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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

October 26, 2011

The Cost of Rides / Endurance a better bargain/ Ride census?

Yes...I'm continuing to follow the various strings at ridecamp.  I don't feel that comparing Endurance to shows makes a lot of sense.  Yes, showing is expensive and I couldn't do it if I wanted to.    I don't think that Endurance being the better bargain is straightline thinking when it comes to ride numbers being down.  As the old saying goes you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip (not one single drop). It would be so interesting to have a financial demographic of what comprises the rider majority.  I bet it would surprise you.  The people who are excelling at Endurance, and riding a large number of rides can afford it.  If you are riding for any goal other than personal satisfaction the price tag for the average Joe is indeed high.   Say you want to chase points...the only way to chase them is to attend, and successfully complete in the top-ten at A LOT OF RIDES.  Only those in an economic bracket to afford this can do it.  If you look at high mileage numbers in LD, say the winner has 650 season miles.  They had to compete 26 rides.

Membership to AERC:    $75
Equine membership:           15
Fuel to 26 rides:         $2600   (that is figuring a low average of $100 per, but likely much higher)
Entry fees:                  $2470  (estimate of ride entries around $95)
Camping fees:             $500  (again likely a low estimate)
Cost:                   $5660    (This does not include vehicle maintenance, wear and tear, equipment, etc).

Don't know about the rest of you but in "my" world that is a chunk of money.    That is to just chase a regional mileage championship.  If you were doing points?   I'd say it would cost even more because you will increase your risks of a pull, meaning the ride would not give you the bang for your buck you are seeking and added veterinary costs, and for each pull you would want to ride somewhere to try and regain those points.

Then there are "the rest of us."

Now the people that I typically rub elbows with are driving well broke in vehicles, camping in tents, or sleeping in the tack area of their well worn horse trailers.  They are riding usually for personal goals with a budget in mind or they simply won't show up for rides.  An example would be that I could have taken Journey to some rides this year, camped, got myself pulled voluntarily or otherwise, and steeped her in all the excitement.  In my orbit, if I fuel up the truck, pay my fees, and ride the ride, I'm betting on a completion and the credit of those miles.  Until I feel I can get that out of my ride, I'm staying home.   Changes in the cost of things have effected how we live and how we choose to spend our money.  Have you looked at the price of a can of coffee lately?  It hit the $9.50 mark last time I looked.  For a can of coffee!   The feed I use which is a low starch has increased $3.50 per bag in the past six months!  The price of fuel has driven up the cost of everything.  When fuel eases back down, guess what...the price of everything else doesn't.  Even though my husband and I are both lucky enough to both still be employed we have made changes in how we live.  We fix meals that the leftovers can be turned into something else.  We've shut off the electric furnace and burn wood instead.  We grocery shop once a month rather than twice a week to save on fuel costs.  We are trying to simplify our horses maintenance diets to give them the nutrition they need while spending "less" on it.    I've hauled my horse out to the park ONE time this year that I can recall.  Taking advantage of my home stomping grounds which cost nothing.

All that said, the only better bargain under the current situation is to:

  • Stay home. (Staying home is not a lot of fun).
  • Ride for a reason.  (Riding for a reason can be fun and budget conscious if you set small personal goals such as mileage pinnacles).
Say I want to set a goal of riding a 25, 35, 50, 65, 75.         That would be a nice goal for a year or even over two years.  You participate in the sport, you don't go bankrupt.  Or say you want to ride three rides you've never done before, and that is your goal for the year.  Maybe you travel a little farther, but you get to see new trails, new views, and it is a mini-vacation rather than just another ride.  An example for me would be to set my sights for the Old Dominion , The Big South Fork, and the "whatever other" ride.  Only three rides, but personal ride pinnacles.    It boils down to what I said in the beginning.  The folks that have the $ get to play the most.  But it doesn't mean that the rest of us cannot have our fun and keep the organization we love financially alive and well at the same time.

The talk is that ride census has been down by about 25%.  That is HUGE.   I'm not surprised.  To change that with the downturn in the current economy will be a huge challenge for the AERC in the next several years.  I'd like to think that we will survive, and later thrive.  ~ E.G.   

1 comment:

  1. I found this interesting because I left the country in 2007 after paying only 100$ for gas to get to rides, and another 100$ for entry fee+camping food.

    I thought a 200$ endurance ride was a great deal and often drove myself, but sometimes carpooled. Like you I slept in my truck or a tent, and sometimes bummed my way into friends' campers to warm up or shower.

    Now I hear more people carpool to rides so they can afford the gas.

    My question is this: What if gas keeps going up? What if it hits 10$ per gallon like where I live now? Will Americans change and start downgrading their vehicles to afford making it to rides? The endurance rides I've visited here have "ride camps" with tiny fiberglass/canvas trailers pulled by mostly cars, sometimes jeeps and small SUVs. (Ridecamp is the parking lot/pasture of a riding stable in all the rides I've visited.) When I asked where do you put hay and water for a whole weekend in a 2 horse trailer with no tack area, they said, "We buy hay from the host stable."

    I know two endurance riders in America who switched to smaller rigs (one a Brenderup!) due to the economy - have you seen this happening in your area?

    ~lytha in germany