One fact that unites all equestrians across discipline and location is the fact that horses are not an easily afforded animal. Whether you call it a hobby, a passion, or a pet, the cost of owning a horse and caring for it is something we all have to take into consideration. For most it’s a mantle we gladly take up, and lament over together, as in the end it is always worth the financial backing necessary.
However, to those people living outside this bubble of knowledge, it may seem easy to make a blanket statement similar to “all equestrians are rich”. Understandable, as some of the big, fancy names in equestrian land are generally thought of as wealthy. Taking that out of the equation, though, there are maybe a few who could toss down the cash it takes to produce a international grand prix horse without a second glance, but the majority cannot. Therefore, we shouldn’t be lumped into one equal and level economic group. Especially the one labeled as “rich”. It’s not true, and it creates an implication that perhaps equestrians have the road paved for them as athletes. And that definitely isn’t the case. After years of this misconception, it can feel like being called “rich” in this context is an insult, or in the very least, a judgement.
Yet if you look closer, equestrians are some of the scrappiest, most ingenious financial planners out there. We really should get more credit for the amount of hustle involved, whether you are a trust fund baby or a DIY backyard boarder, everyone has to step up to make things work in this sport. This can be applied to almost every aspect from tack purchases to veterinary care. We make it work because it is the only, or best option available! Then we can weep together over the portion of our budget that suffered so we could get Princess Horse what they need. There’s no shame in having nice things, and we shouldn’t be shamed for being a part of a sport that has some elite names tied to it.
How to convey to the rest of the un-horsey universe? I think that it’s best we nod when they say “Isn’t that really expensive?” and then take pride and credit when you answer them.
Maybe you answer them with a “Yes, but I’m very passionate about this,” or perhaps “Yes, but you should see my side gigs,” or heck, why not just go with the “Everything in life is expensive, and I love it!” We shouldn’t shirk away from the idea that horses are expensive, but rather explain that while we aren’t rolling in cash, we make it work because we want it that badly. It should not be written off as a financial privilege by anyone other than yourself.
Often we find that it is the most effortless looking parts of this sport actually take the most work. That applies here too. What the assuming people don’t see is the effort, the budgeting, the workouts, and the mental and physical strength it takes to be a part of the horse world. While money can buy a lot, it cannot buy your strength and heart. Be proud of where you stand financially, whether it’s on a ramen noodle or a filet mignon scale. The fact that you’re here, hustling and pushing for more, already means you deserve the respect that comes with the sport. So no, we are not all rich, but we are a dynamic force all our own, fueled by a lot more than cash.