How much does it cost to horse show?

With my financial concerns as of late and an awards dinner tonight I was thinking…What is your definition of showing on a shoe string budget? Lucky and I did great this year. We showed a lot and were lucky enough to end up with 3 wonderful year end awards. I spent too much money on showing in 2012 though. I am going to do something right now that I don’t think most people would do. I am going to share my show budget. and honestly, it feels weird doing this. Like I am really exposing myself…

Everything I spend I plan for. I would not call myself rich or well to do, but I obviously have enough to afford the luxury of showing, and it really is a luxury. It is something I love to do though so I plan for it very, very carefully each year. I laugh when I see people at overnight recognized shows saying they have a tiny show budget. Would I love to be doing USDF/USEF shows? Heck yeah! But I cannot afford it. Just two of those would have been over my entire 2012 budget. I think almost everyone out there showing though thinks they have a really small show budget. So how does this horse show aholic get it all in? The answer is to plan very, very carefully. I would love it, but doubt anyone else will do it, if other people also shared how much it cost them to show for a season. Money is such a personal thing though I understand if no one else wants to share.

Trainer Fees: My biggest “cost savings” this year was doing it on my own most of the time. I needed help at the start of the year though from Dom to teach Lucky to self-load, my trainer to figure out why Lucky was not being good at shows, and the Young Rider to give me the confidence that I could do it on my own. I will estimate that my total for all of that was about $250 this year.

Entry Fees:
4 Shows at the Show Ground that was far away (of which I scratched once) – $55 per show so $220 Total
1 Show at farm down the road – 1 class at $25 so $25 total
EC Championship show (which I scratched after the closing date) – $75
2 Fun Shows – $70 day fee each time so $140 total
2 Local Show Grounds Normal Dressage Show (with member discount) – $35 per show so $70 total
1 Local Show Grounds Dressage Championships (with member discount) – $35 for $35 total
3 Local Show Grounds Weekday Show (with member discount) – $25 per show show so $75 total

So I have my own truck and trailer, well half a truck since I split the cost with my Dad. I am not going to count the cost of insurance on the truck though as part of my budget because as long as I have Gen I will have a truck and trailer no matter what. For me that is a safety thing as a horse owner so that cost would be there if I was showing or not.
My big transportation cost was gas. I am going to estimate the cost of gas. I never had to fill the truck, but I would always stop and top it off, so there were many $20 visits to the gas station. Assuming the cost of gas was about $4 this year and that I get about 14 MPG average between towing (which is like 12MPG) and not (which is like 18 MPG) I think that I spend about $200 on gas. It was probably less, but I don’t know for sure.
New Tire for Trailer: $89

Organization Memberships:
Local Show Grounds – $55 for Lucky and I
EC GMO – $0 because I am a lifetime member
ES GMO – $ 55

Trainer Fees: $200
Entry Fees Total:640
Transportation Total: 339
Organization Memberships Total: 110

Show I spent about $1,289 on my show habit this year. Without a doubt the most I have ever spent in a single year on showing. In fact, it was $289 OVER my budget, which I was feeling by the end of the year. There were a lot of things I had to give up by the September came around. Since I did 13 things it works out to about $100 a show. That seems about right though because my show budget is normally about $600 and 6 things a year is pretty normal for me, about once a month. So was it worth it? To me it was. I had the best show year ever! I entered for too much which hurt my budget in the end, but I had such a great year that even just thinking about it makes me smile.

So it about $100 an event too much for a show? Well, that depends on who you ask!

I am just starting to work on my show budget for 2013 and one thing is for sure, I cannot do another year like last year. That being said, last year was a once in a lifetime opportunity to just go and do whatever I wanted, a dream I have had forever. And I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it!


10 thoughts on “How much does it cost to horse show?

  1. yeowch. no way I’d put $1300 annually into showing, or ribbons.. yeowch.
    $55 a show here for two tests, *maybe* $60 a show in fuel… So $115 an event.. I went to three last year total.

  2. This is a great idea and something I needed to do. Sometimes I choose to keep my head in the sand over what this all really costs. This year was the most I have ever spent on showing also. Without going back and putting a bunch of thought into it and getting exact numbers this is a rough guess.
    1- 2day CT $200
    1- 3day HT $600
    1- 3day HT(that entry fees were paid and gifted to me) $150
    1- 1day schooling derby $150
    To be completely thorough I would need to think longer on extra expenses involved. Dining out etc. But I did over estimate on fuel and entry fees to take that into consideration.
    So total for this season $1,100. I chose to do less shows but bigger shows. I will go back and take the time to get better estimates and do a post on my blog about it because I think it is a great reality check.

  3. Oh you aren’t the only one that plans this stuff – I have full blown spreadsheets on show costs well in advance of the season! Last year was a “cheap” year for us since we only did 6 open shows but both my daughter and I were showing at 5 of them.

    At those 5 I don’t pay for camping overnight by volunteering to be the stall check in person and camping patrol person. Our stall is $25 per show or $100 for the 5 shows because I paid in advance for the discount. Total show fees for both of us was $825. Another $100 for gas so $1025 for those 5 shows (10 classes each show). Then we did that championship show which was expensive at $325 including gas and camping but we came home with some awesome awards. Same for the other series as well.

    The year before when my daughter was going for top 20 with APHA was the killer year but probably a whole lot less than what some of the others that were in that category spent. The total was just over $4000 and that included those same 5 open shows PLUS all the Michigan based APHA shows and one in Ohio.

    This year’s budget is about the same as last years I think. Compared to some that we show with at APHA shows, we are shoe stringers, but to those that we do the open shows with, we’re about average.

  4. Here in California, costs are higher for the “big” shows, the three- and four-star shows (we have a “local” big-time “association” that some folks like because of their very generous awards program, making up that fourth star). Stabling overnight at a facility like Los Angeles Equestrian Center or the place outside Sacramento (Murietta something) is $100+ per night; the championship shows are four days with “warmup classes” Thursday and Friday; and some people arrive as early as Tuesday so their horses can settle … and right away you’re well over the $155 per show. My dressage chapter puts on two “single-rated” (California Dressage Society) shows and two schooling shows. It is possible to show for under $100 per event if you ride two tests and don’t have a stall. Just depends on your goals and the venue.

  5. I don’t show but I do endurance and I’d say the average event is roughly the same dependingon what you do. For mileage less than 50 the average cost is $60 plus camping and trail pass so roughly $100 without figuring in gas and food plus extra hay and grain for the horse. 50 and up is usually closer to $75 entry and 100 miles is over $100. Add in multi day rides and it’s get expensive quickly! I only fit in 2 rides last yeR because of thtat.

  6. We show hunter/jumpers so we have quite a few more classes – my average little schooling show runs about $350 for all fees(classes/stall/trainer) and we do 4 or 5 per year. The big shows (A & AA level) not including hotel run about $800-$1,200 depending on how many divisions. Since my goal is to bring home a championship ribbon this year I have my show budget set at $4,000. But I’m giving up vacations/date nights/anything fun that normal people do.

  7. It’s always great to plan, I do too. That being said I am forgoing the little shows this year and doing 2 big ones. Which will cost the same as all the little ones combined. I usually forgo anything special and take extra freelance jobs in order to help fund it 🙂

  8. In this area, unless it’s a schooling show, you have to pay a stabling fee, even if you live down the road. That seems like a rip-off – the fees are hefty.

  9. Great post! I flat out cannot go to a show. I’m a small business owner and if I’m not working, then the business is not making money. It’s a new business too so I’m working hard to get it more established. It bums me out a bit because I’m a goal oriented person. Having a show as a goal always motivated me to work my horse consistently. So I need to work on that end of things…

  10. I don’t have a big budget for showing, and usually I just attend 1 day open shows which cost about $10/class on the high end (usually they are $6 or $7 a class). So, not a whole lot invested into showing, really.

    Of course, when you consider that to most shows, I’m taking 2 horses, 2 vehicles, and entering 2 people, everything gets doubled. Still, on the whole per year, I think I spend less than $400 competing the whole year.

    This year is going to be “big year” for me, as I’ve already registered for a $150 clinic, and I am planning to attend 2 shows that are 2 days long ( 2 nights stabling), one of which is out of state and will include a hotel! Eek! Between entries, fuel in 2 vehicles, and hotel, etc… that show alone will cost me about $700.

    The other show will run about $200. So this year, between the clinic and those 2 shows alone, plus the open shows I plan to attend, my showing costs will definitely go into the $1300-$1500 range.

    AND I plan to attend the National Drive in October, in Lexington at the Horse Park – which will include hauling fees on 2 horses, hotel, stabling, and registration for the event. That one alone will run over $1000.

    So I guess this year, I plan to actually spend some money showing. We’ll see how that works out in the long run. This year blows my showing budget out of the water for about the next 5 years. lol!!!

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