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*Spin-Off* What do you do? And how much horse-expense can you afford?

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  • Originally posted by Coanteen View Post
    Well, it is safe, or as safe as a job can be. Government workers can get force-reduced, but the job is still much safer than private market jobs. As for easy, well...a job's a job. If you're doing the same job in government as in private it won't get easier or harder, although the stresses are probably different.
    I agree for the most part. I worked in government/quasi-government programs as well. Some of these jobs are needed no matter what the economy is like, and others aren't. Many are "safer" but have other disadvantages such as lower pay and lack of advancement. And many "government" employees aren't unionized like teachers. My colleagues and I all worked "at the pleasure and discretion of the Director" which means "no explanation is necessary to let you go". Just like in "business".

    So, as with this whole thread: don't go into "government" - find a job you like and can do well. Many careers can be done in either private, non-profit, or public settings. Don't make the assumption that a "government" job will afford you more time/money to actually ride and show horses - because while some lazy unionized employees might not get the boot, lots of others do lose their jobs....and others work just as many hours as their private counterparts.


    • Move and work your butt off.

      I moved to Central PA, worked in sales. Retail sales on commission. Made 55k a year, 3 weeks paid vacation. I took my vacation time to work standard bred sales so I made money while on vacation. Afforded me two horses boarded, three comfortably (I could have done more but really didn't have time for it) at home before we started cutting our own hay (god knows how many I could have now? Lol)

      Currently home with my children and dragging down the women's liberation front as I return to school for my RN. About to start teaching lessons and working for a local racehorse trainer/breeder breaking their babies. Believe you me, I do not -need- my husband nor will I be destitute and skill less if we were to ever not work out. I am actually more educated than he is. But thanks anyway Wendy, try again.

      Anywho... work hard, move somewhere where the cost of living is low. I have never had a car loan or, prior to DH, a nice apt/home. If it was safe and cheap I took it. I ate cheaply and kept my bills down. I worked off board most of the time, did my own shots. No I couldn't afford to show the A circuit but I could have locally had I had the time and inclination. But showing isn't where my enjoyment comes from.

      And don't view a job as a means to an end. Even if it isn't your dream job commit yourself to being the best at it there is. That kind of work ethic opens doors, not what can this job do for me?
      Last edited by magicteetango; Mar. 8, 2013, 09:37 AM. Reason: Really auto correct? Destitite? had to fix that!


      • Originally posted by magicteetango View Post
        Move and work your butt off.

        Currently home with my children and dragging down the women's liberation front as I return to school for my RN.
        “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

        St. Padre Pio


        • I work as a project manager for the government and make about $75k a year with full benefits after just over 2 years out of school. This allows me to afford as an unmarried 26 year old - a small farm, on which I keep 3 horses - 2 of my own and 1 belonging to my mother. I also take weekly lessons, and occaisionally send the horses in for pro-training.
          Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


          • Originally posted by MistyBlue View Post
            LadyNeon...not to be nosy but could you say what careers, other than forecaster, can be done with a meteorology degree? Understood if you don't want to say what you do, was just wondering. I always assumed meteorology automatically meant weatherperson of some sort.
            Yeah I guess I should have given a few examples. With a meteorology degree, you can get into air quality testing, research, data quality control, and a couple other things that I can't think of off the top of my head. I started out monitoring weather data coming from buoys (data quality control). I'm now doing things such as developing automated QC algorithms, comparing prototypes to known standards, and overseeing a whole buoy program from the data side. I somehow managed to become the person people come to when they have a question on the buoy program I work with. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing!
            My May boys: Beau , Neon, Criss


            • My husband is in the Army, as an NCO he makes enough to comfortably support our family and I have two horses. I can take lessons, but I haven't had anything really 'show worthy' in a few years (until I was given Willow!) as I rode lots of whatever was handed to me just to get saddle time. I work off board for one, currently, but I don't have to if I didn't want to. I'm going back to school once we get settled for a degree in Vet Technology to help our income.

              Both my horses were cheap. Willow was free and Happy was around $1,000. My saddle is old, but was also free (and super comfy) so I had it re-flocked to make it work. If the horses need anything (equipment-wise) I shop sales, consignment, and Ebay. Our home expenses ALWAYS come first, though.

              Back home I was a working student until I had our DD (and then still worked as much as possible for my BO) to alleviate the cost of board/lessons. Before I met DH I worked several part time jobs and went to school.

              DH and I chose (together) for me to stay at home to be a lazy pit of society with DD because we 1) didn't want somebody else to raise our child and 2) the cost of daycare was out of this world, I would be working to pay for daycare with not a lot of extra. No point. Now that we are on post, daycare is much more reasonable and I CAN go back to work. I don't really like being at home, I enjoyed working, but I know that that is what we choose for our DD and it works. DH works... A LOT (read: off at 4am and usually not home until 10-11pm) so she needs one parent that's around.

              I can say that we don't worry about him being 'fired', even though they are making lots of budget cuts, he has 5.5 more years in his contract. We have benefits, and while the lifestyle isn't ideal, you do get to see a lot of the country! I can't speak anything about a different MOS, but I DO know that recruiting takes a lot of time and energy so not ideal for horse ownership (as the soldier) but I believe that the poster Airforcewife is in the service, with a little one and takes lessons/shows.

              Finally, good for you for doing your research! You sound like you have your head screwed on the right way and you'll be just fine!


              • Originally posted by S1969 View Post
                So, as with this whole thread: don't go into "government" - find a job you like and can do well. Many careers can be done in either private, non-profit, or public settings. Don't make the assumption that a "government" job will afford you more time/money to actually ride and show horses - because while some lazy unionized employees might not get the boot, lots of others do lose their jobs....and others work just as many hours as their private counterparts.
                Ehhh? Not sure how to take this one -- all us gov't employees are lazy? Almost all those I have ever worked with in the resource agencies who are in the field (I used to work for feds, now state) work their tails off and go to unbelievable lengths to protect natural resources people can't live without, yet do so without so much as a thank you while politicians undermine our efforts left and right. 99% of the public sure doesn't value us, they seem to think water faucets are magical fountains of eternity, LOL.

                And yes, in the natural resource agencies, jobs ARE more secure than the same one in the private sector, once you are in a full time position and you are vested. To get fired, I think I would have to either go on a homicidal rampage in my office or...maybe start a poaching ring?

                But one point is true: do what you like because you are going to be doing it for a long time!
                Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                We Are Flying Solo


                • Whoever asked about meteorology jobs? I am a web developer for NOAA in the DC area, and there are a great variety of jobs besides weather forecaster that you can do at NOAA w/ a meteorology background. You will need to be mathematically and computer literate, but there is work, and I think it's a growing field, with the weather becoming more volatile as the climate gets warmer.

                  Not going to go into $$ particulars, but I make good money doing web work for NOAA. I own a now retired horse and am going to start half-leasing, and am not breaking the bank. The DC metro area is pricey, but Baltimore is less so. You nearly always trade proximity to good income for proximity to horsey activities. (There's a thread every other week in Eventing about where to board if you are moving to DC, and the entire thread is about commuting strategies, and telling the unfortunate person asking that no, there are not really any close in barns / short commutes in the DC metro area)

                  Good luck. Keep up your computer skills and math is your friend! Avoid pink collar caring jobs, there are lots of them, but their compensation continues to be dragged down by the fact that they mostly employ women. This is not me downing nursing and teaching, it's just a fact. STEM all the way.
                  I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                  I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


                  • Originally posted by wildlifer View Post
                    Ehhh? Not sure how to take this one -- all us gov't employees are lazy?
                    Not at ALL! I was responding to THIS post that suggested that government employees don't have to work hard because they won't lose their jobs if they do a crappy job. I also worked in government, and while *in theory* some of the jobs may be more protected than certain private sector jobs, the idea that a "government job" is a safe and easy route to make decent money and have ample time to spend on hobbies and interests is not very accurate.

                    Originally posted by vacation1 View Post
                    1) Government. Teaching, bureacracy, police, fire. These are people who don't understand what it means to be fired. They get upset when they have to share in paying for their health insurance. They genuinely don't experience the same economy as the rest of us. Half the time, when they're "laid off" they get hired back in three months. And they have unions, which yes, forcibly extract dues and are a hassle to deal with, but do act as a gun pointed the right way - at the boss. I would 110% not touch private or non-profit work with a 10' pole if I had to do it over.


                    • I had a great job in finance for 12 years. And I worked long hours (60-80). The pay was very good. I could have been foolish and bought a 6-figure WB. I went to Europe and bought a green WB instead. So now I have her and my older gelding, who spends his days relaxing.

                      Finance is a volatile field, so thankfully I was pretty good at saving. I'm now unemployed and using my severance $ to pay for my horses while I look for a job. I also have more time to spend with the horses than I ever had previously.

                      My advice is... Whatever field you go into, try to live within your means and save money, keep your skills and network current, and seriously consider the options before deciding to stay in one place more than 5-6 years. No matter how happy you are and how fantastic a job you do, keep thinking about how your resume will look and where the industry is going.

                      Math skills are very much in-demand... Actuary, big data, finance (risk, etc), insurance, and many, many more.
                      Born under a rock and owned by beasts!


                      • Originally posted by clanter View Post
                        Never phased me, raising two daughters was more stressful.

                        Yes, it is a job that requires smarts.... normally they select just the very brightest... top 1 or 2% of IQs .... but there are a lot of smart people out there; not all can be doctors or vets.

                        Combat ATC work was more difficult than public work as in military work you never knew what was going to happen however at civilian airports such as DFW you know to expect American Airlines Flight 346 to be arriving from LAX at 3:45PM every day
                        My grandfather was an ATC at Dulles until he got too deaf and had to retire. He really enjoyed the work and while he recalls a couple of harrowing events, generally it was just as you say, predictable. He is a smart guy, though -- still terrific at chess at age 90.

                        I'm a lawyer and in this profession, you either get money or time, but rarely both and sometimes neither.


                        • Originally posted by twostinkydogs View Post
                          1) Do not go into a bunch of student loan debt for an advanced degree unless you are fairly certain that a) you will LOVE the job it prepares you for or b) it will give you a reasonable return on your investment (not that easy these days). And

                          2) Start saving for retirement right away, even if it seems like a gazillion years will go by before you retire and ESPECIALLY if the company you eventually work for has any type of 401 K matching.

                          Keeping your debt under control and having some financial cushion really opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to work for $$ versus work you love in order to keep a horsey life and food on the table. You have a long time to do either or both. Good luck!
                          I cannot emphasize how much freedom of choice you will have if you do not have debt hanging over your head. My husband and I gross about 125k a year, and we are working very hard to get out of debt so we can actually enjoy our lives. But every time I write a check/make a payment I think "there is a horse show", "there is training board", "there is potentially savings for a nice horse"....

                          That being said, I am still able to half lease an in-barn horse. Depending on whether or not I show I would say I spend about 700-1000 dollars a month.

                          You may think "but you just said you are trying to get out of debt, why don't you put horsie money towards the debt?" I had to weigh the pros and cons. We still are making progress on our debt payoff and I am still able to enjoy my life. Plus, it cuts down on the money I have to spend on a therapist

                          Originally posted by vacation1 View Post
                          1) Government. Teaching, bureacracy, police, fire. These are people who don't understand what it means to be fired. They get upset when they have to share in paying for their health insurance. They genuinely don't experience the same economy as the rest of us. Half the time, when they're "laid off" they get hired back in three months. And they have unions, which yes, forcibly extract dues and are a hassle to deal with, but do act as a gun pointed the right way - at the boss. I would 110% not touch private or non-profit work with a 10' pole if I had to do it over.
                          This is perhaps one of the most uneducated comments I have ever read. As a spouse of a government employee I am very aware of how the economy can affect government employees. Have you ever worked for the government?

                          Originally posted by S1969 View Post
                          Don't make the assumption that a "government" job will afford you more time/money to actually ride and show horses - because while some lazy unionized employees might not get the boot, lots of others do lose their jobs....and others work just as many hours as their private counterparts.
                          I agree with this part of your statement.

                          Originally posted by ako View Post
                          My advice is... Whatever field you go into, try to live within your means and save money, keep your skills and network current, and seriously consider the options before deciding to stay in one place more than 5-6 years. No matter how happy you are and how fantastic a job you do, keep thinking about how your resume will look and where the industry is going.
                          See my first comment about debt....definitely follow this advice regardless of what you decide to do!


                          • OP-

                            Affording horses is an important goal as it gives you something to work for but remember you'll be spending 40+ hours a week at your job so find something you would enjoy spending that much time at and a city that's a good fit for you. Since you're so open to different riding options, not looking to go to AA shows asap, I'm sure you'll be able to find an opportunity to ride wherever you land. You might even find a match on the COTH horses/Riders wanted board.

                            I'd consider the possibility of living at home with the parents for a year and working your first job in the NY area. (Any contacts up there who would let you ride their horses for a while?) The plus side of being in such an expensive area is that your salary will factor that in. When you move to a less expensive area, if your next job just matches your salary, you'll take a big step up in spending power. A year of saving before you move to a new city solo will give you a chance to build up an emergency fund.

                            Take time to do some research. I moved to Atlanta from NY. Better commute times, cheaper real estate & a less hectic pace mean that my husband and I can afford a nice place to live, 2 horses and about 1 show a month. I have friends paying as little as $300 a month for rough board at a barn with a lighted arena (critical for work week riding). We pay closer to $700 for full board with great turn out, covered arena, etc. We're spending more on the horses than we do on our house!


                            • I work full time for a state agency (more than $35,000 but less than $40,000) and I work "part-time" at 2 barns doing stalls etc. to help pay off board and lessons. My horse is in training 2 days a week and I lesson once a week. I try to show once a month. While yes!, my dream would be to be a stay at home Wife and just go tot the barn all day it's not realistic.

                              Several of my barn mates I know make more than me and are married with no kids and they complain about not having enough to show and how expensive it is. But I think if you want it bad enough you can "sacrifice" to make it happen!

                              For instance I don't have cable TV (I do hulu/netflix) I take my lunch to work and even keep some food at the barn to eat right after work to avoid stopping for fast food. I also take the bus to work to save on gas. I try to save at least $100 a month of my own money and I also place the money I work off in board into savings. I go to shows that I can afford and switch between one day shows and weekend shows.

                              As far as how much do I have saved? It is not anywhere near 6 months of my monthly income, However I try to always have access to at least $2000 in my savings acct to cover emergency's plus I have a credit card with a hefty limit.
                              The Love for a Horse is just as Complicated as the Love for another Human being, If you have never Loved a Horse you will Never Understand!!!


                              • I am in my early 30's and I'm a technical recruiter. I work on contract here in Seattle, mostly at the big tech firms in the area. I'm actually unemployed right now though after my most recent contract was unceremoniously cut short thanks to a merger. This is not uncommon in my field, contractors are generally the first to go so right now I'm job hunting and reeeaaally hoping to find something permanent rather than contract since the ponies, like children, really require stability. I've been extremely lucky in the past in that I've never had this happen to me before but now that it has I'm recognizing the need for something I can count on more, as much as that's possible in the private sector.

                                Aaaaanyways... I usually pull down something in the neighborhood of $65k. I don't have children and I have a live-in SO who's finances are completely separate from my own.

                                I have three horses total. Two of them are unrideable (one is retired, one is my unstarted youngster) and they live at home with us. I am EXTREMELY fortunate that my parents retired and moved to the eastern half of the state but didn't want to sell their farm over here so we're living here and paying their mortgage which they have whittled down to a very affordable monthly payment over the years compared to what most people in the area pay. If they weren't so wonderful and generous they could easily make double what we pay with a regular renter. I pay about $350 more on the mortgage than my SO since we moved here for my horses so I consider that their "board". In this area that's far less than rough board for two would be and the barn is steps away from the house so care is convenient. Those are my cheapies.

                                My third horse is boarded with my coach and a really fabulous dressage barn. It is a bit spendy at $800 a month but everything is included and when I add up the surcharges at other barns in the area I am paying about the same for a FAR nicer facility. We have an indoor and an outdoor arena, all day turnout, and my coach is by far the best in the area IMO. I also take a weekly lesson so that's another $300 a month. We didn't show last year as I was trying to breed, then bought my yearling when that didn't work out but we will be showing PSG at the rated shows this summer. Not sure how many we'll be able to swing, hopefully at least one a month though. I'm lucky to have a really wonderful horse with a great temperament so make things a bit more affordable I half lease him to an 18 y.o. girl who is riding at about 1st level and is really wonderful with him. She rides 2 or 3 days a week and puts the light rides on him so I can really focus on his training when I ride. It works out really well for us. Things will be changing soon as she will be going to college but she'll still be local so she may still come out once a week for her lesson or something. I'm trying to plan for the increase in expenses come fall as it is inevitable and I don't think I'll find another 1/2 lease situation that works out so well.

                                I definitely put a lot of my income toward the horses. I don't have other hobbies that cost money and I don't have kids so that makes it easier. I should be saving more for buying a house and for retirement and I've decided that I need to make that more of a priority when I find my next gig (after all, I still want to be able to afford the ponies when I'm 90 and retired ). I stumbled into my profession and I'm glad I did. It's a good one and will continue to be more and more lucrative as I gain more experience. I didn't know what I wanted to do and I floundered during the first half of my 20's so I feel a little behind but there is a lot of potential to make money in my field and I've seen my income double over the last two years. I expect (and hope!) to make six figures within the next 5 years as long as I can find a permanent position. The downside is that my department is usually the first to see cuts during down times - fortunately the tech sector is very strong and wasn't hit very hard by this recession at least. I'd rather be riding all day but I enjoy my job, the companies I've worked for are great places to be, and they allow me to pursue my passion so I have little to complain about!


                                • I've been single all my working life, I bought a 5 acre property young (early 20's) & built a home & farmette. My major was Economics/History, but ended up working in senior level accounting/finance for most of my 24 years of working adult life (I'm 46 now). The main skills I have for this career are high IQ (ok not a skill but important), showing up, getting along with everyone, willingness & ability to learn what I need to know to get the job done, & not burning bridges.

                                  I sort of "sold my soul to the devil (aka corporation)" during my twenties, which caused me to burnout big time mid thirties. But I managed to recover & carry on before I lost all career momentum. This job has never been my heart job, that's for sure.

                                  Alas, it is the only way I know to be able to afford my lifestyle, without a husband. I earned more through the years, of course, but I finally felt "comfortable" owning horses & a home in southern NJ after I reached $75K. Now I earn around $95-$100K, but am paying some debt I incurred during my "burnout" phase, so feels sort of like when I earned $75K, so I'd say that is a good goalpost for my lifestyle in this area.

                                  Still don't like my job, tolerate it is the best I can say. But I am effective at it, and it will enable me to pay off my mortgage and be debt free, by the time I am 50 so I've decided the tradeoff is worth it.

                                  Not sure I'd take the same path, if I knew what I know now, 25 years ago. But sharing it, as it is a "way" to make owning & showing horses work on a single woman's income.

                                  Of course I'm banking that I stay healthy after I turn 50 & can really start to enjoy the fruits of my labors!

                                  Only "advice" I can give that applies to everyone, any job: (had I taken my own advice 20 years ago I'd have been able to retire by now) #1 watch the debt. This takes self discipline, ignoring the keep up with the jones's & sacrifice - & patience! Obviously credit card debt a bad idea, but also borrowing too much for education or home is a BAD idea. Work until you can pay some of the education if you need more schooling, instead of borrowing for it. Save up at least 20% down payment on the house, & do some serious research on what you can afford mortgage wise when the time comes. Be as conservative as you can be on both education & home loans, don't listen to the lenders, they are signing up so many people for future disaster these days! Don't take on a car payment, drive a clunker, save the payments you would be making until you can buy the dream truck with cash. Start saving an Emergency fund (even if it's $10 bucks a week, just DO it, faithfully, & increase your contributions each year) as soon as you get your first job & swear you will NOT TOUCH IT unless REAL emergency (and then build it back up as soon as possible after emergency).

                                  Join 401k if offered, but build that Emergency fund at the same time & please do NOT borrow from the 401k (I made that mistake & defaulted when I lost job & couldn't pay principle of loan).

                                  Do the above and no matter what career you end up in, you'll be able to bring horses into your life.


                                  • I am one of the dregs of society, a SAHM, so can't provide valuable input but I can tell you that a mid-range manufacturing job in Montana can pay for 10-20 acres of land, a herd of horses, a pack of dogs, decent truck and trailer, two kids, and a highly educated but lazy POS chef, housekeeper, book-keeper, farm hand, secretary, personal shopper, personal assistant, private teacher and full-time care giver for your children.
                                    “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


                                    • I wish the SAHMs wouldn't feel so defensive about criticism. Making the choice for one spouse to stay at home, with or without children, is a perfectly valid lifestyle choice, whether everyone else embraces it or not.

                                      But, I can also understand why someone who might have been affected by the break-up of a marriage in which a SAHM was left in a bad situation with no readily marketable job skills after 20+ years of staying home to raise a family and run the household might be bitter. I used to have an acquaintance who found herself in that situation. Her kids suffered the most and for a while she kicked herself every day for not being better prepared (hindsight is always 20/20). There was a lot of bitterness there.

                                      Anyway, in the context of the OP, what matters is not the source of the family income or whether you're a SAHM or not. What matters is what kind of job/salary allows you to have a horsey lifestyle. And, my response to that is an entirely unhelpful "it depends." When I lived in an urban high cost of living area, even $70,000+/- wasn't enough. When I lived in a rural low cost of living area, I could support a horse in style on half that.
                                      "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
                                      that's even remotely true."

                                      Homer Simpson


                                      • Well, you're a biology major, so I'll think in those terms. Check out schools near you that award Medical Technology degrees. (I don't mean medical technician, although that's an option too). About a hundred years ago when I was a year from graduating with a biology degree, I was facing a similar decision. I wanted to be a vet, but at the time women didn't get in to vet school very often. I knew teaching wasn't for me but everything else was even lower pay. I found that medical technology certification would require me to spend 12 more months training (in traditional tracks it was part of the BS degree, but I switched late). I applied, got into the year of hospital training, and went on from there. At the time, the pay was quite good, there was shift flexibility (I worked evenings 3-11 which gave me lots of daylight to ride in) and I enjoyed the lab work.

                                        From that base, I developed an interest in Public Health, and worked full time while I got a Masters in that (and the place i worked had a generous tuition assistance plan). But depending on your interests, that lab degree can take you in all sorts of health related directions like biomedical engineering, hospital administration, the American Red Cross and others while financing you.

                                        Other health related fields would include imaging (ultrasound, radiology, MRI- all useful when you have horses!), respiratory therapy and probably others I can't think of right now.
                                        They don't call me frugal for nothing.
                                        Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                                        • It depends on so much, as everyone has noted. I will tell you that my senior acct exec public relations practitioner's salary goes MUCH further since moving from Southern California to Idaho

                                          I only have one horse, but that is by choice - I could afford another, but I don't know how I could swing it time wise.