Five Creative Ways to Make Extra Money Next Show Season
In a perfect world, we’d all be able to own and show horses without worrying about pesky details like money or bills. And while many of us may have a glamorous dream job in mind that would pay those sky-high horse bills quickly, the truth is there aren’t many “dream jobs” out there, especially if you want to be around horses nonstop.
Instead, it’s often the dirty jobs and the menial tasks that can bank you the most cash. If you’re willing to roll your sleeves up and put some elbow grease into things, here are five jobs that will earn you $10-$100 dollars per hour.
Read on to take your workflow to a major horse show, and soon you’ll be rolling in dough.
1. Share the Load
The work starts the moment rigs start pulling into showgrounds. Enterprising workers don’t mind doing the grunt of unloading tack, feed, horses, and anything else that needs to be set up. It’s hard work, but you can also double your money by getting hired to load everything back up at the end of a show. Alex Belconis is a familiar face at many large circuits. He advises, “No matter what job it is, be dependable and do quality work. Word spreads like wild-fire in the horse industry, and you’ll soon have opportunities you never imagined.”
Skills needed: Muscle. This work is labor-intensive. You should be able to move bags of feed, hay bales, tack trunks and the like. So make sure you’re in good physical condition if you’re offering to do this work.
Going rate: $10-$20 per hour, with the opportunity to earn more if you can also put up/tear down stall fronts.
2. Clean & Polish
Liz Gall of Peachy Clean Tack noticed that while everybody wants polished tack, there is hardly ever time at a show to do the dirty work. Beyond that, after spending time learning from top saddle makers, she realized that there were trade secrets to leather and silver conditioning and cleaning that the average exhibitor doesn’t know about. Gall has since launched an incredibly successful business cleaning and polishing boots and tack. Most people appreciate well-cared for work and show equipment, but would rather hand that work off to someone else. Gall set herself up as a business and has spent time and energy marketing her tack-cleaning services. She purchased stall space at circuits and worked out in the open, allowing people to walk by and notice how great her work was.
Skills needed: Training and knowledge. Gall spent time with top saddle makers learning the ins and outs of leather and silver care. Show tack is expensive, and you can’t make mistakes that will damage items.
Going rate: $20-$200 per job (time varies per job).
3. Brand Ambassador
If you’ve got connections or style and are good with social media, you might be well-suited to become a brand ambassador. This is a perfect fit for trainers and exhibitors who still need time to show. Being a brand ambassador may involve merely using and telling people about products, or it might mean finding photo ops or guest-blogging for a brand. How to get hired? Different names may look for different qualities in an ambassador, so do your research before jumping in. Some brands regularly “scout” social media for reps, so make sure to pay attention to opportunities. Check out this Kimes Ranch page that explains how their brand sponsorships work.
Otherwise, be bold and make contact with someone responsible for marketing and let them know what you can offer.
Skills needed: You don’t have to be a horse show celebrity, but you do need people skills. You need to be interested in developing relationships with both potential followers and with a brand. You also want to have a high-degree of professionalism as you will be representing your brand at all times.
Going rate: Free merchandise – $50 per job
4. Do the Dirty Work
Keeping horses clean, fed, safe and comfortable is an around the clock job. Literally. If you are willing to do all of the things like cleaning aisles, tack stalls, blanketing/sheeting, mucking stalls, adding bedding, watering, cleaning water buckets, feeding at assigned times and performing a variety of daily duties (such as waiting in line at round pens or wash racks), you can make a lot of extra money. You’ll be successful here if you can respect your boundaries and accept a variety of decidedly non-glamorous roles and responsibilities.
Skills needed: It’s not rocket science. When it comes to stall-cleaning, you need to be in good physical condition and attentive to the comfort and safety of the horses in your care. You need to be alert to details and able to follow directions. Much like the job of unloading/loading trailers, you’re going to find that if you are reliable, professional, and go above and beyond to care about your work, you will be in high demand.
Going rate: $10-$20 per hour
5. Be the Office Manager
At busy show circuits, trainers and assistants need all hands on deck in order to keep chaos at bay. For many, it means that hours are spent before, during, and after shows handling paperwork. If you’re good with office skills, put them to work handling organizational details at various levels. You may offer pre-show services such as handling entries, rentals, scheduling banding/braiding and accommodations. You may provide services at the shows by organizing, printing, and laminating custom show and barn schedules or managing on-going organizational tasks such as paying braiders/banders, managing gate holds, scratches, etc. Post-show, if you’re good with accounting skills, you might offer to handle invoices, organize receipts or any other post-show duties.
Skills needed: You need to have both people and organizational skills and have time to double-check your work. You’ll be in charge of dotting i’s and crossing t’s so that nothing slips through the cracks. If you’ve got office experience, that’s a definite plus.
Going rate: $10-30 per hour
What jobs have you done while at shows to make some extra cash? What services would you hire out for a better show experience? Let us know.
About the Author: A native Michigander, Rachel Kooiker is a lover of horses who loves to write. She competes in all-around Amateur events with her APHA gelding, Hoos Real. She graduated from Grand Valley State University with a BA in English and Psychology and an MA in Curriculum & Instruction. She and her husband Drew operate Kooiker Show Horses, where they stand APHA World Champion Im the Secret. They have a 2½-year-old daughter, Reed, who enjoys “showing” her toy horses.