**HEADS UP - THIS POST IS ALL HORSES**
Where do the ponies fit into all of this? Great question.
My full time job is at an upper level show jumping stable, where I mostly do exciting things like PR, record keeping, billing, etc. In my free time, I also have my own training business, where I teach middle and high school equestrians. I love doing both of these, but they create limited time for me to actually ride and compete on my own horse, so currently I own one pony that hopefully will eventually be PoniesandFIREjr’s, but is leased to a student for the time being. Leasing means that all of his expenses are paid AND I make money off him!
Fair warning to anyone reading who is interested in horseback riding or has a child that wants to start riding - horses are expensive. Insanely. There is a joke in the industry that goes "How do you make a million dollars with horses? Easy. Start with 2 million."
That being said, it is also one of the most incredible sports for someone to be involved with. It's a sport you can take up at any time in life and for kids who start riding, it teaches more life skills than any other sport or hobby I can think of. Equestrians need insane work ethics, acceptance of things beyond their control (horse injuries or death), balance, coordination, strength, ability to work together with another living being that cannot speak and the ability to manage their emotions. This article says it best - https://www.equisearch.com/discoverhorses/why-horses-are-great-for-kids.
This blog post is for a young equestrian on a shoe string budget:
10 Tips for a High School Equestrian with Limited Funds
1. Learn to braid. You will be terrible at first, but that’s how EVERYONE starts. Braiding is one of the few ways a high school kid can make $40+ an hour. It is insane how much money you could make if you take the time to get good at it.
2. Learn to body clip horses and invest in good clippers. This is another equestrian life skill that can rake in the money.
3. Devote yourself to reading. There are so many books out there filled with insane amounts of knowledge and you can learn so much about horse care, riding, training and management if you put in the effort to read. Start with the Pony Club manuals and then keep going to George Morris, Steinkraus, Sally Swift and more.
4. Spend your lesson money with the best trainer you can reasonably afford in your area. If you have big dreams, you better be sure the trainer you’re working with has the knowledge and dedication to help you.
5. If you can only lesson once a week, it will be hard to progress in your riding, but NOT IMPOSSIBLE. Ask your trainer if you can audit other lessons! Put your phone away and watch other lessons. It’s incredible what you will pick up just from watching.
6. The internet is an amazing resource filled with free livestreams of horse shows, youtube videos of “how to’s”, articles about horsemanship and more. Use your time online wisely and learn online for free!
7. No money for tons of horse shows? Go anyways and WATCH! Park yourself ringside at the schooling ring and watch all the riders and trainers preparing to show.
8. Become a working student. Working student positions vary from trainer to trainer, but most positions involve lots of hard work in exchange for the opportunity to ride extra horses or get extra lessons. If you want to be successful, you will need to put in 110% and never be above the hard work of cleaning stalls, sweeping, cleaning tack, grooming horses and anything else your trainer needs done.
9. Check out the Interscholastic Equestrian Association. This program is for middle and high school students and offers an affordable way to horse show as part of a team. It’s modeled after the IHSA (college riding), so if you are interested in riding in college, it is great prep for that!
10. Buy quality USED equipment (except your helmet, that needs to be new) and take proper care of it! Boots and tack should be cleaned and maintained regularly. If you take good care of your stuff, you’ll be able to re-sell them when you’ve outgrown them! Facebook groups/marketplace, as well as local tack sales, are great places to check. Some local tack stores will also have consignment sections. No judge will ever be able to tell if you bought your breeches or show coat new versus used, as long as they fit correctly and are the right type/style for your discipline.