Money can be awkward to talk about, but it’s a big part of participating in the sport. We all have to navigate our careers, finances, and how much we spend on horses, so why shouldn’t we talk about it?
Welcome to our new series about how careers and money impact our relationship with horses and riding. We polled amateur riders on their thoughts and feelings about money, their spending habits, and how horses fit in to their lifestyle.
Location: Seattle, Washington
Number of Horses: 1
Family Setup: Married, No Kids
Job: Marketing Technology, Product Manager (Starbucks Corporate)
Current Salary: $130,000 + bonus
Monthly Horse Related Expenses: $1,250 (doesn't include shows)
Do you hide any equine related expenses from your spouse/partner/family?Sometimes
Do you ever feel guilty about how much you spend on horses and riding? Yes — on my salary we could own a comfortable home and travel much more if I didn't own a horse.
How do horses exist in your life right now?
I own and compete with my APHA mare — she is boarded with my trainer nearby. I ride 4-5 days a week (luckily I live close to the barn) and show throughout the summer show season at the major local APHA shows in the surrounding PNW states and California (working to make it to the APHA world show, but soundness and vet bills and my own medical bills have been a hurdle up to this point).
What is your job history?
My first job was as a part time recruiter for a news media company in Phoenix, Arizona. I made a whopping $22k a year, and worked as a server at Outback Steakhouse on the side to be able to afford all the things I needed, and to afford board for the horse I owned at that time. I moved into full-time positions after that in online advertising, and eventually project management when I moved to Seattle and started working for Amazon. That's when I made my first big jump in salary to $80k a year. I was lucky to gain stock in that company to help me purchase big needs, like a new car, and pay off student loans, but it wasn't until my current job at Starbucks Corporate that I've made a base starting at six figures. I've been riding the entire time, making it work by cutting back on training and lessons when I have to, being selective about shows, and buying used (saddles, show clothing, etc.).
How did your relationship with horses and riding change as your career progressed?
I had to take a pay cut for my previous job, so that we could move closer to base because my husband is in the Navy, and he got new orders further away from where we had been living. We were barely making ends meet, so I started applying for jobs back in the city to get my salary to where it is now — I have to commute quite far for my job, but it's worth the salary. I took my horse out of training last year because we were planning our wedding, and I had medical bills related to a brain tumor found earlier in the year. I sat out the entire show season as a result.
Does money limit your riding?
Yes. I think if I could show more consistently and get my mare even better vet care than she already gets, we'd be in a better position for more of the major shows.
What is your spending philosophy?
Cover the needs first. Invest in things that are crucial — for instance, I need a quality saddle way more than I need a blinged out jacket.
Illustration by Holly Jolley.