Friday, January 22, 2010

One Instructor's Budget for Dressage Education

We are three weeks into the new year. It is time for me to sit down and budget what I will spend on my (and my horse's) training.

To me, training means regular lessons (yes, even though I am a trainer and instructor myself, I still take lessons), clinics, symposiums, conferences, schooling shows and rated shows. My continuing education is very important to me, and at my level continuing education is very expensive, so I have to plan carefully so I don't overspend.

For instance, I charge my students between $50-$60.00 for a private 45 minute lesson on their own horse. I pay between $150-$200.00 to take a lesson myself. So I have to give 3-4 lessons just to break every time I take one.

The FEI Level Trainers' Conference that I just attended in Loxahatchee, FL cost me $275.00 for two days to audit, plus gas and also took away two days of lessons (if I gave even 4 lessons per day, that conference cost me at least $675.00+gas). An amateur has a job outside of the equine industry, and rides as a hobby, in their "free time", and so having a lesson only costs them the price of the lesson. Yes, they spend money for gas and their time, but they would be going to the barn and riding whether they took a lesson or not, so it isn't fair to count that. Riding instruction is my job, so I have to figure costs per lesson, time, gas, and loss of income, since I am not making money while I am receiving training myself.

So, my budget looks something like this:

Riding clinics (lessons): $2400.00 (one lesson per month at $200.00 per lesson)

Symposium/auditing: $800.00 (how many I do will vary, because auditing the clinics varies widely--anywhere from $25.00/day to $100.00/day)

Rated shows where I compete: $2000.00 (my target is two shows per year, sometimes I go under this budgeted amount, but I try not to go over) *note--this doesn't count shows that I take my students to, because I make money there, but I generally don't compete at those shows myself, since I want to give my students my full attention.

So my personal training/showing budget for this year is $5200.00. And I have to give enough lessons to cover that, as well as pay the regular household (and equine business-related) expenses.

Then I pick the ways and events in which I will spend my money. That is what I normally do.

This year will be a bit different, because I have additional goals this year, which I outlined in my last blog post. I want to become a USDF Certified Instructor this year (or at least, start the process), so I have to do some research to see what I will have to do to accomplish it. It would be easier to figure the budget if I were starting at the beginning, but I have already been through the workshops, and have done a pre-cert, so technically, all I would have to do is find a testing, but even that is not so simple.

But, organizers usually plan a whole series of workshops and provide the test at the end of the series, so the testing is already full (there is a limit on the number of participants). Soooo....I will probably have to go through the whole thing again. That is not necessarily a bad thing, because it was almost ten years ago that I did the last workshops. But it will cost me more money. i also have to see if the competition scores I received 14 years ago will be applicable, or whether I will have to get new scores.

So, here is the question...can I get enough new lessons to cover the workshops/testing as an additional expense, or do I adjust my normal goals for lessons/clinics/showing to accomodate this goal in the budget of $5200.00?

The way things are going, I am adding new lessons at a pleasantly surprising rate in spite of the economy, but I will have to add around 4-5 more new regular students to cover the cost of the USDF Certification.

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