Showing on a budget can mean that you must pick and choose which shows you are able to attend and which ones you will have to skip. Being able to make this plan ahead of time can help keep unexpected costs to a minimum.
Decide how much money you can allow yourself to spend on horse shows for a certain period of time. This may mean just the summer or longer if you plan on heading to some of the bigger world shows like the AQHA amateur world show or shows like the All American Quarter Horse Congress. Once you have decided this amount, figure out approximately how much each show will cost. This includes your stall, show fees, trainer fees and other miscellaneous costs like food and lodging etc. If you carry credit cards, it can be helpful to keep track of how much you spend on which card. Some cards offer great rewards like hotel and flight discounts with points. Use this to your advantage by putting the money you would already spend on the card with the best rewards, which you could hopefully use for a flight to Oklahoma for the world show in a few months for example.
TIP: For those of you that travel to shows without a trainer, if you contact the show management ahead of time and let them know, they can set you up with a few other amateurs that are by themselves and allow you to share a tack stall. This can save you money and introduce you to new people. It never hurts to have a few extra helping hands around!
After you decide how many show you can attend, you need to decide which ones those are. Most breed associations have a list of shows that are approved by that association. AQHA for example will list the shows by state and date. You may decide to travel further but go to less shows or go to more in your local area. Even if you have your own truck and trailer, you can contact fellow horse show competitors in your area to share rides with them. This can save on fuel costs and possible fees for parking your trailer. Being able to split theses expenses can help you keep your budget in check. If you stay in hotels when you travel, planning ahead gives you flexibility with where you can stay and how long you can wait to find the best rates. Be sure to compare multiple websites to find the best deal!
TIP: Refer back to my “glamping” post to read about ways to feed yourself while on the road. Packing your own meals is more economical that having to go out all the time.
Remember that there are always unexpended expenses that occur when you are dealing with horses. You never know when an injury or illness can derail all of your previous plans. It is important to have an emergency fund for this reason. Also, remember to be honest with your trainer about your indentions. This reduces the chance of disappointment for either person and helps to keep things on track for the future.