As equestrians, we all dream of custom saddles, boots, and helmets; we dream of tack and apparel covered with the monogramming of our initials and enough clean saddle pads to do laundry only every couple of months. The reality that many of us face is much less glamorous – tack aged and bleached by the sun, whatever breeches, leggings, or jeans we can find, and a few well-loved saddle pads with permanent stains on them.

If your equipment looks more like the second description, worry not! You are no less of an equestrian than someone in custom riding boots. Here are some ways to ride and even compete on a limited budget.

Sell your less-used tack and apparel –

Do you really need four bridles if you only have one horse? When was the last time you actually fit in those breeches? Rule of thumb: if you haven’t used it in the past six months and you can’t see yourself using it in the next four months, you probably don’t need it – so sell it! There is a surprisingly large market for used tack and riding clothes on eBay. There are also a good amount of used tack/apparel pages on Facebook. Check to see if there are any tack swaps happening near you. You probably aren’t going to make back what you paid, but it will put some extra cash in your pocket to save for that upcoming show!

Consider purchasing used tack

High quality tack is made to last and stay looking nice for a long time. By purchasing an older but well-taken-care-of saddle, you can save hundreds of dollars! Many tack shops stock high-end tack (bridles included) for a fraction of their original price. If you can find some that has been loved, conditioned, and stored correctly, you could take home the saddle of your dreams without creating a nightmare for your wallet.

Save spare change –

A two-liter bottle filled with dimes usually adds up to about $700, which could pay for all or most of a new pair of boots, depending on the brand. When you purchase a new pair (or a new bridle or saddle, etc.) start a new change bottle. Hopefully by the time you need something new, you’ll have a couple hundred dollars saved up and that price won’t be so difficult to look at! If you have a problem not taking the money out on a regular basis, get a real piggy bank! Many banks also have “Christmas Clubs” where you can put a certain amount of money in each month and take it all out at the end of the year – just in time for the winter show season in Florida!

Think about showing at open or schooling shows –

If you’re not trying to qualify for anything, think about showing at more open or schooling shows and fewer A-rated shows. You’ll be meeting a completely different crowd and there may be a lower caliber of competition, but you’ll be saving a load of money and you’ll still get your fix for showing.

Explore less expensive brands –

Although I love the way Pikeur breeches feel and look, I’d be too broke to find a horse to ride if I only clothed myself in their apparel. Less expensive brands like Romfh and Equine Couture have beautiful alternatives that fit me just as well. That’s not to say we can’t spoil ourselves with our favorites every once in awhile!

If you are one of those equestrians who dreams of outfits and tack we see in catalogs and in competitions, but who knows those items are out of the range of their wallet, know you are not alone! We may have picked one of the most expensive sports in the world, but there are definitely ways to be an economically efficient equestrian.