Horseback riding is a notoriously expensive sport. Even if you don’t have your own horse, there’s still the cost of lessons and gear to worry about. Most horse people spend a few hundred dollars every month, and that doesn’t even include costs associated with vet bills, feed, and tack. It’s easy to see those never ending bills as an impossible obstacle, but there are ways to make horseback riding more affordable. The horseback riding cost shouldn’t keep you out of the barn.
If you’re looking for ways to save money without giving up the sport you love, check out these thrifty tips.
Work Off Riding Lessons
One of the most popular ways to lower the horseback riding cost is to work off your riding lessons. Most trainers charge by the hour, and you need weekly lessons if you want to learn and continually improve. Plus, if you don’t have a horse of your own, lessons are your only time to actually spend time with the animals you love.
Once you find a training barn, ask about the possibility of working to cover the cost of your lessons. Some barns allow certain trustworthy students to work off their fees through regular barn chores. You could offer to clean stalls, groom, or feed horses in exchange for a discount on your riding lessons.
Lease a Horse
Leasing a horse is often more affordable than owning. It’s also a great option for new riders who are exploring different disciplines. Leasing allows you to try out different horses and get more time in the saddle, but you don’t have to worry about the extra expenses of horse ownership.
Exactly what you pay for will depend on your leasing contract. Some agreements allow you free access to the horse as long as you take care of their basic needs like feeding and grooming. In other situations, you’re allowed to ride the horse so many hours a week, and the owner keeps most horse care responsibilities.
Co-Own a Horse
If you really want to own a horse, but can’t afford all of the expenses on your own, then a co-ownership situation might work for you. When you co-own a horse, you split the ownership with another person. You pay half the costs and get to ride about half of the time.
The key to co-owning is getting your entire agreement in writing, and partnering with someone you trust. There will be a lot of joint decisions to make, and your experience will be a lot smoother if you’re upfront about everyone’s expectations. When you work with the right person, co-owning is a great way to lower the horseback riding cost and still own a horse.
Rough Board a Horse
If you do decide to buy a horse (or already own one), you can save money with a rough board agreement. In most cases, rough board means you pay for a pasture and water source, and that’s about it. It’s a place for your horse to live (if you don’t have your own acreage), but you’re responsible for everything else.
The specifics will depend on the barn, but you’ll most likely be responsible for all your horse’s care. Rough board doesn’t include a stall, so it means your horse will be outside 24/7. That’s rarely a problem for most horses, but you’ll still need to put in the work to keep your horse healthy and happy. As long as you don’t mind the work, rough board can save you hundreds of dollars.
Become a Catch Rider
Talented riders can often offer themselves up as catch riders in order to get free ride time. A catch rider is someone who competes in a show with a horse that isn’t theirs. They usually get little to no practice time on the horse, and they’re expected to compete at a high standard. It usually happens when the horse’s original rider is sick or cancels, and the horse’s owner still wants the horse to compete. It can also happen outside the show ring, when a horse needs exercise, but their owner isn’t around to ride.
To become a catch rider, start by letting others know you’re available. You can start by catch riding for your friends and other people at your barn. As you continue to prove yourself as a talented and reliable rider, word will spread and you’ll get more offers.
Work Around Horses
If you love horses, why not turn them into your job? With a job you love, you can make money and reduce the horseback riding cost at the same time. Barn managers spend all day around horses, and there are several other horse-related jobs out there.
If you want as much time in the saddle as possible, think about becoming a horseback riding tour guide. You could also work at a rescue, stable, or training facility.
Many horse owners and horse professionals are willing to barter for the use of their horses. If you’re talented in a service which might benefit a horse owner, there’s no harm in asking if they might be willing to let you ride in exchange for your services.
If you have a special knack for beautiful braids, for example, you can offer to braid a horse’s mane and tail in exchange for an hour of ride time. You can even offer manual labor if someone is too busy to get chores done on their own. Accepting ride time as payment will reduce your overall horseback riding costs.
Which methods have you used to make horseback riding more affordable? We’d love to hear them.
Need help learning how to properly canter on a horse? Click here.