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For the Frugal Foxhunter

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  • For the Frugal Foxhunter

    I didn't want to derail the other thread (more than it already has!) but I noticed there are some people who are wanting to hunt, but seem to think it may be outside of their budgets. I wanted to help by sharing a few of my tips for foxhunting on a shoestring budget.

    Dues: Obviously membership dues vary greatly. Nothing wrong with shopping around for a hunt that best suits you, your horse and your budget. You may find that you will save more by travelling a bit further to another hunt which may have lower dues, or vice versa. Many hunts will allow you to break up your annual dues into payments, work with your secretary/treasurer to work out a payment plan to avoid paying in one lump sum.

    Clothes: Everything I have, I found on eBay. I have 4 Pytchley jackets all purchased under $15 (and only one needed altering!). Also, if you see something you like on eBay, it's always worth messaging the seller to see if they would take less (if you don't ask, you don't get!). I found several pairs of rust breeches used or "new old stock". They aren't low rise, 4-way stretch, euro seat, full seat, etc, but they are comfortable, fit, and the price was right ($10-20). I managed to find two NEW makers of canary breeches: Horseware Lucinda Green and Neddy's. Both breeches can be found on clearance if you stalk for around $35-40.

    Hunt Breakfast: This required some trial and error. I used to bring cheese and crackers because i'm not very organized, this used to cost me about $10 each hunt. Though always popular, it adds up when you hunt about 30+ times in a season. So I needed to try and improvise! Now I buy pasta in bulk when it goes on sale ($1 box!) or a dozen eggs ($3). I can make a pasta dish to feed 10 people or deviled eggs for about $4 or less! Always popular! And just require about 20 minutes extra prep than cheese/crackers.

    Flask: Last year it was Godiva, Baileys, American Honey, and top shelf liquor. Well, that was adding up, so i've scaled back to create a recipe much cheaper (and equally delicious!). It's an orange creamsicle flask with cheap flavored vodka (its the bottom shelf stuff, marketed to teenagers....). I've never had anyone turn my flask down, and often have an issue of people necking my flask to the last drop

    All hunt tack was purchased used, and my sandwich case is made rather proudly in India. I'm sure some with a far keener eye than me can tell, but no one in my hunt can, and it certainly holds a flask as well as the vintage ones (no, it did not come with any silver or glass appointments!).

    Speaking of India, I have a pair of brown field boots from their as well. No, they can't pass as dehners or vogels, but they certainly look the part, and were $99 on eBay.

    There are also a couple good FB groups for finding used items:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/274303999361543

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/495749837123409


    I would love if others shared their tips!

    Writing this thread almost made me want to calculate my total annual costs including gas, but I've decided ignorance is bliss. And their would be a small chance my DH would find this, and then I would have some serious 'splainin' to do! Thank goddess for separate bank accounts and a husband who doesn't understand words like "albion" and "oldenburg".

  • #2
    Tack of the Day also offers a great way to get what you need for less. I bought my Melton and my hunt boots from them.

    Often for hunt teas I'll make a fruit salad. That's usually appreciated.
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

    Comment


    • #3
      The #1 thing I wish I'd had starting out is a clearer idea of what is the minimum required for the particular hunt versus what is nice to have. Start with the former, and the latter can be birthday, Christmas, anniversary gifts for many, many years.

      For example, many hunts allow dress boots year 'round. So, start with a cheap pair of dress boots and go from there. Start with just a pair or two of buff breeches and a plain leather belt, then keep an eye out for different colors and weights on clearance.

      Secondhand stores have good used dress and polo shirts, and ties for ratcatcher. You may even be able to squeak by without a 'proper' cubbing coat for a while if you can find a tweedy, 3-button blazer with back vent while you're there.

      If you or a friend can sew at all, buy cheap cotton fabric on sale, cut into strips, hem the edges, and iron a whole pile of new 4-fold stock ties for under twenty bucks. Fabric shops also sell basic gold stock tie pins for a couple dollars apiece.

      If you're dying for a sandwich case, there's a vendor at events like Equine Affaire who deals in Australian tack. He has those $20-25 made-in-India cases. Mine is holding up well.

      Of course, the absolute best way to get outfitted cheaply is to be a common size and shape so you can buy secondhand foxhunting clothing, and to already be riding English so you don't need to purchase much, if any, tack.

      For teas, if electrical power is available, a crockpot full of hot soup is usually very appreciated. The aforementioned deviled eggs really are popular since sometimes protein is in short supply. Something quick, cheap, and generally appreciated is brownies baked from a decent mix. Ghiradelli brand can occasionally be found for $2/box.
      ---------------------------

      Comment


      • #4
        Hunting was always a lot cheaper than eventing for me. Plus you get a lot more time in the saddle and excitement for your money. And you get to eat after and the friendships! You are riding together, not competitors (though some people are very competitive regardless)
        But, of course, I belong to a cheaper hunt

        Comment


        • #5
          Good post ISR. When I got back into hunting full time 2006 I had to get some new things. I bought a couple bridles from Bartville Harness. They are the perfect, safe, thick, wide grade of bridle leather priced between the $45 el cheapo's and the $300 buttery soft-to-die-for bridle leather.

          My 25 year old black dress boot Dehners, bought used off eBay in the early 90's, were ready to go. I did buy a new Charles Owen approved helmet that is traditional- velvet with leather harness. Otherwise, the breeches, shirts and jackets were what I had from when I previously hunted or showed. I have upgraded my jackets to some very nice ones that fit and do the job. Same with my vest, started with el cheapos but bought two used Horse Country vest and love them.

          In my hunt usually 2-4 people team up to provide a hunt breakfast and each full riding member is asked to help at least once during the season. I've been involved in 2 this year and neither one has broken the bank providing my part of the meal.

          I just carry plain old port and it gets enjoyed by anyone standing nearby at the checks. Some members do have some neat blends that they happily share.

          Dues are the largest expense but annual full riding dues are less than 3 events out of town or attending several recognized shows.

          Just the other day another member and I were trying to figure out the average age of our membership. We figure it must be about age 60. There is a layer of 60-75 year olds that are out all the time. About the same number of 45-60 year olds. A smattering of younger and older riders. We giggled because all it takes is one or two videos from Fox hunting in Ireland to show up on Facebook and all fox hunters get labeled "craaazzy" when in fact at my hunt we are safe, thoughtful, traditional and fun loving group.

          Comment


          • #6
            Great thread! I too have had great luck on eBay. I've coats for $50 and $70, a shirt for $25, dress boots for under $100 and even hard to find things like string gloves. It does help to be a common size. A nice treat for breakfasts is pillsbury crescent rolls or biscuits with hot pepper jelly, ham & cheese..easy to eat with one hand!
            Bottom line (no pun intended) i bet there are many ways to make it work if hunting is something you REALLY want to do.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              The traditional helmet was something I also needed to buy new. Fortunately there is no market for them on eBay! I may be frugal, but I would never buy used in this situation! If you're able to try on models locally or at a trade fair (thanks CO tent at Rolex!) you can figure out what size/model you are (that's how I was able to figure out I fit the Hampton but NOT the Wellington--they look the same but different fit).
              They are practically giving away the Pegasus helmets at a lot of online sources!

              Before our hunt asked that all members wear our hunt logo polos, I stocked up on polos from Wal Mart. They were about $3 each, and easy to rotate during roading (or cubbing if your hunt allows).

              I found a Sabre hunt bridle for $20 in great condition and it's a beautiful bridle! But I also bought a new Bobby's bridle for $50. It turns out Bobby's makes a "flat" bridle and a "hunt" bridle. Hunt bridle retails around $200, and the leather is wider and I guess it's better craftsmanship (?). But the flat bridle looks very similar, and if you ride a TB or something with a refined head, I think the flat bridle is an awesome alternative (and for $50 it also comes with reins!).

              You can also find deals on hunt whips! They usually come from the UK, so shipping can hurt, but they are on eBay by searching "malacca whip" or "hunt whip". I paid $30 including shipping for a small, vintage Swaine & Aidley.

              Also, some hunts will give credit for work put in during the summer trail clearing. Sweat equity is a great way to not only give back to your club, but in some cases work off part of your membership!

              Finally, I second the comment about hunting being far cheaper than eventing and more bang for your buck! $250 for a recognized HT and you're in the saddle about 15 min.

              Comment


              • #8
                Many tack stores have clearance sections -- these can be a great place to pick up helmets. I bought my Charles Owen hunt helmet at SmartPak's clearance section and saved more than $100. Also VTO has 20% off sales. I bought my schooling helmet from them.
                Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Good stuff! I'm a big fan of buying mens coats at a used tack place or thrift shop and having them tailored for me by a seamstress. Got a wool, tweed coat at Salvation Army once for 2 dollars. Had to add a button hole/button and shorten sleeves and voila! Cubbing coat! Many mens coats are 2 holes so just add a button on the top. Nobody EVER notices it buttons on an opposite side and who cares anyway!
                  We're lucky to have a lot of tack swaps around here too. Making a 4 fold stock out of Oxford cloth is easy peasy. Like them better than contoured anyway.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I love the tips so far! I'm very much a "frugal fox hunter" myself.

                    Here is my advice:

                    (1) Keep a running list of items you "need" or simply "want" for hunting. Watch for sales on these items. By being patient and using this strategy in the last year, I've picked up flat hunt bridles for each of my horses, dress boots, kimberwicke and pelham bits, a traditional looking/velvet helmet and a few other items for well under retail value. Typically I find these good deals on ebay, horseloverz (when they have sales and free shipping), the clearance section of SmartPak (where the brand new $20 Dublin dress boots came from) and Schnieders.

                    (2) If you are a smaller adult, consider buying items marketed towards children. Buying a children's L or XL in some brands is considerably cheaper than the same product in a ladies' XS or S. It may be a bit boxier of a fit (stocky child vs. lady shaped) but this usually works to my advantage is squeezing more layers underneath during cold hunts!

                    (3) "Trailer-pool" to far away fixtures to split gas costs and save wear and tear on vehicles.

                    (4) Hunt breakfast - soup/chili is always popular and can be very inexpensive, particularly if you purchase the non-perishable ingredients like beans when they are on sale.

                    (5) Have an easy keeping horse or horses as your hunt mount. (I only follow this advice when it comes to 1 out of my 2, haha). Generally speaking, the members in our hunt who ride sturdy pony or cob types who don't need shoes and require only a pound or two of grain even in the height of the season spend considerably less $ than those of us who ride horses who require lots of extra calories, shoes all the way around, etc. during hunt season.

                    (6) Above all, ride with an understanding hunt who is appreciative of your efforts to be neat and tidy at all times, but doesn't get upset that it is taking you a while to acquire all the stylish (as opposed to functional) equipment.

                    (7) Be flexible in what you fill your flask with. I tend to pick up something "nicer" that is on sale, so I've tried a couple of interesting things I wouldn't have otherwise.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      RiderInTheRain,

                      #5 and #6 spoke right to my heart!

                      I am fortunate to have a barefoot hunter, and it would be difficult for me financially to have a horse who required 4 shoes, stud holes (snow pads...) every four weeks. Though thoroughbreds do dominate the hunt field, they are often the most financially cumbersome of all the breeds (speaking of course in general, I realize there are exceptions). Shelling out a few extra initially for an air fern horse with good feet as opposed to the FTGH "canter cutie" is something to consider.

                      Number 6 is one of the best points made. Showing up with tailgate food in hand is always appreciated, regardless of how much you spent on the ingredients. And making an effort to show up clean and on time (early) will go a long way in leaving out the minor details like the fact that your tweed was a Goodwill find.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Many good tips, but I will offer up some food for thought once past the 'start up' phase and into 'drinking the kool aid til I die' phase. Well made equipment and clothing will last much longer, so you have to think about paying rock bottom prices for something that will need replacing sooner versus paying more but for something (like good boots or a good hunting coat) that will last for decades. For example, my scarlet staff coat made in Ireland in 1952 and bought used from a retired master is still perfectly viable and has been 'fairly hunted' but is a long way from worn out. They just don't make 'em like that any more, though the d*mn thing does weigh about 60 pounds when wet from rain. I've also got several pairs of custom boots, Dehners from the mid-80s and others from the early 70s and older that were given to me by a retired hunting family- well cared for over the years and, well, I have a lifetime supply and then some. Admittedly the 1920s Abercrombie and Fitch field boots given to me in the 80s by a friend are at death's door, the leather's pretty shot and my boot guy said next time the stitching fails, learn to let go and heave them.

                        But then again, my experience with bridles is, you pay more for the really good ones and sooner rather than later some tragedy will strike them. I've still got a $20 Japanese leather bridle from the 60s that refuses to die.

                        Personally I've made do with inexpensive horses (and yes easy keepers is a good point), 0 to $750 category for most. But that's me, I've made my own- the more advisable corollary is your biggest single outlay should be for a good, solid, made field hunter that will take care of you- a pricey outlay potentially, but the monthly expenses are the same for the $700 or $17,000 horse, and the $17k you spend on a good safe horse is an amount just a few days in a hospital could cost you.

                        Sorry this has gotten long, but a final observation: Most hunts these days give complete dispensation on attire for those who just want to come and give it a try. Arapahoe requires only an approved helmet and safe boots with heels. Several hunts, including one I know of in Virginia, are fine with even dues paying members hunting in western tack. So please do just ask the local hunt you have in mind before getting too obsessive about it- the top two items are safety and having fun.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          To start out you need nothing more than a simple plain English riding habit. That's all. You don't need to buy a flask, or flat tack, or a sandwich case, or anything else.

                          When you start out you usually start by capping with hunts; no one expects you to come decked out. Some clubs don't even hold tailgates; at least on weekdays. I hunt with one that after hunting, we get in our trucks and leave on weekdays - everyone has got farm chores to do so we don't dawdle. Weekends folks bring an inexpensive drink or dish to share.

                          Don't overthink things. When starting out a simple plain riding habit, clean tack, and a well mannered horse is all you need. The focus, when you start out, is to make your horse a good field hunter - and that means you and your horse need to learn the etiquette - almost all rules of this sport evolved for safety reasons or to ensure that the hounds and huntsman are not interfered with.

                          As time goes on, you can collect bits of stuff either new or used. There are websites selling vintage attire and appointments, once you earn your colors you might want to splurge on something new - but all this can be done over time. But the key is - you don't HAVE to buy any of the extras.

                          If you enjoy the sport but your horse doesn't, you'll have a decision to make. Many horses do not do well as field hunters. Some love it. Once you've been on a good field hunter you'll never want to go back to a bad one.

                          But when starting out, don't overthink things and believe that you have to show out decked like royalty to go galloping through a field. It's far from the truth.

                          No matter how I work the numbers, I still find hunting to be the least expensive horse sport out there. Now, if you become obsessed with collecting vintage attire and appointments, start planning a hunting trip in Ireland, plan on an addition to the barn to house your ever increasing number of field hunters...... that's a different story. You drank the kool-aid and there's no cure.

                          I'm a frugal foxhunter; though I have splurged on some nice things here and there. But my lucky tie has loony toons characters on it - I bought it at Wa-Mart for 3$.
                          Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                          Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                          -Rudyard Kipling

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Very true. I still don't own a vest. I'll get there.

                            Originally posted by JSwan View Post
                            To start out you need nothing more than a simple plain English riding habit. That's all. You don't need to buy a flask, or flat tack, or a sandwich case, or anything else.

                            When you start out you usually start by capping with hunts; no one expects you to come decked out. Some clubs don't even hold tailgates; at least on weekdays. I hunt with one that after hunting, we get in our trucks and leave on weekdays - everyone has got farm chores to do so we don't dawdle. Weekends folks bring an inexpensive drink or dish to share.

                            Don't overthink things. When starting out a simple plain riding habit, clean tack, and a well mannered horse is all you need. The focus, when you start out, is to make your horse a good field hunter - and that means you and your horse need to learn the etiquette - almost all rules of this sport evolved for safety reasons or to ensure that the hounds and huntsman are not interfered with.


                            No matter how I work the numbers, I still find hunting to be the least expensive horse sport out there. Now, if you become obsessed with collecting vintage attire and appointments, start planning a hunting trip in Ireland, plan on an addition to the barn to house your ever increasing number of field hunters...... that's a different story. You drank the kool-aid and there's no cure.
                            Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                            EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Admittedly the 1920s Abercrombie and Fitch field boots given to me in the 80s by a friend are at death's door, the leather's pretty shot and my boot guy said next time the stitching fails, learn to let go and heave them.
                              Yes! A personal, long-standing relationship with the guy who keeps your boots on the road. I thought I was the only one.
                              "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by Bogie View Post
                                Very true. I still don't own a vest. I'll get there.
                                These can also be picked up at the thrift store! And even scouring the sidesaddle FB pages for used vests in neutral (non bling-y) colors.

                                I did buy the Suitability pattern for a vest thinking it wouldn't be that hard to make one, however when I opened the pattern it looked like the schematic for a NASA substation. If you can sew I will happily send you the pattern (s) if you PM me your address.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by ISR View Post
                                  These can also be picked up at the thrift store! And even scouring the sidesaddle FB pages for used vests in neutral (non bling-y) colors.

                                  I did buy the Suitability pattern for a vest thinking it wouldn't be that hard to make one, however when I opened the pattern it looked like the schematic for a NASA substation. If you can sew I will happily send you the pattern (s) if you PM me your address.
                                  SENT PM

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by ISR View Post
                                    These can also be picked up at the thrift store! And even scouring the sidesaddle FB pages for used vests in neutral (non bling-y) colors.

                                    I did buy the Suitability pattern for a vest thinking it wouldn't be that hard to make one, however when I opened the pattern it looked like the schematic for a NASA substation. If you can sew I will happily send you the pattern (s) if you PM me your address.
                                    I wish I could sew. Crochet, yes, knit yes, sew, no.
                                    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by ISR View Post
                                      These can also be picked up at the thrift store! And even scouring the sidesaddle FB pages for used vests in neutral (non bling-y) colors.

                                      I did buy the Suitability pattern for a vest thinking it wouldn't be that hard to make one, however when I opened the pattern it looked like the schematic for a NASA substation. If you can sew I will happily send you the pattern (s) if you PM me your address.
                                      I found some Tattersall wool and made one but have been searching for some canary wool and could only find it if I bought a whole bolt at $8.00 a yard. It took a bit of trial and error but I have a beautiful burgundy with navy and cream check vest now.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        The OP mentioned finding rust breeches for very little $. Where?????? I have been searching for inexpensive rust breeches for a long time with no luck. I too am a very frugal foxhunter; I ride a cheap horse, buy most items used or at thrift shops, etc, and I cannot afford to spend $100+ on breeches. Where do you all find the rust ones - cheap???

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