some things I’m saving for

Some clever bloggers are smart enough to keep track of their horsey expenditures in some kind of organized fashion.  Some people who shall remain nameless were not clever enough to do that.

HOWEVER.

I’ve been sitting down and doing some real #adulting lately, and decided that it would be a good idea to sit down and look at my equine expenditures and see how much I’m likely to spend on horsey stuff this year.¬† It’ll be interesting to see if reality matches up with expectations at the end of the year.¬† I ultimately decided not to share this information on the blog because I’m not really comfortable just… letting the entire world know exactly how much money I waste¬†super-value-ably spend on my horse.¬† But there are some equine expenditures that I’m saving for that I don’t mind sharing.

gotta keep this little prince in the manner to which he has become accustomed

Bodywork
I’d like to bring bodywork into Murray’s life. He’s gotten a few massages over the years, but he doesn’t really like them. Our super wonderful massage therapist (A) has seen him a bunch as she’s at our barn all the time, but never laid hands on him. A and I discussed what to do with a horse like Murray who would benefit from the work, but inherently doesn’t trust humans, doesn’t really like being touched, and likes being touched and made to hurt (which massages sometimes do!) even less.¬† A actually had a whole program she’d work through with him. And, as I said above, Murray would¬†really benefit from it, I think.¬† I hope he won’t need monthly appointments, but I’m budgeting for appointments every other month at around $70 each. (~$420)

Pentosan
I never got around to putting Murray on this last year, even though I intended to. He had his hocks done, then shortly after got stalled for the year.¬† It’s a monthly thing with a loading dose, and costs about $20 per dose. (~$200)

Hocks
REALLY hoping I don’t have to, but many horses need these done annually. But saving for them regardless. If we don’t need them done, that’s money I get to keep! (~$400 without rads)

lets revisit the reason I spend all this money!

Rated events!
I’d like to go to some shows this year. They are fun! Right? I’d really like to not get eliminated at them also. Stretch goal: not have my horse try to dig his way out of his stall overnight.¬† The costs in this post are still pretty accurate. So if I aim to go to Fresno (~$800), Camelot (~$800), and Shepherd (not on the list because I used old data, but I suspect about $1100), plus memberships, I’m going to need to save close to $3000 to do that. Gulp.

Other shows?
Other shows maybe on the docket include some schooling dressage shows, maybe a couple of local fundraisers, oh, and clinics!¬† These are significantly less expensive, more like $200 for the whole weekend. I’d like the opportunity to spend $800 or so on those.

This is the first time I’ve really sat down and thought out my non-necessity spending in advance. Usually I’m just like “Oh, Twin sounds fun! I’ll find money!” and then I find money (or put it on a credit card and find the money later). But I’m turning thirty this year, and am trying to be a little more responsible with this whole thing.¬† And to make it translate to my hamster brain, this means I’ll need to put around $400/month aside just for these purposes, whether or not I use it that month.

So tell me: how do you do this? What am I missing here? Is there a clever-er way to plan and track this?¬† If I were really clever, I guess I could have saved¬†last year for¬†this¬†year… or I could start saving¬†this year for¬†next¬†year…. but that seems like a problem for Future Nicole.

diy: sharpen your own clipper blades

I’m interrupting my food-coma-induced silence to bring you the DIY that has lately revolutionized my life: sharpening my own clipper blades! It’s a good break project too, so somewhat timely.

I’m not sure about you guys, but I find getting my clipper blades sharpened surprisingly challenging. I’ve paid to have it done at a two different places, and found myself dissatisfied with the results both times. And you have to drop them off and pick them up and wait, or wait for them to get shipped back out to you.  That’s an extra level of planning I’m just not usually prepared for.  Additionally, the really good sharpening guy who is local to my area doesn’t open on weekends, so you have to find a way to get to him during the week  between 8 and 5, which doesn’t work with  my schedule.

So when I found out that you could sharpen your own blades quickly and easily with just one thing that I already had at home, I was sold.  That one thing?  A whetstone.

I’m no sharpening expert, but I watched a bunch of youtube videos that all had the same basic consensus on the method, which seemed pretty easy.  My father in law also pointed out that he’s never sharpened something and made it worse.  Plus, I clipped my friend’s mare after doing a test-sharpen on my blades and found it pretty easy, even on her tight, thick hair.  So that makes me a bona fide internet expert (clip job shown above).

So here’s how you do it.

Supplies

  • a whetstone (I use this one)
  • a towel you don’t mind staining forever
  • paper towels
  • a bowl of water
  • clipper blades
  • phillips head screwdriver
  • clipper blade oil

I did not suggest an adult beverage because we are working with sharp objects, but you’re an adult, you can make your own choices

First, soak or otherwise prepare your whetstone. The twinternet says 5-40  minutes. I soaked mine for about ten.

make sure it’s covered in water

Then you have the slightly fiddly task of taking your clipper blades apart. You simply need to loosen the two screws on the bottom of the clipper blades with your screwdriver. Don’t try to use a butter knife, it won’t work. I tried.

Use your rag towel to provide a surface to keep all your pieces together, and to stabilize your whetstone when you start sharpening.

There are only four pieces (plus two screws) that you have to keep track of, so it’s not too horrifying to take apart. Try to keep the top two pieces together so that you don’t have to fiddle around with them later. Step by step take-apart image below.

Brush all of the hair and dirt and grit out of your blades with a small brush (often comes with clippers), or if you lost it like me, a paper towel.

I tried to take some pictures of how dirty/rusty my blades were, but it was not the easiest picture ever. But you can see dirt and rust on the interior of the blades (this is my wide T84 blade, but it comes apart just the same as the other blades).

Next, plop some water on your sharpening stone and get ready to get dirty! I started on the coarse (1000 grit) side of the stone, and moved to the fine side (4000 grit I think, but maybe 6000) to polish/finish it off. For the blades that had only done a trace clip on one horse since they were last sharpened, I only used the fine grit side (which is why my animations are a bit different from the pictures here).

You should be able to tell the grit level of your stone by feeling it — there’s a big difference between 1000 and 4000 grit.

You are going to sharpen to the two flat sides of the toothed blade; the sides that sit facing one another when the clippers are put together. Once the blade is on the stone with water, you just start rubbing it along the stone with firm and even pressure.

You’ll start seeing dirty/gritty water appear on the stone, and that’s good! That grit is what helps clean up your blade.

Keep adding water to your stone and blade as you go, you want it to stay wet (not underwater, but not just damp) the whole time.

I use three motions to sharpen my blade. First, moving the blade straight up and down square to the stone.

I also run just the edge of the blade across the edge of the stone. This one is a bit more challenging as you have to avoid biting into the edge of your stone with the underside of the blade, and have to try to keep things flat.

 

Finally, I make circles with the blade along the stone.

From what I understand, using these different motions allows you to avoid making waves/divots in your stone, but also helps you sharpen different parts of the blade. But what do I know.

Keep even pressure across the blade to sharpen the whole length as evenly as possible.

Check the blades regularly to see how clean they are getting. Because you can’t test sharpness until they are put back together, I use cleanness to indicate sharpness. So when I can still see bits of dirt and rust I keep going. When the blades look really shiny and reflective, I know I’m close to done.

Here’s one blade in sunlight. It’s hard to see, but the central teeth are still dirty, so I kept going. Shortly after this, I switched to the fine grit so I could get them really polished (and hopefully sharp).

Just keep rubbing in different directions and orientations and you’ll get there.

When the blades were super shiny and reflective, I called it good. You can see in the pictures that the blades are quite shiny across the entiren length, though in person the middle section was a touch less shiny. I also did this process on the white “ceramic” blade that came on one set of clippers, and they seemed to respond much like the metal blades.

After sharpening, you want to dry the blades off really well. I put the pieces in front of the fireplace for 20 minutes or so, but a low oven would do too. Or in the sunlight if it weren’t too humid. 

The last part is the most fiddly – putting the blades back together. It’s just the reverse of taking them apart, but more irritating. Place the small blade on top of the large one with the cutting surfaces touching and line the teeth up. Then place the top pieces down in line with the holes for the screws. The bar on the top pieces fits in a groove on the top blade, which is how the top blade stays in place. Then you need to line the screws up and tighten them down.

I found that by loosely winding one screw in, I could re-adjust the other half of the blade to get the second screw lightly placed. During this step you should make sure your clipper blades are lined up straight, otherwise you’ll end up with a really uneven clip (I imagine, haven’t tested this). Once everything is lined up, really tighten the screws down.

I dried the blades off again on the fireplace after putting them together, then tightened one more time. Now it is time to apply clipper oil. This will prevent your blades from rusting and keep them clean for your next clip job. Attach your blades to your clipper, apply a line of oil across the teeth, then turn the clippers on and let them run for a moment. 

Soak your whetstone to get off any residual metal fillings.  If you have one, use a flattening stone to resurface the whetstone and achieve a really flat surface again (if you think it needs it). I store my stone in the box it came in, after I’ve cleaned and let it air dry.

And voila! Clippers sharpened. Three sets of clippers took me two episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., all the way through clean up. Well worth the time and investment, imo!
 

show prep: buy too many damn things

There’s nothing like reaffirming your commitment to a sport than blowing half a paycheck* on stuff you need for your first show of the year, amirite?

 season 3 hbo money unicorn startup GIF

Turns out there were a lot of things I needed.

My XC vest was a very, very old trade from when my barn manager’s daughter was literally a kid. I had originally bought myself one of the old Tipperary vests (used, of course) but because of my freakishly short torso my hips were constantly pushing the vest up around my ears. ¬†At some point when your armpits are literally the only thing holding your vest in place and you have no peripheral vision because the shoulders of the vest are flanking your head, you just have to admit that the oh-so-fashionable Tipperary may not be for you.

Image result for inflated child's life vestnot actually what your XC vest is supposed to look like

So when the shoulder of this kids’ Charles Owen started ripping in a non-repairable location, I knew I’d need something a little different than the norm. ¬†Luckily for me, Amanda reviewed the Airowear a long time ago and Riding Warehouse is my go-to. ¬†Amanda said it before, and I’ll say it again: the Airowear is a BEAST. ¬†That thing is hard core, I jumped all around, flung myself into a few walls, and did everything short of throwing my body on the ground Murray-style to test it, and I could hardly feel a thing. ¬†It still rides up a little over my shoulders, but it’s not uncomfortable and when the space between your bottom rib and the top of your hips is literally 2″ you are just going to have to make some compromises in life (damage: $300+).

I also lost my Majyk Equipe XC fronts¬†on an outing to Eventful Acres last Summer, and¬†since they haven’t shown back up yet, another set of those had to go in the cart (damage: $80). ¬†I originally bought my XC boots as a full set from a kid who had used them only a few times for $90, so paying nearly that full price for just the fronts was a little galling.


but I really like doing this so I’ll get over it

Sadly for us, we’ve ripped through our rainbow reins right where I hold them in my right hand. ¬†And somehow I lost not one but¬†two sets of spare brown rubber reins I used to own. ¬†I grabbed two sets of reins to see which ones I would like more, one by Tory ($50) and one by Nunn Finer ($80). ¬†Of course I like the $80 pair much, much more. ¬†Sigh.

To top off that order I dropped in two sets of bell boots (and somehow the “normal” sized bell boots look like GIGANTIC warmblood ones? we’ll see if they even fit my horse’s one normal foot) for the show, and a bucket of magnesium because Murray.

this is a good “because Murray” reminder

From Amazon I bought¬†a roll of Tubigrip ($45 with shipping), which I’ve read about in the World Class Grooming book. ¬†It’s my current plan for icing Murray’s legs since I’m not going to be able to keep square packs frozen, and there’s no reasonable and safe way for me to wrap ice in ziplocks on to his leg (been there, tried it, and just NOPE). ¬†But Emma Ford and Cat Hill suggest you can double down some Tubigrip and stuff ice in the pocket you’ve made, then wrap that in a polo for insulation. ¬†Since there’s an approximately 100% chance that Murray will knock over or break a bucket full of ice, and I really should start icing him after XC (if for no other reason than to stop irritating that extensor tendon edema). ¬†I’ll let you all know how it goes.

I was actually hoping I could use the Tubigrip as a compression sock to keep some pressure on that lump when Murray isn’t wrapped, but after wearing the bandage for a few hours tonight I’m not sure it will help the way I want it to. I will need to consult one of my vet student friends — maybe I can size down for better edema prevention. ¬†But I think it will be a useful additional layer for poultice, so that could be cool.

Equiderma: Neem & Aloe Natural Outdoor Spray For Horses - Equiderma | Natural Horse Care | Pet Care Products I caved to Facebook advertising and bought some Equiderma Neem Oil fly spray ($45 for two bottles, plus shipping).  Apparently this is what you do when you have a real person paycheck?  It was spendy, but not that much more expensive than I will probably spend on fly spray this year anyway, and I like Neem Oil in my garden.  Why not on the horse?  I honestly probably should have just thrown in the Neem Shampoo and tried to get the free shipping, but I figured I should start small.

Finally, I bought myself a new phone ($250) because my beloved Nexus 5x fell into the Android update boot loop on the way home from Hawaii. ¬†I tried to keep spending on this one to a minimum since I’d like another Google Phone when I get the opportunity, but did shell out for the extended warranty because my ability to mysteriously break phones is nothing short of a superpower. ¬†I’ve gone through five smartphones (albeit, 4/5 were used or refurbished) in less than 4 years. ¬†I must emit some kind of low-dose electromagnetic radiation or sweat uranium or something.

Honestly, there are a few more things I want and/or need, but I’m not sure if they’ll make the list before Twin. ¬†Loading your credit card up with $1000 in stuff in a week will really push you to a¬†“only buy the things I NEED” mentality real quick. I¬†need a new helmet as well, my current one is going on four years old and I was its second owner (from a trusted first-owner source, though). ¬†That will¬†not be happening any time soon, but maybe this year I’ll get to take advantage of helmet day sales for once?! ¬†I also need a clean square or shaped pad for stadium, gloves for dressage, and a legal-size and acceptably-colored dressage whip. ¬†I want to bathe Murray in a tea tree oil shampoo before we get there too, to help get rid of any lingering yuck on his skin.

SERIOUSLY, THE LIST IS NEVER ENDING.

hustle

I didn’t talk about this terribly extensively last year, but I was essentially unemployed for half of the year. ¬†My teaching assistantship ended in June, and I didn’t find a proper job after that until December, so I cobbled together my savings and tutoring income to make ends meet. ¬†I’ve always lived a pretty skimpy lifestyle, maintaining this whole horse habit on a TA salary (it started around $1500/month after taxes). ¬†But June-December epitomized “stretched thin” for me.

I put together an income by picking up a ton of tutoring clients, not turning down a single job that was offered to me (except that salaried one in Santa Cruz, but let’s ignore that), accepting some help from my parents and friends, and not spending money on absolutely¬†anything that I didn’t need to. ¬†If it wasn’t gas (to get to work), food for me or one of the animals, or rent (human or equine), it wasn’t being had.

I managed to make things work (I’m here, after all), but not without some heavy exercising of the credit card (that’s how those function though, right? use it or lose it?), an insane schedule, and — let’s face it — some serious help from my friends and family. ¬†I regularly drove 100 miles a day, getting back and forth between all the students that wanted my attention. I lived essentially rent-free at a few peoples’ houses, put all my stuff in another friend’s barn, and nobody ever thought to kick me out or make my life difficult because things weren’t going according to plan. ¬†I even had to let my barn owners know that I needed to pay board late a few times because paychecks were delayed for one reason or the other, and they didn’t blink. ¬†Murray received the same excellent level of care he’d been getting all year long, and if his grain was down to one pound instead of two each day, I don’t think he noticed or cared.


considering that he spent those months almost entirely asleep…

I found out I’d be hired on for a 50% contract in early December, and this week my contract was increased to 100% while we take advantage of some grant money. ¬†I’m earning what is considered a small salary for many, but is an absurdly lavish amount of money for me (2.1x my prior salary, but full time, if you want to know). ¬†I have health insurance, my horse’s rent is paid, the credit card bills are almost gone, and I’ll be able to survive for a few months after the position ends while I look for a new job — even with a horse show or two in my life. ¬†I keep up with a couple of my tutoring clients after hours and on weekends, even though it makes riding that much harder. ¬†Every hour I struggle through with one of my students — which really is not that many, to be honest; they are mostly great kids — I think about the next bill that will get paid off, my new dressage saddle, an entry fee, or Ellie’s upcoming orthopedic surgery. ¬†I don’t love not getting home until 8:30 to eat,¬†but I also didn’t love not knowing if I’d have to move back in with my parentes in any given two week period.

And through all of this, I’ve been incredibly privileged. Nobody once questioned what I was doing with my life, why I didn’t just get a job or work harder, or threaten to throw me or my animals out because I wasn’t paying on time. At one point I lost my deodorant and smelled AWFUL despite upping my shower frequency, and¬†still¬†my friends tolerated me (as a result of this I now have sticks of deodorant squirreled away everywhere). ¬†There are so many people who are unluckier than I am in similar circumstances. ¬†I¬†have parents to move back in with, who wouldn’t consider it a great burden to have me for a few extra weeks or months.

I am lucky.

I’m working three jobs right now, and I don’t regret it. ¬†It’s not always¬†easy, but I make it work, and I try to squeeze a private life in there on the weekends somehow. ¬†The goal is one job — ideally a flexible one where I don’t have to sit in the office 9-5 so I can go ride in the daylight sometimes — that meets all my needs, but if I don’t have that for now, it’s fine. ¬†I know¬†I can make ends meet.

If you’re in that boat — keep hustling. ¬†I will.

show expenses breakdown

Last year I set a show schedule that was simultaneously ambitious and reserved.¬† I wanted to hit a bunch of schooling/unrated events and 1-2 rated events.¬† Interestingly, I hit only two rated events… and no unrated events.¬† It was all a matter of timing, and then money.

Since then I’ve gained rather a bit of experience showing, and not just by going to shows.¬† Having photographed at shows and gone to watch, as well as paid to go to shows and thought more about what I need to do to show my personal horse, I thought I’d break down the actual costs of attending an event in California.¬† The categories of the expenses I’ve listed here will by-and-large hold for events anywhere, though the actual amounts will vary.

Show Entry and Stabling

The first cost that most people associate with shows are the costs of the show itself.¬† Rated and unrated shows typically vary the most in this area, but since there are really only 3 unrated events in my area (and a few unrated combined tests) it’s hard for me to predict accurately the cost of unrated events.¬† Based on the 2 unrated events I have been to, cost is between $180 event + $45 stabling and $230 including stabling.¬† Rated events have more standard expenses in California: $230 or $250 for BN/N/T entries, and $260+ for Prelim and above.¬† Stabling (looking at the 2016 omnibus) varies between $115 and $150, and doesn’t necessarily seem to vary based on the number of days of the event.¬† Haul ins usually charge $30 – $60 per day or a flat $75-115 so over a few days may add up to the same amount as stabling.¬† I almost always choose to stable since Murray does much better after a night of sleeping in a place, even if it’s a little more expensive.¬† And you can’t forget USEA starter fees — a whopping $21 goes directly and separately to USEA to help cover the costs of the online scoring system, year end points, and probably those badass little magnets you can get. Adding all that to entry, you’re already in the ballpark of $365.

Unrated: $230+
Rated: $365+

coop

Schooling

While others might be comfortable attending an event without schooling the facility, I personally am not yet at that place yet.¬† There are a few caveats to this: there are some events further away (8+ hours hauling) that I would attend without schooling if I felt that I was in a good place with Murray or I made it to regional championships, for example.¬† However, I’d probably make up for that by aggressively schooling more local courses that are similar, so it all comes out the same money-wise.¬† Schooling fees in California vary from site to site, from as little as $15/schooling day to $100 for your first time and $70 thereafter.¬† Trainer fees for a schooling day are usually around $65, and then you have to add in hauling to the location.¬† So the cheapest places for me to school are $70 in hauling + $15 in facility fee + $65 training, or $20 hauling + $60 facility fee + $65 training.¬† That’s a solid $150 day.¬† Hauling further away just adds to the cost.

Training Fees

Depending on your trainer, for an n-day event you can count on paying either n or n+1 days of training.¬† B gives us a pretty solid dressage school the day we arrive at an event, time permitting, so we usually end up with n+1.¬† But if you don’t need to school that day, or can’t, that would work out differently.¬† So for a 3 day event I paid for 4 days of training, or $240 in trainer fees.¬† A 2 day event would be around $180.

IMG_2017

Travel

Not only do you have to get to the event, but you have to get your horse there and live while you are there.¬† So this means you have to haul — cost depends on mileage, of course — stay somewhere yourself, and feed yourself.¬† For me a close event would mean spending $20 in hauling, a medium distance about $110, and a far event would cost up to $250.¬† I spent $90 on hotel for a 3 night stay in a pretty cheap area of California, though due to a bunch of people dropping out I did end up sharing with fewer people than intended.¬† So let’s say that you fill your hotel to the max and spend $75 over three nights in a cheap area and $100 over three nights in a more spendy area.¬† At schooling events, we often camp or (because there is one locally), I can just sleep at home.¬† Then there’s food.¬† We often eat dinners out, and there’s one competitor’s dinner included with entry at most shows, so that’s dinners.¬† Dinner out is at least $15/night so I spend $30 over the weekend.¬† I never know what I will be willing to eat at a show, but know that I need plenty of water and gatorade to get through the weekend, and usually end up spending about $30 on snacks and sports beverages to keep me going between breakfast and dinner.

Hauling: $20-250
Hotel: $75+
Food: $60+

IMG_20150204_192530don’t forget the beer!

Miscellaneous costs

There are always random costs associated with traveling with my horse that I forget about at first.¬† For example, shavings!¬† I’d rather bring extra shavings than buy more at a show.¬† At $6/bag I usually end up spending about $24 on shavings for a 3-night show stay.¬† I also usually buy ice to keep my beverages cold and possibly ice my horse if he ever learns to do that, so another $6 bag if you buy at the show.¬† Miscellaneous shit always comes up though, so I estimate it at an even $50 for miscellaneous costs per show.

Opportunity Costs

Opportunity costs are the costs of things you are losing out on by doing something.¬† For example, by attending a 3-day horse show you may need to take 4 days off of work.¬† Therefore, you are losing out on 4 days of pay.¬† If you are a show photographer you are losing the opportunity to make income at a show by entering the show yourself.¬† While opportunity costs will vary drastically from person to person (I, for example, have never had to give up money in terms of work to attend a horse show. I do, however, forfeit essentially an entire week of work on my thesis, which is an important opportunity cost in my “career”.

wpid-wp-1441001474419.jpgSoooo worth it…

When you add all these things up, even the cheapest schooling show ends up costing me around $740, a cheap rated show costs around $960, and a somewhat-distant rated show costs $1170 (though could move all the way up to $1350 — and that’s just within California).

Wtf why do I do this again?  Geez.

And then just for fun, here’s a handy dandy chart of my calculated costs for various events near me.¬† The columns in green are a rated show.¬† The far left column, at WSS, would be a one-day event at a local venue that I often school anyway, so I nixed the schooling costs.¬† The navy column, the first FCHP, is a rated combined test (no XC).¬† I also nixed schooling costs for CEPF because I will go there at least once this year regardless of whether or not I intend to school there.

eventcostsbecause I am a twit, I didn’t think to remove the useless key on the right hand side of this figure. forgive me, data analysts, for I have sinned, but I really don’t want to make this graph again

 

money saving tips for spring barn projects

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.

helmet2

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!

dirty saddle pad

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!