Penny Pinching

Follow these tips to get the best horse show bang for your buck.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

Horse showing on a budget? We've got the tips for you! Journal photo.

Rule No. 1 - Take advantage of the Journal.

Use the Journal to research the shows you think look promising in terms of your classes and the typical number of entries.

Rule No. 2 - Take advantage of AQHA’s website. 

Use AQHA's website to locate show dates and locations. It’s sometimes possible to plan back-to-back shows or multiple shows in the same weekend, at the same location. By doing this, you’ll decrease the amount of travel, yet you will still have access to the greatest number of points. Here are some tips to help you:

    • Review the current year's shows in close proximity to the show that you want to attend and review the number of entries that were reported at those shows in your classes.
    • Call the show secretary and find out how the participation was at shows/in classes in close proximity to their show.
    • Call fellow competitors who you know might be going to the show to see if they have a feel for the number of anticipated participants at the show.

Are you ready to become a horse owner? Download AQHA's Buying and Owning Your First Horse ebook. 

Rule No. 3 - Take advantage of AQHA partnerships with hotels.

Partner hotels will give discounts for horse-show competitors. Be sure to mention that you are with the show block. Also, many hotels offer continental breakfast at no extra charge, and this helps start off the day with a good breakfast, plus it’ll save you money.

Rule No. 4 - Drive yourself.

Even if your trainer is taking your horse, sometimes driving to shows can be less expensive than flying, especially if more than one person in your family is going. Driving yourself means that you can choose your own time of departure and saves you from renting a car.

Even if your travel is centered on horse shows, taking your own vehicle means that you can take the time to sightsee.

Rule No. 5 - Buy in bulk.

To save money on food besides breakfast, pack a couple of bags of healthy snacks, fresh fruit, water, sports drinks and soda. Food can cut pretty heavily into your budget when you’re on the road for an extended length of time. It’s important to eat right when you travel. In the long run, it will save you money on doctor bills.

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Rule No. 6 - Show an AQHA Incentive Fund-enrolled horse.

By showing an AQHA Incentive Fund-enrolled horse, you will get paid back to show and to win. An AQHA Incentive Fund horse can pay its own way at a show and sometimes even cover the costs for camping, stalls and entry fees.

Rule No. 7 - Take your house.

An easy way to save money traveling to horse shows is to bring along the comforts of home. Horse trailers with spacious living quarters offer all the amenities an exhibitor needs, plus they eliminate the cost of hotel rooms and offer convenient and comfortable camping on the show grounds.

Air conditioning in a horse trailer offers anytime relief from the summer heat and a great place for a quick nap between classes. Plus, you can stock the refrigerator with food and drinks, which will save you money by avoiding the concession stands at lunch time.

Another bonus to traveling with your trailer is that you can save on hauling costs by taking your own horse.

Rule No. 8 - Bargain-shop for show clothes.

Check out thrift stores in your area, such as Goodwill, Salvation Army or any others. Go into the store with an open mind - you just might find a diamond in the rough. Try to go periodically, as in every few months, and you might have better luck shopping at thrift stores in nicer neighborhoods.

Don’t forget to shop the bargain racks during the fall and winter at department stores - you may find a fitted jacket or a blouse that will work in the show ring just as it is. You might even find a suit on sale, which generally have great lines and unique styles not typically found in the showmanship arena. Keep in mind that a modern look might even update the current show arena style.

When bargain shopping, you might also find materials that you could use on other garments, such as piping, silver buttons or the fabric itself.

Sometimes all an outfit will be lacking is a little bling. It’s easy to update thrift-store clothes by adding French cuffs or rhinestones.

And whatever you buy, don’t be afraid to alter it. You can really dress up a shirt or jacket just by having it tailored to fit your body style. 

Show clothes vendors will often offer used items on consignment. And don’t be afraid to ask other competitors if they have show clothes for sale - more often than not, a youth exhibitor will still own show clothes that she has outgrown.

If you have some talent with a sewing machine or know someone who does, you can always make your own showmanship jackets and horsemanship blouses. By saving money in those areas, it allows you to invest more in quality, custom-made hats and chaps, which are items that don’t go out of style.

A Few More Tips

One way to pinch pennies is to enlist a friend to come along and help you at shows. That’s what Kristy Drew-Pruitt of Providence Forge, Virginia, did during the 2010 Region Five Championship. Kristy's friend, DeAnna Gordon of Winchester, Virginia, enjoys assisting at shows. Along with saving money at shows, Kristy is saving money by breeding her own horse and doing most of the training herself.

Do you dream of owning an American Quarter Horse? Then download AQHA’s Buying and Owning Your First Horse today!