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Spin off: Financial strain of horses

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    Spin off: Financial strain of horses

    Spinoff of my "quitting" thread. Several of you mentioned the huge financial strain of horses and how relieved you were/will be when you took/take a break. It got me thinking. How do you justify the immense financial strain of horse ownership? What would you do with your money if you didn't have horses? I thought this would be an interesting topic.

    For me....well, I do have a horse but he is on retirement board and not super expensive. I am able to put more money towards debt payments than I was when he was in full training and boarded at a premier facility. I feel like we travel more, and I have a Pure Barre membership. We are also trying to save up for some home renovations. I dunno. Some days the thought of throwing all that money towards horses again gives me anxiety and sometimes I think, "It's totally worth it."

    What are your thoughts?

    #2
    I actually think about this quite often. My horse typically costs me between $800 - $1200 per month, depending on what I need, whether I have shows, clinics etc., and that would be a considerable amount of extra money staying in my pocket! I'd potentially take on a bigger mortgage with the extra cash (upgrade), simply invest/save more, travel more often or perhaps spoil myself with material items more. I'm typically pretty minimal when it comes to purchasing clothing, makeup, etc., not so much for my horse though. I still think that my horse is worth every stinkin' penny, but if I did ever give it up, even temporarily, I think that I would pursue one of those items. Definitely an eye opener! I always envy the non-horsey people and all of the money they don't have to spend on them...lol.

    Comment


      #3
      Iced coffee... and then more iced coffee...

      But really-- I don't like "stuff" so makeup/clothes (other than shoes, unfortunately...) isn't my thing. I'd probably travel and do other outdoor activities MUCH more.

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        #4
        I'm very lucky. I'm single and have a good paying job. I've never had to worry about horse expenses. Three years ago I had to start taking a pension from a previous job. That pension now covers my horse expenses.....
        Proud member of Appendix QH clique

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          #5
          I know several people, myself included, who are at a point where showing at big shows isn't that important any more and when you think about how costly that can be, knocking those expenses out can be a nice chunk of change. Some friends have taken up other equestrian pursuits. A trainer friend of mine has gone back to fox hunting more now, and some of her clients are now members of her hunt too. I've got a list of international competitions on my bucket list so that's where my show money is going.

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            #6
            Guess we are just immersed in horses, would not know what to do with ourselves! We spend much less than what folks on COTH seem to average a month. We bought a house with acreage years ago, bought adjoining acres when they became available, with everything now paid off. We put up our own hay this year, with hay produced value, equaling half what we paid for purchased hay last year. Expecting a second cutting, which will offset machinery purchases even more. I consider machinery an investment. We can do our hay, get the purchase price back if we sell the machinery, so upkeep is the cost of doing hay. Who knows, we might even have enough hay to sell some!

            We do things on the cheap as much as possible, buying used tack, equipment, vehicles. Then use them until they fall apart or we find another bargin, sell the old item. Trailers are OLD, just keep fixing them. They are safe for horses and hauling. Just upkeep expenses, tires, servicing regularly. Taking care of things like tack, makes them last almost forever, easily resold for good money if not needed anymore.

            We don't jump on every new fad in horse keeping that comes along. We investigate truths and misleading advertising statements before any changes, or don't change anything. We have developed a healthy scepticism when hearing about new "miracle products" in feed, training methods or treatments of problems. This does keep us looking rather old-fashioned in horse keeping practices, but horses are happy, work hard if asked, mentally and physically sound way into their 20's. We always get compliments on their shiny looks when we go out to compete or enjoy outings with other horse folks. They get good pasture, plain grain mixed to our recipe, vitamins, good hay in winter. Very basic in food here which keeps costs down.

            These things all add up, make a big savings in horse expenses for us. I saved hard when employed, did not have much in payment buying. Husband also saved hard. We have a comfortable cushion for old age, not rich, but should be adequate. We both came from families that were poor, NEVER want to go there again. We did get some short time loans for a few things, land, barn, professional fencing work, a big tractor. Mostly "we saved up" for things, paid cash or went without. Did not want to get caught up in debt. Bred our own future competition horses, trained them ourselves, instead of buying older, experienced ones.

            Without horses we might travel more, though I can't see us flying all over or going the RV lifestyle. Not sure what we could fill the day hours with, if horses were gone? Gardening is fun, but not full time! My home will never be immaculate. It has nice things, but not expensive things, some antiques, so we are comfortable. I gain weight easily trying to be a cook, better to not go there! Forced gym type exercise never works, but just doing daily chores does keep us fairly fit, plus uses up our days. I have very good bone density, way better than other folks my age. Another benefit of hoisting bales, water buckets and stall cleaning! I LIKE my horses, enjoy being out with them, using them.

            A couple relatives think they won't retire, because they will have nothing to do. They have money, can buy things, do travel. Being home for Corona lockdowns has brought a lot of new thinking into the picture. They don't have horses. House and workshop are limited areas to play in full time.

            Horses are not a burden here in expenses. They do cost to own, but I really can't think of any other "fun" things I would rather buy with the money. Our lives, expenses, planning, activities, are pretty much lived around the horses. And we enjoy doing things that way with horsey friends!

            Comment


              #7
              Things are relative. I used to think of horses as financial suicide, and put off ownership for over a decade. Now that I took the plunge, it is much better than anticipated. The numbers are the same. He costs probably $1500 a month not including tack purchases.
              Originally posted by Equkelly;n10679061

              Jeez now I know why COTH has a reputation of being a bunch of overaged mean girls.

              Comment


                #8
                I stopped riding in college because I didn't have the time, and then later didn't have the time or money. I returned to riding in my 40s when I had a good full-time job, expecting it to be prohibitively expensive to own a horse these days. But I ended up in a self board situation in the suburbs that is affordable, and my horse care costs don't make much of a dent in my salary.

                However I don't think I really have the cash, the focus, or the drive to compete. If I wanted to do that in any serious way I'd need an entirely different horse and to be in a proper training and show barn. I have however bought a second vehicle pick-up truck and trailer for trail riding and camping. Right now I am happy for this to be my Major Hobby until I age out. I traveled a lot and lived abroad in my 20s and 30s and 40s. Now that I'm back here, I love the varied landscapes in my home province and love riding them.

                It would be very difficult for me to pay say $50,000 for a horse and $1200 a month training board plus show fees. I could probably afford it on paper but I don't have enough of a drive to go that direction, to follow through.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Most of my “fun money” goes toward riding. Outside of some vacations here and there and some outings with friends, it’s what I want to do for fun! If I were not (finally, belatedly) contributing to retirement savings, I would be able to afford somewhat more as far as owning and showing/clinic-ing locally. I do not expect to ever have the budget or the appetite to compete seriously. While there are certainly other things I could do with that fun money, I am comfortable that I’m not putting myself in a financial hole. It’s as valid as any other hobby.

                  How one wants to “do” horses and how much one is willing to sacrifice to ride/own/show is definitely a personal decision.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I honestly think if you're at the point where you're resenting the money and thinking of all the awesome things you can do with it than that's another sign that a break is a good idea. I think most of us spend an exorbitant amount of money on horses (I'm up to about 2k monthly now that I'm too preggo to ride and my horse is in full training), but I really have never had a time where I thought "if I had that money back I could do X." That said my husband jokes about it so I know he thinks about it, but he's supportive and I'm the higher earner by a lot so it's not a real issue. I used to be pretty into clothes and I do like food but as I get older the idea of spending $200 a person on a fancy meal just feels ludicrous to me even though I would happily spend that on a ride with a good clinician. I guess I might travel more but you can only do so much with a full time job and I like having weekends to work on our house and yard and hand with the animals.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I remember turning 18 and selling the very fancy expensive horse that had expensive, close to 2k a month bill (I don’t even make that working full time)

                      I managed to buy a 700$ horse that ended up being fancy, and another 1500$ horse that ended up being the best little thing. I managed to meet my husband at the right time, if I didn’t there wouldn’t be any horses

                      He is also shocked an appalled that people pay as much as they do for horses, board, etc. He grew up being horse crazy but they’ve all lived out in pasture etc (all of our horses live like that now)

                      I’d imagine we would maybe go on more trips? I’m not a big traveler unless it’s horsie related. Plus with having livestock/horses etc traveling always sounds risky.
                      https://www.instagram.com/streamlinesporthorses/

                      Comment


                        #12
                        How do you justify the immense financial strain of horse ownership?
                        Our primary reason for having horses was to be used to help raise our four children, the the kids showed their horses across the US and even made a trip to Regina Canada. We wanted the horses to be here at home so bought enough land to keep the horses at home. We used the horses to teach our kids about life and how to rebound when faced with failures.

                        Admittedly we spent hundreds of thousand dollars on the horses.

                        The unknown and unexpected proved to make us look like we knew what we were doing. The Land of the pastures is worth much more than we have spent on the horses as it is highly desired, now priced by the square foot rather than acre. Then an unexpected finding of owning the minerals rights nearly repaid all of the expenses we had incurred.

                        We are on to the second and third generations these days.(both daughters now have horses here and grand kids have their ponies) They are still showing, even have one horse already entered in the 2020 Grand National Morgan Show that isn't until October.

                        We try to buy equipment wisely and take care of what we had purchased. A few weeks ago daughter was returning with her horse stopping for fuel. Several horse people were looking at her trailer, commenting on how nice it was. They thought it was a nearly new, but it is fourteen years old, we just take care of it We have Baker Blankets that are coming up on 70 years old that all in good shape (and just reordered a show sheet for Socks from the same company we got Foxie's from that is now 35 years old and still looks new)

                        We were once told we were crazy by many of our friends as we spent the money on the horses, but they spent their money on attorney fees keeping their kids out of legal problems.

                        No one knows until the end if what you have done is brilliant or foolish

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Sometimes I momentarily question how friends or family can afford that trip/wedding/house/car/kids/etc, and then I remember they don’t have horses

                          I justify it because I love my horses, I love my hobby, and I don’t have something “better” to spend my money on.
                          I consider myself fiscally responsible. My only debt is our mortgage. I put money away for retirement every month. I have an emergency fund. And when my car dies I’ll be able to pay cash for most of it.

                          If I weren’t involved with horses I would probably take up another hobby. Maybe a cheaper one? I would probably save more for retirement. Maybe do the bathroom reno this year instead of in two years. But none of that sounds like as much fun as spoiling my horse, going for a hack, or jumping around a course.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            How do I justify the financial strain: I only have one life to live and horses are what I want to spend my time and disposable income on, more than anything else in the world. I will say, I show locally and not for weeks at a time, and I have an inexpensive (to purchase) horse. Even if I had the finances to spend six figures on a horse, I probably wouldn't because every horse is on a mission to maim or kill themselves on the daily, whether they cost $1 or $100,000

                            What would I spend my money on if the horses disappeared tomorrow: I have no idea. I would probably not owe anything in student loans at this point? But for hobbies/fun/recreation, I have no clue. I guess I could buy more clothes and go on more vacations which would be fun I guess.

                            At Christmas time every year, my mother and I joke about how we don't know what non horse people buy each other for Christmas. iPads? Clothes? What do non horse people do?!?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              "Even if I had the finances to spend six figures on a horse, I probably wouldn't because every horse is on a mission to maim or kill themselves on the daily, whether they cost $1 or $100,000."

                              My thoughts exactly! I've only bought one horse out of four so far. I have trouble imagining paying 5 figures, would have to be guaranteed to win--and would that be any fun when it wasn't from my training?
                              That's fine, many of us have slid down this slippery slope and became very happy (and broke) doing it. We may not have a retirement, but we have memories ...

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Originally posted by skipollo View Post
                                How do I justify the financial strain: I only have one life to live and horses are what I want to spend my time and disposable income on, more than anything else in the world.
                                I think this captures my sentiment really well. When I zoom out and think about the amount of money spent monthly, annually, or over a lifetime, it's a nauseating amount of money. We still have buckets of debt so I have days where I think about what it would be like to throw that money towards debt and build up a big retirement account. However, we are financially secure, just chipping away at things more slowly. Outside of it being responsible, the only real reason I want to be debt-free is to pursue horses and DH finally convinced me we could do both on a more modest scale simultaneously.

                                Since I was 6 years old there is nothing I've wanted to do more than be a horse owner, learn about horses, and grow as a horsewoman. I started reading COTH when I was still young enough that I was doing weekly lessons and waiting each summer for horse camp. If I have a down moment I'm researching a product or reading a training article. It is in my blood and gives me life.

                                The only other thing I can think of doing with that money outside of debt/savings that would bring me joy would be to donate it. I do at times struggle with thinking about the potential impact that all of this money could have in my community. To offset that I work in public health, we try to volunteer frequently, and I foster slews of orphaned kittens.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by skipollo View Post
                                  How do I justify the financial strain: I only have one life to live and horses are what I want to spend my time and disposable income on, more than anything else in the world. I will say, I show locally and not for weeks at a time, and I have an inexpensive (to purchase) horse. Even if I had the finances to spend six figures on a horse, I probably wouldn't because every horse is on a mission to maim or kill themselves on the daily, whether they cost $1 or $100,000
                                  Pretty much this.

                                  If I wasn't spending a large portion of my pay on horses, I'd probably get some stuff fixed up around the house and maybe travel a bit.

                                  ...And then I'd get bored and save the rest to buy myself a nice horse. :P

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by HeyJealousy View Post
                                    Spinoff of my "quitting" thread. Several of you mentioned the huge financial strain of horses and how relieved you were/will be when you took/take a break. It got me thinking. How do you justify the immense financial strain of horse ownership? What would you do with your money if you didn't have horses? I thought this would be an interesting topic.

                                    For me....well, I do have a horse but he is on retirement board and not super expensive. I am able to put more money towards debt payments than I was when he was in full training and boarded at a premier facility. I feel like we travel more, and I have a Pure Barre membership. We are also trying to save up for some home renovations. I dunno. Some days the thought of throwing all that money towards horses again gives me anxiety and sometimes I think, "It's totally worth it."

                                    What are your thoughts?
                                    When my 30something yr old mare of 27 yrs passed away, I was devastated, but I was paying almost a mortgage payment between board, chopped hay, senior feed and pellets for her to keep her alive. Not to mention vet, farrier, etc. It was a huge difference in money! One thing I have learned with having my pony at home is how much easier and cheaper it is to home board if you are not showing and doing lessons. Yes it is more on me for maintenance and his care, but the financial offset is worth it. Now if I could only get my cc's and my mares vet bill from her hospital stay finally paid off!!

                                    If I didn't have horses we would not have this house, mortgage would be lower, honestly I might be single then..but thats another story :/. I would have my debts completely paid off in a couple yrs and then only have student loans to work on. But I feel like the pony and my bills keep me grounded and humble, and my kids n animals are healthy n happy, which is fine with me.

                                    Out of curiosity op, what area are you in and can you find a cheaper retirement situation for your guy? When I was dying financially one of my friends took my pony to live on her 5acres. Which turned into 15acres when they stopped trying to keep the neighbors cows on their 10 acres lolol. But it saved me about 250/mo from his pasture board for a couple yrs!
                                    Last edited by carman_liz; Jun. 26, 2020, 06:38 AM. Reason: Its is early and fat thumbs!

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      If we didn't have horses, we'd probably have nicer cars and electronics. I'll take the horses

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        I waited until I was in my 30's to buy a horse after childhood/teenage/early adult years spent leasing or begging rides. It felt like a financial plunge, but it honestly hasn't been as bad (generally) as I expected. It does help that I waited until my income was high enough that I could easily absorb the costs. I do sometimes ponder what I spend on my horse (I try to avoid adding it up, haha, but it's in the $800-$1000 a month range, with fluctuations) and think of what I could buy with it instead. I could buy a fancy shmancy new car, rather than the 11 year old Nissan I'm driving now. I would enjoy it. But, my car spends the vast majority of its time sitting in my driveway, and driving to the grocery store or train station definitely isn't my passion. I could buy designer clothes or bags, but...at the end of the day, that's just stuff. I can still save away for some splurges when I want to treat myself. I do enjoy traveling, but not to the tune of multiple trips a year...saving up for an international trip every 2-3 years generally satisfies my wanderlust. I can swing that now. I could save more, but I already set aside money for retirement, and have since I first started working...and I'm of the mind that balancing the wants and needs of here and now with those of the future is important, since ultimately, our future is never promised.

                                        So echoing others...this is what I most want to spend my money on! Even with the ups and down of horse ownership, I've found it to be more rewarding and enjoyable than I ever imagined, even after 20+ years of pining. Nothing else is going to fill that space in my life, at least not now.

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