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When you just can't afford it anymore

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  • When you just can't afford it anymore

    We have a wonderful little girl who has be riding for 5 yrs. We are not horse people nor do we know very much about it, but have been told our daughter is quite talented. Up until now we have been able to give her a pony to ride and compete with, but it could be nearing an end soon. What happens when you cannot afford to buy/lease the next size up? Although it keeps our pocketbook tight, we can afford the board and her lessons and showing, but the cost of getting the animal is just becoming beyond our reach! We do not believe in going into debt, but at the same time we have heard great stories of how the love of riding has kept their daughters out of trouble as they get older. She does not need or want the "perfect" animal but it does need to be competitive. How do those of you who are on a strict budget keep your child happy? She is not old enough to work so sadly we have a few more years of this problem. Although she is a very sweet little girl she's not quite at the level of being able to understand the financial part of it.

  • #2
    Well, don't be fooled by the "horses will keep her out of trouble" line! At least not in my case as a teen! LOL! Why not just ride schoolies and show them? Enjoyment doesn't have to be equated with having the most competitive horse (or most expensive)...Or do a partial lease?
    www.savethehorses.org GA Horse Rescue


    • #3
      What about leasing the next size up, rather than purchasing?? By leasing, you can get a competitive mount with less cash outlay than a purchase.


      • #4
        Well, here is my take... Riding is supposed to be fun. Sometimes people get too wrapped up in the competition of it all and the advancement to higher levels. It doesn't have to be all about that.

        I was in a similar boat as a kid. I grew up in NJ and did not have nearly the $ of my friends and/or barn mates. My parents and I sat down and discussed the situation. Frankly, there isn't a better education for kids about money. You shouldn't spend what you do not have. I cringe when parents over extend themselves for horse showing. What kind of life lesson does that teach?

        Anyway, they explained to me our financial limits and their concerns about my hobby. Then we sat down with my trainer and discussed how we could continue in the sport and set REALISTIC goals for me. Even if that meant that I would take one lesson a week and I only would compete at one or two horse shows in the summer (instead of my friends who showing EVERY weekend and were going for HOTY). I then set out to ride at only a select few shows AND to ride my personal best each time- regardless of the ribbon color I brought home.

        Because I worked hard, I got asked to school some ponies at home. I went to groom at shows and was then asked to catch ride on occassion. Would I have liked to won Pony Finals or Maclay Finals? Sure. Who wouldn't? But, that isn't a reality for most of us. Still horses are wonderful. They can be fun and rewarding. They are a great HOBBY for lots of kids.

        Even if you child is little, you can still teach the value of a dollar. Honestly, most of the time little kids love the time with the horse more than the time in the show ring. If that means you buy a nice conservative safe horse and let you kid just ride, then do that. Not everyone has to be on a path for grandness.


        • #5
          Oh we have been leasing, it's the only option we have had so far! There are no schoolies for her size where she is and we wouldn't dream of leaving. Therein lies our issue


          • #6
            Originally posted by overourheads
            Oh we have been leasing, it's the only option we have had so far! There are no schoolies for her size where she is and we wouldn't dream of leaving. Therein lies our issue
            If there's nothing for her to ride where she is but she still wants to ride and be competitive than leaving the barn/trainer might be the best thing. If they don't have something for her to ride, and affording to bring something in that would be best for her is not an option, then find a good trainer that can.

            [Paint It Black - "Kiddo"]


            • #7
              And I just wanted to add that because I never lost perspective on it, 27 years later I still love horses. And my friends who battled it out for Medals and Maclays and HOTY awards, all quit riding.

              Well, if there are no nice fits for her at the barn then maybe you should shop around barns. Or maybe you can find someone nearby who needs someone to help with riding or something like that. 1/2 lease maybe? I would go to your local tack and feed stores, pick up local magazines and start asking around. There is bound to be some sweet thing sitting in a pasture who would love some attention. Plus, the owner would probabaly be thrilled for the extra help.


              • #8
                OP, what state are you located in? Have you tried checking your local magazines (here in MD/VA we have the Equiery) for new leases? Have you talked to your trainer? There are affordable situations out there, you just have to do some homework to find them. Keep looking, because something will always come along.


                • #9
                  Have you discussed it with the trainer? If you are good clients, and commited to the leasing, why can't the barn purchase a schoolie suitable for your daughter? She can't be the only one in need of a horse/pony that size/level/whatever.

                  I see that happen from time to time around here. The money for the trainer isn't in the board, but in the lessons.

                  In my case, yes horses kept me out of trouble. My parents were able to purchase a horse for me, but it was very inexpensive. She wasn't competitive, but was sound, sane and I rode her for years before I outgrew her and moved on to another horse (a youngster I started myself).

                  If you put the word out around town you may also find someone has a horse that would be suitable for lease. Frequently people have older mounts that need work and attention, but the owner has moved on to another horse as their primary mount. Consider a classified ad in your local horse paper, and an index card at the tack shops.

                  Good luck. Riding is an amazing sport and one that I am blessed to be involved for going on 25 years. It has enriched my life in too many ways to count. Get creative, there are all kinds of horses around.


                  • #10
                    Have you talked to your daughter's instructor? He or she may be aware of some options that you have not considered, such as another student who owns a horse that your daughter could ride.

                    I was lucky to grow up on a hobby farm so I was able to have a horse of my own as a kid. But I also had opportunities to ride horses for adults at the riding stable where I took lessons, because many of the adult riders wanted their horse to be shown in the junior divisions. If your daughter is a good rider and is trustworthy there may be horse owners in the area who would like her to show their horse. The horse/owner would not even have to be at the same riding stable, she could continue taking lessons there even if the horse lived elsewhere.

                    Also, if she is old enough to do some stall cleaning or tack cleaning etc, your daughter could look for someone who would trade riding for some work! I started cleaning my pony's stall at age 6 and worked in exchange for part of my horse's board when i went off to university and took her with me.


                    • #11
                      Lease her a pony. Or take a second mortgage out on your house. I am not kidding, I would do it for LMEqT in a hot minute. I don't think anything breaks the heart of a little girl who truly loves horses more than not having one.
                      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                      • #12
                        growing up my family was strapped financially, and we hit the same point you are in.

                        What we ended up doing was buying a horse that was not competitive, but had potential. She was green, but safe. I learned how to ride a horse that didn't know everything, and how to train a little bit as well. Within 2 years, we were back to competeing on the circuit and doing very well. I was able to sell her for a lot more than we paid and buy a decent horse to do the juniors (which is really the time for competition).

                        Why not go that route? She really won't be missing anything by taking a year off to work with a SAFE green horse and show in some little stuff just for experience, and in my opinion, she will become a far better rider for it.

                        I don't know how old she is, but when we did this I was 12. It was the best thing that could have ever happened to me and I am a far better rider because of it. It teaches you to ride several different horses which is what makes you competitive in the big stuff later. Why not talk this over with her trainer? If the trainer is really good for your daughter, she will understand your financial situation and help you figure out a solution. If she is telling you there is no way to do this but shell out the big bucks, she is not truly working for you.
                        Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


                        • #13
                          Despite what you hear from certain trainers, it is perfectly possible to learn to ride and compete on horses that you make up yourself - as long as you have a trainer that will support that type of program. Particularly if you accept that you do not necessarily have to shoot for the A shows, Medals, or HOTY awards as JMS noted... kids can get a very good education and have a ball with more affordable mounts. The AQHA has quite a few wonderful programs that support these types of goals, for example. And a good trainer should be able to identify a good, safe green PROSPECT that might turn into a useful children's horse. Green means uneducated. It does not necessarily mean "hard to ride." With these horses, you have to be patient, go slowly, and teach methodically. (Just like you do with kids.) The bonus is, if you do it right, you add a lot of value and the horse can be sold later for at least a paper "profit" or to fund the next "step up" horse.

                          When my stepson was riding, (age 10-12) we looked into leasing for him. Because we do not have him with us all the time, leasing made more sense than buying something. I ride at a H/J show barn so everyone was pushing the fancy, expensive show ponies at me. I told the trainer flat out that I wasn't interested in anything that needed to be in a professional program nor was I spending the kid's tuition money. This is a HOBBY for him. I was looking for a QH type kid's packer who would be fun and safe for him to learn on; if it could also jump around the little local shows, so much the better. (There are plenty of that type out there, and they are typically pretty inexpensive... but you won't find them through trainers at the show oriented barns.) Try places that have summer riding camps, etc.

                          The trainer involved wasn't thrilled but also understood that I knew what I was talking about, so they didn't argue. We ended up with a deal on a cute "hony" type QH that he enjoyed for a summer on a half lease and just paid 1/2 the bills on... not even a lease fee. He ended up deciding not to ride when he went back to school, so that was as far as it went, but I would do something like that again without question. Great experience, lots of fun for him, and quite inexpensive, at least as horses go.
                          We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                          • #14
                            How old is she? How good a rider is she? What part of the country? I know of an inexpensive but fun project horse and an old campaigner she could get mileage on.

                            Don't go into debt. It's not worth it. Go be a working student. Get a CANTER project horse and sell/buy your way up. It might not work out but it's worth the experience. Get a less expensive jack of all trades/master of none that she can dabble in the h/j world, maybe some eventing/pc, dressage.

                            Tell her to keep her chin up. Keep working hard. If she's talented and will ride any POS that comes her way. Beg for a lesson from a BNT in return for slave labor. ETC.
                            Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. - Gandhi


                            • #15
                              I'd have your trainer start asking aorund, there are usually a lot of people with horses for lease or sale, that you could care for or show until it sells, I know it would be heartbreaking for her to lose a horse she was riding, but I think it would be worse to have to quit.

                              Can you afford any horse? How advanced is she? Could she handle a greener pony that you guys buy as an investment and sell in a yr for a bit of a profit? There must be someone at you banr or a nearby barn that doesn't come out to ride enough or would liek to half lease at least.

                              I think the fact is no one cna really afford horses, I know I'm kinda in the same position, we have to let my hunter step down a few notches, he is could be a fancy short stirrup horse, but I'm too attache dto sell him. Unfortunately the fact is my parents can't buy me another nice horse (he kin dof broke the bidget 6 yrs ago. So we might work something out with my trainer to co own an investment horse, I could ride, then we'd sell, or else I'm looking at a very young nice horse.

                              Good luck! Sometimes the perfect situation will fall in your lap.


                              • #16
                                remortgage the HOUSE? are you kidding?
                                www.savethehorses.org GA Horse Rescue


                                • #17
                                  I know!?!?!?

                                  You have to decide if it is going to be a highly competitive sport or a hobby. It can be either and the $ difference is insane. If it is a hobby then it is like any other hobby. Would you remortgage your house for scrap booking supplies? God, I hope not. And a kid getting sad about not getting what they want- isn't that what happens to kids? Geez, if I bought my kid everything he wanted (he's 5) I would have $100k in credit card debt for Sponge Bob Squarepants toys and a room full of tarantulas (the current requested pet of choice). Sorry, disappointment is fact of life. Can there be a way for kid to have horses in their life? Absolutely. Do they have to do it on the level of an Olympic Rider? Nope. Not buying it.


                                  • #18
                                    Don't go into debt. It'll hurt you, and teach the kids a bad lesson.

                                    I started riding when I was 4. 1 lesson per week As I got older, I obviously wanted to get more involved in the sport, but my parents just didn't have the money.

                                    The barn was far away, and even getting me there to work off lessons wasn't going to work.

                                    But I survived- and I loved every second of it. I saved my own money to do more than just schooling shows. My mom would work at the schooling shows to pay my fees.

                                    I never did own a horse of my own, but I've ridden so many horses, and that experience is quite valuable. The stable would get a new horse in, and my @$$ was the first in the saddle.

                                    I did get snotty and stopped riding for a few of my teen years. But in college I picked it back up, and was riding/ showing at a fancy warmblood barn. My past experiences, being able to ride ANY horse, i was offered a lot of free rides, show fees, etc.

                                    After graduation, my goal was to get a good job so i could get my own horse. And, 3 years later, I have three of them. Are they expensive? yea sure they are- but i know how to manage it- i know how to make deals to make it cheaper, and i know how to work with my own horses so i don't always have to pay a trainer. I'm not dismissing the value of a trainer, because i would love one!! I'm just saying that right now i could do without- it won't keep me from riding my horses.

                                    So, not owning a horse is not the end of the world. in fact, it can open other doors, which are just as valuable.

                                    The opportunities are out there- you just have to look. It may mean asking around, finding a new barn, etc. That in itself is an experience.

                                    If you find you can afford a horse, and want to buy one- you could always go the rescue route. Rescue horses can be a great value. Many are green, but some just need 'refreshers' and make excellent mounts.

                                    Food for thought.

                                    My blog: Change of Pace - Retraining a standardbred via dressage


                                    • #19
                                      You do not need to take out a second mortgage! I have never in my life paid more then $2400 on a horse. Granted they wouldn't win the Eq's and stuff, but I don't think it's really worth the time, money and effort anyway. I am now 30, and grew up owning and riding horses but worked my butt off to get money off board etc. I started teaching lessons at age 16 in exchange for showing, and am so glad I did!
                                      I have a couple of young cousins that ride at a fancy hunter/jumper barn and I really feel that although they're winning some major competitions, they are not true horseman. Not when they're handed 2 $50,000 horses and have grooms at every show!
                                      I would look into finding a free lease situation. Somebody who has a good pony who just doesn't have the time for it, but wants it to stay in their family. That's how I've ended up with some great horses! And I'm going to look at another one this week that is my dream horse! I'd never be able to buy him, but because he's older and they want him to stay in the family, I could get him for a while and learn from him and have a great buddy!
                                      I absolutely believe that horses can help kids stay out of trouble!
                                      Grab mane and kick on!


                                      • #20
                                        And too (if it's not a thing of the past) there may be someone out there with the perfect horse that's just collecting dust that the owner would allow you to use without having to lease. I agree with whomever said "get a safe horse and let the child train it"--there's no better way to learn the ropes! Of course, you should have your trainer or instructor involved, if you have one. If you don't that's just one less thing to have to worry about.

                                        Chasing ribbons and trophies isn't my style--I just love the horses. And no, you shouldn't have to go into debt to afford horses. I never owned a horse was until after I was grown and out of my parents house for a long time!!!! My parents could never be talked into riding lessons, let alone buying a horse, or accepting a free one! It's only because I had a good friend whose parents actually had money that I was able to be around a horse and ride as much as I did. It was a wonderful time....
                                        It teaches many invaluable lessons.... It's only now, many years later, that I understand why my parents said no. It wasn't that they were being mean--we just didn't have the money! There's no shame in living within one's means!!!!!

                                        My first horse cost me $300. and I used to say, "If you paid more than $300. for a horse ya got took!". I had to up it to $500. when I paid that for my second horse (a small, registered 8 year old Thoroughbred mare)! She didn't know much when I got her but it wasn't hard to teach her (once I learned).... She has a good mind, two eyes, two ears, is healthy as a horse and all four legs point in the same direction!

                                        Where are you located? Maybe there's someone near you who would be willing to help? A wise man once told me, "There's always someone out there willing to help you if you just ask!"--network, network, network!!!! You never know what you might turn up if you start looking around! But if people don't know where you're situated they can't help you....

                                        Best of luck!
                                        "I'm not much into conspiracy theories but if everyone thinks alike you don't need a plot!" ~person from another bulletin board whose name has been long forgotten~