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Where are all the twentysomethings?

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  • Where are all the twentysomethings?

    I am in my mid twenties and I have a solid career with a great salary in the software field. I have 3 horses and I'm a serious amateur dressage rider. I have big goals, and I spend a lot of time and money training and competing. For example, next year my 5-year-old will make his showing debut. I backed this horse myself, and I plan to get my silver medal with him if all goes well.

    I feel like there are very few people like me out there! The barn where I train has several high school and early college kids who are very serious about their riding, and then several adults in their late 30's, 40's, and 50's, some who compete, some who don't. I don't encounter many young adults at the dressage shows in my region, either. I definitely enjoy interacting both with the kids and with the older adults at my barn -- but sometimes I wish I had a few buddies at the barn who were closer to my stage in life.

    Is it my region? My discipline? Or is it a universal thing, that many young women put their riding goals on hold to start a family and/or a (non-horsey) career? I'm just curious. I feel like riding will never be as easy for me as it is right now, both physically and financially. So I'm taking advantage of this time in my life.

    Anybody else out there like me?

  • #2
    There's an earnings gap that affects quite a few hobbies besides riding. In HS and college, the parents are helping out or completely footing the bill. After graduation, it often takes a decade or two before people become able to afford horses again.
    The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
    Winston Churchill


    • #3
      Out having kids?

      I think having kids at this point in my life would pretty much eliminate all the extra income for horses.

      Fortunately, no kids in my future, so horses it is.
      Semi Feral


      • #4
        It's a financial thing. I'm in my mid 20's. I work an entry level job and can barely afford to pay my rent, much less for horses (although I do have one...).
        Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
        My equine soulmate
        Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding


        • #5
          Originally posted by dani0303 View Post
          It's a financial thing. I'm in my mid 20's. I work an entry level job and can barely afford to pay my rent, much less for horses (although I do have one...).
          Same for me too
          "I think animal testing is a terrible idea, they get all nervous and give silly answers."
          -fry & laurie


          • #6
            Financial issue. I'm in my almost mid-20s (wow, when did that happen?!) and currently have two horses, thanks to some help from both my parents and my grandad, but have very little money to compete either one of them, although I do manage the occasional lesson. Currently in graduate school, and it's a little hard to find a job that pays worth a darn that I can work around my school schedule.


            • #7
              agree. Can't afford it and/or having kids. I made it work to buy a horse when I was 25 and another at 32 but its been a result of serious planning and budgeting. (I don't have two horses, the first died). I shop for horses on a shoestring and make the horse show-ready. I don't buy the typical breed(s) for dressage since I prefer half-arabs.

              As we all know, most college grads are having a really tough time and living with their parents nowdays. I was lucky I didn't have a lot of loans to pay back.

              My guess is the 20 somethings who are doing dressage, eventing, HJ are doing it at a mixed barn with occasional help-- very few can afford a higher end barn. I couldn't until this year and its also been a result of better stability at my job, getting done with grad school, and getting lucky at staying employed. Also NOT having kids.


              • #8
                Yep, too poor to show.

                I have a horse, but I keep him on the cheap, and without a truck and trailer I have no way to get to shows.

                Le Sigh. Maybe someday in the next decade...
                "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
                -George Morris


                • #9
                  I was like you, back in the 1990s. But I think that the number of people out there in their twenties with high-paying jobs and good flexibility and no kids has been especially low in the past several years.
                  If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                  • #10
                    I'm 28. I do have a horse and parts of a few racehorses/broodies, but I don't have to pay their keep and expenses out of my pocket. Otherwise there'd be NO WAY IN HELL I could do this.

                    I'm hoping, if I can move into a better-paying job, I can start lessoning again. I was taking weekly lessons a few years ago for over two years, but I just couldn't afford it any longer. Now, I've gained a lot of weight so I don't want to ride anyway.
                    It's a uterus, not a clown car. - Sayyedati


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ArabDiva View Post
                      Is it my region? My discipline? Or is it a universal thing, that many young women put their riding goals on hold to start a family and/or a (non-horsey) career? I'm just curious. I feel like riding will never be as easy for me as it is right now, both physically and financially. So I'm taking advantage of this time in my life.

                      Anybody else out there like me?
                      A little of "all of the above." I'm 30 now, but I rode through my twenties and bought my horse at age 24. This means I've had a decade to befriend older re-riders (because let's face it, it was either them or the teenagers for the most part!) and think about "how it all goes down" for most American female riders. Some of the major contributing factors I've seen, besides the obvious factors of career and kids:

                      a) Many twentysomethings are still in school until well into their twenties, or they are forced to begin their careers in expensive areas like NYC/San Fran/Wash DC.

                      b) Student loan debt. 'Nuff said.

                      c) Particularly in this generation, we lost a lot of twenty-something would-be horsepeople to careers that tanked in the recession. Lawyers, realtors, humanities PhDs, that kinda thing.

                      d) Some of my horsey friends genuinely prefer to wait until their bankroll and schedule will support "the whole enchilada," including a very fancy (and usually very expensive) horse that will truly pull the big scores in recognized dressage, the A hunter ring, etc. This often takes a lot of money.

                      e) Americans in general suck with money, but that's especially true of many twentysomethings. Conversely, I know some twentysomethings who are very responsibly thinking of their futures and are paying down debt/maxing out retirement fund contributions. Unless you have a really flush career, either of these phenomena can eliminate any possible horse budget.

                      f) Fewer people of all ages are aspiring to climb the levels in any riding discipline. That isn't just true for twentysomethings.

                      g) Dressage takes a person with discipline, an analytical mind, a non-obsession with jumping or riding in the open/across country, willing to put in lots of solitary hours in the saddle, the whole ball of dressage wax. I don't think it's a coincidence that many of these traits are also the traits that make people flourish in the career paths described in A, which means that "dressage energy" is going elsewhere.

                      i) I know some twentysomethings who are struggling to shoulder the expense of a retired or lame/light use/pleasure type mount, often the horse that saw them through their teen or college years OR a failed resale project/young horse that they bought early in their twenties. Thus, they can't afford to bring another serous climb-the-levels sporthorse onto their payroll, not even if they lease instead of buying.

                      j) I hesitate to say this because it's a HUGE generalization, but I think a lot of folks who walk away from horses in their twenties have not met or talked to many adult re-riders in their thirties and forties. They have not seriously seen the challenges--and triumphs and joys--of being a re-rider. They just assume that they'll come back when they come back and it'll all be okay. Re-riding is more complicated than that, and for every happy and successful re-rider I know, I know two or three others who have really struggled to come back for various physical/emotional/financial reasons. But all of that may not be very obvious in your early twenties, and it only became "real" for me when I started seeing re-rider friends go through it.

                      k) I bet I'm going to get mega-flamed for this one, but again, I say it based on experience with real friends: with some twentysomethings, it's a dynamic with their SO that's keeping them from climbing the levels. Sometime's it's a whiny codependent SO who resents all the barn time, and sometimes it's a wonderful SO with whom the "rider" chooses to travel or pursue a common hobby like skiing or scuba diving, etc. I see this with older couples too, but I see it more with twentysomethings.

                      EDITED TO ADD TWO MORE... l) I know a lot of twentysomething riders who genuinely intended to walk the path you are describing, but once they started doing it, they hit a hurdle that dropped them out of the game. One of my friends was climbing the levels very successfully until her career forced her to move to Podunk Nowhere and she lost access to great training and nearby competitions.
                      Another common sob story for many of my friends: they could only afford a single young horse, which they started bringing it up the levels, and the horse either got badly injured/sick or said "not my job." Or they picked a horse they just plain didn't like/gel with.

                      m) I know a lot lot LOT of twentysomething riders who switch disciplines from what they rode when they were younger, and switching disciplines can take awhile, especially if you accidentally choose a sub-optimal/quack trainer at first or can't find a suitable school horse/can't pay for full training on your young horse. Some of these folks might devote their entire twenties to switching to dressage to find they're only starting to "get" First Level as they come into their thirties.

                      Whew, what a list!
                      Last edited by jn4jenny; Nov. 10, 2012, 11:38 PM.
                      Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


                      • #12
                        I think a lot of 20 somethings are having trouble getting their careers launched because of the bad economy. Additionally, they are dealing with a lot more student loan debt than previous generations.

                        I stopped riding during my 20s because I simply couldn't afford it. I had to ride out a recession, which started about a year after I finished school. A roof to sleep under, car to get to work, and insurance in case I got sick were my priorities at that time.


                        • #13
                          I'm a moderately successful twentysomething. I bought my first horse last year and since then we've done several rated shows, some schooling shows, and a clinic, plus a bunch of other fun things like cross-country schooling, and trails and whatnot.

                          I agree there's not a lot of twentysomethings. The few others at my barn, two work like crazy and one is in my career field as well. For me, I can afford my horse because of inheritance (my Dad finally bought me that horse he promised me my whole life) and because I have no life. My boyfriend lives in another state, I don't go out much, I have no kids. When people ask me if I'm married or have kids, I tell them no, I have a horse.

                          I think it's definitely possible if you budget it correctly. Maybe you can't buy a 25,000 dollar horse, but a green 1,000 one that you train up, yes.
                          “Thoroughbreds are the best. They’re lighter, quicker, and more intelligent.” -George Morris


                          • #14
                            I'm late 20's and like most am just getting into my career thanks to the poor economy. I've managed to lease the past few years and hope to buy within the next year or so.


                            • #15
                              They don't have the money, and jobs in particular eat up your time straight out of school--no flexibility in most as far as time off, bottom of the food chain. Early twenties, most are still in school. Throw in a family for those with that issue and there's not much time or finances for horses. I started dance in my late twenties, and I'm still in the Ladies A division (even A1, when they split As, at some competitions.) I very, very rarely have events with semi-finals, and I have only had ONE quarter-final, where they had combined the A and B age divisions. Usually, A goes up to 35. The Bs are generally the most crowded--35-50 or 55, in general, and that's because those are the women who are most established in their careers and home life and have the disposable income to do an expensive hobby sport. I only can do it because I don't have any student loans or debt load and no pricey kids. (And even then, the economy is not helping me now.)
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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by dani0303 View Post
                                It's a financial thing. I'm in my mid 20's. I work an entry level job and can barely afford to pay my rent, much less for horses (although I do have one...).


                                • #17
                                  I'm twenty, do have a horse, but work off all of his board. Trying to change that by saving up first month's board and getting a SECOND job just to support said horsey.
                                  But, I'm still also living at home so I don't have much in the way of rent/bills. When I get that second job, I will hopefully be in a better position to move out.
                                  Originally posted by katarine
                                  I don't want your prayers, tiny cow.
                                  Originally posted by Pat9
                                  When it's time for a horse to go to a new person, that person will appear. It's pony magic.


                                  • #18
                                    I'm 27, married, have a 19 month old daughter, and a greenish TB that I'm training myself. I work part time to afford my horse, and stay home with my daughter while hubby is at work. I ride before either of them are awake or after hubby gets home from work. I board my horse an hour away because the cost of amenities (indoor, x country schooling, great training) is a lot less than anything around me. I don't think there is anyone my age at my barn that has the same goals as me. I think a lot of 20 somethings lose the motivation because there's so much other stuff on their plate.


                                    • #19
                                      I'm 29, just finished a PhD, and can just about keep my one horse. She's 19 and going strong. I've had her since I was 16. I can't afford a second horse at the moment so I've told her that she has to keep going and stay ridable until I get my really well paying academic job.

                                      I don't compete. In part because it costs daft amounts of money and I also became fecked off with the whole dressage show scene while in college in Massachusetts. So I've pretty much hid for the last ten years.
                                      Help me keep my horse in peppermints and enjoy a great read! My New York City crime novel, available on Amazon.


                                      • #20
                                        We're out there, most of us are just not competing/very visible.

                                        I have had horses since middle school, supported them myself. In middle/high school, I was working with my green horse, so couldn't show much. Once I hit college level, the time/money that that sucked away left me with no time/money to show, even though my horse was now capable. I am FINALLY graduating college in the middle of December, and hope to get a good job in the tech industry. My middle school dream horse is now 15, but I'm hoping that we'll get a few good years of showing in.

                                        I also bought a 3yo OTTB in January who is really something quite special. I spent the spring/summer letting her hang out and hacking her out, exposing her to everything. I am now dumping all my spare cash into her training. I'm in the home stretch of school and felt like I couldn't give her the time she needed, so she's at the trainers for a few months. I rough board her to save money, and she's not with a big name (although she's very competent) trainer, all to save money.

                                        BUT! My hope is that next spring I'll have a good job and be able to take my teenaged gelding out on adventures (he's a foxhunting/hunterpace sort of guy at this stage in his life) and that I'll be able to start the process of moving up the eventing ranks with my young mare, who will be five and ready to go!

                                        Of course, what is most likely is that by next spring they'll both be lame, and I'll be in a job that pays well but I'll have been forced to move to a city to get it, so rent/transport will suck up all my salary and I'll either have to have just one horse with me at a nicer barn, have both horses with me at a tiny backyard place, or I'll have left both of them sitting in my backyard at home.

                                        I will say that my enthusiasm to actively compete my young mare is heavily influencing my job search. Despite the fact that I could have a job near Boston tomorrow, I am taking the time to search and dig through small company websites who are based in more "rural" areas, where it will be more affordable for me to live, and for my horses to be kept. I have many many friends who saw the easily-aquired jobs near the cities and packed up and left the next week....'course, they don't have 1200lb pasture-loving animals to think about. But I suspect that that is where a lot of 20-somethings go....to the easily-found jobs in cities, where horse keeping is just not in the budget.

                                        That, in addition to the myriad of options that jn4jenny listed above. Most of it boils down to the money! Even if you're making a decent salary, you have to be in the right location for that decent salary to seem decent, in the horse world!