No matter the discipline, horse showing is expensive! Simply the purchase and everyday care of a horse is pricey, and when you start to add trailering dues, day fees, and entry fees, it can get overwhelming quickly! Here are a few tips I like to utilize to save money during show season.
Make a Plan
Making goals is the first step in budgeting and scheduling your show season. Do you want to get points and try to qualify for an end of the year championship or are you just trying to gain miles on the road for you and your horse? Depending on your answer you may need to plan differently. If you are chasing points you should check out the entry numbers before heading to the show. I always like to look at the show attendance in years past or simply call the show management to check on entries expected. The last thing you want to do when showing on a budget is get to a show and find out your class didn’t fill and there is no way you can get any points.
If you are showing more for experience rather than to qualify you should take some time to research shows that would be most beneficial and fun for you and your horse. These may be shows closer to home, have friends attending or that have schooling classes or divisions that appeals more to you.
There are many association out there that thrive on volunteer participation. It is always nice to get to know the show management and lend a helping hand when needed. Not only is this helpful to the show committee, it can also be beneficial to you and your wallet in the long run. I started helping my local show management team a while back, whether it be in the office or simply working the gate during my down time at the show. This has turned into opportunities for me to have a paid position working in the office as well as learning the skills to be a scribe and ring master assisting the judges. Not only am I gaining skills to help me in the show ring I am also able to make a little extra cash at the shows!
Learn to Braid/Band and Groom
Having the personal skills to be able to groom and prepare your horse for competition is valuable and money saving! This could be one less invoice in your pocket after a horse show if you take the time to learn. This also has the potential to make you some money! If you are good enough you can lend your service to others and potentially pay your show bill! I learned to braid when I was 13 years old, after a few years of doing my own horses I branched out to doing other horses in my barn. I now have a list full of clients at each horse show. I have paid my entire show bill on multiple occasions with earnings from a weekend of braiding!
Travel and Hotel
Often a horse show is a barn-wide affair. This means a handful of equally as broke horse people all in one place trying to save money wherever possible. I always take this opportunity to hang out with my barn friends by carpooling and sharing hotel rooms. Not only do you save money by splitting costs, you always have someone at night to go over your courses or patterns with or catch up on a fun filled day at the show!
courtesy of SmartPak