The horse industry is a funny one. It is expansive; from the neighbor down the road with a horse in the backyard to multi-figure horses that compete at the highest levels of the sport. More and more, I have been hearing comments from outside the industry and even those involved in other areas of agriculture about the cost of having a horse.
I find myself stuck in between these worlds. While I once competed at the national level, I did so with my thoroughbred X Clyde. She did a pretty good impression of a much-more expensive warmblood –until you saw her trot. We got good at the walk-canter transition before our hunter rounds.
Now with a horse in her teens and finding my way in the “adult world,” I realize that competing at that level is a thing of the past. At the same time, I am not ready to transition out of that world and I intend to keep my horse for the rest of her life. So where does this leave me? Well I have a shadbelly in my closet I can’t quiet part with, but has not been used in years.
But you know what? I am okay with my new reality in the horse world. I think many young adults are struggling with this; as the cost of showing keeps going up, it prices horse competitions into the luxury market. Guess what? There is SO MUCH else you can do with your horse.
In the past year I went to a wine ride on horseback and took my horse to the beach. Both these activities were far cheaper than a show and turned out to be so much more fun. There are many cool things to do on the farm too; from winter trail rides, to ground driving, to
gymnastics and teaching your horse tricks in hand.
All my musings come back to the fact that although horse ownership is not possible for everyone, there are many ways to make it more affordable. I have learned a lot in my journey from amateur owner to pseudo- weekend warrior. Not to say that I only ride on weekends; but adulthood, the 9-5, putting money away and new responsibilities change the reality of having a horse. I hope some of these tips can help you out too.
- Cut out competition: as I mentioned the first to go was competition. This does not mean you cannot hit up one-or-two local shows a year, but the entire winter and summer circuit might have to be out.
- Scale back from full service/training board: okay I never kept my horse in these facilities and instead elected to do a lot of self-care at shows, but these are the areas you can cut back on. I have dropped regular weekly lessons and board at a facility where I can jump on my own time. NOTE: this works because I know my horse and our capabilities. If you are not comfortable, a professional is always best.
- Part-boarder: it took me a long time to come around to this and find someone suitable, but it is so nice to have a bit of extra cash and time. Plus my part-boarder loves my horse and that in itself is really rewarding.
- Accessories: as hard as it is to hear, you don’t need to newest accessories. Gasp, I am still riding in a GPA speed air and my original beige TS breeches because they are in good condition.
- Find new fun things to do with your horse: I have been tossing on a western saddle and playing around outdoors this winter.
- NEVER FEEL GUILTY: whether you cannot make it to the barn because your working late or you have to turn down another show; realize that it is okay! Horse ownership does not need to look like it did as a junior.
Where do you save money with horses?