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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 16, 2012

    Unhappy Why is non-ownership so hard? (vent)

    I do not own a horse.
    It will be years until I own a horse (ie. done high school, bachelor's degree, and vet or med school). Its just not financially possible right now (well, it could be, but it would be "on the cheap" and the horse would have a lower level of care than I would be comfortable with).

    Thus, if I want to ride and not lose my mind over taking lessons once a week for eternity, I have to part board or half-lease. Full leasing (by the standard definition of I take care of everything but the name on the papers) is beyond my and my parents' financial reach.
    I am content (as much as I wish I could be an owner, I understand why its not happening and I accept it) with this scenario.

    Or I would be, if I could find a horse at a non-sh!thole barn, within a reasonable distance (so I can ride more often the 2x a week), and it might be nice if the horse could do the things I wanted (3ft/ low Children's hunter, B-circuit or schooling shows) or at least wasn't bat-sh*t crazy too.

    Right now I actually have an amazing 14 y/o OTTB who moves like a warmblood when he's fit and ridden well and cleans up the A circuit hunters. He jumps around a 3'6" course like its a crossrail class. I pay a very minimal amount for him, considering what comparable horses are going for part board. We get along great, which is why the owner wants me riding him. He is a great steady boy for me to fix some confidence issues on (had a few bratty ponies and horses in the last year).
    But, unfortunately, he is a cribber, and his owner refuses to use a collar on him. He is easily managed with a rope hung in his stall (he just cribs on the rope) but his current barn has board fencing and he is being evicted for taking boards down at an alarming rate.
    I am unsure where he will be boarded after this month - hopefully it will be close to me, but there is a good chance it won't be.

    I want to SCREAM, cry, and stomp my feet. This is the first nice horse I've managed to find to ride in the last 3 years.
    I loved my first part board, but he was too far away. Parents ended it after a year because of the driving. (I don't really think I'll ever forgive them for this one)
    2nd horse lasted 2 weeks, was diagnosed with a chronic lameness problem and I backed out of the agreement with the owner's blessing.
    3rd horse was a frustrating TB mare at a barn I hated. It was the middle of November, right around when no horses are for part-board in my area, I was desperate for something to ride, went in with hopes of making friends at a schooling barn. May as well have smacked my face off the arena wall for 3 months.
    4th horse was a pony I was a touch too big for that I rode outside through the dead of winter and spring, that promptly sold at the beginning of my summer vacation, exactly 3 days before our first show. Had on/off issues with him, got bucked off twice, which is half of the reason for my confidence issues.

    Finally found current horse, love him, making great progress, and now this. Was already saving for my one "go big or go home" show season next year. Making great progress on my equitation in my lessons because he is so perfect .

    I can't handle any more horse shopping. I can't handle any more frustration that all of my horse-y friends have their own horses now and I don't. I can't handle another crappy school barn with bratty kids running around all the time.

    I'm frantically trying to find barns that have all-electric fencing on their turnouts (horse-y respects electric fence) that are close to me and taking indoor boarders. Hopefully his owner likes one of them.

    I'm mostly just venting and hoping some of you have better ideas.

    (TL;DR: Junior hunter rider wants non-crazy horse that's affordable and close by to ride for more than 3 months)

    ETA: I am located in the GTA in Ontario. Durham region, if we want to be a bit more specific.
    Last edited by lifeishorsesarelove; Oct. 6, 2012 at 10:52 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May. 5, 2011


    Maybe if you post where you are there might be a COTH member nearby who either has or knows of a good horse to lease.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007


    On the other hand, think how lucky you are not to own a horse, be tied to that horse and all the very seriously time and resources intensive horses are.

    You have more time and money now to do other than ride and care for and pay for that one horse and what if that horse gets really sick?
    Then you can't even ride it and still have all those expenses.

    Yes, there will be a time in your life where owning horses will make sense, but sounds like right now, you need to be happy that you don't own one, not sad about it.
    Take the opportunity to learn more about horses with all that money you would use to own and care for one only.

    My story, my cousin was a bit older than I was, got a very good job and bought a very nice horse she enjoyed tremendously.
    She was a better, more talented natural rider than I was, but by spending all her resources on her one horse, her riding didn't advance much any more.
    I, on the other hand, had many more chances to ride all kinds of horses than if I had to use all my money on one, ended up starting colts for our riding school and owning a riding school myself and spent a life as a professional in the horse world.

    That would never had happened if, like my cousin, I would have spent all my energy and resources on owning my own horse and missed on all the other, that made me a better horseman.

    Take the chances that will come your way and try to enjoy horses as fit your life now, not think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, get a horse to fulfill some very real emotional need so many of us have to own our very own horse and miss all other that we can do with our life without owning a horse.

    There are trade-offs in all in life.
    Where to spend your resources and energy is one of those places.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct. 28, 2007


    Good advice Bluey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 21, 2011


    Bluey has good advice for you.
    Not owning a horse is sometimes better. I know it doesn't feel that way to you now, but you have time.

    With your school plans it would be best for you not to be tied down to owning a horse. You can take lessons , lease, ride in a program at college etc..without the commitment and risk that goes with ownership.

    Do say where you are located. Someone here may have a suitable horse!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr. 4, 2010
    Lowcountry, SC


    Great advice Bluey.
    I know you're probably very upset about the change in situation, especially since it sounds like things were going really well. I would feel the same way, too. I think you did a good thing researching the availability of other boarding situations around you to help the owner keep the horse within your range. But after that, there really isn't much you can do, unless you get your license/car/insurance and can make the trek out to his new place. But my guess is that those things that would make you more mobile require at least a part time job to pay for, which would eat into horse time. Not impossible, but difficult to balance.

    I often wish and make myself heartsick over not owning a horse. My current obsession/pet fear is what I will do when my current ride retires, which could be in a few years (or, more likely, he will step down in workload first). I also get stressed out about other new, non owning clients possibly riding him regularly and how it would cut into my opportunities. Then I think about how i would like to be moving to another state in a few years max, and what would i do about finding a trainer as generous and insightful as my current one. And next thing you know, I'm in a panic.
    The hardest thing, about most everything in life, is accepting how completely we can NOT control what happens to us. We can control how we react to, and interpret, what does happen. Not owning could be a huge hindrance to reaching big goals (which, if you think about it, usually have recognition and some level of outside valuation to them. Year end awards, zone finals, competing in well known shows).... or not owning can free you up for riding a ton of different horses, meeting all sorts of owners, trainers, professionals, having the money to invest in more training/working on yourself, the mobility to travel to different colleges, or even go on vacations- horsey or not- and you would be surprised the amount of life changing opportunities are out there when you step outside your usual experience/circle.
    But all of these non owning/not being tied down sort of opportunities aren't so hugely valuable without the right perspective and a certain level of inhibition when it comes to seeing a chance to grow, and take another path. It may sound like I'm speaking hugely in the abstract, and i guess I could be, but it takes a LOT of stepping back and changing your perspective in order to see the good side of a crappy situation.
    Like a lot of this stuff (what we learn in the barn aisles or in the saddle) it often extends much further than just the horses!
    Stay positive and look for opportunities that may not seem apparent. Stop caring about the business of other kids at the barn, life is a lot more fun without that.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 20, 2010
    All 'round Canadia


    I'm sorry that a great situation might fall through over a cribbing collar.

    But owning a horse has its own frustrations. You said you backed out of one part-lease because the horse was lame - that's definitely one of the main benefits of leasing. Had that horse been yours, and had you only been able to afford one horse, what would you have done?

    I do hope that since owner wants you riding the horse, they'll make an effort to find boarding somewhere close. Good luck!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr. 22, 2011


    I feel your frustration and have my own vent! Which I've totally vented about before, but it seems to never end. I've been doing the half-lease dance for the past 2 years and I think I'm 1 bad trial away from just sucking it up and buying.

    Today I went to try 3 horses on the same property, all up for half lease. 2 of the 3 would have been just fine, but then we get to talking about details find that neither is available on weekends (which I pretty much need) and lease rate + mandatory lessons will cost way more than it would be for me to just full board a horse nearby. And this for a property that consists of a pasture and an arena the size of my living room with wood chips for footing. Oh right, and that was the "special discounted rate."

    As far as better ideas, here's what I'm trying to keep my horse fix maintained while I save up some cash to buy:

    1) Tomorrow I'm driving an hour each way just to put a leg over a friend's horse and help her with her ranch in exchange. While the ride is free, I unfortunately can't manage to drive that far more than probably twice a month, max - but it's better than nothing.

    2) I'm trying to get in touch with a rescue nearby to see if they could use another volunteer. Volunteering has proved challenging for me in the past, as it's apparently hard to get people to respond to emails and calls when they aren't getting paid to do so, but I'm giving it a shot so I can at least hang out with some ponies a couple times a week, even though it wouldn't likely involve riding.

    Aside from that... well, just hang in there. I promise school ends eventually and you'll appreciate your future horse all the more for having gone without for so long. Also, you may well find more doors opening up when you're in college - IHSA, internships if you're in an animal science-y program, other students with horses nearby that need to split board and riding time, etc.

    Good luck!
    If the pony spits venom in your face or produces a loud roar, it is probably not a pony. Find another. -The Oatmeal

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 14, 2010


    I'm in the same situation financially and Bluey; you've got it right on. As frustrating as is it to lease, we really have to count our blessings. Like you, I've been able to walk from a lame horse without incurring vet bills. I've gotten a chance to ride many horses from my instructor while leasing one from her. This had advanced my riding in ways having my own horse just couldn't.

    I'm right there with you. Financially strapped and struggling to fund my hobby. Hang in there and make the most of it. One day, we'll have our special horse to spoil. ; )

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2009


    But, unfortunately, he is a cribber, and his owner refuses to use a collar on him
    perhaps the owner has had negative experiences with these collars - they are seldom as effective as manufacturer claims, can be very stressful to the horse, may cause severe rubs etc.

    Most horses that crib have some degree of ulcers, so you might offer to pay for ulcer treatment (as you're in Ontario it would be very easy to pick up this version) & give it a go - it may make the cribbing much more manageable: most cribbers (especially if it's a lifelong habit) will not completely quit.
    Discuss with owner, helping to find a new board situation, maybe coming up with more lease $$ in order to get horse into a more local barn with electric fencing

    Advertise on your local horse boards (EMG & Muckbucket), prepare a resume & visit every barn & ask if you can leave your resume (you can do the same with regard to finding the horse a new barn).

    Good luck

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2010


    Life just sucks sometimes.

    I have the same tee-shirt you do. I rode everyone else's horses growing up, fairly irregularly. The only lessons were from Mom or Mom's friend, which weren't bad, but it was made pretty clear that no one was ever going to pay for a regular lesson when I was a child. Worst part was that I have horsie parents.

    I can't count how many times I have been ready to go to show and had the rug pulled out from under me. Adults would get in a fight & I was out of a ride. Heck, it even happened after I bought my own horse. I have ridden for 25 years, yikes! I'm old, and I have shown a horse under saddle at exactly 1 show. I have 3 shows driving a horse. You just learn to move on.

    The one thing my sucky horse life has taught me, is that there is more to life than horses. I can, and have, lived without showing a horse. Would I still like to? Yep! Will I die if I don't? Nope! When I read on here all of the threads about how some women think more of their horses than their husbands, I realize how lucky I am to know that I can live without a horse.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 5, 2002
    way out west


    FWIW, I never, ever thought in my wildest dreams that I'd be lucky enough to own a horse. I got my first horse when I was 36. That's late to be starting out, I thought. Now I have two, live on horse property, am literally living my dream.

    Hang in there.

    I waited until I had time and financial resources to make it work. When I finally got my first horse it was without the pressure of worrying about being able to afford her care, or worrying about the inevitable "what if's" --if she gets hurt, sick, etc.

    That said, I completely understand your frustration. I felt it for years.

    Now I'm 60 and it feels like I've had horses for forever! If you want it enough it will happen. Enjoy the opportunities you have to ride different horses. You'll improve more quickly riding a variety of horses.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr. 10, 2006


    Hey, OP, keep your chin up.

    One important lesson we all must learn, if we want to do the horse thing longterm.... horses will come and go. Sometimes we will be able to ride a lot, sometimes not. Occasionally we'll have a really nice horse, other times we will ride whatever we can beg, steal, borrow, or stay on.

    If you can accept that now, your road ahead will be much easier.

    Hang in there. I bet there is another riderless horse just around the corner for you.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar. 13, 2003


    Count me in the club! I can't seem to find that elusive combination of right horse/right trainer/right boarding situation that's within 1 hr drive/right price and I have been searching for over 3 years. It doesn't help that I live in the city so options that are close by are limited and pricey. Or that the one great situation I did find ended far too soon when the owner decided to move the horse and the new place was too far for me.

    I've also always wanted to do a solid season of showing, but for various reasons it hasn't happened for me. When I had my own horse, she got injured weeks before our first show of the season. Recently on a part-lease horse, I got injured literally the day I was going to send in my entry fees. I've made my peace that if it doesn't happen, it's not the end of the world. There's more to life than going to shows.

    In the meantime, I ride what I can because it's a better option than not riding at all. Just today I tried another horse and someone at the barn made a comment about how he's nice and all but wouldn't be their first pick for my intended purpose. Not perfect for me, but I can still learn lots from this horse. So I will keep trying with him. On one of my past threads about choosing between lease horses, someone gave good advice, just ride what you have an learn what you can.

    I too often think about taking the plunge back into ownership, but I know what is involved and with my current circumstances it would likely be trading one set of horse problems for another. For starters I don't have time to ride 5-6x a week, so if I bought a horse I would have to find a half-leaser so it's the same issue, just the other side of the coin. And I know from past experience that it is not always easy to find a reliable, committed, competent half-leaser.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan. 7, 2009
    Cincinnati, OH


    I think a lot of people on this board have been in a similar situation - wanted a horse, but the right one never came up at the right time because there were a lot of other personal life changes going on (school, changing locations, etc).

    While it's easy to look at horse owners with envy, having a horse can really tie you down when it comes to your financial situation, or if you are suddenly offered a great job on the other side of the country and have to figure out how take your horse with you.

    This is especially true if you are a young adult and just getting started in life.

    I'm not saying it cannot be done. . .because it can, and I know people who have made it work. But in other cases, there are people who tried to make it work and just burned themselves out entirely.
    Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 4, 2009


    God Lord what a pity party you are painting...slap on your big girl panites get a job after school save up either lease or buy a horse. No one needs to feel sorry for you....

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2009


    Could you pay to have hot wire put up at the current barn, such that the current barn owner would allow the horse to stay? It's not a very expensive endeavor.

    That said, I know where you are coming from. I leased a lot as a kid (then owned a few, then leased again as an adult, now own again as an adult). I had a lot of ponies and horses get sold out from under me, often without even a chance to say goodbye. It toughened me up, that's for sure. I think it also sort of permanently scarred me. I have a pretty strict policy of not selling horses now.

    Once you finally get your own horse, it is not always roses and happiness, either. Both sets of circumstances come with their own challenges. Try to live in the moment and try to appreciate each moment for what it is. That's what life is about. Hang in there.

  18. #18


    Try posting looking for a horse on T is Ontario based, so you may be able to find a horse to pb or free ride in the area.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr. 19, 2011
    Madison, GA


    I was in a similar situation when I was a teenager. My parents would pay for one lesson a week and that was it. I would just go to the barn and work and in exchange my trainer would let me free ride. Once I became a better rider, she would practically line up 4 ponies or so for me to ride after school and on weekends. Granted, these were evil little buggars, but they gave me a lot of experience.

    Then I met a nice lady who let me free lease her 11 year old crazy Hanoverian mare that hadn't been ridden in a few years. She dumped me approximately 50% of the time for the first few months, but I hung in there and she ended up being my Children's mount.

    I wasn't able to bring her with me to college and my parents wouldn't pay for more lessons so I took a side job that afforded me one lesson a week. Then I found out about the ranch in my signature and got a job riding western horses there. I ended up turning a few of their "too fast for WP" horses into nice hunters or jumpers, which was a fun experience.

    Fairy tale ends with me marrying the BM/owner's son which has allowed me to own my own horse.

    So moral of the story is to be a good horse woman and make proactive decisions. Help where you can and look for opportunities. When I first took the job riding western horses and leading trail rides, I never realized what it would lead to.
    Southern Cross Guest Ranch
    An All Inclusive Guest Ranch Vacation - Georgia

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr. 22, 2011


    I will also add that while I miss a lot of aspects of owning, I've done a lot of cool things during my horseless time that I wouldn't have had the time or money to pursue if both of those had been wrapped up in a horse. I've done a lot of traveling and tried about a zillion new things I never even imagined I'd come across. While it's always felt that a horse-sized piece of my life is missing and I still have a heck of time deciding what to do with a lazy weekend when there's no horse to ride, there's no way I would trade those experiences for 5 years of hunter courses and 20 meter circles.

    I sold my last horse knowing it would be a few years before I had the means to get another one. I promptly took off to Europe right after the sale. Probably one of the best decisions I made in college.
    If the pony spits venom in your face or produces a loud roar, it is probably not a pony. Find another. -The Oatmeal

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