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View Full Version : How far can you really get without your own horse? Advice for a Junior please.



Jumpthemoon16
Oct. 3, 2010, 05:56 PM
I'm looking for some advice on this - I'm a 15 year old junior and I've been riding hunter/jumpers and part-time eventing for almost ten years now. I've half-leased various horses of mediocre quality (but don't get me wrong, I love them all!) and shown to some success in 2'6" Hunters/Eq on the "A" circuit as well as up to Novice in Eventing.

I do not have the financial means to buy, keep, and work with a show horse that would allow me to accomplish my dreams of competing in the 3'6" eq. I am a strong, pretty talented (I have been told by judges that I should be competing at higher levels - one even admonished me for being "still" in the 2'6"!!) and very dedicated rider and I am absolutely willing to work for what I accomplish - I do not expect everything to be handed to me and I know it won't be! I babysit and earn money to pay for all of my shows (I usually pay $1000-$1200 per A show) and my parents help, but it's been made very clear to me that we cannot afford a full lease. I have been told by trainers that I "will not get anywhere" without my own horse, and naturally this is very depressing :P It also seems like a lot of top trainers will not take on working students so that they can make it 'work' financially.

What I am frustrated and confused about is that it seems like there is a "barrier" in competition where it becomes impossible to participate without a horse of one's own (or a 25k/year full lease!) I have emailed and talked to various trainers, and I have found no situation where a half lease or even lesson program is offered in which I can be competitive and continue to grow past this level. Is there absolutely no way a financially challenged rider can be competitive in higher levels? Is there really a point where you cannot get any better without your own horse? Is there any hope for me to find a lease that could take me at least into the 3' eq & hunters?

Please be honest with me. If you have any ideas, also please let me know about them. Thank you!

finallyflash
Oct. 3, 2010, 06:27 PM
where do you live?

Jsalem
Oct. 3, 2010, 06:38 PM
I wish I had a good answer for you. There are so many folks in your position. I have to say that I think you're really limited without your own horse. Purchasing and maintaining a top show horse is expensive. If your family can't manage it, you can't expect a fairy godmother to make it happen for you.

You know, showing isn't everything. There was a time when kids showed to ride. Not rode to show.

My advice to you would be to do the best you can with what you have. Appreciate the sacrifices that your family makes to allow you to ride at all. This is real life. You can't have everything your heart desires, but if you can ride, do it! Find a good training program. Learn; Enjoy working with green horses; Work your tail off for opportunities. Know this: you CAN own your own horse one day. Get good grades. Get a good job. If it's a priority for you, you can make it happen when you're an adult and in charge of your own priorities.

I love hard working, dedicated students. Even the ones without big budgets. Does that mean I provide them with expensive horses to show? No, it doesn't. I have allowed them to show one of my nice sales horses- on their tab. And I pick up the shipping and daycare. I will give them the same quality instruction, the benefit of my experience, my guidance.

Good luck!

Let's_Motor
Oct. 3, 2010, 06:44 PM
If you can find a trainer with the right type of business not owning your own horse may not be a hindrance.

If said trainer has a significant quantity of "sale" horses coming through the barn, or breeds, or tends to buy some cheap and tries to put some show/training miles on them and sell them for more money, this could create a situation that would allow for you to have a steady stream of horses to ride & show. They might not all be the easiest rides, and might not all be solid 3'6" equitation mounts, but I would say 3' could easily be a possibility in this scenario.

All that being said, you will have to be a competent, brave, and consistent rider to be able to cope with a life of entirely catch riding. But for a junior who has the money to show, and just wants a horse to get to show, that situation might work out, if you are able to find it.

Jumpthemoon16
Oct. 3, 2010, 06:53 PM
Thank you for the replies!

@Let's_Motor - how would I go about finding a trainer with a large 'sale barn' who would take a student to ride those horses?

Janet
Oct. 3, 2010, 06:55 PM
Kathy Kusner did. But that was a long time ago.

Trakehner
Oct. 3, 2010, 06:59 PM
"Is there absolutely no way a financially challenged rider can be competitive in higher levels?"

Simply, No.

Reality: You weren't riding jumpers or eventing when you were 5 or so, so you need to deal with your honesty first. You'll find trainers looking for potential students to want honesty and reality in what they bring to the barn.

Reality: Your parents do more than "help". Board, coaching, leasing, lessons, clothing, hauling, tack etc. are the major expenses in showing.

Reality: Showing is expensive, there are a lot of very talented riders out there better than you are who'll never make it. Ocean racing is expensive, so is owning an airplane...some passions must remain a hobby due to expense or talent. Look at sports where no money is needed: Basketball, soccer...talent wins. Riding at A levels is expensive, doesn't pay it's way for the rider and it's a major cash sucking endeavor. It's great fun and it used to be a lot cheaper....days at Upperville showing cost less than $300 way back when, with stall included in the price, $7 classes at rated local shows too! You've been priced out of the market.

Reality: Get a good degree, make your own good money and show
A levels as an ammy adult.

Trixie
Oct. 3, 2010, 07:06 PM
Purchasing and maintaining a top show horse is expensive. If your family can't manage it, you can't expect a fairy godmother to make it happen for you.

But it doesn’t mean that if you don’t work hard, you won’t be competitive at a higher level. Maybe just not immediately.

I didn’t get ownership whatsoever of a horse until this year. I am in my mid twenties and have been showing in the hunters and jumpers at 3’6” for a while now. Like you, my parents couldn’t afford a horse for me growing up - I had a lease on a VERY fancy pony for two years (and it wasn’t $25K of pony, it was a small fraction of that and a very green pony to boot). I had to make a conscious decision to ride for those who were supportive of what I COULD do - i.e., no trainers who told me I “had to own a horse” if I wanted to “get anywhere.” That’s pretty much crap, because there are horses everywhere that need riders, and a number of amateurs who don’t have time to hack their show horses as much as necessary as well. If I’d listened to their ilk, I would’ve had to quit riding a long time ago.

You may, however, have to change your immediate goals. If your goal is to do 3’6” equitation, understand that that may not happen as a junior. Giving you a horse that’s high enough quality to be competitive in the 3’6” eq doesn’t really add a lot of value to the horse, when ridden by an unproven rider who has only shown 2’6”. If you want rides, it helps if you can add value one way or another. You can do intercollegiate equitation in college, also.

Alternatively, you can buy green and cheap, and train it up. I don’t know if you can accomplish this before you age out.

For me, I was offered the rides on some young, green horses and was able to bring them along. I paid the show bills, the owner paid their board bill, and I’ve had wonderful horses to compete. If you check your local horse websites, you may even find someone who is looking for someone to ride and show their horses. Not everyone can afford, or wants, to hire a top pro or a “name” rider, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great rides out there. Ask trainers at sale barns if they want a working student - a lot of horses come through there. Then be prepared to WORK your butt off.

I’d encourage you to work your butt off, ride as many different horses as you can, and try to come up with some broader goals. The horse show circuit doesn’t end at 18.

CHT
Oct. 3, 2010, 07:14 PM
I am not sure where you live, but perhaps if you move to a barn that competes at lower level shows (not the big A ones) you may find riding and showing more affordable and find owning/leasing more of a possibility. The difference in cost from a big show barn vs a lower level barn can be huge, and more opportunities may present themselves if you are one of the better riders at the barn.

You never really know when an opportunity will present itself.

shawneeAcres
Oct. 3, 2010, 07:25 PM
George Morris only ever owned one horse, an appy that I believe is still alive. If that is any indication you can go pretty far!

But seriously, yes it is possible, will it be easy, NO. However, it will make the road to get there that much more worth it! I am sure there are barns like mine, we do not do the ""A" shows but we have horses that are VERY competitive in the "C" shows and some very tough local circuits. I would LOVE to find a Jr. rider that is dedicated and somewhat talented to ride some horses for me. And in the past I ahve had just that, some good kids that would work for me, and get to "catch ride" horses for me, usually with the show expenses paid for. I don't really have a jr. rider like that right now. I would think some of it depends on your location as to what might be available, but I would say you are going to have to look at the smaller barns, the barns where they aren't doing the "A" shows, work hard for them and get experience and eventually you are going to luck up and if you are truly talented a trainer that is better known WILL notice you. Also you are 15, go and get a real job, not just baby sitting. You will have to give up a lot in terms of extra-curricular activities, other sports, social life and dedicate it to work to earn money and to your riding. I had a VERY talented young lady who started with me when she was about 14. She was a working student for me for several years. She ALSO held down a part time job at a vet clinic, feeding animal, cleaning cages etc AND she went to school. Her family was a very rural farming family with very little disposable income, so pretty much she had to earn whatever she would spend on her horses. She stayed with me until she went to vet tech school, but still came and lived with me in the summers and worked and rode. She got to ride ALL KINDS of horses we get in for clients. And now is comfortable getting on most anything. She also has completed vet tech school and gotten a great job! And she is 21 years old now. So yes, it can be done if you find the right "mentor", but you have to prove that you are truly willing to work for it.

Good2Go
Oct. 3, 2010, 07:30 PM
Thank you for the replies!

@Let's_Motor - how would I go about finding a trainer with a large 'sale barn' who would take a student to ride those horses?


Typically, you have to prove yourself to a trainer before they will give you the privilege of riding their horses. A thing to keep in mind is that regardless of the level of horse that you are able to track down, it is still a privilege to be given the opportunity to ride them...there are more riders in your position out there than those who can afford it, so you have to work extremely hard to make yourself stand out.

Maybe part of your problem is that you are approaching these trainers/facilities asking for horses to ride and they have very little idea who you are...there wouldn't be much of an industry if every horseless rider who wanted to show could just email a trainer and be provided with a horse without having to pay for training, vet bills, etc.

Why not try approaching these people with the intent to learn and expand your knowledge? There is always something more to be learned. Sure, you will most likely be grooming horses, mucking stalls, cleaning tack, and doing all of the nitty gritty barn chores but think about what you will gain from it...you will be able to observe the training techniques and watch their riders. IMO, that knowledge and experience is invaluable to anyone who wants to be a successful rider. There is no guarantee that you will get to ride, but if you work hard and are responsible you may get the chance to ride something.

SnicklefritzG
Oct. 3, 2010, 07:38 PM
I grew up in a big family and wanted to take riding lessons and have a horse, but it wasn't something my parents were going to pay for. It wouldn't have been fair for them to buy me a horse and not do the same for all my other siblings. They were very supportive however in helping me look for ways to earn money and in driving me to lessons once I had enough money to do so.

After I had ridden for about 2 years, I asked a local barn manager for a job. It helped that I had taken lessons there, so she knew I was serious. This was an eventing barn mostly, with a few people also doing A shows, but most were riders who rode for the fun of it and did some occasional showing. Eventually I got to the point where I was riding 5+ horses per day, some were horses I exercised for boarders and two were young horses I was bringing along for the farm - including one who was an off the track thorobred.

If you would have asked me way back in the beginning if I'd be riding all day every day, I would have said that was BS - no way would it happen. But I wanted to ride bad enough that I was willing to work hard to make it happen.

You can too, just don't expect it to happen overnight and be prepared to do some grunge work on your way up. Now that I'm way past college and have an awesome job, I can go out and drop some serious cash on a horse if I feel like it...

PNWjumper
Oct. 3, 2010, 08:30 PM
I bring on a "helper kid" every summer. And I'd do it over the fall/winter/spring as well if I could find someone who was dedicated and interested enough to actually do it. And I know I'm not the only amateur out there with a lot of horses and not enough time to ride everyone because of the bleeping full time job (just kidding....I love my job, but it does have a habit of getting in the way of the horses every now and again!). The exchange is that the kid gets their "own" horse and then help me keep everyone else exercised. I've had a heck of a time finding anyone who's dedicated enough to ride year round. And I've heard that complaint from a lot of other "independent amateurs" (those of us with our own facilities) around here as well.

The kid who was here 2 years ago was handed my [now high AO] horse and I paid for her to take him to shows. In return she acted as my nanny for my daughter (who was 2 months old at the start of that show season) at the shows. She started my guy in the 2'9" jumpers and finished out the year at 3'6" before she headed off to school. I also allowed her to take my other AO jumper in medal and eq classes a couple of times during the year (at her cost).

Last year I basically gave my nanny a horse that she showed in the 1.10m jumpers all year. She paid to show it, but the mare was free to her aside from show costs (I paid for all shoeing/vet/hauling/etc. fees and she just paid the entries). I also would have let her show my other horses if she'd been interested in doing some eq/medal classes.

So I guess my advice would be to take time at horseshows to talk to amateurs that have more than one horse. Or ask whether anyone knows anyone with more horses than they can handle. People are bound to know someone (like me) who always seems to have a green horse or two hanging around that could use some more riding. Especially among those of us with small children or in the process of having children. My kid 2 years ago got a lot of riding in (and even got to jump my AO mare around some 4'6" fences) because I was at the tail end of my pregnancy.

The trade-off, though, is that you have to be willing to work hard and ride consistently. I don't have any time to help a kid with their riding if they want to come out on weekends only. So if you're up for working hard for someone don't overlook amateurs on the circuit.

Good luck!

CenterStage123
Oct. 3, 2010, 09:28 PM
It is possible, but you have to work your butt off to do it. I would know because that is how I got to where I am.

Like you, my family can only afford a half lease. My trainer brought in a 4 year old unstarted resuce and I jumped at the chance to start leasing him. Four years later we are now winning in the children's hunters and mini medals at the A shows. I do everything I possibly can to help my trainer out; I muck stalls, make the food, sweep, clean tack- anything. In exchange she realizes that I am very dedicated and lets me ride a lot of other horses.

Next month a talented 3'6" eq horse my trainer owns is coming back from a full lease. Because of all the hard work I have put in my trainer is going to let me pay half lease on her, but it will really be a full lease. I only have two junior years left, so I probably won't make it to the finals, but I can sure try!

So in short, it is very possible, you just have to find a trainer who is willing to help. PM me with where you located, if your near me you can lease my current guy:)

Vandy
Oct. 3, 2010, 09:33 PM
I think your goals are reasonable, but it totally depends on finding the right situation. I have a relatively small program, but have had lots of working students. Some of them have been wonderful, and some of them have forgotten that "working" is part of the job description. I had one great kid whose budget had never allowed her to own or lease a horse or pay for more than one lesson per week, and the last summer before she left for college, she had reached her goal of showing one of my clients' horses in the 3' divisions. You just have to find the right situation, and be prepared to work hard, and not just in the saddle. Some kids forget that even for a young pro, there are a lot of things that happen in a barn other than riding. My current working student who shows in the Medal/Maclay classes still does stalls 6 days a week in the summer, and 3 days a week during the school year. I also have a horse that I free lease to an ammie (who does the 1m jumpers, but horse could easily do the 3' hunters instead). I had the same horse on a paid lease last year, but current leaser helps me do turnouts, feed dinner, and goes out of her way to do extra things around the barn without being asked...which to me is worth more than a lease fee. Horse isn't a hunter winner at big AA shows, but is certainly fancy enough to play at the B shows and the smaller As. Of course, I'm not on the east or west coast, where things would be a little different.

My first full-time working student job, I spent the entire first day picking rocks from the arena and never even got on a horse. Within a year, I was showing the barn's GP horses in the big eq and the junior jumpers. If I'd gone to that barn just thinking I'd be their rider, I never would have gotten that far.

I could write pages and pages on this, but I'll spare you all, and just say that yes, the situation you're looking for does exist, but you may have to think outside the box a little to find it. If you do go the working student route, don't overlook the smaller show barns, or as PNW suggested, the ammies with their own operations - they often have great things to offer.

indygirl2560
Oct. 3, 2010, 10:19 PM
It's possible! I can't afford to own a horse since I'm a poor college kid, (I paid for my first year of school plus a car payment and riding) and my parents won't help out with anything to do with horses and riding. I had to work two jobs this past summer to be able to keep riding, on top of my current expenses. When I was 16, I rode at a big show barn with lots of nice sale horses. After I proved myself to the trainer and expressed to her how I wanted to ride more but couldn't afford it, she let me start hacking sale horses. At that point, I could barely afford a lesson a week, much less a lease or half-lease.

Earlier this year, after I moved to a new barn, I half-leased my friend's somewhat neurotic WB, who did help me move up jumping levels but his "spazziness" caused some problems when trying to show. While supporting my barn buddies at one of the shows I couldn't attend, about two months into half leasing "Mr. Spaz", my trainer told me that a lady in the barn needed someone to half lease her horse. I talked to the owner, set up a lesson with my trainer to try the horse, and it was a match made in heaven! The half-lease was the same price as my friend's horse, (half board, shoes, shots, etc), but the horse was absolutely wonderful! With this new horse, I can do all three rings, (hunter, jumper, eq), at A shows; she's a great age, (10yrs), super scopey, honest, and a cute mover. I've improved so much just leasing her for 4 months, and I'm finally moving up to the show height I've wanted to. I also get along with the owner very well, so that doesn't hurt either!

I like the advice of looking for a sale barn to prove yourself at, (in hopes of getting catch rides), but leases at most nice sale barns can run pretty high if you can't get those free rides. Try talking to your trainer or put up an ad looking for a half lease. I'm sure there are plenty of owners out there with not enough time to ride their horses. Heck, that's how I get most of my extra rides at my barn, (owners don't have time to ride, so they give me a call to hack their horse). Good luck! The leases are out there!

Alterrain
Oct. 4, 2010, 01:06 PM
"Is there absolutely no way a financially challenged rider can be competitive in higher levels?"

Simply, No.

.

I think the answer is MAYbe, depends. I was just looking at indoor lists, a couple riders (shawn cassidy springs to mind) are literally riding a horse in every division eligible at all indoor shows. Shawn, for example, has never owned a horse, or leased one. (I think, could be wrong). Tori Colvin also (did she ever own a pony? I can't remember)

So while rarely, it happens. But you have to be GREAT at riding, not 'pretty good'. So if you are GREAT, get out there! keep emailing BNTs, go to shows and talk to them. That judge that thought you were "stuck" at 2'6"- talk to them- maybe they have a friend who is a BNT.

It can be done :)

magnolia73
Oct. 4, 2010, 01:28 PM
Also you are 15, go and get a real job, not just baby sitting

Just an FYI, babysitting can be much more lucrative than typical 15 year old jobs. I know a lot of kids who get $12-$15 an hour to baby sit, can do their homework etc. etc. The pay is better than food service and well, it is under the table.

I think it is very hard to get into something as competitive as the 3'6 hunters at A shows without your own horse or a good lease. Honestly- if you can actually afford to do those shows on a regular basis, you can probably afford a horse.

Is your goal to experience showing at that level or to make a name for yourself? Making a name takes years and your money (and time) might be better spent on some stints as a working student or bringing along a greenie and reselling (or picking up those skills somewhere).

I'd start looking for free lease opportunities (you pay the bills) and maybe target the overhorsed or undertimed adult if you are a good rider. My horse is actually a great example- I hold her back. She could easily be a nice 3' prospect. If you called me, offered to pay half my board and were really good, I'd let you show my horse and ride her 3 days a week in exchange for paying half my board. You do need to beat around to find the nice half lease prospects.

But when I was horseless- I tried out at least 2 horses that were "please ride my horse I have no time it would be free" that would have been nice with some work. I also sat on 3 or 4 that were not going to be show quality. I paid half board on a horse that could have easily done the 3' medals. There is a gal at my barn that rides a nice 3' hunter type for a kid that got out of riding...

So they are out there- you just need to look and keep looking!

Jsalem
Oct. 4, 2010, 01:32 PM
Before anyone compares themselves to a Shawn or Victoria, they need to realize that not only do they riding amazingly well, but riding for the trainer is their life. Kids that ride "pretty well", that go to school, that have a social life- forget it. Trainers arent going to sponsor your riding.

Yes, you can find opportunities on sales horses or on horses that are underused by their owners. But these are not "sure" things. And they're not at the level that our OP would like. She would like to compete in the 3'6" Eq's. Those horses are major 6 figure horses. OP, it's unlikely that you are going to find a sponsor to assure you a 6 figure horse to learn on, to qualify for Medal Finals on and to ride in Medal Finals.

If I had a dollar for every kid or parent of a kid who contacted me looking for showing opportunities because the kid is "so talented" or "so dedicated" and they can't foot the bill.......... The conversation always starts there, "Trainer, what can you do for me?" Not, "here's what I can do for you."

juststartingout
Oct. 4, 2010, 01:40 PM
A lot of good comments here.... BUT the simple answer is that while it MAY be possible.... it ain't likely.

The questions ought to be around how much this teenager is willing to sacrafice - her social life, her school life, other possibilities that may arise - to chase this dream. The information ought to be about how hard it is and how elusive the opportunities are.

And... we ought to all recognize the fact that even after she does every thing she is advised to do.... it still may not happen.

Perhaps other avenues might make more sense ---- for example, what about the possibility of boarding school at a school with a serious horse program and the availability of scholarship money. What about a local barn that has a serious IEA (middle school/high school program like IHSA) program where coaches might notice her.

IMHO encouraging the dream without advising of the risk and sacrafice does everyone a disservice.

smm20
Oct. 4, 2010, 01:43 PM
Is there any hope for me to find a lease that could take me at least into the 3' eq & hunters?


Many posters have said that it will be impossible to do the 3'6" Eq - true. But the OP also asked about 3' hunters. I think that this is certainly possible to do on a half-lease.

MIKES MCS
Oct. 4, 2010, 03:00 PM
Kathy Kusner did. But that was a long time ago.

OMG'd that name is a blast from the past! if you know her ask her if she remembers the Horse Diamond Cutter and his owner Mr W.

SimonandGus
Oct. 4, 2010, 03:15 PM
I'm a 15 year old Junior too! Thankfully, my parents are willing to support me for 1 A show a month, and a horse, in return for my grades. I'm in 6 AP classes and a junior in high school. I will undoubtably be going to college and getting a degree to support myself. I have to find a way to balance hours of homework then hours of riding. It is nearly unbearable workload, but I'm a sleep deprived- horse crazed teenager making it work even if it costs me my sanity ;).

I do not have the horse that is winning the 3'6" right now. I bought YOUNG which made the horse cheap. Under saddle for 2months, but this drop dead gorgeous 5yr old mare in may. I have no doubt that she will be a 3'6" horse easily. I maybe won't get to show in the Junior hunters before I age out, and I'm guessing I may have a year in the juniors. But I'm willing to wait and put solid foundations on her so she can be my A/O horse if I don't make it to 3'6" before I age out.

While I'm waiting for my own horse to grow up, I catch ride as much as possible at shows, and ride as many horses as there is at home. I ride those the crossrail ponies too sometimes, and maybe ride without stirrups and work on my equitation. If a nice sale horse comes along, I try to ride it as much as possible and might get to take it to a show(on my bill) and learn something.

I think with the right trainer, and opportunities you can make it. If you truly have talent, try leasing a horse for the Emerging Athletes Program USEF has, that way you won't need it for the whole year, but can get some exposure. Hopefully your talent will take you to the final rounds and you can join up with a BN trainer to ride for.

Good luck =) I'd like to here how you do out there.

mrsbradbury
Oct. 4, 2010, 03:33 PM
I am an advocate of giving it a shot, and do have working students and allow my students to ride sale horses. However, the few people that have the opportunity to ride and show a very fancy horse on someone else's dollar are far and few between. Not to mention the hours needed in the saddle to be physically strong enough to be successful in the eq can be limited without your own horse.

A couple of suggestions make sense; like looking for a less fancy stable, I say this by what I read between the lines of your first post. Not knowing more about your region prevents a real assessment of your family is absorbing. Because, someone is eating the other 1/2 of you 1/2 lease. In NY, that means someone is shelling out $500+ dollars a month for you to have a horse, in other areas that number is much less or more. How many lessons per week are you taking?

I am impressed that you are dedicated to save $1000+ for your shows, but if you are limited to the 2'6"; why are you spending it at an 'A' shows? and are you winning? I am hard pressed for my 2'6" horses, and my students on them to attend 'A' shows, I reserve the a's for my clients that own or lease the fancy ones. My 2'6" horses, while cute and safe and sweet, are just that. They are limited to 2'6", and won't be moving up to 3'. They just don't do the As. They do the local stuff. If your barn doesn't offer that option look for another barn.

I understand trainer loyalty, but for you it may simply mean you need to explore an option that fits your budget. Call it unfair if you like. The girl who rides the most horses in my barn and has the most opportunity already owns two, and takes 3 to 4 lessons per week and attends almost every show. Of the ones she owns; 1 is not sound, and the other is limited; but the difference is I see her EVERYDAY, she only rides by my system, she's kind to the animals and follows direction. I trust her, I am close to her.
The other girls I see once or twice a week, they seem annoyed by asking for help with feeding or turn-out, they keep asking who they can ride,because they see the other young lady riding everything; but they don't volunteer for the work.
All of the other owners in our barn are amateurs, they know the little girl who also owns and offer her rides/ with my blessing/ on their horses. They just don't offer that to the others, the relationship isn't there. I can't authorize a ride on a horse that doesn't belong to the farm; and when they pay for training they want training done by me. I also feel the need to stand in the ring while the kids ride, they may be good, but you and they are just 15, and the animal isn't yours and things go wrong. Ownership opens a lot of doors.

I don't want to squash your dream; but your dream puts a lot of burden on someone else's shoulders. You could own a horse at a smaller barn, go to local shows and be successful and happy for the same cost as a 1/2 lease and A shows with a top notch barn. Think about it.

Lucassb
Oct. 4, 2010, 05:00 PM
Well, I suppose I am in the minority, but I do think it is possible to go pretty far without owning your own horse. It's definitely harder, of course, that goes without saying... but it is also the route to a MUCH better education, in many cases. The skills you earn as a working student/barn rat/dogsbody will serve you well for the rest of your life - and that is true even if you end up being a very well off amateur with lots of help.

The big eq is serious business at the A shows, but there are plenty of local/smaller venues where the courses are a little friendlier, and for those you may not need quite as fancy an animal. If that is not an option, I see NO reason why the 3' medals should be out of reach if you work hard. There are several girls at my barn who lease or half lease and they do quite well at the local A shows (and we show in Zones 1 & 2, so those venues are pretty competitive.) Three feet is well within the scope of most horses and frankly I'd imagine that you might be able to qualify for some year end stuff by doing the smaller 1 day shows, which are MUCH less expensive than the prices you quote (which are standard for a weeklong A show in most parts of the world.) That means getting up at oh dark thirty to ship out, having to work off the trailer instead of a having a stall and a fancy tack room set up, etc... but it also means no hotel costs, splits for that big set up, etc. I bet that $1000 or so you quoted would get you 7-8 one day shows, and if you are doing the children's medals that is a lot of chances for points (and possibly for getting noticed by other trainers, good ammys looking for help, etc.)

kkmggn
Oct. 4, 2010, 05:26 PM
You absolutely can do it, although you would have to sacrifice basically everything.

Zazou won the maclay as a working student for Missy Clark. She didn't own/lease that horse nor did she pay for any of the costs. Missy also has i think 2 (maybe 3?) working students like Zazou who are very competitive equitation riders. Victoria Colvin is another one who shows 10 (sometimes more) horses a weekend most of which are her trainers. We have a working student at my barn whose going to all the eq finals this fall.

This being said, you really do have to sacrifice everything. Zazou moved to the east coast to ride with missy and i'm almost positive was home-schooled, as are most of these working students. The girl from my barn is too.

So if both you (AND YOUR FAMILYY!) are willing to move/let you move and and give up all other commitments than there is a possibility (if you really do ride well) to be competitive in the 3'6 eq.

Trakehner
Oct. 4, 2010, 07:41 PM
You absolutely can do it, although you would have to sacrifice basically everything. So if both you (AND YOUR FAMILYY!) are willing to move/let you move and and give up all other commitments than there is a possibility (if you really do ride well) to be competitive in the 3'6 eq.

Of course, only an absolutely self-centred narcissistic brat would expect her family to uproot so she can show horses for a few years...

Graduate college, get a job, pay for your own showing. I'd sure hope you wouldn't decide screwing your family over for such a selfish and unimportant reason wouldn't be something you'd ever consider.

AHorseSomeDay
Oct. 4, 2010, 08:05 PM
I never had my own horse as a junior. I always half leased or rode other people's horses. I only went to one day horseshows because my parents didn't want to pay for 2 or 3 day shows.

I bought my own horse a year ago. The horse has really good QH bloodlines and was trained to go western. The teenager who owned the horse put him out in the field for two years and didn't do anything with him.

When I bought my horse, he had never jumped and didn't know his lead changes. He has come a long way in a year but it takes time and dedication.

It's funny because he ended up at the barn where I ride as a sale horse and I started riding him and I half leased him for a month then I bought him.

I currently have someone who half leases my horse and it helps me with the expenses otherwise I wouldn't be able to afford him.

I did go to college and I graduated so I recommend that you go to college and get a degree because the job market is hard.

Do I wish I could afford a nice made horse and be able to show every weekend at A shows? You bet but that is not realistic for me unless I win the lottery. :D

I do love my horse and I am very happy with him.

If I can do it, you can do it. Good luck with everything. :)

Muggle Mom
Oct. 5, 2010, 12:00 AM
Are you looking to have a career in horses? Not just riding, but in horse/barn management? If so, then the blood, sweat and tears of yourself and your parents to get to the juniors is worth it. If not, then a half lease and local shows can bring lots of good experience and fun as a teen. You can always get serious as an amateur after you get a college education and a lucrative job. ;)

OTOH, if you know horses are and will always be your life, then sit down and have a serious conversation with your parents. If you don't have their 110% support, it's not going to happen. Your parents don't have to be horsey, but they do have to be willing to support you in every way possible. I think this is pretty rare and why so many working student situations don't work out and aren't worth the BNT's time, energy, and limited resources.

You also must prove yourself before any serious opportunities come your way. DD was a hard-working barn rat and was given a free lease on which she did 4H western and English pleasure. She moved with this horse to a H/J barn and took lessons with assistant trainer and spent all her free time watching lessons and being helpful. Assistant trainer asked DD to be her working student. This meant working after-school every day and on weekends, but her lessons and board were free from there on out. Soon after, DD rode her former 4-H horse in children's hunters at HITS and placed 3rd. This impressed head trainer and DD started taking lessons with him. He had a 3'6" horse he wanted shown in the juniors and he offered him to DD for her last junior year. We had to give up the free lease horse, but the trainer's horse came with no expenses, other than DD's very hard work. At this point, DD was working 50 hours/week at the barn. I paid all show expenses at local rated shows and on the road - this added up to about $15,000 that year.

What's the point? As parents we had the means to support DD somewhat to make it to the juniors, but there's no way it would have happened unless DD was willing to sacrifice her social life completely and only concentrate on horses. She had some good placings, but didn't become a star, or anything. She got an incredible education in horsemanship and solid experience in the show ring. To us, that was worth the sacrifices because DD is pursuing a career in horses.

So, determine your goals first, and then see if you and your parents are willing to sacrifice what it will take. There are a lot of opportunities for good junior riders, that's really not the hard part. Your blood, sweat & tears are what you pay for that opportunity, and many (most) teens and their parents just aren't willing to do this. If you and your parent are, you still may not make it as far as you want, but the value is in the education and experience you attain along the way.

It's really not worth it unless you love every aspect of it, because the ride in the ring is just too short. DD says that if she never got to ride again, she'd still want to groom at the shows and manage the barn. There's really nothing else she'd rather do in her life, so to me, our sacrifice as a family has been worth it. But it seems pretty crazy to the rest of the muggles ...

RumoursFollow
Oct. 5, 2010, 11:42 AM
I have a very talented, fairly motivated student in my barn that I've been helping along for about a year and a half. She came to me with an absolute disaster of a horse.. not only was it completely crazy and untrainable, it had a giant, hideous tumor on the side of its face. I was not real keen on her riding it, showing it, spending money on it, etc, but it took me quite some time to convince her and her mother that the horse needed to find a different home if daughter wanted to pursue the higher levels.

We rehomed tumorface and drove all the way to VA to pick up a teenage 2'6-3ft hunter that was advertised here on the giveaways forum that I had a good feeling about. She worked hard with him and has shown him this year in the childrens jumpers and the eq. He's a TB, by no means a fancy eq horse but man is he careful and I think she might even make it around the low junior jumpers on him by the end of next year. They pay most of his expenses, she works off some of his show cost by acting as my groom for my full care clients, among many other things. I think for the most part she thinks its worth it, but I can be a bit of a slave driver (hah) and she gives up a lot and puts up with a lot for the opportunity.

I dont know what I'll do in 2 years when she's in college.. my business relies on her for sure and because of this I'm glad to help her out. She works hard and tries hard and she deserves it! I'm glad I was able to find her a horse that she could call her own, no strings attached, that was worth the money she and her mother have to put into him every month.

Id do it again in a heartbeat for someone else with the same talent and drive. Ive got no clue what I would do without her. I dont have a huge business so I cant have more than one at a time, but there ARE other people out there like me and if you search, you may find your own!

omare
Oct. 5, 2010, 03:39 PM
I am somewhat surprised in light of the econmy and slow sales that someone would not mind having a horse's costs picked up (or even partially so) for a show season. I suspect some folks feel like they are being eaten alive by their horse costs-it is not like you can just park a horse in a garage until the economy gets better-they keep "costing." I guess this is a good sign?

(And I realize the Big Eq horses are not avaliable w/o $$$ bit I suspect a horse that can jump bigger than 2'6" maybe?)

meupatdoes
Oct. 5, 2010, 05:39 PM
It is possible, but it may not be possible during your junior years.

When you have your own income, and can set up your own financial priorities and aren't dependent on others you can work out your life to suit your goals.
So you might pasture board your horses and trailer in for lessons (what I do).
You can choose where you live based on where it is affordable to keep horses (what I did).
You can schedule your own hours so if you want to ride under the lights at 11pm as long as the BO is ok with it you're good to go.

I own three horses, two of which are A show quality in both the hunters and dressage, and I don't spend anywhere CLOSE to $25k a year on them COMBINED.

Life does not end when you age out.
Some might even argue that's when it starts.

mackandblues
Oct. 5, 2010, 08:41 PM
I always wanted my own horse when I was a child and always said when I became an adult I would own one. Now I have 3! But that is because I studied hard in school and became a pharmacist (really good money, and hopefully will always have a job). Now I spend a ton of money on board, lessons, vet, farrier, etc because I can. I have to work 40 hours a week which does cut into my riding time, especially with 3 horses but its worth it! Please don't forget about school work as well! Get good grades and be well rounded enough to get into a good college. Just make sure you have some long term goals as well.

Janet
Oct. 5, 2010, 08:49 PM
OTOH, if you know horses are and will always be your life, then sit down and have a serious conversation with your parents. If you don't have their 110% support, it's not going to happen. Your parents don't have to be horsey, but they do have to be willing to support you in every way possible. I think this is pretty rare and why so many working student situations don't work out and aren't worth the BNT's time, energy, and limited resources...

I do not agree with this. Especially the bit in italics.

One of my oldest friends (since we were both about 12) is now the partner in a major, successful H/J barn in the NY metro area.

She had NO support from her parents, except paying the board on her 14h3" Morgan X. She was a B Pony Clubber (best score ever- at that point- in the B testing). In addition to Pony Club, we showed at unrecognized shows, and 2, or maybe 3, recognized shows a year.

After she graduated from high school (in 3 years) she announced that she wanted to be a professional horseman. Her parents were not amused and offered no support.

She went off to be a groom for a well know jumper rider and didn't ride AT ALL for 3 years. We thought it was a terrible waste (both not going to college, and not riding). But she leared a lot and eventually started warming up his horses for him to ride.

Then she became a barn manager, and started teaching lessons and training horses on the side. At the same time she went "back" to school, and got a BA in Biology.


Then she formed a partnership, and they ran their own barn, starting with subletting stalls from another trainer, and now they own their own facility. They now take clients to WEF.

So neither parental support, nor a successful showing career are needed. But lots of HARD WORK is.

Muggle Mom
Oct. 5, 2010, 11:11 PM
Janet, I agree that once you are an adult, a horse career is possible without parent support. But the OP is 15 and she's asking about now. With her means, if she's looking to get to 3'6" eq or hunters during her junior career, she will have to find a working student position or barter situation that will take a huge commitment of time and hard work, and she will absolutely need her parents' support.

I agree with Meupatdoes:

Life does not end when you age out. Some might even argue that's when it starts.

OP, you've gotten a lot of good advice on this thread. Good luck and I wish you the best.

Summit Springs Farm
Oct. 6, 2010, 10:24 AM
I have a very talented, fairly motivated student in my barn that I've been helping along for about a year and a half. She came to me with an absolute disaster of a horse.. not only was it completely crazy and untrainable, it had a giant, hideous tumor on the side of its face. I was not real keen on her riding it, showing it, spending money on it, etc, but it took me quite some time to convince her and her mother that the horse needed to find a different home if daughter wanted to pursue the higher levels.

We rehomed tumorface and drove all the way to VA to pick up a teenage 2'6-3ft hunter that was advertised here on the giveaways forum that I had a good feeling about. She worked hard with him and has shown him this year in the childrens jumpers and the eq. He's a TB, by no means a fancy eq horse but man is he careful and I think she might even make it around the low junior jumpers on him by the end of next year. They pay most of his expenses, she works off some of his show cost by acting as my groom for my full care clients, among many other things. I think for the most part she thinks its worth it, but I can be a bit of a slave driver (hah) and she gives up a lot and puts up with a lot for the opportunity.

I dont know what I'll do in 2 years when she's in college.. my business relies on her for sure and because of this I'm glad to help her out. She works hard and tries hard and she deserves it! I'm glad I was able to find her a horse that she could call her own, no strings attached, that was worth the money she and her mother have to put into him every month.

Id do it again in a heartbeat for someone else with the same talent and drive. Ive got no clue what I would do without her. I dont have a huge business so I cant have more than one at a time, but there ARE other people out there like me and if you search, you may find your own!

Awesome! Good for you and your student, I feel the same way, I've helped several kids and will continue to help when I can.

Janet
Oct. 6, 2010, 10:40 AM
Janet, I agree that once you are an adult, a horse career is possible without parent support.
My friend was 17.

Piadosa
Oct. 6, 2010, 12:44 PM
When I was in high school I had my own horse that I boarded where I took lessons. I worked about 30 hours a week at another boarding barn mucking, turning out, feeding, ect. I made friends with one of the trainers and with the boarders there as well. On my lunch breaks I started riding a gelding that was boarded there who was fancy and had lots of potential, but his ammy owner didn't have time to ride regularly. She was so happy that he was getting worked regulary that she paid for me to take some lessons on him with the trainer at the barn, she let me ride him in a dressage clinic at that barn, and later in a few horse trials. She paid all the bills because she was so happy that her horse was able to do something other than sit in his stall. When she was able to sell him after I got him into shape and to some shows, other people were interested in getting me on their horses.

I continued to work hard mucking, but I would go early on the weekends to get 1 or 2 rides in before I started work, rode at lunch, rode 1 or 2 after barn chores were done, then stopped at my barn on the way home to ride my own horse.

I ended up riding everything from greenies who had never been sat on, to naughty ponies, western horses, and a couple fancier dressage and eventing horses. People liked letting me ride for them because I took great care of their horses and tack, and was always so thankful for the ride.

Had I not had my own horse already, I know I would have easily been able to show one or more of the horses at the barn I worked out of for free or next to nothing.

Have a look around different barns. I know right now at the barn I currently board at there is a big, green gelding with loads of potential who just needs a tough rider to stick it out with him and he can really go places. His owner is a busy working single mom with a career that keeps her out of the barn. She's trying to lease him out but would be thrilled to have a talented, eager rider on him everyday.

findeight
Oct. 6, 2010, 02:01 PM
Actually, you can get farther WITHOUT your own horse because that horse can hold you back if it's limited in ability, gets hurt or gets too old before it and the rider really get good. Most of our top riders don't own what they ride outright. If they are lucky, they are part of a partnership/syndicate.

Part of what OP asks is unrealistic but she can certainly get fairly far in the sport without buckets of money.

The National 3'6" Big Eq part at age 15 from where she currently is ability and horse wise is not going to happen. Choice is does she moan about that or set a more attainable goal-like the 3' Medals. There ARE horses out there that might be available and OP CAN get fairly good at 3' with a half lease.

I don't know where some of these people are getting the idea that a 3 day a week half leasor is somehow not going to learn as much as an owner who rides 3 days a week-and that's about what most owner kids and adults put in-3 days a week, 2 lessons and a hack. They seem to do just fine.

Soooo, I suggest OP persue that 3' goal and expand her search to other local area barns that may be more modest and spend her and her parents money on a nice regional circuit-the ribbons are just as big (actually the prizes are nicer then at the major shows most places) for half the cost of the A show.

OP, if you can get good there, at 3', maybe you can get more saddle time and advance your reputation to where you can get better horses to bring along.

So, focus there IF you really want to attain the long term goal. It is possible. OP actually has decent financial help here.

Ever heard the phrase climb the ladder one rung at a time? National Big Eq skips about 3 rungs, 3' is just about right under your foot.

ponymom64
Oct. 6, 2010, 02:41 PM
Certainly the local/regional circuit 3' medals are attainable and to a certain extent, doing the National 3'6" medals at the local shows is doable (frequently courses are not set to spec) as long as the OP works hard and tries to find a good local circuit barn where her limited $$ can go further.

It's also *really* important to focus on your education! A college degree in a field where you can make some money and a long range plan will make your adult life with horses much easier.