Inside the Numbers: How Much Does Pony Finals Cost?

BY 2019 PONY FINALIST

Attending Pony Finals is a dream shared by many young equestrians. A trip in the Walnut Ring, the chance for a coveted top 20 ribbon, friends and ponies everywhere—it makes sense that this show would be the highlight of the summer for a pony crazy kid. 

But, like any horse show dream, the experience isn’t free. The USHJA Foundation Gochman Family Grant gives a few lucky young riders the Pony Finals experience of a lifetime through generosity, but most are footing the bill through family support or, in rarer cases, working student situations. 

So, what does this pony spectacular cost? How does it compare to a normal AA show? Using show bills from the 2019 Pony Finals show office as well as a top rated hunter pony trainer, let’s break down the numbers:

Horse Show Fees for One Pony:

  • Pony Finals Division Fee: $225
  • Medal Final Fee: $90
  • Stall Fee: $275
  • Administrative Fee: $60
  • USEF Federation Fee: $23
  • USHJA Fee: $7
  • Night Watch: $15
  • Ambulance Fee: $15
  • Ticketed Warm-Up – $35/each for 3: $105

Office Total: $815

Training/Barn Fees for One Pony:

  • Day care – $50/day for 6 days: $300
  • Tack/feed stall split: $70
  • Show Schooling – $75/day for 6 days: $450
  • Feed/bedding: $210
  • Trainer/Staff Splits: $365
  • Supply Charge: $45
  • Groom Tip: $100
  • Braiding – $95/mane & tail for 3 days: $285

Trainer Total: $1,825

Of course, this is only the cost for the pony to be at and compete in the show. It doesn’t include the expense of getting the pony there or feeding and housing a rider and their family for the week. 

Travel & Kentucky Visit Costs:

  • Round-trip Hauling: $1400
  • Lexington Hotel Room – $125/night for 6 nights: $750
  • ½ VIP Table at Pony Finals – for 4 people breakfast & lunch: $1,250
  • Family Dinners in Lexington – $80/dinner for 6 nights: $480
  • Shopping for Pony Finals souvenirs: $100
  • Golf Cart Rental – $92/day for 6 days: $552
  • Golf Cart Parade Supplies: $95

Trip Total: $4,627

So what does it cost to take one pony to Pony Finals? By these figures, $7,267.

Of course, there are variations. Maybe you live in Kentucky, and didn’t pay for shipping. Maybe you didn’t get a table at VIP, rented an RV and enjoyed peanut butter sandwiches, or maybe you brought 3 ponies and went all out on a shopping spree and even came home with a new pony partner. There are thousands of variables at a horse show, but one of them is always consistent—it’s not a cheap sport.

With about 800 ponies competing at Pony Finals, the expense of the sheer event feels staggering. Even with all the different factors, it all adds up. Totaling everything together means that a little under $6 million in a single week’s expenses is modeling, hacking and jumping around the Walnut ring during the best week for pony lovers of the year. And that does not include the cost of the ponies themselves! Little horses, huge costs.