Guest post by Catherine from Economical Equestrian.
Let’s face it, we didn’t pick the cheapest hobby. Horses are expensive and if you have entered the world of horse shows, events, rodeos, or competitions of any kind with your horse, you’re realizing just how quickly those expenses add up.
What are the benefits of saving money on horse shows/events? If you learn to save money on each horse show you attend, your savings can add up to allowing you to go to additional shows.
Additionally, if you learn to save money in general, you will simply have more money at your disposal. This is super beneficial for you and your horse. More financial freedom = more fun to be had!
Although horse showing is expensive, it doesn’t have to prevent you from living a normal life and being able to attend shows and afford them. There are some simple ways that you can save a lot of money at horse shows or events.
GET YOUR ENTRY IN ON TIME
Probably one of the simplest ways to save money on a horse show or other event is to plan ahead and get your entry in on time!
For many shows, if an entry is not postmarked by a certain date, you have to pay extra for being tardy. It may not seem like an extra $20 here, or $50 there is much money, but over the course of a summer and multiple shows, this adds up to quite an expensive mistake.
How to Avoid it: Utilize a planner or calendar to plan ahead. Put your show dates on the calendar as well as the postmark dates that are required to avoid late entry fees.
PACK YOUR OWN SNACKS AND MEALS
Eating from a horse show concession stand will surely cost you. It is best to plan ahead for the meals you know you’ll be eating at the horse show.
Bring snacks, water, drinks, and lunch with you so you don’t end up spending your hard earned cash at the concession stand for food that probably doesn’t taste good and isn’t healthy.
Here is the best list of horse show snacks that you can pack (some are healthy, some are not!)
If it is a multi-day horse show, you can also save additional money by meal planning with your friends also attending the show. Pick a meal for each of you to make or buy which will divide the expenses between everyone. You’ll save money and so will your horse show friends!
BE PICKY ABOUT WHAT SHOWS YOU ATTEND
At the beginning of the season, go ahead and make a list of all the shows or events you’d like to attend. At this time, it is best to assign a price to each show. There may be a big show you’ve been dying to go to so make that a priority for your season.
Take a look at what you can realistically afford and choose shows based on this. Obviously a closer show is cheaper because of expenses to get there, not having to stay overnight, pay for additional meals, etc. But if it is your goal to go to a multi-day show that is several hours from home, then maybe cut out a few smaller shows that were just for fun.
DON’T SIGN UP FOR TOO MANY CLASSES
It can be tempting to sign up for everything that you and your horse qualify for, but keep in mind that you (and your horse) are going to get tired.
You don’t want to pay for 10 classes and end up scratching half of them – that is wasted money that you’re just giving to the show or event. Basically, you should be picky about the classes you choose to participate in.
BRING YOUR OWN BEDDING AND FEED
Shavings at the horse show are typically marked up by at least a couple dollars a bag because the show organizers need to make up the cost of obtaining and distributing the bedding to competitors. Instead, bring your own from home! Or stop by a farm supply store on your way to the show grounds.
Bringing your own feed not only saves you money but it also reduces the chances of your horse feeling ill due to eating food they don’t normally have. Horses can be picky eaters so it can be helpful, and healthy, to pack their normal feed.
Are you are your friend/neighbor/barn mate going to the same show? Then carpool to get there! More than likely you aren’t bringing a full horse trailer and neither are they.
You can split the gas and trade off who drives from one show to the next. You’ll both save money and wear and tear on your truck and trailer.
LEARN TO BRAID/BAND/GROOM YOURSELF
Being able to braid your own horse will save you at least $50-$100 depending on where you are and the type of show you are at. And if you get really good at it, you can get paid to braid other people’s horses – therefore making some extra money, while attending horse shows.
PLAN AHEAD – DON’T IMPULSE BUY
If you need a new saddle, new show outfit or anything like that, plan ahead so you don’t make an impulse purchase at the show. You don’t want to be buying something last minute for more money than you’d planned, or more money than it’s worth.
You can easily search on Facebook, Ebay, Craigslist, Tacktrader, etc for the items you need and sometimes people even sell totally new items that they never used for extremely low prices.
TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR EQUIPMENT
This goes for your vehicle, trailer, horse tack, riding apparel, and anything else you use with your horse. If you are better about maintenance and upkeep, items will last longer.
Keep your hauling vehicle serviced often so there is less of a chance of it breaking down. It can still happen, but at least you’ll know that you were keeping up on maintenance along the way.
Maintain regular trailer upkeep and servicing each year so your trailer is ready to be pulled when you head out for a show. This is best done at the same time each year so you don’t forget. I highly suggest doing this when you are doing other Spring maintenance for your horses and/or property.
For more maintenance tips, check out the 9 Thing Every Horse Owner Should Do This Spring.
Also keep your tack and riding clothes clean and good repair so you don’t have things breaking on you. Nothing is more annoying than scrambling to get something dry cleaned before the show. Make it a habit to drop it off as soon as you get home so you aren’t in a hurry the next time you need your show clothes.
ASK YOUR FRIENDS OR FAMILY TO TAKE PHOTOS OR VIDEOS
It is great to have a professional photo of you and your horse, but it comes at a cost. If you have friends or family who attend the show, give them your camera and ask them to take photos or videos for you. They probably won’t mind, and it’ll be free!
Single photos or files from a show or event start at $5, but can be up to $50. That’s a lot of money, especially if you do it even a few times a year.
LABEL YOUR STUFF SO NOBODY TAKES IT HOME FROM THE SHOW
If you’re going to have anything not attached to yourself or your horse near the show ring, make sure you label it so no one else takes it home by mistake.
Additionally, if you are carpooling with friends/barn mates you want to label everything too so your stuff doesn’t get lost once you’re packing up again. It is super frustrating to lose something at a horse show, but if you’ve labeled it, the chances of getting it back are significantly higher.
MAKE PACKING LISTS AHEAD OF TIME
Make a list of everything you need for your truck, trailer, show ring, caring for your horse, and anything else you’ll need while away at a show or event. If you have a packing list, you will avoid forgetting something and risking having to buy it at an increased price at the show.
If you have to buy it because you forgot it, you also end up with something you already had, so now you have multiples of something you didn’t actually need.
FIND THE CHEAPEST PLACE TO STAY
If you are attending a multi-day show, you’ll need somewhere to stay, unless it’s close enough to haul in and out each day and let your horse spend the night at home.
Try camping, staying in your horse trailer, renting an Airbnb, or shopping around for the cheapest hotels to save money on accommodations. If you can camp for a day or two, it can often save you about $100 a night (or more!)
Catherine blogs over at The Economical Equestrian. She is passionate about teaching people to be more comfortable and confident with their finances, as well as sharing tips for horse care, riding and living with horses. Visit www.economicalequestrian.com to read more.