Thursday, August 28, 2008

Horses and Financial Responsibility

An update on the ankle -- I went into the ortho again yesterday, and I got my cast off! I am now in a walking boot, the main benefit of which is that I can take it off to shower. Thank goodness. I was getting sick of baths. I'm not walking on it yet; he says I can start phasing out the crutches, first one then the other, as I feel comfortable. Basically, if it doesn't hurt, go for it, and if it does hurt, back off. I can feel it a little more than I'd like when I walk with one crutch, so I'm going to leave it alone for awhile. It's still all swollen and bruised (obviously not nearly as much as at first), and my range of motion is just GONE. They gave me some exercises to do, though.

Also, muscle atrophy sucks. That calf is visibly smaller than the other one. That asymmetry is gonna be irritating in the saddle until I get the strength back.

If all goes well, I will get to get rid of the walking boot for good when I next go in, which is Sept 25 (a whole four days before I start school!). I'm just excited that once I get rid of the crutches I can do ground work and longeing.

I was thinking this morning about how much horses have done to teach me responsibility. The lessons are as numerous and as cheesy as the moral of any Disney movie. I could list them, but I have before. I just wanted to talk today about horses and financial responsibility.

First, my purchase of Pandora. This is a big step for me, personally. I'm 18 years old, technically an adult, and I recently took the dive into personal finance by opening a checking and savings account with my local credit union. This mare is mine, and mine alone -- purchase price, board costs, feed costs, any tack I need. The whole shebang. The prospect of me paying for her board, feed, farrier visits, and anything else is a little bit daunting. But at the same time, I know I can do it, and it's a really good first step into self-sufficiency for me. Suddenly it becomes very important how I spend my time: I need to work enough to both support her and funnel some money into savings, and if I don't go out and ride her very often, then I'm wasting the money that I spend on her.

A brief shoutout to my parents -- I really like the way they handled this. They've supported my horse habit for me until now, always making sure that I'm conscious of where we're spending money and why. I am definitely not the expensive-lessons-every-week, please-daddy-buy-me-a-new-saddle type. But I am also very, very grateful that they never said, "If you want horses you need to pay for them." They never asked me to take a full-time job over the summer instead of the part-time I've worked the past three summers, nor did they ask that I work over the year. To be honest, I worked so hard last year between schoolwork and band that I doubt I could have worked enough to support half of the horse expenses, let alone all of them. In return, I've always tried to respect the boundaries of what they can spend. I am now at the point where I can make the decision to take on an additional horse and support it myself, but I was not there before. I like the free rein they've given me and the way they've helped me slowly move towards financial independences with horses and otherwise, at my own pace, when I am ready to take steps. So thanks, Mom and Dad :)

Anyway, I'm very excited for this opportunity (if you couldn't tell by the sheer prevalence of the word 'excited' in my posts since we decided to buy her!). I get to enjoy a second horse without putting any financial strain on my parents, at all. I get to enjoy training a horse and hopefully pushing both of us up to higher levels, and I get to keep all the experience that comes with it. She is my horse in the way that no horse has ever been before. I get to decide when to sell her, for how much, and to whom.

The other responsibility-related thing I've been considering is very closely related: emergency vet funds. A commenter mentioned it and got me thinking.

I don't have one. Between setting aside some money to start an IRA, purchasing Pandora, and paying this month's board plus a deposit, I won't have much more than a couple hundred left. My paychecks for this month and next month will be much larger than board fees, since I'm working a lot due to a lack of school. I'm going to put all of my extra money in a savings account, which will double as my emergency fund. Not the most viable of options, I know, but as a student living at home with virtually no expenses other than my horse, it'll work. Add this to the fact that board is only $175/month (including hay) and other expenses should be minimal, I should still be able to squirrel away enough money each month to build up a decent emergency fund by the end of the school year. If school doesn't overwhelm me.

But it still concerns me. It's never something I've had to worry about before! I will do my best to build my fund up as fast as possible, but I'm wondering how many people have one -- seems that everyone knows they should, but does/is everyone able to follow that?

On the plus side, when I sell Pandora, that money's going to go to good use. The money is going first to pay off my student loans for the year (isn't college fun?), and any after that is going into savings. From that I'll have an emergency fund to work with for the next horse -- but that's thinking very far ahead!

So, how many of you have an emergency fund? Have you ever had to use it? Have you ever made decisions in the past (colic surgery, etc) that were influenced by your emergency fund or lack thereof?


Brianna said...

I also became responsible for my horse habit at 18. It's a tough journey through college, but it can be done. If you can work off board, take advantage of it :)

If you ever need advice or thoughts, feel free to email me...I just graduated in May, and still have the horse I've had since I was 14...brought her from Massachusetts to Florida 6 years ago, and everything.

Brianna said...

I always think I should put money in a savings account...and haven't been able to do it until 2 weeks ago. If you can, definitely do :)

Ms.BarnBrat said...

Look into getting "horse health insurance" I know they can cover full colic surgery and various other bills up to $10,000 or more. However, how much you can insure her is dependent on how much you bought her and her "evaluated worth" they take into account your board costs and everything to come up with your insurable amount and the monthy fees are really low - basically like a savings but it makes certain it only goes to vet bills!

A lot of my friends have this and it's saved lives!

I lease and I have an emergency fund becuase I am responsible for a portion of all vet bills incurred so although not as much as needed for a "whole" horse it'll help get the job done. Plus I only have it accessable by check NO debit/credit card attached makes it easier not to spend it on something else!

ps. WTH do you live!?!?!?!? $175?!?!?!? Board where I am is $350 for the cheapest place and $465 for a nice place!!!

dream_on said...

When I was 16 I realized if I wanted a horse, I was going to have to save up myself. So, halfway thru the school year I switched to correspondence so I was able to work enough to put away a good swatch of money to purchase a horse. It was hard work, but it was amazing to know that I had done it, and I could finally get my very own horse!! I always have $500 put away for emergency vet bills. However, I have my horse insured to the max, [otherwise I would have a lot more put away!!]. Insurance definitely gives me piece of mind, the major medical is definitely an option that you might be interested in.

Brianna said...

Yea, I missed the part about your board being $175 the first time I read your post, lol. I was paying $350 my 1st year in college, and that was only if I worked every Saturday of the month. If I missed a weekend, add $50.

My board now is $475, plus an extra bale of hay for her to get lunch every day, so usually about $'s manageable now that I have a "real" job...but when I was working on retail, not making much, it was a struggle.

MyLittlePony said...

I have never considered horse health insurance. Can any of you recommend a company to get a quote from?

wolfandterriers said...

OMG, my mare fractured her skull in May (the Sunday before finals!!). My mother helped me cover the cost--it was 2300 and change for the metal plate to reconstruct the orbital. I just *now* paid her back in full. I think you really need to sit down with your parents and disucss the "oh shit" mother and I had set a certain dollar limit before we had the vet evaluate her, as we were worried about traumatic injury to her brain, etc (the whole side of her face was SMASHED IN!). The possibility of spending a lot of money for surgery on a horse that would no longer be able to function (or SEE!) was a big question. You have to decide where to draw the line! In my situation, I could not justify have a green, semi wild mare with NO vision, as it would only be a matter of time until my beginner husband (or my mother, if she went to live with her because of a no-use issue) would be hurt. LUCKILY it is more of a cosmetic issue. She does have some depth loss out of her right eye due to the amount of time the fractured skull was pressing on the eye itself but nowhere near total.

Bottom line: Figure it out in advance. Assume that major anything is going to cost you ~ a year of board. Disucss a serious payment plan with your parents. I'm in college, I work, I carry a bejeezus amount of hours, and I pay for my horse *normally*. A traumatic injury is not a normal scenario and as a full time student/part time worker you just don't have the resources to afford it.

I'm not trying to be superbly pessimistic--and my two vices are my pony and my M3--but I have learned from experience that when the shit comes, you need to have est. the responsibility with parties who CAN pay the bill that if they cover it for you, you will pay them back.

When I'm out of medical school and have a real job...whenever that will happen!...I don't think this will be as much of an issue.

wolfandterriers said...

And insurance: yeah, maybe I should have tried to get something like that on her, but no equine appraiser in their right mind would give my little cannibal mare a second glance. Grade, wicked witch of the West attitude and queen bee in the pasture, fugly skull issue, super hot with floaty gaits? Sign me up but that's not most people's cup of tea. In my case, I choose the ponies that eat other people because I get along really well with a super bossy high maintanence b**** type. Calm horse, no. Nice horse? No! Oh, good--if your horse if your reflection, jeez!

thatQHgirl said...

I'm in my sophomore year of college and I've taken my horse with me every year. That cushion is VERY important! After 2 weeks at the new barn last year my guy got hung up on a wooden mounting block while meandering around the arena and pulled a goin muscle. It looked like a stifle injury until the vet came out. Figure $350.

Then we had a lot of trouble with colic this winter, to the point where the vet said surgery or euthanasia. I said Banamine every few hours and sleeping on hay bales in front of his stall, and that worked out fine. But there was another $1,000 getting him scoped for ulcers and trying to figure out what was wrong with him-- the cause is still undiagnosed. I think with vetting, trims, glucosaime supplements and feed I probably spent 2,000+ this past year on my horse-- and I was boarding for free in a chores-for-board+hay situation!

This year I'm paying $150/month for board, and I told myself I could not take him with me to college unless I had $6,000 in the bank. He came along with me... I'm just waiting to see how much I'll end up spending this year.

Good luck though! Pandora is a cutie. =)

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