have been valuable.

                                  I took a break for 2 years in high school. Then I competed IHSA in college - I don’t think I would have been as dedicated to the IHSA team without that break in high school.

                                  Then I took another break — around 10 years (with a few random rides thrown in) for vet school and getting my career established and am finally to the point where I can actually afford a horse. Yes, it took 10 years after college to finally be able to afford a horse as a veterinarian.

                                  My perspective on horse ownership has totally changed since I was your age. I have no interest in competing (nor could I afford to) - instead I have a steady eddy OTTB on pasture board at an eventing barn. We hack around the farm - I haven’t ridden him in an arena since I bought him. I spend at least twice as much time visiting and grooming and feeding treats and debating which blanket he needs as I do riding. It’s just nice to have a quiet easy gelding to love on after doing unappreciated, invasive procedures on horses all day 😂

                                  Coming in to spring (my busy season), I won’t have time to ride at all.

                                  I always tell pre-vet kids if they want to be a vet because they love riding, pick a different career that affords you the time and money to ride. Maybe accounting. Emergency room physician. Nurse anesthetist.

                                  If they want to be a vet because they love horses... well... 🤷🏻*♀️

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                                  • #37
                                    My parents could afford weekly lessons at a decent barm, not an A show barn. There were, I think, more mid-level barns in my day (1990s). My cousins are truly wealthy, and while my family was comfortable, I learned early on, absent millions, I couldn’t hope to keep up with the Jones. This may be a weird analogy, but in my youth, I wanted to be thinner than I am. Kate Moss/heroin chic was all the rage. But I realized I couldn’t look like that and be healthy, so I had an epiphany - if I couldn’t be skinny, I’d be strong. I still lift weights and am the same size I was over 20 years ago, and feel great. The analogy is that I know I can’t amass the fortune it takes to be a top A circuit hunter princess. I have a well paying job and no student debt, but I’m not a millionaire from way back. So, if I can’t be that, what can I be? I wanted to be a good trainer. I have ridden over 200 OTTBs, and worked at the sales barn where Georgina Bloomberg’s old junior hunter came from. I now own 3 rescued horses who have come so far from where they started. I don’t enjoy the big shows, nor have the time or money to show every weekend of the season. But I never stopped riding, and don’t plan to. I’ve ridden all around the country and in England. I’m still obsessed and still fulfilled. So if your dream/goal is to do the big shows, by all means, take a break, focus on achieving a career that allows that dream to come true. Or find a different competitive outlet, within more realistic means, if it will satisfy you. I’m not a recreational trail rider, which for me, would seem unfulfilling. So we each have a scale of drive to fill with what we want to achieve with horses. I want to do local shows, clinics, lessons, etc. But taking my rescue horse to a few shows and doing well is fulfilling for me, vs. campaigning at the big venues. So do some soul searching and make a choice. And don’t worry about anyone’s opinion on the right choice for you. It’s only your choice. Good luck!

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                                    • #38
                                      You don’t have to stop riding! You’re only 19. You could easily go to a college with an IHSA program and continue to ride for very cheap throughout college.
                                      Girl, I’ve been in your shoes and it’s definitely not easy. I rode all the greens, pos, worked for BNTs etc. Those girls that you see with their fancy horses and tack, they almost always quit in their late teens to mid 20s, seen it happen a million times. They go to college, get married, start jobs, have babies, etc and never return. You’ll see them posting their old riding pics on IG saying they miss the sport but few ever go back. Truth is, most never really had the passion for the sport in the first place and they never had the struggle to work/move up in the sport. You sound like you have worked hard. If you take a break for a few years it’s no big deal because honestly you are so young, you can get back into in easily! However, if you want to continue, you will find a way. You have already found a way thus far! I wish you the best of luck, don’t worry, you’ll make it!!
                                      P.S. When you get to the marrying age and you still love riding, marry smart. 😉xoxo

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                                      • #39
                                        I think many of the older members here are likely to have started and stopped riding throughout their lives. I started as a 12 year old in a school barn and scrubbed floors and washed windows in exchange for a weekly lesson. I stopped and started riding 4 more times until I finally hung up my spurs in my late 50s . I have always had to be low to moderate budget.

                                        LIfe happens and part of being an adult is balancing it all responsibly. You will also find along the way that your desires may become more diverse and widespread

                                        I miss certain aspects of owning a horse but the riding itself is not on top of the list. Perhaps when I retire in a few years I will wind up someplace where I can have a little pony to love on and groom and simply enjoy the presence of.

                                        Focus now on finding a passion where you can enjoy your work and earn the right to finally have that horse of your dreams. I was lucky enough to find a career path that allowed me to own the worlds second best QH. Now my path is that of world travel and archery competition

                                        I will always consider myself a horsewoman, first and foremost.

                                        you never lose that , you may just come to simply see it in a different light

                                        YOu have a lifetime of horses in front of you.
                                        Last edited by hoopoe; Jan. 22, 2020, 10:20 AM.
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                                        • #40
                                          Just want to echo a lot of what has already been said. It's tough being in your position, I've been there. And sometimes taking a break is really healthy and will let you miss riding and horses and rediscover why you are so passionate about it. You can always come back to horses!

                                          It can be hard to believe, but at some point you will really appreciate all of the difficult and/or green horses you ride. Now that I'm older and horse shopping, these kinds of experiences have given me so many more options and confidence in taking on a greener horse. If you've ever read Bill Steinkraus's Reflections On Riding and Jumping (I'm pretty sure it's this book), he talks about having a long commute to the barn, and how he appreciates the time it gave him to think about his own riding. There's a lot to be said for perspective.

                                          Also want to add that when it comes to career choices, it's important to think about timing, i.e., how long will it be before you're starting your career and earning a paycheck. For a vet or doctor or PhD, people tend to spend a lot of time training before they start making money. And it tends to coincide with trying to start a family. So it can be difficult to get back to horses if that's a priority. There are a lot of great jobs out there like physician assistants, nurse practitioners, etc that may help you reach your goals better. If you like psychology, maybe check out psychiatry NP jobs?

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