I know many of today’s equestrians are in high school. If you are, chances are you’ve thought “What am I going to do about riding in college??” There are many different paths you can take, so first decide what you want to do, what your funds look like, and how much time you think you have. Better yet, how well do you manage your time?
Many colleges have IHSA equestrian teams. I personally did not ride on my college’s team due to the time commitment. If you think you will have the time or think you can balance riding with school and work, then IHSA is a great way to continue riding throughout college without all the responsibilities that come with owning or leasing your own horse. You will get the opportunity to ride a wide range of different horses and hone in on your equitation skills! I’m not sure about all colleges, but at mine the riders were only required to pay for their own show clothing… everything else was covered!
Committing to team practices, workouts, traveling, shows, and meetings may sound like too much for you to keep up with at college. A half lease is a great option if you are still wanting to ride a few times a week. Look around for local barns near your campus and see if you can find a horse available for a half lease. This option is more time manageable. However, keep in mind that half leases typically run around the price for half of board.
Another thing you can do at a local barn is take weekly lessons. This only requires one day of the week of your time, but your riding skills will stay up to par! Plus you’ll be getting that horsey time we all crave. Sticking to weekly lessons is also much more affordable than a half lease.
Your own thing on your own time
Now for the option that I chose… a modge-podge of things on my own time. I rode at my home barn whenever I came home from college. Whether it was for the weekend or on a break, you could always catch me back at my old barn. I had many riding opportunities here such as helping hack greenies and earning lessons/rides for helping around the farm. Sometimes I went for long periods of time without returning home so I had to find some way to ride in between. I did a couple things to get in some riding, while at college. I found a local barn and took lessons when I could afford it and had the time. I also put out an ad on Facebook detailing my experience and asking if anyone was looking for an exercise rider for their horse(s). I stated I would exercise their horses for free, just in the exchange of getting the riding time! I got SO many responses from individual owners and ended up riding a lady’s OTTB gelding a couple times a week for her one year.
Let me know if you have specific questions about how I managed time and money for riding or how I got different opportunities set up. I’d be happy to help out!
-Hannah + Z
Ahhh the decision that every equestrian comes to at some point in their riding career. Choices can be easy to make if you are fortunate to be able to afford either option, but if you are on a budget like myself, there’s a lot more to it than that. When facing this decision, you need to decide what your goals are in riding.
When I went to start searching for a horse to buy, I realized with my budget I had two options. I could buy a greener horse which I would have to train up myself or I could buy a more experienced older horse that was going towards the end of its career. My personal aspiration was to purchase a horse that I would keep with me for a very long time. I had leased horses for a couple of years and I was ready for my own, but with my budget, I knew I would have to make some sacrifices to buy my own horse. I decided to go with the green horse route because I had a good bit of experience working with the green horses that my trainer had and I was looking for a long-term situation. With this decision, I knew I would have to put advancing my skills on hold to take my new horse back to the basics.
So if you have experience with green horses, can be patient, and dedicated you may want to go with a gentle green horse. I would not suggest this to anyone who only has had experience with school horses or someone not planning to be in a training program with a professional. Training up Z was and still is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was frustrated on a regular basis and I have wanted to give up on him several times. However, it has been so rewarding to see his progress and how my hard work has paid off.
Another option you have is to buy an older horse with more experience. Older horses are honestly the best horses and you most likely will get a few good seasons before retirement. You just need to be able to have a plan of what to do when your horse does reach that point where its time to retire. Or can you afford any maintenance the horse might need? Many things to think about.
With leasing, you have the opportunity to work with finished, more advanced horses that can push you to higher levels. You can easily lease a horse that you wouldn’t be able to afford to buy. If you are wanting to continue growing your riding skills and compete at your skill level and beyond this show season, this is the best option for you. Another great thing about leasing is if there is ever a situation where it is not working out between horse and rider, you are not stuck with this horse forever; only until your leasing contract runs out.
Hope this helps some of you who are considering leasing or buying!
-Hannah + Z
Growing up, my parents could only spend a certain amount of money on my horseback riding. They paid for my weekly lesson and that was it. Anything more than one lesson a week, I had to pay for myself. Obviously, we all crave more time in the saddle than once a week! So I had to come up with some other ways to pay for riding time.
Being a working student at my barn was the easiest and best way to earn credits for lessons or towards a lease. Now, you have to be willing to work hard. I’m talking stall mucking, water trough scrubbing, feeding, and cleaning of all kinds. I’m not going to lie, you put in a lot of hard work to earn small increments of credits. However, you get so much more than that. You learn new things about horses and taking care of a farm. You gain so much experience dealing with all sorts of equine situations. You also get to further build your relationship with your trainer and other barn mates. Pick a few days a week you can dedicate to working, not riding. Then take advantage of any school breaks or vacation time from your jobs to rack up on work days. Talk to your trainer about a working student program. I’m sure there is something they can work out with you!
Another thing you can do is to save up your outside money. Save your birthday money, Christmas money, babysitting money, whatever to put together towards a lesson or part of your lease. I always used my birthday money for more time in the saddle. Get a part-time job to earn some money! Whether it’s babysitting, working at a restaurant, or at the movie theater, if you can put in some hours each week, you’ll be earning some extra cash quick. As adults, you can still get some extra money on the side from doing small jobs like dog walking and pet care or from selling items on social media. If people are going out of town, see if you can take care of their pets! I just made $60 from taking care of some friends horses over the weekend.
So let’s talk more about leasing. That can get expensive. You have the option of a full lease or a half lease. Usually, with full leases, you are assuming all expenses of the horse without actually having to purchase a horse. If you’re on a budget, I would definitely recommend starting with a half lease. It turns into only half of the horse’s expenses and depending on who your leasee is, they may cover things like vet and farrier on their own. The half lease is a lot more manageable money wise and is a really good place to start if you think you would like to full lease or own a horse in the future.
This is a horse I leased for a little over a year before I bought Z. It taught me so much about horse ownership and I’m so thankful for the time I spent with the little red pony.
-Hannah + Z