From Endurance to Dressage
The simple answer is that if you don't show very much and you switch to trims instead of shoes and then throw on a bit of a vet bill, your total will be $16,266.92. That's what I spent in 2016. Here's the breakdown.
Board and Feed
For the past 5 or 6 years, I've kept my horses at a private residence. Even though we moved barns over the summer, I am now at a small ranch that is still someone's home. My board is lower than some boarding facilities would charge, but there are still cheaper options in town. Board in LA, San Francisco, or San Diego would be MUCH higher, but there are plenty of places in California that are cheap.
My board covers hay twice a day, stall/paddock cleaning, truck/trailer parking, and use of the ranch's facilities (tack room, arena, round pen, and a few minutes' worth of trails). The horses are fed alfalfa and grass hay, but the amount is customized for each horse. If they need more, they get it. Speedy lives in a generously-sized paddock with turn out at night while Izzy lives in a dirt pasture which means he's turned out all of the time.
I started my horses on Platinum Performance over the summer. The company was so confident that I would like their product that they gave me the first bucket for free. I am on an auto-shop plan, which saves in shipping costs, but with only one-quarter of the year represented, this expense is much lower than it will be next year.
Speedy has been barefoot for a year or two, and Izzy had been wearing shoes only in the front. By late summer, I grew tired of calling my farrier back out to replace pulled shoes. Izzy just couldn't keep the front shoes on. I tried bell boots - which he ate off within a few days, but nothing worked.
Eventually, I paid my farrier to come out and pull the one shoe that was on. From that point on, Izzy has gone barefoot, and he's doing great. Now, I don't deal with lost shoes, and as an added bonus, my farrier bill is one of my cheapest expenses.
It seems as though the bandaging gods love me. In 2015, I bought oodles of bandages for Izzy. In 2016, the bandages were for Speedy. Both boys helped me rack up a fairly hefty vet bill. Speedy suffered a small injury that the vet called tendonitis while Izzy needed his hocks injected. Throw in a chiropractor visit, and suddenly, I had spent over two grand.
Blue Truck was paid off long, long ago, and at nearly 17 years old, it's still chugging along nicely. This year, I had to buy new tires, and then the AC needed to be recharged, but my husband paid for that. At 10 miles per gallon though, my gas bill adds up. I spent nearly $1,000 on gas this year.
My trailer cost me more than I expected this year. I had to replace the living quarter's batteries of which there are two. All of the roof vents were also cracked and broken so my husband and I tackled that DIY project ourselves, saving several hundred dollars. In the spring, I had my first ever dent which required the services of a welder. Again, my husband chipped in and covered that for me. Repairs are just part of trailer ownership, but I am going to try not to hit anything else!
As I look back over my lesson budget, I am surprised to see that I took on average, a lesson a month. It sure seems as though I needed more! That's one budget item I don't mind seeing so high. I hope I am able to get at least as many lessons in for 2017.
While it felt as though my showing adventures were non-existent in 2016, I was shocked to see that Izzy and I actually made it to five shows last year. Four were schooling shows, but the last one of the year was actually CDS-rated. We didn't do well at any of them of course, but we did go. I sure hope we make it to some rated shows this year.
Tack and Gear
Can anyone say "Retail Therapy" because I am pretty sure that's what happened in 2016. Holy smokes ... how many pads and bell boots does a girl need? I really have no explanation for why I needed to spend so much on ... so much.
In 2012, the first year I kept track of my spending, I spent $21,101. Keeping such a detailed account of my spending really helped me see what was important. I learned to curb my spending a bit that year and developed some patience. I learned that want and need are not the same thing at all, and that sometimes, it was spiritually and emotionally healthier to not indulge myself.
Four years later, I definitely still respect the difference between want and need even though I do indulge myself now and again (but always within my budget). I spent $4,845 less in 2016 than I did in 2012. I would never have predicted that; inflation alone should have driven my costs upward.
As I looked for a lesson learned this year, I realized that it's about perceived value. Do I feel as though I got my money's worth in 2016? Absolutely. To me, lessons (and showing) bring me great happiness. Even paying my vet brings me satisfaction. Living within one's means is definitely a priority, but how you do that should give you a feeling of gratification. If not, you're probably doing it wrong.
Here's hoping your vet bills stay low, your truck keeps running, and your show entries garner blues!
Well that felt like a waste of money.
Most months, I am a little surprised at how much I spend, but it always feels worth it. Not this month. Sheesh. I spent 1,200 bucks and didn't do a single interesting thing. I take that back. The clinic with Chemaine was worthwhile, necessary even, but the rest of my costs, meh.
I didn't do a single rated show in 2016 so it was a bit irksome to renew my memberships for 2017. I hope that's not another $150 bucks down the drain. And of course we all know how the double ended up. Who knows how long those bits will bounce around unused in my bit box.
When I look at the amount spent and try to reconcile it with perceived value, it doesn't balance out. $1,200 is a boatload of money - a mortgage payment for a lot of people. Let's hope January finds me thinking I got a deal. Sort of like this ...
2016 is definitely going to end up being the cheapest year for equine spending that I have ever had. I am so far behind my "typical" spending that it's making me feel as though I have oodles to spend. I don't. Instead of spending my money on new tack, clinics, and shows, "we" spent it elsewhere.
Remember that trip to Italy in June? I saved tons of money that month.
In October, we bought a new house. I saved a pile of cash that month, too. Have I mentioned that in November, I hardly spent any money on my horses because I also had to furnish the new house? So yeah. I am basically the queen of saving money.
I am sure that by now you know that I watch all of my pennies very closely. We had the money for all of this because we raided next summer's vacation fund. Bye bye, Africa. I would have loved to have seen you in person. Yeah. That's not happening now. Instead, we have a pretty cool new home with lovely new furniture (and more on the way).
Not that this is a home decorating blog, but I promise to share more photos when we get the last few furniture deliveries done. Things won't be really done for a long, long time as there is always more to do. When we sell our cabin (Hey! Anyone interested in a GREAT cabin near Bakersfield? Let me know!), we'll use some of that furniture to finish the second spare bedroom and fill in a few gaps here and there. That might take years though.
Anyway ... back to the idea that horses are expensive. I laugh because they're really not if you don't spend your money on them. This was yet another month of barebones horse keeping.
I spent just over $900 to keep two horses for the month of November. There have been months where I have easily spent three times that amount. For me, the lesson in all of this is that if I didn't have horses, I'd have a LOT more money. I wouldn't be any happier though.
As they say, What's in your wallet?
I am really good at saving money. Do you remember how much money I "saved" last June when we went to Italy? Sure, I spent bazillions on the trip, but my horses were practically free that month. I have an even better tip for saving money this month: buy a new house!
Not only will you save money on your equestrian budget, you can practically eliminate it all together once you start paying for repairs and then furnishing your new house. Refrigerator ... oven ... stove burner all not working? No lessons for you! Leaky roof ... busted garage door opener? No showing either. Replace your perfectly good electric dryer for a new gas model - no new tack or gizmos either.
In fact, since you're not even going out to the barn at all, why not only pay for the board bill and a farrier visit? Buying a house is guaranteed to cut your horse related expenses down to almost nothing!
All joking aside, I finally know what is the absolute least I can spend and still keep my ponies alive. Of course, I had already purchased their beet pulp and fly spray the month before. And since I missed a big chunk of visits in October, I pushed the shipping date for my next bucket of Platinum Performance until the first of November.
The $1500 that I "saved" from my normal expenses went toward a number of repairs (locksmith and a few others) and the purchase of a new love seat, bar stools, kitchen table, dining room table (seats 8!), and some large area rugs. Since we're not going to Africa next summer, we also used that money. So next summer, I won't have a "Go to Africa and Save Money" post for you ... sorry.
I already bought a new car this past December. I wonder what else I can buy to keep on "saving money?" Oh, I know! How about a new truck?
Just kidding, Universe ... just kidding!
I think I've been getting off pretty easy the past month or so. Knock on wood here, but I haven't needed to call my vet or the chiropractor. And since I've only done schooling shows lately, my showing expenses were also really small. The Christian Schacht clinic was a bit pricy, but nothing like a two-day USDF show. My "tack and gear" spending was a little over the top this month, but all in all, the ponies aren't breaking the bank.
The truth is, I haven't shown Speedy or done as many clinics because we had been planning an African safari for next summer. Safaris are far more expensive than our usual international vacations, so we were watching our "extra" pennies pretty closely. We had our itinerary set and guides all arranged but were waiting on flights to Kenya to become available.
Out of nowhere, something bigger and better popped up so we won't be going to Africa, at least not next summer. I have to say I am disappointed by that, but what we have planned is ultimately better. Since things aren't finalized yet, I can't really spill the beans.
Once the dust settles, my showing and clinic schedule should be back in full swing, but in the meantime, I'm glad to know I am can live on a leaner equestrian budget and still be happy.
No matter how much money we have, we still manage to spend all of it somewhere, don't we?!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read