It’s not just at Christmas time that we need to watch our budget. If Santa’s ignoring that request for those new Pikeur breeches or that jumping saddle, here’s a few tips to save money but stay stylish all year long!
Ho ho ho! ‘Tis the season when keeping a horse costs more. Now, you may be one of those lucky people who with the change of every season can order exactly what they want from the latest Pikeur or Ariat catalogue. For the rest of us whose Prada just happens to be Primark, how to give to one’s horse and yes, dare I suggest it – even to oneself, can stretch not just one’s budget but one’s ingenuity. Staying stylish costs at any time of year. And being around horses is tough on stuff. It wears out. So, with this in mind – here’s my top tips for getting more bang for your buckaroo when it comes to kitting out both you and your horse. When the going gets tough – the tough still go shopping. But with one eye on that bottom line.
Just like anyone else out there, I love a good drool over the latest rider gear. But here’s a fact – an equestrian brand logo is often simply an excuse to charge more. After all, if you have horses you’re rich, right? Or you would be if you didn’t have horses. That down jacket or those gloves minus the equestrian branding cost much less and do the same job. Neoprene thermal bike gloves are waterproof and windproof plus you don’t need to remove them to tack up, pick out feet, mix feeds or use your phone. Their sticky fingertips and palms make them perfect for gripping those reins. Prices from £2.50 a pair on line. Sports stores or chains such as TKMaxx offer a wide range of warm, stylish yet practical jackets suitable for riding or yard chores. At around a half to two thirds less than the cost of many equestrian brands.
Table Top Tack Sales
Not only can you pick up quality gear for you and your horse at bargain prices, table top tack sales also give you the opportunity to get rid of your own stuff you no longer use. And with the proceeds you can go stock up again instantly. Well worth considering driving out of your area to attend. Money saved usually more than writes off the petrol costs. Bargains sourced over the years: almost new Mountain Horse boots £15, unused Western saddle pad £5, new Mountain Horse show breeches £10. Table top tack sales can be especially good for rugs, bridles and bits.
Beware the Impulse Buy!
How many times have you been on holiday and bought something only to return home and wonder what on earth possessed you? Holidays put us in an expansive and impulsive mood. The same goes for attending those major equestrian events where shopping forms a large part of the experience. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen friends return from one loaded with carrier bags – only to be listing those ‘must have’ items on selling groups or eBay just days later. Retailers at these events rely on the impulse purchase. Put it simply, you’re in the mood to splurge while there.
At some of these events there are actually bargains to be had. Especially those which attract stands from the clearance retailers (see below). Yes, we love to browse and when it comes to small businesses promoting hand-made goods, there are gems to be discovered. However, we need to be aware that many of the items on sale attract a heavy mark-up to cover off the costs of simply being there. If you feel yourself drawn to that truly beautiful item which is not hand-crafted, then price compare on your phone before making your purchase. A few years back when I was attending a certain three-day event famed for its shopping experience, I saw the perfect showing bridle for my horse. I was about to succumb to what would have been a substantial purchase when I thought to check on line to see if there was anything similar available at a lower price. I found the same model on eBay but for £70 less. Of course, treat yourself. But if in doubt, walk around before fishing that card out.
Get Virtual Horse Sense
Bargains can be found on eBay, Preloved and Facebook groups. Plus this is another way to rid yourself of your old stuff and get funding for some new. For large ticket items such as saddles for instance, ask if the seller is willing to take it back if it does not fit provided you pay the return postage. Most sellers are honest and being horsey people know how important this is. You can also often negotiate a price with the seller as the majority are open to offers. If you want to bid on an auction on eBay and are worried about missing out on that bargain due to having to muck out when it ends, sign up for a program like Auction Sniper which for a tiny fee – I am talking pennies, will bid for you in the final 5 seconds. If you are dealing with anyone on-line outside of eBay in particular, ensure you either pay via Paypal or cash on collection.
eBay is not just a good source for quality, second hand goods but also for new without the retail mark-up. Probably those brand new with tags impulse buys now being off-loaded!
Like any other fashion brands, yes, equestrian fashion has outlets. Basically, this is all new rider and horse gear but it’s the previous seasons. So, it is being sold at a discount which can be anywhere between 20 – 80% off. Think of these as permanent sales. Many of them have their own websites or in fact, sell via an eBay store. Some have a regular presence at some of the larger events across the country. Your Horse Live is particularly good for many of these all in the one place. Most usually also carry a wide range of rugs and other horse gear too. All heavily discounted. If you are not bothered about riding in this season’s must-have olive green breeches but are willing to settle for last season’s blue ones instead, you can get yourself a great wardrobe for a steal. Complete with branding and logos too.
And the Rest
If you love bargain hunting then don’t miss a chance to check out your local charity shop (thrift store for those in the US or ‘Op Shop’ if you are in Australia!) or vintage store. Great rider gear can often be found in these even in non-horsey areas. Over the years I have found breeches, designer riding jeans, a pair of practically brand-new leather Spanish riding boots, never worn muckers, a pair of Hunter wellies and an all-weather riding/yard jacket with the tags still attached in charity shops. Then of course there’s just all-purpose items such as jackets, jeans, hoodies, beanies etc. And unlike fast fashion, you’re doing a good thing for the planet. Preloved is reloved. Vintage store finds have included a 1960’s tweed hacking jacket in mint condition and a beautifully cut Moschino black show jacket. The most expensive items on this list were the Spanish riding boots which set me back a mere £30 and the Moschino jacket which was £37. It’s not just about the money you save or you and your horse looking good. It’s that feeling you’ve just found the most amazing bargain – priceless!
Written by Helen Watts