Warning - this will be long!
I'm 20. I've been out of school for 3 years and have a government desk job - I.e. Stable, good flexible working arrangements, and good pay. I also have three horses and two dogs of my own. I ride during the week and compete most weekends. I also snowboard in winter.
I HATE my job. It is mind numbingly boring, I have no interest in the department I work in (Planning). I only came here because my mum used to work here and that made it easy. I started here one week out of school, so I never really had a break. I'm the youngest in the office and only get along with one other person who has horses. I have trouble motivating myself to do my work and have been 'warned' (Not officially, just chats) about focussing on my work more. I go through good and bad stages in regards to that.
I recently broke up with my bf of a bit over a year. I have one really good best friend who I ride with, and a few other riding friends. I don't really have friends outside of horses as I just don't have time. Mark (My ex) and I are having a good go at staying friends and it is working out so far.
So the crux of the matter - I live in a small city. There are no opportunities here for advancement in agriculture or the equine industry (I.e. Schooling) and the area is flooded with wannabe horse trainers and professionals. I hate my job and hate feeling like i'm not working toward anything and have no idea what the future will bring. I really love working with my horses and working on improving my training. I feel like i'm stuck here, stagnant, and if I don't do something soon i'll either be stuck here or fired from my job. I've had a really bad few weeks/months, breaking up with Mark, and a few other things. My mum was diagnosed with diabetes and I have a family history of heart disease on my dad's side - it worries me that my current job just has me sitting around all day and is no good for my health. Add in my horses and I don't have time to do any meaningful excercise or prepare good food. I want an active, outside job, for enjoyment and also health benefits.
I'm considering going to an ag college next year to complete the Cert III in Horse Husbandry. Tocal is the college I would go to and it is about 6 hours from here. The course is a year long and I would have to live in. Tuition and board equal about $11,500 for the year.
So I guess these are the cons:
I have zero savings at the moment due to a few things including buying my saddle last year for $4,000 and snow-related expenses. They are all behind me so I would have a good few months to save.
If I did this, it would mean selling both Bundy and Latte at the end of this year. This really kills me. I had always intended to sell Bundy but there is still so much more I want to do on him - Win a champion working, become Novice drafters... There is no one here that I could leave him with that could continue his standard of training without having to pay them. I could sell him now for about $9,000/$10,000, which would go a long way to financing this. I would have to put a lot of solid work into Latte to get her going farily kindly, and I could probably sell her as a project pony for maybe $2,000/$3,000 - $1,000 of which would go back to her actual owner. I was planning on keeping her for a few years and seeing how she turns out as I really love her personality.
I would also be leaving my dogs behind - I have never been without a dog my whole life. I would probably have to sell or find a home for a year for Skip - otherwise she will just sit in her pen at the farm and never get any excercise. That woudl kill me - We bred her and she was born two days before my birthday. I've had her my whole life. Rambo is my heart dog - I just love. I put so much work and time into him with obedience training and taking him out and he is very loyal to me and is perfect to take away camping - the first dog I have had like this. He would stay at home as we also own his brother who belongs to my mum. But without me here he wouldn't get out for walks or go to competitions.
I have just spent close to $2,000 on new snowboarding equipment, and if I did this, I wouldn't be able to go the snow except for maybe a week in the school holidays time.
I don't know what I would do without my best friend - I am very shy and not very good at making new friends or making small talk with strangers. It has been me and her for about six years now. She is the only friend I have who I can talk to about everything. We ride together, compete together. Her dad lives interstate and her mym isn't horsey so she is pretty much a member of our family - Dad takes us everywhere and it is pretty much as if we were sisters.
I would miss out on competeing - not as big a con, as I am cutting back a bit now, but I am just getting into campdrafting and Bundy is a horse who could really take me a long way. Our ASH shows are really coming together as well.
It would leave our PC a bit high and dry and myself and another mum are the only instructors, and it would all fall to her.
I would also be leaving the only home I can remember - i've lived here since I was 4 and I love it. It is such a good mix of city and country.
Okay - Pros:
The course sounds amazing. They run a herd of ASH (My breed of choice) and you get a green broke horse to ride for the first semester, and if you are deemed capable, a younger horse to break in for the remainder of the year. There is a stock horse challenge at the end of the year to show off what we have acheived. The course is at least 50% practical and there is lots of work experience throughout Australia and overseas. It covers just about every facet of the horse industry and can be continued into a diploma of agriculture or used as credit toward a uni course. Most graduates are employed immediately.
There are numerous scolarships available and not lots of students - About 60% of students get some kind of scolarship.
I guess i'm just looking for some input... What would you do? Have you done something similar?
If this is what you want to do for school, then do it. Your education or furthering your education is the best thing you could do for yourself. You need to focus on that. Instead of selling your horses, could you lease? As for the dogs, only you will know what to do.
A year of school is nothing compared to thousands of programs out there and things will go by a look quicker than you realize.
What are your plans after you take the course and you graduate? Are you wanting to open your own farm? Is there a need for this kind of skill training in your area?
Make sure you don't over estimate the horse market and the selling of horses. You don't want to get ahead of yourself as far using the money you will get for selling your horse, until you actually sell. It's great for the buyers, not so much for you.
Good for you for finding such a great program. You must be so excited.