Sometimes, a traditional 9 to 5 just doesn’t cut it when horses are involved.
If you haven’t got a lot of extra time on your hands to dedicate to a second job, or if your schedule is inconsistent and won’t allow for a second job, or if you’re in high school or college and don’t even have time for a first job, a side hustle might be just the thing for you.
What is a side hustle, exactly?
Essentially, it’s a fun, flexible way for you to make money on the side without quitting your day job. For some, it’s little more than a part-time job where you're the boss. For others, it’s an opportunity to explore your true passion, whatever that may be.
Don’t worry, though. I’m not recycling the same boring, tired, overdone side hustle ideas. There are a million blog posts on side hustles out there, so if you want to read about tutoring or starting a blog, this isn’t the post for you.
But, if you’re here for legitimate, horse-related side hustle ideas for equestrians, you’ve come to the right place.
1. Horse Show Photographer
If you know your way around a camera, this could be a great option for you. Start small by practicing your skills at a few small schooling shows and from the stands at bigger shows, then work your way up from there.
While you’re at shows, keep an eye out not only for the “I hired a professional” photos, but for candid shots outside the arena, as well. In-arena shots are great for selling prints to riders, but anything you take can also be sold as stock photography or art prints online or at local arts festivals.
Supply-wise, you could pull this one off at a relatively low cost. Check out local pawn shops for DSLR cameras at affordable prices. (I picked up my Sony for $50!) VistaPrint is a great option for simple, clean, and budget-friendly business cards, which is a must. And finally, I suggest a blog. You could choose to go high quality with Squarespace (which I use for this site) or Wordpress (which I use for my personal blog), but if finances are especially tight, a Blogspot blog or a free Wordpress blog would be fine.
Best yet, not only is this something you can do while you’re already at a show, it’s also fairly scalable, meaning it can become as little or as big a side hustle as you want it to.
2. Braiding/Banding/Clipping Services
If you’re good with braiding, banding, and/or clipping, print out a few flyers with your phone number and rates and hang them around the barn at bigger shows. (Depending on where you live, schooling shows might not be a reliable source of income if you do this.)
What you charge should depend on how quality a job you can do. If you’re new at it and still polishing your skills, start low at $10 for banding and $15-20 for braiding. My friend and pro horseman Bryan Taylor charges $30 for banding, $50 for braiding, and varies his clipping rates depending on the job, though they usually range between $10 to $50.
Unlike photography, this option isn’t very scalable. You’ll probably be hustling late at night or early in the morning and you can only take on so many clients before you become booked up. That said, if you can braid a few horses every Friday night or Saturday morning, you could easily make an extra couple hundred dollars a month.
3. Trailering Services
Own a truck and trailer? You could make a few extra bucks hauling on the weekends. The best way to do this is to charge by the mile with a minimum rate to make it worthwhile for you.
Supply-wise, it’s best if you already own a truck and trailer as those are expensive, making the initial investment here high. If you’ve already got them, then you’re still investing gas and time, wear on your trailer (specifically wear on your tires and floorboards), and shavings for every trip.
That said, if you offer a trailering service, you’ll be charging by the mile per horse with a minimum base fee and, depending on the distances you’ll be driving and how many horses you’ll be hauling at a time, this could become a fairly lucrative side hustle.
Much like braiding/banding/clipping, this side hustle option isn’t very scalable, either. Additionally, you could run into scheduling conflicts, roadside problems, and more.
4. Show Clothing or Tack Resale
If you can afford to put up a table and a few shelves or clothing racks at a horse show, you could start up a show clothing or tack resale side hustle.
Supplies depend on how much you want to invest and how you choose to run the show. You could either go the consignment route and take a large percentage as commission after the item sells OR you could buy the item outright from people who need to part with their old stuff and charge more than what you sold it for.
This side hustle would most likely work best offline, which means you would also need to invest in booth spaces at horse shows, shelves and/or clothing racks, booth supplies (signs, décor, cash register, etc.), and possibly a small trailer to haul everything later on down the road.
With this side hustle, you may need to look into doing the paperwork to actually start a business, so be sure to look into the local and state resale and small business requirements in your area.
5. Sales Rep/Brand Ambassador
There are plenty of companies looking for sales representatives, and if you live in a fairly active area horse-wise, this could become a lucrative side hustle. Among the many things he does, Bryan Taylor is the area representative and brand ambassador for Star Performance Hitches (catch my review of them next month).
Most sales rep positions I’ve looked into require traveling to shows and setting up a booth that you then basically live at for the duration of the show. If that’s not the lifestyle for you, though, look into becoming a brand ambassador. Those typically require a lower investment time-wise, don’t require you to become a sleazy salesman/mall troll to make sales, and often offer additional perks, though the real money is often in working booths.
6. Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistant businesses are cropping up all over the place. I’ve even considered hiring one myself to help me clean up a few things behind the scenes. Better yet, you can tailor your services to businesses and professionals in the equine industry, giving yourself a solid niche and specialty.
In my opinion, I’ve saved the best for last, here, because a virtual assistant’s services can be just about anything. Copywriting, editing, graphic design, and accounting are all common services in the VA niche.
The only real requirements for having a virtual assistant side hustle are a web site, business cards, and a way for people to pay you. The web site will come in handy when you need to display past work or list your services and business cards will help you network and expand your business offline.
That said, I’m not terribly familiar with the virtual assistant side hustle. If you’re interested in becoming a virtual assistant, I suggest you become a member of Melyssa Griffin’s Facebook group Blog & Biz BFFs. There are a ton of VA’s in there and the group, while large, is incredibly supportive.
Depending on the level of success you see with being a VA, you could consider bringing your business offline, as well. Taking it offline opens up a whole lot of opportunity for services you could offer (tack cleaning, barn maintenance, social media & marketing assistance, etc.) but moving offline might make finding clients a little more difficult since you’re limited by physical location.
Now that I’ve covered a few industry-specific side hustles, let’s move on to some of my favorite general side hustles.
One of my longest-running former side hustles was jewelry-making and western Christmas décor. The jewelry thing was a feast or famine thing, but every Christmas, my mom and I would partner up for some hardcore cowboy Christmas decoration-making and we made bank. Barbed wire wreaths, barbed wire crosses, and lariat crosses were our biggest sellers, but we also did custom items like metal signs and picture frames.
While those things sold like hotcakes in Texas, I’m in Georgia now and the demand for cowboy-themed items is much lower here, so I’ve had to give that one up.
To make this work, first you’ll need a solid idea of what to make, then you’ll need to invest in the materials. Craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s are great, but you can find wholesale websites that charge a whole lot less, as well.
This side hustle is fairly scalable, as well, because if you’re seeing success offline, you can open up an Etsy shop, start a website, and a whole lot more.
Yep, I’m touching on this one again. If you’re not good at taking photos at horse shows or you don’t have an eye for shooting horses, shift your subject matter. Baby photos, sports team shots, senior portraits, you name it, OR stick to just shooting stock photography and selling art prints. I’ve heard that styled flat-lay stock photography is the in thing right now.
9. Sales Rep
Yep, touching on this one again, too. There are plenty of companies out there that offer sales rep positions outside of the horse industry and sometimes, you can take something that’s not directly related to the equine industry, twist your thinking, and make it relevant.
Take my friend Bryan for example. In addition to Star Performance Hitches, he also sells Le-vel vitamins and Avon. While the Le-vel vitamins are new, he’s been an Avon rep for years. His living room is basically an Avon store and because he’s a western trainer and has a ton of connections on the rodeo circuit, he markets it as Avon for Cowgirls. He has even sponsored the Miss Rodeo America and Miss Rodeo USA pageants in the past.
10. Task Master
People are busy these days and they don’t always have time to do some of the more mundane, must-do tasks. Offering to do basic things like house cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, minor home repairs, yard maintenance, painting, and any other necessary tasks could lead to a solid side income.
Initial investments would be fairly low depending on what tasks you choose to offer, you could put up a few flyers around town or spread the news word of mouth style, an ad on sites like Craigslist or Care.com could prove fruitful, and you probably wouldn’t even need a website.
But do these actually work?
Well, we’re going to find out. Now that I’ve moved, finding a job is proving to be a little, ahem, difficult and I need cash asap to support my needy horse. So, I’m putting my money where my mouth is and I’m combining a few of these side hustles and selling myself as an equine task master/personal assistant/business consultant until I can get a real job/make enough consistent money elsewhere to support Sunny.
Some of the services I’ll be offering include braiding/banding/clipping, photography, social media & marketing consultations for equine businesses, freelance beginner and novice riding lessons, minor barn repair and maintenance, and possibly a few other things.
There are a lot of variables, here, as well. I’m living in an area I’m unfamiliar with, the horse scene isn’t as big as it is in Fort Worth, and I don’t have a barn or lesson horses to work with.
Will this work? I don’t know. But it’ll be interesting to see how things turn out!
I know I haven’t covered all the side hustle options out there, though, so if you’ve got something else that’s working for you, let me know in the comments!