So equestrian sports are the most expensive in the world! If your parents don’t know that yet don’t tell them. Wait until they see your big smile while you hold that blue ribbon in your hand. Luckily, the sport lures you in. You don’t start with expensive horses and staggering training and traveling expenses. It starts innocently with a cute ‘free’ pony and a pair of paddock boots and a helmet. But then it grows and grows and grows.
The next series of things I want to discuss here is how to help defer some of those costs. Early on in my riding career my trainer, Mary Mahler suggested I stick to breed shows instead of the larger USDF/USEF shows. This was a much cheaper option for fees and often for travel expenses. Breed shows are competitions that are usually limited to pure or mixed bloods of a specific breed. For example, I competed in Arabian Breed Shows with my horse WA Federalea. This not only allowed me to save money but allowed me to develop as a rider in a smaller pond. I gained momentum by winning many regional and national honors. This helped me to ‘hook’ my parents into later bigger costs and to gain recognition in our region. Furthermore, breed shows are often funded more than USDF/USEF shows and you can earn prize money in significant amounts. I often received show and yearly checks totally thousands of dollars for yearly winnings as the registered owner of WA Federalea. Breed shows do require an additional membership beyond USDF/USEF for that breed. These memberships offer additional incentives also. They often have yearly convention, year-end breed awards and scholarship programs for youth riders and volunteers. For example, KWPN-NA.com the Dutchwarmblood society of North America has the Willy Arts Young Rider Grant. Even USEF offers youth scholarships through the breed affiliations. This means you have to be a member of the breed registry to apply. USEF will send out a reminder of the dates for applying for these scholarships. So check out your horses breed. Google if it has an association and check out their website. Many breed associations also offer fun social events. For example, the Fresian Horse Association in my former region had a yearly Halloween party. They dressed up the horses and riders in costumes. The creativity was amazing. One year we even had the horses bobbing for apples!
Up next time funding through your regional associations and GMO’s! Stay tuned.