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rizzodm
Jul. 20, 2011, 05:53 PM
... what does it look like? How much riding do you do in a week? How long do you ride? Are you moms, dads, students, middle class workers? What were or are your sacrafices? What's your story of success?

atlatl
Jul. 20, 2011, 06:58 PM
Define "winning"

rizzodm
Jul. 20, 2011, 07:22 PM
I am looking to hear from those who consistently place in the top three.

honeylips
Jul. 20, 2011, 07:33 PM
top 3 where? Schooling shows? regular shows?big shows? regionals? end of year USDF awards?

rizzodm
Jul. 20, 2011, 07:52 PM
top 3 where? Schooling shows? regular shows?big shows? regionals? end of year USDF awards?

All of the above.

inca
Jul. 20, 2011, 10:20 PM
There is a HUGE difference between placing Top 3 at a schooling show at Training level and placing Top 3 at Regionals at 3rd or 4th level. The time it GENERALLY takes to accomplish those 2 things are vastly different.

I can take about any nice moving, well broke horse to a schooling show and get Top 3 at training level in my area. If the horse has a nice temperament and "7" gaits, I could probably do that just riding 2-3 times a week.

NOT going to happen riding 2-3 times a week if I am trying to place Top 3 at Regionals at 3rd level.

So, unless you narrow it down a little as far as what you mean, answers will probably be all over the place.

SaddleFitterVA
Jul. 20, 2011, 10:47 PM
Sometimes in the top 3, perhaps if I showed a level lower, I would be getting higher ribbons, but I sometimes get the top 3.

Now, for a day in the life....
Summer:
5:30-6:30am, get up, have coffee, waste time on internet/news sites.
6:30a, grab beet pulp and go outside, grab first horse.
7-8am, groom, tack up, ride, untack, wipe down
8am-9, groom tack up, ride, untack,
9am - should be sooner, but inevitably, I've wasted too much time, get the water buckets filled, speed walk to get the remaining horses (4) into the barn, throw their food at them.
9:20a - race inside, stripping as I go, I'm super late. jump into the shower
9:30am - wet hair into pony tail, inhale breakfast that saintly husband made for me, climb into car and drive to work.
10-6 work...except I'm often late, so it is really until 7 most days.
7:30pm, get home, run inside, change out of work clothes, run to barn and throw horses out.
clean stalls
put hay in stalls for next day
blow aisle
mix breakfast for next day
scrub and dump water buckets
9-9:30pm, go inside, make dinner
10pm eat dinner while wasting time in the internet or visiting with husband.
11-12...get to bed...likelihood of getting up earlier increases with going to bed earlier.

read a bit in bed on Kindle, sleep less than I should, get up and start all over.

Somedays, I'm too late to ride two in the morning, so I'll ride one in the am, one in the pm. Or I have an early meeting, so it is only one.

I rode 502 times last year. I have 3 horses I ride. The other 3 are boarders.

My goal is to earn USDF Rider medal scores. Not "win". Someone will always have nicer horses and a bigger show budget. I've gone to 11 USDF Licensed shows in the past 5 years (thanks Centerlinescores.com) and have my 1st and 2nd level scores.

In the winter, the schedule is different and riding is usually 7x a week. Summer, 10-14x a week.

This week, I did not ride on Monday.

tempichange
Jul. 20, 2011, 10:57 PM
I'm a pleeb. I work 40-45 hours at my primary job and I have my own company that I'm managing (so add another 10 hours). I have two horses, one going through the levels and one just starting his career.

I ride six days a week, of that time four days are spent in the arena working and the other two are spent conditioning over hills. The young guy is played with just about everyday in some capacity.

I go out and train once a month with my coach, and occasionally get help in town. I try to get on as many horses as I can, and when I'm out training I watch others. I show maybe once a month now.

I have an extremely supportive SO and team behind these horses who want me to do this.

papony
Jul. 20, 2011, 11:12 PM
From my experience, every AA has their own "story" and no two are alike. that's what makes everyone's journey so interesting. I agree that every time we raise the bar in terms of quality and level of difficulty, the time, effort, and money required to be consistantly in the "top three" is exponentially larger....but that's true whether you are a pro or AA.

I have been blessed with more than my fair share of success as an AA, both in national shows and CDIs, while balancing the usual job (actually two), volunteer activites, daily radio broadcasts, and other stuff (not married, no kids). I have learned that to navigate the juggling act well, I need to be crystal clear about my priorities (horses do not come first believe it or not), have excellent time management skills, maintain good physical fitness/suppleness, have a support team that is willing to help out when I get overwhelmed, and a sense of humor. It also helps if you have flexible hours at work, a short commute to the barn, and don't need much sleep....and you have to be OK with not doing everything well.

I wrote an article in Dressage Today that was published in April 2010 about what it was like to try to qualify for the USEF Int-1 National Champs at Gladstone as an AA. If you have access to DT's archives, you might find it interesting.

I'd love to hear more about how others have managed the AA balancing act.

swgarasu
Jul. 21, 2011, 12:03 AM
Interesting post, I hope more people reply. SaddleFitterVA, if you don't mind- what level(s) are you competing at?

Curious to hear as I have a hard time just riding 4-5 times a week between a full-time job, a husband and a kid. I realize what I put into it isn't enough for competitive success, so I have often wondered what is.

rizzodm
Jul. 21, 2011, 12:30 AM
Papony I look forward to reading the article.
Swgarasu I'm in the boat with you. I ride 4 days a week, work full time, married with two kids and I will be back to school at the end of August. I desperatly want to be competitive at shows but the 4 days a week doesn't seem to be cutting it. I am increasing my riding to six days for the remainder of the summer but I don't think I will be able to keep this up when school starts.
I love to hear from all levels of riders so please share:)

exvet
Jul. 21, 2011, 02:14 AM
Well again, I guess it really depends on what you consider as "winning" and being competitive. I own and ride several horses; so, the amount I ride varies. The horses I compete are ridden anywhere from 4 to 5 times a week (each). I work full-time, 50-60 hours a week (I'm on call 24/7). I am married and have two children though since they've become teenagers they are much more help now. Fortunately for me both of my kids ride/show too. I've been in the top 3 at USDF Regional championships for both 2nd and 3rd level with this type of schedule. I've earned several Dover medals with this type of schedule. I've earned my bronze with this type of schedule and won at PSG. However, the shows I attend are local recognized shows consisting of 2 - 6 rings and not CDIs; so, I'm not sure I really meet your definition of successful. It is enough for me in the sense that I'm very happy with my horses, my progress and plan to continue. I train my own from the ground on up; but, again I meet the USEF definition of an amateur. Currently I am competing two horses, my stallion at training level and one of my section Cs at second level. I have had up to 6 actively going under saddle at one time where I was the sole or primary rider. In the fall I will be back up to 4 that I am riding/training regularly; so, currently my riding schedule seems a bit light with just the two. Still I spend a lot of time in the saddle overall, riding at night after work and during the day on my days off. We keep our horses at home; so, riding is juggled with chores and work. I also workout - weights and running and have spent a few miles at the end of the lounge line sans stirrups and reins. My version of success has been limited primarily by my own lack of natural talent and money. I do not fit in the ranks of papony or honeylips; but, I feel I have managed some reasonable and positive progress with my riding since switching to dressage with the more typical bumps in the road that most amateurs face.

SaddleFitterVA
Jul. 21, 2011, 07:23 AM
I have been showing 2nd level this year. I think I'm done showing for this year. I have my 2nd level scores, so I'll spend my money on lessons and clinics until I'm ready to show at 3rd.

friesian4me
Jul. 21, 2011, 08:08 AM
I've done the USDF Regional Championships as an AA over the years and placed well at Training, First, Second,Third and PSG. This has been on a TB, DWB, and Friesian. The TB and Friesian I trained, the DWB was a schoolmaster. Only one horse at a time. Horses kept at home. Also earned my bronze. Married, working full time self employed, one child. For me, riding 5-6 days a week, with lessons with a good instructor twice a month. Occasional clinics too. Having my husband video me helps too. Keeping in shape with other forms of exercise like biking and working out. I just love dressage education and love to go to audit clinics, read books and watch my other friends have lessons. I also went through the L program.

Rhiannonjk
Jul. 21, 2011, 08:08 AM
While every AA's story is different - all of the successful ones that I have heard start early in the morning, end late at night, have food stuffed in face for at least one meal, and include a flexible work situation.

Boomer
Jul. 21, 2011, 08:54 AM
I don't have flex-time and work a job with "lower middle income" pay.

I get up at 4:30 to feed horses, dogs and cats. Shower, eat breakfast.

At 6:30 I'm in the office - there until 4:00, sometimes as late as 6PM.

Go home, ride 4 days/week. I have 22 acres so I also tend the land in small "bites" otherwise it's overwhelming.

I live in a remote, dressage-unfriendly area, so I haul 3 hours (one way) to a trainer every other weekend for lessons.

I'm showing at 2nd level and are qualified for Regionals at 2nd Level and 2nd Level Freestyle this year. Last year I went to Regionals at 1st level but did not place in the top 10. I did get Reserve Champ AA for All-Breeds SWB at 1st Level.

Calhoun
Jul. 21, 2011, 11:06 AM
For those who work and ride . . . who does the laundry, grocery shopping, banking, dry cleaners, cooks dinner, children's activities etc. in your house? I don't get it, how can you have quality of life when you're rushing from one event to another on a daily basis? I would be exhausted after a month, not to mention a riding a broom, not a horse.

SaddleFitter, I read your post twice, when do you have "real" time with your husband? Go to a movie, out to dinner, socialize with friends or family? Weekend vacation? I'm not being judgemental, just trying to understand. I love my horse life, and work in a family business, but balance is everything to me.

For those who lead this life, did you sit down with your spouse and divide duties? Did you explain your passion and ask them to help share the work load in order to fulfill your dream? My husband is supportive, but would never throw away his sailing hobby so I could compete. He would think it's all one-sided. He would also never bring home the paycheck, so I could ride and compete my horse. I would have to contribute to the equation.

This post is soooo interesting, I am curious how others respond. Good thread.

Cowgirl
Jul. 21, 2011, 11:21 AM
As for me, I am an amateur and I work full time (professional) and train my own horse with a weekly lesson. I have trained the horse from about 90 to 120 days (w/t/c but no balance and no halt) to schooling grand prix in 5.5 years. The horse is 11 and we just did our first recognized I1 and scored 62.6%. We have won numerous year end awards, regionally and also nationally. I have my bronze and silver medals, earned on my self-trained horse.

What it takes is six days a week, consistent riding and training, never accepting anything less than the best effort, having excellent instruction so you know what is correct and taking responsibility for my own and my horse's fitness. In my case, I learned the levels on a schoolmaster and stayed in full training for four years to learn the levels. The current horse, I bought as a foal and imported at age 5, but she had not been ridden much before I imported her.

A day is pretty typical, and I am self employed (attorney) so I have some flexibility. Generally I work all day (am able to largely work out of my home office and only occassionally go into my official office), and then leave for the barn between 5:30 and 6 p.m. (it is a large metro area and the later I leave, the better I avoid traffic). It takes me 45 minutes + to get to the barn and I usually arrive around 7ish. I groom horse and put her massage pad on, then pick her stall and refill her hay bag and water buckets and make her an after ride mash (with electrolytes and msm), get tack out, and put boots on. I am on her by 8 and I ride for at least an hour, sometimes an hour and a half, depending on what she needs. I walk for 15 minutes to start as she's been standing in the stall. The horse has daily turnout in a small paddock, but comes in at 1 p.m., and ideally I would ride her twice a day (once a hack) but life is not ideal. So about 9:30, I am off the horse, she is untacked hosed down and gets ice boots on for a half hour while I clean the tack, put it away, check her supplements stock, clean up after ourselves (it's a boarding barn), clean the arena. Then horse gets her mash (as well as a bucket of carrots). I am on the road by 11:00, sometimes earlier. Usually home by 11:30 - midnight. This is every day during the week. Monday is her day off and that day, she gets handwalked, a full body massage, and my IceHorse continuous flow treatment to her legs.

On Saturdays, I have my lesson mid-day. The last two years, I trailered out for them and it was an all day thing; this year, I am back in a boarding situation where my coach can help me here. After my lesson, the horse gets an IceHorse treatment and hand grazing. I also do things on Saturdays, like wash the exercise boots, saddle pads, etc. Sundays is my last training ride of the week.

Horse shows require that I take days off from work. I usually leave on a Thursday and return Sunday, but I'll take Wednesday through Monday off as there is so much prep and cleanup work to a show, and I'm usually staying in a hotel and have loads of laundrey after. Because I am by myself usually, I am exhausted and worthless the following Monday. So I try not to do more than four shows a year, and a couple of schooling show efforts early in the season (usually one day gmo shows, to try out a new level).

I know other amateurs who don't work, but have to work their riding around their kids' schedules; other amateurs who don't work and have full training and lots of help. That is not my life; I have to earn a living. I decided years and years ago that I wanted to ride and train my own horse. I cut back on my professional work to do so (I work about 30 to 40 hours a week instead of 70) and consequently, I cannot afford the level of help that other people get to arrive at this point. If I returned to a 70 hour work week, there is no way that I could do what I do and I'd be back to full training, but I could afford a second horse coming up. I just wouldn't enjoy it as much as I do when doing all the work myself.

I cannot explain the satisfaction, but it is such joy, I have received training my horse up the levels. She learned one tempis this past winter and we are working on piaffe and passage. When she learns something new it is the biggest high in the world for me. And I also enjoy the relationship I have with her, doing all her riding and care myself.

I could not do this without an excellent coach. I am very lucky that way. What I would add to my life, if I could, is some form of aerobic exercise outside of the horses, but I simply do not have time.

I spend all of my vacation time (and money) on the horse and shows, so I don't really have too much going on (friends and family aside) outside of my dressage endeavors. I used to really miss some of my old interests, but when you work full time, you are lucky if you have time to do any hobby. I think about my dad, who worked a professional job his entire life, and really didn't have time for much else. I work in time to go to dinner, movies, whatever, with friends. I have to admit though that most of my current circle of friends are also dressage riders.

Sancudo
Jul. 21, 2011, 11:24 AM
My "winnings" - I went almost a whole year undefeated at 2nd level, and with the exception of our last show with our debut at 3rd, my horse has won a High Score prize at every show since I got him as a 7 year old in 2004. I don't show every year do to his injuries, but I think that's more than 10 high scores. We have won Training level and First level Regional Champs (as a YR) and were 11th in the nation at 2nd level in 08 as amatuer (missed the last 3 years for injury). Just got the Bronze medal last weekend.

I get up at 4:45am
Drive 30 minutes to barn
Feed, tack up, Ride, finish one horse by 7:30
Drive home, shower, change
Be at work by 8:30
Work for insurance company 8:30 to 5
Drive to barn
Feed horses (own a boarding barn, I have someone help with morning chores, evenings and weekends are all me)
Either ride the other two horses, or sometimes trailer my young ottb eventer out to a jumping lesson (45 min away)
or
Mow/Repair Farm
Leave by 9ish
Home, shower by 9:30

This would be a very busy day, I usually do this a couple times a week.

I don't ride every AM, but I do ride every PM and 3 a day on weekends if not showing.

Gloria
Jul. 21, 2011, 11:27 AM
hahaha I don't fit into the definition in which OP requests, meaning, consistently winning top three, and yet, I kind of leading the life others have posted. Sad, huh?

I can't remember the last time we went to a movie, or shopping, or dinner. I tend to make two pilgrim trips to mall a year and that is it (I really really hate shopping). Weekend or vacation? All my vacations are used trailering to one clinic after another. Training IS my vacation. Cooking? I cook one "HUGE" meal on weekend, which is then consumed throughout the week so I don't have to cook on weekdays.

The thing is, I don't particularly like movies, and hate shopping. Dinner? marginally tolerable to me.

I have to admit though, I'm blessed with an extremely supportive husband (bless his heart), have no children, and have a somehow flexible work schedule.

LarkspurCO
Jul. 21, 2011, 11:56 AM
Cowgirl, you forgot to mention the Skinny Girl margaritas and Mike's Hard Lemonade -- a very important component of success.

Cowgirl
Jul. 21, 2011, 12:02 PM
Gloria, I do most of my shopping on the internet!! I think I go to a mall maybe twice a year, maybe less.

I remember reading an article about a day in the life of an amateur rider who tried out for the US team. She was an entertainment lawyer for one of the big studios. She had NO TIME for anything. She was cutting her hair with her desk scissors!! And when she went to the tryouts in Florida, Guenter Seidel had to take her to a mall to get appropriate clothing for the jog...this was maybe 10 years ago.

I got back from the show last weekend and we had a major storm that took out three of my aspen trees. I also found my air conditioner on the fritz. Trying to work; trying to ride; trying to get all this stuff fixed at the same time is so difficult. I am lucky to work at home.

P.S. Thanks for reminding me, Larkspur. Yes. One must have a fully stocked bar at every show. This is my prime vacation time. I want the umbrella drinks too! (But Larkspur, we only killed TWO bottles of Skinnygirl margaritas at the last show! We must be slacking.) Skinnygirl Margaritas, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Salsa and chips. A perfect show!

And ETA, for Larkspur, I have already bought THREE bottles of my Skinny friend for Dressage in the Rockies. Are you coming, girlfriend...at least to raid my liquor cabinet?

mjhco
Jul. 21, 2011, 12:28 PM
Gloria, I do most of my shopping on the internet!! I think I go to a mall maybe twice a year, maybe less.

I remember reading an article about a day in the life of an amateur rider who tried out for the US team. She was an entertainment lawyer for one of the big studios. She had NO TIME for anything. She was cutting her hair with her desk scissors!! And when she went to the tryouts in Florida, Guenter Seidel had to take her to a mall to get appropriate clothing for the jog...this was maybe 10 years ago.

I got back from the show last weekend and we had a major storm that took out three of my aspen trees. I also found my air conditioner on the fritz. Trying to work; trying to ride; trying to get all this stuff fixed at the same time is so difficult. I am lucky to work at home.

P.S. Thanks for reminding me, Larkspur. Yes. One must have a fully stocked bar at every show. This is my prime vacation time. I want the umbrella drinks too! (But Larkspur, we only killed TWO bottles of Skinnygirl margaritas at the last show! We must be slacking.) Skinnygirl Margaritas, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Salsa and chips. A perfect show!

And ETA, for Larkspur, I have already bought THREE bottles of my Skinny friend for Dressage in the Rockies. Are you coming, girlfriend...at least to raid my liquor cabinet?
Hopefully I'll be able to help use up some of those bottles this time...

I am not as talented as Cowgirl. I work full time. But I take multiple lessons per week. Driving 120 miles round trip to ride. Have year end awards through I2.

Boomer
Jul. 21, 2011, 12:46 PM
For those who work and ride . . . who does the laundry, grocery shopping, banking, dry cleaners, cooks dinner, children's activities etc. in your house? I don't get it, how can you have quality of life when you're rushing from one event to another on a daily basis? I would be exhausted after a month, not to mention a riding a broom, not a horse.

This post is soooo interesting, I am curious how others respond. Good thread.

I'm single, so I do all the things you listed above (other than kids activities - unless you're counting fur-kids) + ride + show+ farm work + full time job. I run constantly.

I savor winter now - altho I am a confirmed warm weather person - no farm work = much needed time to recharge. I make myself take a 1/2 day on the weekend to do absolutely nothing.

I do what I can and let the rough edge drag. My parents come in the spring to help "kick start" the farm work (initial spring bush-hogging) and other odds and ends. They frequently come to shows, which is a huge help.

LarkspurCO
Jul. 21, 2011, 01:02 PM
And ETA, for Larkspur, I have already bought THREE bottles of my Skinny friend for Dressage in the Rockies. Are you coming, girlfriend...at least to raid my liquor cabinet?


OK, if you insist. I haven't decided which show to ride in yet but I'll be sure to join the party (and not come empty-handed).:D

AllWeatherGal
Jul. 21, 2011, 02:59 PM
....and you have to be OK with not doing everything well.

This item is extremely important and just as difficult for many of us who "practice" dressage ;)

Pony Fixer
Jul. 21, 2011, 05:07 PM
I am also not as "successful" as some who have already posted.

I am currently a single parent, working full time. I ride 4 days a week, and the horse gets worked an additional day. Last year I was married, worked part-time (20 hours/week), and rode 5-6 days a week (usually 5). I have a weekend (2 day) clinic with my trainer one weekend a month.

This is a "new" horse for me (almost 2 years) who was green when I got him. We've scored over 70% at Training and First, and were USDF All Breeds HOY in 5 categories (open and AA at Training and First; MFS). This season we've placed in the top 3 in every 2nd level class we've done, with 6 wins out of 8 tests (2 Dover medals) thus far with scores up to 69%.

My current schedule is DD off to school by 8:00, to work 9-5:30. One day during the week I am off and I ride that morning after drop-off and before errands. I ride one night per week after work as well, and then both weekend days. A girl at the barn rides my horse another weekday. I could ride more nights, but want to balance spending after-work/school time with my youngin'. I will have my 3rd level debut on this horse next weekend (I already have my Bronze and have scores through 4th), and I know if I am going to continue my "winning ways" up the levels I'm going to have to up my riding one more day per week at least.

I have sacrificed a social life to balance horse and daughter, but she will only be little for a short time, and the horse is also NOT my first priority (usually a close second ;) ). I am currently on track to be All Breeds HOY again if things continue (have my scores, need one more show). I hope to drop down to 3/4 time next year so that I can have more daughter/horse time--we'll see if I can financially swing that since both are expensive! So for now at least, my divorce and the changes that caused have not impacted the horse's fitness or training, my fitness (I also run 3-4 days/week) and therefore the results.

If I had my own farm, that would break me!

This thread is very interesting, good question, OP!

Cowgirl
Jul. 21, 2011, 05:30 PM
Hopefully I'll be able to help use up some of those bottles this time...

I am not as talented as Cowgirl. I work full time. But I take multiple lessons per week. Driving 120 miles round trip to ride. Have year end awards through I2.

What you talking bout? You are very talented. You do drive really far to get excellent help and you helped bring your very talented, but non traditional, horse up to grand prix, after doing all sorts of disciplines with him. That part of the story should be interesting too, particularly since you were learning when your horse was also learning (so of course you would need more help). Remember, I had a grand prix schoolmaster in full training for four years before I ever attempted to try to do this myself. And I made plenty of mistakes along the way.

The mistakes were usually in taking the wrong advice. When my horse was Intro through Third Level, I did clinic alot also, especially with some well known judges, and got outside opinions on what we were doing because I wanted the basics to be correct. So when I did make a mistake, it wasn't indelible and I was able to fix it. At the point I am at now, I am not feeling the need to get so much outside help, and I am lucky in that my trainer is part of a three person team--so I can get more than one opinion.

MJHCO also volunteers extensively. This year, I am following her lead and giving up my Sunday mornings to score at the shows at which I am not competiting. Several of the venues allow me to watch the rides and then score the tests, so I am learning TONS doing this, plus feeling good about giving back....

And Larkspur manages to train her horse AND work full time AND have a marriage AND take care of her own home petting zoo (she is a crazy cat lady and has an entire herd of horses and goats....) AND help me to kill a few bottles of Skinnygirl Margaritas on the side...and probably a bunch of other things I don't know about!

exvet
Jul. 21, 2011, 10:52 PM
For those who work and ride . . . who does the laundry, grocery shopping, banking, dry cleaners, cooks dinner, children's activities etc. in your house? I don't get it, how can you have quality of life when you're rushing from one event to another on a daily basis?

Well keep in mind that I'm not as accomplished as the others...

Laundry gets done on the weekends. Everyone pitches in though the majority falls to my husband and I. Grocery shopping is done by moi. My husband hates to do it. Banking is done by my husband. Hmm, dry cleaners? Well the few times a year my show coats and shad go in, it's my responsibility. My work wear is scrubs which do not need to go to the dry cleaners. My husband doesn't really wear anything that requires dry cleaning except every once in a while and again then it falls to me. Dinner? Well we take turns. Children's activities, if not having to do with horses, my husband is responsible or my parents will pitch in. Ah the house...well my barn is immaculate :winkgrin: My husband and I both pitch in with picking up the house but real deep cleaning falls to me. I do not worry about it as much as when my kids were toddlers and fortunately neither does my husband.

Quality of life? - Personally I really think I have it. To each his/her own.

For those who lead this life, did you sit down with your spouse and divide duties? Did you explain your passion and ask them to help share the work load in order to fulfill your dream?

No real sit downs needed. We just do it. As for explaining my passion, well, I came to the marriage with two horses in tow and my husband had one. We met in vet school so the career wasn't a big surprise either. Both of my kids ride and compete. It was tough in the beginning when the kids were very young; but, as they got older and became more involved so did my husband. My husband's greatest issue is and always has been money; but, there have been many times in our marriage where I brought home more $$$$ which helped. My husband vacations with the kids, travels and does his thing when he wants. His father breeds horses; so, I am not an enigma. Since we are both vets, I think my husband understands better than most my drive and passion. I gave up large animal med/surg twice for our family; so, my husband has never asked me to give up on or cut out the horses though he has been thankful for my thriftiness. He understands that I have made sacrifices too in order to do all of "this". He also realizes that having horses has given our children opportunities to learn some valuable lessons in life and keeps them focused. We have had far fewer issues with school or other more common teen challenges than our friends and their friends which we credit our lifestyle and horses for that.

wehrlegirl
Jul. 21, 2011, 11:28 PM
Interesting thread..Im enjoying reading what everyone posts. You all are amazing.

ThreeHorseNight
Jul. 21, 2011, 11:45 PM
OK, if you insist. I haven't decided which show to ride in yet but I'll be sure to join the party (and not come empty-handed).:D

Wait, there's one really important question that hasn't been answered yet -- are the Skinny Girl margaritas any good? And will they make me a better rider????

LarkspurCO
Jul. 22, 2011, 01:00 AM
Wait, there's one really important question that hasn't been answered yet -- are the Skinny Girl margaritas any good? And will they make me a better rider????

While not as rich and flavorful as some margaritas, The Skinny Girl is surprisingly refreshing. So much so that you have to be careful not to chug it, especially if you're dehydrated.

Oh, heck. Maybe I should just bring a bottle by your barn and you can see for yourself.

dudders
Jul. 22, 2011, 09:35 AM
We had a great season last year, which was my young horse's first year of recognized shows, ending up with our All-Breeds award at First and his breed organization's high-point award at all levels.

We went to nine recognized shows, which felt like we were always on the road. I lessoned once a week.

Average day was:
Up at 5:30 or 6
Walk dog, breakfast, dress
Commute 7-8
Work 8-5
Commute 5-6
Change, walk dog
Barn at 6:30
Clean stall, dump manure, ride, cool out, rinse off, feed--end about 9:30
Home, dinner 10ish, various housekeeping, walk dog, go to bed around midnight

My DH handled all the yardwork. We did a lot of 11 pm grocery shopping and I felt like I was always on a sleep deficit.

The number of times I was/am able to ride to per week was hugely dependent on the weather--our barn's arena is a flatish repurposed paddock (about 15m x 30m) with not much footing to speak of. If the weather was good, I'd ride 5-6 days/week, but some weeks it was only 1 or 2, and it felt like a relief, although then I was worrying about not having enough time in the saddle.

My DH was a saint about it--he's an athlete in another sport and understands goals (and was doing his own training while I was at the barn)--but for me it just wasn't worth it to be constantly tired and rushing from one thing to the next. I decided to put my horse up for sale and plan to get something small and plain that I can ride twice a week and not worry about having a talented horse sitting around and getting fat.

My hat's off to those who have maintained and enjoyed this sort of schedule for years. Being successful and achieving my goals was fun, but the lifestyle's just not for me.

Sandy M
Jul. 22, 2011, 10:18 AM
I remember reading an article about a day in the life of an amateur rider who tried out for the US team. She was an entertainment lawyer for one of the big studios. She had NO TIME for anything. She was cutting her hair with her desk scissors!! And when she went to the tryouts in Florida, Guenter Seidel had to take her to a mall to get appropriate clothing for the jog...this was maybe 10 years ago.


I assume this is the SoCal gal. Yeah. I read all the time about successful amateurs who are in highpowered professions and either get up BEFORE dawn to ride or train, then full time job, then more horses. Dedicated people!! Then there are the "amateurs" who because of the benefits of wealth either do not have to work and ride as much as any professional, or the ones who DO have full-time jobs and thus have their horses in full-time training plus and only ride on weekends because that is all that their jobs permit. These are the people, for the most part, who are the super-successful, national championship type amateurs (there are always exceptions, of course).

As for the rest of us, I dunno. I'm on a newbie now, struggling with his "hotness" at training level (Schooling first, some 2nd). My old horse won or placed regularly in USDF All Breeds, collected his share of year-end "rosettes" (scores over 60%) at the end of each year. I'm a 9 to 5-er, legal secty/paralegal, board my horse, ride 5 or 6 days a week, after work and weekends, on an "off-breed" horse (good mover, though!).

So...I don't know, what is a "successful amateur." For some, success is getting through a basic test as correctly as possible. For others, nothing less than a national championship. *shrug* {I'll feel more successful when I can get my present youngster through a trail ride without any yeehaws!!!)

DinkDunk
Jul. 22, 2011, 12:01 PM
This has been a very interesting thread!

I only know one amateur that is super successful. That amateur is a great rider, but the success could likely be attributed to the daily help of a very high level trainer in her barn, amazing horses, and no need to work!

As for the rest of us working amateurs, I am amazed what some of you do on a daily basis. Wow. Hats off to you!

Myself? I am working First Level, not very well, at that. My horse has little talent for this stuff (although a handy little jumper and very tolerant of my crappy rides!) and I'm not very good, either. We only show a couple times a year when i get a wild hair. I work full time and I only manage to ride about 3 days a week - but I have always wondered what kind of discipline it would take to really make the most of my horse's ability and actually do well at shows. Now I know and I'm not sure I could actually do it!

joiedevie99
Jul. 22, 2011, 12:30 PM
I won't say winning, or successful, especially compared to some on here- but I'd say we're doing ok. Showing 4-3 right now, polishing up the PSG at home, with occasional piaffe/passage work. Started the one tempis recently , which was super exciting.

Typical week...

Monday: Barn is closed, horse has day off. Sleep until 8:30am, get to work by 9:30am. Work until 7ish on a typical day- but I'm a lawyer so I don't leave unless the work is done. Stop at gym at 7:30 on the way home for a spinning class. Shower at the gym. Call SO to see when he anticipates leaving work. Usually head home and cook dinner for self because SO ate at work. Eat around 9:15, relax, sleep at 11:30.

Tuesday-Friday:

6:45 am wake up
7:15 - 7:45 commute to barn
7:45 - 9:00 ride
9:00-9:15 commute to work
9:15-9:30 shower, dress
9:30 - 7:00 - work, stay late if more work to do
7:30 - 8:30 gym (2 nights per week usually)
Whenever I get home: laundry, dinner, cleaning, food shopping, etc.
Try to sleep around 11.

Saturday and Sunday: catch up on some sleep, spend 3-4 hours at the barn cleaning, riding, grazing, all the horse things I don't get to do during the week. Thank groom profusing for doing all these things during the week.

SO and I try to spend 1-2 nights per week out doing real people things like dinner, movies, etc. We also take nice long walks around town on Sunday evenings.

Horse is in full training so I have access to rides or lessons whenever I want them. Typically that means I ride on my own on Tuesdays, lesson on Wednesdays and Thursdays, trial ride on Fridays, lesson on Saturdays, and ride on my own on Sundays. I try to reserve rides for when I travel for work, but sometimes, if I'm exhausted by Friday, I sleep in and let my trainer ride.

xQHDQ
Jul. 22, 2011, 01:18 PM
While every AA's story is different - all of the successful ones that I have heard start early in the morning, end late at night, have food stuffed in face for at least one meal, and include a flexible work situation.

And it seems like they have more than 1 horse.

mjhco
Jul. 22, 2011, 01:28 PM
And it seems like they have more than 1 horse.

Nope. Not true

GreyStreet
Jul. 22, 2011, 01:56 PM
Just offering another ammie perspective - hats off to those of you who keep such crazy schedules. My SO and I had many talks before we got married (and some after) about trying to aim for a better balance. And mentally, I need that balance, too.

Dressage is a passion for me - not just dressage, though, horsekeeping in general and of course, in particular my mare. In a dream world, I would love nothing more than to quit my job, become a working student and spend all day learning and absorbing as much as I can.

But then, there is a part of me that is grateful and appreciative for my job. It pays me well, which allows me to keep my horse and helps us especially since my hubby is in graduate school right now, going back to pursue his passion and dream job. And the idea of developing and continuing to grow professionally is appealing - the work is interesting and I have opportunities to expand eventually (I work in clinical research on a variety of studies).

I also need that balance in my life because it helps me to cultivate a supportive partnership with my husband because he's not feeling like I'm never home. We had several arguments about this toward the beginning of our relationship and I came to realize that if I was going to have a successful relationship, he needs to feel valued and important (obviously). Coming home every day at 9 plus, fixing a quick dinner and passing out on the couch did not count as quality time.

He does know how passionate I am and he is very supportive - has never missed a show so far, and though he may never really get into riding, he humors me and has ridden the mare a few times.

I ride about 5 days per week and we are working on improving our scores at Second. Did pretty well at Training and First together at our local schooling series, placing well pretty much every show after we got our act together. But, I stick to the local series because of a few factors - money being one of them but also that it's more important to me to get regular feedback about our progress right now than to chase medals (though certainly at some point, that will be a goal!).

It is interesting to read all the different perspectives and schedules. I ride after work about three days per week (sometimes make an effort to ride before work but the barn isn't convenient to my house, so if it's hot and humid like it is now, I ride after because...let's face it, there are no showers at work and cubes are fairly close knit!)...Ride both weekend days and was lessoning once a week before the temps kicked up. For me, this is what presents the best balance between riding and life.

Calhoun
Jul. 22, 2011, 04:02 PM
9:15-9:30 shower, dress


I'm laughing as I type this - Seriously, you can shower and dress in 15 minutes? Dag, you're my husband's dream wife :-)

yaya
Jul. 22, 2011, 04:36 PM
Live on a boat for awhile - you learn how to shower real fast so you don't waste fresh water. (Okay, pretend you live on a boat, where fresh water has to be made from seawater.)
As for dressing fast, just pick out what you will wear the night before.

joiedevie99
Jul. 22, 2011, 04:45 PM
I'm laughing as I type this - Seriously, you can shower and dress in 15 minutes? Dag, you're my husband's dream wife :-)

LOL... I shower and dress at the office, so everthing is packed in a duffle the night before. I sacrifice having dry hair- it just goes up in a bun after being washed. I am also lucky that my office is casual unless there is a court date/client meeting. I keep a selection of suits in my office closet for those occasions. It's jeans and polos the rest of the time.

Cowgirl
Jul. 22, 2011, 05:40 PM
An important newsflash for your dressage show success:

Skinnygirl now makes Sangria! http://www.skinnygirlcocktails.com/about-skinnygirl-sangria.php

NRB
Jul. 22, 2011, 10:05 PM
interesting that most replies on here do not include rearing small children. Now I know some have kids, but most of the ride and work folks here aren't changing diapers. I think alot of us who do have toddlers at home are sort of lying in wait for the time when they do go to school so we too can be "sucessful amateurs" lol. To me that word actually means getting enough time free to ride, take lessons and actually get out and show. But this has been an interesting read, thanks all who are contributing.

SaddleFitterVA
Jul. 22, 2011, 10:24 PM
ah, NRB, I have one, but he's off in college now.

Kids are expensive. There was no money for much more than 2 lessons a year for about a decade. I rode and had fun doing trail rides and team penning and just meeting up with friends to ride during those years...and had those few years of saddle fitting tossed in, before I realized that it was not going to replace my real job and I never saw my child or husband, much less have time to RIDE my own horses, so that ended in around 2002.

I currently like to imagine what it will be like when we suddenly don't have college expenses! 2 more years.

I asked my hubby if he feels neglected and he mostly doesn't, but he has his own interests and I like how exvet explained things in her post. That pretty well sums things up. Besides, he loves that the barn produces positive cash flow.

I'm not exactly sure how watching a movie is quality time, and I do sometimes go tolerate shopping with him. Dinner out is sometimes nice, but he prefers my cooking.

Pony Fixer
Jul. 22, 2011, 10:35 PM
interesting that most replies on here do not include rearing small children. Now I know some have kids, but most of the ride and work folks here aren't changing diapers. I think alot of us who do have toddlers at home are sort of lying in wait for the time when they do go to school so we too can be "sucessful amateurs" lol. To me that word actually means getting enough time free to ride, take lessons and actually get out and show. But this has been an interesting read, thanks all who are contributing.

My daughter is 5, so last year when we did all the stuff I mentioned in my previous post she was 4. When she was 2 (2008) I got my Bronze (different horse), was NCDCTA HOY at Third, and was 3rd place BLMs at Third level. I brought the young horse before that to top 5 finishes at the GAIGs at Training and First levels while 10 weeks pregnant, took that winter and spring off, she was born in May and I was in the saddle 3 weeks later. That fall I competed the same horse First and Second level. My first overnight away from her was a USDF show and I cried!

I was married then, but the ex was overseas 9 months out of the kid's first 18 months, so a lot of this was as a "single" parent (although then I worked half-time, not full-time). Young kids can nap in the stroller while you ride... ;) I'm not sure it's "easier" now that she's started school--I work most of her school hours, so all the same juggling still needs to happen as did when she was too young for school.

NRB
Jul. 22, 2011, 11:42 PM
SaddlefitterVa yup I met your son about 10yrs ago (you sold me my Albion) so I know folks do these things when they have wee ones. My dressage inst certianally did. I was mearly noting that statistically speaking most responders didn't have wee tiny ones at home.... But yes I do know that there are mom's out there that ride, care for the baby, clean stalls and hold down a full time job. They do make me tired just thinking about it. I didn't intend for my previous post to be a woe is me type of a thing.

and hearing about people like PonyFixer is inspiring! So keep all the stories coming, single folks as well. I don't intend to slam the single folks.

cyndi
Jul. 23, 2011, 12:01 AM
Winning means different things to different people. For me, it may not mean actually winning my class, but having my horse go the very best he/she possibly can for that moment in time. Or getting scores toward a USDF medal.

I am an AA, work full time and am gone 11 hours M-F since I also have 2 hours of commuting. I have three horses that I am actively riding/competing right now. I raised each of them from foals = I actually bred and 'midwifed' two of them. I just earned my Bronze on my 11 year old = lots of bumps in that road, believe me. Fractured coffin bone one year, mild suspensory strain another, yada yada yada. I have also done my share of winning. My now-six-year old Half Arab, Half Oldenburg placed in the top 20 in the nation in the USDF Amateur Training level standings last year with a 69% median. He won a lot last year and had scores to 72%. My other 6 year old was show champion at two recognized shows last year and made her second level debut at a schooling show a few weeks ago. She is way more mature mentally than the half Arab, although he is more talented.

I ride every single day, often two of them. I don't have time to ride in the a..m. since I have to leave the house by 6 a.m. to be at my office by 7. I beat the traffic that way and am home at 5. My tpical day is get up at 5:20, leave for work by 6. Husband feeds in the a.m., fortunately. I get home at 5. In the winter I change clothes and go straight out to the barn. Do not stop go. Do NOT SIT DOWN. I ride two, each about 30-45 minutes. It's easier to ride two in the winter since I don't have to wait for it to get cooler. I do have a lighted outdoor arena that's pretty weatherproof. In the summer, I pretty much have to wait until 6:30 or so to ride, although sometiimes I do ride earlier. I have barn help 4 days a week - she cleans stalls and tack. That is a godsend and a relatively recent luxury. I wrecked my rotator cuff in a fall and was not getting any better since cleaning stalls kept injuring it. I was lucky to find someone who would come 2 hours at a time. I know whenever she finds a better job, she will be gone and I will be back to stall cleaning. I end up feeding horses around 8 -8:30 in the summer and don't even start cooking dinner until then. Yes, I do cook pretty much every weeknight. On the weekend, though, the kitchen is CLOSED and it's every man for himself. The only time I actually sit down every evening is while eating. As soon as dinner is over, it's time for bedtime barn check, throw alfalfa, give treats, lights off. By 9:30 or 10 I am showering and I fall into bed by 10:30 or 11.

And them get up the next a.m. and do it all over again.

I clinic once a month with each horse and get lessons in-between when I can.
I do not show 'recreationally.' I only show to meet a goal - get my minimum 8 scores (which is all I ever do when competing for year end USDF awards) or qualify for our regional championships - although I don't often go, or scores toward a medal. And when I meet that goal - I will stop showing until I am ready for the next level. I go to schooling shows too to 'prep' my horses for recogized shows.

At this point in my life, I am way more focused on moving up the levels than showing a lot. My goals are much more long-term than just blue ribbons. Showing is expensive, and as someone else mentioned, very labor intensive as far as the packing/unpacking/laundry etc. When I show, I am a one-man band. I rarely have a trainer there or anyone to help. I have a love/hate relationship with showing. I do it because I feel it is critical to obtaining a realistic assessment of how my training is going. Sometimes I enjoy it - but I know I would like it a lot more if I did not have to get up at 5:30 on Monday to go to work. I joke that I need to go to work on Monday to 'rest up' from the weekend. OH, we also have a 12-acre farm and I do most of the mowing and a lot of the maintenance too.

I give up a lot for my riding addiction. I have no kids, but that was my choice. My husband does endurance riding and he is probably more obsessed than I am. ;) We have almost no social life because I simply don't have the time or energy. ;) And I also figure I probably could have retired by now if I'd invested all the $ I spent on horses. No regrets, though. I love the journey.

exvet
Jul. 23, 2011, 12:21 AM
It's definitely harder when you're juggling it all with young ones. Some of us had more support than others at this stage, I'm sure. I know when mine were young we lived 12 hours away from the closest relative which meant we practically never had a baby sitter. I became "creative" like others and if the weather was good, kid or kids played in the playpen set up at one end of the barn or arena or whatever. My husband certainly helped with watching the kids but I did my best to ask for his assistance as little as possible. I would drive in the late evenings (loaded horse trailer) to my friend's indoor arena so I could ride after the kids had their baths and went to bed. That way my husband could work and do his thing but be in ear shot of the kids if needed. I didn't show as much back then but there were few shows I could have gone to with work being something I juggled then too, just because of the distance to most shows and the limited time I could take off of work. Still I would make it to 4 or so recognized shows a year usually on my own with one or two horses. Now I attend the shows (6-8 recognized/yr, 10 or so schooling shows) usually with a fully loaded trailer of 4 or sometimes bring more horses (and thus more trailers) with me. In addition I usually have two slave children, um, er grooms to help me and one of them even has her driver's license. They do a great job watching their four-footed siblings and helping to take care of them. No longer do I have to ride their mounts in the warm-up. They do a pretty decent job of getting their mounts ready, themselves ready and into the ring/competition. All I can say is that while it's been a lot of work, multiple endless days and at times rather frenzied, by sharing our passion, we get a significant amount of family time. Of course I'm the mom who never makes it to the PTA meetings; but, then few of the other mother's have kids who can scrub, pack and sterilize a surgery pack, assist in surgery if needed (my 18-year-old), wrap legs, and do a wicked braid job with little light in the wee hours of the morning........oh and endless other talents.

You know my 15 year old son made a comment to me the other morning regarding a $500 notepad he had his eye on. When I pointed out that he could sell his mare to buy it, he responded, "No way." He then went on to ask me when my next horse show was and if he could come. After I gave him an answer he said, "Well I figure I can go and earn some money cleaning stalls and grooming. Then I can have both." :cool::D Yup, working to have it all is exhausting but like anything else, if it's worth it to you, a way can be found.

SaddleFitterVA
Jul. 23, 2011, 03:56 PM
nrb, I couldn't remember if I dragged my son to one of your fittings or not. I do remember Scooter well.

I didn't take it as a poor me post, but please note, I was not showing competitively while my son was young. It was mostly a money issue.