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ontarget
Aug. 6, 2009, 05:06 PM
I have recently been very generously handed two horses with full ability to go compete at the GP level jumpers (although one is out of commission at the moment while his feet grow out...). I am an amateur rider, but have been toying with the idea of going pro since technically I should already be one, and I really don't see a benefit to doing junior/amateur classes anymore. I have a trainer, but she lives in Southern CA and I am riding/going to school in Southen PA. I have the ability and my horses have the ability, but honestly, I'm not sure of where to go from here. I have always had a trainer by my side telling me what to do, but now I have developed many of my own techniques and disagree with a lot of what trainers in my area are teaching. But now that I'm going my own way, I'm beginning to doubt myself and whether I'm doing the right thing. The pressure is definitely on now that I have two mounts, one who is totally capable and could be a world cup contender in a couple years with the right direction.

So I guess the question is, what do I do now? If you have been in my place, what did you do? What people did you need by your side to get your feet up off the ground and going? My trainer keeps harping at me over the phone that I cannot do this alone, that I need a "team," but what is that team, exactly? Is having a groundsperson (among the other usual professionals ie farrier, vet, chiro, etc) enough? Can I be my own groom?

I'm looking to hear from other people who have been in my place. What did you do and how did you get started?

Timex
Aug. 6, 2009, 05:18 PM
Could you do it alone? Maybe. Would it be better to have someone who knows more help you? Of course. Sure, be your own groom. Learn massage, chiro, how to be your own farrier, whatever you want. But having someone on the ground watching is invaluble. A knowledgable groundsperson can see things you can't necessarily feel, and we all know, having a good trainer is so important. And it doesn't matter whether you agree with all a trainer has to say, as long as you listen to what they say and consider that what they say might have some merit. Just my .02.

Bearhunter
Aug. 6, 2009, 05:33 PM
You say that now that you are going your own way, you are beginning to doubt yourself. If that is the case, then don't be afraid to look to professionals to help you. Just because you are seeking the advice of others doesn't mean you have to agree with all of their principles. It is great to have your own technique and style and have help from others as well.

ETA: My trainer who is a Grand Prix rider works constantly with a well known ground person. She would never think about not furthering her education or having someone there to help.

skyy
Aug. 6, 2009, 05:36 PM
With the number of outstanding trainers in the PA, NJ, MD area I would think you could find one that is agreeable to your way of doing things and help you on your way to the top.

hellerkm
Aug. 6, 2009, 05:47 PM
I agree, a ground person is ESSENTIAL! Even if you are doing your own thing you need someone to tell you what it LOOKS like when you do it LOL!! You need someone with a knowledge of horses who can say " yes your leg is too far forward" or "no the horse did not seem to respond to that aid" ect.
My friend just got back into riding, and she knows how to ride , but the day I was there I pointed out a few things that unless you have HUGE MIRRORS all over your ring you will NEVER see.
The rest you can do alone, BUT remember if you trying to go to school and do all the horse things required you will burn out quickly! Better to figure out how to delegate and enjoy this amazing experience than get so caught up in the day to day details and issues that your forget its supposed to be fun!
Good support people are the key to success!

ontarget
Aug. 6, 2009, 08:56 PM
I do know a ground person is essential... I was asking if it was enough. I definitely wish the place where I am going to board my horses had mirrors, but unfortunately it does not. :/ The only places are dressage barns, and I wouldn't mind going there except there are no jumps.

Yes, there are plenty of incredible trainers in NJ, PA, an MD. Unfortunately, my options are limited to a 20 mile radius around Gettysburg, PA. Anything further than that would be too much of a drive when factoring in school. Right now my horses are going to be literally 3 miles away on full care board, and I should have a ground person to help me. I do know that it's important to have people to support me (I'm definitely not going to do this alone!), I'm just not sure what other kinds of support I'm going to need. And what if, for example, this ground person doesn't work out (haven't even met her yet)? Where am I going to find someone to help?

I am taking lessons with my school instructor, although I am riding her horses and school horses, jumping a max of 2'9" if that. It's not much but I'll admit it helps keep my position where it should be. I'm hoping to take some dressage lessons, maybe once a week or every other week, but again, that is entirely not jumping focused. I am not completely against the idea of a trainer, but my options are very limited, and I'm afraid I would butt heads with the options that do exist, or else they are focused on hunters.

Hauwse
Aug. 6, 2009, 10:13 PM
Mirrors are not going to help you my friend, no matter how big.

Going pro certainly does not mean that you have learned all you need to know and stop learning, it is simply a disposition. A decision that generally occurs when a rider spends significantly less time focusing on their riding ability, and turns the focus on the horse alone.
That being said don't think for a minute that someone like BM makes all her own decisions, or does not seek and heed the advice of those she would place in the trainer category.

The fact that you have developed many of your own techniques and disagree with a lot of what trainers in your area are teaching does not equate to the possessing the actual knowledge base to navigate the GP route. I think you will find that at the GP level there is not a lot of divergence of ideas, there are a lot of different horses, that competing at the top of the game, require different methods of preparation based on their core abilities and their mind set, but the concepts that got them there are pretty much the same.

I do not know what your horsemanship knowledge base is, but it is absolutely essential that this be a priority. Whether you learn or you surround your self with those who know better than you, you need it, because at the base the care and well being of your horse is going to be the most important requirement you have at the GP level. Successful GP horses are like finely tuned race cars, and they will not be able to compete at that level unless they are well maintained.

Again this is the difference, everything becomes about the horse, the individual horse, your ride has to change for them, they don't change for you at that level, your focus must be on preparing them for competition, you may not feel comfortable going in to a GP class only having schooled 3', but it is not about you, its about the horse, and so on with every aspect of it.

I honestly feel that you either want basic support saying you can do it, or you need someone to tell you you are not ready to do it. Either way the reality is that no one is ever certain. It is a an educational process, and the good ones learn, and adapt, take in every bit of information they can and use it to overcome the challenges of competing at the GP level.

Perhaps the butting heads thing is a clue to where you are?

ontarget
Aug. 6, 2009, 11:17 PM
Argh, I feel like I need to word everything exactly correct, or else it is going to be taken the wrong way.

Perhaps I should have started the thread by saying I definitely do not know everything, nor do I think I know everything, hence why I am here, seeking advice and asking what I should prepare myself for before I even think about making the plunge into competition, professional or no. Every day, every moment I learn something new. I take something from everyone, be it a 4H trainer, Michael Whitaker, George Morris, or a backyard breeder. Not all I agree with, but it doesn't mean I don't learn from them. However it does not necessarily mean I want to immediately join their barn, committ myself and my horses to them 100%, and submit my horses to someone else's care entirely while I go about my merry way.

I think of "professional" as nothing more than a status that allows me to openly accept clients and their horses. I feel that I already have been spending time focusing on the horse as opposed to myself. I have trained many different horses of all levels and backgrounds from those who needed tune-ups, to those who needed to be completely retrained, to those that needed to be backed and started in competition, to those that were competing at high levels.

Perhaps I should not have blanketly said that I disagree with a lot of the trainers in my area. Instead, however, I will say that I have noticed a lot of yelling between student and teacher, draw reins, and other things I don't like that I don't necessarily agree with, nor would I want to see be a part of my program. Then again, this might be a question of my assertiveness in accepting some advice/criticism and rejecting others? That was not meant to be a show of immaturity, as in "I am above all and have my own methods, therefore I don't need help," but rather a quest for guidance as to what direction I should take. It was just worded improperly. Come to think of it, I have never really butted heads with anyone, but instead done the opposite and complied with practices I have not agreed with. Maybe this is more of the truthful concern, although again, as a professional, I suppose I should have a certain level of assertion as to what is best for my horses.

I definitely do not think that simply "developing my own techniques" equates to GP level. Excuse me but that would be an asinine assumption, and I am a little angry that you would even suspect me of thinking that. I have developed my own method of training and preparing a horse for that level of competition which has arisen out of all I have learned, but I do not think that this automatically makes me a professional or someone ready to take on the GP ranks. It just makes me an individual just like all the other individuals out there. ;)

I feel I have a pretty strong knowledge of horsemanship. Not a day goes by that I don't attempt to expand this knowledge. You do not need t tell me that GP horses are like finely tuned race cars. I understand this completely, and feel that I am pretty knowledgeable as to what their needs are. I would not have these horses if I was not knowledgeable. They would have gone elsewhere, or stayed in Europe.

I do not need someone to tell me that I can or cannot do it. I am confident that I can do it, and have had that supported by many different sets of eyes. The question is how do I get there and what do I need to do it successfully, hence why I am here, asking these questions. Hence why I am on the phone with my trainer who has been behind several other top level riders/trainers almost every day, asking for her guidance. Hence why I do not plan to go it alone.

What I am looking for is advice and perhaps stories of anyone who has been where I am and how they got started. I am trying to anticipate problems I am going to run into and things that I will need for my journey before it has even really begun. I am not looking to be a know-it-all, I am not looking for reassurance, and I am not looking for people to question whether or not I know GP horses are like well oiled machines. I am looking for advice from the ground as I start on course, from as many sets of eyes as I can get. ;)

WWYD?
Aug. 6, 2009, 11:31 PM
I would start by making a list of trainers I most admired. Then watch them instruct at a show. Then narrow the list down and call one or two of your favorites and meet them at the show and have them school you. Not sure if this helps, but it might be a start.

Words of Wisdom
Aug. 7, 2009, 12:54 AM
I cannot stress enough that you need to be working with someone who has ridden extensively at that level, either as their client, or as their employee. The upper levels of the sport are very, very different, and require a very different sort of preparation than the lower levels. Furthermore, it is difficult to ride at that level while still attending school (from experience). If you are indeed limited to a 20 mile radius, and cannot find a suitable trainer with which to work, then you essentially have two options: either take time out from school to pursue a riding career, or send the horses to someone else while you finish school. It is very easy to destroy a horse of that quality, and I've seen it happen many times.

It also pays to keep an open mind about things, especially when you're trying to expand your base of knowledge. The issue of draw reins immediately comes to mind: while for some horses they are inappropriate, they can be a very helpful training tool on others. I would even venture to say that the fact that you have developed your own training techniques might be quite detrimental. I can only recommend that you master the tried-and-true ways before you begin experimenting. When you say that you have developed your own method of preparing a horse to jump at that level, does that mean that you have actually brought a horse up to jumping at GP level?

Also, while you may not need a groom at home, I will tell you that it is very helpful to have one at the shows, so that, should you go early in the order, you can walk the course while someone holds your horse. Especially if you have two horses jumping in the same class, you will really appreciate a second set of hands helping you out on the ground.

ontarget
Aug. 7, 2009, 01:39 AM
Now I am getting a bit irritated.

I have trained with and worked with someone who competed at that level going all the way to World Cup for 6 years, then spent 7 months with a trainer who helped initial trainer. I have worked with some of the top GP riders in the world and have even been offered positions with them. I am extremely familiar with this level. I have not competed in GPs, but that has been because I have not had the horse. I have, however, competed very successfully in 1.45m classes at the top level (Spruce Meadows, places in Europe, AA shows on west coast) and have brought horses up to that level. I am not an idiot who has no idea what she is doing, simply going "hmm, GP might be fun. Let's go!"

I do have an open mind. I also have my opinions, just like you do, Words of Wisdom. We can disagree and that is fine. Just because we disagree does not make me automatically incompetent and incapable of training these horses. Isn't having opinions part of what makes a trainer? How am I supposed to train a horse when I have no standard or routine to go by? So I'm supposed to master something I may have tried and found not to work before I can decide I don't want to use them? Trust me, I have used draw reins, and I have found that they are counterproductive if anything, at least for me. And even that concept was not developed on my own, out of the blue, but after careful consideration and collaboration with my trainer. Maybe that's different for you, but so far my methods are working, so I think I'll stick with them for the time being and keep my eyes open for better techniques that may come along. ;)

Please read:


Perhaps I should have started the thread by saying I definitely do not know everything, nor do I think I know everything, hence why I am here, seeking advice and asking what I should prepare myself for before I even think about making the plunge into competition, professional or no. Every day, every moment I learn something new.


That was not meant to be a show of immaturity, as in "I am above all and have my own methods, therefore I don't need help," but rather a quest for guidance as to what direction I should take.

What you say about school makes sense, but neither of those options are available. One of my horses came to me from a BNT on the west coast, who cast him off as unrideable, failing to check into his diet and note the fact that he is a PSSM horse. Owner was at the point of just giving him away, and I am his last resort. Very little pressure there. The horses are owned by family (partly why I am so lucky as to have the opportunity to work with them) after I had been deemed ready to handle such mounts by outside sources. There is no interest to send them elsewhere, especially after so many other professionals have ripped off said family members. It is understood and accepted that school comes first. Both horses are with me for training. If I get to compete, then great, that's awesome, I have the power to do that, but first and foremost they are with me for training and possibly sale.

Having a groom at the horse show is definitely something to consider.

Thanks for your input, but I'd like to stay more along the lines of just advice and not telling me things that should be apparent to anyone even considering to take the route I am, ie "The upper levels of the sport are very, very different, and require a very different sort of preparation than the lower levels." I am not looking to hear I am incompetent by people who have no clue who I am, rather constructive advice on how I can get to where I want to be.

shanky
Aug. 7, 2009, 06:12 AM
rather constructive advice on how I can get to where I want to be.

As you pointed out, we know nothing about you, making it impossible to predict even if you can get where you want to be. But others have done what you want to do without having a full time trainer, never mind an entire team. There are folks out there who go it alone.

If you don't feel 100% confident but feel you want to go ahead anyway, you can always haul to a facility for the occasional training session with a pro with more mileage than you.

Just remember who your competition will be: Even though you are going it w/o a "team", most of the horses/riders you will be riding against have the luxury of a team behind them. The team isn't just about how you ride and train, either: When a former YR I know went pro with nobody but her girlfriend to act as her groom, she met with moderate success in the GP ring against the big names but she found it absolutely exhausting and burnt out after about two years.

je.suis
Aug. 7, 2009, 06:56 AM
If you think you can ride the GPs without a "team" you are mistaken. You need at least professional help at shows before going it alone and even then, a knowledgeable groundsperson is essential. Look around you and see how many pros are out in the schooling area alone. None. At least two people are helping set jumps, groom, etc. All are professional at the GP level. Grooms must be very knowledeable in every aspect of the sport when working for the top riders. I was once told it takes five people to get me to the ring: vet, blacksmith, trainer, groom and the one holding the checkbook! I show up with the last three. Good luck, though.

Jsalem
Aug. 7, 2009, 07:43 AM
I would say that the first thing you need to do would be to get your own place. I didn't see where you mentioned if these horses are boarded? It sounds like you've had enough experience to form your own opinions as to the horses' overall care. At the top level, the "trainer" needs to be in control of every aspect of the horses' care- feed, turnout, grooming, handling, footing in the ring, vet care, maintenance, shoeing and daily work schedule. Your "team" would be helping you with all of this. Then, of course, a good ground person. It sounds like you're still young. You need to mentor with someone to help you negotiate the waters. Find someone you respect. If you're serious, you can't limit yourself to a 20 mile radius- move.

Janet
Aug. 7, 2009, 08:33 AM
Who are the top level riders/trainers you admire the most?

Talk to them. Ask them to recommend someone in your area. See if you can arrange teamwork, where there is a local trainer you work with (say, once a week) working in concert with a TOP trainer that you trailer too less frequently (say once a month) and meet at the bigger shows.

katie16
Aug. 7, 2009, 09:16 AM
As you seem to respect the opinion of your trainer in CA, and she/he is the one telling you that you need a team, but you are not sure what the team consists of, I would recommend asking the CA trainer. From your posts it sounds as though that CA trainer has more GP and international experience than many of us here and they could likely guide you better.

On a side note: this might be next to impossible to do while you are in school, particularly in the location that you are if you don't feel that there are suitable people in the area. (I am not saying that there are not suitable people in the area, just paraphrasing what you posted). You might consider transfering schools, or postponing your GP aspirations until you can dedicate yourself to the task. Just a thought . . .

Guin
Aug. 7, 2009, 09:18 AM
I would say that the first thing you need to do would be to get your own place. .

The OP is in COLLEGE at Gettysburg. I don't think she can just run out and "buy her own place."

OP - Since you can't move your horses, the thing to do is get someone to come to YOU. Maybe post a new thread in H-J about "Seeking GP trainer who will travel to Gettysburg" two or three times a month and then work from there.

katie16
Aug. 7, 2009, 09:25 AM
OP - Since you can't move your horses, the thing to do is get someone to come to YOU. Maybe post a new thread in H-J about "Seeking GP trainer who will travel to Gettysburg" two or three times a month and then work from there.


Do you seriously believe that a GP trainer is going to have the time to come to her? I think it is FAR more realistic to have her ship to them.

Guin
Aug. 7, 2009, 09:31 AM
Do you seriously believe that a GP trainer is going to have the time to come to her? I think it is FAR more realistic to have her ship to them.

Who knows? What does it hurt to inquire? If the OP can afford to pay for the trainer's travel time, maybe someone would be happy to.

Justice
Aug. 7, 2009, 10:35 AM
I have an idea.

What about finding a trainer that you get along with, and signing on as an assistant or apprentice? This will show you the ropes of the business end of things, give you a safety net while you're at school (e.g., eeek! I have finals this week and have 20 horses to get ready for a show by myself!), allow you to manage the horses in your care as you see fit, and still give you access to top training.

As it sounds like you already know, lots of gp riders aren't the "top dog" at their barn, but they are able to make a living doing what they love until they are ready to strike out on their own.

Just a thought.

tuckawayfarm
Aug. 7, 2009, 10:46 AM
Unless you are being paid for training these horses or for giving lessons, I would not be in a hurry to declare professional status. There are many more opportunities for showing off these horses for resale as an AO. (Danielle Torano, Dana Waters, Laura Linbeck, etc. ;) ) As a pro, you will be much more limited in what classes are available to you while moving these horses up the levels. Your relatives covering the horses expenses will not put you in violation as long as they are not paying you.

Sounds like you have found a suitable facility as far as care is concerned, so I would get the horses moved and give them and yourself time to settle in. Spend a month or two on flat work while you formulate a plan. By then you will have a better idea of what you are dealing with both retraining and soundness wise with the jumpers and time wise with school.

Use your trainer's contacts to hook up with a good pro. It's one thing to maintain a going GP mount on your own and quite another to make one up. As I'm sure you know, the most amazing jump talent won't get far without rideability, so that's where I would start.

You have been given a nice opportunity. Good luck to you! :)

jumpsnake
Aug. 7, 2009, 11:05 AM
I am far far far from a pro, but I do have some business experience.
I think by pro you mean having clients, etc, yes? This will mean bills, insurance, getting people to actually pay, etc. etc. I would suggest that the business side of things should probably wait until you are done with school. The little things take a ton of time- and that is a precious commodity for you I would expect. If you have the finances to hire someone to manage things, great, maybe that is not a concern, but otherwise I would wait.

I know it is frustrating when people underestimate you, but a public bb is, after all, public. There is no way to know who you are or what your knowledge base is, and people at the GP level are kind of few and far between. I would second the idea of asking some pros that you admire for advice. Maybe you can offer to buy a beer or dinner and pick their brains. Sometimes, though, you just have to jump in and see how you swim. I think you may be at that point-- there will be some uncertainties but you will learn what help you need and what you don't.

Come Shine
Aug. 7, 2009, 11:12 AM
I'm looking to hear from other people who have been in my place. What did you do and how did you get started?

I haven't been in your place, however, I remember seeing an amazing amateur rider at Spruce a number of years ago. She won EVERYTHING. She was incredible to watch, a fabulous rider. Then she just disappeared off the radar.

Years later, she was back. In an article, she explained that she had decided to turn pro but that it was much, much different and more difficult than she had thought it would be. Without the support system she had had in place, things had really fallen apart.

I wish I could remember who it was. She did seem to have rebuilt things but it sounded like it had been a tough go.

All the best.

eas1012
Aug. 7, 2009, 11:46 AM
first off good luck getting out there on your own!

but please be warned -- be CAREFUL of the vets and farriers you use in the area by your school

especially coming from what sounds like a very competent trainer/barn scene in CA, watch who you use in PA

i went to school in central pennsylvania, rode for the school's IHSA team etc., and had a great time in general with the team, BUT when it comes to their knowledge base some of these people don't know their a$$ from their elbow!!!

my friend and i literally paid our farrier to drive 3 hrs from our home town out to our school because there wasn't ONE adequate farrier in a 50 mile radius

i won't even go into the helpless vets in the area either

that being said, again good luck and BE CAREFUL!

Sunny's Mom
Aug. 7, 2009, 12:31 PM
I wouldn't be so fast to give up the High AO classes if you have horses that can do the GPs. You might really appreciate the prize money in those classes :)

TSWJB
Aug. 7, 2009, 12:51 PM
I You need to mentor with someone to help you negotiate the waters. Find someone you respect. If you're serious, you can't limit yourself to a 20 mile radius- move.
i agree. you can either devote yourself to school or devote yourself to the horses. i live in the mecca of horse world. and i cant limit my radius for lessons at the 20 mile mark. i haul my horse to my lessons. and its 32 miles each way to the barn. 64 in total and approx 23 miles each way to bring the horse to his lessons.
i work until 5pm. i commute on route 78 which has terrible traffic jams. but i make it to my lessons by 7pm because i am organized, and my horse loads right up on the trailer, and it takes me about 4 minutes to hook up the trailer.
you wanted advice and now your mad that people are stating their opinions. it is of my opinion since you asked for it by making a post, that you could do this, but you would need to hook up your trailer and haul out to a really good trainer.

dghunter
Aug. 7, 2009, 12:56 PM
I *think* it was McLain Ward's recent article in PH that was talking about taking things from different trainers and tweaking or adding it to your program, but that you don't have to change your entire program. You might still benefit from some trainers in that respect. The article was really quite good.

BTW I'm not quite sure it was McLain Ward's article but it was from the series they did on the George Morris Horsemanship Clinic.

Midge
Aug. 7, 2009, 01:51 PM
My GP experience is limited to braiding the occasional Sunday competitor, so take my advice for what it's worth.

You have two conflicting goals: school and horses. If you are a senior, I would suggest modifying your horse goals this year to working with the horses, getting to know them, sharpening up the flatwork and making sure their basics are in place. Get in contact not with the trainer within 20 miles but the trainer you wish to work with and arrange for the occasional lesson when you have time. If you have the chance to go to a show and do some classes, great. If not, don't sweat it. After school is over, you will have the groundwork set to go forward.

If you are not a senior, I think you are taking on something that will not succeed and will probably interfere with your education, as well. You will be attempting to do three jobs and all of them will suffer.

Tex Mex
Aug. 7, 2009, 02:14 PM
Hey OP, I think I know what you're saying. I show in the hunters but have similar feelings as you. I understand that it's hard to be a knowledgeable, good riding amateur, it's not always easy to find someone you respect in every aspect- teaching, riding, horse management, etc. It sounds like you are ready to do a lot of that on your own now. And if you feel confident, then give it a try! There's no reason you couldn't return to a full time training program later if you want to.

As far as your pro status- until you are getting paid to ride or teach for other people don't worry about that at this point. And even if you do turn pro, you could still have your horse in training or ride with another pro if you wanted to.

As for the GP ring- you probably know this already, but it is going to take a lot of time and a lot of money. So I would say do the best you can to find a coach you respect that you can hook up with at the shows, see if they will give you some ideas for things you can practice on your own at home. Show as much as you can (which might be hard with school).

I actually know a lot of people who do what you are looking to do. I live in So Cal too and I can think of a lot of "do it yourself" types who hook up with BNTs for shows only, and it seems to work out great for them. It's hard when you've grown up in a full training kind of lifestyle to have the confidence to break free from that. I wish you the best of luck!!

Tex Mex
Aug. 7, 2009, 02:27 PM
After reading your post again, I thought of a couple more things. Do these horses belong to someone else that is going to be paying you? Then it makes sense to turn pro now. And even if you are getting paid as a professional, it's ok to still pay an experienced coach at horse shows to school you, people do it all the time.

As for grooming on your own...at home it should be fine (although it would be nice if you had someone to help you set fences) but it is not going to be easy at a horse show. Perhaps when you find a coach you like, you can just pay their guys for the days at the shows. Or if you aren't the owner, then the owner can pay. If you end up drawing an early order of go, it's not going to be fun trying to walk the course, then get on, warm up, etc. Plus your coach might get annoyed. You want to establish yourself as a "professional" (even if you are an amateur) on the circuit if you are going to ride at this level. So be careful not to do anything that makes you seem unorganized or unprepared.

Hauwse
Aug. 7, 2009, 02:41 PM
Sorry you took it as a personal attack, it was not meant to be.

The simple answer is that there are no simple answers, no real check lists. The thing a pro needs most is experience, and that experience is going to pretty much plow the road for your career.

I have been there done that, and it is a process, but it is a process based on all the elements of your experience. My father is a trainer, so I use him as a sounding board when it comes to training issues etc. or just to talk about a horses progress etc., but frankly his advice is pretty simple, and consistent, draw on experience.

Of course you are going to need a groom etc., you can't school a horse and hold another horse at the same time, those are things your experience is going to dictate.

You have the experience of campaigning, development, training, care and maintenance, and you have seen how successful individuals accomplish it, so you need to simply extend that knowledge into the realm of clients, with a keen focus on producing results for your clients, or generating clients. Whatever it takes to achieve that is really all there is to it.

It is no longer just a passion, it is a job!

Summit Springs Farm
Aug. 7, 2009, 02:50 PM
You don't need to declare yourself a pro to ride in GP's, look at Erin Stewart, she's awesome, but she has a lot of help from her dad and his staff.

My initial response would be to put your new GP horses with a trainer you really love and go it from there, let them take care of your horses and train you to actually DO the GPs, since you haven't had the actual experience.

Then make your decision on going pro and taking on clients etc... Good Luck

Jack16
Aug. 7, 2009, 03:59 PM
The OP is in COLLEGE at Gettysburg. I don't think she can just run out and "buy her own place."

OP - Since you can't move your horses, the thing to do is get someone to come to YOU. Maybe post a new thread in H-J about "Seeking GP trainer who will travel to Gettysburg" two or three times a month and then work from there.

I really wish we could all be more supportive here and not jump to assumptions about people's clear intention to just get some advice. OP, school and competing at the top level is very hard. It sounds like right now you are just trying to train these horses for a while and ready for that level or ready to continue at that level so showing every week is probably not necessary at this point and maybe won't be until you are out of school.

When I was in college I rode with some top riders on the H/J AA circuit that are now cleaning up in the A/O's. That isn't quite the same as GP and international competition but these girls did just this. They had their horses at boarding facilities that they had researched and trusted and they got BNT's to come down 2-3 times a month to keep them going.

Good luck with your endeavour. College and horses isn't always easy but I know I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Chef Jade
Aug. 7, 2009, 05:25 PM
I don't understand the issue with going pro or not going pro. Will the horses' owner be paying you to ride, or are they just being given to you? If the latter, no need to go pro. However, that doesn't answer your dilema of how to work your "team". Personally, I would just meet up with a trainer at the shows or school with them on the occasional weekend. You can then implement the bits and pieces that fit into your own program. Secondly, only YOU can answer whether you have anought time to groom and school these horses everyday. If not, you need to be with a trainer or in some type of program who can get these guys schooled and exercized every day.

DancingQueen
Aug. 7, 2009, 05:42 PM
Not having read all posts, here's my two cents.

Firstly, I don't see why you would need to go pro just because you have outgrown the amateurs. If you don't want to/need to get paid to teach and ride, you can still be an amateur and ride in the big sticks. You can have your own barn and still be an amateur unless you also teach etc.

Secondly, just because you "go pro" doesn;t mean that you have to do it all alone. Most pros have trainers of sort. They may attend clinics, ride with and take advice from other pro riders they have a good relation with, work with an older rider who's not showing anymore etc. Granted for many pros the "ballplank" is a spouse or perhaps former successful parent.

Going pro means very little as far as riding ability goes. It is all in wether or not you get paid to work with the horses.

Don't feel as though you have to know it all and can't ask for help just because you decide to become a professional. Find a trainer or more experienced rider in the area who will help you out. We all need a good ground control form time to time!

Congrats on getting nice rides by the way and good luck!

mrsbradbury
Aug. 7, 2009, 10:25 PM
Excuse me, as I breezed through all the posts.

You are very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with these very nice horses, and I hope it lasts.

I would start by evaluating a plan. When do they have to be in the ring? What are the owners expectations? Where is my comfort level right now? What are my limitations?

From there you can develop a realictic approach and take it from there. For example, do they have to start in a GP in 30 days? or do you have 6 months? If you have 6 months or more, you can focus on really getting to know them, on the ground, on the flat, getting them FIT, figuring them out.

I have been in your shoes (only I didn't have to juggle school); I was already pro. My owner wasn't quite patient. I built my own team, chose my farrier as someone who would listen and work with me, picked a vet who would listen and work with me. My vets and farriers don't dictate to me, and I am no idiot. I feel that we are all professionals and have to respect each other's role.
I get the assumption that you are confident in making decisions on the horses in your care. If you do not like the suggestion or recommendation, or if you do not think it is right, say so, and explain yourself to these people.

As far as the ground person goes, take what you got, if she doesn't scare you, and that's all that's available then ok. Don't start a fight, be polite, listen and try; it just might work or it might not. I did find it a bit presumptious of you to assume you would "but heads" with what was a available in your area. Sometimes you just suck it up. That's your area!

If you decide to go pro, you also earn "points", by being easy to work worth and non-confrontational. Ultimately, you will know your horses and make the decisions. and you will make mistakes.

These horses may not be with you in a year, maybe they will. You just have to focus on each and every day. I have always surrounded myself with people who made me confident, were willing to discuss the options, and treated me with respect. You can meet anyone you like at the shows, and I do believe you can do your homework at home if you are as accomplished as you state.

Good luck, have fun and keep you wits about you. The only person who cares in the end is the horse.

Words of Wisdom
Aug. 7, 2009, 10:52 PM
Now I am getting a bit irritated.

I have trained with and worked with someone who competed at that level going all the way to World Cup for 6 years, then spent 7 months with a trainer who helped initial trainer. I have worked with some of the top GP riders in the world and have even been offered positions with them. I am extremely familiar with this level. I have not competed in GPs, but that has been because I have not had the horse. I have, however, competed very successfully in 1.45m classes at the top level (Spruce Meadows, places in Europe, AA shows on west coast) and have brought horses up to that level. I am not an idiot who has no idea what she is doing, simply going "hmm, GP might be fun. Let's go!"

I do have an open mind. I also have my opinions, just like you do, Words of Wisdom. We can disagree and that is fine. Just because we disagree does not make me automatically incompetent and incapable of training these horses. Isn't having opinions part of what makes a trainer? How am I supposed to train a horse when I have no standard or routine to go by? So I'm supposed to master something I may have tried and found not to work before I can decide I don't want to use them? Trust me, I have used draw reins, and I have found that they are counterproductive if anything, at least for me. And even that concept was not developed on my own, out of the blue, but after careful consideration and collaboration with my trainer. Maybe that's different for you, but so far my methods are working, so I think I'll stick with them for the time being and keep my eyes open for better techniques that may come along. ;)

What you say about school makes sense, but neither of those options are available. One of my horses came to me from a BNT on the west coast, who cast him off as unrideable, failing to check into his diet and note the fact that he is a PSSM horse. Owner was at the point of just giving him away, and I am his last resort. Very little pressure there. The horses are owned by family (partly why I am so lucky as to have the opportunity to work with them) after I had been deemed ready to handle such mounts by outside sources. There is no interest to send them elsewhere, especially after so many other professionals have ripped off said family members. It is understood and accepted that school comes first. Both horses are with me for training. If I get to compete, then great, that's awesome, I have the power to do that, but first and foremost they are with me for training and possibly sale.

Having a groom at the horse show is definitely something to consider.

Thanks for your input, but I'd like to stay more along the lines of just advice and not telling me things that should be apparent to anyone even considering to take the route I am, ie "The upper levels of the sport are very, very different, and require a very different sort of preparation than the lower levels." I am not looking to hear I am incompetent by people who have no clue who I am, rather constructive advice on how I can get to where I want to be.

I'm sorry, I wasn't sure how much experience you had with that level of the sport. You're right, we don't know who you are or what you've done in the past, so it's hard to gauge what sort of advice is helpful or unhelpful. And, I DO know people who pretty much woke up one morning and decided they'd like to jump the big classes, despite having obvious gaps in their education. I know that I personally found the level of preparation needed to keep a horse at the top of its game at that level a bit surprising. I think you're selling yourself a bit short by making yourself sound quite stubborn and set in your ways.

Would you consider transferring to a school where there was a trainer that you'd like to work with close by? I had very little help with my horses (including one new horse) for a year, with only the occasional outside lesson, and know that I would have found the transition to the higher levels easier had I had better help. I can't say enough about how much my riding improved, not only from a technical standpoint, but also from a mental standpoint, when I began working with someone who I really respected.

Haalter
Aug. 7, 2009, 11:29 PM
Unfortunately, my options are limited to a 20 mile radius around Gettysburg, PA. Anything further than that would be too much of a drive when factoring in school.


I think of "professional" as nothing more than a status that allows me to openly accept clients and their horses.

Here's where I'm confused. You are short enough on time to have to limit yourself trainer-wise to your immediate local area, and yet you are considering taking on clients? How would you have time for this? Perhaps I'm misunderstanding, but this doesn't make sense to me...or are you referring to your relatives who own the two horses as your clients and not planning to solicit more until school is over? Please clarify - I may have some good advice for you, but I just can't get my head around exactly what you are hoping to accomplish by "going pro".

FWIW, I rode professionally during college, both my own upper-level horse and others I was hired to ride...but I did so at a big barn where the head trainer managed everything, and I wasn't in charge - I was just a rider. It was hard enough doing it this way - now that I am an adult long past college age who does "do it all" myself, I can't imagine being able to do my current job while attending college too.

ontarget
Aug. 8, 2009, 03:00 AM
Okay, a LOT of good advice and suggestions. Thank you all for chipping in and giving me your thoughts. I am processing it all.

As far as going pro vs. amateur, you all make a lot of good points. The points jumpsnake made are very real and something I may not have fully considered. Staying an amateur would be a non-issue except that let's just say I have been volunteering my training services for some time, and have been offered outright positions, but I couldn't take them because then I would have no choice but to go pro. I have considered volunteering my services again this year, but then again, that was before these two horses came along, and with two horses in full training, this would almost definitely not be an option, still keeping it as a non-issue. Considering it further, it probably would make more sense at this point to stay an amateur, especially since one of my two horses might be best suited as an amateur horse if he were to be sold, and it might be more important to have show history in the Highs than in the GPs. Prize money for the High Classics aren't too shabby either, although my focus is not necessarily on prize money at the moment.

The time limit as far as the 20 mile radius is not really the issue, I suppose, so maybe I was a little misleading. The real issue is that I do not yet have a truck and trailer. I would not want to board outside of a 20 or 30 mile radius, because that would most likely be too far to travel with school, and I do not want to take chances. With my horses 3 miles down the road, and a school schedule that I organized so that I would definitely have the time to take care of my horses and train them, I am confident I will have the time. If they were 40 minutes away, the room for error would be less, and I need all the room for error I can get at this point. As far as the truck and trailer, I may be getting one at the start of the school year, but is not yet confirmed so I can't count on it. The lack of truck and trailer makes training options very limited; this is part of my dilemma.

After a lot of thinking and taking in your advice, I'm definitely thinking I'm going to have to suck up whatever might keep me from getting help and get a trainer. Most likely not full-time, but maybe once a week and at shows. I'm probably going to see how it goes at first and see how things work out with my ground person, but if it comes down to it, it would be an admittedly very stupid thing to do to shut myself off from whatever resources might be available to me. The question is in my case, where can I go to get the training that I want? There are virtually no high level jumper trainers in my area. I'm working on asking around, but most of what might be considered the top trainers in the area are very much hunter and don't have a clue about jumper. Jumper is almost like a curse word in this area.

Which brings me to my next thought The option of moving and/or prioritizing between school and horses has definitely been something I have thinking about and struggling with, and which I have been discussing with family and trainer. Of course, the BEST option in my mind would probably be to go back to CA to train with the trainer I know and go to a less expensive or less rigorous school and just get a business degree and call it quits on the school front. My family, however who are also the ones in control of these horses, have made me promise to attend one more semester of my current school to see how it plays out before making the huge committment of going home. Expenses where I am at now are also a lot cheaper than on the west coast, so it is in the interest of the owners on that front to stay where I am at.

I have a loose time frame of about a year to get one horse up and running, and the time frame for the second is being entirely left up to me, although I see it taking about 3-6 months for that one if all goes according to plan, (which as we well know in horses, usually doesn't). There is not a whole lot of pressure, which is probably the only reason why I would even be able to think about doing school and having these horses.

So much to consider..

3eme
Aug. 8, 2009, 07:58 AM
I am a little confused: you have owners paying for the upkeep of the horses, yet you (I am assuming) keep all or part of the prize money? I am assuming this based on your last post, where you talk about prize money not being shabby in the High A/O's, as well as the cost of keeping your horses where you are being better for the owners vs in CA.

SO....doesn't this mean that you, by USEF definition, ARE a pro, and should not be competing as an Amateur?

I also have a hard time believing that you would not take a commission if one of the horses is sold, as you would rightfully deserve one. Um, also makes you a pro.

As for the should you ride with a pro or not or strike out on your own: to me, that is a no-brainer. Yes, you have worked for people at the top, but you do not have any experience (I am assuming) actually WINNING at the top (GP). So, yeah, your interests would best be served by working with / for someone, and not going out on your own. That being said, it sounds like you'd have to change schools to do so. There are other places with trainers other than California and where the cost of keeping a horse is on par with where you are now. I think you need to consider a wider possibility of locations.

eventchic33
Aug. 8, 2009, 08:49 AM
Here is a small suggestion for what its worth. If you do not find a trainer in the area that you feel is suitable and you are still on good terms with previous trainer then maybe you can do video lessons. Find yourself a good groundsman(woman) one you trust.Have them video your rides. watch and review them yourself, use the groundsperson to bounce ideas off of(not necessarily for help but a sounding board), send videos to your trainer and get feedback.

As to what you need for a team? You need MONEY. Good people cost alot and they are well worth it. Bare minimum you need groom or groundsperson, vet, and farrier, and feed store. Thats only if your horses are in perfect shape and nothing goes wrong. Then add in maintenance meds and supps, massage, chiro, med supplies, spare tack etc.

Personally I think the trainer issue is the least of your worries. You sound fairly smart and seem to have a good head. Here is another question, Do you have time to clean tack, wrap legs, walk out, clean stalls, etc all aspects of care that, at the level you aspire to, I wouldn't leave to just anyone. Then you have classes, homework, labs papers to write basic shopping for necessities, food to eat, laundry, and some time to fit sleep in there somewhere.

ontarget
Aug. 8, 2009, 12:10 PM
3eme, the horses are owned by family, so the lines blur there a bit. No, I would not have to be a pro. As for prize money, I am thinking in terms of what the owners will get, which will keep them happy and continuing to shell out the tons of expenses it's going to take to maintain theses horses, be it less expensive where I am or not. Questions like the ones you ask, though, are part of the reason why I asked in the first place whether it would make more sense to just go pro.

I remember there was a girl who was an amateur who would compete against me in the Highs and then turn around and go win the GP. It was unclear who owned the horses; whether it was her father, her father's company, or someone else entirely. Later I found out that it was, in fact, someone else entirely, but they were putting the horse under the father's name so that she could compete in Amateur classes. How she was able to compete in the Highs anway (Amateur Owner class), was a mystery. I think it got to the point where everyone complained and she was forced to go pro. I would not want to put myself in the same position she was in, but then again, my family really does own the horses.

Changing schools is definitely a real possibility. You say that there are many other locations on par with current expenses... I'm absolutely sure there are, but I am rather limited as to my knowledge of those places. I have heard the North East is very expensive, from what I know of Virginia there are virtually no jumpers and only a couple semi-decent jumper trainers that don't really compare to the West Coast in my opinion (once again, from what I know). Mind sharing some insight as to what those other places might be?

Video lessons are an excellent idea. I'm definitely going to run that one by my trainer and see what she thinks. I'm going to be taking videos anyway so that I can critique myself, but yes, excellent idea.

I am pretty confident that I will have the time to do all that eventchic. I organized my schedule so that I should be able to, and with my horses so close, that will make that even easier. I definitely wanted to make sure I had time to do it all myself if necessary. My first year I spent most days travelling 30 minutes to 45 min to go work with two or three horses and take care of them, so if I can do it when going that far, I'm pretty sure with an even easier schedule this year, I can do it with my horses 3 miles down the road.

As far as money goes, that is not really a concern, and this is another place where I am very lucky.

Janet
Aug. 8, 2009, 12:19 PM
, from what I know of Virginia there are virtually no jumpers and only a couple semi-decent jumper trainers that don't really compare to the West Coast in my opinion (once again, from what I know).

I think you need to rethink that one.

You REALLY think that Joe Fargis and Katie Monahan (just to pick the first two Virginia based jumper trainers that come to mind) "don't really compare to the West Coast"?

3eme
Aug. 8, 2009, 12:51 PM
I am with Janet on this one. Katie Prudent is an excellent example. Not having lived in the States for over a decade, I am the wrong person to give advice on affordable areas there, but I am guessing that somewhere like Virginia might be less expensive than the east coast. Of course, I could be wrong.

In any case, I think you need to look at the problem from the other way around: meaning, don't try to find the area and THEN the trainer , do the opposite. Come up with a short list of possible trainers (ones that you'd really really want to work with) and then figure out from that if where they are is indeed affordable, and then find a school. It's funny, I went through a similar exercise a few years ago. Okay, there was no ammie/pro decision in the mix, but I needed to change barns. And since I have a job that I can do from anywhere (I telecommute), I looked for the trainer first, and let the region where I lived fall out of that. I figured that I could live anywhere, but not train with anyone. (Horse people and their priorities... :D )

Good luck, in any case.

ontarget
Aug. 8, 2009, 01:35 PM
I think you need to rethink that one.

You REALLY think that Joe Fargis and Katie Monahan (just to pick the first two Virginia based jumper trainers that come to mind) "don't really compare to the West Coast"?


Hmm... again this is where my education is lacking. I did not know that they based their operations in VA. Where abouts are they located? From my research of the jumper circuits here, it seems weaker than in other areas, but maybe this is misguided as well? I have not lived or competed here (not that I've competed at all, really) long enough to make the rash assumption that I stated, so forgive me for that.

Looks like I have some researching to do.

Haalter
Aug. 8, 2009, 01:39 PM
As far as money goes, that is not really a concern, and this is another place where I am very lucky.Let me get this straight...basically your location is the only thing preventing you from working with a good GP trainer then, right? You have the money, but are worried about time concerns? It seems to me like a no-brainer: find someone good to work with while you are in school. Katie Monahan (Prudent) and Joe Fargis are both excellent recommendations; it's been a while since I've lived in that area, so I can't make any more myself, but I know there are plenty of other competent jumper folks there and I'm sure some people here can give more suggestions.

The only reason I would consider "going pro" under your circumstances is if you 1) couldn't afford to pay a top trainer or 2) needed to get paid for your riding (back to the money thing again). If money isn't an issue, by all means get some help! And find a professional who is willing to help you understand how you can do it at this level on your own so that becomes an option after college (don't know Joe personally but I am sure Katie would be open to this).

Janet
Aug. 8, 2009, 01:46 PM
Hmm... again this is where my education is lacking. I did not know that they based their operations in VA. Where abouts are they located? From my research of the jumper circuits here, it seems weaker than in other areas, but maybe this is misguided as well? I have not lived or competed here (not that I've competed at all, really) long enough to make the rash assumption that I stated, so forgive me for that.

Looks like I have some researching to do.

They are both in the Middleburg/ Upperville area.

This bit
I have not lived or competed here (not that I've competed at all, really) doesn't seem consistent with your first post, where you refer to competing in the Jr-A/O.

ontarget
Aug. 8, 2009, 02:12 PM
There are a few issues with the trainer dilemma... one is that I am still located in Gettysburg, PA without a truck and trailer, so training with someone like Katie Prudent or Joe Fargis would be pretty much out of the question unless I move and transfer schools.

Also, although I have a generous budget when allowing for the care that these horses will need, part of the reason that I have them was to cut out the costs of a trainer (and the costs of CA and Europe). If I were to train with someone maybe once a week and at horse shows, then great, no problem. However, owners most likely would not go for footing expenses to put me in full training, and I feel that if I did go to someone like Joe Fargis or Katie Prudent, that is exactly what I would be committing myself to.

And you say Middleburg/Upperville area... isn't that area pretty expensive as far as living and boarding expenses?

As for the not having competed at all really comment, I meant IN Virginia. ;) I've only been in VA for two summers; last summer and this summer. Last summer I had no horses and had just moved out of my house, this summer I have been a sort of working student training and breaking horses. Most of my experience is on the west coast, with years of competing at Spruce and some cometing in Europe (Arezzo, Italy; Birmingham, England; Dubai, U.A.E.; Dublin, Ireland; Valkensvaard, the Netherlands).

Janet
Aug. 8, 2009, 02:18 PM
I know people who "ship in" to Joe.

There are also lots of good trainers "one notch down" from Joe and Katie

If you are going to try to cut out the cost of full training board with a big trainer, but still compete at the big shows, then you are absolutely going to need a truck and trailer.

I didn't claim Virginia was cheap- but you said that money was no object. There are good trainers in other, less expensive parts of VA.

ontarget
Aug. 8, 2009, 05:50 PM
Just got off the phone after a very long conversation with the owners.

I am no longer locked into attending school in Gburg for a semester. I have a week to decide whether I want to go to Gettysburg or a community college with primary focus on the horses. What I am trying to decide now is whether I should go ahead and sacrifice my expensive liberal art education and go to a community college in the location of my choice, or whether I should test the waters and see how well things go in Gettysburg. I am very confused, and leery about changing my entire future as a student in the span of a week. Any advice? I need as much as I can get.

The money issue can be confusing. On the one hand, I have been handed a check book and been told to use it at my discretion. Owners said truck and trailer is most likely not an option, but I can pay a shipper as many times as I need, would just like to discuss it ahead of time so that they have an idea of overall costs. On the other hand, owner likes that current board expenses are about 1/8th of what they would be in CA, and would like to see that stay the same. Take from that what you may.

Janet
Aug. 8, 2009, 05:59 PM
I vote for
Don't sacrifice your education.

JenEM
Aug. 8, 2009, 07:35 PM
If money's really not an issue, go to college in Gettysburg, board you horses nearby, and buy yourself a truck to trailer two hours down to Middleburg/Upperville once a week for lessons, or three hours over to NJ for Chris Kappler or the Chapots, if you really want upper level training without sacrificing your education. And if you're not sure about going pro (now or ever), sacrificing your education isn't a good idea, because eventually, you're going to have to pay for things yourself.

Gettysburg is pretty centrally located for getting places, as long as you've got transportation. Knowing what cost of living is there versus central Virginia, I don't know there's that much of a price difference living there and trailering out versus moving to somewhere you percieve as "horsier." Particualrly because I'm assuming you're gonig to be living in university housing, or sharing with roommates.

mrsbradbury
Aug. 8, 2009, 09:00 PM
Okay... This is all very exciting for you.

1. The cost of a modest truck and trailer is FAR LESS, then you will pay for a quality, safe and insured shipper. No one judges your rig. It needs to run, have tow and stopping power, comfortabley house your horses and be road worthy. It parks at the tent for 20 minutes while you unload, then heads to the field.

2. If you are considering going pro, you will at some point have to separate yourself from another's wing. You can connect with and ride with some really quality people at good shows for expert eyes, and use thier staff. More advice on this... PM please.

3. As for your education, Liberal Arts degree? is your end plan horses anyway? If it is, then I would stay where you are, get comfortable with these horses, go and actually meet who is in your area. Watch then teach, watch them ride and sit and TALK with them. I am not familiar with your area perse, but you would be surprised about good talent that does not have thier name "in lights". There are the greats of course, but they started a bit like you or some of the rest of us. Others have had or do have the potential, and either ran out of money, didn't have the right horse, or had to just keep teaching, it doesn't mean they can't help you when you are home. If you decide to be a professional, as a young one you will have to be on their level as well as the level of the proven winners in the big ring.

4. I find no reason you cannot wrap, ride, monitor, assess, rub down, cool out, blanket, clip, poultice, sweat, braid, clean tack, warm-up, bathe, trim, handwalk and turn-out 2 horses while you attend school and they live at an appropriate boarding facility.

Maybe I am an optimist, and a cheerleader. But, I have scraped my way up to owning my own barn, and in some ways am starting over by doing this. I turned pro right out of college, and have had several owners, did it on a shoe string, worked my butt off and was successful through the m1.40. I am still young, and aspire to ride in the GP, but have to make my horse. I found her, and have my groundperson, and my team. I clean her stall daily, and do all of her grooming and tacking because I am wierd, possessive and want it done to my standard! I also manage 17 other horses, teach 25+ lessons per week, sometimes clean the other stalls if staff is short, make my own trips to the feed store, do my own marketing, clean my tack, and my lesson tack, drag my ring, and sometimes sleep or have glass of wine or two!:lol:. So with all that said, I will tell you to believe in yourself, take one day at a time, don't make any rash moves, do the best you can, smile, be humble and love the opportunity you've been given. ( Convince them to get the rig:yes::yes::yes:) and most of all Good Luck, I hope to compete against you soon!!

Coreene
Aug. 8, 2009, 09:12 PM
Is one of the two horses the Irish one with the scary feet? Because you'll have a whole lot of free day with only one horse to ride, since those feet are a long time from being grand prix anything. I'm with Janet on the education thing.

faraway46
Aug. 8, 2009, 09:16 PM
First of all: YAHOOO on the horses! Those are not a dime a dozen! And owners footing the bill....you are my hero.
That said, I vote for good education first. Great horses can be here now and gone later (since you do intend to sell them). Your education stays with you forever. You said you can do both, so stay in the good school and train the horses (you obviously have the experience to do so).
As Winston Churchill once said "A thousand mile journey starts with the first step". If you have the will, you'll find the way (but you will need the will, because without full team support, it can be EXHAUSTING). Don't let anybody say you can't. The harder the journey, the sweeter is the taste of success. GP riders dont have capes and superpowers: some are talented, but all are hard workers, very observant, detailed, persistent and open minded. No two horses are alike, so there can be a miriad of different techiniques to get the same effect.
I double the idea of taping your training, not only to send to someone, but for your personal review. You can be your own "groundperson" when you see what you're doing. Organize your training day to day, week to week and set detailed, realistic goals: "I want to show at X venue this fall" and work towards that. Don't just say: "I want to do GP" (although I understand that is not what you are saying), because it is vague and too far away of a goal to reach for now. Schedule your jumping days in your training and have someone to help you with the poles (this is a must). There is nothing more exasperating than having to get on and off to reset or change distances in your jumps! Try to schedule a one day clinic once a month with someone you respect and show them your videos. Ask them to help you out with a training schedule and exercises, just like if it were homework from school. Go back next month and see the progress together. Step by step and before you know it, you did the 1000 mile journey!
I have done what you are trying to do for almost 10 years and it is possible (and I am no WonderWoman...) but it can burn you out if you are not passionate and set on what you want to do. I also have had difficult horses (those are the only ones I can afford...hehehe), and each one taught me invaluable amounts of akward techniques that worked with them and, who knows, maybe with some other creepy/cranky/special horse in the future. You seem to have more than enough experience to pull this off and there is a first time for everything. Don't get full of yourself (remember arrogance preceeds the fall...) but don't put yourself down either. With the training you have said you have, you are more than ready for the task at hand.
Best of luck!
Viv

3eme
Aug. 9, 2009, 02:56 AM
Okay, maybe I am being thick, but ...... how is what you are doing (owner's checkbook in hand) NOT professional activity as defined by USEF? And how can you show A/O if you are not the owner? I don't care what you say, a dollar symbolic sale, or however you will do this, is bending the rules.

This is why I think the whole USEF pro/am definition is pretty dumb. Too many gray lines, too many "interpretations".

je.suis
Aug. 9, 2009, 08:18 AM
3eme, I'm as thick as you think you are, but I believe her family owns the horses, as far as I can follow. It's everything else that has me confused but I'm certain with all the great advice on this thread, we'll be seeing this rider in the GPs as a pro one day. Or not.

Timex
Aug. 9, 2009, 08:24 AM
Okay, this stuck with me: "just" get a business degree??? Are you kidding me? As opposed to liberal arts? Do you plan on going pro, if not now, then eventually? If so, then let me remind you, it's a. BUSINESS. Maybe a business degree would be a helpful thing to have. You know, those pesky little things like accounting so you know if you're making money, marketing so you can bring in clients, that sort of thing. Lol, but I was a business major and went pro over a decade ago, so what do I know? lol

je.suis
Aug. 9, 2009, 08:35 AM
Good point, Timex. Sometimes, however I do not wish to know how much dough I'm losing! lol. How's Saratoga? I have a friend, Michael Moran, with horses at the track. It's so beautiful a place and the main reason I often do the St. Clements show in cold, rainy May. Lucky you! I'll be there next week for a polo match and hope to make it over to the "Sport of Kings". Lucky you , in Summer!

Timex
Aug. 9, 2009, 08:51 AM
Je.suis, tell me about it! Amazing how there alwasy seems to be more $ going out than coming in. *sigh* and you're right, saratoga is great in the summer. Headed over to the track right now to check the overnights, see if the ultra difficult mare I gallop is off the also eligible list and is actually racing today. Mews victory in the second - let's see if she can behave herself if she does make it in! Last time she ran away from the pony and dumped the jockey. Lol. Ok, off my tangent! Lol

ontarget
Aug. 9, 2009, 11:57 AM
Thank you all for your advice and comments. It has been very, very helpful. :)

3eme, je.suis is right. Family does own the horses, and no, under the USEF definition, I do not have to be a pro. That does not mean I might still go pro if it seems like the right thing to do from all angles, but I think the consensus is that until I have to make the transition, I should remain an amateur. The owner's checkbook is for horse expenses (vet, farrier, general care, etc.) only, not in any way to be used for myself.

As for the comment on "just" get a business degree... "just" was incorrect phrasiology. I absolutely understand how important it is going to be to have the basic accounting and marketing skills a business degree would help me obtain in order to run a business in horses. This is another reason why I was considering moving/switching schools. This is also the reason why I switched my major from English to Economics. A business degree is not offered at my school.

Coreene... yes, one is the Irish horse with the scary feet. He is going to be out of commission for a while (my estimation, 6 months), but will still need some form of exercise daily (PSSM horse), and the amount of care that he needs is probably going to take up just as much time as if I were riding him.

I think for now, I'm going to stay at the school I'm at for at least the first semester, get settled in, and work on getting a truck and trailer. I can at least give it (and my education) a chance, and if it doesn't work out, transfer to another 4 year school in the spring. I'm going to be getting in touch with trainers within trucking distance, and I'll go from there.

Coreene
Aug. 9, 2009, 12:46 PM
He's lucky to have you. You're a talented rider (was nice seeing your career progressing through Spruce etc), and it's refreshing to see someone looking at all the aspects of being a trainer instead of just the short-term.

3eme
Aug. 9, 2009, 01:55 PM
ontarget - totally unrelated question, so forgive the highjack:

You said somewhere in this thread that you had done Valkensvaard. I was thinking of doing that show last year, but got scared (very scared :D ) by the high entry fees, if this is indeed the show that I am thinking of (was on the Global Rider's Tour). Did you do the amateur classes? Tell me, was it a nice show and worth it?

Highjack over...

fancyfooted
Aug. 18, 2009, 11:18 AM
ontarget, you are in on of the most central locations with access to top trainers and top shows! If you can find a way to set up lessons or to meet them at the show grounds for a lesson, you will be able to get a lot accomplished and to ride with some of the greats. I hope you take advantage of that!

Also, if you're able to switch schools, you would have MUCH access to fantastic trainers capable of getting you where you want to go if you move closer to DC. Both MD and VA have a plethora of talent for you to tap into =)

BLBGP
Aug. 18, 2009, 01:06 PM
Why do you refer to your family as "the owners"?

ontarget
Aug. 18, 2009, 03:57 PM
Thank you Coreene... I missed your comment before, but that is very flattering to hear. I am curious how you know who I am, but then again, I suppose there are ways..

I'm definitely getting a handle on things as school and the move back up north loom closer, but changing schools will definitely still be on the table if this doesn't work out.

BLBGP, I am curious why you ask, but will happily explain. I refer to my family as "the owners" because the way in which I deal with them concerning the horses is entirely business. There is the family side and the business side. The horses rest almost entirely on the business side, except for maybe a slightly larger margin for error and the fact that education is given precedence. I suppose I am trying to shy away from the inference that I have just been handed these horses and told to have fun without any pressure, because that is definitely not the case. Training these horses is a business venture, not a hobby sanctioned by my family, and I treat my family in this regard as if they were any other client.

RumoursFollow
Aug. 18, 2009, 05:05 PM
OK, I'm late to the party, but heres my take on things.

I'm 28 (so older than you), married, 2 small children, and I live in a sort of black hole area as far as trainers and shows go (Northwest Indiana). I absolutely do not have the upper level or international experience that you do, however, I have been a professional for 4 years now and I can 100% guarantee that you dont want this opportunity more than I do, because no one does.

That being said.. this is my life.. and I sort of have a 5 year plan in place in regards to my competing up the levels to working towards grand prixs.. but this is what I can tell you as someone with a little more age and "experience" in what you're trying to accomplish.

I went pro 4 years ago when we moved to The Land Of Corn (and 4H, and western, and farmer folk, but certainly not of legitimate hunter/jumper folk, forget grand prix level folk) because my husband was in law school and we could not afford for me to continue to have horses and show at the level to which I was accustomed without me finding a way to pay for it myself. So for the 1st year (when I had one child, under 1 year old) I went out and rode as many as 6 horses at night after my daughter went to bed. They were horrible crap but I was getting paid to do it and it meant that I could keep my own horses in the meantime. I slowly built a client base over the next few years (specifically after my husband graduated and we realized we would be staying here) and now I have a barn full of customers and show quite a lot and have a good deal of success but it has been an insane amount of work. I am currently on vacation at the beach with my family and this week is literally the very first day I have taken off (at all, truly) in almost 4 months. I work 7 days a week to meet my goals, keep customers happy, etc. It is exhausting, but I know some day its going to pay off and be so worth it.

As for the "oh its too far to drive with school" thing, I'm calling you out on that one. Like I said, I am a professional with a barn full of clients and horses in training and I force myself (tired or not, busy or not) to put my horse on a trailer and get my butt down two hours away to someone who knows their stuff for a lesson once a month. Thats certainly not enough to maintain a GP horse- however, I dont currently have one, and if I did, I would get down there once a week. It matters that much and makes that much of a difference. When I was in college, I boarded my horses a littler over an hour away and drove there EVERY SINGLE DAY. At one point I had 5 horses, and I was drving there and busting my butt for an ungodly amount of time. I came home late, stayed up half the night studying, got a few hours of sleep, and then repeated the next day. I graduated magna cum laude from my college with 3 degrees, none of which had the word equine in them. I worked for 2 years in a place where I wore a suit to work and worked 12 hour days sometimes 6 days a week before I met my husband and finally said to myself "what the hell am I doing in this monkey suit behind this desk?" and bailed. I cant say that I havent looked back, but I havent regretted that, not even when I'm not getting that day off. As I said before, there is no one that wants to be successful more than I do.

Its so much about sacrifice its almost silly sometimes. But I look at the people around me who are successful and know that I'm not the only one working my tail off. We all are!

I've spent the last few years lining myself up to take off.. and finally this fall its right within my grasp and I can taste it.. and the only thing its made me do is work harder. My husband thinks I'm crazy, but I will not give up on this until I'm too old to get my wrinkledy butt in the saddle anymore. I KNOW I have the work ethic. I certainly dont have nearly the experience that you do, and I'd say you'll probably get there long before I will, but I can guarantee you that you wont if you dont realize quickly that theres no no way around making it happen on your own through working your butt off. Dont have a trailer or someone to buy it for you? Work doing something else and buy it yourself. I did- I have a 6 horse that I bought totally on my own because I found a way to make it work when I knew I didnt have a choice anymore. I STILL hate driving the stupid thing- but I do and I will and I can.

There is a girl in my area who I see doing the grand prixs, having a pretty good amount of success lately. I stabled next to her at lamplight one year and had read an article in the Chronicle about her and watched her closely. She has a stallion that she competes in the grand prixs, and has a small barn full of customers that she brings to shows herself. I think shes got some interior (read: family) cash flow of her own- but I always see her taking care of that stallion herself before and after on GP day, as well as during the week. I dont know her very well but she is what I aspire to. Where she is today is what I want from my 5 year plan. As you can tell from the responses to your thread, there are lots of people out there like her who are either currently there, have been there, or are working hard to get there. Go observe, ask for advice from people you respect, and work your tail off. You've obviously got the horse and personal talent to get you there, you just need to "vehicle". I'm sure it'll happen for you if you keep on keepin' on.. :)

Coreene
Aug. 18, 2009, 08:59 PM
After I read Spruce and the European cities you'd shown at, I thought "oh, it's ____." Fabulous experience, I am sure. :)