Friday, January 15, 2016

real talk: our 2015 show season in dollars

A few different bloggers have expounded on their true costs for horse showing, and it's been somewhat eye opening to read their posts - especially in how wildly costs vary by region.

Nicole from Zen and the Art of Baby Horse Management (California) wrote on the topic most recently, and Amanda from The $900 Facebook Pony (Texas) gave her take last year. (Let me know if anyone else did something similar and I'll add their link.)

I'm chiming in too bc let's face it, we showed a lot this year and it adds up. But what I learned from other posts was that it doesn't add up in my area in NEARLY the same way it does else where. Maryland has the advantage of an extensive calendar of nearby events, recognized or not, as well as scads of top riders and coaches whose lessons are priced competitively.

  
The following breakdown looks exclusively at my 3-phase events from 2015. We strictly competed in one-day starter trials. Nothing over night, and nothing recognized. Right away that makes a big difference in costs.

Additionally, I didn't compete with a trainer (excepting our first event of the season, Jenny Camp) and I haul myself - frequently with another rider who splits fuel costs (and also brings food bc Brita seriously makes the most bangin' sandwiches ever. #justsayin).

So what did I pay for this show season?

Memberships: $40 (MCTA)

  • This membership pays for itself entirely if you compete in both MCTA Starter Trials

Entry Fees: $785 (includes coaching when applicable)


   

Volunteer Credits: - $45

  • $25 for jump judging at Shawan Downs
  • $20 for jump judging at Olney's recognized event


Cross Country Schooling: $375


  

Other Considerations

There are obviously other (extensive) costs associated with my horse hobby. The horse herself. Lessons (and I take a LOT of them...). My stock trailer, for which I still have a monthly payment ($118 if you're intensely curious). Fuel and maintenance for the truck. Equipment.

Etc etc etc, the list goes on and on and never ever ends ever. It's horses. My experience is that the associated costs will balloon to whatever size your budget accommodates. Better money managers can spend less. Individuals with greater resources can spend more.

These associated costs are therefore excluded from my show season cost analysis since they vary so extremely from one person to the next, and since most of it is part of my regular horse budget, not just the show budget.


Bottom Line: $1,155

At the end of the day, I spent $1,155 to compete in 8 shows and school cross country 5 times. That amounts to ~$90 per outing. (And if you're squeamish about my blase dismissal of the other considerations, you can add the value of your own associated costs here. Say, $25-$50 per outing - meaning an additional $325-$650 for the year).

This is by no means an insignificant sum, and I remain ever grateful that I have employment and access to a lease horse on terms that make this possible.

But I also believe that, at the end of the day, we're relatively economical and thrifty in spending those precious dollars (and in taking advantage of opportunities for discounts, like volunteering!). We get an awful lot of bang for our buck.

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What about you? If you show, are your costs very different from this? Are there specific reasons why (like having goals or circumstances such that you only do recognized events)? Or would you show more often if it was more affordable?

Also, for those of you riding in different disciplines, it's always interesting to hear how they compare!

77 comments:

  1. This makes me want to move to your area just for the availability of things. We have local schooling shows but they are not at places that run recognized events. The places that run recognized events are 3-4 hours away. And the access to coaching...basically I drool over your coaches. :)

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    1. not all the places i go to have recognized events either (tranquility, olde hope) but they are still SUPER fun venues!

      also yea i drool over my coaches too. one of them recently thanked me for being so flexible about her tricky schedule... meanwhile i'm thinking "are you kidding me? i'm practically a junkie, i need my fix!!"

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  2. I haven't shown regularly in ages, so I have no basis for comparison, but I feel like under $100 an outing is pretty good! Having your own trailer makes a HUGE difference.

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    1. that's true, the trailer has definitely revolutionized the experience for me. tho in truth, without the trailer, *none* of it would be possible since i don't have a trainer at my farm and would not have been able to get to even where we are now without one...

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  3. The shows I've done recently (VHSA shows) were only $65 in show fees (if I hadn't scratched one), plus my trainer fee. The combined training tests I used to do were about $50, can't quite remember. I've only been doing small things though, but I am so glad this area is affordable!

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    1. nice!! $65 for a show is definitely pretty awesome imo. and the small things are just as fun for me as other bigger things might be

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  4. That makes for thoughtful but affordable outings! It seems the trailer gives a lot of autonomy. I'm saving! (In my head at least)

    I like that eventing trainers seem a bit more flexible in their students going to other trainers, clinics, and shows/events on their own. I hate the territorialNess of dome h/j types, tbh

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    1. yea.... i really can't deal with a trainer that won't allow me to do my own thing (up to and including riding with other trainers)... perhaps in eventing it's easier to make the case that a rider might need/want help from a 'specialist' given the huge differences with each phase?

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  5. I ran the numbers a while ago, but I always include cost of truck/trailer/fuel in with my show costs. So, for example, a schooling shown that is about 70 miles away would be...

    $75 for 3 classes + day stall fee
    Fuel = 140 miles round trip/17mpg avg x $2.50 pg gas = ~$21
    Wear and tear on truck + trailer = ~$.60/m x 140 = $80

    Total cost: $176

    This is for a dressage schooling show. An average HT for me when I was eventing and didn't have a trailer was about $160 for entry fee + $26 admin fees + about $75 overnight stall fee + $1/mile hauling fee from my trainer (averaged about $100 a trip IF we split cost between multiple people). So on average, one HT cost me about $350-$400. MT weren't much better.

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    1. wow $80 for wear and tear on the truck and trailer? that seems like a LOT, who on earth was charging that? i mean, granted my trailer is new so it hasn't needed any maintenance, but my truck is decidedly NOT new (and is high mileage), and has needed exactly zip zero maintenance beyond oil chances since i bought it nearly two years ago...

      but yea, the other costs seem on par with shows that require an overnight stay...

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    2. It's not an immediate cost factor, no. I don't actually pay the $80 up front. What happens is that it factors in eventually in terms of vehicle maintenance. New tires, brakes, electronics, etc. Look up average vehicle cost per mile. They use this wear and tear cost analysis to compensate people who drive their car for work, etc. It is an effective way to realize just how much money a vehicle can potentially cost you. Every mile you drive on a vehicle has adverse effects, doubly so if it is hauling a trailer. For example, new tires on my mother's car costs $800 for all four. The more you drive, faster tires wear down. The more you drive, the faster the brakes wear down. That is what the cost analysis is for.

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    3. Granted a lot of these cost analysis add fuel cost into the equation - I double the expense just because it gives me an idea of what to prep for. So my numbers are bit skewed.

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    4. gotcha - i knew there were 'best practices' around calculating that, but having never paid for hauling out before, i'd never actually confronted the cost in that same sense.

      still tho - that doesn't factor into my show budget at all bc the rig gets *way* more wear and tear just going to lessons (frequently 2x weekly), compared to 13 show/schooling outings over the course of a year...

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    5. I get that. I'm very particular with my money at this point because I am dirt poor and I absolutely abhor debt, so I make sure to calculate any and all possible expenses. I would add the same wear and tear cost analysis to my lesson cost if I was hauling out too, but that's just me haha :P

      I'm envious of your low costs though!

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    6. that's definitely wise tho! i should probably be more like that lol (esp given new truck tires are on my horizon, booooooo)... but i got really lucky in buying the rig in the first place (very modest windfall inheritance bought the truck outright and put a down payment on the trailer) and i've kinda figured that i'd handle any monumental repair/maintenance bills whenever they may happen...

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  6. Very interesting, thanks for putting the numbers together :) I did wonder how much it cost to attend eventing shows. My one and only show experience thus far was a schooling thing and that was $75 a pop; so in my mind I thought it was more expensive, but like you said, the bottom line dollar excludes travel, rig stuff, and obviously lessons. I'm very curious to see how much endurance adds up to be after Quest and I jump in with our first season this year...

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    1. yea i excluded the lessons and trailer from the equation bc that all happens with or without the shows. hauling to two lessons weekly kinda makes the occasional jaunt to a venue an hour away seem like nbd. honestly tho, in my experience, the rig has not been as expensive as some have made it seem. the biggest hurdle was just buying it.

      i'd also be curious to to hear how the costs for endurance shake out!

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  7. LOL your show season entry fees cost a little more than what one event costs me, all total. I'm laughing but crying on the inside. HAHAHAHA omg waaaaah. Also your entire year's costs are what AEC alone cost me. Jesus H Christ.

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    1. yeeeeeaaaaaahhhhh about that.... lol but seriously, i totally get that shows with overnights are an entirely different ball game...

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    2. SERIOUSLY I saw her total and thought that was for one show and was like meh, seems normal WAIIIIT THATS FOR ALL OF THEM? #jealous

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    3. maryland is definitely the place to be for eventing on the cheap. anything else on the cheap... maybe not (and definitely not board). but i guess it all evens out?

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  8. I spend $100 a day for endurance-so $200 for a two day. Since I don't have a truck or trailer I also have to add a $200-300 charge for hauling which doesn't include gas which is enough to make me think that buying my own might be doable. But some of these endurance rides are 5-8 hours away so I don't know. And also the cost of getting myself there as I go in my own car. So each can cost 600. Matilda

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    1. interesting - the per/day costs for endurance are somehow less than i expected given all the holds and crewing and vet checks etc... not bad! but yea the rig thing is a tricky (and very individual!) factor. it gets paid for one way or another, and depending on how often you would use it, it doesn't always make sense to have your own. that said tho, i *love* having mine!

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  9. Ugh, eventing is so expensive! Around here they are $150+ per event, not including all the little fees like "office" and "paramedic." I will stick my dressage classes, thank you. Though I had some sticker shock this past year when fees there even went up. Use to be $15 per test, jumped to $20 per test last year. :( I always giggle at open shows where $20 can get you through the entire day of english and western competition.

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    1. ha that fee for open shows practically has me tempted to give it a try - $20 for a day? sign me up!! but yea now that i'm considering adding in some rated dressage shows to the mix, i'm curious to see how those costs will shake out too!

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  10. I miss the Area II calendar so much! I think not having to stay overnight saves people sooo much money. I was looking at a couple events up here where that might have to be done because of driving distance, and the amount of money the stall and hotel would add on was ridiculous for anyone with an actual budget.

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    1. you should just move back here for the show season!! seriously tho i really avoid staying overnight like the plague (pretty sure isabel would MURDER me for sticking her in a stall {the horror}, let alone a strange stall, overnight) and am so grateful that even the recognized events here can be done in a single day...

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  11. Now that I'm thinking about joining the eventing team, the cost per event is something to consider because shows aren't included in the semester dues. These prices aren't as scary as a friend made them out to be, but then again, she's been eventing for her whole career, and I've been paying ~$300 per show for this hunter nonsense lol

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    1. ha "hunter nonsense" - totally relatable lol. but yea the costs for eventing really do seem lower than for h/j shows, and in my experience have been pretty easy to budget for. exciting that you're considering making the switch!!

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    2. Eventing is still a scary cost haha

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    3. true.... esp with all the equipment haha. i know for a fact that i spent more on equipment this year than i did on shows...

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  12. Ugh. Your total for the year is about what I have budgeted for 1 rated show coming up in the next couple of months that I really want to do. Granted, there is prize money awarded in almost all of the classes, but there are also a lot of people, so not many people get prize money. Even our schooling shows usually run me around $200. I would totally volunteer if h/j offered a discount for that.

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    1. yea.... the h/j shows are definitely a very different creature (especially rated!)... but prize money, that's definitely tempting!!! (also it's a shame that more disciplines don't promote volunteerism, it's really a great way to be more involved with the sport and get to know more people in the community)

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    2. A big chunk of the cost though is hauling because all of the rated shows in Texas are at least 2-3 hours away from us, and I definitely don't have a truck/trailer. Boooo.

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    3. yea.... i'm learning that hauling is apparently a big line item in the final bill. boo indeed :(

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  13. The non-rated horse trials here in MI are closer to $100-$150 and you don't get a volunteer credit (Who does this?! I want in!!!!). Even eventing derbies are $90-$100 here. So overall that isn't bad at all! Like you, very thankful for a good job to pay for all of our nonsense :)

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    1. not that bad at all!! (but yes, thank you employment lol). and is the volunteering credit not that common? our local association really encourages it and rewards volunteers nicely (t-shirts, food while volunteering, credit towards shows, etc)

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  14. I added everything up in 2014. It was scary. I know exactly how much I spent on Mikey between shows, clinics, vet, board, lessons, farrier. I will not do it again!

    But I did manage to stay on budget!

    I added up the showing expenses for what I want to go to this year - just entry fees came out to $1500 I think... I don't show with a coach, and I use fuel perks whenever I can, and I stay at the shadiest hotels possible because they're cheapest. I expect to put another $1000 into gas and hotel for the show season. Uggghhhhh. And that doesn't even count the schooling shows and USDF/USEF membership fees!

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    1. ugh yea it seriously adds up .... (and no i really have zero interest in calculating out every specific cost, noooo thank you, i do not need to know that!!!).

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  15. This post puts me into panic. I still have to renew all my memberships and get Tucks passport switched into my name. I should do one of these posts. But eek!

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    1. no time like the present! lol jk... but seriously this year might look a little different for us too as i'm considering adding a couple different memberships to the mix... and potentially a whole different type of showing too...

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  16. I'm so excited to come school at Tranquility and the price is so great for XC. But then again Boyd's is only $50 I think! We are very lucky!

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    1. tranquility's prices for pretty much everything are *super* reasonable, and schooling there is awesome - they have sooooooooo much stuff, field after field chock full of fun and interesting jumps that can all be strung together in neat ways :D

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  17. It's very interesting to see what other people around the country spend. :-)

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    1. i'm definitely thinking geography plays a big role in the costs. the farthest we've had to go is 1.5hrs, super helpful in keeping costs down!

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  18. There is literally steam coming out of my ears with jealousy at this time. I'm looking MUCH more favorably on moving to the east coast now....

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    1. oooooh yes come move east!!!!! :D

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  19. Jesus effing christ I need to move there....here thats almost what I spend PER SHOW. Therefore we are going to two. Maybe. One for sure, maybe two. LORD

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    1. i definitely couldn't swing showing if it wasn't this affordable. especially given our penchant for making fairly large (and occasionally ridiculous) mistakes...

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    2. my exact reason for NOT making it a goal to go to more than 1 or 2 USEA events. I just know something will happen....like elimination then BOOM, bye $800-$1000

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    3. yea i'd feel similarly... usually i can keep a pretty positive attitude about an elimination, but at that price point?? idk.....

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  20. I am so insanely jealous you have no idea. Any recognized event costs about $1000 to do. This includes hauling, entry and stabling and food while there. So, I have now begun hauling myself and it is closer to $750. BUT that's still EACH event.. So, the moral of the story is.. don't move to Idaho if you want to be an eventer. Also I kick myself because in Millbrook NY where I used to live there were at least 6 recognized events under 2 hours from me. I now only can afford 2, MAYBE 3 recognized events a year. So sad

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    1. well i don't do any recognized events, so that's also a pretty big difference haha. but even if i did, we still have 1-day options in the immediate vicinity so that only takes the cost up by about ~$100 per event

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    2. just gotta come visit haha, ya know. nbd. just move your horses here for the summer ;)

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  21. I play horse on a shoestring budget in rural PA near I-70... Frederick MD is about an hour and fifteen minutes away via interstate and I am approximately six minutes from the on-ramp. I could make it to Waredaca or Loch Moy -- they're not impossibly far away. For the 2015 season, I went to one unrec'd minitrial @ 140 + 25 in hauling (included xc schooling the day before and a stall overnight).

    Show Outings: 1
    Total Spent: 165
    Cost Per Show Outing: 165

    For the year, we went to the minitrial, a saddle fitting, the ffa fun show, a jumping clinic field trip (didn't clinic, just went along for the ride), a dressage clinic, a competitive trail ride in which we were sweep riders, a parade, another parade, and a large trail ride with mules.

    Total Outings(trailered somewhere, did stuff): 9
    Total Cost of Outings (entry/lesson fees, not fuel): 260
    Cost-Per-Outing: $29

    Horse was started under saddle in April and for his first year we did a lot of low-cost "exposure" outings so that he could see the world and practice being out and about without it costing me a fortune. I'd like to do more in 2016, as the boy travels like a champ and is absolutely 100% workmanlike in every surrounding he's ever met.

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    1. not bad at all! that's an awesome variety of outings too, definitely lots of good exposure for the baby. waredaca and loch moy are also super nice venues, esp if the horse is ok with a bit of atmosphere

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  22. Sounds like it was relatively cheap for you this past season!!

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    1. absolutely (relatively lol). honestly showing like this is probably the cheapest element of my riding habit haha

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  23. Eventing is my area is pretty expensive, mostly because of the travel costs involved. The closest USEA rated HT is 284 miles round trip. Schooling shows are about the same distance away.

    The dressage schooling shows are very cheap- tests are $20/ea, the office fee is $10, and they're all pretty close by. I don't think I'd ever do a rated dressage show- entry fees are much higher, and I am not THAT invested in dressage!

    Foxhunting is probably the cheapest and best way to do something fun in my area. The capping fee is only $45 and I can usually split gas with a friend! Even if I haul myself, it's only 174 miles round trip. And I get lunch! And alcohol! Maybe I should just convert to all hunting all the time...

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    1. ha yup sounds like foxhunting is the way to go! free alcohol AND food?!? sold!! also i need more dressage schooling shows in my life...

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    2. The dressage schooling shows are really nice and they're ULTRA low key in my area. Our group has a 'write-in' test option, so if you're an eventer who wants to practice a test and be judged before a show, you can!

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    3. that's awesome - i think a lot of local shows around here have the same option since we have so many eventers. definitely worth looking into!

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  24. Showing is expensive! But I really do appreciate the candor, it's interesting to see how much costs change based on area

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    1. yea i definitely wish it there were things about horses that were less expensive haha...

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  25. I should do a similar calculation though I didn't do a lot of shows so my total would be pretty low, but things are not that cheap around here and we do not have so many options. I really want to move back to the east coast.

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    1. the east coast is not a bad place to be ;) but yea you should totally do a calculation too!! i'd be curious to see how it shakes out

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  26. Blach HJ is so expensive, my costs were much higher for less shows :(

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    1. definitely a bummer about h/j... tho all the same your shows were also much bigger than the ones i did, and counted for more

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  27. Loving the cost recaps - I'm trying to budget for the year ahead and am getting some good tips, thank you :)

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    1. oooh i hope it's useful! not sure how much of my experiences are translatable where you are, but hopefully there are some good affordable options !

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  28. I rode in one show, Violet went in another with my trainer, cost was only $145 since Vi lives on the showgrounds, but I earned $200 in volunteer vouchers, so I walked away with $50 for this year. But I spend a crazy amount of money for Vi to live at the showgrounds and be trained($1,500/month). And like I said, I did one show. I just like the thought that if I wanted to, she'd be ready to go, lol.

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    1. training and living costs definitely take the lion's share, that's for sure (and i am in no way interested in tabulating what i spent on *that* in 2015.... sheesh!). but that's part of keeping our horses the way we want to keep them, i guess... regarding just the showing bit tho, sounds like you made out like a bandit this year! volunteering ftw!!

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  29. I'm terrified to add up my costs.

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    1. it's the kind of thing you only really want to do if you already have a good idea of the total....

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  30. I don't even want to admit what I spent on showing TWICE. like-ridiculous amounts.

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    1. yea..... depending on the show, venue, location, etc it can really add up fast :(

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