Taking riding lessons can be expensive. It can be hard to find the money to pay for them—especially if you’re a kid and don’t have a job! If you take a look at the Young Rider forums our members are always asking about ways to raise money so they can ride more. Don’t give up, young riders! If you’re not afraid of hard work, you might be able to ride for free.
We’ve been brainstorming, and we’ve come up with five ways that you might be able to earn riding privileges—instead of paying for more time in the saddle.
1. Work for rides
If you take lessons at a barn, ask your trainer if you can work for extra rides. Some kids muck out, feed or groom horses in exchange for extra riding time. Work out a schedule with your trainer—and don’t let her down. You must treat the work like a real job—your trainer will rely on you to work when you said that you would work. Make sure this arrangement is OK with your parents because they will probably have to take you to the barn.
2. Exercise other people’s horses
If you are an experienced rider, other riders at the barn may let you exercise their horses. Some people are busy with jobs or school and they may be thrilled to let you ride their horses once or twice a week to keep the horse fit and in shape.
If you agree to ride someone else’s horse, you must treat the horse as if it were your own. Groom him thoroughly after every ride and clean the owner’s tack.
Ask your trainer if she knows of an extra-busy rider who might like your help. You could also volunteer to ride someone’s horse if he or she goes on a vacation.
3. Volunteer at a horse rescue
Horse charities often rescue a horse that is sound and healthy enough to be adopted out. But many of these horses need to be brought back to fitness or retrained. If you help out at the charity, you might get a chance to ride one of these horses to prepare him for adoption. Remember, you’ll probably have to do other chores as well, including mucking out and feeding—or whatever else the charity needs you to do.
4. Be a junior camp counselor
If you are 14 or over, you might be able to sign up as a junior camp counselor at a riding camp. You’ll probably get a break on the camp fees, and you might get to ride a little more than if you were just a camper. If you’re an experienced rider, you might get to take beginner riders on trail rides or you could get the chance to work with horses that need some extra training before they can be used as lesson horses.
5. Help out at a sales barn
If there’s a trainer at your barn that buys and sells horses, volunteer to help her out. She might get a pony in that needs some extra work before it can be sold. Or she might have a horse that needs to get back in shape before she puts him on the market. You’ll ride lots of different horses at a sale barn, and this experience will really improve your riding skills. Don’t get on any horse or pony that you think looks dangerous though.