Finding Riding Clothes for Pennies on the Dollar

*throws confetti* Today, I'm kicking off a new series here on the blog called Budget Horse Ownership. The plan for this new series is basically just to share with y'all whatever tips or tricks I know that'll help y'all spend as little money as possible on your horses (which are, by their very nature, money-sucking black holes).

*rolls around in balloons all over the floor*

To kickstart my new series, I want to talk to y'all about something I'm eerily good at: finding riding clothes on a budget. And not the kind of budget where you can only afford the $150 breeches instead of the $250 ones. I'm talking the kind of budget where even the $40 clearance breeches are too much to afford.

These tips that I'm going to share with y'all didn't build me a show wardrobe overnight, so bear that in mind while you read. It took me about three years to find all this stuff I list under tip #1, and even then I still had to buy some things new because these tips aren't perfect.

But they sure do help.

So what is it that I do?

Tip #1: I haunt thrift stores.

I've been haunting said stores for, oh, my whole life just because it's sort of like a treasure hunt. I've gone in to stores not necessarily looking for anything, but just looking to see what I can find.

Between the smatterings of Goodwill stores, a few antique stores around where I live, and one particularly amazeballs resale shop nearby, I've struck gold. Allow me to share:

  • Tropical Rider breeches - $7
  • Dover breeches - $5
  • Tuff Rider breeches - $5
  • Kerrits breeches - $5
  • Kerrits riding top - $4
  • Ariat riding top - $4
  • Tailored Sportsman hunt coat - $1.54 (Yes, that's one dollar, fifty four cents.)

And those are just the things that I've found that have fit me. I've also stumbled across western show chaps, tall boots in literally every size BUT mine, velvet show helmets (not just the vintage ones, either, but ones that actually meet today's standards), and a shadbelly coat!

Now, when I say I haunt these places, I mean I haunt them. I'm in there at least once a month, preferably more often. Nine times out of ten, I'm walking out of the stores empty-handed. But I shop with a goal in mind, and it has sure as hell paid off, y'all.

Looking at my list, you'll notice that I don't list tall boots or show shirts. I've never come across a show shirt in a thrift store, so that's something that I've had to buy full-price.

Well, I say "full-price".

Moving on to tip #2: I haunt horse shows.

Here where I live, there's a glut of barns, which means a metric crap ton of shows, as well. And as I've learned at shows, on top of individual barns' tack stores, there are also people from time to time that bring around all their old/outgrown show clothes and set them out for sale. They're not as cheap (HAHA not by any means) but they aren't full price.

Both my show shirts were bought at shows. One I got from a lady who ran a rockin' resale business out of a cargo trailer she brought to the state 4-H show and the other I got from a tack store at a collegiate show. Both times, I think I paid $20 for my shirts, which isn't too bad, really.

Sadly, when it comes to buying tall boots, I haven't got much in the way of tips. My mother rides and shows, as well, and I fit in several of her old pairs of tall boots, so once I grew into her boots, I've never needed to buy a pair of tall boots.

Which of course brings me to tip #3: Borrow when you can.

While I was growing up, my mother didn't want to spend a bajillion dollars on show clothes that I might only wear for six months or a year. (I grew like a weed...) So she borrowed. Then, when I was older, we loaned out our show clothes to others.

The only caveat: not everybody is going to be open to loaning out their show clothes. Show shit is expensive and I can't tell you how many times I've loaned stuff out only to never have it returned (which, honestly, has ruined me for loaning stuff out to anybody anymore). If you find someone who's kind enough to loan you their show clothes, GIVE THEM BACK WHEN YOU'RE DONE.

But that's certainly not all. If you'd like a PDF copy of this blog post--with a bonus tip #4!--as well as access to The Tack Trunk, a private library of resources for budget horse enthusiasts like you, fill out the form below.

So tell me: what are some of your best show clothing victories?