My own horse. MAYBE... I can do this. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 04-14-2015, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Los Angeles
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My own horse. MAYBE... I can do this.

I recently have been high on the horse back riding endorphines lately.. and although earlier this year I thought I was SO smart by writing off horse ownership/leasing and saving so much money just lessoning when I want.. the compulsion is back for horsey freedom. (having to schedule my time always and never hack? what was I thinking!)

Background: 2.5 years of mostly leasing, avg 3x week riding 90% of those rides are lessons with trainers. I scaled back from a horse lease early this year that was pricey. But I found that lessoning riding different horses while interesting also lead to never learning how to ride any one of them well according to their quirks (aka getting into a rhythm) Looser bonds w/ each horse etc.

Anyway, I was grumbling this weekend about not having any horsey time scheduled when I realized my whole thinking about horse ownership has been off. I live in in LA. Horse ownership here is ridiculous, and i'm in the heart of the city. But every time I have ever done a budget - I assumed $2k per month, minimum, which I confirmed with friends. I am close to being able to squeak this out - but not comfortably so - so I put it out of my head. I have ran # a bunch - but I am a very conservative person.

But after a few weeks of riding a privately owned horse, I realized that while there is always the unexpected - my costs could be as low as $1k a month - without training. That my $2k per month number is really with a crap load of training. (I think). And while I may decide to get that training - worst case if money were tight - my bare bones minimum was always a possibility if i needed to save cash.

So (and it would be great if anyone is from the LA area can confirm this)... here is my math!! (Broken down on a monthly basis)

* $594 pipe barn @ LAEC Board (incl: hay cubes 2xday, cleaning bedding, adding pine shavings as needed)
* $125 weekly turnout when I am not there
*$60/month Vet Fund (($720 per year budget for routine vet visits)
*$110/month shoe fund (if my horse has them,$150 every 6 weeks)
*$100/month supplemental hay/other supplements

BAREST of Bones/emergency budget: $989 per month

*$200/month emergency fund (sock away... this # is always a crap shoot, and should be more if i have a good month, i would start the fund off at $5k and build it with these contributions)
*$240 Lessons $60 each lesson, as needed. (min 1x a week)

Realistic: $1,429

From there I could take more lessons, or get my horse training rides if needed, and there's always the possibility of getting a leaser to take a day or two in exchange for offsetting the costs.

When i took a Full Training schedule out of the picture, it seemed much more obtainable. I could always spend $2k some months if needed/wanted.. but I'm at a level where i would feel comfortable hacking and just enjoying my horse too. We're not going to be grand prix riders - and i am confident enough in my riding to know at the very least, I'm not going to ruin my horse.. and might even teach her/him a thing or two. I've been in mostly full training for the past 2 1/2 years. I would definitely budget to get the "Right" horse and have a trainer help me find one that was forgiving and with a good temperament.

I'm even looking at rearranging my work schedule to come in early so I can get out almost every day to ride. Ideally I'd have a leaser to take a day or two. I have friends I trust who ride decently who would be happy for a free ride if I went away for a weekend... they would come keep him/her company. I'm sure one of them would be a good fit.

It's still quite an under taking, of course. and I have to have the upfront costs (purchase, vet exam, trainer commission, trailering, purchase bridal & girth (i have a saddle, but it's a jumper one and i want a dressage one), establishing emergency fund up front)... but I'm starting to think it's a doable under taking instead of just completely overwhelming...

am I crazy? (of course i am, we all are.. but i'm not asking what normal people think, I'm asking what horse people think!) I don't know, I've started hanging out with 'independent horse owners' as opposed to 'full training clients' and I'm learning not everyone is as uptight about a rigorous training schedule.. some people just enjoy and lesson as needed. it's a whole new concept to me. blowing my mind in fact.

Re: any of my advice - Happy to give my two cents, but not an expert... just a girl who loves riding horses!
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post #2 of 19 Old 04-14-2015, 04:45 PM
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I am not as experienced a rider as you, but my employment background is finance, so here are my thoughts:

First, you've really thought about this, and made the best guess at a realistic budget you can, so that's a great place to start. What I see are a LOT of caveats to get you to a "just barely" state of affordability, which means you're assuming a tremendous amount of financial risk.

This looks like a budget that could bust if any single item goes up in price (even though most probably will -- those baseline board costs will increase over time. Hay is wildly variable. Etc.) and will quickly collapse if more than one does. That's not ideal, because the risk is all on you. Even if you're willing to sell your own blood to make sure your horse is fed (and we all would!), you're putting yourself and the horse in a bad position. Finding someone to lease your horse part time to soften the costs cuts into your stated goal, which is full time access to riding -- and sets up one of those "doomed to fail" dynamics where you are leasing because you HAVE to, but really don't want to. Trust me, that never works.

It isn't clear if this plan prevents you from having your OWN emergency savings funds or retirement. If the only way you can afford this is by not planning for your own financial future at all, you CANNOT afford it. (Pulling back or slowing down is fine, assuming you're young enough to recapture those dollars at some point. This is a realistic choice.)

Do you have long term disability insurance? What happens if you are injured while riding and out of work for 6 months? Does it all collapse, and you're suddenly getting hauled into court and the barn owner seizes your horse?

Is your job secure? If the worst happened, do you feel you could find employment in the same area quickly, at the same approximate pay? (Because you won't have the freedom to move very far from where your horse is boarded, unless you take on the significant expense of moving the horse, too!)

Do you have all the tack, turnout sheets, and other sundries that you need? (Probably not -- or if you do, no guarantee it will fit the horse you buy. So that's another chunk of hundreds or possibly thousands of capital costs to start.)

Mostly what concerns me here is this looks like a tightrope with no net. Ownership carries financial risks that leasing can mitigate. Is a full or near-full lease an option at the same relative price point? That (to me) seems like the better *financial* choice, that still meets your stated goal of essentially unlimited/barely limited ride time.

I don't mean to discourage you, and clearly some of the points above are relevant whether you own, lease, or continue to take lessons. The key I think is to be cognizant of how much financial risk there is in various options, and how much you are willing to accept. There will always be *some*, short of winning the lottery or finding oil in the back yard.
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post #3 of 19 Old 04-14-2015, 05:21 PM
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The poster above made lots of great points about assessing your own personal financial health first, so I will just concur with all of that.

You mentioned you had a lease that felt too expensive. Would it be worth it to look for a different lease opportunity that maybe gave you more freedom/flexibility but at a different price point, just to try it out?

I am a mid-30s woman who bought my first horse about 3 years ago. I had a free lease on her prior to the decision to purchase, and those 6 months were hugely informative for me in my decision. I probably could have been happy going on with the lease set-up, but the owner decided to put her up for sale because she didn't fit with their program, and gave me the first option to buy. I thought about it a lot, went out and rode some other horses that were for sale at the time, and ultimately decided she was the right first horse for me.

I live in a much cheaper part of the country, so I can't compare my costs to yours, but I will say that the budget I planned on has *knock on wood* remained very consistent in the years I've owned her. I splurge on extras like a new blanket or new saddle when it makes sense for my "life budget," but I've been fortunate that all her essential monthly costs really haven't changed much at all in the time I've had her. Now, she just turned 21, so at some point she may need a different level of "old lady care" to keep her riding comfortably, but that would work in my budget so she will get what she needs when she needs it.

Good luck with your decision though- and continue your good thinking and planning about what to do next!
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post #4 of 19 Old 04-14-2015, 05:57 PM
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Just want you to know there are other options than horse ownerships. I have never owned a horse and it will be awhile till I ever do. However I do get lots of opportunities to ride (right now I average about 3 horses a day with a couple others on the side) I think It is great to ride as many different horses as you can. That's what will give you insights into the complex psyche (heh heh) of a horse. As you get better you may find that people will ask you to ride their horses. I'd stick to lessons and leases for now both for financial reasons and educational ones. Whenever anyone asks me how I ended up with the great gig I've got now I tell them that five years ago I was out in sub-zero weather scooping poop with a pic-axe. However In between the miserable work there was a ton of opportunities to ride and work with horses. I got all the whack-jobs and I learned to ride better than I ever would've if I'd gotten a horse of my own.
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post #5 of 19 Old 04-14-2015, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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to be clear the "just barely" affording was at the $2k per month number - and in the new proposal, planning to bring that down to $1.5k a month.. (w/ a possibility to lower to $1k for an 'emergency month to re-group').... you think too slim a margin? (it could be. so many factors in horses!)

I do have additional savings and back up. I have 6 months income saved/emergency money, a vacation/fun fund (I still actively put money in each each month). I prefer not to tap them for horses but... they are there. I'm still contributing to a 401k although that's "set it and forget it money".(I'm 35 btw).

I guess I'm really focused on the per month $ in / $ out per-month math because overall i want to stay w/in a budget and not let it bleed into other things. **ideally**. but of course if my horse was sick and my 'horse emergency fund' got depleted, i would start pulling from "life" savings and figure out how to make it work.

My "pricey lease" was to ride 3x a month (in lessons) for $1,550 a month. I just feel like for that money - i could be riding 6 times a week w/ my own horse. It's the value that's pricey. (although i had to curb other spending a little paying that price (but honestly - you have extra $$ you're not spending - you end up eating out a little more and buying more stuff, you don't - you scrimp. that's just to be expected, i'm ok w/ some scrimping. I've found amazing clothes at the goodwill before, lol.). Also during that time I had to pay about $2k-$3k of personal medical costs that were not typical/extraneous.

Also you're right - if I had a leaser they would only get 2 days a week max likely because I would want access otherwise. (although if I was really jones'ing maybe i could always go and do a low impact trail ride for 45 minutes. sometimes it's just about the time we spend, it doesn't have to be 'work').

a Feed lease (or lease to buy situation) would be a really good idea. clearly i'm neurotic about the 'should I/shouldn't I' - and a feed lease would let me make the jump without really making the commitment for life (or at least my horse's life). If after a year it's too much, then i know - stick to the temporary situations for now.

A feed lease would probably be the same budget - less the emergency fund as the owner would still be responsible for most emergencies (I would imagine anyway).. but I can sock that away still anyway to help me if I should decide to move forward.

Horse ownership is ridiculously intimidating. Still, I've started a new savings account called "My New Horse" and am going to start putting money in there.

I really appreciate all the advice. Honestly the more I think about - the more I think I could do it - but the smarter move is to start "fake" getting a horse to prove it to myself first (and maybe to confirm a horse is a fit for me 100%).

Bottom line: I can NOT wait to move out of LA one day and have this all be so much more affordable! but until then, too addicted to stop. Horses are the best... :)

Re: any of my advice - Happy to give my two cents, but not an expert... just a girl who loves riding horses!
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post #6 of 19 Old 04-14-2015, 08:35 PM
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You can get a horse that doesn't need shoes. Mine doesn't! What is up with the expensive vet? Mine costs 300 a year tops for routine stuff, shots, sheath cleaning, teeth.
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post #7 of 19 Old 04-14-2015, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gossalyn View Post
My "pricey lease" was to ride 3x a month (in lessons) for $1,550 a month.
I think I see your problem.

Was this an olympic level horse or something?

I'm respectful of your original post and the budget you've drawn up, you clearly understand things and are being pretty realistic from what I see, but is reconsidering the lease option something you'd consider if you can find a MUCH more realistic priced option?

Because I'm pretty sure you can...and still get that 6 days a week of riding you're looking for.

-- In the great white north - Canada!
Every ride is a lesson, for you AND your horse - Newbies read this thread!
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post #8 of 19 Old 04-14-2015, 09:24 PM
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I'm in So Cal too, do you have any way to keep a horse farther out from the city? There are places in San Fernando Valley that have horse areas and might be cheaper to board.
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post #9 of 19 Old 04-14-2015, 09:38 PM
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That is a huge cost.

Have you thought about keeping your horse further out of the city, somewhere with nice paddocks and full care and then just going there to ride in the evenings/weekends? The cost would be a fraction of what you're planning.

Your costs seem very high. It sounds like you can afford it though, if you can afford the Realistic price, because you can easily cut out lessons if money becomes an issue.

Obviously its up to you, but it is a lot of money to spend on a horse. I wouldn't spend that much purely on principle, where out in you country you can put your horse in a paddock for 20 bucks a week and it's set, besides hoof trims.

However if the horse is worth that much to you, then do it.
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post #10 of 19 Old 04-14-2015, 10:18 PM
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Costs like that are completely normal in some areas. I too live in an area where $2000/mo is normal. Right now I am spending not quite $2000/mo on board alone for two horses - so that doesn't include any of their other stuff like routine vet/farrier/misc. stuff. $110 for farrier is nothing around here - for my one mare with a set of 4s I pay $135, and that's super cheap for a set of 4s around here, but I got crazy lucky with my farrier. Yes, it's ridiculously pricey in some areas, but when you've lived in the area long enough it's 100% the norm. Also, a persons salary will hugely vary upon area as well, that should be taken into consideration when telling a person "it's a lot". ;)

OP - I think you sound ready for ownership IMHO. You sound like you are stable with your lifestyle and finances, as well as sounding like you have enough experience to be owning. I'd go for it! =)
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