View Full Version : I want to catch ride!

May. 10, 2009, 10:01 PM
At the moment I am financially unable to show. However, I would still like to continue showing to gain experience and get known on the show circuit.

I am 17 years old and only 5' so I am able to ride ponies and horses. I have been riding for nine years.

What is your advice/experience on becoming a catch rider? Is it possible even if you aren't well known and don't show every weekend?

Whimsically Smart
May. 10, 2009, 11:55 PM
Bumping this up... I'm the same, except I'm 5'7 :P

May. 11, 2009, 12:00 AM
From my experience, a lot of my catch rides have come through my trainer. Like someone will ask my trainer who can ride their horse and sometimes my trainer will recommend me. Or, at a show last year, I won a really big pony class and later someone asked me if I would ride their pony in the low hunters for them. My trainer says, and I agree, that the more you show, the more catch rides you will probably get; but, like you, it's hard financially for me to go to a bunch of shows. Also, if you're a talented rider, and go to enough shows, you will get noticed. That's happened to both my friend and myself. Do you have a trainer? If so, ask them if they have any potential catch rides. It's late and that's all I can think of for now! Good luck!

May. 11, 2009, 07:49 AM
Catch riding is not done for the benefit of the rider. An experienced, competent rider is used for a green horse or for a problem horse- the rider is helping the owner or the trainer. It sounds like what you want is to borrow someone's horse and have them foot the bill. If you lack the funds to show, it sounds like you need to go to work. If you have a trainer, find out if you can be a working student. You need to be prepared to bathe, clip, wrap, longe- whatever. It's likely that you will not be paid to ride, but you may get a few rides as a perk if your skills are good. The catch riders that you see out there have proved themselves in some way. They probably didn't get there by asking if there was anything out there that they could show.

May. 11, 2009, 08:01 AM
Don't know how it is now, so this may be off the mark, but I used to ASK!! BEG is more like the right word, and like others have noted, I didn't ask to SHOW the horses, I was begging just for a ride. I hung around everywhere they didn't run me off, and tried to do anything to be helpful (including staying out of the way) just to literally "catch a ride." And I rode anything that was thrown at me and didn't complain about it - old beastmasters that just needed their legs stretched and greenies that were specialists in terror. My advice: if you've just ridden the thug of the world and your blood's turned to ice, come back grinning ear to ear and act it's the nicest animal you've ever ridden. :lol: A rep for crazy doesn't hurt, in my experience. And if you get to show, you're probably going to be riding the horses the owners are not brave enough to get on themselves. Again, just my 2 cents'. :D

May. 11, 2009, 08:08 AM
I catch ride for people on mostly the low level circuit and some breed shows. I picked up all my rides through my trainer. I mostly take green horses to their first shows. It may not always be pretty but i can usually get them experience and in the ribbons. I have one horse I am riding to give him experience before his greener owner starts showing him. I am also riding a pony for a breeder that's children have grown and moved out of horses in order to help it score higher in the year end points. Honestly I would not get anything if it wasn't for my trainer because I haven't shown on the As and I am not well known. I agree with the others that you need to go through a trainer. If you are good enough to be a catch rider, the rides will come. I don't ask for rides, my trainer knows that I love to ride and am happy to help others and she offers me to friends and clients when they are looking for a rider. I do not get paid for any of this however, just do it for the love and a chance to ride.

May. 11, 2009, 08:54 AM
Well...you start at the bottom and work your way up. Nine years riding is good but at what level did you ride? And did you show on the same level you are seeking catch rides at?

Catch riders are on those show circuit horses and Ponies because they ARE well known and well experienced. Try not to present yourself as needing the experience and expecting to get the rides at the expense of the owners who do get billed by the trainer and/or foot the show expenses.

You need to associate with a trainer who has alot of sale horses and if you are smaller, Ponies. After that trainer has worked with you for a period of time and you prove yourself, you will start getting offered catch rides at home and, if successful there, at the shows starting with the smaller ones and moving up if you continue to prove yourself.

Many Pony barns do need small adult riders BUT that does make you a pro at age 18 with any consideration like free lessons at all plus you can't do the Pony routine at the big shows you are seeking experience at.

Local show circuits may be a little easier to crack, maybe start there if you do not know any AA level trainers that do the circuit.

May. 11, 2009, 10:39 PM
Thankyou to all who posted helpful replies.

I've already been a working student for many years and have gotten catchrides from a trainer I was with for a majority of my riding. I recently moved to a smaller more private barn that doesn't have sale horses. I'm already planning on hanging out at every show possible to learn everything I can.

May. 11, 2009, 11:08 PM
I find that many barns are on the lookout for a good pony rider, so if you fit the bill that may be where you focus your energy. I think you will be more likely to get rides on ponies until people know you.

I don't think it would be rude or inappropriate to look up some farms that might breed or have young sale ponies and give them a polite call. Quickly tell them your skills and experience, and let them know that you are looking for any opportunities to ride. Be ready to provide references (ask your current and former trainers if you may use their names), and try to sound polite and professional. If they say no, thank them and ask them to let you know if they hear of anything.

I don't think it can hurt.

May. 12, 2009, 02:56 PM
I am currently on the lookout for a good pony rider for a medium for immediate showing through pony finals. Although I'd love to give a less fortunate kid a chance, I agree that it has to be a situation that would benefit the pony.

May. 12, 2009, 03:24 PM
I'm not a catch rider, I wish i was, but i know enough to be able to respond: most catch riders get their rides through trainers. Some other trainer (a friend/connection to your trainer) is looking for XYZ type rider for ABC horse, because that horse has no suitable rider under that trainer. You have to remember, catch rides are almost never for the benefit of the rider, per se (as in if ive got a string of excellent hunter ponies and all their riders have outgrown them, and they need to be sold and shown some more until theyre sold, i'm not going to go to the backyard kid who wishes they could show and doesnt have enough money because i feel bad, or just some random kid, i'm going to find the kid who will be most suitable on the pony and will give it the best ride. I will find someone who i am confident will almost never give a bad ride, and someone who is willing to ride whatever comes their way and can adapt easily from horse to horse. What you need to do is distinguish yourself in the show ring. Does your barn have some tough ponies? Show them. Put in a nice round on what may be a clearly devilish pony. If the trainers see a bratty pony in the warm up ring and then see you go in there and put in a lovely quiet round, they're going to say 'hey, that kid can really handle that little pony. what a nice rider" and if they happen to have a naughty pony with no suitable rider at the moment, they may ask you to ride. Show in as many different divisions as you can (i dont mean all at once.) As in go to one show with a pony, ride in the ponies or children's ponies. Go ride in the children's horses. If you are talented enough for the 3'6'' and if your trainer has a horse that can jump, go into the jr hunters. Also try jumpers as well. It is good for people to see that you can really ride anywhere in anything, on any mount. I believe you said in your OP that you dont have the funds to show? Well, you might already have a job, but if you dont, try finding one. A great option is to be a working student at the barn. Youll usually get some more riding in (trainer might say hey, i need this horse excersized..) and with enough work you will be able to afford a show here and there :yes:

It's certainly not an easy task to accomplish, but you need to work your way up the levels and make yourself known if you want to seriously be considered for catch rides :)

May. 12, 2009, 04:28 PM
Thankyou again for all the feedback.

And I'm not trying to get a trainer to foot the bill, I suppose I worded what I said in the first post wrong. Any horse or pony that comes my way, I get on. Even if it is known to throw every rider on its back. I probably should have been more broader than catch riding. If I was asked to excercise a pony at home or school some at 3 in the morning or warm up a horse, that's all good.

I had a good reputation before I moved and now being with all new people at different show grounds it's deffinitly harder getting to know people. I did catch ride for the trainer who taught me to ride before I moved and I wanted to know if there was anything else I could do to start to get known in the new area since I haven't been here my whole life.

I found a lot of your advice really helpful and will deffinitly get to work introducing myself and asking my trainer if she knows of anyone in need of a catch rider.

Sing Mia Song
May. 12, 2009, 06:13 PM
Talk to your new trainer. Tell her you are interested in catch riding and that you're willing to get on anything with four legs that says "neigh." Then be professional and polite around the barn as well as the shows--help out whenever possible, don't gossip, don't talk smack about other people's horses, or disparage any horse. Keep your paddock boots clean, your (polo) shirt tucked in and do your hair like you would for the shows. In short, impress upon your trainer through your actions that you are serious, businesslike and professional.

May. 12, 2009, 07:57 PM
I used to show up at the the teeny weeny backyard shows. When someone would fall off, or the horse would be excused etc... (it happened alot) I would offer to get on the horse for them. Most people would be grateful and take me up on it. Sometimes I would end up showing in more than one class. It also many times ended up with me meeting up with them at other shows. They usually couldn't afford a trainer, and were thrilled with the help. I was thrilled with the free practice!

May. 12, 2009, 09:39 PM
i also would LOVE to catch ride. however, i feel like catch rides are offered to the lillie keenans and zazou hoffmans and sam schaefars (i know i cant spell her last name) because they have great trainers who not only go to the big shows, but are big names.
basically BNT=catch ride (usually at least)
catch rides, although often times the owner pays, is not usually done for the rider, but so that they owner can get the horse known and out there winning. i am not so suer how catch rides work on local circuits work, but im guessing theyre pretty similar?

May. 12, 2009, 10:45 PM
Does your old trainer (or others that your rode for regularly back there) know anyone at all in your new area? You may think it unlikely, especially if you moved far, but the horse world is pretty small. Maybe make some phone calls back to them and see if they have any leads at all (may not even be a show barn...could be some breeder or small nabarnme they bought a horse from 10 years ago, but those people know someone who knows someone....).

May. 13, 2009, 12:04 AM
Last resort -- Stand by the in-gate dressed in your show outfit with polished boots and helmet on looking eager and wait for a harried pro to say "Can anyone hack this one in the under-saddle for me??" Pin his/her horse in the u/s and then politely ask if you can ride the horse in the under-saddles regularly :)

May. 13, 2009, 01:14 AM
There are a lot of opportunities for catch riding outside of big barns. They may not be as easy to find, but often are bigger opportunities for more riding.

I'm an amateur with my own farm and 6 horses. I'm ALWAYS looking for good riders to help keep my horses fit on a day to day basis. Each summer I have one or two kids who ride regularly for me (everything from hacking the greenies to helping keep my AO Jumper on a 2-a-day riding program which my job definitely doesn't allow me to do on my own!). I need at least one of the kids to come to shows with me, and I usually allow that kid to show one of the horses as though it was her own.

Last year I had a teenager who nannied for my infant while I rode and then showed my green TB in the 3', then 3'3", then (at the end of the summer) 3'6" jumpers. I paid for the classes and the shows since she was there helping me out and watching my baby. This year I'm going to let her show the TB in the 3'6" jumpers as a pseudo-lease......she'll pay for the shows herself. I have another kid this year who's taken on my new project horse as her own personal project. She does most of the daily riding and she'll take the horse to shows on her own dime, though that's all she'll pay for (I do all maintenance and upkeep on all of my horses).

Basically I'm willing to work with whatever it takes to keep a talented and reliable person helping me with my horses. I have several friends in similar situations who need help keeping thier horses fit and worked. No one can seem to find any kids who want to work hard in exchange for lots of rides. I would have KILLED for some of the opportunities I've talked to with friends!

So my suggestion is to talk to some of the non-big-barn-affiliated amateurs (or amateurs that do their own riding at shows and have multiple horses) and find out if they could use some help at home.

Good luck!

Feb. 1, 2010, 06:35 PM
i Am currently 13 years old and im 5'1. i have been riding for 10 years and show consistenly. I have a pony named So Darn Cute...but recently had some problems. SO i can no longer show her because she has hit a road block :(...This is very upsetting to me because she has won many classes and we were going for Pony Finals this year....but hopefully she will make a turn for the best soon.!

I was wondering if anyone needed a catch rider?

I will show anything...i just love to ride and am willing to do anything! Please please Please Please Please let me know what you think!! Thanks Sarah

Feb. 1, 2010, 10:21 PM
I have a barn full of horses that need riders. I have posted locally and online, seems no one in my neck of the woods wants to show at the owner's expense. All I required was the riders to pay for lessons and coaching. Shows are paid for, shipping paid for, etc.
I posted on Yard and Groom and now get live in's from all over the US and Canada to help out. I have two great girls right now and we are focusing on the jumper ring this year. They get room and board and board for 1 horse in exchange for helping to muck, feed, turn in/out, ride horses assigned to them, etc. and they get shows and lessons paid for and get to keep their ribbons. I don't pay them, so they must have parental income or something else for extra spending money.
These are all sale horses, some very green, some semi green and some showing locally and some starting to show the A's. We only do A's close to us like HITS Culpeper to save money on stabling, etc.. I wish there were more kids in my area that wanted to ride and show.

Feb. 1, 2010, 11:33 PM
I am always looking for good riders to help school and show ponies. I know several other pony breeders in the same situation. Definitely contact breeders in your area if you know of any.

Jun. 21, 2010, 12:57 PM
I am always looking for good riders to help school and show ponies. I know several other pony breeders in the same situation. Definitely contact breeders in your area if you know of any.


i saw that you are always looking for good riders to help school and show. Is that still the case?

Jun. 21, 2010, 02:07 PM
Last resort -- Stand by the in-gate dressed in your show outfit with polished boots and helmet on looking eager and wait for a harried pro to say "Can anyone hack this one in the under-saddle for me??" Pin his/her horse in the u/s and then politely ask if you can ride the horse in the under-saddles regularly :)

^this. Go to every show, dressed and ready. Be there 10 mins before the jogs. Every BNT needs a jogger last minute.

Nov. 7, 2010, 12:15 AM
I'm in the exact situation as you!!!!!!!!

Nov. 7, 2010, 06:44 PM
good grief, where are these kids, and why aren't they near me???? i've got a couple of sales horses and a couple of my own that needs more time in the saddle, and ever since my old working student moved, i haven't been able to replace her with anyone that actually knows one end of the horse from the other, much less actually ride a bit. ugh.....