If you’ve ever laughed until you’ve cried when someone says “you must be rich because you have horses!” then this one’s for you: Meagan DeLisle shares her favorite money-saving tips around the barn.
We all know that nothing in this industry is cheap and if it is you probably want to run far away and fast, but that doesn’t mean you ALWAYS have to make top dollar investments. Check out some of these tried and true budget buster hacks to keep you and your horse happy and going strong, without depleting your bank account.
Even before the emergence of Facebook sale groups, I was constantly scouring the used but not abused section of every tack store I walked into. You never know, you might find that deal of a lifetime. It is so much easier now with the multiple tack sale and trade pages online to find what I need for the price I can afford. Unlike many other sports, horses are not one size fits all. Finding what equipment works for you and your horse is a matter of trial and error and I personally can’t imagine spending hundreds of dollars on something that may or may not work.
For example, after much research I decided I wanted to try Joey in a running bib martingale. Not only are those suckers hard to find, but they are NOT cheap brand new. The cheapest one I could find that was all leather was a whopping $150. To some that is chump change but, in our tightly budgeted household throwing that kind of money at something that I won’t know works until I try it isn’t feasible. I was able to find that exact same CWD bib attachment new without tags for a fraction of the price through a Facebook sale group.
I am always shopping for bargains, so use those groups to your advantage. There are plenty of websites, Facebook groups and local tack stores that have some great deals to help keep you in your budget.
I have gone pretty crazy on the do-it-yourself train lately. I have recently started taking up crochet in an attempt to make my own fly bonnets (at this point I will be lucky to have something that resembles a fly bonnet by 2020 but at least I am working towards a goal).
My husband refused to pay $600+ for a tack trunk, so he made me my own and it is beautiful!
Other things I have picked up on my own in order to save a dollar here and there are braiding, clipping and horse care. I stock up on all of the goodies I need such as poultice and wrap before we head off to a horse show and rather than pay the barn to tend to my horse, I do all of his care on my own.
There are tons of DIY things you can do if you are crafty or willing to learn including making your own baby pads or saddle pads, making your own quick release rope halters out of para cord, building your own fences, and making your own leather cleaner.
Seriously, all you have to do is look up DIY Equestrian on Pinterest and there are oodles of opportunities for you to do something on your own and maybe even make a little money out of it as well!
There are lots of products out there that are FANTASTIC, but they price tag usually reflects that: one example being ice boots. After much research I decided I wanted to invest in a pair of ice boots to use on Joey after hard workouts or shows, but once I saw the hefty price tag that comes along with many ice boots I had second thoughts. After talking with my coach we decided to ditch the expensive boot idea and use other methods such as homemade ice wraps with Ziploc bags or simply icing each leg in a bucket. While these options may not be as convenient, they definitely saved on cash for now until I could save up and make the investment into a proper set of ice boots.
There are some things that you should substitute on, such as bits or other equipment that could be harmful to the horse if not made properly. However, for the most part you can find some safe substitutions to use daily and save you some money.
Find a Side Hustle
I can’t stress this enough — there are so many studies that show that families who could have lived on one income 20 years ago now need two incomes just to get by. Factor in that we are the crazy ones who want to throw cash in the great fireplace of horse ownership and it becomes apparent that sometimes you just have to have a side hustle. Ever since I started being a budget diva, I have actually found great pleasure in my many, many, many side hustles because not only do I find the work rewarding but I also use that extra money on what I love most — horses!
There are countless opportunities for your to find some extra cash and many of those can be related to the horse industry. For example, I recently started a t-shirt company tailored to equestrians on top of freelance writing for several equine media outlets and social media management.
I know plenty of equestrians that are actually making great money on the side through product sales such as skincare and health and wellness supplements. You can also dig into things like equine massage (although I highly recommend you check your state’s regulations as that is something I was going to venture into until I found that they are looking into restricting that practice to veterinarians only or therapists under the direct supervision of a veterinarian), saddle fitting, and more!
In summary, don’t make impulse purchases without looking into all options! Some things you will need to splurge on, but other things you can find gently used at a greatly discounted price or you can create yourself. With some extra income, it is much easier to acquire a nice collection of equine essentials and feel more comfortable in your investments. As an equestrian, I know our horse’s comfort comes first, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of your wallet.