I was searching the Internet for ideas on showing horses on a budget. I came across this article below from examiner.com. There's some great ideas and information in the article, but I know there has to be more tips and tricks for saving money.
http://www.examiner.com/article/nine-tips-for-showing-your-horse-on-a-budget ( I have copy and pasted the article below if you have a hard time with the link.)
"Many people who have horses would like to enter some sort of competition with them. However, the costs of horse shows can add up! Transportation, stabling, grooming supplies, tack, entry fees...it can be daunting. Here are some helpful tips on how you can save money while enjoying your passion.
1. Schooling shows are much cheaper than rated shows. Use these for practice and fun to make sure that you're really ready for the "big time." There are numerous affordable schooling shows in the Sacramento area, such as the Twin Lakes Riding Club in Orangevale. Many schooling shows allow casual riding wear, so you do not have to invest in show clothes right away.
2. Limit rated shows to those that are close to home or meet your needs best: if you just want ribbons, pick a small show with a small turnout. If you need qualification points, pick a show that generally has a big draw.
3. For multi-day shows, pick the day that has the most classes that you want to enter, and trailer in for that day only. You will save money on entry fees by only entering a few classes, and save money on the stall as well.
4. If you do choose to get a stall, see if you can team up with some friends to share a tack/groom stall. You can also pool resources so you don't necessarily have to buy everything you need, like grooming and stable supplies.
5. Don't be fooled by the high-priced grooming products! Citre Shine (available in almost any store that carries human hair care products) is the same thing as Cowboy Magic at almost half the price. Suave shampoo and conditioner works great, and you can often get it for about $1/bottle. Those snazzy grooming wipes? Forget them...get a $2 package of baby wipes at Walmart.
6. Carpool! Get a friend or two to trailer with you to split the cost of gas.
7. Learn to sew or buy used show clothes. There are patterns available (try Suitability) so that you can sew some of your own clothes. Alternatively, there are several places on-line that sell used show clothes, and many of these items were only worn a couple of times. Ebay is an excellent source. Ditto for used tack!
8. When I was a kid, my parents hauled me around to shows in a beat-up old truck and trailer. People sometimes snickered when they saw our rig, but they sure didn't snicker when I beat them! An old truck and trailer are better than no truck and trailer, as long as they are safe. Get it checked out carefully to make sure you will not be buried by repair bills.
9. Spend some time and effort to study training techniques and learn to train your own horse, or at least keep up on its training after a professional has gotten it started for you. My horse has never spent more than three days per week in training. Sure, it's taken longer to get us show ready, but I'm a better horseman for it and I'm saving myself about $700 per month in training fees. While it's much tougher to win on a national level on your own, lots of people do it! If you have a quality horse, some talent, and some education, you can get there. Another alternative is to put your horse in part-time training so your trainer rides it three days per week and you ride it the other three days. This is still cheaper than full training, but you get the benefit of professional help.
I hope you find these tips useful! Get out there and have some fun, and I'll see you on the show circuit."