7 Tips For Riding Horses On A Budget

by Sydney from HorseCrazyGirls.com
(Florida, USA)

There is often nothing more frustrating and depressing than being around riders who don’t have to worry about riding on a budget. They seem to have the perfect horse--or horses--never get their horses ready, are always moving up, always winning, and never seem to put in the work. On top of this they always have the newest, latest, greatest clothing and tack, and never have to worry about how much lessons, showing, board, and everything that comes along with riding horses costs.

So, here are some tips I have picked up along the way to hopefully make it a little bit less depressing and frustrating to be around ‘unlimited budgeters’.

Tip #1: Don’t Sweat It

Look, chances are no one always loves mucking stalls, dumping and filling water buckets, pulling manes, throwing hay (and having it all over yourself), but all these different things we do with our horses helps build a special bond and makes you more attuned to your horse. You begin to feel when your horse is upset, nervous, excited, and so forth. You don’t get that when you are only riding a horse. So even if you’ve put a lot of money into a show, when you have a disappointing round, you can shrug it off better because you have that special bond with your horse.

Tip #2: Help Out

Again, riding is a lot more fun than doing some of the chores that come with caring for horses, but it is important to remember that knowing how to wrap, groom, tack up, muck stalls, pack a hoof, and so forth are all extremely important skills. So while you are waiting to magically become rich, like me, offer to help out with things you know how to do at the barn and learn things you don’t know how to. Besides making you feel good, trainers and grooms alike tend to notice and appreciate those that help out.

Tip #3: Buy Secondhand/Clearance

I will never personally understand what some people have against secondhand or clearance items. If it fits you or your horse right, is something you need, is a good deal, and you can afford it, get it. Even if the fit is a little off, it may be cheaper to get it and get it altered. I have found it is easier to take a garment in rather than let it out, which you sometimes can't even do with certain clothes. Ebay is a great place to find nice items for less; I will check it daily when looking for a specific item.

Tip #4: Buy for Diversity

If you are not dead set on your discipline--and I mean super serious--buy items you can use for multiple disciplines. I have definitely made this mistake in the past, and spent money on items that I can't use in different disciplines. So if you are buying a helmet, yes colorful piping is fun, but if you want to do an equitation or hunter class you may get some resistance from your trainer and funny looks from others. If you ride the hunters or jumpers, and are thinking about moving to dressage, you may not need a dressage saddle right away. You may be able to start off in your current saddle.

Tip #5: Frugal Doesn’t Equal Cheap

It is always nice to save money, but there are definitely things that are worth the extra money. For example, I bought a pair of rather inexpensive bell boots, which lasted a year which I thought was pretty good; however, when I bought a second pair they lasted only one month. So I just sucked it up and bought a more expensive pair (though still not the most expensive pair). It's been almost two months and they still look great, and other people at my barn have had theirs for two to three years. So there are definitely things out there such as saddles, helmets, bridles, bits, and bell boots that are worth some extra money.

Tip #6: Try Trade-offs

It doesn’t hurt to ask your trainer or the barn manager if there are tasks you can help with in exchange for reduced board, free lessons, extra rides, and so forth. If you compete, keep in mind that some barns automatically have grooms do everything at shows and just put it on your bill. Ask if you can help out at the show, or at least take care of your own horse, to bring your show bills down a little bit.

Tip #7: Make a Budget

It might seem like a given, but many people just pay the bills as they come and don’t realize how it adds up. Others set aside a certain amount of money and don’t think about what it is going towards or how much is left. Personally, I like to have an account that I draw money out of and put money in for my horse-related expenses. I also like to make a budget sheet. This budget sheet goes from most important to least important and has money allocated for each thing.

For example, I will have the vet/farrier section first with a certain amount of money set aside. I usually don’t use all this money but it gives me a cushion in case my horse has an emergency. Then I will have board, supplements, important items, chiropractic, lessons, and finally splurge money.

Important items include blankets, halters, and similar items that if ruined need to be replaced. My splurge are things I would like but don’t have to have, such as going to a show, new boots, and so on. Your list may be different.

Your Turn!

How do you ride horses on a budget? Share your tips in the comments!

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