View Full Version : Compete in As with horses at home ?

Star Creek
Jul. 3, 2009, 01:04 PM
I moved my horses home after realizing I was succumbing to the Stockholm Syndrome recently discussed on a number of threads here. While it's been much, much hard work and I've had a necessarily sharp upward learning curve, I am super proud of how great my horses look. (and they've all survived my learning curve :) Vet, farrier, riding friends give compliments.

No disrespect to those who love being catered to at a full service BNT facility. Between working full time and living in affluent pockets of the U.S. I've spent most of my riding life in that situation, so know it well. I know of many people who wouldn't have the joy of riding and competing if it weren't for the full care facilities, but personally, I felt like a moron with a checkbook.

I have been out of competition for about 2 years, using the funds saved to build out my tiny farm, buy tractor/trailer/truck/tack/trunks, etc...and now want to get back to competing.

We'll certainly start at some of the local C schooling shows but I was wondering, does anyone here compete with any degree of success in the A's without boarding at a trainer's facility and doing the whole "hostage" thing ? How do you do it ? How often do you trailer in for lessons ? What do you do to build skills, get perspective on what you need to work on between shows ? (I've had my DH video my riding which has really helped me...lawdy, if I could just get those elbows in!) I have done the Amateurs in Jumpers, Eq and Hunters. I expect to spread it out across the three again, but mostly focus on the AA hunters and adult eq.

Thanks in advance for any insight or suggestions.

Against all Odds
Jul. 3, 2009, 01:32 PM
congrats on getting your own farm and learning to do your own thing, it's a great experience!

I've done the whole horses at home and showing on the A's thing since I was about 10 (17 now) and it works great as long as you've got the right trainer there to help you.

I generally trailer in once a week for lessons, or when we are showing a lot I sometimes don't even lesson in between shows. My trainer is amazing though, she gives me stuff that I need to work on at home in between lessons, and it's always worked well for me just working on these things then getting tune ups in the lessons/at the shows. It does take a lot of self discipline though, since you don't have someone on the ground constantly you really need to push yourself, try to ride without stirrups every day and make sure that you ride for a decent amount of time so that you and the horse are both fit. At the shows I just meet up with my trainer there (for one day shows) and for the bigger shows we stable with the barn.

It's really important (or was for me at least), that you're part of a barn that's really welcoming and wants to help everyone and support each other, so that you still feel like part of the barn even though you might only be there once a week. My barn has a couple of us that are trailer in's who show and it's always worked very well for us.

good luck with everything, it's a ton of fun and a whole different side of horses to learn!!

Jul. 3, 2009, 01:32 PM

First off, I feel as though with freedom comes a more rounded horse person.

I recently quit teaching (lessons & training) and moved my horses to a little place & I love it.

I have taken lessons with dressage trainers, plan on doing some cross country schooling this fall-and have found a trainer that will come to our farm-and plan on finding clinics (dressage & h/j anyway) to attend in the fall/spring.

Also, ask your vet and farrier questions!!! Gather information from every available source...they will most likely love to impart information too you-especially since they don't need to worry about your trainer getting cranky that they are talking to you (have seen it happen).

Jul. 4, 2009, 12:24 AM
I moved my horses home 5 years ago and I've never looked back. I don't train with any h/j people regularly (other than trying to ride in a clinic with Greg Best every 6 months) though I do have a dressage trainer come out once a month or to give me lessons on a couple of my horses.

I have 6 horses all at various stages of training from my 2yo unbroke boy to my high AO jumper mare. I have a fairly quiet show schedule (I aim for 1 or [rarely] 2 "A" shows a month) since I've got a full time job and two small children as well. But there are a bunch of really fun other "indies" that I show and clinic with as often as I can. I have a lot of friends left over from the time I spent at the couple of barns I was at and I grew up riding with and/or for most of the trainers on the circuit (I catch rode a lot as a teenager), so I certainly don't feel "lost" at the shows.

Anyhow, I have a relatively rigid training schedule for all of the horses and keep a detailed chart of their rides and training progress as we go. I usually have a teenager helper--at least in the summer/show months--to help keep everyone ridden when I'm having to travel for work, and that really helps. I've found that with a handful of horses there's NO WAY I could train them the way I like if I was at a boarding facility. I miss the freedom of having someone else watching out for my horses, but I wouldn't change it for the world! :)

Jul. 4, 2009, 12:40 AM
I kept my horses at home the whole time I showed as a Jr and while I was in college. Now that I have my own barn, I guess I still keep my horses at home.:winkgrin:

I don't encourge the stockholm syndrome in my clients, it is to much work:eek:. I like to educate them about their horses and discuss options not dictate to them. This philosophy is probably because I had my horses at home and only hauled in for lessons and shows.

So congratulations on your independece and education. I am not knocking the total full service program just saying that people can be sucessful in a different type of program.

Star Creek
Jul. 4, 2009, 01:53 AM
Greatly appreciate all the insight, suggestions and encouragement !

Jul. 4, 2009, 09:02 AM
In over 35 years of horse ownership I have only ever boarded at a full care facility once...and that was for 5 months to prepare a horse for a big indoor competition that I needed an indoor arena to use. I could not believe the prices that I was expected to pay from everything from day care at the shows, to trailering (even though I had my own brand new trailer I was told I would be charged anyway??????) to braiding "surcharges" paid to the barn to organize the braider. Ummm I think that was a phone call however.....the thing that broke the camels back as it were was the $15.00 charge for two extra baths by the groom during one show. Now keep in mind I was paying exhoribant day care costs anyway.

Put that together with the snobby young kids who treated adult grooms like they were trash...ordering them around with no respect at all and the parents and worse the trainers that allowed that type of behaviour and I was outta there as soon as I could!

I was fortunate to own a small farm of my own where three years ago my hubby and I put up our own indoor arena and we started on our foray into the A hunter circuit.....alone. So far after three years it has been a huge learning curve and I think we are finally getting the hang of this. Having never been exposed to this level of competition, only schooling level shows as a teen and young adult, it was an experience for sure. Although I do pay a catch rider to show my horse in the pro divisions during the week we do everything else ourselves. Trailering, braiding, show entries, day care (all feeding, mucking and excercising in the early AM) etc. Having a stall at the shows is a luxury that we don't use very often as we usually work off the trailer. We hand the reins over to our rider for the class and take him back right after and then do the cooling out, bathing, bandaging etc. It is a TON of work. You are there at 5:30 am most mornings to feed and bath and braid and night check is complete at 11:00 pm. Its the same every day he shows (thankfully only three days usually in the week) but I have full control of my horse, I save a lot of money and know he is getting individual care every day that I am quite sure most show horses do not receive.

The only down side to doing this ourselves is that our entire vacation time from work is used up during the horse shows. Hubby and I alternate days off work to accomodate the horse show schedule and for the most part it works out OK. I have had to quickly learn how to drive and park the big trailer on my own now at the shows and to be efficient when working off the trailer all on my own but...if there is a will there is a way. You will do just fine I am sure :)

Jul. 4, 2009, 09:22 AM
I did this throughout my junior years and college, and hope to be doing so again soon.

Here are my tips:
1. Trailer for lessons regularly. Every other week was about all I could do, as I lived 2.5 hours away. Go home and practice, practice, practice what you learned. Get "homework" from your trainer. Make sure this is predominantly flatwork -- I don't jump more than once a week.

2. Learn how to show on your own. As a trailer-in, I am just not as important to the trainer as a regular student, and rightly so -- they pay his bills. If trainer is busy elsewhere I have my helper tape it and we watch the video later.

3. Make sure you are actually riding at home. Often the chores seem so daunting it is hard to cut out time for the riding part. But riding at home is SO much faster than boarding. If I'm in a rush, I can just throw a bridle on and take a spin bareback. Or knock off the mud where the saddle goes. Of course I try to be more thorough, but if I don't have time the horse will be fine. He doesn't care about the shavings in his tail.

4. The most important part to keeping horses looking A-circuit ready isn't grooming but feed. Use the best feed (including hay) that you can. That show-ring shine comes from the inside out.

Jul. 4, 2009, 09:38 AM
But I am at home and I live 1 1/2 from their barn.
I do everything myself -- always had to---$$$$ .
I ride 6 days and I am goal oriented.
I am thankful to be on my own -- yet have the oversight from a distance.

Recently I stayed and did a double lesson.
I had such a blast but because things are so big there -- I think the details on one horse get's lost. I also notice the care is strictly by grooms. Like clipping and such. Now don't get me wrong this barn is ran like a tight ship and I respect them soooooo much.
But I like knowing my horses teeth from one appointment to the next.
The fact he doesn't sedate easy.
Or what size shoes he is in.
By golly it is not about the money I spend-- but I know this horse .
I know if he is not feeling right and what change could have made it different.
CHoose what you choose but I recommend knowing more.

I would definetly talk to a trainer about competing -- find out the details.
My trainer likes knowing I am one lesson person to worry about since I do my own care. I have never had a problem being on miy own and doing the A's.

Jul. 4, 2009, 03:37 PM
Quite a few meet the trainer at shows and/or haul in for lessons. Not usually a problem for most decent trainers.

IMO, one of the biggest challenges-besides motivation when you are by yourself-is the need to school over proper courses made of proper jumps. No substitute for real oxers, roll tops, faux walls, ferns and flower boxes when you are schooling to keep the horse sharp and confident. The typical at home set up does not have the big show rails and all the decoration...and they cost like heck.
Hauling in for regular lessons gets you not only a pair of eyes on the ground, but allows you to school proper jumps.

The very fact there is more activity at a big training barn then there is at your own place can bite you big time when you get to the noisy, busy show and face crowded rings. Mine always did better when they were in bigger barns...so did eye. I learned I am a social rider and missed the activity and company.

Jul. 4, 2009, 06:49 PM
The key is to find a trainer that does not feel threatened by the fact that you and your horses are not totally under their control every waking second you are alive.
Or that isn't going to act as if the world came to an end if you lesson or clinic with someone else.
I keep mine at home and trailer over to lesson about once a week with my h/j trainer, plus I also have an eventing trainer that I manage to lesson with about 2-3x a month. They both know about each other and why I am training with both of them and they are both ok with it.
As someone else said, you have to accept the fact that the trainer may spend more time with the boarding clients at the shows, after all they are paying more overall than you are for your lessons and day expenses at shows. Sometimes I feel as though me/my horse may not be getting my $$'s worth at the shows, but I understand the way it is.
As others also said, you need to be sure to make time to ride and also keep good track of your progress between lessons, and I have also found getting homework from the trainers and keeping journal to be very helpful.

Jul. 5, 2009, 01:38 AM
Congratulations on the success of your new barn! I board, and I'm very envious of all the freedom keeping your horses at home gives you.

I don't have anything new to add to what's already been said, I think people have given really good advice, but I wanted to let you know that there are several members of our "barn family" who trailer in for lessons and meet us at shows.

It's definitely very doable, and I really think they get the best of both worlds. From what I've seen, most trainers are pretty chill about people trailering in. It's just more business for them after all!

Jul. 5, 2009, 06:22 PM
I have kept my horses at home for years and been very successful at the A shows. I have good trainers that I meet at the horse shows. I have been able to qualify horses for Indoors and Devon and if you saw the area I ride in you would be amazed, sometimes you just have to be creative :). The best part of having the horses at home is that they get tons of turnout and downtime when I come home from the shows.