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Making horses work with young children. Advice/thoughts needed!

(7 Posts)
midnightlurker Sat 09-Jan-16 13:31:11

I have a couple of ponies and a horse. All have varying health issues that leave them rideable but not saleable/loanable. I also have two young children (under 4) and a part time job. Currently rent a small yard but never use the stables and only have time for a quick ride 4x a week when I have an hour's childcare. It isn't fun anymore, costs a bomb and means we have a too-small house, no money etc. Yet I know this phase isn't forever, and they are loved family pets. Two of them have weekend sharers.

How do I make it all easier? Horses are what make me 'me' but this is just not working. Do I just find a little field and massively reduce my costs, losing the yard that would be so great when my children are older? Or do I find some liveries (stress, unknown horses...)? Or.....?

bimandbam Sat 09-Jan-16 13:46:17

I couldn't do it. I have 3 in full livery. At mates rates as I am a lifelong customer and it's not an official livery yard (mates smallholding with additional grazing) but with dcs who are small it gets miserable I bad weather.

Could you offer 'free' livery to a suitable persin who could do morning duties for you? They buy their own feed but get grazing and a stable in exchange for helping out? Or more sharers maybe?

It's difficult and expensive to find suitable equestrian property so I would be reluctant to give up a yard. The dcs won't be small for long but are they remotely interested? My dd is but I can't see her being a dedicated horse owner. Ds possibly will be more involved but at only 2 we are a long way away yet.

I have an older pony who won't be around forever, a kids pony I am hanging onto for ds which dd will ride this summer then a 3 year old Highland fully who will be a mother/daughter share. If ds isn't interested enough I will sell the kids pony and just have the filly once older pony left this world.

Could you reduce down to 2? Are the health issues likely to result in an earlier end to useful life?

My old girl will live her days out with me. But if the other two got ill and couldn't be ridden I would have to think long and hard before committing to funding their retirement at an early age.

lavendersun Sat 09-Jan-16 13:47:18

It is very hard midnight. I now have two horses, much loved, one retired, earlier than she ought to have been to be honest and one outgrown.

I didn't have any childcare either and a husband who works away a lot. Combined with a job it meant that I had to cut my riding right down. That in turn led to a much much too lively horse, bordering on dangerous at times, which meant that riding became less fun. I never found someone I trusted enough to keep her safe to ride her, unless I paid my trainer, and riding out wasn't her thing.

Mine live out, we are lucky to have 10 acres. I keep them very cheaply these days, vaccinations, teeth, feet, worming, hay and bedding. I don't count costs tbh but I reckon I keep two of them for not much more than £100 per month all in.

I wouldn't want a livery. I have allowed a couple of people to use my land for free, because I have got so much, 'friends' no less. I was surprised at how little they contributed to daily life around the place, as in I ended up with extra horses to look after 5 days a week. I think you have got to set strict boundaries and be prepared to follow them through as a yard owner. Although the right livery could make your life easier I have always found it much easier to muddle along on my own.

I would move to a field if that will reduce your costs if it is the right field. Doesn't have to be forever.

bimandbam Sat 09-Jan-16 13:49:38

And they are much loved but their job is to be useful and give pleasure. We could afford a lovely big mortgage with what we pay out each month but they are my thing too. They give us so much pleasure. But when they start being a burden rather than a pleasure it's maybe time to rethink priorities.

midnightlurker Sat 09-Jan-16 20:16:17

Thanks for the thoughts. If it were all less expensive then it would be much easier. I do feel bad that my hobby costs so much and this affects my family. My son rides a friend's Shetland and absolutely loves it. I think finding a field with good hacking, or taking on a couple of retirement liveries might be the way forward.

PuppyMouse Sun 10-Jan-16 17:45:59

Interested to find this thread.

I have an older mare on loan and have had my eye on my potential permanent "forever" horse for a few months. Plus an afternoon shift at a local stables.

Finally plucked up courage to approach "dream horse's" owners and got a much more positive and kind response than I expected. To the point where they are planning to move her to my current yard so I can start training with her (she's young and very green). I have a two year old DD and a very non-horsey husband. Supportive mum but DH's parents think I am a bit unreasonable so never ask for childcare for horse time from them.

It's seriously hard. I get disapproving comments and looks from friends and family constantly, if I get ill and exhausted it's my fault (true) and DH loses his rag occasionally when he doesn't get enough time to himself.

Hoping it will get easier when they're out 24/7 as mucking out eats up so much time. And as DD gets bigger she can help and do some lead rein stuff. But I do think some days I've bitten off more than I can chew.

tootsietoo Thu 14-Jan-16 13:47:28

Is there any way you could move house and find a place with 3 or 4 acres and outbuilding? To have them at home makes things so much easier with small children, and you might find that the additional rent or mortgage may be not much more than the cost of renting your yard.

To be honest I gave up for about 4 years from when I was 3 months pg with the first until the second was 2. And even then, when I got a horse again I kept him out and didn't do any mucking out till the children were older.

If the cost is the main issue then perhaps the livery idea would work. But it would NOT be less hassle! For an easier life you would need to look at loaning the horses out and giving up for a few years.

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