by Nicole Washington
As we get older, our desires and aspirations change. Those jazz sessions we took as kids no longer seem appealing, and we move on to bigger and grander things--or so we believe. Sometimes, financial or life situations get in the way of our dreams. This happens all too often, especially amongst the community of those who are deemed “horse crazy”. This group is typically characterized by young women, who all too often, fall victim to the young men they learn to adore. These young men will, usually, get bored of them and let them go, leaving these young girls in a confused and vulnerable state. This is where the horse comes in. However, horses are quite expensive, and most young women can’t afford to have their own.
I’m here to tell all you horse-crazy girls that you can have horses in your life, throughout high school and even into college. Despite what your parents tell you, you can continue your riding career, well into whatever age you desire. How do I know this? I know this because I’m living it right now. Some people are lucky enough to own horses throughout their lifetime, but owning a horse isn’t the only option. Plus, when you’re a college student, it isn’t the best option. This is because, as a college student, you will have a lot of money going to other important concerns, such as your education. There are many other ways to keep horses in your life, and I will name just a few for you.
One choice that you can make is to lease a horse. There are many different types of leases, but I use what I have deemed as a “lease to ride”. This is where you pay for use of the horse, however many times a week, without having to pay for basic care. Now, some horse owners will have a “care lease”. This is where the person who is leasing the horse will pay for all of the basic maintenance of the animal, and also ride the animal throughout the week. I don’t particularly like these types of leases because, although they benefit the owner of the animal, they don’t really help out the person who is leasing the horse. My problems arise with this method because the person leasing the horse could be on a very tight budget and “care leases” can be quite costly. However, with the type of leasing I do, I just pay to ride the horse. Fortunately for me, I was lucky enough to find a trainer willing to let me ride however much I wanted.
Another option that you have is to become a student or an assistant at a barn, or for a trainer. You can muck out stalls, help around the house, or assist students in the tacking and un-tacking of horses. Not only are you helping the barn or the trainer, you are also helping younger kids learn proper horsemanship, along with increasing your own basic knowledge. If you are a proficient enough rider, you can also help trainers keep their horses in shape, or even warm up a lesson horse before a student comes. This is a wonderful way to get riding time in, while also helping out. Another benefit of helping a trainer is that they may just decide to take you under their wing if they like you. Perhaps they will even help you out when you are riding by giving you tips and instructions. Some will even give free lessons to those who help them. Overall, it’s a win-win situation for you and the barn or trainer.
Lastly, I have one tip for you: do not make money a deal breaker. There are plenty of trainers out there who are willing to give great prices on lessons and lease packages. Although horses are expensive, there are many options to help reduce the price of leasing or boarding if you have your own horse. If you are looking at top notch trainers who charge $100 for an hour lesson, it may take a while before you can get to a position of being able to afford them. The trainer who charges $30 a lesson can be just as good of an instructor, if not better than the one who charges $100 a lesson. I’ve found that in my personal experience, those trainers who let you ride their horses for them to keep them in shape, or are willing to give you a great deal on a lesson/lease package, are the trainers who truly care about your passion and want to facilitate it as much as possible. It may take a lot of searching, but they are out there. You just have to be determined, and most importantly, persistent.
In the end, having horses in your life shouldn’t only come down to what you can afford. There is always the option to lease a horse, and there are many different types of leases. It’s important to pick the one that is suitable for your riding and financial needs. If you can’t afford to lease, then go around to the local barns and ask to be a student for the trainer there. Working with a trainer can be a very rewarding experience. Finally, most trainers understand that we are currently braving hard economic times. They are more concerned with the quality of the lessons, and not the quantity they may receive from you. Find that trainer that many may consider as “cheap”, because in the end, they may just give you the best advice of your riding career.
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