Adult Amateur over 51 years old division question?
I am a true amateur adult rider in every way. I work full time, I keep my horses at home, have been riding most of my life but just recently changed discliplines from dressage to hunter a few years ago (although as a young adult I rode in the local hunter schooling shows on borrowed horses). I am relatively new to the whole A circuit show scene and thankfully have been able to stay away from the big show barn drama scene as I ship in and do my own thing most of the time.
I have been lucky enough to breed a very nice horse who holds her own in good company (which says a lot considering it is little ole me that shows her) but I recently saw a division that interests me...the 51 year old and above.
Frankly it would be nice not to have to compete with that 20 to 35 year old in the prime of their life, wealthy young lady that has a pro help her every step of the way and compete with shall I say, those more "mature" riders such as myself.
Is this division strictly for the "uber" rich adult rider that has a full time coach or trainer or can an amateur rider who does it on their own really have a shot at it......this might be just a pipe dream but I thought I would ask you guys for your honest opinion.
Usually shows that are big enough to offer 51+ adults are for "uber rich" or good riders/horses. Fortunately there are not all that many of us. Aside from hunter politics, you should be just as competitive as everyone else. And really, at our age it is no longer all about the ribbons (ya right)... it's about winning back the entry fees ! Good luck- it's the best bunch of people I know.
It can be a competitive division, just like any other depending on the show you attend. It is sometimes combined with the youngers and the middles at some of the smaller and medium sized shows, your points, however would accrue to your age group...
There are all kinds in the Adult Amatuer divisions. Some are wealthy. Some are not. Some work, some don't. But they all want to do well. You still need a nice horse and to put in a good round regardless of how much money is in the bank.
Heck, I'd venture to say that there are more "uber wealthy" 50-plus women who can afford much nicer horses than the 20s and 30s ladies who may just now be beginning their careers and are out of access to Mommy's or Daddy's bank account that funded their junior years. If the money factor is your main concern, I am not sure you'll be happily surprised. ANd I think *most* on the A circuit have a pro trainer, regardless of division.
Windward Farm, Washougal, WA- our work in progress, our money pit, our home!
I think it really is about where you are, but if you are a good rider, on a nice horse--why not give it a go! I don't care how much $$ you have, you still have to find all 8 fences. If your trainer feels you could be competitive then do it.
I know here in the PNW, it is a small group of good riders on nice horses (okay, some really nice, very expensive horses) but I've seen all of them make typical amateur mistakes. because in the end, you still have to ride.
Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!
Give it a try, and enjoy yourself! However, it is a very competitive division. Most of the competitors in that division are very well mounted, and can ride well. They are also the nicest bunch of people at the shows. You might want to look at the USEF year-end standings for the over 35 Adult Ammys in your zone, and then figure out which of them are over 51. If you're in Zone 4, I can help you if you don't know the people. I think it's a very fun division.
Many times it's the 51 and over section that has the nicest horses. Older women aren't usually still in entry level jobs, saving for a house, etc. They often have more income to devote to horses. Only at AA shows around me does the 51+ section really fill. Anywhere else, "olders" are anyone 36+ and sometimes the entire adult amateur section runs together, all ages combined.
On the A circuit, pretty much everyone has a trainer. Not everyone is uber wealthy. But, let's face it, horses and showing at that level isn't cheap and there are certainly plenty adult ammies for whom money is not an issue. But there are also plenty with jobs who just make sacrifices elsewhere in life in order to show.
How you will do depends entirely on how well you ride and the quality of your horse. The horse will need to be fancy to win on the A circuit in the adult amateurs and you will need to find all 8 jumps smoothly with lead changes. The majority of riders lay down solid rounds with no major errors so it does usually come down to style and movement, not just who doesn't mess up. The division is pretty competitive and there are some really nice horses and riders in all age categories.
The over 50 group AA hunters is very competitive in my area! They are usually pretty damn good riders and most have very, very nice, fancy horses to compete on. Yes, everyone uses a trainer at A or AA shows. Another poster is correct when she says that sometimes, the whole adult division runs together, youngers and olders. It just depends on the number of entries in each division, if there are less than 6 entries in either division then it will all run combined.
Thanks everyone. Appreciate all your replies. I live in Canada so this division does not even exist here. I would be able to travel to the States for a few shows a year (depending on the ability to get away from work of course). I would be showing on my own without a coach. I think I might just have to take a quick trip down one time and actually see the competition. You are right, this is not about the ribbons and I realize it will be expensive. I just did not want to be totally out of my league. Thanks
I showed there on and off for about 10 years. But I never saw the Adults split 3 ways anywhere except bigger USEF AA rated shows. The younger split -those skinny girls right out of college- is, believe it or not- usually the smallest hitting them smack in the middle of college, career and family changes plus losing parenetal support for alot of them.
The most competitive and largest group by far is that middle group..typically mid 30s to 45 or 50. Those riders are pretty much at their peak physically and financially.
The 51+ is smaller (when I showed we had an average of 20) but can be uber competitive with many big name former High Performance, A/O and Junior Hunters also aging and stepping down. Many of the riders are veterans of those same rings and a few are former Pros. I did well enough but usually was in the pastels behind the big guns.
But, Boy, those rare blues and tri colors are still in my display case in the dining room...they really meant something and still do. My favorite is when I beat the perpetual leading older Adult (no names but CC might ring a bell) on (one of) her Pro division HOTYs and a Conformation HOTY ridden by it's owner. I was also proud to have been beaten by Dialogue L after he came out of retirement ridden by his owner (who also owns elite level International horses).
The older group is over most of the show ring angst and are almost 100% supportive and friendly and not all about the ribbons (excpet for that 5 minutes at the in gate when we all still overthink EVERYTHING). Older Adults never look down at a rider with a mistake since there are few we have not already made...most more then once. Rails down, falls, stops, drive bys, spooks, off course, you name it. You'll be better next round.
Since recession, numbers have dropped from where they were when I showed (think I stopped in 2008), seem to be coming back now. But you still need a very solid score with no major errors to pin well at the majority of shows big enough to offer the 3 age splits.
Anyway...I would advise you to stay a little closer to home until you are laying down consistent, correct trips in whatever you can show in simply because of the crushing costs of USEF AA shows and the fact they are multi day and the older adults can run over 2 days anytime from Wed to Sat...only once in a great while would it be Sat and Sun.
With the across the border haul to....what?....Lake Placid? Maybe Buffalo has one big enough for the 3 splits? Washington State if you are out west? Trying to think of something accesible with a minimum of complication and a 15 hr or less drive. But you will be looking at stall, office charges, entries, non member fees, mandatory night watch, feed and bedding at double or triple the cost if you can't bring your own plus the possibilty of all sorts of add on fees. Last time I showed it was almost 500 just to take the horse off the trailer for a single division with 4 o/f and an under saddle. "Prize money" was laughable unless you were top 3 in all of them (there were, IIRC, 17 in the 51+). The Adult Classic paid better but cost a pretty penny to add on and, with the combined age groups? Over 40 in there with some pretty big guns.
Sooo, I am not saying no to you at all but...maybe spend that 1k-1500 or so it would cost for 1 show stateside on finding a coach to meet you at some shows and perfect that trip before taking the plunge? That would buy alot of coaching and you don't have to move to a big barn-and many trainers will work with you that way. Worst case they want to work with you in house a few times to get to know you and the horse.
It's a great dream and you CAN do it but making it an eventual goal with alot of preparation will work alot better and let you have a heck of alot more fun.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
I see it as any other AA division. You may have a few "uber" rich riders and you'll also have non uber rich, who can ride well
Try it and see if you like it, the older adults sure know how to have fun at shows.