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  1. #61
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    Jan. 31, 2013
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    Quote Originally Posted by findeight View Post
    Ahhhhhh, wait until you buy a house, get married, start a family or make a major move many states away from home. You never grow out of that panicked feeling when fear of the unknown and all the "what ifs" creep into the warm, fuzzy world of the familiar. But that is part of being an adult and what your parents are trying to prepare you to deal with.There will be many changes as you go thru life-some you won't see coming.

    Some of us ary trying to tell all of the posters with the same concerns they need to explore life more before deciding horses are the one and only thing they ever want to deal with, who knows what other passions you may discover.

    Anyway...one thing your folks have a right to be concerned about is the health care situation. Yes they can keep you on their policy. However, many places run the help under the table, cash only, with no workmans comp or anything like that. If/when you do get hurt as either uncovered employee or unpaid working student, your folks insurance will cover BUT want to know when where and how you were hurt and they can go after the barn owner to recoup the claims cost. especially if you have more then one claim. That release you sign excludes negligence or unsafe conditions and they may try to prove that and get the barn owner to pay.

    That recent developement and our propensity to sue have changed the way barn owners and managers deal with help and WS issues. Makes it harder to find entry level opportunities as more and more barns are reluctant to expose themselves to liability risk.

    One more thing I think will help you...and I do not mean this in a mean way at all so don't anybody take this personally. Jessica, you want to get into the A show environment, correct? Then you need to do that. You already have good barn experience at the local levels, can communicate very well and seem to have a good work ethic.

    The areas you mentioned in another thread are well off the major circuit trail and away from population centers that tend to have higher disgressionary incomes-that means there is not much need for the big show type barns. So those barns in that area, and many others, are not going to really help you take that first step up the ladder. You may ride more but not anything much more then what you ride now...and you won't make many of the kinds of contacts that can help you get involved or learn to work with and turn out a AA quality animal appearance wise (and that's harder then riding them). Most will want you to be able to manage them in the barn and get them all dressed up to AA standard before you ever throw a leg over and get on one. That's fair and the traditional way to break in as a horseman, not just another rider begging rides.

    Cleveland is not so far, has AA barns and good quality local shows, so does Columbus. Buffalo too, maybe Pittsburg. There are COTH posters in these areas who might be able to recommend good show barns you can contact. Now, you have less then a 1 in 10 chance of getting a working student position, at best. But you are probably 5 or 6 in 10 to get a groom or barn help slot.

    I would also like to suggest that you try to arrange kind of a "tag along" or shadow arrangement with a trainer when you go to a few AAs as you said you would like to. Just showing up to watch and trying to talk to them with no introduction when they are sleep deprived and busy is not the best way. Plus you don't know who they are and there are a few that we would rather you did not associate with.

    Go on Wednesday or Thursday too, "Pro days". Anything after Friday around noon and they are knee deep in Ammies and Pony kids coming in to lesson then show over the weekend. Although, if you make a good impression and are free, spending the day seeing how a busy show barn works might be quite beneficial-you might even make yourself useful if asked if you make a good impression on that trainer earlier in the week.

    Kick that door open girl, I'm just middle class, parents could not afford it. But I lived near an A barn and took lessons there when I hit 18 and got an outside job, eventually a cheap, young horse. I had the contacts and worked off alot of board over the years in those fancy barns-I learned how to turn those horses out to standard and develop contacts. So can you.
    Ok, thank you so much. I reread this, and I just really have to start immersing myself. I can't dabble. Cleveland is about an hour away from my town, but I'm gonna try and head up there a few times this summer and do just what you said. And I want to learn to braid as well, maybe I could make some money while I'm up there. Thanks for the advice



  2. #62
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    Jul. 20, 2007
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    Rising Sun, MD
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    I am a professional in the equine industry. I have a decent paying job, health benefits and paid vacation. I also went to an equine college. So basically I am they person that everyone is telling you doesn't exist LOL! My parents fully supported my decision to go follow an equine related career. Right out of college, I was training and teaching as well as farm sitting and some other random work. Then I got hurt (on my own horse) and had to take a long time off. I worked for a school for a year and then a bank- I hated it so much, I was to the point of panic attacks everyday when I went into work, so I went back to the horse industry- the first year working for my vet and then into my current job where I am an office manager for a sporthorse farm (technically my title there but I do plenty of other things too). I actually make more than my DH who is a nursing assistant- it is enough to pay the mortgage, have my horses, compete in my discipline, have our yearly vacation, etc.
    But there are some catches; there are things in the horse industry that aren't so pretty and you have to decide whether you can live with them or not because you can't change all of them, it's a lot of work (A LOT) and it will never be a 9-5 job, it's a job that can be hit hard by a bad economy (so that something to fall back on is important).
    So if I were you, I would try hard to get a real taste of it- maybe take that year off and be a working student or anything else in the industry really- and see if it's what you really want.
    “While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.” Mark Twain


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  3. #63
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    Aug. 26, 1999
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    Concord, California, USA
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    I think it's good that you intend to complete college (you could get a business degree that relates directly to the horse industry) and a year off before college as a working student to see if this is what you REALLY want to do is a good idea too...

    BUT: I hate to be Debbie Downer, but, at 17 what have you ALREADY done that would make someone wish to employ you as a working student or groom (that's allowed to ride, rather than just a stable hand). In other words, is "making it" as an equine professional a realistic, obtainable goal, or just a dream. What talents as a rider have you shown at present?

    If even being a groom would satisfy you, then the insurance and just living expenses aspect (if this is to be a life-long career) are not the greatest. Sure, if you get to be the groom for a Brentina, or a Flexible, or a Ravel and travel, etc., etc., etc. Wonderful! But how many grooms reach that level?

    Just throwing it out there. Don't mean to throw cold water on you, but you need to evaluate how far desire and hard work will get you, what will satisfy you as to lifestyle, and whether you have the TALENT to make it as an equine professional.



  4. #64
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    Jun. 16, 2009
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    Gray Court, SC
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    619

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    Quote Originally Posted by deltawave View Post
    Your 17-year-old self is going to tell you all manner of nonsense before you're done being 17. And then your 18-year-old self will take it from there. Don't sweat it--it's perfectly OK to not have a crystal clear vision of your future at that age! Just keep yourself on the right track, invest in your education, stay healthy, get out and live your life, and don't make the mistake of thinking that a happy life can only come about by one specific set of circumstances.
    Okay, I read a few, but yours put me over the edge (not in that bad a way).

    When I was 18 I was shown a computer for the first time. I was swept away by what it could do. Yes, it was passion that fueled that first blush. I dedicated my mind, my heart, and my schooling to that passion not knowing or even caring if I was going to make a living.

    It was a passion.

    Passion is not age based, it comes whether you are 17 or 52. What we do with it, how we ride that passion matters more. I disagree with JER in that it is better she have her family support and she can gain that by taking that passion and making a plan.

    The shine did wear off the passion when I found out how damn hard it was to program, how difficult it would be to break into my industry, and how many people tried to tell me it was not worth it...yet I continued, because sometimes the passion adapts. 30+ years later I still work with computers, I still have passion though it is jaded by reality.

    I'll believe in this young lady. I will say what I said before, make a plan. Plan to learn, plan to work HARD, plan to be disappointed and plan to run into people who will tell you it is not worth it or you're not cut out for the work.

    Screw em. At the end of the day, you will be the one to decide that, only you.

    It is better to try and fail, then never try...that from the back side of the curve. When your parents push, just tell them that and see their reaction. Show them your desire and make them your partner.

    I wish you the best.


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  5. #65
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    Oct. 7, 2010
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    college is your friend.
    Take business and economics courses. Having the horsemanship skills to make good money in the horse business is only half the battle, you will need to be business savvy, too.
    English may not be your best choice for a horse career, unless you are thinking journalism or writing.
    While going to 'horse college' where there is some Equine Studies degree, with horse training classes and such, might not thrill your parents. But there are degrees offered in Animal Science from some of the big universities, and an Animal Science degree is fairly common for pre-vet students. You might at least try some of the introductory Animal Science classes if there are any offered at a school you go to.
    A working student (not a slave labor) position is good. As are college classes in marketing, advertising, and business/economics.
    Good luck!



  6. #66
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    Jun. 7, 2008
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    now in KCMO, and plan to stay there
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    Just to give you a few ideas of other ways to be involved in horses other than being a WS, groom or whatever:
    Breed associations, large online and in person store retail tack vendors, equine supplement and feed manufacturers and vendors, Veterinarian all need support staff of various levels of expertise. Horse magazines certainly need someone with a good grasp of language. Think outside of the riding box.

    If you have not already volunteered to help organize/perform some work in support of a local horse show, start doing that. If you have not already joined a local breed or show organization in your area do that. If your field is dressage, be a scribe. If H/J volunteer for the jump crew or operating the gate, or helping in the office with people coming in to enter their critters and themselves. Basically, you can start building a resume via volunteer work that may help you either be accepted to a college you prefer, and/or help find paying work.
    Last edited by sdlbredfan; Feb. 4, 2013 at 07:19 PM. Reason: clarity
    Jeanie
    RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.



  7. #67
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    Jan. 31, 2013
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    USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy M View Post
    I think it's good that you intend to complete college (you could get a business degree that relates directly to the horse industry) and a year off before college as a working student to see if this is what you REALLY want to do is a good idea too...

    BUT: I hate to be Debbie Downer, but, at 17 what have you ALREADY done that would make someone wish to employ you as a working student or groom (that's allowed to ride, rather than just a stable hand). In other words, is "making it" as an equine professional a realistic, obtainable goal, or just a dream. What talents as a rider have you shown at present?

    If even being a groom would satisfy you, then the insurance and just living expenses aspect (if this is to be a life-long career) are not the greatest. Sure, if you get to be the groom for a Brentina, or a Flexible, or a Ravel and travel, etc., etc., etc. Wonderful! But how many grooms reach that level?

    Just throwing it out there. Don't mean to throw cold water on you, but you need to evaluate how far desire and hard work will get you, what will satisfy you as to lifestyle, and whether you have the TALENT to make it as an equine professional.
    It's okay, I like that you're honest. I understand what you are saying, too. So basically you mean that I have to be sure that my I have the passion and will work hard enough to get me to the professional riding level, and also if I have the talent. I am not gonna act cocky and say that I am extremely talented and want to prove it, because I honestly don't know if I am. I have been told time after time by different people at my local level that I am gifted, but how far does that stretch? I want to find out. I want input from another trainer, and someone as big as Phyllis to tell me that I am would be incredible. But if she doesn't think I'm talented enough ride with her as a W.S or beyond, I will know not to pursue the riding aspect any further. As far as now, I haven't done too much. I ride almost everyday on greenies, Throughbreds, and everything I can. I am learning how to train and get paid by a few people. I am always at the barn. I am paid at a separate barn to do stalls and barn chores. So my experience is decent but nothing like some aspiring riders already have. But I WANT to be good and improve and learn, so I'll have to communicate that to my parents somehow. Thanks for your help.


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  8. #68
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    Jan. 19, 2005
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    PA
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    The thing to remember is being good isn't the only thing you need to be a successful professional rider (one who isn't living near the poverty line). I was a damn good rider your age. I was the kid that rode the nasty horses. Started the youngsters. Rode polo ponies...and was good enough to also be given some nice horses to ride and jump when my trainer wanted to hike the fences over 4' to school them because their owners couldn't. My trainer had me showing at 2nd level dressage and schooling higher and comfortable jumping green horses as well as 4'+ courses. Was told I had a lot of natural ability...by not only my local trainer but some Olympic level ones as well.

    But you know, there are a LOT of kids who are good and driven. I was driven too...happy to muck stalls, hot walk a horse...and had done rehab work. I did do the horses full time after college for two years. And was good...better than many young professionals I see now (and saw then). I could have made a life of horses (and did)...and worked for some of the biggest names out there. But in the end....I chose a different life primarily because making a secure, profitable life with horses is hard.....and MOST of it has nothing to do with how good of a rider you are...or even how hard you are willing to work (that is a given that you will work hard).

    A lot of it is luck...some of which you can make by making connections and contacts. Other is luck in not getting hurt...and that is hard to avoid with horses. I fell off a lot as a kid...but when I got a bit older (I'm talking 19+)...that is when I really got hurt more often. I was just lucky it wasn't more serious then a few broken bones and a few less than 5 day hospital stays. I've known far too many people with broken backs...and one who will never walk again.

    But bottom line...I was capable of more...and wanted more...and didn't want to rely on my good luck holding. I work extremely hard now too...there is NO job you will take on in this world that will compensate you highly without hard work. none. But there are also jobs, like riding and training horses which have a high risk of injury and a lower probability of making a good living. I personally couldn't take the risk of injury any longer as I knew I had no safety net.

    Good luck to you and there is a lot you can do....but just being a good rider isn't the only requirement to be successful. And you CAN become a VERY good rider and not make horses you full career. Look at the 2008 Olympic champion....he is a dentist. Not a bad gig...you can make a good living and have the time to ride and compete a few horses. There are a lot of careers outside of horses that can fund your passion and allow you to have the athletic horses and good training that many struggling as professional riders can not afford.

    So really look closely at your goals...if it is to become a really good rider and improve....you can do that without being a professional rider.
    Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Feb. 5, 2013 at 02:29 PM.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **


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  9. #69
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    Jul. 12, 2010
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    I'll repeat everyone else's recommendation of college first, no matter what career path you choose. A trainer that can't manage their billing isn't going to last long.

    I was right where you are at 17 and after a riding injury went college > advertising agency > sales > marketing > back to school for an MBA > corporate finance along with a husband, a houseful of pets & two horses. Its really common to change majors and careers throughout your life. Don't feel that you need to decide it all today.

    In the short run I have more of a fun suggestion. See if your parents will go with you to one of the major shows (i.e. WEF) for a couple of days. Approach it as a college visit and research all of the career paths you could follow to be on the show grounds beyond just training. See who the major sponsors are. Talk to everyone- the vendors, the vets, the chiropractors, show managers, sponsor relations managers with the show, shipping company reps, etc. Ask each of them how they ended up in their position, what classes they think would be most valuable in college and if there is someone else they think you should talk to.

    It will be good for you and your parents to see the endless number of paths that can make horses a part of your professional life. In addition to a working student experience, you may also want to intern in one of the alternate roles you find. Exploring your options will help you and your family be more confident with your career decision, whatever it is.



  10. #70
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    Oct. 4, 2010
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    Middle America
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    I grew up with horsey parents who owned their own training facility, so I saw first-hand as a kid how hard the lifestyle was. My family has, to this day, NEVER taken a vacation longer than one day together. Sure, I loved growing up with horses, but ya know, I'd love to have some family memories that DON'T start with "so we were at this horse show..."

    I have several friends who got "equine whatever" degrees at equine colleges, and bought cute farms and hung out a shingle. That seems awesome to a 19-year old, but let me tell you, it's difficult ekeing out a living just teaching walk/trot lessons and going to local shows. Lower-level teaching is maybe more suited to those doing it part-time or who don't need to cover all their own finances. Of those friends, 3 of their marriages have tanked, one lost her farm to foreclosure, and the other is pretty much just hanging on by a thread...and she's tired, haggard, and worn-out all the time at 30 years of age.

    My own trainer's mother was also a trainer. She built up the business, land, facility, etc. and when she retired, he and his wife took over the business. But these two weren't your average 20-somethings: they'd been riding, training, showing, and giving lessons since they were kids themselves. They BOTH had been to NAYRC and shown at the highest level of their discipline - when they were still JUNIORS.

    This couple is SERIOUSLY talented, and they work hard, but even with ALL THOSE BENEFITS (including having the business and facility handed to them!) it's still a VERY hard life. They've never taken a vacation that wasn't at a symposium or convention. They are deciding now to have children, and for them that means the wife (who is 1/2 of the training operation, remember) will be at least partially out of commission for a while. There's no financial safety net of the other spouse's insurance, salary, etc. if things go south.

    I see people like them - people who have shown in Europe and trained horses to Grand Prix - struggling (financially, emotionally, etc.) with this career choice, and I think it's a wonder anyone makes it. In my mind, if you're not VERY talented, and/or somewhat well funded (at least in the beginning), and with a good mind for business - this isn't a career for you.
    In order to think outside the box, one must first know what is in the box.


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  11. #71
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    Aug. 26, 1999
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    Concord, California, USA
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    You should check some of the recent issues of Practical Horseman. It seems I recall a couple (or one anyway!) of articles about people making it as young professionals and what they did/had done to get there. Might be helpful.



  12. #72
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    Oct. 4, 2010
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    Middle America
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    I know several people have recommended Denny Emerson's book "How Good Riders Get Good", but I'll recommend it as well. (OP, if you don't know who Denny is, you should! Go find out!)

    He just posted a paragraph from his book, on his Facebook wall this week, that is strangely pertinent to this discussion: "First, you need to grasp something that I heard Olympic gold-medal winner David O’Connor once say: “If I thought I was in the horse business, I’d never have made it. Instead, I realized that I was in the people business.” David’s widely recognized “people skills” helped him achieve the competitive pinnacle of his sport, then move to the leadership of the USEF. "
    In order to think outside the box, one must first know what is in the box.


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  13. #73
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    Aug. 26, 1999
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    Concord, California, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadenz View Post
    My own trainer's mother was also a trainer. She built up the business, land, facility, etc. and when she retired, he and his wife took over the business. But these two weren't your average 20-somethings: they'd been riding, training, showing, and giving lessons since they were kids themselves. They BOTH had been to NAYRC and shown at the highest level of their discipline - when they were still JUNIORS.

    I think that (with a little luck) the jumper riders tend to be able to make a success of it more than dressage riders or eventers. Even though the prize money per se may go to the owners, I imagine the compensation for training and winning with Grand Prix jumping horses pays more than dressage. Still - look two of the top pros who decided they'd accomplished what they wanted in the H/J world : They turned to race horses (where there is DEFINITELY more money): Michael Matz and Rodney Jenkins.



  14. #74
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    Dec. 21, 2008
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    Longing to be where I once was.....
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    I think you need to understand where your parents are coming from. As the parent of 3 teens my husband and I try to guide them from our experience on living in the " real world" , but it seems that no matter who you are you just don't " hear" each other! Go to school like you plan and do all you can to further your dreams of a horse related job at the same time. As parents we can't control what our kids decide to do, but it helps when it appears that you hear what we advise and learn from the mistakes that we made at your age. We really aren't clueless.



  15. #75
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    Aug. 25, 2005
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    Exclamation Does this sound familiar?

    I think what we need to do is convince YOU that it is a rare few that manage to make a living in the world of horses.

    Most WS I know of return home quite a few pounds lighter physically because the work is hard, endless, and food costs too much to waste money on it. They do usually learn a lot. That is why they then go off to college.

    And the other thing they bring home along with their lighter wallets and bodies, is the realization that many who make it to the top either started with tremendous financial backing or earned it. Truly the way to make a million doing horses is to start with two million.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.


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  16. #76
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    Jan. 31, 2013
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    USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by merrygoround View Post
    I think what we need to do is convince YOU that it is a rare few that manage to make a living in the world of horses.

    Most WS I know of return home quite a few pounds lighter physically because the work is hard, endless, and food costs too much to waste money on it. They do usually learn a lot. That is why they then go off to college.

    And the other thing they bring home along with their lighter wallets and bodies, is the realization that many who make it to the top either started with tremendous financial backing or earned it. Truly the way to make a million doing horses is to start with two million.
    After reading what everyone is saying, I am convinced that a rare fee make a good career with horses. But that doesn't mean I'm not gonna try. I take everything you say and think about it. Maybe I can earn a spot at the top too. Never know until you try.



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