Lately, I’ve been looking at leasing a school horse. Explaining the price tag to my family is a complete non-starter.
“Hi, I need to drop $15,000 on an animal I don’t own, so I can become its best friend, fall in the dirt, smell like a barn, and spend less time with you.”
My family is like: “That’s your pitch? Denied.”
Meanwhile, I’m thinking, but that’s what you spend on travel and restaurants and crap from Target. Let me have this! Maybe a better pitch would be, this is the price of my mental health.
It’s not like I’m asking for a handout. This is money I earned, but I am married with a kid, so my income is not just my own. One of the toughest parts about being married is the days of making unilateral financial decisions are over. Ten years ago, I would have had no problem reallocating 100% of my discretionary income to whatever whim, but back then, I didn’t ride. I also got married before I started riding, which brings up another marital challenge, remaining empathetic to each other’s evolving needs. My husband is all-in on the riding thing, just not the 65% escalation in cost from riding lesson horses to leasing one.
Beginners at any age have to either shell out or trade work for ride time – which is exactly what I’ll continue to do.
Fair enough. I’ve been doing this for less than a year.
To put it in perspective I think of my brother, a professional drummer. Music is his life, and without it he’d be miserable. If he came to me and said, “I need to borrow $15,000 for a new drum kit.” I’d be like, “OK, but are you saying you can’t play drums or tour without dropping $15k?” If it were the difference between a career in music or not, I’d see the value.
The truth is, my brother doesn’t need a $15k drum kit to make a living at music, and I don’t need the $15k lease to get ride time. Right now, I don’t have the experience to keep a horse on my property or the buy-in from my family to lease one from my barn. We have other financial priorities, so I have to be creative to progress and get ride time.
As a beginner, I can’t just catch rides or offer to condition challenging horses. As a mom, that’s not something I even want to do. I’m not in this to take big risks. One day, I hope I can condition the horses at the therapy barn where I volunteer, but I’m not experienced enough to do that, yet. Beginners at any age have to either shell out or trade work for ride time – which is exactly what I’ll continue to do.
I haven’t given up on leasing, but that plan is on hold. For now, I have to be patient and lesson on different school horses. For this ultra-achiever, it’s hard. I want to get “there” as fast as I can, but where is “there?” The road to horsey nirvana is paved with financial obstacles. It’s a good reminder to just enjoy the journey.
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Writer and aspiring horse lady. She lives in Texas with her husband, daughter, and dogs Thunder & Coco.