The holiday season is almost here, if you can believe it.
Managing horse costs on top of everything else, can be a daunting task come Christmas time. But generally speaking, equestrians are resourceful people. Here are a few ways you can cut costs and save around the holidays, while still maintaining your show schedule and buying gifts for the family.
Volunteer at a horse show: Not only is this a way to give back to your local circuit and horse show community, but some volunteer positions come with perks that save you money. For example, if you volunteer at a three-phase event, some local venues will give you a credit that you can apply to your next competition or even a cross-country schooling trip. Horse shows are always looking for people to help out come show day. You might learn something too, if you sign up be a scribe for a judge.
Tack swap: Schedule a used tack swap at your barn or even invite others from neighboring barns to participate. This is a great excuse to clean out those tack trunks and trailers and to get rid of some tack that you haven’t used in ages. Plus you can make a little money, too. Some barns have done this as a form of gift giving in the past — swapping out used tack or blankets, etc., as a replacement of buying gifts.
Offer to help out: My barn owner is heading out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday, which is a big deal. She very rarely gets to take trips with her family because of her ongoing commitment to manage the barn and the horses. I volunteered to feed, muck stalls and teach lessons on some of the days while she is gone to help her out. This can be a great offer for a trainer or barn owner in lieu of a present. Just giving them a break from the usual barn duties around the holidays goes a long way. Another good gift idea for a barn friend could simply be thoroughly cleaning their tack one day, or even their trailer.
Go in on group gifts: In past years, boarders and lesson students at my farm have pooled our money to buy our trainer a bigger gift for the property. We were able to buy lights for our arena that way. This is an option to split the burden of a big-ticket item, and make it affordable for everybody.
Try homemade: There are plenty of horse treat recipes to find online. It’s an easy and fun way (if you like to bake) to create gifts for your barn family and friends. I’ve also dabbled in homemade salt scrubs, which is a great gift for equestrians and the non-horsey people in your life. There are so many Pinterest-worthy ideas here to list — you could spruce up the barn with unique, homemade ideas, like using old halters as harnesses for hanging plants in the barn aisle, new garden beds for the front entrance of the barn, and other ideas.