View Full Version : Amateurs who train there own horses?

Mar. 23, 2008, 10:31 PM
How many amateurs train their own horses and ride above 1st level? You have a horse that you bought and are training, that has never been in training with anyone else? But you take lessons from someone on a regular basis? How many ride above third level that have trained their own horse. I am just curious how many do it?

Mar. 23, 2008, 11:00 PM
There are several of our riders in our group that do. Two of the AA have, with the help of our trainer and her trainer, taken their horses to Grand Prix. For one thing, we really just cannot go out and purchase expensive schoolmasters. Some of the women who ride with our coach can, but others cannot and ride well enough not to need to. My one friend,a silver medalist, who's horse is a year older than mine, is schooling 3rd, started changes this winter and will be showing in May. Her horse was top 20 AA in 1st and 2nd in USDF AA standings this past year. Another, is riding 3rd (qualifying) and 4th this year on a horse she has brough along in the same way. My other friend is just starting out her mare. It may not be the easiest, and you have to have a really good support system--I wouldn't dream of doing it without my two trainers, and more than likely will at some point end up having one of them work more intensely with my horse as there are just some things I don't know yet. That's part of it.

Mar. 23, 2008, 11:02 PM
I have trained my own horses. I am currently riding one horse at third and fourth level in recognized shows as well as schooling shows. He has never been in training with anyone else. I purchased him as a two year old and he is coming 10. I buried another horse almost 2 years ago who from the time I purchased him (training level) had never been in training with anyone else. I earned all my scores for my bronze on him. I do take lessons weekly from a wonderful instructor. Who after I backed my stallion over the summer/winter is now keeping him at her house in order to get him "bomb proofed". She has a much more active and busy environment. He'll be back home in 2 - 3 weeks but I was the original/first/only test dummy. He will have been there for 2 months but not so much for riding, just more sacking out for lack of a better description. I've backed more than a handful of others that have since been sold on, one was competing second level before leaving. I have another colt who is only 2 that I plan to back next year. I work full-time, have children and do not make a living at riding or training horses. I am definitely an amateur.

Dressage Art
Mar. 23, 2008, 11:04 PM
I currently progressed with out a trainer from 2nd to 3rd level, but I do clinic a couple of times per month and I also did show up to about PSG level on schoolmaster about 15+ years ago.

In 2006 I was in the part time training of 2-4 lessons per week depending on the GP trainer availability. With the help of the trainer (several weekly lessons) I was scoring up to 68% on 2nd level in 2004-2006 and trying very hard to move up to 3rd with out much success. Then my mare went lame and we had almost 9 months off in 2007. I moved to the facility with lots of trails, great for rehab, but no dressage trainers on site. Since I brought my mare back from time-off in August 2007, I moved from 2nd level by myself to 3rd level with scores of 66%.

I myself was under impression that it will be impossible to do that with out a trainer, but yet we did it. Tho, I'm sure going to clinics and getting feedback that we are on the right track helped a lot.

I'm a true believer in the education and feedback, so I wouldn’t advice anybody to train with out it. You do need to check if you are heading towards the correct general direction ;)

Mar. 24, 2008, 12:02 AM
I am currently training my own horse with a weekly lesson. However, my horse was started by a professional in europe. She was a weanling when I bought her, but 5 years old when I imported her. At 5, however, she didn't have much training. She could w/t/c under saddle, but had no halt or half halt. She did two shows as a four year old that were w/t/c (no halt) group classes. I've been training her for 2.5 years. Last year, I showed her training and first level with very good results. She is ready to show second level now, and is solidly schooling third level.

I feel very comfortable doing this myself because I have a very competent trainer, who has trained multiple horses to grand prix, for my weekly lessons, and I clinic with a BNT and judges on a fairly regular basis. I will occassionally have my trainer or the BNT get on my horse to check that my basics are correct. Other than those few times, no one else rides my horse but me.

I also am fortunate enough to have a grand prix schoolmaster. He has been a big help to me, in developing feel and timing and helping me train my young horse.

Early on, I had a lot of problems because the horse had very little training--not just riding issues (like the lack of a halt and the fact that she wouldn't stand to be mounted)--but also handling issues. I did not hesitate to get competent help to assist me--I had young horse specialists give me lessons for the first year and a half, and I hired a cowgirl type to help me teach her ground work and trailer loading, etc. Their insight was invaluable, and helped me to resolve issues much quicker than if I had to figure it out on my own.

Mar. 24, 2008, 01:46 AM
How many amateurs train their own horses and ride above 1st level? You have a horse that you bought and are training, that has never been in training with anyone else? But you take lessons from someone on a regular basis? How many ride above third level that have trained their own horse. I am just curious how many do it?

I've never had a horse in full or partial training and I've never had regular lessons. For a while, "regular lessons" meant every other week. I've done alot of clinics with very good people, though. It's not ideal by any stretch, but this has gotten me to (hopefully PSG in the fall) with a regional and a reserve regional championship along the way and halfway to my silver medal. They key was that I knew I was at a disadvantage but I made things work for me. For example, I watched alot of videos of myself and others, I read alot, and I watched alot.


Mar. 24, 2008, 02:27 AM
I have trained several youngsters on my own up past 2nd level. But I still get lessons on a regular basis to make sure I'm on the right track. ;) But I am an amateur, don't proclaim to be anything but. I know of MANY amateur riders that go it alone and do well over 1st level with their horses. A very good friend of mine is competing Int 1 very successfully on her own amateur trained and ridden horse. She is in regular weekly lessons, but she has ridden and trained that horse right up there herself. No one else rides him for her. She does very well for herself and will probably be competing grand prix by next spring.

Mar. 24, 2008, 04:07 AM
I have trained practically all my horses to the levels they have reached. my current mare is now competing at level 5 here, equivalent to your level 4 and hoping to do PSG with her this winter. I take part in occasional clinics with a BNT but other than that tend to work on my own.

Mar. 24, 2008, 08:47 AM
I've taken one horse from unbacked to PSG, but admit it took me longer then if a pro had assisted. My current horse is now at 3rd. I try to get lessons once a month but that isn't regular
I have a friend who has taken her horse to I2 preparing for GP.

Mar. 24, 2008, 09:05 AM
Me. Broke him myself, we're now showing 3rd & schooling 4th/PSG. Like everyone else said, it took a lot longer but I think I've learned a lot more.

Tamara in TN
Mar. 24, 2008, 09:28 AM
[QUOTE=exvet;3095111]I have trained my own horses.

please see video of same :)

Mar. 24, 2008, 09:55 AM
How many amateurs train their own horses and ride above 1st level? You have a horse that you bought and are training, that has never been in training with anyone else? But you take lessons from someone on a regular basis? How many ride above third level that have trained their own horse. I am just curious how many do it?

My mare is showing 2nd level this year. I've owned her since she was 6 months old and done 90% of her training. She has gone to a BNT for about 1 month TOTAL over her life. She is training at 3rd/4th level right now - almost ready to start canter pirouette’s and changes (when I ask for them ;)). I will have my trainer teach her the changes then work with us together - that because I can screw them up on a well trained horse so I want her to learn then correctly before I re-learn them on her. Canter pirouette I'm willing to bet I can teach her by myself with thw trainers help.

This because I rode my older mare to 2nd, schooling 3rd and this mare is VERY athletic i.e. has the changes naturally, so she caught on quickly to 3rd level movements while still showing training level. The only reason it's taken me this long to get there is me in large part (re-working my seat) and her in part (VERY large canter strides so she had a hard time balancing... she's now good to go 90% of the time. :yes:

Mar. 24, 2008, 10:13 AM
Well - I train all my own horses - always have. My current horse is 3rd/4th level and I raised him from a baby and nobody else has ever been on him (except my friend for 5 minutes to see how bouncy his trot is!) I train with a BNT about 4-6 times a year to check my progress. But I am always confused about the whole "Amateur" status anyway. I'm not trying to steal the thread, but I have been training, competing, and working with BNTs (several of the "Olympic" kind) for over 20 years - doesn't that make me an expert by now? I don't have my own farm and I have a "real" job, but I still ride my friends' horses occasionally and give them lessons from time to time. We live out in the boonies and access to trainers is very limited so we all try to pool our experiences together to help each other - it just so happens I have the most experience in some areas. Does that make me a professional? I don't know - my trainer calls me a "professional amateur" but I will always ride and train my own horses, but I ride in the Amateur division. I also groom my own horses regardless of what level I ride - it's a pride thing or a control thing.

Mar. 24, 2008, 11:14 AM
Looks like there is a large number of you out there. You always hear that it takes longer and it is hard. So now I wonder how many of you receive in the mid 60's say 3rd level and above. I my self have always trained my own horses. I now have a BIG warmblood and it is harder for me than the little horses I rode in the past. Just because has such a big stride. He is now 6 and moving into third and I hope to do the 6 year old test this year. I have had two leg injuries and have gotten very discourage this year. So I guess hearing your stories how you did it on your own encourage me. Thanks for the post! :winkgrin:

Mar. 24, 2008, 11:25 AM
Well my guy who is just now competing fourth level (first year) received a 69% at third 3, a 64% at third 3, a 66% at third 3 (all since Jan 1) barely breaking 60 but still there :cool: at fourth and then a bomb test at the show this past weekend (let's just say it wasn't near 60 ;)) So while I have to say we have our share of ups and downs, I have more ups :winkgrin: My horse is built almost 2 inches lower at the wither than at the croup and is a little sway backed as well. Yes it has taken us longer. He is now almost 10 (late summer baby) after purchasing him as a 2 year old but it's been worth it. Sounds like you're well on your way with a very talented horse. All you have to do is keep your focus, listen to your horse and realize if plan A doesn't work you just have to develop plan B and perhaps C but don't let it get you down.

Mar. 24, 2008, 11:38 AM
My horse and I will compete I1 this year. (We earned our Bronze and Silver rider medal TOGETHER).

I bought him when he had been ridden about 20 times so we have done this together from the start.

Through 2nd level I trained with a hunter person who has a great dressage background. Then I started training with a great FEI level trainer/rider/coach. We had to relearn a great deal in order to move up to 3rd. I now stable with this person and his team.

I still ride my own horse 99% of the time. They ride him only when I cannot get there. But I now take LOTS of lessons. Several a week. I still go off to shows on my own 90% of the time. And I clinic with I and O judges when I can (with the blessing and encouragement of my coach).

Yes, we both would have progressed much faster if my horse had been ridden consistently by an expert. And if I had been 'training' with the best from the start. BUT, we are a TEAM. We know each other. We enjoy our escapades. And I KNOW we have more fun than most anyone out there. Are we the best? Nope. No way. But our training is good, accurate, and correct.

Mar. 24, 2008, 12:45 PM
I have trained my own horse from barely broke to GP and earned all USDF medals on him. No super high scores but almost always in the 60's with a few 70's here and there. If we did get in the 50's they were always high, usually 59.9% just to make it more frustrating! :D

I don't get to take regular lessons but do clinic with a wonderful trainer every month or two for a few days at a time and take lessons at shows with a trainer I know if I can.

It can be done on your own but it does require a lot of dedication and problem solving on your own. I admit to having to go back and fix things I got wrong the first time:winkgrin:

Dressage Art
Mar. 24, 2008, 12:50 PM
But I am always confused about the whole "Amateur" status anyway....snip...I still ride my friends' horses occasionally and give them lessons from time to time.
If you accept money/gifts for your lessons, and it mounts to more than $300 per year - then you are a pro according to the USEF Rules.

Mar. 24, 2008, 01:19 PM
sorry to take a left turn, but the amateur rules are so silly. I mean, if you're a pro, you are making some sort of living from your coaching, horse training and sales, at least enough to pay for your horse hobby, even if you have a "real" job on the side. $300 a year is not that. I had a friend who is clearly an amateur get disqualified for accepting gas money to help a couple of her friends out. Good grief. All such rules do is prevent those of us with a mind to share our expertise for free, just expenses to travel, with our friends.

PS, I take lessons about 3 times a year, have competed two horses to fourth, one is currently schooling intermediare, two others are schooling at second and third level, all except one were backed by me, and that one I got after 90 days training. Time and life prevent active competition at this time, but the journey continues.

Mar. 24, 2008, 01:44 PM
I did:D I trained (and taught myself at the same time!) my then 3 yo to Inter.1. Like an other poster above, I can also say it took me longer than the pros, but we got there and the mare is now solid PSG/I1. We barely qualified for NAYRC when mare was 9 yo (keep in mind I am in a region with relatively little dressage, and even less YRs at that level), and it was a little bit discouraging to see that the vast majority of the riders there were riding schoolmaster-types and/or extremely talented ($$$:eek:) gorgeous animals. I am not taking anything away from them, they all rode beautifully, but for us it was so meaningful to just Get there...

The most instruction I ever had was a working student experience for 3 months, and then monthly clinics for another 2 or 3 years. I ride alone 99.9% of the time right now.

I am starting another 3 yo this spring, and hopefully with what I learned in the past, I will make a few less mistakes.

Mar. 24, 2008, 03:37 PM
When I got my horse he was trained for Western Pleasure. I retrained him myself and have brought him along to showing 2nd/schooling 3rd with weekly lessons and the occasional (2-3x a year) clinic. We score in the mid-high 60's before moving up to the next test/level. We have another half year at least at 2nd maybe another year before being ready to begin 3rd. We are still in the low-mid 60% range right now at 2nd, so we have a little work to do yet, and our 3rd level stuff is not show ring ready. Sure it may take a little longer, but it is a huge sense of a accomplishment and pride.


Mar. 25, 2008, 12:09 AM
I think the quality and experience of amateurs has risen enormously over the past five years. The AA who has trained his/her mount to FEI is no longer a rarity, although I don't know anyone who has done it "on their own" completely. These people usually have regular trainers who keep them on track.

I am an AA who is close to completing the "green bean to GP track" for the first time. I bought my mare as a barely broken 3 year old. Last year we had a fabulous first season at I-1 including some placings in Pan Am selection trails. She is now working all the Grand Prix and, God willing, will be strong enough to put it all together soon. I can't say I've done it on my own, though. I work with a fabulous trainer who has made a dozen or so GP horses and held a top 5 world ranking. While I would like to do all the riding, there are stretches of time (like now) when my career and other business interests, media, and board committments make that impossible, so, in addition to regular lessons, I reap the benefits of having my trainer keep my horses fit and progressing toward my goals. I also had a GP schoolmaster a few years ago which gives me greater clarity in bringing my current horses along.

I think its exciting and encouraging to see the growing number of really good AAs! They are valuable ambassadors for the sport, no matter what level they are competing.

Mar. 25, 2008, 10:55 AM
My first horse (who is still going at 19yo) I took from unbacked to competing Inter I and working at GP level. She's had a break to have a foal and is hopefully going to compete again this year. She took 4-5 years to get from novice (1st level) to PSG starting as an 8yo, although she was doing event dressage up to novice level prior to that. She's scored up to high 70's in Advanced medium (L3 with changes) and mid 60's at advanced (L4), low 60's PSG

Number 2 is now 13yo and almost ready to go PSG - she was ready last year and then injured herself in the field. My niece brought her on initially from just backed to elementary level (L2) and then I picked up the ride when she was away at University. She's taken longer, partly due to being less talented and partly due to time restrictions when niece was studying. She's scoring up to mid-60's medium/advanced medium (L3)

Mar. 27, 2008, 03:00 PM
This is my first post as a member of this forum, although truth be told I have been a frequent visitor (lurker?!)
I have a 5 year-old gelding that I got as a weanling, and have done all the work with thus far. He is only schooling First level, but has good basics. Not to mention the trail monsters we have encountered and conquered :winkgrin: It is sometimes easy to give myself a break because I am an amateur working without a trainer (we get a lesson every couple of months, and for his sake I invested in some lessons on the longe )...But after reading these posts, I am so proud of my fellow (and talented!) unpaid trainers ;)
I am certainly inspired by the success stories I read, and will continue to hold myself to a higher standard :D Thanks for sharing!

Mar. 27, 2008, 03:21 PM
I trained my 3rd level horse myself with (usually) weekly lessons. He was a problem horse when I bought him, and had never done any dressage or even english riding to my knowledge. We probably would have progressed beyond 3rd (we were already working on some early 4th level stuff), but age and an old injury caught up with him and now he does 1st level stuff max, but usually we just hack around. After that I took a job training young horses for a breeding farm, so was no longer an amateur. I've regained that status since and am bringing a young horse along, but I don't know if I count anymore. ;)

I didn't show him much due to finances, but I think our lowest score was a 62%.

Sandy M
Mar. 27, 2008, 04:00 PM
How many amateurs train their own horses and ride above 1st level? You have a horse that you bought and are training, that has never been in training with anyone else? But you take lessons from someone on a regular basis? How many ride above third level that have trained their own horse. I am just curious how many do it?

Not above third level, but I took my now retired horse from green 4 year old, through several years as a hunter jumper, then to dressage through 2nd, schooling 3rd (never quite got there - arthritis caught up with him), doing only lessons and clinics. No one ever schooled him but me. (FWIW.He did win or place in USDF All Breeds almost every year I showed him from Training through Third, but I realize the All Breeds standards are a little more forgiving than the Open ones! LOL) HOWEVER.... had I had the money, I would have loved to have given him time with a good trainer riding.