If you are a trainer, you should be prompting your clients to budget their horse spending. Knowing when and how much they are willing to spend will help you forecast your revenue for the year and plan accordingly. Nothing spells disaster like planning for a big show group and having people cancel at the last minute because they can’t pay the bill. Encouraging your clients to think proactively about their spending can eliminate these types of problems.
The Chronicle of the Horse recently posted a great article written by an amateur rider lamenting the high cost of show horse ownership. The author discusses how she has made many tradeoffs, including living in an airstream full time, in order to fund her equestrian pursuits. At one point, she states that she was asked to add up her annual spending and she was “horrified” and “didn’t want to know”. It’s clear though as you read through her piece that she has actually put considerable amount of thought into her spending and her careful planning has allowed her to compete and train her horse.
Wanting to avoid the realities of our spending is a normal and commonplace reaction. Especially when we put a large amount of our resources towards recreation. But it’s your money and you worked hard for it and should be able to use it as you see fit.
If you want to reduce the guilt factor, I suggest practicing responsible fiscal management by developing a budget for your horse related costs. Think about your goals for the year and align your spending to support those goals. For example, if you want to qualify for the state championships, determine which horse shows will give you the best bang for your buck for point accumulation and attend those. Spending thousands on out of state horse shows might not make sense if you can double the amount of shows you attend by staying in state.
Budgeting is all about tradeoffs and opportunity cost. You are given a finite resource and you need to add and subtract expenses in order to stay within your limit just like the author in the Chronicle post had to downsize her living situation in order to keep her horse. Knowing what that limit is at the beginning of the year and creating a plan, gives you control over your spending and minimizes surprises.