Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Some tough decisions.

I hope I don't come off as a schizophrenic because this will sound like it is coming out of nowhere.  And, well, it kind of is, sort of, but not really.  These are things that are always in the back of my mind but ones I never really let surface because I just don't want them to be true.  I don't want it to be true that we cannot afford this lifestyle that I keep living when it comes to horses.  I don't want it to be true that it causes constant discord within my marriage.  I don't want it to be true that NOTHING comes easy for me.  I just don't want any of it to be my reality but no matter how much I deny it, it just doesn't go away.

I am using you all as a sounding board because all these things keep rambling in my head and I cannot seem to think straight about it.  So at this point no decisions have been made but a decision does have to be made.  Then once the decision is made the plan of action as to how to make it all go as smoothly as possible must be made.

#1  Sell Steady.
I don't want to sell my horse.  I love him so much and anytime I think about trying to find the perfect owner seems like an impossible task because I want him to be cared for how I would care for him.  But I keep pouring money into him and this sport.  Money that we don't have.  I put things on credit cards not knowing how I will pay for them(this is not something that I or my husband are comfortable with).  I feel like I have dug myself in a hole but the hole just keeps getting deeper and deeper.  I kept waiting for a leveling off point and I have realized that, that is probably not going to happen.  We are not in good shape financially and at this point it is not going to get any better unless we make some changes.  The only place that we have left to cut is the horses/animals.  I can argue all day long that I deserve this but in the end if I can't afford it, I can't afford it.  I don't want to sell my horse but it is a very real option at this point.  I feel that someday I will be able to get back into the sport but this time in my life is not the time for it.  My kids are still young and I need to be at home with them.  I tried the working thing but with my husbands scheduele it just didn't work out.  We have NO retirement.  That is not a good place to be in, though we are young but we need to make changes now and just can't swing saving because we can barely make it as it is.

#2 Find a leasor.
This is an option but I don't really know how to go about finding not only someone to lease him but the "right" someone.  I would be picky and possibly drive them bananas but I thought this might be a way that when I can get back into it that I would have my Steady to do it with.  I also have no experience with leasing so you all may be able to give guidence on this one.

#3 Keep the horses but cut out ALL lessons, shows ect.
Strangely this seems like the hardest of all the options.  Does that sound crazy.  I guess I am thinking if I cut out ALL extra expenses when it comes to the horses besides the occasional trip to ride the trails that it would be more reasonable to keep them.  It wouldn't be ideal financially but it would be a little better.  BUT I have a very hard time wrapping my brain around just being a trail rider.  I just don't see us getting anywhere trying to progress with no lessons.  I am way too green and so is he.  I also have this crazy competitive side to me.  Not really to compete with others though sometimes it does take on that form but mostly myself.  I constantly want to better myself.  I can go out and really enjoy a good trail ride but I don't have trails out my back door so most of my riding is done in my side yard going in circles.  Now I can enjoy riding in circles IF I have something to  work towards but just to ride in circles I don't see myself being motivated to get out and ride.  Maybe I am wrong.  Maybe just going out and have a horsey to love on will be enough to justify the still hefty expense but I don't think so.  Hearing about friends going to shows and making good progress toward thier dreams would just be torcher for me.  This option just seems the hardest to wrap my head around.

We need to move soon and we have NO money saved up.  We will be buying our 3rd house by 33 and still do not have a cent as a down payment.  With the housing market and the job market around us I don't see us walking away with much from the sale of our current home.  We also have projects that need to be done to the home before we sell it and just don't have the money to do them.  These are the things that weigh on my mind all the time.  Not only do we use all extra money on my horses and me but are still adding debt.  It just doesn't seem wise to keep heading in that direction.  And these are the only options that I can see at this point.   I am up for any and all advice on this situation.  I really need to sort all of it out.


  1. Have you thought about using your horse skills as a side income?

    For instance, when I was in college I boarded my horse and was the fed and turnout person, so my horse stayed for free and I got a little bit of extra income as well. During the summers I taught kids to ride at local summer camps.

    I don't know how possible that is for you now, since you seem to be in a really rural area, but maybe that would change after you moved?

    Do you still have multiple other farm animals? Maybe you could sell them instead of Steady?

    Maybe you could keep steady, cut all other show and lesson expenses, and exchange work for lessons or show fees? Ask the local eventing association to let you attend one show as a competitor in exchange for volunteering with the organization for three others, or ask a trainer if you can exchange 5 hours of work for a lesson.

    I don't know if any of these things work for you, but they are things that have worked for me in the past.

  2. Bear in mind, Steady is a hard keeping TB with no particular claims to training. As much as you (and all your blog readers) love him, selling him is not likely to be a significant source of income. Of course, I'm always on the keep the horse side of the fence, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

    Horse showing and training is expensive. I haven't had a lesson all year and I'm not sure I'll actually be able to afford to compete. Unlike you, I don't have a strong competitive side, but I do like to get out there.

    I'm being realistic. I have a minimal horse budget, so I'm going to try to take lessons as I can afford it, and probably just volunteer at shows. Most shows are 2+ hour drives away, and I doubt I can afford to split gas this year, so instead I'll probably see who I can groom for so I can ride along for free. Plus, that allows me to watch seasoned riders and audit clinicians, which helps me learn.

    It's not ideal, but it's how I make it.

    You're right. You can't just keep accruing debt for a hobby. If money is tight, competing and clinicing probably needs to take a back seat.

  3. I've been in a very similar place and Lord knows it's hard. The one thing you're passionate about you can't afford to do. I came to the point where keeping my horse became the priority even if I couldn't show him. I think you have to decide if this particular horse is your dream or if becoming an accomplished rider is your dream. Owning a horse often gets in the way of riding. If he's lame or hurt or if you have horse-related chores to do, that cuts into your riding time. Without the expense of owning a horse, you could spend that money on lessons which would allow you to make faster progress as a rider. I am sure you could find someone to love Steady like you do. BUT if you're madly in love with him, you may have to put your riding on the back burner. You will have to be happy just to be with your horse.

    Once I answered this core question, it helped me be okay with putting my riding dreams on the back burner. When I figured out that I wanted Baron no matter what, the details worked out. I think sometimes when you make a good decision for your kids and your family and you do what you know in your heart is right, God or the Universe or whoever rewards you. Only you can decide what the best choice is. I feel for ya girl!

  4. Tisi, Thanks for coming by. I feel like I have explored every option in that department in this area. There are no boarding facilities no trainers near by. I only have 2 goats other than the 2 horses and 2 mini's. I milk the goat and the mini's require almost no feed and are a very minimal expense. The other horse is an easy keeper and gets by on little but I am not sure I would keep him either. But those 3 are my daughters horses and I can't justify in my heart selling their horses so I can keep mine.

    SB, Thanks for sharing. I didn't realize you struggled with finances when it came to horses too. I agree that I will not make money off of Steady and really wouldn't care to. It is the continual accruing costs that need to stop. I am definitely going to put alot of thought into what you said. I am signed up and paid a non-refundable deposit on the event camp in July. I am guessing that will be my last hurrah and need to see where things are then. In reality it is only a matter of a few hundred dollars a month that stand between me and this dream I just for the life of me cannot find a way to make that amount of money in my situation. Thank you, you gave some stuff to think about.

  5. We leased 2 different horses over a period of 4 years when my daughter first started riding. We paid half expenses for vet, farrier, & board. Might be an option for you. One person we leased from was involved, when we wanted - the other, we rarely saw. Both experiences were great for us.

    When you say it is only a couple hundred dollars a month, we all know that is subject to change...daily! Emergencies can arise - and that weighs in my mind all the time.

    We have enough to support our 3 - but if a costly illness would arise, we would have tough decisions to make.

  6. Ugh, that sounds like such a painful situation then.

    At this point I think you're stuck making the decision trainingbaron was talking about - Is this particular horse your dream or is being an accomplished rider your dream.

    I can't do anything but empathize.

  7. I feel for you! What a tough position to be in! But I like the ideas that people are posting about possibly selling the horses to save money, especially if you are moving soon, and then taking some riding lessons on a horse that might be able to really teach you a lot. I did that for awhile, and I learned so much.
    You are still so young! I always wanted to event too, and I did find that it was hard to do when the kids were little. Now that they are becoming more independent, I can go outside and ride, or haul to a lesson and leave them home without paying for a sitter. Ever notice that all the great eventers are women in their 40's and 50s? And beyond? :) Your time WILL come someday. Just take the next few years to take a lesson here or there. Good luck with your decision.

  8. *hugs* I struggle daily with finances and money, too. I have a load of debt that thankfully I am not adding to, but it isn't getting paid off very fast. No part of me wants to sell my horse and I do everything I can to keep him (including literally going hungry for several days because I run out of cash). However. I don't have a husband and I don't have kids. Those factors change a lot. That's something I am not qualified to give advice on. But I do take on random odd jobs to stay afloat (dog sitting, house sitting, training a few horses, etc). Sometimes I sell stuff on eBay. Somehow, it has been working OK for me. I don't live comfortably, but I do have my wonderful horse and that's what makes me happy. I hate that money has to run our lives like it does!

  9. If you really can't afford it, then you can't. But I have gone for years with only rare lessons, rarer shows, no new tack, equipment or riding gear unless something breaks or wears out. THAT is what costs a lot.
    I love riding and training but I have wonderful trainers who will come and give me a lesson once every six months if that is what works and the rest of the time I work on my own. I audit clinics rather than ride in them and watch lessons with good trainers to learn things to work on.
    I understand work schedule conflicts but there are lots of things you can do part time and/or on the internet to bring in enough to support a horse. It's finding a real job to support a family that's hard.
    Good luck with whatever you decide to do, I know it is hard even to cut back.

  10. This is a tremendously tough decision and my only recommendation would be to pray, pray and pray some more for God to guide you to the right one.
    Everyone can only share what they are comfortable doing, some people are okay living with unknown financial circumstances (I've known people like that and I give them credit because it would drive me into the nuthouse with worry!).
    I'm sorry you have to make this decision.


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