If you’re anything like me, the path to the checkout line at Target is an undefeatable gauntlet when it comes to sticking to what’s on my list. Chapstick! When do I not need chapstick? Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up… I probably should accessorize with flashing shamrock glasses. Hold the phone – there are SOCKS with BOSTON TERRIERS on them! Need. Need. Need.

Of course, Target is strategically setup with these low priced, impulse purchases sprinkled around the store. And we fall for it, largely because most of us live in a debit/credit card world where purchases are as easy to acquire as swiping your card. Saw it. Wanted it. Got it – thanks to the plastic currency in my purse.

Portrait of me seeing something I want at Target. Photo by Lauren Mauldin

But when it comes to purchasing horses, can we impulse buy a pony with a single swipe? Has this cashless society made it to the equestrian marketplace?

Buying a horse on credit isn’t as unrealistic as you might think. When South Carolina based trainer, Rebecca Effron of RAE Equestrian, was a young professional, she bought her first investment horse with a personal loan from a credit union. “I was catch riding , but wanted something consistent so I could hone my training skills and have a chance to build a relationship with my horse,” she explained. “I wouldn’t have gotten a loan for a horse if I didn’t have access to free boarding from working at the farm, and I made to sure to pick the best resell project that I could – a big, amateur friendly gelding,” she said. Though originally looking for a warmblood, Rebecca found all of her boxes checked with a young, hunter under saddle bred Quarter Horse.

Competing at HITS in the 2’6”-2’9” hunters, the horse Rebecca purchased with the loan sold quickly and went on to have a successful National Hunter derby career with an amateur, but she acknowledges that it was a somewhat risky venture. “I definitely was concerned about owing money, so I took precautions,” she said. “I fully insured the horse from the time I got him, including loss of use. Others might not have made that choice, but the extra coverage made me feel more secure about the situation.”

Buying a horse with money from a loan isn’t that much different from the way some fund large purchases with investments groups, but buying with a credit card? Surely that’s far fetched!

The horse just found out his APR went up. Photo by Lauren Mauldin

Well, not as much as you might think. With the incentives credit card companies use, like cashback and airline points, individuals are encouraged to purchase everything with their cards. And I do mean everything. For months, I paid my rent with a cashback credit card, because my complex didn’t charge an additional fee to pay with credit. That monthly swipe was extra money in my pocket. When it comes to purchasing horses, it could almost be considered irresponsible not to ask if a seller accepts credit. There’s no reason you shouldn’t get cashback on your large purchases, whether it’s a payment to your auto mechanic or an off the track Thoroughbred.

It’s the seller’s responsibility to ask for an additional fee if they choose to accept credit cards as payment, and many do require the additional 3-4% to cover processing charges. So if there is an extra fee that negates the advantages a buyer might get by using their card, is there ever a reason to buy a horse with a credit card?

Jumper ponders its cashback options. Photo by Lauren Mauldin

Maybe. Maybe there are funds on the way, but you need to lease or purchase a horse for equitation or pony finals. In that way, a credit card is a way to make a purchase with a deadline happen.

Or maybe you were strolling past the horse show, determined to stick to just your shopping list of breeches and a new show shirt, but saw a darling medium with a to die for daisy cutter trot. And really, when do you not need a pony? Maybe that pony is just one swipe away. In the equestrian marketplace, all things are possible.

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