Our chosen lifestyle, which involves our equine partners, is expensive. Feed prices go up, facility costs are on the rise, fuel cost keep creeping up, and the list goes on and on. So how do we continue to grow in our knowledge, skill, and experience without breaking the budget? Creativity, planning and the avoidance of the dreaded ‘excuses” are three key ways to improve your horsemanship, and still be able to afford your hay bill.
Creativity comes in all forms. Think about what you want to learn or experience. Now, think of others who may want to learn or experience the same thing. Odds are there is a way for you all to pool your resources – time, focus, experience, and funds – to craft an opportunity that will help your group learn and experience what they wish to do.
Grab that same group of folks and talk to a local trainer who specializes in what you want to learn. See if a group lesson or half-day clinic could be arranged within your collective budget. Think outside the stall a bit, and do some research into successful riding clubs or groups that focus on the approach and activities that you enjoy. They are out there and usually very cost-effective to participate in.
If you cannot find a group in your area that meets your needs, create one! Yes, there will be an investment of time and effort on your part but once your group gets rolling the possibilities are endless! Think outside the lesson a bit, and head to an equestrian exposition to take advantage of all the clinicians and exhibitors at the event who are there to share their skills and knowledge with you.
Be a “demo rider” with a clinician at the equestrian exposition! You can work with your favorite clinician for much cheaper than a standard clinic costs, and you get the entire event to experience as well! Be a volunteer staff member at these equestrian expositions, and get all the “behind the scenes” excitement to inspire you. A bit of creativity is all it takes to get to the next level in your horsemanship.
Planning is just that, planning. If you know there is a clinician teaching within a reasonable distance from you and you want to participate or audit said clinic, you need to plan ahead. Skip the Starbucks coffee run a few times during a month and set that money aside. Take your lunch to work instead of grabbing something on the go a few times during the month and set that money aside too. Soon you have enough to participate or audit the clinic!
Plan on chatting with your local trainer, whom you work well with. See if labor can be traded for a discount on a lesson. Volunteer at one of the trainer’s clinics and swap that for a discount on a lesson. This goes back to creativity as well.
Planning also touches on the preparations made in order to achieve improvement. Looking at costs to get ready for the experience and planning how to cover them. Planning to take the time needed with your horse prior to the experience to get the most from it, and making sure your horse is mentally, physically and emotionally ready to participate.
Planning “life” so you have the time needed to prepare, travel and enjoy the opportunity to its fullest is a key component to improving your horsemanship on a budget. Be proactive, not reactive and think ahead. By doing so, we can often save time, money and other resources as we journey towards our goals.
Excuses are those self-imposed, self-created hurdles we place in our own way. They make it “easy” for us not to push through our created comfort zone into the next level. Yes, there are life situations that often limit what we can do at a particular time, however, avoiding difficult work because it is difficult or slightly uncomfortable is a self-imposed excuse.
They say insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, and then expecting different results. This is what an “excuse” is. It keeps us from moving forward and growing. Excuses need to be avoided. When one pops into our head or heart, we have to ask ourselves if this excuse is really valid. That is a tough thing to do!
If the excuse keeps us from moving forward because it makes us feel that the effort needed to make it happen is “too hard” then it needs to be kicked out the barn door! We do not make excuses for our horses acting poorly so why should we make excuses for our own lack of improvement. It is a hard and often times uncomfortable thing to do, but when we make the effort to avoid excuses we see that the investment of resources really pays off in major ways and that is like money in the bank! All of a sudden, the amount of cost-effective opportunities skyrockets and we find ourselves improving at a rate that we thought was impossible.
Improving your horsemanship on a budget is doable, very doable. It takes creativity, planning, and a dedicated focus to ignore excuses as we pursue our goals. The equestrian community is a small one, A little effort to network, a little creativity, and a proactive attitude can open some amazing doors that cost little and reward a lot.
Find that horsemanship club, chat with that trainer and seek out the opportunities that are out there in abundance. They will not find you, so you have to make the effort. Effort equals investment, and investments normally pay off rewards nicely!
Thanks for reading and have a great riding season!
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