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In defense of student horse owners

November 8, 2010

As a long time lurker at COTH and a student, I pay particular attention to the threads devoted to keeping a horse in college.

I’m always shocked by how pessimistic and disapproving most people are. It seems that the majority of posters cannot conceive of a college student being able to adequately care for a horse while in school without the monetary support of their parents. Tell that to my room mate with a stud and two two year olds or my friend who raised her horse from a weanling while in school. Some of the posts are so severely reprimanding that I start to feel guilty for owning a horse as a student. It’s not supposed to be possible, so surely I’m doing it wrong. There seems to be this idea that you need to have a high salary job in order to even begin to THINK about horse ownership.

Well, hell…..I managed to attend school in and board a horse in LOS ANGELES on largely my own dime.

Granted, I’ve been very fortunate in that my parents subsidized my tuition costs and I’ve managed to make wonderful connections in the horse world that have alleviated a lot of the financial strain. I’ve also been lucky that my horse has been medically uncomplicated and hasn’t incurred extensive vet costs.

But still, I think it’s silly to say that it’s impossible to keep a horse while in school. It’s totally possible……if you budget.

For example, I haven’t boarded at a training barn in YEARS. I’ve kept Kinetic at backyard barns. In Los Angeles I feed boarded him in exchange for mucking stalls. Out here, I pay $100/mo for pasture board. They feed and grain. But no arena, no jumps, no round pen. Just a dirt road and some fallen trees to hop over.

I don’t show. At all.

I exercise ride in exchange for lessons.

No shoes for the beasty. A rider’s rasp can allow me to have two farrier calls a year.

No fancy supplements.

$75 teeth floating from a vet student.

Buy vaccines at a discount from a brand rep and administer them myself.

I sacrifice a lot of personal goals in order to make it work, but I have a happy, healthy equine buddy that’s totally game for trail rides and the occasional “cross country” jump.

I’m a student and a horse owner and proud of it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 9, 2010 6:03 am

    It is so possible to own a horse while going to college! (Or to go to college while owning a horse if you want to look at it the other way around.) I’m extremely fortunate to have parents bankrolling my college costs, but the horse is all on me… Saturday I was actually looking at a horse I was considering purchasing as an investment prospect; I brought my father along to videotape and he asked a few questions about where the owner/seller got him, and she assumed he was asking for financial reasons–no. I feed and teach lessons and in exchange, I pay minimal monthly board and get discounts on on-farm activities; since I work there in the summer I get a tab going from May-August and I work off vet and dental by putting up hay.

    There is always the chance of catastrophe. Just a couple weeks ago one of the lesson horses, Trouble, mysteriously severed a tendon and may never be ridable again. There’s also the chance I may have a freak accident tomorrow–on or off the horse–and never be able to ride again. I could die in a car crash on my way to the barn, to name just a few examples.

    However, I will say this: I’m out at the barn at least five days a week, I’m training my own horse, schooling at least one schoolhorse a week, and showing in the spring-fall. I’m doing as much or more than most of the other boarders at the barn. Yes, there are really negative examples of college-age boarders, but there are heaps and heaps of bad boarders and bad horse owners… I think teenagers/young adults partly get some of that rap simply from being considered part of a group that already has a reputation for being irresponsible.

    It’s not necessarily easy to keep a horse while in college if you’re not totally funded by loaded parents, but can you do it? Yes, clearly. It’s a matter of priorities, responsibility, budgeting, and a willingness to work–just like it is no matter how old you are or whether or not you also are getting an education.

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