When the Budget Says No, #AdultAmmyProbs

Life has been pretty good to me lately. I got a new show horse earlier this year, I was able to upgrade my trailer, I saved up and competed at the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover and participated in a George Morris clinic all in the same month. Everything was looking good.

And then I needed new tires on my truck. And then I had to buy one last load of hay to get me through winter. And then it was injection time for one of my horses.

And suddenly, it wasn’t all looking so good anymore.

Photo by Joanna Russell

I pride myself on my ability to budget responsibly and not allow this horse passion of mine to put my family in a bad way, but sometimes that means I have to say no. After several months of nothing but yes, no doesn’t feel so great. In fact, if I am being honest, it feels pretty crappy.

There are two different types of adult amateur riders. There are what I consider the “professional” adult amateurs who have the means to show every weekend and keep their horse in full training. I will admit, I envy these people. They are living the life I want to live, but I, unfortunately, don’t fall into that category. And I think if you were to look at the population of adult amateur riders as a whole, I think you would find that the greater majority of us do not fall into that category.

Most of us ride on the side, juggling demanding careers and families at home in between horse shows. Our tack isn’t always the newest, our cars are a perpetual mess and our budgets are definitely not limitless. But for a few short months, I got to live as if I were a part of the “other side.” I could afford to keep my horse in training and didn’t have to feel guilty when I was just too exhausted to ride after a long day at work. I got to enjoy dinner with my husband, for once, and when I did ride my horse, he was a perfect angel because someone more experienced than I am was tuning him up for me every day.

So as I looked at my bank account and tried to blink more money into the ever-dwindling number, I felt a little piece of my heart sink. Those blissful few months were coming to an end. My horse was going to have to come home for a bit while we saved up for Christmas and so my husband could have some spending money for the hobbies he has been putting off so I could ride.

Photo by Joanna Russell

And that rated show I wanted to go to in November? Yeah… I was going to have to say no to that.

In moments like this, we have two options: we can pout and be sad that this good run has come to an end or we can regroup and sort out how we can get back to that point. I allowed myself five minutes of pouting because it’s okay to be sad, but after those five minutes were up, I realigned my perspective.

Sometimes the budget says no. That’s part of life. Horse people experience it, non-horse people experience it. Like many adult amateur riders, I have to put in extra hours to afford the horse habit, and sometimes the budget says yes, while others the budget says no. The reality of my situation is that I just do this for fun. Yes, I love it. Yes, it is what brings me happiness. Yes, if I had the means to show every weekend, I would.

But, I don’t.

I am just thankful that I am young and healthy, that I have family who supports me, that I have the ability to work for what I love and that the opportunities have presented themselves to me to compete at the rate that I do. I know I am very lucky to have what I do have and I am eternally grateful for that. And I know that if the budget says no and I want it to say yes, all that is stopping me is me.

I get to share the stories of adult ammy riders just like me every single day, and I am always inspired by the extra efforts we go to in order to pursue our passion. Many of you balance side-jobs, many of you log extra hours on the clock, many of you make sacrifices in other areas of your life just to allocate extra funds to your horse budgets. So when life gets tough and the budget gets tight, I just think about all of you out there kicking butt and taking names, and I know that I too can overcome my current financial limitations and get back on track.

Sometimes the budget says no, and you have to put in a little extra work to make things happen, but let me tell you this: it means so much more when your goals become a reality because of the fruits of your labor. So get out there and keep killing it. Adult amateurs unite!