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Cutting Expenses in Horses

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  • Cutting Expenses in Horses

    My DH (we're common law, formed in another state other than NC, and are having a wedding next year. Let's get that out of the way first LOL) is not happy over the amount of money we're spending on horses. I am not looking to ditch the man, he's a good man and we're very happy together. I think he has some valid points, like paying for renovations, saving for retirement, saving for when we have children, getting out of debt - those are the things he'd rather be spending money on. He's very frugal and doesn't agree with having horses the way I want to have my horses. I would like to hear what other couples have done to alleviate the stress/tension/unhappiness.

    The issues -

    - I have an excellent income. I'm miserable at work and have fantasies of quiting. He's afraid I'll snap and quit. I'm job hunting, but will probably take a pay cut.
    - He doesn't have a good income, but just got hired at a second commission only life insurance sales job. He should make decent with this. It will help him be more comfortable
    - He wants all of our bills to be paid months ahead and have money in savings and be able to just write checks for emergencies and not have to pull out of savings. I am comfortable with less reserves than he is.
    - He doesn't want to board. He wants to buy land. I've managed farms before, to have the same set up we have at the boarding barn we board at would cost more than we pay in board. And, I like having friends to ride with. And, I like not having to drive somewhere to feed twice a day. He doesn't want to live in the sticks on a horse property anymore. We've done it, it's not for us. That's fine. I don't want to have my horses in my care and not live there. BTDT
    - He doesn't believe I am okay with putting a limit on vet bills and he thinks I will resent putting the horse to sleep, if and when we reach the money limit. He doesn't feel comfortable putting a 'price' on my horse's life. I really am more practical at my advanced age and I'm okay with it.
    - My board is very reasonable, but I use a sport horse vet and farrier. I don't want to give on this. It would save us $$$$ if I did. Or, it would cost us money when my horse doesn't get treated properly the first time around. Either or.
    - My mare will not be leased. My gelding is in the giveaways now as a free lease to own (I want someone to free lease him for 6 months prior to signing him over). I feel bad leasing/selling/giving away a 20 year old horse.

    Sorry this is so long. He's not being a jerk. He's not demanding I sell/give a way/whatever with my horses. I know he's unhappy, and I think that this is a partnership and I know that the money we're spending is affecting our retirement and things we *need* to spend money on. I would like to cut the budget so that John is happier in the long run. This is more of a proactive move to alleviate the tension than a last ditch attempt to keep him happy. Selling the man is *not* an option. He's in the right here and I'm being irresponsible, and that's not fair to him.

    **Updated

    It’s been almost 2 months since I started this and I wanted to update on a few things –

    - There are no plans to lease my gelding. My mare is fully retired now and the gelding is my ride. We’re planning some hunter paces with my new trainer and maybe some tadpole/baby level events with him for the next few months.
    - The difference in how my horse moves with his good shoes on vs how he moved with the crappy shoes he’s been wearing and seeing him limp around barefoot for a week showed DH how important farrier work is and why my farrier is worth the money. The guy we’d been using near VA shod everything the same, and it wasn’t a nice job at all.
    - DH made horses farrier appt at 5 weeks vs the 8 I specified because the farrier told him it was better. LOL Horse really needs to be done at 7 – 8 because he grows very slow, but I’m happy he’s doing what’s right for the horse.
    - I’m taking lessons twice a month with a local eventer/jumper to get me back in shape.
    - I’ve ridden at least twice a week since the horse was shod.

    We’ve talked about a limit of $ for the current two horses in an emergency, and honestly it’s pretty low for the mare and not much higher for the gelding. I’m fine with it. We also put a limit on each cat.

    I’m changing jobs November 15th to a lower stress, lower pay job in my home town, and plan to try and find somewhere to teach up/downs, groom, and work off a lease of a show horse. Horses have been a huge part of my life for twenty years now, and I miss them. I really miss them. My lesson last night was awesome, I jumped little stuff and had a blast.

    There haven’t been complaints about the money since I’m riding and using my horses more. In fact, we’ve spent more money (HP fees, lesson fees, farrier, etc…) and he’s encouraging the trainer and the competing.
    Last edited by StefffiC; Sep. 19, 2012, 02:11 PM.


  • #2
    When I was looking to save money on my horses, I started keeping track of EVERYTHING I was spending on them. Board, vet, farrier obviously. Supplements, grain, treats, tack, etc. Drop it all into a spreadsheet and be honest about it. When I did that, I was floored and was able to cut a lot just by seeing it all laid out.

    And with regard to the vet: can you use a basic vet for the basic work and call out the sport horse vet for any complicated work that crops up? I have relationships with several vets and use them for different things and it works out quite well.

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't know that I agree with you being irresponsible. I do agree you need a healthy savings account, but I don't know anyone who pays their bills way in advance (nor should you, in the case of a dispute or cancelling service getting your $$ back is a royal PITA). I think he is a bit of an idealist.

      I also agree with not having your horses where you are not living and doing all the care yourself, it is very draining and in an emergency can be a big issue. If you wanted to, your choice, but you don't.

      Is the mare on any supplements? Does the barn supply grain or do you? Maybe a ration balanced could work and be cheaper. Perhaps she could go barefoot or barefoot behind? All depends on your mare. But once your gelding is placed (and if he is sound and a good riding horse, 20 is not incredibly old so don't feel bad!) Your bills will cut in half so that is already a big help.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by Simkie View Post
        When I was looking to save money on my horses, I started keeping track of EVERYTHING I was spending on them. Board, vet, farrier obviously. Supplements, grain, treats, tack, etc. Drop it all into a spreadsheet and be honest about it. When I did that, I was floored and was able to cut a lot just by seeing it all laid out.

        And with regard to the vet: can you use a basic vet for the basic work and call out the sport horse vet for any complicated work that crops up? I have relationships with several vets and use them for different things and it works out quite well.
        I would rather not. The boarding barn has a relationship with a basic vet where I can get coggins pulled, but the basic vet doesn't see eye to eye with me on chronic laminitis/IR horses care. On Friday we gave her a rabies vaccine and the vet put her on Banamine, Ace, and Dipyrone for 48 hours, that's something that the basic vets won't do for me. She's a complicated horse.

        DH tracks every penny we spend for the horses. Then he figures the cost per ride at the end of every month. FWIW, he's a graphic designer and I'm a Business Analyst/Billing specialist. I think the cost per ride is funny, and it's even funnier that he keeps up with it.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm interested to see responses because I, too, am trying to "cut back" with horse expenses. We were looking at bank statements, and last month I spent nearly twice as much as our verbal budget allows. I had NO idea. Seriously. NONE. Some of that money was spent on a lease-to-sell horse, so I will be getting paid back for it when he does sell, but still. Oiy.

          I think I am pretty frugal when it comes to my horse. He gets basic farrier work for under $100 every six weeks. Thankfully he doesn't have special farrier needs. Board is super cheap because it is self-care, and since its only four minutes away it's not a hassle. He is on Pennfield Fibergized and Orchard Grass hay, which are the most expensive "costs" associated with him. However, I am not willing to feed him Bermuda hay because of the colic risk and I HATE dealing with the mess it makes, and the Fibergized has helped cool him down under saddle, so that is non-negotiable as well.

          As for supplements, he is on Vita-Biotin crumbles, which is $16 per tub. I have Vita-B1 as well, but I only give it to him on show days, so it lasts forever.

          I'm going to implement the spreadsheet idea because it IS the little things, like fly spray, treats, and random little things we pick up at the feed/tack store that add up in a hurry, even if we don't realize it.

          OP I completely understand your wanting to cut back on expenses to ease tensions, and I respect you admitting that it is not unreasonable.
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          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by magicteetango View Post
            I don't know that I agree with you being irresponsible. I do agree you need a healthy savings account, but I don't know anyone who pays their bills way in advance (nor should you, in the case of a dispute or cancelling service getting your $$ back is a royal PITA). I think he is a bit of an idealist.

            I also agree with not having your horses where you are not living and doing all the care yourself, it is very draining and in an emergency can be a big issue. If you wanted to, your choice, but you don't.

            Is the mare on any supplements? Does the barn supply grain or do you? Maybe a ration balanced could work and be cheaper. Perhaps she could go barefoot or barefoot behind? All depends on your mare. But once your gelding is placed (and if he is sound and a good riding horse, 20 is not incredibly old so don't feel bad!) Your bills will cut in half so that is already a big help.
            @the bills - he pays the mortgage and car payment in advance, the other monthly bills he doesn't pay up as far. He hasn't changed car insurance providers in 22 years, he'd had the same cell phone provider for 12 years until I talked him into switching 2 years ago. He's pretty stable.

            @the age of the horse - I still feel bad for dumping an older horse.

            The horse I'm keeping long term is barefoot all the way around, rarely wears shoes, I trim her myself, she sees the laminitis specialist once or twice a year. She's on a senior low carb feed that she really likes so she'll eat her new meds for COPD, I buy that outright for now, but I imagine it will be included in board next month. I just changed her feed on Friday because her new meds have a strong taste and she loves the Wellness Senior from Seminole. So, I went and bought the food since it's a 30 minute drive from the barn to buy her feed.

            Thank you guys. I love the horses and had them prior to meeting him. I also love the man and want to keep both.

            Comment


            • #7
              Why is he 'afraid you'd snap and quit' your high income job? Usually breadwinners are very responsible people.

              Also, if you are able to afford the horses on your own, and they came with you when you entered into the relationship, much like children, he should be very careful what he requests you do or change when it comes to their care.

              Most equestrians I know have a financial limit on medical expenses on their horses or other pets. Since you own two horses, I hope you know what your limit should be for one procedure/operation.

              Lots to think about, eh?

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by runNjump86 View Post

                I'm going to implement the spreadsheet idea because it IS the little things, like fly spray, treats, and random little things we pick up at the feed/tack store that add up in a hurry, even if we don't realize it.

                OP I completely understand your wanting to cut back on expenses to ease tensions, and I respect you admitting that it is not unreasonable.
                I work too many hours to deal with the horse's myself, so DH goes to Tractor Supply or Southern States with a list I've printed off of the internet and buys our horse's stuff. He usually holds them for the farrier and held them for the vet. He's a really good man for a city boy with no horse experience.

                No, it's not unreasonable at all. We spend 30 - 35% of my base net salary on the horses. We're not feeling it because I'm working 30+ hours of OT every week, but when I go back to normal hours we'll feel it. We're spending about 10% of our combined net salaries on my two horses. We spent about 4% of our combined net salary on his hobby (telescopes/astronomy) this year and that's an unusually high amount because he built himself a new 10" scope. We also spent about 5% of our combined net on vet bills for our cats. So, that's a sizeable chunk of our income going to animals and hobbies.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Spending 15 percent of disposable income on hobbies is not a lot, as long as you're not in debt and meeting savings goals. I'm as cheap as they come, but you also have to enjoy yourself in this life.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Eggplant_Dressing View Post
                    Why is he 'afraid you'd snap and quit' your high income job? Usually breadwinners are very responsible people.

                    Also, if you are able to afford the horses on your own, and they came with you when you entered into the relationship, much like children, he should be very careful what he requests you do or change when it comes to their care.

                    Most equestrians I know have a financial limit on medical expenses on their horses or other pets. Since you own two horses, I hope you know what your limit should be for one procedure/operation.

                    Lots to think about, eh?
                    My job is very high stress. There has been some shakeups in management, my commute is terrible, and I'm miserable. I've come home crying two days last week. And, I keep saying I want to quit. But, wanting to and doing it are different things and I won't quit because we need the paycheck and the insurance.

                    I did have horses when we met. I had 3, but I was healing from an injury. Prior to the injury I was healing from I leased a small barn and broke youngsters and taught lessons. After we were together I've managed small to mid size operations, had training clients, worked as a groom for a jumper trainer... I've always been involved in the industry. I am not involved now because my real job takes so much of my time that I'm content to ride my ponies that are old and well behaved and just chill. I miss it badly.

                    I've never had a limit for my mare and spent crazy money when she had issues before. But, I was young, single, the mare was young, and I didn't have to clear that decision with anyone.

                    Even though I came into the relationship with the horses I still think that he has some say in the money we spend on the horses. Yes, if I were single with the job I have now I could afford the two horses easily. But, we're married and either through pregnancy (I'm really high risk) or adoption we want to have a child. We are renovating the house we live in. Saving for retirement, college for our child that we plan, etc... needs to be happening. I don't have any issue with him saying 'I'm not comfortable with the amount of money we're spending on horses, what can we do? Can we downsize a horse? Can we buy land and have them at home? What options do we have?'. I would rather hear that than get blindsided by him leaving because he feels like we're being fiscally irresponsible and he can't take it anymore. I don't think we're near that point, but if we don't do something soon we could be.

                    If he were showing his rear end and telling me to get rid of my horses or else and being ugly about it I would have no issue with what the answer would be. This is a respectful discussion and when we combined our finances and our lives I gave up the right to make money decisions alone. I'm comfortable with that.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by lolalola View Post
                      Spending 15 percent of disposable income on hobbies is not a lot, as long as you're not in debt and meeting savings goals. I'm as cheap as they come, but you also have to enjoy yourself in this life.
                      Next year he won't spend as much because we now have two nice scopes and a lot of equipment. So, his percentage will go down.

                      We do have some debt, but only carry one small car payment and a cheap mortgage. Our debt to income ratio is small compared to the American average. We have stupid phones with no data, we don't have cable, we live very simply, too.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You had horses when he met you, you make the vast majority of the income in your relationship, you're giving away a horse, and he still wants you to cut back on horse expenses? And I don't think *anyone* I know pays their bills months in advance, either. Seems like his expectations are unreasonable IMHO.
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                        • #13
                          Well, you seem to be very responsible. Would it aid your husband if there was a "horse fund" that you paid in to that would be a theoretical max of vet spend for the older mare? Self insurance, since she's too old to insure?

                          Frankly, he doesn't sound unreasonable, but just like someone who wants to have all the ducks in a row if the shit hits the fan.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Owning horses right now is rapidly becoming more and more expensive. Feed costs are only going to go up and up as this drought continues. That said---Giving up my horses would not be something I could (or would) do---they are as much a part of me as my arm or leg. My arm and leg have to eat, but, they can survive on a bag lunch and they also don't have to wear designer jeans and fancy nail polish!
                            I've done the horse spreadsheet and cut costs to the bare bones. I also did a spreadsheet on where all the rest of my paycheck goes. Found lots of small things that I could change/do without. It's the little drips of money that really add up when you see them on paper. And those little drips applied to debt really make a BIG difference in how fast the debt goes away. I found that I saved enough to pay ahead on my truck payments and will be able to pay the truck off 6 months sooner!
                            And one other thing that I have done is to go through the tack/horse stuff and sell anything I'm not actually using. I then added that money into my emergency horse medical expense fund.
                            My point being that if you can show DH how/where you can save and how that savings can be applied it might help him to be more comfortable with the costs of keeping the ponies!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Can you talk to him about paying yourself first? Put x % in savings for retirement, x for remodel, x for college fund for future child? After you pay the bills, the rest is there for whatever you choose to spend it on.

                              It has worked for us for 22 years.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Coming from a long line of financially independent women here is the advice
                                Yours, His and ours.. Meaning you have your own bank account, he has his and a joint account.

                                Both of you sound like responsible adults except for your DH thinking you might quit and just be involved w/ horses - no wonder he wants to save LOL. I think he should be commended for wanting to pay bills on time etc... Many is a woman I know or have heard about where hubby/BF hasn't paid bills or taxes etc and guess what wife/GF is now holding the bag for his debt.

                                I cut down my expenses by moving to a lesser quality barn (equal care) where the board was about $100 less per month & closer to work/home (gas savings); I also fiddled w/ my withholding and 401K contributions; call the cable company every 6-8 months to see what better deals they can come up with.. don't eat lunch out at work,

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Treat the horse like an agricultural item, like we did in Virginia's hunt country when I was growing up. All lived out on pasture and NO ONE had more than one saddle pad.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by StefffiC View Post
                                    DH tracks every penny we spend for the horses. Then he figures the cost per ride at the end of every month. FWIW, he's a graphic designer and I'm a Business Analyst/Billing specialist. I think the cost per ride is funny, and it's even funnier that he keeps up with it.
                                    This just bothers me. Keeping up with the total, yes, to know where the money went. But cost per ride, every month? Does he come and find you so that he can tell you this each time? Do you ask?

                                    Does this not bother anyone else?

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      ACP, bothers me too. I would see it as a guilt trip thing and could not stand it.

                                      Steffi, I do not mean to make it seem like I think your husband is a jerk. I can say your relationship would not be healthy for me, but it seems healthy for you which is what matters. But I am an obstinant little thing and the horses are my non negotiable. I am lucky in that my FIL is a horse person as well but, honestly, spends like crazy. 4 shoes on any horse he rides from an IMO over priced farrier, new trailer, new camper to pull it with, new barn, new saddles... all within two years or so. So he is our comparison to how I could spend, which I don't and never would.

                                      The only thing I can think of is you working off board and doing your own shots. Normally I pay 60 or so a horse to do my own shots, this year I had the vet do it... 165. Big increase. Right now my one mare is leased out, home in January, and my other is fat on just grass and out with my FIL's horses. Once I am caring for them both again I will not be using Triple Crown Complete anymore, but a ration balanced or mixing my own. That will save me, maybe you could try that with yours.


                                      Honestly I feel you have cut it as much as you can, you even trim her hooves.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Quote: We spend 30 - 35% of my base net salary on the horses. We're not feeling it because I'm working 30+ hours of OT every week, but when I go back to normal hours we'll feel it. We're spending about 10% of our combined net salaries on my two horses.

                                        I am confused. If the horse costs are 35% of your base net, but only 10% of the combined net, then his income would be greater than yours, wouldn't it? Not that it changes my answer, it's just that you had pointed out he doesn't have much income compared to yours.
                                        Regardless, what you see as being "comfortable with less reserves," he may see as "hanging on by a thread." To easily afford the horses requires working 30+ hours OT a week at a job that makes you miserable. Your workload is not sustainable from an emotional health perspective. And the OT income is not something you can count on, especially with mgmt changes- departments or employees who have high rates of OT are an easy target for new mgrs.
                                        And all this is without the other major costs you guys are facing with children, house, etc.

                                        Can you look for middle-ground options in boarding barns--it's not like the only other option vs. current barn is to buy land and drive out to feed 2x day. (Or, if you do buy land, you don't need to set it up with all of the amenities you currently have.) Riding with friends may just have to take a back seat for now. There are probably also middle-ground options on the routine vet care.
                                        That he keeps a spreadsheet to prove to you what you spend, and that he "doesn't believe" you about the vet care budget-- I'm thinking this is something that needs discussion, apart from just the budget #s.

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