View Full Version : Spinoff: Why did you become a professional?
Jul. 3, 2009, 12:39 PM
I'm not sure this will really work as I assume most professionals are not jockeying desks all day, but given the multiple threads attributed to trainers right now, most of which describe our lot as greedy control freaks :( I thought I'd start something where the professionals could offer their reasons for getting into the business. Then maybe some of you will see that we're just horse lovers too, who have chosen to make a living in the horse biz, many sacrificing any semblence of a normal life and very few ever making any money.
When I realized that, without parental support, horse showing (or even horse ownership) was definitely not going to be financially feasible for 5, maybe 10? years, the most obvious choice was to ride other peoples horses. Apparently I was decent, because people started paying me. Then they started paying me to show their horses. Suddenly I was making money doing all the things I'd done daily since the age of 10. The progression seemed logical and when I started teaching I fell in love with it. The eagerness of a good student, the thrill they have when they finally get it, the relief in the horse's eye :)
My horses understand and love my presence in the center of the ring. They give me looks and they tell me what's coming. They've already tried telling the rider but that route wasn't working, they give me the final chance to fix things before they voice their opinion loudly. My favorite story is my student (one mentioned in other thread, for those keeping up) and her 10K tb/qh/draft/whotheheckknows incredibly smart jumper were at LAEC for the Ch/AAs. For some reason she was all over his face that day (probably nerves) and he was Over. It. I had been telling her to get out of his mouth for 15 minutes, and yeah, I was probably yelling by the end of it. Finally I got a look from him that said, "Well, if you ain't gonna fix this I sure as heck am" and with that he planted his feet and stood straight up in the air. As absolutely wrong and horrible as that is, I just died laughing - this kid had his rear down, that wasn't the issue. Their sick/twisted/beautiful relationship was what cracked me up . . . they were both so hard-headed and opinionated that you could literally SEE the conversation they were having, but they could not find their way out of it this time. That is how they got along, and it was such an amazing relationship to watch form and help mold. But as good as those two were together they needed me, and they both knew it. Ask her and she will say he's as much my horse as hers, and that's not because I "controlled" her, but because she truly valued my role in the relationship.
So that's what led me to give up the ammie card. And though I don't run any type of program right now I doubt I will ever seek to get it back. Something tells me I'll be in center ring again one day :) How about the rest of you?? (If for no other reason, let's see how many pros are really on this board, I think we're outnumbered! ;) )
Jul. 3, 2009, 12:42 PM
I decided I might as well get paid for what I was doing anyway and enjoying as do it for free. ;)
Jul. 3, 2009, 03:00 PM
After forcing myself through college, I realized that it was no use denying what I knew deep down I always wanted to be. I got offered a job as a trainer/manager back in march and gave away my ammy card.
I'm still fairly new as a pro but don't regret it for a minute! :D
Jul. 3, 2009, 07:27 PM
It was kind of decided for me. I had always thought I'd go to vet school, but I struggled through upper level math and science in high school. My trainer at the time was my idol, and so I just started hanging out at the barn more and more. Eventually I was subbing as the beginner instructor and helping coach the short stirrup kids at horse shows. Said trainer and I split ways shortly before I turned pro so she has no idea how influential she was.
I've put the barn on the back burner at the moment in favor of something that is a little steadier in the paycheck department, but I know at some point I'll be full-time in the ring again. I already miss it and I'm not even gone yet!
Jul. 3, 2009, 08:48 PM
I'm a professional and I still have a desk job! I enjoy helping people and horses and can't afford to keep my own unless I get paid for the help I give. I really wouldn't consider myself a professional because of the volume of horse work I do but gosh darn USEF/USHJA make those amateur rules so strict. I think I'm not a crabby trainer yet because I don't do it full time :D
Jul. 3, 2009, 09:05 PM
Well after I graduated from college, I knew that my long life plan of being a vet was just not in the cards at the moment. I was burnt out and sick of being in school. I was trying to find more of a working student job first, but instead found myself being asked to be the trainer at the barn I boarded my horses at. The current trainer was leaving, so someone needed to take over the school horse lessons. So I started with those then gained a few clients that had their own horses then gained a few clients at another barn then a few training horses at my barn and around the city. There I was a pro. It was awesome! I gave up my ammy card as soon as I taught my first lesson. I am all about the rules. :lol:
I have since moved to FL and was a working student at first then had a few clients of my own at that barn. I have since left that barn and am now just managing the barn I work at. I really miss teaching and training horses though. I am patiently waiting for my SO to graduate college to see where his job lands him before I set up another buisness again. I teach a few lesson here and there when the trainer is out of town or at shows, but its nothing like doing it 7 days a week. I have old clients out in CO asking when I am coming to visit as they want lesson if I do. :) That makes me feel good.
Thats how I ended up a pro. I love it and would not change it for the world. My mom told me that what she always knew I would end up doing, but its really not what I saw for myself.
Jul. 3, 2009, 09:13 PM
I decided I might as well get paid for what I was doing anyway and enjoying as do it for free. ;)
And you didn't become a boy toy? (that is indeed the PG version) Go figure! :lol:
I couldn't resist...honestly.
Jul. 5, 2009, 09:20 AM
I was working for a BNT (in our local area) and was amazed at all the mistakes he would make with his customers. I mean red flags everywhere from horse purchases for his customers to training holes to deceit. I had NO doubt I could do a better job and I was already training and schooling alot of the horses. When I started to help the kids on the ponies I was training I fell in love with teaching. Even to this day I get just as much joy out of standing ringside with a student as I did competing myself.
Remi and me
Jul. 5, 2009, 09:28 AM
I also have a different job. A very different job. Basically I gave up my card to help pay for our two horses. I can choose who I want to work with. And it has become my own therapy to counter act the stress of my primary job.
Jul. 6, 2009, 03:59 AM
Me? Oh I painstakingly plotted and plodded and clawed my way into the Professional Trainer world.
Never had a horse as a kid, so I didn't get my credentials by being seen in the show ring as a budding star.
Nope, I went to college to ride and learn all the things about "real" riding that I could never have learned as a barn rat in TX. Discovered I enjoyed, and was good at, teaching the nuances of riding.
Stepped into a Trainer/Manager position right out of college and, although it has been tumultuous at times, and I have moved all over the country pursuing my happiness, I have pretty much never stopped working since!
The biggest reason I could never be an Amateur is that I fnd it ever so difficult to keep my mouth shut when given the opportunity to comment on..... oh, pretty much whatever!
I just feel the NEED to share the information it has taken me so long to gather.
And I truly, completely, and absolutely LOVE horses.
Jul. 6, 2009, 09:40 AM
I was a full time pro years ago...got out of the biz to raise my son - needed a job with bennies and a regular paycheck.
Recently got back to teaching. Did it for free for a while. Then my landlord offered to knock off rent if I took care of her horses when she needs to travel. I plan on riding/showing at least one of her horses, so that means I'm no longer an ammy. So I started charging for lessons. Gives me a little pocket money. And the reality is, I'm never showing in the A/O division, so none of it matters to me.
ETA: I LOVE teaching and do a darn good job, so it feels great to be back in the ring with students!
Jul. 6, 2009, 11:31 AM
I think it was always in me that I WANTED to teach. My first trainer when I was young taught me early how NOT to do things and I never wanted to be like her - to this day, she is a reminder of "what NOT to do". My next trainer I completely idolized - she was an amazing rider, taught me so much, and had a great eye for horses - but I hated her occasionally questionable attitude and dealings cand I'd hoped I could be like her in the good respects and improve on the bad - it was with her that I really said to myself, "this IS what I want to do with my life". My "last" trainer (as we never really stop learning from the people we work with) as a junior taught me so much about dealing with customers, students, horses, showing - everything. She was, and still is, someone I look up to and strive to be like.
I'd lived on and run my own farm since I was 11 with help from my parents when I was younger, and had been teaching lessons since I was 15, getting more serious and more students and horses as I got older.
When I was getting ready to go to college, my parents gave me two choices: go away to Sweet Briar, sell the farm and all the horses, give up teaching and then when I got out of school I would try to go get a job with some (hopefully) BNT somewhere and work up the ranks... or, go to school locally, keep the farm and all the critters, turn pro, and keep doing what I was doing to the best of my abilities.
I chose the second option. 12 years later, I am still plugging along. Occasionally, I wish I had made the other choice - I wonder where I would be now, what I'd be doing, who I'd be working with, or if I would have been out on my own again by now anyway... I would never say this is an "easy" job, especially for someone with zero independent wealth, but I do love what I do (well, 95% of the time, lol). I adore working with kids, I LOVE working with young horses, and I love doing camps and horse shows. I actually wish I had more young horses to work with. If I could change anything, it would be that. But I have a great core of customers right now and a few promising horses and hopefully more on the way. So for now, I wait and see where the future takes me.
Jul. 6, 2009, 05:37 PM
As a junior, I got stuck on a lot of bad horses and learned to ride whatever was thrown at me. Thankfully I started getting some decent rides and got to show some fantastic horses. (I've shown about 100 horses and ponies in my 15 years of riding (13 if you count my two year hiatus).
I showed as an Ammy, then started riding more and more for other people, so decided to give it a go!
So that was three years ago.
I started off mainly riding, teaching just a little bit. I had never taught much as a junior or ammy. I've started teaching some more, but the majority of my customers are adults who have my ride their horses several times a week and then teach them basically how to do what I'm doing. I like teaching Adults. They don't talk back and they try really hard. I have some kids that I like as much, but the Adults don't go balls to the wall, crazy course jumping. They tend to be more nervous and take things slow (which I like! No need to rush things).
So it's rewarding, helping these great ladies get over fears, learn to ride their stubborn horses, and actually enjoy riding and showing again :-)