I made a decision about my phantom second horse…

So the more I think about the less sure I am that I want a second horse. I love my Gen to bits and pieces, but I don’t think I can call horse ownership an easy experience. What would I do if my second horse was injured and had to be retired as well? There is just no possible way that I could ever afford 3 horses, I can do two, but that is with scrimping. To pay for two pasture pets and then still have money left over for lessons, showing, extra rides, etc…that is just not in my relm of possibility.

And speaking of scrimping I had a big ah-ha moment when I was out to breakfast with Boomerang and Marissa last week. There is a huge difference between being able to physically afford to keep a horse and being able to afford to keep a horse the way I want to keep a horse. If I get a riding horse I would like to be able to keep it at an indoor. In my area the average indoor with good care is about $800 a month, not counting any of the extras like holding for the vet, trailer parking, blanket changes, etc. I could afford two horses, but my riding horse would have to live outside (Gen is not a living outside kind of guy) for the much more affordable price of $300-400 a month. It is like buying a Lexus, but not having automatic locks (and no, I could never afford a Lexus, I am just trying to find a way to explain).

I would also need to be much more careful about my spending if I have two horses. Last summer was the first time in a long time that I could afford to go on a vacation. The only reason I could afford it was because I didn’t have the expenses of a second horse. It has been nice to not burst in to tears when I get an unexpected bill. I know that if I went back to two horses that would also mean I would be back to a life of very careful spending. I could manage with two, but life is easier with only one. I work full time and chose a job to make a difference, not to get rich. Unless I suddenly win $200 million in the lottery my life is going to be this way forever.

Time wise two horses seems to take up three times the amount of time on a normal day. I used to feel guilty on the days when I could only see one horse (Gen always won). There was also never a day with a quick run to the barn. If I pampered one I felt obligated to go and pamper the other. That would mean that even on just a grooming day I would be spending 2 plus hours getting to the barns, grooming and getting home. Now with Gen on a rush day I can keep things under an hour. To ride, groom and fuss over two would easily be five hours. That does not leave me a lot of time for any of the fun stuff.

Do I want another horse someday? Absolutely. I want to do this horse ownership thing right though. When I got Gen I was in grad school and money and time were huge issues. There was so muchI wanted to do with Gen that I couldn’t. I can still clearly remember trying to fit in a whole year of showing with all fees for under $500. I don’t want to do that again. If the right horse comes along I will have to reevaluate, but for now I think that I should just focus on having Gen. Sometimes I forget that I am still young. I can get into this way of thinking that makes me feel like my life is ruined if I have not done X,Y and Z by the time I am 30 (which is crazy because 30 is really young in the scheme of things!) I start thinking how want to show here and there, get these scores, clinic with this person, etc. and I should be much farther along by now. I had a plan in my head when I got Gen that we would be at 3rd level right now and I would be getting my USDF bronze this year. When I start thinking like that I need to take a deep breath and remember that I still have tons of time. Things never work out as planned in my world and even if Gen was in perfect health who knows if he could have ever done 3rd level movements? I need to relax and remind myself that life is a journey. As much as I want him to, Gen isn’t going to live forever. He will not be the only horse I ever own unless I want him to be. I can still have a horse if I ever get married or have kids. If I get a second horse I want the sky to be the limit, not my wallet.

Does that make any sense to anyone besides me? I just want my next horse to be all about joy, not stress. I have proved that with scrimping and planning I can have two horses, but that doesn’t mean that it is the best thing for me, at least not right now. I am still going to look at ads, rescue sites, etc, but I also think that deep down I am really just a one horse kind of girl.


6 thoughts on “I made a decision about my phantom second horse…

  1. Everything you said makes sense. However…I think you are over thinking this too much. Take a hint from your horse – think a little more in the moment. Right now you do not own 2 horses, so all of the things you worry about regarding owning 2 horses isn’t happening. You are planning on leasing the schoolmaster. Remember, he is a SCHOOLMASTER, so you can do a lot with him. Concentrate on everything that comes with leasing him. If a horse you fall in love with comes along, then re-evaluate. If not, then continue on your path until something else comes up that requires a decision. I’m not saying don’t have goals or plan anything; just don’t get so hung up in it.

  2. I think that was excellent advice from tryingtoride. And you don’t have to own a horse to have a bond and enjoy them. The horse that I learned to jump with was a retired Open Working Hunter, I could never have afforded to buy a horse like that and I leased him for 6 years.

  3. Good thinking from start to finish. I get into that same mentality (where I forget that I still have a lot of life ahead of me) so I know the pressure you can put on yourself. It sounds like you’re being very wise about this decision 🙂

  4. These are all great considerations and it sounds like you are coming to very reasonable, rational conclusions… On the flip side of the “don’t overthink things” coin (which is good advice), it’s really hard to think things through logically when that adorable potential new horse is staring you in the face. So, on the other hand, it’s better to overthink things now, in the hypothetical. You seem to have figured out what you want, what would make you happy right now, and what you can reasonably manage financially and timewise, so stick to that. I think leasing the schoolmaster is a great plan. You’ll learn a lot from him, you’ll be able to compete, and do well, and enjoy yourself — but you won’t have the full-on responsibility of owning a second horse, which is a lot to take on. Knowing you as I do, I know your instincts are good, and you’d never make a decision without the horses’ best interests in mind, so trust your gut in addition to your brain.

  5. I think you’re making a good decision. It’s no fun to have to watch every penny. Having said that, I thought long and hard and agonized about buying a second horse (the third for our family – my husband has one too). I concluded it was going to be too tight financially. Then I couldn’t help myself and did it anyway and it’s been the greatest joy of my life 🙂 I’ve had to start my own business (when I could have retired) to afford the extras like boarding where there’s an indoor in the winter, and showing, but it’s worth it.
    Your reasons all make sense though, and you’re younger, so you still have lots of time for more horses!

  6. I think you are making the smart choice. Plus, several people have told me that your expenses don’t double with 2 horses. they triple. 🙂

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