How to convince your parents NOT to buy a horse
Long post alert!! I'll try to keep it short as I can, but there's a lot of context needed and I have a habit of rambling...
I'm in one hell of a dilemma. My mother in law desperately wants a horse, and I have no idea how to convince her that buying a horse in her position is an overwhelmingly bad idea.
For context, my MIL has always been horse crazy, but has never really had the time or money to ride, so I told her that she could ride my greenie (who is the sweetest, most well behaved greenie ever!) if she wanted. Supervised of course until he has more miles under him. I figured since riding is hard for me thanks to previous riding injuries, she could help give him some exercise. It seemed like a good setup for the both of us.
My issue begins when she got it in her head that instead of riding my horse for free, she wanted her own horse. Because she's a total beginner who's horse experience is limited to having a nasty, unrideable pony as a kid, I recommended that we go look at some old schoolmasters I knew were for sale, and I could talk to a dressage trainer about setting her up with some weekly lessons that we could take together. I told her about a pony who is sound, dead broke, seen it all, and sweet as can be who's currently used as a fox hunter for a very low price (imo) of 1500$.
That's when she said to me "Oh, I could never pay that much for a horse! I want a free horse, like the one you got."
My jaw hit the floor!! Yes, I did get my horse for free, but I knew his previous owner and got him as a completely untrained 10 year old. Sometimes you get lucky, but in my experience free horses are either lame, crazy or untrained. I also had to explain to her that horses are expensive, and the reason I don't pay very much for my horse is because he's a very hardy, easy keeper with good feet that I trim myself. I knew that going in, that's why I got him!
I told her that finding a sane, sound and broke horse for free would be like finding a unicorn. She says she doesn't need a broke horse, because she can train it. My horse is incredibly easy to train, so her horse would be too, right? I brought up leasing a horse, but that was a no go. She wants her very own horse.
The reason my horse appears so easy to train is because I've been taking riding lessons since forever, have owned horses before, and have the guidance from some very, very experienced horse people. I tried telling her that a lot of knowledge goes into horse training, and how you could get seriously hurt if you don't know what you're doing. It all seems to go in one ear and out the other. I'm starting to think she wants me to train her hypothetical horse too. She's already hinting at getting "family discounts" for trimming and shoeing...
Eventually she did raise her budget for a horse to 400$. Still not really workable, but better. With that price point, I told her that maybe, just maybe, she could find something at an auction for that price, but she'd be much better off saving money for a few months until she had a more reasonable budget rather than taking a gamble with an auction horse.
The real kicker is when I talked to my father in law, he proudly announced that getting his wife a horse was his top priority and would do it no matter the cost. I decided to sit him down and do a full cost breakdown of buying and owning a horse. The conversation went something like this.
"So is that 400$ budget for all costs included with buying a horse, or is that just for the horse?"
"What do you mean the included costs, we just have to buy the horse right?"
"Well sure you buy the horse, but then you'll have to trailer it too. Most good shippers I know charge 60 to 80$ an hour, and shipping can be time consuming depending on how much of a pain the horse is to load, board is 225$ a month for pasture board where I am, not including feed..."
"Wait, I don't have to pay all upfront right?"
"Of course you do."
He nearly fell on his butt at the cost, and I had barely started my cost breakdown when he cut me off. I didn't even get to the big things like vet, saddles or shoeing! He panicked. He really, honestly thought it was all going to cost 400$ total, and I THOUGHT this would be the end of it...
Turns out because their relationship has been on the rocks lately, he will absolutely, under no circumstance, tell her no. He did beg her to wait at least one month to save up, but she didn't really want to hear it. He claims to have the money, but he's a proud man and would never admit to not having the cash, especially when his wifes disappointment is on the line. I did also give my MIL the full cost breakdown, but I don't think she heard a word I said... She'll keep saying stuff like "You can get me a good deal right?" and I always tell her that I'm not magic, and you often get what you pay for. I can help, but I can't do everything.
I'm very worried that her blindly rushing into horse ownership is going to make them go broke or get someone seriously hurt. They clearly have no idea what she's getting into, and she won't listen to me when I tell her it's a bad idea. My husband is absolutely gifted in the art of arguing, and even he's having a hard time articulating to her that this might not be a good idea. If this was anything else I'd be happy to let her be a big girl and make her own mistakes, but poorly handled horses are too dangerous. I couldn't sleep at night if I just let her walk into a death trap. And if she got hurt...
Does anyone have any input on this situation? You read so many things about convincing your parents to buy a horse, there's hardly anything about the opposite. But I'm legitimately very scared of her getting hurt. She doesn't know a thing about horses, and I can't just sit back and let this train wreck happen. But at the same time, I won't be walked all over and do all the hard work and maintenance for free. I need help!
Last edited by farmpony84; 06-12-2019 at 08:53 AM.
Reason: Removed one above PG-13 word