ROTFL, of course you can. Lots and lots of people do it all the time, every day. You have to live in the right place (ie, not the Northeast or California, which are horrifically overvalued, that or you have to accept a very, very long commute), you have to make sure you don't spend on unimportant things (no wasting money on going out for drinks-let me tell you how much we mark up alcohol in the food-service world, no buying designer/boutique clothes and shoes, no NEW/expensive car), cutting costs at the grocery store (Super Wal-Mart has much lower prices than Whole Paycheck)...
Now, can you afford to show anywhere other than the local family show at the 4-H fairgrounds? Probably not, but that and having a five-figure horse with a four-figure saddle isn't a part of LIVING. It's a nice perk. And people with a lot less than $25,000/year can have horses. I very much doubt my neighbor across the road is clearing that on his retirement, unless he's got a whole boatload of investments he hides very well, and I doubt the friends who keep their horses with him are paying $1500/month in board. But they seem to have a lot of fun riding their gaited trail horses, and he kept his favorite old mare retired in her own paddock, the one nearest the barn, doing nothing but eating and loafing, until she died-couldn't ride her any more, but he'd had her for years and she wasn't going anywhere.
I am 24, had my horse (he was a three figure horse) and my three figure saddle at a small barn that was just under 400 a month, living just barely off my 27k salary.. while trying to afford ridiculous rent and student loans.. that was in 2010 about 4 months after I graduated.. no showing. I never went out, mainly because I worked at a company where I was at least 18 years younger than the other youngest employee, and living in a college town with crazy college kids. I worked 8-6, and went to ride, made dinner, and went to sleep. I didn't really have any other luxuries of shopping other than food.
Fast forward to this year, I have an SO who is incredibly supportive, yet very financially conservative, though I do think that's a smart thing. We put together a budget and found out I can afford to board him here in Buffalo (which is a total rip off, btw - the only places with indoors around here that AREN'T a 45 minute drive into the boonies start at 500 a month), and I can take him off his super cheapo 24/7 pasture board where my mom has generously worked his board down back at home.
I'm incredibly thankful that my parents have helped me through this. I do have a new job, but it's still grossly underpaid for my position and the experience I had, despite it only being a couple years after graduating, I had freelanced in the past.
We're there, you just can't see us because we can't afford it. With a growing weight on our shoulders between student loans and no jobs, people need to afford basic living essentials and pay off loans first.
I'll also agree that there's a huge majority that doesn't understand budgeting or looks more than 6 months into the future when making plans that could drastically alter their expenses... either because parents help and have no choice, or they really don't have a choice and can't afford it... especially those who went to college.
But seriously. I'm that cold, clinical, calculating sort that planned out high school, college, and now my career such that I can afford my two walking moneypits. However, my coworkers think I'm crazy for throwing all my money at this sport (see the aforementioned moneypits). I was also exceedingly lucky that my parents supported me in my show career through high school and college.
The twist to this fairy tale is that, due to my job, I had to move to what is not exactly a happenin' dressage scene. And, again due to the job, I had to cut back from 6-7 days/week to 4-5, depending on how tired I am after 10hr days.
My earnings don't allow me to "be serious" about riding but I take regular lessons at a hunter barn and enjoy it. I'm in the same boat as you, I have a bunch of pony kids at the barn and then the older crowd which I'm closer to than people my own age and I love it. Our goals are the same and we all have families.
I'm lucky enough to have a dream job (good pay, flexible days, and fun work) at 24 because I got a specialized Master's degree. Living in the ATL metro though, I still struggle to fund showing at rated shows.
I'm paying board and full training for my young horse, and also board for my retiree, spending over $20K each year alone on that (not factoring in any extra vet bills, tack, or other possible expenses). That's a big chunk of money for a single, young professional! I imagine doing a little bit of showing on the rated circuit would add a minimum $5K to that... ouch! I might actually be able to afford that if I didn't have to make $6K in student loan payments each year.
I'd like a big raise so my young horse fulfill his FEI dreams!
I'd be rich and retire at 50 if I didn't have horses. Why do we do this again!?
For me, it's a money thing. I'm turning 25 this month and haven't been on a horse since...well, it's been a long time. I competed every weekend as a junior, but sold my horse before I went to college. Now, I'm out and I have a great job that I love, but my salary supports me and that's about it. Starting to look for a way to get back into it without finding a nice box to live in though! Seriously, though. People talk about hockey being the most expensive sport? Psh!
I'm here! The horses took a big back seat during my master's degree, but I still had them. And then they took a bigger back seat this past year when I went back to school. But now I'm an RN and I make a decent salary and though I doubt I'll be showing again any time soon (this barn is really at the top of my pony budget), I will be riding a lot more often now that I board at a barn that is *meant* for boarders and riding, and not for lawn ornaments and trail horses
I'm twenty something (25) and the only reason I was out of the scene until recently was because of issues in my riding. I can't see ever letting a financial constraint keep me away. I washed dishes at a restaurant when I was 21/22 to be able to afford lessons. And as far as a whiny SO...both my boyfriends (one now husband) have been supportive of my riding. If they didn't, they would've been gone in a hot second. Honestly.
I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo
I'm 26 and finally got down to one horse (after having 3) this summer. I'm another one in the Pathetically Broke camp. I had to make some decisions this year, after working full-time at a well paying job for the past 4 years, and getting sick of not being able to put a single dime into savings. I don't cut any corners on quality care/feed and was starting to resent my horses because of it.
Now I have my one yearling who I board at a reasonable price at a small, not-fancy, but safe and well-run barn. No showing, no lessons, no training fees (yet). We'll see how things look within the next couple years but I'm fully aware that I may be horseless for the rest of my 20's, very soon. Reality sucks!
I'm 25 with a decent job in a growing industry and just about the best living situation for a horse person. However, I still cannot afford to show as much as I would like. If it wasn't for my husband and his family's ranch, I definitely wouldn't be able to have two show horses, take lessons, and show as much as I do.
I'm 25. I snagged a well-paying job before graduating college and I am very lucky to have an extremely supportive SO. Although my situation isn't quite the same as yours (I live in Canada and I show western), there really aren't that many in my age group either. I see lots of high-schoolers, college freshman and older adults. There are a few riders around my age at the barn but they all ride for pleasure (would love to show but the $$ is not there).
It all comes down to money and what priorities people have. For some, they want to have kids, buy a house, pay for schooling rather than show.
I showed through my 20s. I had a demanding job that paid next to nothing, but wasn't willing to sacrifice horses and also picked up lots of odd jobs around the barn I boarded at. I saw the same thing that you did.....the rest of the folks I "played" with were either late teens/very early twenties and then 30s and up.
I think the reasons have been very well outlined here.
Now I'm in my mid-thirties and feel like it's still kind of the same. I show at a high level by myself, and don't come across many other people doing the same thing. But I have found friends in portions of what I do....i.e. several similar-aged amateur friends who breed/break/train youngsters and occasionally get to the show ring. Or similar-age friends who are dedicated to the showing portion and are at all of the shows I go to (and then some!). So I take my friends where I can find them and I LOVE coming across a kindred spirit.
I think the reality is that if you take the sport really seriously and opt out of the professional route, you become the "exception" rather than the "rule" more and more every year that you continue to pursue it
__________________________________ Forever exiled in the NW.
I graduated college, debt free and work as a design engineer with highly flexible hours. I live in a part of the country where the cost of living is practically nothing. I have three horses, all of who are on the dressage show horse path. I live on the family farm (but not with family) and have been slowly making it into a horse friendly, dressage-centric property.
I could not afford to do what I am doing if I lived in CA or in a big city.
I do supplement my income by giving lessons, since I am (unfortunately) one of the more experienced and highest trained riders in the area (thanks to the wonderful trainers I had in high school and college). I love giving lessons, but hate showing as a pro... Talk about a huge leap from AA to Open. Now I just need to up my standards to get in line with the rest of the country.
I don't have a (non horsey)social life, SO or plans on having a family in the next ten years (and I haven't planned beyond that yet). I consider my shows and weekends at clinics as my vacations. Those are things I'm willing to give up to have my horses.
I, for one, would hate a life that didn't include the farm and horses... so I don't mind writing those checks every month for farrier, vet, or winter board (though I'm actively pursuing investing in an indoor arena for my own farm). Horses make me happy... Life is too short not to do the things that make me happy.
I'm 25, bought my 9 acres and little house last year, and broke ground on my 3 stall barn last week. I was able to do 6 rated shows this year, which isn't a lot for most people, but it was plenty for me. I'd like to be able to go out of state this year, and the shows themselves are in the budget, but the trailering to-and-from not so much (next closest show circuit is 6hrs), so we'll see. I weighed horse showing versus building the barn, and the barn won. I will have to watch my pennies and I budget everything to have what I do. I eat lots of mac and cheese and McDonald's. But meh, there will be a time for lavish meals later.
Of my friends that I grew up riding with, I can only think of 1 that is still showing competitively (thanks to her parents). The rest are not competitive and only have 1 horse (if that). I kept my first pony and was never able to sell my OTTB with a myriad of issues. Now I have a young OTTB that is coming along swimmingly. So the count is up to three and there is no more room at this inn.
I've worked my butt off since I was 15 to have what I have. And there are not a lot around me who have done the same, so I find it very hard to relate to a lot of people, which works out, because I don't really have a lot of time for socializing (or the money to socialize). I work with a girl who wants to get rid of her dog so she can put the money she spends on vet bills towards clothes and meals. That's not a mentality I have ever, or could ever live with.
I'm here! I am 28 and work full time in Insurance. I bought a cute little farm in March and have 4 horses, I compete full on all eventing season here in Ontario. I make a decent salary but also got married 2 years ago and my husband is in the military and also makes a good salary.
I am lucky enough that my closest friends are also good earners and able to have farms and compete full on. One is military and one is a social worker. We are a rarity but I am so thankful to have them in my life since we are allon the same wavelength.
You make a hell of a lot more than I do. I'm working one full time and two part time jobs to keep mine and pay rent and put some away in savings. If I didn't have the part times I wouldn't be able to afford to do it. And because I work the two part times, I don't have a ton of time to ride.
"I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden
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Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.
I think it really is a combination of finances and juggling new responsibilities. This is an expensive, time consuming hobby, and many often just don't have the time or money at this time in their lives.
I'm the mother of a 23 year old college grad. It took her 2 years to get a 'real' job, and there is no way she could have kept her horse or continued to ride without our help, let alone shown. She is very responsible with her finances, saves for what she wants, contributes to her 401K, etc. Her only debt is her car payment, and the only reason she bought a car was because the old beater given to her in college finally died on her.
With all that, she has an $1,800 OTTB that she rides on her own and trailers to weekly lessons with her trainer. And the only reason she can afford this is because she has chosen to continue to live at home and keep her horse here. Since starting full time work, she pays all of his expenses. We take lessons at the same barn, and it is full of teens and older adult re-riders like myself, with some 30 year olds sprinkled in who basically 'grew up' at the barn.
I don't envy today's 20 somethings in this economy, but many of us who were 20 somthings in the 70's struggled with the same issues of a bad economy, high gas prices, and under employment. Fewer of us were college grads back then, so salary expectations were even lower, but at least we did not start out with the mountain of debt that a lot of todays unemployed college grads are facing. We couldn't get credit at all, and I think in that respect we were luckier.
So I suspect that most of the 20 somethings that are able to ride at all these days are either on school horses, or riding horses that just aren't ready to compete at rated shows just to get saddle time. A lot of the kids I watched grow up at the barn have given up riding as they've just been unable to juggle a new career, new husbands, new kids, and finances.
Newbie here – I am in my mid-20s (re-rider) and make pretty good money for my age despite the fact that I don’t have a college degree. I work anywhere from 40-60 hours/week. I can afford 1-2 lessons/week and am about to get myself into a half-lease. But as for owning, showing, and spending all my time at the barn - that is a dream for now unless I magically get a giant raise in the near future. In my down time I peruse tons and tons of adds for OTTBs and the like hoping and praying that someday I will be able to afford one. So I suppose, to summarize for myself, it’s a money thing
Well, please disregard my previous post; I am no longer unemployed, as the company I was working for went bankrupt and we were all laid off this morning. *sigh* Now I'm unemployed, with my mare to support.
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IMO, it is an age thing. There are very, very few 20 somethings who can afford to keep horses and show competitively. For many people, there is quite a wide gap between horse activities on their parents' dime (in their teens) and being able to afford it on their own, especially if there are kids and a spouse in the picture.