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

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

    I know this isn't entirely "politically correct" but I'm curious and at a stage in life where I'm about to start finding a career for myself. I've always wanted to be a veterinarian and am 1-2 semesters away from finishing my B.Sc in Biology with a minor in chem and possible math/stats. However, because of C's in early chemistry classes, I have a slim chance of getting into vet school, and frankly I'm not sure if vet school is what I want anymore. 4+ years of school, with debt that wont get paid off for decades, inflexible work hours and a host of other things have led to me re-considering my career path. I'm currently agonizing over whether I've just wasted 4 years of school to suddenly decide the B.S (haha) wasn't worth it and whether I want to pursue a biology related career or try and do something else entirely.

    So, while I know that you shouldn't go into any career for the money, let's just recognize that it is an important consideration, especially when personal hobbies can be costly.

    I guess my ultimate question is... what is your career (and salary)? are you able to afford the riding you want to do?

    Feel free not to answer parts if you feel like I'm prying too much

  • #2
    Currently, I list my occupation as a stay-at-home mom. I work at a dressage barn while my younger son is in in high school (my older son is in college and doesn't need me to schlep him around) for a flat rate of $200/week. Works for me, because I know what's coming in, and I can take off if/when I am needed to be a mom. It works for my boss/friend, because I am danged reliable, and will stay as long as necessary to get the job done. I won't ride - I consider myself an adequate rider at best, but I'll do anything else that's needed.

    Before my mom stuff, I spent most of my time as a dog groomer (I still moonlight for a friend when she is extra busy) and have managed pet stores and opened grooming shops for a big pet business. I also spent a couple of years training Peruvian Pasos - that was darned fun.

    Best money I made was about $35,000/year grooming while my older son was in school. I could have made more, had I wanted to stay longer and groom more dogs. I could have topped $40,000, I think.

    Not enough to have a family and a horse in California, but I was comfortable with what I had.
    Don't tell me about what you can't do. That's boring. Show me what you can do. - Mom

    Comment


    • #3
      I'll be in a similar situation as you in about two years -- graduating with a Biology major (albeit with a Global Health minor), and uncertain of what I'm going to do with my life. I've been contemplating dental school, but the years of extra schooling are daunting, and I don't know if I'll have the stellar GPA that I need for such a career.

      I've been considering some of the programs through the Peace Corps where they aid you in getting a Master's Degree. There's a few different options with this - you can either spend a year on campus and two years serving abroad to earn a Master's, or after two years of serving, universities will give you scholarships & aid to get your master's.

      I don't have the life experience to be of much use to you, but I absolutely empathize with your situation and will be watching this thread closely for suggestions from other science-y people.

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      • #4
        i'm a teacher at a very competitive, merit-pay charter school, and i make decent money, but after the horrendous taxes i only taken home about $1650 every other week. even with a 2 income househould and minimal bills, i can't afford the horse life i would *really* like. all has to do with the area you live in, of course...philly has a terribly high tax rate and farms are expensive.
        My mare wonders about all this fuss about birth control when she's only seen a handful of testicles in her entire life. Living with an intact male of my species, I feel differently! WAYSIDE

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        • #5
          I was a mathematician making around $50,000 in defense. Then mathematician/programmer making $70,00 - $240,000 (private contractor in financial industry)

          Now I'm an independent saddle-fitter, which is difficult to say how much I earn at that because I'm still in the initial 'building up the business' stage, and much of the earnings (almost all) get swallowed up in advertising and inventory.

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          • #6
            I do Vocational Consulting. I work a varying schedule, much of my work from home, all contract work. I'm very well paid for a person with just a master's. My work isn't exciting, but it provides me with both the money and time to do pretty much whatever I want.

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks for the responses so far!

              I know a huge consideration is where you live. I'm currently living on long island, and there is no way I'll continue to live here after college. I read an article recently that said 75-100k is the combined income needed to achieve financial satisfaction in life, but I wonder if that even starts to include horse-people. I've never shown at the A-level, and doubt I'll ever start doing so (maybe 1-2 a year), but owning a horse is such a time and money investment.

              I think I'm having a hard time finding a career that I'll enjoy, be successful at and earn enough from that will allow me to do what I want in the horse world.

              Windermere, I've looked into dentistry as well. It was my second professional school option after vet. The whole process seems daunting though.

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              • #8
                I am a software consultant-- and with all my other bills, I can just about afford board, farrier, routine vet, and a couple of events a year.

                I do get paid a bonus 4x a year, which essentially covers what I have paid out in board, so I do get some of it repaid that I can then put towards other things (savings, vacations, etc).

                I live in New England, where full board at a decent but not fancy place is about $500/mo. I'm comfortable (have a new car last year, just bought 2 saddles for said horse, etc) but I can't drop $1k on a weekend doing something horse related, either.

                If the article says you only need $75k a year to achieve financial satisfaction, its author clearly never lived in Massachusetts. Between my fiance and I we make somewhere north of $150k a year, and we are certainly not swimming in money, horse or not. Once you've paid the mortgage, property tax, internet, water, heat, car payment, car insurance, bought food, put gas in the car, made sure the dog is fed, and maybe even had a date night, there is an excess but it certainly isn't a large one.
                Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm a web producer for a big magazine. I make enough to live in Manhattan with my partner, half-lease a horse at BNT barn in New Jersey, and show twice a month. However, having said that, more of my income goes toward riding than I'd like for it to (or than I recommend, haha!).

                  I feel very lucky as I'm just a year out of grad school, so I assume it will only go up for here. Journalism in general gets a bad rap, but having a knowledge of the web side of things (as well as development, programming, coding, etc.) is really worth a decent salary versus slaving away as a newspaper reporter.

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                  • #10
                    I made close to 50000 when I worked in a factory and was pretty comfortable. When I lost my job I became a nurse. I'm an LPN now, but really trying to get motivated to go back to school for my RN. LPN really does stand for low-paid-nurse and I don't make close to what I made as "unskilled" labor. I only work 3 days a week (36 hrs is FT) and only every 3rd weekend, so I have a lot of time off.

                    I have one horse in training with BNT, but it's tight financially. The only way I can do it is I live in a relatively low cost area with a ridiculously low mortgage on my 45 acre farm and almost everything is paid off.

                    When I was a kid I thought I wanted to be a vet. I got to Cornell (undergrad) and decided I wasn't smart enough and didn't want it bad enough. If I had to do things over, I think I would have gone for pharmacy. Or nursing- I'd be making really decent money now if I'd had 25+ years of experience!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm a teacher (middle school, public) with 20 years experience. I work 183 days a year, but can only take 2 personal days off during that time, which curtails any shows from September to June (so no Thermal or the like). I make $54K a year, but pay into my union and pension from that, as well as a healthy chunk for health care. I won't get rich, and the top pay is only about $10K more (masters + years). As far as showing goes, I can usually do a couple of A shows, and 8 or so one/two day C system/Local shows. Living expenses here in my area are high-ish for the PNW, but doable.
                      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think this year was the first year I was able to buy some really expensive riding apparel for myself (3 pairs of trophy hunter breeches and a pair of parlanti boots) and that was the first time I felt really accomplished like I had finally made it in life.

                        And then I wrote yet another check to the vet and sighed. Never seems to be quite enough. A budget helps us a lot.
                        Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                        you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I was a math major and work in technology/engineering as a consultant. Technology is not the most $ you can make, at all, but it tends to be a flexible field--more relaxed schedules, I've had several jobs that were mostly work-from-home.

                          I bought my first purchased-by-myself-horse at 23, and bought a farmette at 31, by which time I was up to 3. I could not afford the serious A-circuit, by any means. Luckily I am an OTTB loving eventer.

                          It takes time, though. When I graduated from college, 12 yrs ago, I worked the most hours (paying the dues . . . ), made less than half what I do now, had school loans.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            After being a stay at home mom for 20 or so years, dabbling in substitute teaching and working part time as a vet tech, I have finally found my dream job, as a sales rep for several equine related companies! I am fortunate that my husband, a self employed mechanical engineer, covers kids and house hold expenses, so all I have to worry about is covering my horse expenses. Now that I am down to just one, it is pretty easy to do. I travel to 5 states, but only have to call on my stores every few months, the rest is staying in touch via phone and email.
                            Lori T
                            www.calypsofarmeventers.blogspot.com
                            www.facebook.com/LoriTankelPhotography
                            www.facebook.com/LTEquine for product updates on the lines I rep

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My partner and I have a combined income of over $150K (how much over depends on the year - we work in media) and this allows me to have a nice horse in full training with really lovely BNTs. I can't afford the $4000 saddle I want and I can't bring my horse to Florida for the winter, but things are pretty great. Right now we aren't able to travel and save as much as we really want but we're in our early 30s so there is time for that later.

                              My friend who has a degree in biology works for a company that does trials for pharmaceutical companies. She loves it and it pays quite well. Although if I had a degree in biology I would try to go to dental school - that's what my parents do and I wish I had realized what a great idea that would have been while I was in university. It is really hard to get in, it is really hard to get through first year, but it can set up you for life in terms of income and schedule flexibility.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Highway construction engineering, make 60k, but my horse costs are low. I don't want to show anymore, just enjoy time with my horse and horsie friends. The pony costs me, on average, $400 each month.

                                There are many different jobs, the key is finding one. A coworker said a guy in his engineering class went into the entertainment industry. He builds robotic things like dinasours (sp?) for film sets. How cool is that? Sure beats watching a concrete bridge deck pour!!!
                                Hillary Rodham Clinton - the peoples choice for president.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Where do you want to live? Cost of living varies so widely. We own 34 acres with a 3000 sf house and a barn on it...800 bucks a year in property taxes. Now price that in So. CA or MA.

                                  And how long are you willing to save before you get to play?

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I always think it's funny when someone asks what career choice will help pay for their riding and all the stay-at-home moms/homemakers/whatevers respond.

                                    "Someone else pays all my bills!"

                                    Yes, thank you, so helpful.
                                    "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

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      I'm feeling encouraged by all of you!

                                      Katarine, where do you live that the taxes are so low?! I hate my state/county, I think we have the 3rd highest property taxes in the area so average board is $900 a month, a major contributor to why I've never been able to own my own horse. i'm honestly not set on living in any particular area. I love VA and CO but i think I would be able to be happy almost anywhere (read: not ND, SD, or any of those cold barren states).

                                      I would consider myself a smart saver, I'll be able to graduate from undergrad debt free (with help from parental unit) and have what I consider to be a decent amount in the bank for a college student. I don't mind waiting for a while, but I'm also of the mindset of "you only live once" so I don't want to be horseless and miserable forever. I guess I need to find that balance.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I am lead signalman for the railroad and average around 80k a year. This is one of those unskilled labor jobs that pay more than management. I know this because I am up for a management job lol.
                                        I have 2 horses but just trailride now so my horse costs are fairly low. If I wanted to I could afford some showing, but I am enjoying what I am doing now with them. I also live in a where cost of living is very low.
                                        www.michelesfindinghappiness.com

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