#TBT: The Real World Survival guide

There comes a time in every young rider’s life when the ‘rents decide to cut you — and your horse habit — off (unless you’re like Jessica Springsteen or Georgina Bloomberg or something).

Five Tips for When Your Parents Get Sick of Paying Your Board

We’re in full-on summertime, which means morning hacks, fun day shows and convincing your horse (again) that fly spray will not eat him… but for riders who have just graduated and are now heading off into the real world, it’s not such a fun time, especially if the Bank of Mom and Dad was subsidizing your horse habit.


So from one penny-pinching twenty-something to another, here are some tips to keep you in the saddle.

1. Assess Your Situation: First, find out just how broke you really are. Whip out Excel or mint.com to figure out how much you can afford to spend on necessities like rent, food, bills and savings before even thinking about your horse.

If you’re coming up short, your entry-level salary (or lack thereof) might make the decision for you — depending on where you live, it may just not be possible to own a horse when you’re just starting out on your own. So what can you do? You can sell him outright or, if you think your salary will support his costs in a few years, you can try leasing or half-leasing your horse out to someone you trust.

When you’re in the part of your life when “splurging” means eating out at Chipotle as opposed to another night of pasta and tomato sauce, not having a horse to worry about can actually be a huge relief. It means you only have to pay for what you can truly afford.

2. Ride for Free: Say all you can afford is gas money. If you have the right skills, you might be able to get your horse fix while also helping a good cause. Scope out local rescues in your area and ask if they are looking for volunteers with riding experience. However, be aware that rescues often depend on their volunteers for all aspects of horse care, so riding may not be a top priority when they are short-staffed and scrambling to get people to muck stalls, feed and turn out. Therapeutic riding centers sometimes also accept volunteers to give their trusty mounts a few schooling rides per week.

3. Work to Ride: Whether it’s working off lessons with your trainer, finding a working student job or just picking up a few hours at a part-time job to pay for lessons — mo’ money, mo’ horses.

4. Lease or Half-Lease: Say you can’t afford a whole horse, but maybe you can afford half of one. Leasing a horse is a great way to ease into buying, especially if you have the option to keep adding days to a half-lease as you can afford to pay more.

5. The Internet is Your Friend: After about a year of being out on my own, now it practically causes me physical pain to buy something without price-comparing and looking for a better deal used. Of course I get Dover and Smartpak emails in my email, but some of the best deals I’ve found have been on eBay, Tack of the Day and tack trader Facebook groups. Buyer beware when you’re dealing with someone you don’t know on Facebook, but often you will find very motivated sellers in these groups.

Prepare for your mind to be blown, and for your Facebook to never be the same again:

State-specific Facebook tack swaps also exist, so try Googling to see if one is available in your area.

Do you have any other tips for broke recent graduates? Share them in the comments below!


About the Author

Carla Lake is a financial media editor and a recent convert to dressage from hunterland. She leases an OTTB named Midnight who is an excellent teacher. You can follow their adventures at the Collegial Equestrian blog.




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