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Totally re-figuring the horse thing out due to finances...

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  • Totally re-figuring the horse thing out due to finances...

    OK, so I am not looking for a pity party, I really need some help figuring out how I am going to make it. (Yes horse related, and I ride jumpers, so there. I needed an OT day but it just didn't happen, so here it is). *Warning: long*

    The back story: I am 17, will be 18 next month, just graduated valedictorian of my high school, going to a top public University this fall.
    Have struggled with depression, no one knows about this.
    Somewhat tense relationship with my mother due to her alcohol consumption.
    Grandmother has been somewhat ill for a while.
    Other family not really in the picture.

    Grandmother bought me my mare almost four years ago, and has paid my board and some "extras" along the way (a vet bill here and there, supplements, etc.). My Mom pays my grain bill and paid for a major saddle repair last fall, other than that, nothing because she doesn't really "approve."

    I pay the rest with what I make from odd-jobs (house sitting, etc.) and working horse shows. I work for my trainer during the summer for my lessons/training/hauling fees to shows/show coaching. I usually do one large show per year.

    This past year was especially rough emotionally, and my mare is probably what kept me from slipping over the edge into a total descent into depression where I wouldn't have even been functional.

    Today I got home and was informed by my mother that my grandmother now needs $600 a month medication indefinitely. To cover this, I will be cut off (convenient, right? This is the amount my horse and I cost a month). My board bill is paid for June, I get to keep the $300 I have now, and I may be getting $1500 later in the summer from Mom (some account I didn't know I had will roll over to me when I turn 18). I will be fed and be allowed to stay in the house. The rest (gas for my car, my clothes, my shampoo, vet bills, all of my school bills, farrier bills, feed bills... you all know the picture) will be on me. When I calmly asked whether this meant I was going to be cut off in the beginning of July, my Mom said I was overreacting and I wasn't being "cut off" exactly, it was just that I wasn't going to get money from either of them (sounds like I will be cut off to me, but what do I know).

    I am angry with them, I feel like no matter what I do I am never good enough for them, but that is besides the point. If there is no money to support me, there is no money to support me. I know I sound like a whiney teen when I say this, but I really want some way to keep my horse. I am literally afraid of what I will do to myself if I don't have that tying me to reality/normalcy due to my past issues. Also, my barn friends have stepped in as family to me when my real family "fell down on the job" and I am afraid that without a horse I would lose them too.

    I know this really isn't something to post on a public forum, but I'm using an alter, and I figured that the minds of COTH might be able to help me come up with something.

    I'm thinking about taking loans out for school, and working to pay for the horse/my living expenses, but I don't know how to make school/work/a little time for the horse every week work. I want to go to university, but there is this possibility that I may have to take care of my grandmother instead or get kicked out of the house totally (my mother initially said I had to live at home while going to school to save money) and have to find an apartment, and then I will have to pay my own rent on top of everything. Also, if I sell the horse, I will probably end up having to pay for my own intensive therapy sessions... oh the joy. I'd rather pay to keep my four-legged critter in hay than help pay the loans on some doc's Ferrari.

    I am just floundering right now. Mother won't really have much to do with me, her answer is, "Tough, figure it out on your own, I'm not getting involved." Anyone have any answers?

  • #2
    This is not what you want to hear, but -

    You need to find someone else to pay your horse's board; that means either leasing her or selling her. Your public university will offer free counseling to students. Your mare is not your therapist. She's a living animal that costs a huge amount of money to keep in good health. No one owes it to you to support a horse for you. Everything your grandmother and mother have done so far has been a wonderful gift. That they can no longer afford to give you this is unfortunate, but it is not unkind of them.

    You need to go get an education and then a job that will let you keep your own horses.

    Do not take out student loans. I am in my forties and I have friends who will never get out from under their student debt. Those people graduated into an infinitely kinder economy than the one you face.

    I'm not trying to be cruel, here. I've been where you are - twice, in fact. I had to retire my heart horse for financial reasons while I was still a student, and I still miss him. I had to sell another horse when a company I worked for went under in the dot-com crash. But I graduated without debt, worked my butt off and now train at a fantastic barn with the best horses I've ever been lucky enough to ride. Lots of people on these forums have done the same.

    I know saying goodbye to a horse feels like the worst thing that could possibly happen. I'm sorrier than I can say that you're going through all this. I wish you the very best.


    • #3
      Its time you figure out what life is all about. Your grandmother needs medications, which takes precedence over paying for your horse. Sounds like grandmother paid for your horse for quite some time, its now time for you to reciprocate. It would be great to be able to keep your horse, but a horse is a luxury, not a need. Its a want. Food, a roof over your head, and your education is your priority. Your anger at your mom is very misdirected. Its time you step up to the plate and contribute, instead of whining and taking. Your mom is giving you a place to stay and feeding you. You should be able to make enough money for your schooling and personal needs, which needs to be your priority. Drop the entitled attitude and help out instead of making them feel guilty. And I definitely agree about not taking out student loans. Listen to some of the Dave Ramsey show archives, people still paying off student loans at 40 and 50 years of age. If you are paying off loans, you can't have horses. Check with the university where you are going, there should be some financial help there other than loans. Sounds like you are very smart, you should be eligible for scholarships. Apply for as many as you can find. Take advantage of being able to stay at home, that is a huge savings for you. Be appreciative of that, it will go a long way.


      • #4
        AlterOP, I hear what you are saying about your horse being your therapist. I am a counsellor, and have suffered bouts of depression myself; even now, some days just being around the horses is all the medication I need. I deal with people who don't have that... they have no interests in life outside of a syringe of synthetic cheer.

        So, some options. Yes there is the obvious: sell / lease your horse. If push comes to shove, perhaps you could lease or part-lease your horse for a period of time whilst you get on your feet.

        - can you pasture board? Give up the showing for a bit, just enjoy OWNING your horse, and knowing that one day you can get back to showing.
        - can you work off part of your board?
        - what course are you planning to study? Is it going to give you a career in 4-6 years that will allow you to have the time and finances to maintain a horse, or are you planning to study something which will inevitably consume your life ie medicine, practicing law in a big city, etc. If it is the latter, then perhaps yes, it is the "end of the road" for the time being.
        - can you take "a hiatus" from study, and work for 1 -2 years instead, saving a little nestegg? I took nine months off before my thesis year as I was so burnt out. I spent the time working hard and having fun with my horse/s - saving enough money to support the horses on grass pasture (nothing flash) whilst I completed my degree.

        I feel for you honey, I really do.

        Something else I would do is map out EVERY SINGLE EXPENSE that you will be looking at, on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Every scoop of grain, every new body brush, everything. Work out what it will cost you to keep your horse per week, plus estimates for food / petrol / clothing etc. Then work out how you will earn the money to cover the costs PLUS a savings for rainy days. I had to work butchering chickens to cover my feed bills at university, and this method let me see how many hours I HAD to work to pay all my bills. I had no home phone, only a very cheap mobile (and people called me), no internet, ate bread and eggs and vegies, worked out which feeds gave best bang for buck per $ per pound per nutrient value... everything. I kept every receipt and documented every thing I spent so I could see where the money was going, how much trouble I was in, and it really helped keep me to my budget.

        It can be done.


        • #5
          As others said, it's hard to imagine any way you could keep your horse under your financial circumstances. Is there someone you could lease to who would maybe let you ride her once in awhile? Or does the university you'll be attending have a riding program and perhaps you could loan her to them while you are in school?

          Other suggestions:
          Please try Alateen meetings (because you mentioned your mom's alcohol use). They could give you a lot of support in ways you probably can't imagine. And as already mentioned, free or low cost counseling will be available at your school. If you continue to feel depressed, really recommend you give it a try.

          Don't despair. Many of us have given up our horses and riding as young adults and then taken it up again when we have more time and money. It's better than ever when you come back to it. Even if you find a way to keep your mare now, it will be easier and probably more fun to immerse yourself in college and really give it a chance without the time and money demands of horse ownership. Also, the four years will pass much faster than you think.

          Good luck!


          • #6
            Talk to you trainer about the horse, maybe she can lease him/her for lessons or to another student.

            Can you afford college? Yes/no?

            Do you have insurance? Then go get counseling. If you do have insurance, count yourself lucky. MY alcoholic mother took me off her insurance when I was 19 and working FT for her at her barn and going to school FT, and when I got hurt at her farm, she told me "good luck" with the hospital bill. So do I get where you are coming from? Sure. Do I think you are over-reacting? Yep.
            COTH's official mini-donk enabler

            "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


            • #7
              Take out student loans if you need them to go to college. However, dont major in something stupid where you will not be able to find a decent paying job after you graduate and will struggle all your life to pay them off. I have a lot of debt. I have a big payment each month. However, I have a decent paying job and am able to pay off my loans AND afford a nice life.


              • #8
                To even try keeping the horse you have to cut things out. Lessons and shows are out. You have to find a cheaper place to board.

                You need a job. Or at least income to pay for the horse and whatever else.

                Is the mare well schooled? You might be able to part lease her.


                • #9
                  First of all, congratulations on being valedictorian!

                  Second, I urge you to get counseling and/or support as your family sounds highly dysfunctional (which, I am sure you already know). It *is* a gift that your grandmother supported your horse and of course she and your mother can stop, however, suddenly pulling the rug out from under a 17 year old with no forewarning isn't really the way to go about doing so.

                  Can you turn to your barn family/trainer for advice? Maybe they can figure out a way to help you with the horse. My trainer has taken my horse and uses him as a school horse because I need him to be in a program and ridden regularly; I get to ride him as if he were mine but pay no board (a value of $1,000/month).

                  What about looking into declaring yourself independent? If you can do so you would qualify for lots of financial aid. You may have to live on your own for a year, though; though you really should know what the requirements are anyway. So if you decide to take a year between high school and college to work and save, you may as well get the most bang for your buck and see if you can't declare yourself independent.

                  Again, please get counseling -- this is about way more than how to afford a horse. In the end your Mom may have done you a favor -- you will really learn self-sufficiency! That's a good lesson. But don't take on board the bad stuff -- you are valuable, and worthwhile and worth being cared for. Hugs to you.
                  Last edited by SMF11; Jun. 6, 2013, 10:24 AM.
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                  • #10
                    For your parents/Mom to expect you to pay your own bills at age 18 is not unreasonable. It may be a shock, but it is not unreasonable. To expect someone to continue paying for your horse, car, clothes, shampoo (did I read your post right?) etc, as an adult is unreasonable.

                    I would also rethink your hostility to medical professionals. I think you're paying more student loans as a patient than Ferrari loans.

                    Whether or not you lose your barn friends if you sell your horse depends a lot on you. I had to ship my horse out of state to cheap grass for financial and medical reasons last fall. I am still welcome at the barn, and still go down there. If you make an effort to see them, support them at shows, etc, and here's the important part DON'T PISS & MOAN ABOUT HOW UNFAIR YOUR LIFE IS, your barn buds will likely continue to be your friends.
                    Visit my Spoonflower shop


                    • #11
                      I would at some universities in the area that you might be able to get into in the future that have a riding program. If you horse is well behaved and a talented jumper there are a lot of universities that would lease your horse from you while you get on your feet. They best part is if you gave great grades you might be able to transfer into that same school???? Maybe even get a scholarship. Not sure where you are located but I know that Del Val in PA will lease horses. Start by applying for grants and scholarships to help pay for school. Put some feelers out for leasing your horse. Also look to see if you can get a working student position at a barn, I know a few in my area will cover board for your horse. Get a part time job. I worked while going to school and owned a horse so it can be done. But you don't get to show, your don't get to go out friday nights with friends because there is no money for that. I also went to a state school with grants and 10 years later I am almost finished paying my student loans off.
                      And lastly if you are dealing with depression it can be helpful to look into counseling. I do understand how animals have the power to calm you, because they do not bring extra baggage with them that people do. However, you still have to deal with your issues in another way.


                      • #12
                        I don't think student loans are the worst idea ever either. Apply through FAFSA and you will get really low, reasonable rates, and there is a lot of flexibility with income-based repayment plans to pay them off after your done. Understandable that you feel like everything is crashing down you at once, but keep your chin up as it WILL get better. And you definitely deserve a big congratulations for graduating as valedictorian. Good for you!


                        • #13
                          Ugh-to be young is to have so many options but maybe not the wisdom to sort them all out.

                          I agree that leasing your mare would be an ideal option. Some way that you can keep her but have the expenses subsidized. It may be that as things begin to work out for you, you will find that you want to spend more time on school and other interests, and you will be in a better frame of mind to let her go. I also agree that your barn friends will stay your friends. I think *true* friends let you piss and moan and are still there for you. Depression is really challenging that way. You are miserable, so you come off as miserable, so you get isolated, which makes you even more depressed and miserable. Bottom line, people who have never experienced that don't get what that feels like, and you can't blame them for that. But if you have some true friends who will stick by you, do whatever you can to keep them for life.

                          I would also concur with doing whatever you can do to minimize the amount you take out of student loans, if any. You should be eligible for scholarships and you should definitely work out declaring yourself as independent from your mother (meaning she can no longer claim you on her taxes) because that will be HUGE with respect to obtaining financial aid. Also, this sucks, but if horses are your love, then I would try to get a degree that can give your the $$ to support your love. Which right now is accounting, statistics or IT (surely not a perfect list but something like Women's Studies isn't going to get you a career in the next 10 years - advance apologies to anyone out there with that degree).

                          Finally, I would say that your mother is doing you a favor in the long run by cutting you off. My parents literally kicked me out and cut me off at 16 - as in "here is a check for $100, good luck to you and be out within 24 hours" (for very good reasons, I was a total nightmare). As hard as that was, I think it made me realize that I was the only person that could be responsible for how my life turned out and it taught me how to deal with the inevitable unfairness of life.

                          You will amaze yourself at just how strong you can be when you have to be.


                          • #14
                            For the record, I don't think you sound whiny, but you are experiencing the sudden presentation of adult decisions Welcome to adulthood

                            You have gotten some good advice so far. I don't know that I have any unique additional advice other than to say you are not alone when it comes to dealing with dysfunctional family relations. In my case, the best thing was to really strike out on my own and stay away from the drama. Much easier said than done, but I am much happier once I took control of my life and who I chose to include in it.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Courtney210 View Post
                              I don't think student loans are the worst idea ever either. Apply through FAFSA and you will get really low, reasonable rates, and there is a lot of flexibility with income-based repayment plans to pay them off after your done. Understandable that you feel like everything is crashing down you at once, but keep your chin up as it WILL get better. And you definitely deserve a big congratulations for graduating as valedictorian. Good for you!
                              If you have to use income based repayment for your loans-- you don't make enough to have horses.

                              Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and at 25 years old I will tell you that having $50k looming over your head when you also have to buy a car, feed yourself, and consider owning a horse, is not easy.

                              If you don't absolutely have to do it, DON'T. Horses will be there when you get out and you will avoid 10+ years of indentured servitude.

                              As far as those claiming that you should work to become an independent student, there is much more to that than simply not claiming you on their taxes. You would have to go through your individual school and prove that the situation is abusive or dangerous to you, and that you have no ties whatsoever to your family. The process is very strict otherwise everyone would just say "my parents won't pay" to get more $$ from the government. I would expect the process to take a year or more, even with proof of substantial abuse or neglect.

                              A very good friend of mine is a financial aid officer at a large public university (20k students or so) and they have issued exactly 2 hardship exceptions to the dependency rules in the past 4 years. For a student body of 20,000. I would not expect this to work in your case.
                              Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                              you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.


                              • #16
                                Alter, when you go to university you should have insurance through school, to see someone about depression. Not that animals aren't great emotional support for many people, but the horse is not your therapist or your doctor - if you do suffer from depression you need to be assessed properly. You need support and skills that will allow you to get better regardless of what happens with the horse. The horse could die tomorrow, and then where would you be?

                                Your mom and grandma have been very generous to you thus far (in comparison I never even got lessons, and I didn't own a car until I was 23 and bought a used one myself), but medical and frankly their own living expenses and even "wants" come before the wants of their adult offspring. It's very hard to afford a horse while going to college unless your parents pay for it, and you might have to look into options like leasing or selling (if you're connected with a trainer, I'd look into leasing, maybe even to the trainer for a lesson program?). But no way are you being "cut off" - your mother is willing to house and feed you, a legal adult. She doesn't have to do that. Education will be important to affording horses in the future; it doesn't have to be college - what do you want to do? Maybe a skilled trade, for which an apprenticeship would work better?

                                You have to make some hard financial choices. Student loans (for school only, and only the barest minimum you need) may be one. If you find a part lease, working really hard in the summer to pay for the rest might be another option: this would mean not working for your trainer for lessons/showing, it would mean getting a full-time summer job and working for money, to pay your horse's expenses.
                                Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by soloudinhere View Post
                                  As far as those claiming that you should work to become an independent student, there is much more to that than simply not claiming you on their taxes. You would have to go through your individual school and prove that the situation is abusive or dangerous to you, and that you have no ties whatsoever to your family. The process is very strict otherwise everyone would just say "my parents won't pay" to get more $$ from the government. I would expect the process to take a year or more, even with proof of substantial abuse or neglect.
                                  I did a little research, and like everything else, the college landscape has become so much more difficult than when I was a student!

                                  It looks like if you are a student in OP's position you are basically screwed. Your parents won't pay, but the schools assume that they are paying.

                                  Here's what FAFSA says:

                                  In the federal government’s eyes, all students are considered primarily responsible for funding their higher education. But the government also recognizes that most parents contribute financially on some level. Parents provide assistance whether they’ve been saving for years to fund their child’s degree or simply provide housing while their children study.

                                  Taking this into account, the federal government applies two different standards for students, one for dependent students and one for independent students. Dependent students are assumed to have parental support while independent students are not. The result: independent students might qualify for more aid.

                                  Being considered an independent student is not merely a matter of being responsible for your own educational expenses. You must meet certain criteria to be declared an independent student for the purposes of the FAFSA:

                                  Be 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year;
                                  Be an orphan (both parents deceased), ward of the court, in foster care or was a ward of the court when 13 years or older;
                                  Be a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States or serving on active duty for other than training purposes;
                                  Be a graduate or professional student;
                                  Be a married individual;
                                  Have legal dependents other than a spouse;
                                  Be an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship;
                                  Be a homeless youth;
                                  Be a student for whom a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination of independence by reason of other unusual circumstances.
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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by halo View Post
                                    And I definitely agree about not taking out student loans. Listen to some of the Dave Ramsey show archives, people still paying off student loans at 40 and 50 years of age. If you are paying off loans, you can't have horses.
                                    Agree with this! Do whatever it takes to avoid as much debt as possible. School loans/credit cards/etc built up at a young age limit the choices you'll get to make in the next few years. Spend some time on https://www.mytotalmoneymakeover.com/ (dave ramsey site) - I think they do a free trial membership or some of the forums/articles might just be free to view. Lots of good budgeting/financial info.

                                    Step one is going to be to figure out a budget for yourself and include ALL horse expenses and college. Don't forget to include setting something aside for emergencies. What will be your plan if your horse colics? Do you have the money set aside ready to deal with something like a car breaking down?

                                    Can you support yourself and afford both college and the horse without borrowing money? If not, something has to give and unfortunately it will probably be the horse, at least for now. Can you 1/2 or full lease her in the barn you're currently at to give yourself some breathing room, even if just short term? If she's decent enough, can you lease her out for some $ and give yourself a little something for school and living?

                                    Obviously horses are important to you. Leasing or selling your mare doesn't have to mean no horses. Can you find a way to stay involved that is less expensive or even makes you a little more money? Can you hack things for your trainer for free or continue to work off lessons on school horses? Anyone in the area with a green horse willing to let you ride it for free for mileage?

                                    I'd get REALLY good at braiding and clipping and start marketing yourself. I'd also start looking for a "real" job with enough regularity that you can have some sort of stability to your income beyond the "odd jobs" you currently do. Or build the odd jobs into more full time. Market your house/pet sitting services as a real business.

                                    Good luck and try to stay positive! Yes, it's a bummer that your family is unable to help any longer and that there was no notice that this was coming, but try to keep an open mind that it is also empowering to support yourself and maybe this all may lead you to some great new opportunities.


                                    • #19
                                      I have great sympathy for you as I saw this happen to a friend of mine recently whose parents cut her off at the beginning of her senior year in high school, more or less to force her to sell her horse, and then wanted to force her back into their fold once the deed was done. By that point though, she'd found a job and a place to live (where she did barn chores in exchange for board) and was not interested. Since she was 18 by that point, there wasn't much they could do.

                                      University and living situation:
                                      Call your school and talk to them about your financial aid options. I'm assumuming that since you were a valedictorian you probably also have very good SAT or ACT scores and were highly sought after. YOu'll be amazed what sorts of finaical incentives and scholarships are available, from loans to grants to work/study. But you won't find out until you seriously persue your options. If something is not available there, shop yourself around to other schools, especially small, private schools. They sometimes will give a good student a full ride just to get you in the door.

                                      There may also be scholarship houses where you can live for free or reduced board, so long as you keep your grades up and participate in a program of some sort or another. Even in lieu of a scholarship house, look into university dorms - these will be cheaper for you than an apartment and sometimes your payments include a meal plan. It does sound like this type of situation would truely benefit you as it will get you out of your home situation, which is not ideal.

                                      Student loans, used judiciously and supplemented by the scholarships you should qualify for, are not horrible and for most people, whose parents either cannot or will not support them, are an unaviodable neccessity. You take them and you pay them back over 20 years. If you have a good job and can afford it, you pay them back faster. It sucks, but that's life in these United States nowadays.

                                      It sounds, as many people have said, that you need some sort of partial lease on your horse, whether it is to your instructor as a lesson horse (if they can afford it) or to another rider. Build into the lease that you can come out and ride one day a week. That keeps you in the world and in contact with your horse, but will minimize your financial outlay. If your instuctor will let you and you have time, by all means work for lessons, etc.


                                      • #20
                                        It doesn't help with the horses, but what about going into the military for a few years?
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