Penny Wise Horse Showing

Tips to keep your horse-showing costs from breaking the bank.

Tips to keep your horse-showing costs from breaking the bank.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

The Shows

When a trainer takes a group of youths or amateurs to a big show, very little time is spent in the hotel room, so bunking together is a painless way to save money, says AQHA Professional Horsewoman Nancy Cahill. “We’re very communal.”

That’s a common tactic of many budget-conscious horse owners, as is economizing on the food budget.

Liz Carpenter of Nashville, Tennessee, cuts costs by bringing her own grub. “We bring sausage and crackers and granola bars,” she says. Her advice for others showing on a budget? “Buy peanut butter and jelly.”

She also saves money by hauling to one-day shows within a reasonable driving distance. She and a friend once drove two and a half hours to a show in Alabama, where they were able to earn six AQHA points without a hotel bill and stall rent.

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“That was the most fun because we had no stall fees, and it was just ‘Let’s go!’ ”

Get the most bang for your showing buck by choosing shows with big classes. If you can get six or seven AQHA points by winning a class, instead of a half-point, it’s much more worthwhile.

And many of Liz’s shows are  compressed into a short timeframe. “Then you have three or four months of paychecks that aren’t dissipating.”

The Clothes

Heather Leigh Keller, who was the All-Around Amateur at the 2001 AQHA World Championship Show, 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 Nancy’s youth exhibitors do the same thing. “They braid as well as anybody – probably better,” she says. For show clothes, many of the 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 for a dream trip to the All American Quarter Horse Congress in 2000.

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“I made a ton of custom ‘slinky’ tops and horsemanship shirts that I sold via eBay to help pay for that show,” she says. In addition, her husband saved up vacation time for two years and worked overtime for extra Congress cash. “I was so happy and so excited just to show there,” she says.

She had bought her horse, Obvious Metal, at the Congress sale when he was a weanling, so it was extra special to take him back there to show.

Lara of Gretna, Virginia, makes almost all of her own western show clothes, including the horsemanship shirt she used at the Congress. “It took me 40 hours, but it came out really good.”

16 thoughts on “Penny Wise Horse Showing”

  1. Used show clothes and gently used show tack can stretch your budget by leaps and bounds. Texas Tack Exchange specializes in “Experienced” Show Clothing, Saddles and Tack for English and Western. Also if you have these type of items that you are no longer using you can get some of your investment back by consigning your items with Texas Tack Exchange.Look it up online!

  2. Another way to save time and money is to bring a horseless child (usually a teen) to shows with you. They can be asked to bring something toward a potluck which you’ve prearranged with another trailer to hold during the day. They also can be used to help with grooming details, which give them a chance to learn about horses and showing.

  3. One of the most important things I did to make showing affordable also made showing safe and fun..I always purchased older horses, individuals which were still sound, but had some age. These horses were always very well trained, safe, and much less expensive than they would have been when they were younger. My children learned everything they knew from their horses, and my children eventually were able to teach their older horses new events. I also insisted in quality tack, and the same rule applied. Used name brand saddles performed much better than new cheaper new products. I had another rule.. No freezies until after competition! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to pass these ideas along. They worked for us. Cordially, Susan LeMay

  4. I professional announce several QH shows and i see a lot of youth who take it for granted that their parents will haul them to shows or send them with trainers. I honestly think that all the youth must be made aware of the sacrifices some of their parents are continually making from week to week. I know you probaly won’t print this comment, but i felt it had to be made. Thank you. Bob

  5. Hi Bob,
    you’re right. Many folks do make sacrifices to make it possible for themselves and their children to train and show. Luckily, there are lots of good kids out there who appreciate what their parents do for them and many who work very hard themselves to make it happen.

    None of this should be taken for granted – we are all so blessed and privileged to have horses in our lives!

  6. Thanks to all for the tips! Showing is really expensive and all of these ideas help!
    Although I find the clothes and tack part is a huge expense and really hard to find so I am going to go on Texas Tack Exchange right now!

    Reinah Harris

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