I've been horse crazy me whole life. Grew up showing an arab at open and breed shows. Branched into barrel racing in my early 20's. Finally followed my dream into the reining pen in my mid 40's while continuing to barrel race. I've never been a top level competitor but was usually a solid 2D occasional mid/bottom 1D. I'm now mid 50's and I just don't think I can do this thing called barrel racing anymore. I never considered us to be poor, we farm, raise purebred cattle and live reasonably comfortably but I cannot ever justify spending $20,000 plus for a horse to compete on. My dream horse (that should easily be a solid 1/2d horse with her bloodlines) I raised and had hoped would be my horse to barrel race on into my old age is struggling with soundness issue at 7 years old. I'm now at a cross roads in life I feel. I'm just not sure I want to keep spending money on injections, possible KS lg snip surgery and then the stress of how do I keep her in shape in Canada in the winter if I did do the surgery. I've been casually looking at younger started prospects and I just can't justify $10,000 for a baby or yearling. And with all the KS showing up it seems I can't afford to lose that kind of money. So I'm sitting here wondering if my barrel racing days are over. My 10 year old reiner is also struggling with soundness issues, we got through this year but spent a lot of money in vet bills to get through the season so I'm also contemplating my future with her. I have a really nice 2 year old reining prospect that I thankfully was able to buy 2 years ago as a baby. But seeing the price of a full sibling to her now advertised I'm like dang I got a deal and I guess I won't be buying another one. This horse market is crazy and in a way its awesome if you are selling but looking to buy I suddenly am feeling like I'm in the low class income group because I can't pay those prices for something that is my hobby. Am I the only one sitting here feeling like horses and competing have now become a luxury item for the elite? I've always trained all my own horses, have never bought a finished horse in all my 56 years and I have no problem bringing a young one along but I can't seem to even afford one of those. Ok having a pity party this morning.
Edited to add: I've often bred mares I've competed on to studs I love to get my prospects but at my age if I bred next year I'm well into my 60's before i'd be competing on it and I fear if I get away from barrel competions for a few years at my age starting up again would just be too challenging.
I can't imagine being "out" of horses but I am at that point. I was going to retire and start hauling seriously again but it seems to be always something. Now that I have my mare sound and looking to get my backup going it doesn't look like I can afford it or to retire. My retirement and investments are not worth anything right now. I feel your pain.
I feel this... I'm not a top competitor... not even really a decent weekend warrior either. I'm barely cracking 5D on my grade 14yr gelding that I bought as a finished head horse, turned barrel horse. I have enjoyed the process of patterning him and learning myself. But I feel guilty when I go to races, about throwing my money out the window driving down the road. If it weren't for my husband entering me in a few of the races I've gone to, I wouldn't go. I stay home with the kiddos and he makes a decent living to support us but by no means do we have all the extras. Most of the time I feel so outmatched... my horse is simple... no injections not really any extraordinary extras... I keep him in good condition and try to have a great feed program and good farrier. All I can really do. He tries his butt off for me and I have fun while we are actually running .... its a quick blip ... (well, quick for us) of a moment of feeling amazing and truly happy and I always tell him thanks for the ride buddy.... then it's back to reality... kids, bills, stress, etc etc. Lol! I appreciate the times I get to go ... but they are far and few in between. I have those moments after I pay bills and have to pay for feed or this and that where I'm just like.. this is crazy... trying to afford all this and for what??! I see people running 5 to 8 high dollar fancy bred horses at these races ... I just couldn't imagine.
I truly feel that barrel racing incentives have jacked the prices up and have really hurt the small breeder/stallion owner. What I do not understand is why people breed to these stallions in the incentive programs then don't pay to nominate the baby and want to sell it for $20,000 to 30,000. I have seen several horses are 3 year olds that are not paid into Pink Buckle, Ruby Buckle or both. If they aren't paid in by Dec of this year they cannot be enrolled. The late fee for them is $2000 for each. Ruby and Pink Buckle. Just because they are eligible for any incentive does not mean they are any better than any other horse. Individuals that have babies for sale seem to think they need to follow the big prices. I will also say that when you consider stud fees, shipping, and vet fees you have quite a bit tied up in your babies. My suggestion is if you like both horses continue with the injections. I had one that had Kissing spines and I rode him for years injecting his back. My vet was one of the top vets in the South and he did not recommend surgery at least for my horse. Getting his back injected wasn't too expensive. The other suggestion is decide which you like better and continue down that path.
I think a lot of people are feeling this way right now. Especially the more weekend warriors. I dont know what I would do if something happened to my mare now because I could never afford these prices. I love bloodlines and love seeing the industry strive but I have zero interest in pink buckle, ruby buckle or any of the high stakes races down south. Just isnt my jam, I couldnt afford the time off work even if I did. I am curious if the prices will maintain.
My nieces have recently saved up to buy their own horse (16 years old) and you cant find even a project which they, with the help of me is capable of finishing for anything decent. You are finding grade, 17 year old, sitting in grandpas back pasture, dont know a thing for $4500... I am curious how this will pan out and I will just keep praying my mare stays healthy and loving her job!
I am always on the look out for back yard horses that look decent and have some talent but are not your 20-30K bred a certain way prospects. Just have to be patient. THose horses are out there. But the trruth is, horses are worth what someone will pay and they must be getting that kind of coin for them or they wouldn't be priced that way.
Just another thing to add. I was shopping for a prospect. I found a few in my price range but then when I looked around for someone to start it for me I couldn't afford that end after buying the prospect. I always started my own but I am in my late sixities and I don't hit the ground and bounce like I did when I was young. I am not knocking the trainers for what they charge because they have to make a living too.
I'm in the same boat for the most part. I'm not going to mortgage the farm in order to buy a horse. I can't justify it and my husband is not even close to interested in that.
I started riding on my own and I was 2 when I started tooling around by myself. I had some excellent horses over the years, and I'm not 100% sure how my parents and grandparents paid for me to go up and down the road. But we did it!
I'll be 40 in a couple of weeks and the price of things is so expensive.
Nate (my namesake) is about to be 28. My other horse who my mom rides is going to be 21. I had bought a prospect a couple years back and lets just say that did not go well and she's now a broodmare on someone elses farm. To be honest, selling her sort of broke something in me anyways. My dream was always take one from the ground up. Needless to say, that didn't happen for several reasons.
But it's just unfair that we have to sit here and whine to each other instead of whining to a new horse.
Same thing here. We put $60K into our rental property this year which took my breeding, show and new barn monies. I sold a nice horse but that still wasn't close to enough for the new barn. And I'm pretty tired of being weather dependent on vet and farrier visits without a barn. I can't remember the last time I had FUN barrel racing! I spent 2018 and 2019 rehabbing MY SI so I could even ride again. Then covid hit and we all know what that did to the show schedule. After spending all the money on the rental house I really looked at it and the neighborhood and wondered if I wouldn't be happier selling out and maybe keeping one or two and boarding them. But, I'm stuck with my dude Zan, and boarding a stallion (at the end of his racing career, he's turning 18 in 2022), and keeping one mare to race doesn't sound any more fun. Xena is making really really nice babies and I want to ride her long yearling, but that's how many years out? 4? 5? I don't ride them until they are broke broke now, and finished on the pattern and not too spooky about show sights. I want to breed my DTF mare and see what she throws but I'd be 65+ by the time that youngster was broke and on the pattern. I don't think I have the enthusiasm for that any more! I talked with someone who bowed out of the barrel horse world a few years ago. He spent the years after his daughter quit riding still owning and keeping one or two in shape. He said to just have your rider meet you at the shows and ride, but I don't think I'll be wanting to go to shows if I'm no longer riding? I'm an adrenaline junkie, a competitor at heart.
I feel the same. I am lucky enough to have three young well-bred horses, but with the show prices rising in proportion to horse prices, it's becoming a rich man's game. It's sad.
I am 70+. I raise my own horses because I like gentle horses. I worked my butt off teaching for 43 years. My husband died 20 years ago and left me with some large hospital bills. He didn't let me ride for 20 years. So after he died I bought a few horses. I have always trained my own horses but it sure is nice to be able to get on one that is really well trained. 45 years ago I decided I wanted to go to the AQHA world. I didn't get the chance until recently but with a trainer who goes prepared to win, she won one class and was 3rd in another. I have a total of 3 world champions in four different registries. I had a very savvy financial planner. I retired in 2003 but in Tx you can continue to teach so I did. I don't have anyone to leave anything to and I can't take it with me so I spend it on my horses. My tax accountant has a fit about how much I spend but what the heck. I use my tax refund to buy my hay and pay breeding fees. By the way, I still barrel race. As long as I can get on those suckers. Really, I started with a plan when I was in college
If you want to barrel race you can, all you need to do is decide at what level. You can just start out trying to improve on your personal best. If you like the barrel racing, you can enjoy it.
skye - 2021-11-19 11:21 PM
I think half of the reason I have lost enjoyment in the sport is bad human transactions. If you breed to sell then you deal with stallion owners, breeding vets, normal vets, farriers, potential buyers. If you breed to train and either race yourself or sell, add in trainers to that list. That's a lot of human transactions. Along the years I've had to fire vets that were gouging me, trainers that starved my horses, trainers that weren't riding my horses (couldn't find their way to the first barrel at a trot after 9 months of training) or babies who can't walk a circle after 120 days at the colt breaker. I've dealt with some great stallion owners, and some really poopy ones. Ones so poopy that I wish I hadn't gone through with the breeding. I've had very poor to 0.0% live sperm arrive from the best stallion stations (meaning yet another cycle to wait, with all the related repeated fees), this is multiple times and many (MANY) thousands of dollars wasted. Trying to find a GOOD and RELIABLE farrier is almost impossible. No foot, no horse. My fast mare is so sensitive to bad angles that if she's just barely off on her feet she won't run a set. My farrier now is very average on the quality - BUT! He shows up every time, or if rescheduling is necessary is on that before the appointment is missed and is rescheduled in less than a week. So I've had to choose reliability in footcare and then wondering if Love will run any given pattern or if she's going to slam on the brakes at the first and tippy toe around the barrels.
I don't mind spending 2D money for 3D runs, but I do mind spending 1D money and not getting good runs at all. I mind being ripped off. Contracts breached. Horses not being cared for when away from home at a trainers. That one is the worst and has seen me turn into a raging monster a time or two. DO NOT hurt my horses!!
After enough really bad deals it sours the sport a bit no matter what level you and your horse/s run.
When my girlfriends told me how bad the prices were, I didn't believe them. I thought they were exaggerating. Then I needed a horse. There is no way I would pay some of those prices even if I had the money to blow on a hobby because first of all, I am just starting to ride again after breaking my back 5 years ago and even if I do get my sea legs back (it's really hard at 61-years-old!) I will be lucky if I do ANY barrel racing. I'll be happy if I can fart around at some local races and fun shows. So I just needed a good, all around, sound Quarter horse who could maybe run a little. Also, we all know how precarious their soundness is. ANYTHING can happen to any horse at any time whether he cost four grand or twenty-four grand. The idea of spending ten grand or more on a horse and knowing it's probably got SOMETHING wrong with it, lol, gave me agita. If you spend four grand and it turns out something is wrong with the horse, that's bad. But if you spend ten or fifteen or even twenty grand, that's REALLY BAD. So I kept looking. And I did get lucky and found something nice. Luckily for me, I was looking for a small horse (because of the back injury) and so this guy is really little. Also, he's green. And price reflected. One thing I wouldn't compromise on is it needed to be registered. I'm suspicious of those 17-year-old "grades" who look like they are bred to the gills but somehow have no papers. Meaning they are probably 24-year-old unsound and untraceable horses not unlike the three retired ones I already have and can't ride.
Keep looking. I think the prices are going to come down. I kept looking because I decided not to give up on my dream, even if I had to tweak it a little, otherwise, it ocurred to me, I might as well start dying.
I know if something happened to my horse (or my 2005 Chevy truck for that matter) lord knows when/if I would be able to barrel race again. I only paid 2K, 4 yrs ago, for the horse I am running now. She's a nicely broke (sidepass, counter arc all the stuff they are supposed to do) now 17 yr old grade paint mare. She is 3D on a good day but she gives me 110% and she sure is fun to ride. And she allowed me to gain my confidence back after health issues forced my abscence from barrel racing and riding in general.
Just hold on, just like in 2008 our economy is going to crash. Then people will be dumping everything they can dump to pay bills.
I am so with you guys on this! I had the exact conversation with mu husband. If the horse I am running goes down or when she gets too old to run I am done for in this market. I purely run for the enjoyment of barrel racing. I am a solid 5D lol. I am 42 and won my first buckle 2 years ago, I do not have anything fancy horsewise but she is mine and I love her dearly. I take care of her. She is 13 and knock on wood had not had any major illness or injury so I am hoping to have several more years of running. I am glad I am not the only one that feels this way. Best of luck to all of you!!!!!
I am in the same boat and actually came on here today to see if there were any topics on this subject. I have been barrel racing for 20 year and do it for fun. I am not looking for a 1D horse but something I can have fun on and get into the 3D. Something that rides decent at home and just nice to be around. Its kind of sad because the whole reason the barrel racing got so big was when they implmented the 4D format and made it fun for everyone. I can't find anything I like that is just broke and riding for less than 15K and I just cannot justify that. I want everyone to make money but its getting a little crazy at this point. I guess I will just hope mine holds out a few years and wait it out and see if prices come down at all. I also think all the incentives are driving people to just those studs and I sure hope people remember to look outside the box some to keep that gene pool from getting too limited.
I'm fortunate to be able to afford it but it is getting so expensive I'm contemplating getting out of it. When I look at how much $$$$$ I have invested in horses, saddles, truck, trailer, horse property, feed, vet care, farriers, and so on.......I ask myself am I really getting that much enjoyment out of it. I could do a whole lot of other fun things with that money. Someone close to me quit and they made a profound statement "it's a whole lot of time and work all week to go run for 15 seconds on the weekend". It seems to be in a vicious cycle spinning upwards. The stallion owners have inflated their fees due to vets raising heir fees and all of the expensive incentives. So it costs a fortune to get a colt on the ground. You can easily have $7500-10,000 in a newborn foal if everything goes right. That said, by the time they are riding you have $12-15,000 in them and they have not even seen the arena yet. I don't have an answer but follow your heart and do what makes you happy. If it is too much of a burden, get out. Sell out while everthing is high because it looks like our economy should crash any day. When it does, people will be selling much cheaper to dump them. In a way I think the Big $ incentives have hurt the industry more than help.
Easy answer to that is I don't. I quit a few years ago due to my kids being so busy with their hobbies. Now one is graduated and the other is a junior in high school I thought about getting a new horse. Right now all I have is my almost 30 year old retired mare. After looking at things and cost I decided I'm good. I'd rather spend my money elsewhere and I've picked up way cheaper hobbies over the last couple years. It's not that I couldn't afford it if I really wanted to but I choose not to at this point in my life. I truly never thought I'd ever feel this way.
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