Many people who have horses dream of showing. However, the costs can add up! Transportation, stabling, grooming supplies, tack, entry fees…it can be daunting. Here are some helpful tips on how you can save money while enjoying your passion.
1. Schooling shows are much cheaper than rated shows. Use these for practice and fun to make sure that you’re really ready for the “big time.” Limit your rated shows for those that are close to home or meet your needs best: if you just want ribbons, pick a small show with a small turnout. If you need qualification points, pick a show that generally has a big draw.
2. For multi-day shows, pick the day that has the most classes that you want to enter, and trailer in for that day only. You’ll save money on entry fees by only entering a few classes, and save money on the stall as well.
3. If you do choose to get a stall, see if you can team up with some friends to share a tack/groom stall. You can also pool resources so you don’t necessarily have to buy everything you need.
4. Don’t be fooled by the high-priced grooming products! Citre Shine (available in almost any store that carries human hair care products) is the same thing as Cowboy Magic at almost half the price. Suave shampoo and conditioner works great, and you can often get it for about $1/bottle. Those snazzy grooming wipes? Forget them…get a $2 package of baby wipes at Walmart.
5. Carpool! Try to get a friend or two to trailer with you to split the cost of gas.
6. Learn to sew or buy used. There are patterns available (try Suitability) so that you can sew some of your own clothes. Alternatively, there are several places on-line that sell used show clothes, and many of these items were only worn a couple of times. Ebay is an excellent source. Ditto for used tack!
7. When I was a kid, my parents hauled me around to shows in a beat-up old truck and trailer. People sometimes snickered when they saw our rig, but they sure didn’t snicker when I beat them! An old truck and trailer are better than no truck and trailer, as long as they’re safe.
8. Spend some time and effort to study training techniques and learn to train your own horse, or at least keep up on its training after a professional has gotten it started for you. My horse has never spent more than three days per week in training. Sure, it’s taken longer to get us show ready, but I’m a better horseman for it and I’m saving myself about $700 per month in training fees. While it’s much tougher to win on a national level on your own, lots of people do it! If you have a quality horse, some talent, and some education, you can get there.
I hope you find these tips useful! Get out there and have some fun, and I’ll see you on the show circuit.