Affording a Horse in College

Hi!
I am a college freshman and I have had horses most of my life, but do not currently. I am thinking through the idea of getting another horse this spring, because I would love to be able to ride on a regular basis again and have my horse nearby.

So, I am looking for advise from people who have gone to college and payed for a horse through it. I would not be solely responsible for all costs, but most.
I am used to showing pretty much every weekend during the summer but I realize that I will definitely not be able to do that, which is ok. I am hoping I would be able to maybe show once a month.

Thanks in advance for the advice!

This isn’t the answer you’re going to want.

But I’m going to put on my wise elder hat and say: don’t do it.

It’s not worth it.

Yes, I did it. And it was hard. It was nice to have the horse, of course, but it was still hard. And your major is much, much more difficult than mine was. I know a nursing professor, and 25% of the freshmen don’t come back to the major sophomore year.

Looking back, a few years out, I regret missing out on things that I would have otherwise done if I hadn’t had the horse. Like going abroad for a semester.

Stick with lessons, and put what would have been your monthly board money into a savings account instead. Trust me, you’ll want it when you get out of school, whether you spend it all on a really nice horse, or use it to get your life started.

My advice is don’t do it. You will always have horses, college is a once in a lifetime experience.

Enjoy this time. Socialize someplace other then a barn. Try new things. You will be happy you did.

Is it possible to do the horse thing while you’re at school? Sure. But open yourself up to a different lifestyle for a while.

Don’t underestimate how busy and stressful school is going to be. It can leave very little time for a horse.

Get your horse fix taking a lesson here or there or if your school has a riding team, look into that.

Really. This will be like nothing else you’ve done up till now. Let the horses wait. They’ll still be there.

No matter what you decide, have a great time at school.

I took my horse to college and don’t regret it one bit. I double majored (not nursing; Econ and Political Science) and still graduated two quarters early while working ~25 hours a week, and managed to find time to go to the gym and take care of my horse. She was at a partial-care facility so I had to clean her stall every day myself. If it’s important to you, you will find a way to do it! I was not in any clubs, and had a somewhat limited social life, but it was worth it for me. What also helped is that I went to an “ag school” so there were several students at my barn, and the board was a lot cheaper than what I paid before.

I’m 10+ years out of college, and kept horses all through college. I guess I’ll be a dissenting voice and say that if it’s important to you, it’s possible.

I was a pre-vet/biology major with an intense schedule. I held various part-time jobs the entire time to pay for my horses. I also worked off my board the majority of the time I was in college (as I did in high school)… which was financially the only way I could make it work. I’ve always owned off-the-track freebies and other rejects, so I’ve never had much of an initial purchase expense for any of my horses.

I don’t regret keeping my horses through college at all. Did I sacrifice stuff for the sake of my horses? Absolutely. Looking back, there’s so much more I wish I could have done during the time. But I still had the college experience and I still had a social life. My only real regret is one that GoForAGallop mentioned— I completely regret not doing a semester abroad. I’ll probably never get that opportunity again.

I also made a mess of my finances and credit after college, when I was not earning much money as a new grad and had horse expenses + living expenses + student loans. It took awhile (seven years to be exact), but I’ve finally cleaned that up. If I could do it all over, I would have made better money decisions during that period-- which doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have owned horses, but I would have definitely parred down my numbers. I had as many as three during that time.

Yeah, horses will always be there… and you can always find a way to ride… BUT… once you go without horses for awhile, it only becomes MORE difficult to get back into it. Unless you are independently wealthy and need the tax write-off, it’s not like horse ownership will ever be financially-wise! If it’s important to you, you can make it work. :slight_smile:

Best of luck!

I did it… I had a horse through college, and paid for it, and it was nearly my undoing. Would I change it? No, not for anything in the world. But in my case, I kept the mare that I had owned for several years, and couldn’t bring myself to part with her.

Would I buy something new as a college student? No. I’d find another lease, maybe something more flexible (there are plenty of people out there interested in a free lease or inexpensive full lease) and stick with that until you graduate and get settled. If I hadn’t had my mare while I was in college, I imagine when I graduated and actually secured a decent job right out of school, that I would now have savings and less debt and would have been able to afford to do fun things and not have held my breath for years and years that my car would start because if it didn’t, I didn’t know how on earth I’d afford to get it running again.

So, long story short, looking back on the stress, I’d say no. Especially since that horse doesn’t exist yet and you’d only start looking now. Just wait it out 3 years, get some money in the bank, and buy something you’ll really enjoy.

Just want to clarify my post and say yes, of course, it’s possible. Particularly if you’re going to school in a cheap area.

And if you were talking about either having to sell your horse of a lifetime or bring it with you, my advice would be much different. That’s why I had a horse through college…because I had had him since 13 (and still have him!) and he wasn’t going anywhere. It HAD to work.

But I would not recommend buying one going into college. At least get through the first year or two so that you can figure things out a bit without the added stress, and maybe get in that semester abroad.

It’s not going to kill you to wait a year or two, and it’s not hard to get back into horses in that timeframe, particularly if you’re still lessoning regularly. I basically stopped riding for my last two years of college and got right back into it with a 3yo TB with nothing more than some sore muscles. :lol:

I too am a college freshman (Animal Science/Pre-Vet) who is on her first semester horseless in college. I am planning on bringing my horse second semester. As for affording her, I currently have a nest egg of about 7K saved up from 2 years of work and I currently have a part time job that I will be working 15 hours a week to help pay for board (pasture board is super cheap over here which is what we like).

Reason I am bringing my horse to college:
She’s my heart horse, I’ve been riding her for about 4 years and can’t imagine life with out her. The past 4 weeks of no pony time have been killing me, I got my mom to go out there and let us skype (totally weird I know).

I can lease her out, she’s a great proven pony hunter/dressage show horse who would be perfect for an 8 year old. I can reduce board costs with her lease money. I also won’t feel obligated to come out everyday if I have a trustworthy leasor.

I have chronic pain that seems to be caused by stress and other factors, and horseback riding is my de-stressor. Currently doing school and no horses has brought up a flare up that is driving me crazy, hopefully my lesson next week will bring it down (exercise and horses always help)

I thought long and hard about this, my parents and I had several talks, as did my trainer and I. My trainer and my BO have promised her a home for life if I get to college with her and can’t do it, so I have that fall back plan. I also am going to school at an “ag” school with an Equine science program with a lot of resources.

I took lessons about three times a week by getting a part time job on campus. Usually colleges have a job page under the student website. I worked in admissions as a receptionist and earned about $10 an hour. I easily fit in everything and had time to socialize outside of classes. I also occasionally worked off lessons for the weekend by cleaning stalls and paddocks. I have no regrets.

I had a sale horse my senior year in college and horses throughout all of law school.

After college you will need to balance your horse pursuits with a full time job, so there is no reason not to start practicing your time and budget management skills when you are in school.

Totally doable.
Get a job, pay for your horse, ride your horse. People do it all the time.* :slight_smile:

(*Though I was listening to one girl on the subway the other day explaining to a male friend of hers, to whom she apparently owed money, that she turned down a $200 temp job on a weekend day because apparently it takes her 8 hours to write a three page paper. If it takes you 8 hours to write a three page paper, I cannot help you. In fact, no one can help you, and probably you should skip owning a horse in college or ever. If you are a normal person though, you should be fine. :slight_smile: )

[QUOTE=meupatdoes;7763674]I had a sale horse my senior year in college and horses throughout all of law school.

After college you will need to balance your horse pursuits with a full time job, so there is no reason not to start practicing your time and budget management skills when you are in school.

Totally doable.
Get a job, pay for your horse, ride your horse. People do it all the time.* :slight_smile:

(*Though I was listening to one girl on the subway the other day explaining to a male friend of hers, to whom she apparently owed money, that she turned down a $200 temp job on a weekend day because apparently it takes her 8 hours to write a three page paper. If it takes you 8 hours to write a three page paper, I cannot help you. In fact, no one can help you, and probably you should skip owning a horse in college or ever. If you are a normal person though, you should be fine. :slight_smile: )[/QUOTE]

If you don’t have a horse going in, though. I think it makes sense to at least see what your school demands will be like before taking on the responsibility of a new horse. Don’t forget to talk to people about later years, too. (Often student nurses get the worst shift scheduling, for example, so that might make it difficult to get out and ride regularly. If you know that is coming up in a few years, you might want to be more careful about buying a horse that is a good prospect for leasing vs one that is maybe a more difficult ride, so you’ll be able to keep the horse being worked even if you get crazy busy for a while.)

Plus, if you wait a semester or so at least, you can save up during that time to give yourself a cushion for times when you may want to cut back your working hours to prepare for finals and that sort of thing.

I bought a horse in University… I loved having her and am very happy for the time I had with her, but I did not think of the consequences of horse ownership to the horse. I thought having my degree would automatically mean I could make enough to afford my horse once I graduated and did not have most of my expenses (rent, food, etc.) paid for… it didn’t. I could have scraped by and paid my horse’s basic expenses and my own, but I would not have had money to pay for emergencies for her. I had to sell my horse because I did not think it would be fair to keep her and not be able to provide for her every need and I miss her so very much… it would have been better to lease and not have to sell because I could not afford to give a horse everything they need.

I have a dog now, and I ride twice a week (could be more if the drive wasn’t so far)… I should have done this in University, then I would not have to worry what happened to the horse I loved and tried to find a good home for (they sent her to auction without my knowledge after riding her into the ground).

So my vote - lease. You can still bond with a horse but if/when poop hits the fan, you do not have to deal with the regret of selling a horse you wanted to keep forever.

Don’t do it. At least not yet. You’re a freshman, you just moved in, things are supposed to be uncomfortable and scary. The absolute worst possible thing you can do is run back to your comfort zone. This isn’t high school, only having class and your horse every day is not as satisfying.

I’m a sophomore, I brought a horse this year, but I’m not paying the bills. I’m stretched extremely thin, but I hang on to what freshman year taught me. I learned how to meet people, I learned what I like to do other than ride (that one took a few months, but I figured it out!), I learned how to be happy without horses.

This year? My horse is a priority but not a huge one. I may very well decide I’m not going to ride just because I don’t feel like it (within reason, obviously). Maybe I have to study, maybe I’m tired, maybe it’s cold, maybe I just have more fun things to do, hell maybe I’m hungover. My “college experience” takes priority over the horse. If everything gets too much, he’s the first to go. Please don’t ship a horse to school unless you really understand the value of a college experience.

You’ve got four years, enjoy them. You did the horse thing in high school and you learned and grew from it. Now let college do it’s thing :slight_smile:

It’s definitely possible but I’m going to suggest that you wait.
I decided to give my horse to my mom (I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to sell when I went away to school), which meant that I still had a horse to ride and show when I came home for holidays.
I love my barn friends but I love my university friends more, and I love that I finished my undergrad debt free. Since I didn’t have a horse at school with me I didn’t have the added horse expense or the expense of a car.
With the money that I was “saving” my mom and I bought a really nice yearling who I kept at my parents farm until I finished my undergrad.
I took some time off after that and groomed for some BNT up and down the east coast.
When I did go back for post-grad the yearling (now 4yo) came with me. My post-grad was just over a year long, in a new city where I didn’t know anyone. By then I was over the excitement of the university social life and I wasn’t going to let that nice young horse get wasted. I got a part-time job which barely paid for the gas and car insurance to go to the barn, let alone board/rent/tuition/etc.

Looking back it worked out perfectly for me, but I was lucky that 1) my mom rides, and 2)my parents have a farm so I can board there for peanuts whenever I need too.
I never would have bought a horse while I was in school if I would have had to have been paying actual board.

My suggestion is to continue lessons with your trainer, find something to part-board if once a week isn’t enough for you. Think of it like this, instead of going to the barn 5-6 days/wk to an average horse that you can barely afford, you can go to the barn 2-4 days/wk for a fraction of the cost, work part-time if your goal is to save money for a nice future horse, or join some clubs and get involved with your school if you crave the social life.

If you are going to have any student loans at all, don’t get a horse. Take lessons, lease, but don’t take on the primary responsibility until you are settled.

Thanks for all of the responses. I like hearing different people’s experiences, even if they aren’t all what I am hoping to hear! To answer the question about student loans, no I will not have any.

Keep the responses coming, because I am really taking them all into consideration to be sure I don’t do something I will regret!

[QUOTE=Jodieee;7763831] I did want to add that my college is only an hour from home. The barn he would be boarded at would be the barn I ride at at home, so I know everyone there well and would be able to work in exchange for lessons. Also, if I found that I could not afford the board, I would have the option to bring him to my house (we have an outdoor arena, barns with stalls and two fairly large pastures), which although not ideal, is nice to have that option just in case. I have boarded in the past because it is not nearly as fun to ride alone, and the winters here make it very hard to ride without an indoor.
[/QUOTE]

Ouch, I like this even less. Please, please, please, PLEASE do not be one of those people that continues to live their old life, but goes back to their college dorm at night. They tend to end up unhappy. Please embrace college for a year. Don’t go home until Thanksgiving (fall break? whatever you have) and really give it a shot. It will be an absolutely fantastic once-in-a-lifetime four years if you let it. You only have one shot at college.

Sorry if I’m being extremely opinionated, this is something I feel very strongly about and I have a bunch of friends who made some of the mistakes I see you potentially making. Feel free to PM me :slight_smile:

[QUOTE=OnDeck;7763842]Ouch, I like this even less. Please, please, please, PLEASE do not be one of those people that continues to live their old life, but goes back to their college dorm at night. They tend to end up unhappy. Please embrace college for a year. Don’t go home until Thanksgiving (fall break? whatever you have) and really give it a shot. It will be an absolutely fantastic once-in-a-lifetime four years if you let it. You only have one shot at college.

Sorry if I’m being extremely opinionated, this is something I feel very strongly about and I have a bunch of friends who made some of the mistakes I see you potentially making. Feel free to PM me :)[/QUOTE]

I agree with this. For me, life happened and I had to live at home and stay home most weekends because I didn’t have an option, but it did really cut into my ability to meet and become good friends with other people at college, because when they usually had time to socialize, I often had to be heading off home to deal with things. (Family health problems, what are you going to do?)

As a result I don’t really feel like I had the college experience, and I also missed out on some chances to take advantage of extracurricular offerings at the school, like interesting guest speakers and so on.

Another thing to keep in mind - I know at least with some other areas of health care, they tend to really like it when hiring or considering you for graduate studies if you’ve had some non-school time hands on in your area of interest. I.e. Volunteering. I’m not entirely sure if this applies to nurses also, but if that is a good thing to do for your future career plans, then you need to remember that will eat into your free time.

It can be done, but it doesn’t sound like you have any need to rush into it, so why not wait a bit? Even without student loan debt, having some savings when you graduate is a good idea. It means you don’t have to take the first job offer you get just to make ends meet, etc.

The time that you are in college is a time when you have opportunities that are available at no other time. You are not obligated to any other humans. People don’t mind if you make mistakes or try things that you’re not totally qualified to do. You are an adult and yet you don’t have the full brunt of ordinary living expenses, and you have the freedom to move around and do different things.

Take advantage of this.

Meet the people at school, get to know them and the things that they like to do that also interest you. Be aware of all the great opportunities for plays and restaurants and field trips and research and clubs that a university can offer. Try a new sport - fencing! ice skating! soccer! - if your school has that opportunity.

There is not enough time in your four years to fully embrace everything interesting your school has to offer as it is.

The people you know through horses will be in your network forever. So will the people you meet and get to know at college. The intersection of these new people you bring in to your life will make you a more powerful and productive person. The chance to try these new things will only strengthen your abilities as a rider when you return to it after college.

Enjoy your school, and give yourself time and permission to embrace what it offers.

When you are ready to own a horse again, you will only be better as a rider and horseman.

Are you working so you’ll have money for supplies, shows, etc? Not just working at barn for lessons. If you have a part time job of about 25 hrs a week, will you still have time to ride and study? Do you have money saved?

Personally, I’d say wait until you at least are done with your first year.