It’s definitely spring here in California, and amid the sunshine and pony playtime and trying to graduate and all that good stuff, I can’t help myself but get involved in some barn projects.
You can get really cheap paint at home improvement stores (Home Despot, Lowes, Ace, etc.) in the rejects area. Stores that mix paint colors will sometimes make mistakes, or people who ordered a mixed paint color will make a mistake. And that’s a huge bummer for them. Know who it’s not a huge bummer for? Barn rats who need to paint jumps. You can get big buckets of mis-mixed or off-tint paint for rather cheap ($5 for a gallon rather than the $10 or $15+ you would normally pay) if you look carefully. Sure, the color selection isn’t great — usually a lot of eggshell-variations that just weren’t quite right — but you know what kinds of colors people ask to have mixed and then usually change their minds on? BOLD ONES. I’ve picked up some sweet neons at this endcap at my local Ace. (While you’re painting, considering using mistinted stains for jump standards instead of paint. Works just as well, and can add waterproofing ability!)
Speaking of paint, try trading lessons for jump painting services. I don’t know about your trainers, but my trainer hates jump painting, and is more than happy to trade for it. Jumps need repainting pretty much every year, and if you can stand the monotony of some sanding and painting, it’s a great way to get some extra training in. Me? I throw on some tunes or a podcast and paint away. You can also trade lessons for other spring chores at the barn, if your trainer is amenable to it. During the winter, all kinds of crap tends to accrue in the corners, and if your BOs are anything like mine, they want that shit gone and are happy to have you do it.
The turning of the seasons means it’s time for tack stores, both physical and online, to get rid old stock and make room for new, so it’s time to hit up the sales. I have zero qualms about wearing last year’s anything, so I’ll buy* human clothes as well as horse clothes during spring sales. Sometimes brands are even liquidating entire lines and making way for updated products, and this year I as well as several of my friends have picked up Charles Owen helmets on super sale. Winter stock is going to be cheapest now and into the summer, and summery things are going to be expensive. So say no-no to those oh-so-tempting sun shirts (I still don’t even really believe they will work in California summers anyway?) and say “hello!” to some warm winter fleece that you will dutifully fold or hang in your closet for next year.
* When I have money. Which, this year, I do not.
Clean and store your winter items properly. I’m lucky that our barn has a loft area in which we can store pretty much anything we want, as long as it’s done neatly. This last caveat was added because sometimes people would just dump their winter blankets up there come spring, and then months later we would find them dusty, moldy, and covered in pigeon shit (and occasionally pigeon carcasses — dreamy). And nobody wants to use a blanket that’s been doubling as a pigeon latrine for six months. Rubbermaid tubs are shockingly cheap at Target, and you can stuff at least one midweight blanket and a sheet in a $7 tub. This will keep your horse’s winter clothes ready for use next year. Even neatly-folded blankets on bars will end up as dust-collection and the occasional mouse-house if you’re not careful. This means next winter, you don’t need to buy more blankets!
Speaking of washing, you can do your own horse laundry! Tracy gave a fantastic guide on how to do it AND keep your washer clean! Horse laundry at home saves over a laundromat OR paying some kind of horse laundress (I’ve heard of these people though never met one) to do it for you.
Plant a carrot garden. No really, I mean it. I’ve had great luck direct-seeding carrots in the past, and if you can find an area of loose-ish soil at your barn (or your house!), I’ve found carrots shockingly easy to grow. This is great for those cookiemonsters in our lives, and there’s always something awesome about food you grew yourself! Food Forests can actually dramatically cut down on your summer vegetable spending! I’m planting a whole food forest in an underused corner of my barn’s property this year, just see if I don’t.
There are so many expenses I can’t avoid in Spring — my horse is exploding out of his shoes! vaccines! dental! gallons of fly spray and show sheen! — that I really like to save money wherever I can. How do you like to save money in Spring? Equine or otherwise — send me your tips!