Even though showing horses is quite fun, it’s expensive no matter how much is done to cut costs.
There are automatic set costs that just cannot be eliminated. Of course, there’s the horse, and upkeep, including feed, health and training, that’s a given.
A hauling rig is required, and even when not elaborate, is a major investment not considering upkeep.
Then come show day, the bills really start adding on. Regardless of how efficient the travel outfit, there’s fuel costs which can only be reduced slightly with speed control. Sometimes, toll roads add on to the travel tab, because that highway is the only way to destination.
Set costs continue upon arrival at the show grounds. For weekend competitions, stall accommodations add up rapidly, when there’s only pavement. Horses cannot be expected to stand on it for two or three days.
Fortunately at most local shows, horses can be kept at the trailer, either tied or with makeshift panel pens.
Entry fees must be paid, but there are sometimes places to save, by paying an overall cost with unlimited classes. In reality, with all of the expenses, it’s smart to enter many events to average out the cost. More competition seldom hurts any horse or exhibitor.
Of course, there are usual horse feed costs for the horse, but it’s not that tough to cut back on personal expenses. It’s inconvenient and perhaps not as tasty, but one’s own meal preparation is healthier and cheaper than the snack shack.
Soft beds and warm showers at the hotel are nice, but living in the trailer doesn’t cost much. Often bathing facilities are on the grounds or a washrag and water facet can really work, too, in most cases.
Bigtime exhibitors have offered suggestions to keep the overhead down. “Even though we do sometimes rent a hotel room, a group of youths or amateurs bunk together to save money,” said professional horsewoman Nancy Cahill. “We’re very communal.”
“Get the most bang for your showing buck by choosing shows with many classes and large numbers of entries,” reiterated exhibitor Liz Carpenter. “If you can get an extra point or two in a class or in more classes, it’s much more efficient.”
Carpenter is one who cuts costs by bringing her own grub. “We bring sausage and crackers and granola bars,” she said. “Or, just buy peanut butter and jelly.”
Heather Keller, an all-around amateur champion, bands and braids manes at shows to earn a little extra cash. She socks her earnings away in a “horse fund” she uses to buy show clothes or make other show-related purchases.
Some of Cahill’s youth exhibitors do the same thing. “They braid as well as anybody, probably better,” Cahill said.
For show clothes, many youths’ parents have learned to sew. Patterns are available for those with a certain amount of tailoring talent. Others look for used show clothes, which can often be had at a fraction of the purchase price.
Lara Toomey used her sewing know-how to earn money. “I made a ton of custom ‘slinky’ tops and horsemanship shirts that I sold via eBay to help pay show expenses,” she said.
Almost all of her Toomey’s show clothes are homemade. “One of my favorite horsemanship shirts took me 40 hours to complete, but it came out really good,” she admitted.
A costly hobby certainly, there are ways to keep horse show overhead down somewhat, it is agreed.