Everyone is feeling the financial squeeze as the cost of living escalates, so it’s worth seeing if there are any areas where riders can save money on competition membership. By selecting the most appropriate membership at the right time of the year, you can bring down your overall competition budget – or at least not overspend unnecessarily.
How to save money in eventing
British Eventing (BE) has two systems, so to register to compete you need to decide whether you need a season ticket or PAYG (pay as you go). A season ticket for horses with no BE points costs £67 for 2022. If you are unlikely to be out competing before the summer, it’s worth holding out until July, because a half-season ticket (valid from 1 July) is £45.
A PAYG horse season ticket costs £30, and there is an additional £15 surcharge every time the horse competes. If you are a PAYG member riding a PAYG horse, you are charged on additional £15 per entry, not £15 for you and £15 for your horse.
So which works out more cheaply? If you plan to compete five or fewer times at BE90 or below, all on the same horse, it’s cheaper to do PAYG for you and your horse than to buy an introductory membership on direct debit and horse season ticket. Be aware that you will be bottom of the list when an event is balloted.
For British Showjumping (BS), there is a scale of membership appropriate to the level, so it’s cost-effective to work out which is realistically applicable to you and your horse when you register. The more grassroots, the cheaper. Club membership is only £30 per year for both horse and rider, and covers shows from 60cm to 1m. It is limited to horse and rider combinations with no registered results, but even if your horse or pony does have points on their record, if you are their new rider you can join at club level. If you’re wanting to compete for prize money at 70cm and above you’ll need the more expensive national membership, however you may fall under one of the categories that offers a promotion. For instance, if you are a member of a Pony Club or riding club, and haven’t been a BS member in the past three years, you should be eligible to receive a two-year discounted membership.
There are also six-month memberships if you are not sure if you’re in it for the long haul.
When you are renewing your membership, check out the dates carefully. If your six-month membership is due at the end of the month, for example 31 August, renewing for six months would take you to 28 February. However, if you can wait a few days and renew on 3 September, it will last until the end of March, giving you nearly an extra month.
In common with the other disciplines, riders wishing to compete in affiliated British Dressage (BD) can pick and choose the membership most suitable for them and save money. While a full membership enables you to compete at any level and the full range of championships pathways, it costs around £175 per year or £15.50 a month for horse and rider. The annual payment will save you a few pounds, so it’s worth considering, especially if you have a string of horses (£84 per year for monthly payments; £80 annual payment).
For beginners to BD, wishing to compete up to prelim bronze, music, Quest, and qualify for the Associated Championships and Petplan Equine Area Festivals at prelim bronze, the club membership is £50 per year for horse and rider.
BD also offers some handy cost-saving memberships for those not sure if they want to shell out. The trial membership is for new members wanting to check out what full membership offers. It lasts for three months and costs £50 for horse and rider.
Some riders who compete in summer-focused disciplines such as eventing, may want the winter membership, which runs from October to March and costs £110 for both horse and rider, so quite a saving from the full membership for those with a string of eventers who want some winter practice.
Look out for discounted memberships at certain times of the year, for instance the NPS offers a £5 discounted membership if you join in January.
CHAPS has reduced prices for various groupings, such as adult duo (two adults aged 18–65) for £65, compared to single adult at £40, and various adult/child/senior combinations.
Many of the showing societies offer family memberships, so check each individual society for details. Day memberships are often another option of competing more cheaply and testing the waters if you are unlikely to commit to a number of shows.
Look after the pennies…
Knowing how to save money on competition membership can help with the overall budget, however it’s also worth checking out a few ways to save – or stop you squandering money on the day.
- Transport: no one needs reminding about the current sky-high cost of diesel. Perhaps you buddy up with a friend, or someone on the yard who competes at a similar level and arrange to share transport and diesel costs. Work out a programme together so that you compete at the same events. Or go through local horsey Facebook groups to find out if there are others in the same boat. Download an app that tells you where to fill up locally at the best price, such as Petrol Prices. Likewise, work out an X-mile radius within which you will try to compete as far as possible, so that the diesel costs don’t mount up.
- To stay or not to stay? Sometimes a stay-away show can work out more economical, saving diesel costs and enabling you to enter plenty of classes if that’s what you need. However, you need to balance this against shavings, hook-up, entry fees, food while you’re away (will you cook in the lorry or eat out?) and the fact that you are likely to be competing further away than usual due to the limitations on venues offering stay-away shows.
- Food: prepare a picnic, including plenty of drinks, before you leave. Swinging into the burger van hungry and thirsty is a sure-fire way to empty your wallet.
- Photos: we all love photos of a happy day out, but do you need five? Decide how many new photos you need per season and don’t buy on a whim.
- Be organised: have you ever arrived at a show to find you’ve forgotten your gloves, hairnet – or bridle? Stocking up on emergency tack items from the on-site shop that you already have at home is downright annoying.
Finally, win some prizes. It might not be Wimbledon but every little penny helps the competition kitty.
You might also like:
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.