It’s no doubt that shows cost the big bucks. From trailering, to paying your trainer, to class and grounds fees, you can expect to easily drop hundreds on a show weekend. I’ve always struggled paying for shows, and it’s hard for me to consistently compete at the level I would like to. I have some tips on how to make the most of your money when it comes to showing. I’ll go ahead and say this is not a how to afford showing on the circuit article. This is more for those who are interested in working their way up the show ladder.
Choosing a show series
There are always several different local level series going on throughout the year. This is the best place to start. Local shows are going to be more laid back and way more affordable. You can even get picky about which local shows you participate in. They can vary in prices, even if they use the same venues. Since my horse is green and I am relatively new back in the show ring, I make competing in the more affordable local series a priority. I can have more opportunities at a lower cost. For the more serious shows, I will save to compete in just a few times a year. You can also choose to show just one day out of a multi-day show. You are not required to show all two or three days! That is a good way to get some experience at the bigger shows without dishing out cash for a four day weekend.
Compete when you’re ready
Only enter a show when you feel like you and your horse are prepared to compete. I won’t take Z to a show if I feel unprepared. If I know going in that we aren’t going to be able to successfully complete the classes, then I feel like its a waste of my time and money. Not to say that you won’t gain experience from any show you participate in, but when you’re on a budget, you don’t have the extra money to throw around on blown classes. I took him to a more serious show series towards the end of last year and we were not prepared at all. We made many mistakes and as a result we didn’t place in anything. In hindsight, I would have much rather skipped the show and saved my money so that I could practice to be a stronger competitor at a future show. Same goes with classes and divisions. Don’t move up unless you and your trainer feel you are ready! Compete where you’re comfortable and you will get your money’s worth out of the experience.
Team up on fees
Shows hit hard with fees. You’ve got trailering fees, trainer fees, stabling fees, and more. You can team up with friends and other riders to help combat the costs of some of these. Whether you are paying a shipper or it is your trainer hauling, I’ve always found the more you can fill up the trailer, the less the fee is. Shippers especially will charge a lot more if they are only picking up one or two horses rather than a whole trailer full. Same thing with trainer fees. Your trainer may charge a flat rate for shows, but he or she may be more willing to compromise if there are more people going. We always get a tack stall for shows. If you have a big group going together, it ends up only being $5 or so to have a secure place to store your tack and other items. Another way to save a lot of money is to share a horse at the show. If it’s a multiple day show, you can take turns showing on different days. If it is just for one day, you can still share among different divisions. This cuts all the stabling/care fees in half. I know several people who do this already that have had great success with it. I am hoping to find someone who wants to show Z with me sometimes this year!
I hope these tips help some of you trying to figure out your show budget for the upcoming season. I plan on having another article coming out soon on affordable show clothings.
-Hannah + Z