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Riding as a young adult?

I recently graduated from college with a degree in English, and am searching for my first job. I’ve been a little disheartened by the reality of the salaries for entry level jobs. My first horse is now 20, and he’ll have a home with my family forever. I’m hoping to be able to afford a new horse to (hopefully!) move up the levels with in the not so distant future. I’m just wondering-are there any other young twenty somethings who are making the horse thing work on a limited budget? If so, how?

I’m 22, and actually just recently started riding, about 7 months ago. :slight_smile: I half-lease and lesson a few times a week, but I don’t have other bills at present- I am lucky enough to live at home while I continue through college. I’ve got two jobs- at just barely above minimum wage. It is definitely a bit disheartening! I’d love to get my own (first) horse in the future, but have no idea how to handle cost of that either, so hopefully some good posts will crop up here. Congrats on your degree!

Ive owned horses throughout my 20’s (I’m 28 now). The horse I own is the horse my parent’s helped me but 6 years ago. I could never afford his quality on my own. I keep him at a non-show dressage barn (despite being a h/j), on pasture board. The facilities aren’t great, I have to either try to get a trainer to come to me or trailer out for lessons (which I take pretty rarely, max 4 a month but often 0-2). I like being able to jump on my own, especially since I can’t lesson very much, which I can at this barn.
I do show, at the Gold (A) Level, but usually 2-4 shows a year. Some of them full weekend shows, sometimes just trailering in for a day or 2.
My boy is up for sale now as I have bought a more expensive house and got much less out of my current house than I was hoping so my payments will be higher for a few years than I had planned, and I’ve been being too lazy about my riding, not riding enough for the amount of money I’m spending. If I end up not selling him I might move him to a barn with no indoor, then move him for just a couple months at the end of winter to fit him up before show season, then move him back to a barn without an indoor for summer, and for most of winter (he would just have time off for the winter months)

I have always managed to work a second weekend job to help pay for the horses. Usually at the barn, but sometimes not. Having no days off gets a little old, but it’s worth it to me so I keep doing it.

I’m 25 and in school for nursing. Firstly I cut back on the number of horses I owned and limit myself to one horse no matter how free or otherwise awesome the horses I’m offered are. I use my spare change to pay for my annual vet bills and have a set amount I’m willing to pay in my savings account should something go horribly wrong. I have been doing my own feet since I was about 10 and mostly use boots although I prefer shoes and when I start putting in more miles and will have to pay to have shoes put on. I ride my bike to the barn (about 7 miles) and then save the gas money to trailer out via borrowed rig when need be. I also board at a place with no arena’s or stalls, just really nice run-in’s and fantastic grass. I have access to trails about a half mile down a back road which isn’t ideal but it’s what I have. I work off my board by feeding daily except for Saturdays, and I house-sit for the ladies I ride for to make some money. I don’t compete my horse because I don’t have the money but I have been able to be competitive by catch-riding for others when they pay expenses which has been an amazing opportunity.

Apologies for the gigantic paragraph! :slight_smile:

Oh and I know this sounds silly but when I was looking for my current horse I took a lot of seemingly random factors into the equasion like how were her feet? Would I need special/ expensive shoes or could she be comfortable barefoot? Was she an easy keeper or would I have to feel/ supplement a lot? What was her personality? Did she seem ulcer prone? Did she have a history of accidents? Did her back look hard to fit? Stuff that could really add up money wise if she required any special maintenance. So far knock on wood I’ve been lucky.

I’m 23, recently a college graduate and recently married and I still make the horse thing work. I actually bought my horse with my high school graduation money. He’s nothing “fancy”, but he’s wonderful to me!

I could have decided between doing a lesson program with rated show opportunities or owning my own horse. I chose to own my own horse, and in doing that I decided that I would do things like play days and saddle club shows when the budget allowed. I’ve only just now (like actually this week) gotten my first horse trailer. The joy of owning my own horse and caring for it daily was far more important to me than showing.

When you’re looking for a horse, I’d look at some of the things Stushica mentioned. My horse is a very easy keeper, stays out on pasture 24x7, barefoot, gets along with the other horses, healthy, etc. This allows my to pay simply for pasture board, which is half the cost of stable board. He’s also barefoot, which saves a bit on farrier expenses. He does not need grain, and only needs hay during the winter (we get round bales and split the cost between the boarders). Of course you have to realize that any of that can change at any time, and you need to have a good savings in place for emergencies, but (also knock on wood) I’ve been lucky too. Some barns will also allow you to work off part or all of board. You can also look at co-op barns to cut down on costs.

My friend for instance, has an OTTB mare who they can’t keep weight on no matter what. At one point they were spending more on feed than they were on board every month. She also tends to get injured more than any other horse I’ve known. So…just be careful and selective when you do purchase!

Hello! I’m 23 and still in college (I call it the 10 year plan :lol:). I have one wonderful horse that I full paddock board with my trainer. I pay her per lesson (not the package fee up front), and I try to lesson once-ish a week. I think of lessons as a luxury, so if I am feeling broke, I don’t lesson. Trainer gave me a great deal on full paddock board, because she uses me to feed on emergency basis or when barn help goes on vacations. I honestly don’t mind, and I wish she would use me more. I get a great deal for a low budget.

However, I also work full time, go to school full time at night, and I run a second side business of pet & farm sitting. I have a wonderful SO that takes care of rent and the like. I pay for all of my bills. I try to keep pony on a budget, but unfortunately life happens. He has his own credit card for emergencies that I pay off after using. We both don’t get a ton of new things. I ride in mostly pipers or cheaper breeches (I have four pairs of breeches). I don’t own any TS or Le Fash, etc. He goes in a flat, old Crosby that I have had since high school. I buy almost all of my tack and clothes used, but I don’t buy very often. My jacket and show shirt are totally outdated. I don’t own any fancy technical jackets or fabric shirts. I have one pair of boots that I ride and school in. I also don’t show at any of the rated shows or larger, more expensive schooling shows. My only plan to possibly show this year is a very small, inexpensive schooling show if pon is ready.

All my pet and farm sitting money goes straight into my horse savings. My real life job pays for my normal bills. I’m also going to downsize from my F250 to a Ford Escape or something comparable that gets better gas mileage. I rarely treat SO and myself out to eat. We do a lot of home cooking and meal prepping. I never buy normal person stuff for myself. The only person in my family that gets a nice Christmas or Birthday present is SO. I don’t go out on weekends. I don’t party. I “save” all the extra money I can.

If I didn’t have my own horse, I would just lesson. I am currently attempting to make my horse nice enough so that someone could half or free lease him. I wouldn’t even consider buying or leasing another until I had plenty of $$$.

When I was still in college I had the beautiful vision of living on my own, visiting my horse whenever I choose, and not having to even worry about the bills.
As a 24 year old I realize my delusions. In order to keep my horse I’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices. Like living at home and eating a lot of ramen.
We’re pretty secure right now, but if a big emergency happened it would be pretty frightening budget wise.
And because I work full time I am not able to get out to the barn nearly as often as I’d like. But, overall, I wouldn’t get rid of my guy for anything! He makes it all worthwhile!

I am older now (34) but I always leased or part-boarded. You get the benefit of a consistent ride, without the full financial commitment. I acknowledge that I will very likely never own a horse - but that works well for me.

I’m 25, I’ve got my 2 guys- my retiree that my parents (very generously) fully support, and my younger guy that I fully support.

Younger horse lives at the same barn as my retiree, as I get a ring, trails, 12 hours of turnout, unlimited grain/hay, blanketing/fan, electrolytes and worming covered for just over 1/2 of what pasture board cost at my last ‘show barn’. It’s not pretty, but the care is top-notch.

This means however- no lessons/showing. I could bring in a trainer, but I’m waiting until I have an issue I can’t solve myself to shell out for that! And I’m already saving up for future show expenses.

28 and had my guy for two years now. What did it come down to? I busted my hump to get a job, got a better job and finally got the job I have now. It isn’t a monster salary, but it pays enough for me to pay board and incidentals for my guy. We don’t show, we don’t have brand new tack and we don’t get lessons all that often. I don’t go out to non-horse functions much and drinking has been all but nixed in favor of bags of feed. You can do it on a meager salary, you just have to prioritize your horse above ALL else.

My guy is boarded at a “backyard” barn (thought it’s AWFULLY nice) that I found on Craigslist. The owners charge a fair price and give excellent care. I’ve had major success finding barns this way or by stuffing mailboxes with a letter asking about boarding. Since I don’t lesson frequently, the overall cost of horse ownership for me has been relatively small when compared to others. I choose two nights a week to go see him after work (saves on gas) and see him both days on the weekend. He eats better than I do (hello, Dollar Menu) and sees his care team more than I see mine (that broken foot will heal on it’s own, right?).

Also - He’s a BLM mustang so I got him for a song as an unbroke 4 year old. Not for everyone, but worked out well for me. :yes:

Best answer to this is what my mom keeps telling me: find a rich husband :rolleyes:

I knew I wanted to show, but more importantly take a lot of lessons/ride in clinics on dressage horses, and have more than one long term so I could have horses coming up behind the ones in work. I also knew I wanted to be able to retire my old horses. For me, that meant I was aiming for about 30 to buy my first horse.

I was taking weekly lessons in my 20s, and hated it. I love lessons, but I hated not having a relationship with the horse, and being able to develop together. I ended up out of horses, and for the first time had free time to have a social life. I learned while it’s not as strong as my feelings toward horses, I have a passion for live music, promoting musicians who are just starting out, and photography (especially concert, but all photography.) I had enough in my budget to be able to travel and have fun, too.

I love that I had that freedom and fun in my 20s, because once I was ready to start looking for a horse I ended up instead using the money I had saved to bail my mom and brother out of financial troubles. I always knew I would support my mom in old age, just didn’t expect that to happen so soon - and my brother’s case was the huge hit over the head he needed so he’s actually now financially responsible. A crummy choice to make, but in that case giving them money was absolutely the right one.

I’m now 38, living on horse property with a 6 stall barn, no mortgage, putting money away for my retirement and for my mom’s emergency bills, have one horse in full training, have lately been doing one show or clinic (either way, typically around $500) a month, and on all other weekends getting two lessons and a ride on the dressage horse who is at home. I have a companion horse and my mom’s mostly retired old trail horse at home as well.

For me, the sacrifice of not riding in my 20s was worth it to be where I am now. I’m making nearly 3 times what I did straight out of college at this point, which helps, and buying a foreclosure at the bottom of the market with cash certainly helped, too!

When I was still in college I had the beautiful vision of living on my own, visiting my horse whenever I choose, and not having to even worry about the bills.
As a 24 year old I realize my delusions. In order to keep my horse I’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices. Like living at home and eating a lot of ramen.
We’re pretty secure right now, but if a big emergency happened it would be pretty frightening budget wise.
And because I work full time I am not able to get out to the barn nearly as often as I’d like. But, overall, I wouldn’t get rid of my guy for anything! He makes it all worthwhile![/QUOTE]

LawsofMurph, you nailed it! For a minute I thought you were describing my life, as I too am a member of the ramen club. When I graduated I was lucky enough to get a job immediately, however it was on a very low salary. I had enough personal bills that it was not possible for me to “comfortably” own a horse. When I say comfortable, I mean being able to save in case of emergency vet bills. It was also hard adjusting to the schedule of a full time job too. But even though I wasn’t in a place to own, I always found ways to stay involved and keep riding occasionally. After a few years, I can now happily say I have upgraded in the job and salary department. As soon as I had extra cushion, the horse was the first thing I bought! I still skimp on things like going out to social events, shopping etc so I can use any and every extra penny I can for my horse for things like lessons or shows. It is possible, dont get discouraged! It may take time but it will be worth it.

Another English major here! I had a horse all through college, retired him shortly after graduating, and bought a prospect in grad school (I love my little mare, but what was I thinking?!). I’m 28 now, with two boarded horses that I support myself, and a salary that only just covers expenses.

I’ve made it work, but it can be extremely stressful. I’ve really had to prioritize where to spend my money when it comes to horses. This means no fun tack, very few shows, intermittent lessons, pasture board, etc., in order to afford the things I do find important: building up my vet visit fund, medication and extra feed for my retired horse, and an awesome (and spendy) farrier for my mare.

A also have a very strict budget for myself (I use the You Need a Budget software) to make sure I have enough money to keep the ponies healthy and happy. Meeting my budget means that I sometimes eat peanut butter for dinner, only buy new clothes twice a year, and frequently sell my books, clothes, and plasma.

Basically, here’s how I made it work:

  • Lowered my showing expectations.
  • Bought a nice but not super fancy horse.
  • Lived in an area where decent boarding was inexpensive.
  • Relied on good friends who had pasture.
  • Found backyard barns through Craigslist.
  • Cut down my horse-stuff spending to only what was absolutely necessary.
  • Kept up with vet and farrier visits to (knock on wood!) prevent expensive emergencies down the road.
  • Maintained a super strict budget for myself (seriously, I love YNAB!)
  • Earned extra income whenever I could (freelance writing, selling tack, selling plasma, etc.)

Though perhaps not advisable, it’s definitely doable! Good luck!

My 20s were some time ago, but I was in graduate school, so very little extra money. I was only able to do one lesson/week, but it was the best hours of my week. I was able to get a few extra (free) rides helping out with some of the school horses and a few owners when they were out of town. After I graduated I was able to part-lease, and now I am looking for a horse to buy after saving for a bit.

I am not much older than you and consider myself really lucky to ride and compete like I do! I was given a horse I’d ridden in college because she is old and tricky so not an easy sell. We are having a blast competing novice. This will be our last year doing recognized eventing, next year will focus on just a couple events, trying new things like polox, doing more hunting, general stuff that doesn’t involve show jumping (which is the hardest for her physically these days).

To make it work on a $15 an hour salary I live at a small farm and am a part time barn manager in return for very cheap rent. My horse lives there and gets cheap field board with an indoor which is crucial to me. Being an old lady the field board is actually nice since she stays sounder when she moves all the time. Sadly she is a high maintenance horse who is a hard keeper and must have shoes all around and gets some joint help.

Basically I had to choose between competing and lessons my first couple years on my own. I went for competing because we were safe to run Novice and I wanted to enjoy the time I had with her still feeling sound. This year I applied for a grant though my local eventing group and won which gave me a lovely lesson budget.

I am a great frugal grocery shopper, never eat out. I spent $10 on coffee a month as a treat. I don’t have a lot of non-horsey friends near me so I don’t really spend money on drinking/socializing unless I visit them in their cities. I have met people through free stuff like volunteering at events.

My next horse will not come until I have a much higher salary and can afford expenses on 2. I plan to buy off the track because I really enjoy bringing along the youngsters (my past life before getting the old lady) and I figure if all horses cost about the same upkeep wise, why not go as cheap as possible in up-front costs? Good luck to you!

I had to take a break from horses for a few years as I got my career started. I’ve recently been able to get a horse again. I can’t afford lessons or showing now, but I hope to be able to in another year or two.

Taking some time off from horses is not a disaster, it needn’t last forever.

My parent’s supported my horse through college, but as soon as i graduated and got an entry level job, I was on my own. I boarded at a not-so-nice place where I had to go to the barn EVERYDAY without fail because sometimes my horse didn’t have water after the staff left for the day, or they forgot to give her hay, or she had gotten her leg shredded in a fence and no on had noticed (not bad people, just underpaid laborer in an inexpensive facility). We rarely took lessons and didn’t show or do clinics those first years. She had no joint maintenance, which my one regret about those couple years.

When you don’t have the money for fancy things, you can often make it work with not-fancy things. However, I was still able to start a 401k and put money into savings for the vet bills and car repairs and all of life’s other curve balls. If I couldn’t have put away some extra while maintaining a reasonably comfortable life for the horse and myself, the horse would have found a new home.

If I had come out of college without a horse I already owned, I absolutely would not have bought one. Starting a base of savings and financial security will allow you to buy a nicer horse later without worrying about what will happen if you need a new car or unexpectedly get laid off. Maybe shareboard or do catch rides for a while?

Duplicated post

I’m 24, still in college and am leasing a really awesome gelding from my trainer. My parents help out a lot, but I work off my lessons at the barn and only show locally. My dad offered to buy me a horse as a college graduation gift but to his surprise I said no! While having a horse to go to when I’m stressed or upset would awesome when I venture out into the adult world, the financial responsibility would be too much. Right now I lesson 2x a week in a group lesson to save some $$ and to be honest I have a lot more fun than when I’m by myself. My show clothes are hand me downs and I bought my saddle used. My lease is also going to be half leased back to my trainer for hunt season, so it’ll cut board in half! I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for being horseless when I graduate, but I try to remember that horses will always be there for me to come back to.