Horses are expensive. Whether you own, lease, or ride once a month, the equestrian sport takes a lot of financial resources. For working adult amateurs, this can be quite the challenge to overcome, and it’s one of the most common problems we all face: what do you spend your money on? While I haven’t come up with a way to grow a money tree, I do have some tips on how make your precious dollars stretch so you can get more for less.
Homemade Remedies & Sprays
I know, you see this trick all the time and you’re always skeptical. I was too, until I realized how much money I was spending on all the little things. Fly spray, Thrush Buster, Show Sheen, Shampoo, Conditioner... and you buy each several times a year! My typical shopping trip for these equestrian essentials used to run me $63.41, at least three times a year, for a grand total of $190.23. Now that I make my own, or use cheaper, household alternatives, I’m saving more than $100 a year!
Homemade Fly Spray Recipe: 1/3 Water, 1/3 Pinesol, 1/3 Vinegar
Yeah, it’s really that simple. My Thoroughbred has extremely sensitive skin, so I’m always careful about the products I use and flies drive him nuts. I used to go through a bottle of commercial fly spray every two weeks in the summer, just to keep my horse comfortable. But this homemade recipe lasts twice as long, is much cheaper AND is thin-skinned Thoroughbred approved.
Homemade Thrush Buster Recipe: Combine Bleach + Water
Simple, yes? You can increase the potency depending on how bad the thrush is by adding more water to your mixture. Plus, this recipe is really versatile: put it in a spray bottle and adjust the stream to coat more of the hoof or a specific spot or use a syringe to vanquish that hard-to-treat deep sulcus thrush.
Household Shampoo Alternative: Dawn Dish Soap
Hear me out. You can buy shampoo specifically formulated for horses, but it’s expensive. Dawn Dish Soap (especially the kind with antibacterial properties) is awesome for combating skin funk, lasts forever because you don’t need very much to make a nice, soapy mixture and it’s cheap.
Household Conditioner Alternative: Vo5 Conditioner
People conditioner, from CVS, Walgreens or your local drug store, is CHEAP. I’m talking under $2 for 12.5 oz, and this stuff is potent. I use a small dallop for tails, and mix it with water for coats. Just a little bit keeps my horse’s tail from getting brittle and breaking, plus it keeps his coat silky smooth.
Buy in Bulk
Tack stores, like Equus Now and Tack Wholesale, offer discounts for buying things like saddle pads in bulk. Contact your local tack store to see if they have any programs like this. Maybe go in with a few of your friends to take advantage of the discount (and then split that lot of 20 paddle pads you bought at $5/ea.)
If you’re in love with a certain commercial fly spray or coat conditioner, don’t buy the 32 oz option with the spray bottle. Get a spray bottle from the dollar store and buy the concentrate. It’s cheaper in the long run, plus you’re helping the environment by not throwing away all those spray bottles.
Buy Used & Recycle
This one is a no-brainer: if you want something, consider buying it used. I especially love to buy used tack on Facebook (check out these Facebook groups for great deals: English Tack Trader, Western Tack Trader, High-End Tack & Show Clothing, English Riding Apparel) and I love to sell it there too. It’s a great way to upgrade your current inventory or make some extra cash by selling unused items. Many tack stores also have consignment sections (like Equus Now), where you can get gently used, high-quality items for a fraction of what they cost new.
Another trick I use is shopping my house. What the heck is that? Well, for example, I never buy rags for the barn. Whenever towels get too old to be used in the house, I cut them up (if they’re large) and take them to the barn. That pair of scissors that are a little bit too dull for the kitchen? They’re in my grooming tote. Those apples that went bad in the fridge? My horse ate them yesterday.
Learn to Sew & Make It Yourself
DIY is a working adult ammy’s best friend, and I admit this tip takes a little bit of skill. But it’s totally worth it, I promise. We all love to have custom items for ourselves and our horses; what we don’t love is the pricetag. I’d love to have De La Coeur Ear Bonnet, Rambo Quarter Sheet and 10 Ogilvy Half Pad Covers… but I don’t have the cash to afford that. What I can do though, is make knockoffs. Check out these resources for making your own: Ear Bonnet; Ogilvy Cover; and my personal favorite, Suitability, which has patterns for literally everything.
Plus, once you know how to sew, you can also make small repairs to keep your clothing and horse clothing going strong. I can’t tell you how many pairs of breeches and blankets I’ve saved by being able to sew a small hole closed.
What are your favorite tips for saving money when it comes to horses?
About the Author: Tracy Beavers is a full-time marketing and communications professional from Central Ohio. In addition to showing on local hunter/jumper shows with her Thoroughbred gelding, Miles, Tracy enjoys watching Netflix, eating at local restaurants, traveling to the beach and spending time with family. You can read more about her equestrian endeavors on her blog, Fly On Over.