Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cheap Horse Activities in a Cruddy Economy- -Becoming a One-Jump Wonder

Yikes! The price of being addicted to horses has suddenly gotten higher than ever! Have you noticed that while no one has any money, the price of horses hasn't really dropped much? The price of keeping, feeding, caring for, and showing horses hasn't gotten any cheaper, either.

In fact, it's gotten more expensive. Our local "come learn how to do penning and sorting" has just become a jackpot penning, driving the price up by 3 times. The local shows now have added surcharges for fuel and office administration. Does that make any sense in a depressed economy?

Regardless, it's resulting in the zen cowgirl blues. This zen cowgirl has money but has bigger dreams. I want to invest in an enhanced watering system for the back pasture, not to mention some raw land. So that means less showing and more work and investment in my business. Yikes! Unfortunately, I do better when there's a competitive event on the horizon to shoot for ... a horse show or a practice penning. So what's a zen cowgirl to do?

3 Ways to Find Cheap Horse Activities in This Economy
Below I'm going to highlight one of the ideas I'm pursuing as a cheap horse activity. The three basic concepts of that idea are:

1. Retrofit what you have
2. Barter services with someone else to save money
3. Borrow equipment or gear from others

These three concepts really don't require money, or at least not a lot of it. Now, read through the idea below and see if this gives you some ideas on what you might be able to do for a cheap horse activity.

What I'm Going to Do About the Zen Cowgirl Blues
What do zen cowgirls do when the wallet gets tight but the competitive spirit is still burning strong? We get creative, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. I've come up with 3 horse activities that I plan to do in the next 6 months which are aimed at competitive goals but won't break the bank. In this article I'll cover the first one:

... to be a one-jump wonder ...

How to Be a One-Jump Wonder
I live on five acres of heaven with lush pastures for horses to graze and for making hay. One thing I have not had, though, is a flat area large enough in which to lope my horses. Thus far, I've only had enough room to walk and trot. That is all about to change. At the back of the property I have an large area that is currently divided into three corrals. The corral wood is old and nasty, not to mention chewed-up by the horses (see the picture and you'll know what I mean).

I was recently struck with the idea that if I take the corrals down, I'll have a huge arena in which to lope. I can also put 1 or 2 jumps in that space. I can't take down all that wood by myself, but I can with the help of a friend. So I'm bartering with my buddy Bill. He's going to help me take down the corral wood and I'm going to do chores for him later in the month, when he and his wife are going on safari. Barter is cheap and only requires a little gas money and some elbow grease on my part.

Once I have my loping arena, I'm going to put 1 or 2 jumps in the area (a friend is going to loan me her jumps). Once that's set up, I am going to become the one-jump wonder. That means I'm going to school my hunter/jumper mares to jump full courses by using only 1 or 2 jumps. This is modeled after a chap with whom I took one jumping lesson. Like me, this man only had land for one jump, so he taught every one of his horses and riders to jump entire courses by schooling over a single jump. Given that this man was once the high-jump champion in the state, I think he might have something there. I'm going to give it a whirl this coming fall and spring, and see whether I can use his techniques to teach my mares.

The benefits of this idea are:
  1. Allows me to school my horses without hauling, thus saving on gas.
  2. Keeps my intrigued because the idea is so crazy it's fun (if I get bored, I go out and collect more horses).
  3. Enables me to keep my horses in jumping shape without buying a bunch of jumps or taking expensive lessons.
The downsides to this idea are:
  1. I will be proving once again that I am crazy (but hey, what is a zen cowgirl anyway?).
  2. I'm not sure if I remember everything the dude taught me about schooling over just a single jump.
  3. There are probably pitfalls to this approach that I have yet to discover.
Oh well, as with most activities related to my horses, everything is an open experiment, a work in progress. Without a doubt, this one-jump wonder idea will be interesting to implement, and I will probably learn some new tricks. It is, in any case, a fitting activity for a zen cowgirl who is addicted to mustangs. Stay tuned for more progress on this INSANE idea!

What About You?
What crazy but cheap ideas can you come up with to do with horses? Here's one from my local paper:

"Will pay someone to ride my fat draft gelding."

Hmmm ... does this sound like you? It's not just cheap, you get paid!

*** Get an Update on the One-Jump Wonder Project here ***

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