How to convince your parents NOT to buy a horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 49 Unread 06-12-2019, 12:06 AM Thread Starter
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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!
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Last edited by farmpony84; 06-12-2019 at 08:53 AM. Reason: Removed one above PG-13 word
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post #2 of 49 Unread 06-12-2019, 12:36 AM
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Since they both interrupt you when you're trying to explain costs make them a spreadsheet of monthly costs, annual costs, and 1 time costs (this would include purchase price of horse & tack). Don't forget the emergency fund needed for unexpected vet care, as in injuries or illness.

Maybe you have a horse savvy friend closer to her age that could talk to her and maybe she'd listen to.

Do a search on this forum for injuries and the problems first time horse owners run into, print them off, hand them to her and tell her to read every one of them.

R.I.P. JC 5/19/85 - 12/9/14. You made my life better.
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post #3 of 49 Unread 06-12-2019, 01:20 AM
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Anyone who will go broke from just buying a horse, and a few months of ownership costs, has not business buying any kind of horse, or pet, or . . . toy . . . or . . . . . They are standing next to a financial cliff if the cost of buying one horse, and a few months board is all that stands between them and being flat out broke. I know that may sound arrogant, but I stand by it.


I would guess that these people got where they are by a series of repeated decisions of the same caliber is this one would be , so, it's not likely you can change them now. All you can do is model responsible horse ownership, and stand aside and let the slow motion train wreck commence.
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post #4 of 49 Unread 06-12-2019, 05:31 AM
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My neighbors were your in-laws. They had no horse experience. They bought two horses from a dealer who (as anyone in the local horse community could have told them if they had asked), was a crook who sold them 'dead broke' animals. One horse was far from broke and the other was close to dead. They were lucky they didn't get hurt, and that my other, horse-experienced, neighbors got rid of them for them. They are now afraid of horses. And horse dealers.

Tell your in-laws about on-farm leases. I also like the idea of a spreadsheet.

The main problem as I see it is that a horse is not a boat or a time-share in Tahoe. When the poo hits the fan it will likely be the horse who suffers.

Short horse lover
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post #5 of 49 Unread 06-12-2019, 06:34 AM
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I would not be so nice since every word you try to speak you are cut off with "their knowledge"

Flat out tell them you will not be involved, no way no how as potential financial ruin is what they face with their inability to accept what keeping a horse monthly can cost forget about purchasing a horse and the equipment to take care of and ride said horse, besides lessons to learn how to ride and handle their new horse safely is going to involve.
When they close their mouths tell them... $1000.00 to buy the horse, basic equipment needed and get it home to start if lucky.
Then every month a additional $500.00 to keep the horse providing no emergency arises needing expert and expensive vet care.
You will not be doing the work for said horse nor getting involved, this is all on them.

Sometimes the best and kindest advice is not given carefully but with cold, hard facts and then walking away.
They know it all and nothing you say shall change that but the blame will fall to your shoulders for any and everything...so cut it off before it begins.
Don't own the problems this is going to make and have reach through their household...just don't own them!!
...
jmo...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #6 of 49 Unread 06-12-2019, 06:58 AM
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I think some tough love is in order. I mean, it's their decision since they are adults. And you've put yourself in a pickle by being involved in the first place. Tell me the free unicorn will be boarded somewhere else than where you keep your horse...

It's time to rip the bandaid off. I know you didn't mean to do it, but you've accidentally enabled them. I get it, I have had to set people straight myself after letting a true beginner sit on my horse and get led around the paddock, then they ask if they could do a trail ride next time!.... um, no. Go take a couple of years of lessons then come back to me. In wanting to encourage the love of horses in others, we sometimes put ourselves in impossible situations. Been there, done that, bought all the T-shirts stained with blood, sweat and tears.

Do the spreadsheet thing. Give them the number of a boarding barn and ask them to do the legwork to call them and get prices. Prepare a speech in which you say "I know you have your heart set on this, but I think it's important that you realize what it costs to keep a horse. The price of the horse is the cheapest part, etc. etc." Also, find a new project to work on (not a horse, I mean a project with your horse, at work, a new commitment that has just cropped up) and which will take up your time for the rest of the summer, probably longer. Maybe your boss needs you to work longer hours. Maybe your house needs repainting. Maybe you need to take some vacation time and will be too busy to help with your MIL's horse. Make it clear, whichever way you want, that she will be responsible for the horse once it arrives at the boarding stable, and that while you can try to give advice over the phone (don't though... make it very broad like if the horse is lame, give them the phone number of a vet). Say it at least three times, using different phrasings: "I don't think you're ready for the full financial and time commitment of a horse of your own right now and I just don't have the time to be involved with another horse since I already have my own who take up all of my time."

Tell them to go visit a tack store, talk to a vet about doing a PPE (scare them by telling them you know someone who got a free horse and it ended up costing them thousands of $$$ in vet bills and then died, which also costs money), make arrangements with the boarding stable, line up transport for the horse, talk to a farrier. MAKE them do all these things themselves. Maybe the MIL will start to add things up if she has to get prices from all these people.

Good luck. But DO NOT enable these people for another minute.
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post #7 of 49 Unread 06-12-2019, 07:41 AM
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Ugh. I'm so sorry you're in this situation. I have a sort of odd suggestion, feel free to take it or leave it.

Can you tell your MIL that you will help her find a horse, but only after she has, say, six months of lessons? Then sign her up for lessons at a place that has a reputation for having difficult lesson horses. I have heard ex-students at my barn say that our lesson horses are difficult and have destroyed the confidence of beginners whose only wish was to learn to ride (I haven't seen that myself, just saying what people have said). Let her have lessons at one of these places and get her confidence severely damaged. She might even get hurt. I know that sounds terrible -- it's not my goal to get her hurt, but with a free or cheap horse (that she of course will not pay to have lessons on, she's just going to take it out and attempt to ride it) she will get hurt anyway, and at least in this scenario the horse won't suffer as well.

Or, maybe she will do really well and in six months she will at least be semi-prepared for her own horse. It would be better than buying one now. Or maybe she will realize that riding is more expensive and difficult than she expected, and just give it up.

Alternately, take her to a place where the barn owner / instructor is happy to explain how much the costs are. Take her to a place that does lessons and boarding, and have them explain the costs (don't forget, first month's rent up front, last month's rent as deposit, maybe a yearly contract to sign). It will sound more believeable to her than if you tell her. Maybe that barn owner could even talk her into leasing a decent horse rather than buying a cheap one.

Last edited by ACinATX; 06-12-2019 at 07:53 AM.
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post #8 of 49 Unread 06-12-2019, 07:58 AM
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She doesn't know she's horse crazy until she got hurt at least once and is still horse crazy. Be sure to make room, budget, and by her the horse that you'd want for yourself, because you'll end up with it.

Sorry - it's a bad situation all around, for you and the poor creature about to enter her "care".
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post #9 of 49 Unread 06-12-2019, 08:48 AM
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They are adults who will make decisions for themselves. That does not mean that you have to pay for the consequences of their actions and I would make it clear that I would not if I were in your shoes.

There will be only one of you for all time. Fearlessly be yourself.
Coffee is my spirit animal
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post #10 of 49 Unread 06-12-2019, 08:58 AM
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Yeah, hate to say it but, "RUN don't walk away from this one.". Don't offer them one more thing, not the least bit of help. And I'd be real blunt about it. Get them both together and sit them down and say, "Just so it's clear to everyone, I WILL NOT HELP YOU. I won't help you get the horse, care for it, trim it, feed it, ride it, train it, nothing. Since you are determined to kill yourselves, physically & financially, I will not discuss this topic with you ever again. Good luck." and walk away. No arguments, no excuses, nothing, just walk and cut off conversation that starts to go into the topic. This is going to cause problems because they are both bullheaded but it's not YOUR problem, so let them get on with creating it and then fixing it.

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