The money it takes to compete in a single AA show could stop up a toilet. “The Aiding & Abetting Amateur” is here with some helpful around-the-barn, money-saving tips.
From “The Aiding & Abetting Amateur”:
For most of us weekend warriors, the biggest obstacle we face is finding enough green stuff to fuel our passion. Between riding apparel, supplements, barn bills, vet bills, shipping, tack, etc, etc (the list goes on and on and on) we find our checkbooks balking at the idea of horse showing. It seems like another LARGE discretionary expense that is completely unnecessary and at times impossible. I’ve heard people talk about ways to horse show inexpensively, but let’s be real here. After the end of an “AA” horse show weekend, we are out about $1,000–$1,800. And this is hard to reconcile.
People talk about braiding for themselves, not paying for a groom, and winning money back, and while these are all good ideas, they are not that reliable. The best way to save money to put towards horses showing is to make efforts every day to save a few dollars here and there. If we can drive down our fixed expenses every month, we can have a bigger allowance for discretionary spending… we will have more green stuff to go to the horse show
Here are some ways that I have found to save money every month.
1) The ammys at my barn are obsessed with lessoning. They lesson 2-3 times/week on average. That comes out to $400-600/month at our boarding facility. HOLY MOLEY. Here’s my advice. Sometimes, riding independently is more beneficial than lessoning. Riding is about feel. Feel is about trusting your intuition. Intuition is about listening to yourself. When you’re listening to someone else, it’s hard to hear your own voice. Riding alone can give you confidence and can help you find your ‘feel’. Also, I recommend videotaping lessons and watching the lesson afterwards. Highlight two or three important things to work on and let your own personal discipline better you as a rider and your horse. I lesson about once a week, and it seems, as Goldie Locks would say…. “Just about right.”
2) During the winter months, meet with your farrier and determine a schedule. Often times horses will put down less new foot during the winter months. IF YOU CAN, stretch out your shoeing by a week or 10 days. Only do this if your farrier thinks the integrity of your horse’s feet is good and strong enough to do so. Be careful with this one.
3) Take care of your stuff. Maybe I’m compulsive and neurotic, but a simple tack cleaning can go a long way. With proper care (soap, oil, etc) leather can last a long time. I’m not talking about a tack “wipe down”, I’m talking about a deep, take your bridle apart, lathery tack cleaning. Oh, and keep those paddock boots polished. It will make them last so much longer.
4) Carpool to the barn when possible. I know that this one sounds hokey, but I wouldn’t include it if I hadn’t tried it first hand. My barn is about 25 miles away from where I live. A friend of mine from the barn suggested carpooling. Initially, I was apprehensive, but it ended up being a great thing! We saved about $70/month just by riding together. After about 18 months of using our carpool system, she is now one of my best friends. Practicality can lead to great things!
5) Swap tack. Need a new bit? Just ask around–I bet someone has it in the bottom of their trunk and will let you borrow it or buy it for a reasonable price. We seem to be hoarders. Collecting tack as though we had fifty horses to dress. My advice would be, get rid of it. Sell it or trade it. I just got rid of all my size 46’, 48’ girths because I have a big ole’ warmblood now. I have more space in my trunk and an extra $55 because of it! See what you can weed out.
6) Communicate with your barn manager. Often times you are being charged for things that you can avoid, if you communicate and plan. For example, holding for the farrier or vet. Make sure to communicate with your manager so you can be there, if at all possible. Also, express the need to save money wherever possible. If your boarding facility knows you will never dissent or question fees, they’re going to charge you (nickel and dime you) wherever and whenever they can. I know this is a pretty cynical thing to say, but it’s true of many facilities.
7) When you cannot make it out to the barn to ride, ask a fellow horseless ammy that you trust to hack your horse for you. This will save you from paying a professional. Obviously, only do this if your mount is broke and issue-free.
8) Buy everyday items at the superstore for the barn. While tack shops would like you to think you must use “tack cleaning” sponges for tack cleaning and fancy, ultra sheen shampoos for bathing, its just not true. Go buy cheap sponges for tack cleaning, ivory soap for bath time, desitin for scratches, etc. etc. This will save a few bucks every month.
9) Consider letting your trainer use your horse in their lesson program. If your facility is like mine, the lesson horses are 2’6″ horses, but pretty limited beyond the intermediate-beginner level. If you have a nice ammy horse that has the buttons and scope to do more, your horse is broke and issue-free, and you trust the person who would be riding it, offer it to your trainer to teach one lesson/week for a “use of horse fee”. This can be $10-20 so an extra $40-80 in your pocket every month.
I’m sure none of this info is earth-shattering and I know I’m not reinventing the wheel here, but these are the day-to-day things I have done to save where I can. I hope you challenge yourself to save and to drive down your fixed expenses so you can get in the show ring. It’s worth it. Challenge yourself to save $100-150 this month. See if you can do it!
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