PARSING—AND MIN­I­MIZ­ING—THE COST

Horse & Rider - - Conformation Clinic -

Horse own­er­ship in­volves cer­tain ex­penses, but you needn’t own a horse to in­volve your child with one. Here are some op­tions. • Lessons. This is the best way to in­tro­duce your child to rid­ing any­way. He or she is safest learn­ing the ba­sics on well-schooled les­son mounts un­der the guid­ance of an ex­pe­ri­enced in­struc­tor. • Shar­ing. If your child is ea­ger to de­velop a re­la­tion­ship with one horse, con­sider shar­ing one. Your les­son barn may al­low spon­sor­ing, which con­veys some ben­e­fits, or you may find an­other par­ent who would wel­come help in rid­ing and car­ing for the horse his or her child owns. Such ar­range­ments can be in­for­mal (your child rides in re­turn for friend­ship and help with barn chores) or con­trac­tual. In the lat­ter case, a “part-lease”—in which you pay a set por­tion of a horse’s monthly board, shoe­ing, and rou­tine ve­teri­nary ex­penses in re­turn for a set num­ber of days’ rid­ing priv­i­leges—works well. • Leas­ing. A full lease will pro­vide your child with most of the ben­e­fits of horse own­er­ship with­out the ini­tial ex­pense of buy­ing. You’ll be re­spon­si­ble for the cost of the horse’s care and board­ing, and some­times an ad­di­tional fee in the case of highly de­sir­able an­i­mals. Leas­ing is an ex­cel­lent way to fully test the wa­ters—fi­nan­cially and in terms of time and com­mit­ment—be­fore you buy. For best suc­cess, make sure all terms of the lease (re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, priv­i­leges) are worked out care­fully in ad­vance. In the end, horse in­volve­ment comes with at least some cost but, as all par­ents know, ex­pense is a rel­a­tive term in child rear­ing. In the 21st cen­tury, when par­ent­ing is not a job for the faint of heart, horses pro­vide a way to keep young­sters pos­i­tively en­gaged dur­ing those piv­otal years from pre-teen through young adult­hood. In light of all that, as McEachin puts it, the cost of horse­back rid­ing “is worth ev­ery cent.”

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