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Weekend Warriors Part 2: Save Money When Showing on Your Own

Show season is officially underway, which means that exhibitors are marking their calendars for upcoming circuits and deciding what shows they will attend.

For many exhibitors, one of the most significant factors in choosing a show is the cost.

In part one of the weekend warrior series, we learned who they are, and how they do it.

In part two, we are again joined by professional weekend warriors Jill Blieu, Jennie Schut, and Holly Wilson who offer some tips on how they save money showing.

Share a hotel room

One great way to save costs is to split a hotel room. Although you might have to share a bathroom, your pocketbook will thank you. As a bonus, it’s a great way to get to know people.

Share a tack stall 

Similar to the prior tip, splitting a tack stall will help cut down show expenses. Not to mention, you can share individual items, such as saddle racks, stall curtains, and multi-purpose tables. Make sure that you communicate beforehand, so you don’t bring unnecessary duplicates.

Forgo the tack stall 

A tack stall is a substantial cost that can sometimes be avoided. While not feasible for every exhibitor, Wilson commented, “I don’t get a tack stall at shows. I use a portable saddle stand and bring my stuff to the barn every day.”

Haul with a friend

Another option is to haul with friends to shows, especially those that are a longer haul. Splitting the cost for gas or diesel is a significant help for those eight-hour drives.

Invest in a trailer with living quarters 

One alternative to getting a hotel room is to camp in your trailer at shows. Purchasing a trailer with living quarters is a pricey investment, but Wilson boasted the positives, “We can bring our food, we have the convenience of being on the grounds, and – most importantly – it’s paid for.” Schut added, “It’s so much cheaper to camp at the show than pay for a hotel. I also get more time either sleeping or riding, since I don’t have to drive back and forth to the hotel.”

Look for shows with an all-day fee

For all-around competitors, paying for each class adds up quickly. This is why finding shows that offer an all-day or all-show fee is incredibly helpful. These shows only charge one price for all classes entered. Some shows will even include the cost of a stall in the fee.

Bring your food 

We’ve all eaten out, so you know how quickly the price of meals can add up. By bringing your food, you save both time and money.

Invest in quality equipment 

All four weekend warriors stressed the importance of purchasing quality tack. Investing a little more on the front end will let you acquire nicer items that will look better and last longer, cutting down on overall costs in the long run.

Purchase used equipment 

There is no shame in buying used equipment. Spend some time looking and you can find quality tack at a decent price. As long as the items have been well taken care of, no one will notice.

Braid or band at shows 

Is mane care one of your strong suits? Many exhibitors will hire someone to braid or band their horse’s mane at shows. Schut shared, “If I have time, I will band or braid other people’s horses to defray the costs.”

Bring your supplies 

Although supplies such as bedding, hay, and grain are available at shows, it is more cost efficient to bring in these items when possible. Always be sure to first check in with show management to make sure this is alright.

Show close to family 

Showing doesn’t just have to be competitive. Wilson expressed that “I try to go for ‘experiences’ and not just shows. My great-aunt lives in Lincoln, NE, so when we go out there to show, we can visit her. We turned the Corporate Challenge into a mini-vacation complete with a trip to the Children’s Museum, and an overnight stay at my sister’s house in Minneapolis.”

Set a mileage cap 

One crucial part of budgeting is knowing your limitations. The cost of gas or diesel is often overlooked when investigating a show’s overall value. However, driving four hours versus eight makes a significant difference. Blieu expressed that making the decision to stay closer to home, or being very strategic when choosing distant shows, will reduce costs.

Do you have other tips on saving money for the do-it-yourself weekend warrior?  Let us know in the comments.

About the Author: Rebecca Ness comes from Muscatine, IA where she started riding at 9-years-old. What started as pony rides grew into her passion. Now, she competes in all-around events with her Gelding CLW Dun In Magic.