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What part of the country is lacking good Dressage trainers??

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  • What part of the country is lacking good Dressage trainers??

    Interested to hear your thoughts on areas of the country that seem to have lots of Dressage riders, but a lack of FEI Dressage trainers to help them? Im referring to trainers that have developed horses themselves, have all their medals and are active in the competition circuit. Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Many areas? Most of them outside of Florida, California, and pockets on the East Coast? I mean there are lots of places with an active set of lower level ammies, and coaches that are indeed helpful to them in say showing first level, but trainers with all their medal, developed multiple horses themselves (rather than medals on their wealthy client's school master) and currently competing at presumably FEI level? That's got to be a very small percentage of all trainers. You might get medals on a client's horse; previous showing career but now stuck getting sales greenies going training level for ammie riders; or developed one star horse when younger and maybe under the guidance of a BNT but now doesn't have access to that quality of horse or even the time to work on their own projects.

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Agreed! It seems that those types of lower level appropriate trainers are successful in their pockets. Do you have any specific areas in mind? Im looking to move my business out of Wellington, and even Florida in general, but interested to hear where a trainer like myself is needed.

      Comment


      • #4
        I know CO is considered lacking in instructions from FEI quality trainers, at least compared to different areas.

        They are around but I'd say the "lower level" trainers really outnumber them.

        Comment


        • #5
          LOL almost anywhere. Reverse your title and search for good areas for dressage, print a map, cross out those areas, and move almost anywhere else. In all seriousness, you could pick any state and find that the majority of the state does not have a trainer with a record of developing FEI horses within a 2-hour drive.

          I imagine that identifying a horse dense area that is also temperate makes the most sense in terms of maximizing prospective clients and rideable weather. If an area is a complete dressage dead zone, it is a lot more work to get your name out. Conversely, if you can connect with the local bronze and silver medal trainers and start giving them clinics, you open the door to getting on a lot of radars. You also need an area where income is enough that there is a robust horse population with enough to afford full-time training.

          I think Athens, GA is a bit of an untapped area for dressage trainers but there is a large eventing community. You also can access a rotating college population where many still have family support. Charlotte, NC is another area that comes to mind. There are some good trainers in that area but it is not saturated and there is a lot of money. Metro Atlanta is miserable and there are trainers with really deep roots. Tryon, NC is very trainer dense but Greenville, SC has far fewer resources for motivated dressage riders. Five Forks is between Greenville and Spartanburg and is actually the most affluent town in the state. Travelers Rest is also an area worth looking at.

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          • #6
            Definitely Charlotte! Huntersville just to the north is quite wealthy, lots of horses/riders and very few FEI trainers. Close to Tryon and Southern Pines for shows, clinics and an overall nice area.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by prestigeperformancehorses View Post
              Agreed! It seems that those types of lower level appropriate trainers are successful in their pockets. Do you have any specific areas in mind? Im looking to move my business out of Wellington, and even Florida in general, but interested to hear where a trainer like myself is needed.
              Needed is a complicated word. The vast majority of ammies across North America do not get past first level, whether that's because of limitations in quality of horse, quality of riding, amount of cash to spend on the sport, and lack of time in the day to ride, or some combination of the above. Now dedication and an excellent coach might get these folks up to second or third level, but being an FEI competitor isn't the sole qualification needed to be successful in getting an adult ammie from training to first to second level. You'd need to have a knack for working with the less than gifted, the slightly stiff, the less pricey horse, and the older or slightly fearful rider who doesn't really have a "forward button." And you'd also need to not feel like you were wasting your time with riders with no "prospects."

              Now if you had a knack for inspiring them and bringing out the best in them, and if you loved working on the very basic things, getting a rider led steady or hands working right or a horse moving out in a medium trot or his first half pass, this could work wonderfully. But if your heart and soul is still riding FEI in Florida, and your biggest recommendation is that you've taken several horses to Grand Prix, then there might be a mismatch.

              You might also find it discouraging to live in an area where you are the only person regularly riding in the FEI classes at local shows.

              Speaking as a university professor that did my Phd at a "top school" in my field then found my tenured niche in a rather modest "regional college" and had to seriously reduce my expectations of my students.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'd eliminate any areas that don't have rated shows within a 3 hour driving distance. You need enough existing dressage interest in the area to easily build up a clientele for what you're offering. Without passing judgement on quality, there are a decent number who fit your criteria in the suburbs of NYC, as well as the more central areas of NJ and CT. The ones that come to mind in MA are closer to Boston - not on the western side of the state. There are also some areas in eastern PA that might fit the bill, or areas of New York that are up north towards Albany or farther.

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                • #9
                  Areas lacking in trainers for a specific discipline usually lack them because there are no shows close enough to take entry level clients to. You need to acquire and develop your more advanced riders from someplace, that someplace is the entry level riders that want to advancee. Areas that lack quality trainers across all disciplines generally lack clients with the digressionary income to afford the sport. There are reasons nobody is there. So be careful.

                  I think the 3hr drive time each way to a show is a good estimate of how far is too far for most entry level riders to gain experience in a show environment. That’s max distance, closer is much better for clients unless your barn caters to deeper pockets who will move with you.
                  When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                  The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by findeight View Post
                    Areas lacking in trainers for a specific discipline usually lack them because there are no shows close enough to take entry level clients to. You need to acquire and develop your more advanced riders from someplace, that someplace is the entry level riders that want to advancee. Areas that lack quality trainers across all disciplines generally lack clients with the digressionary income to afford the sport. There are reasons nobody is there. So be careful.

                    I think the 3hr drive time each way to a show is a good estimate of how far is too far for most entry level riders to gain experience in a show environment. That’s max distance, closer is much better for clients unless your barn caters to deeper pockets who will move with you.
                    You guys are definitely right about the 3hr drive to shows. I didn't think about that but I can see it being very relevant. Thank you!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Here in New Mexico there are only a few FEI level trainers. The regional championships are held 6 hours in either direction in Parker, CO or Scottsdale, AZ. There aren't that many rated shows throughout the year. The nearest ones are in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, El Paso, TX, and Tucson, AZ.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                        You might also find it discouraging to live in an area where you are the only person regularly riding in the FEI classes at local shows.

                        Speaking as a university professor that did my Phd at a "top school" in my field then found my tenured niche in a rather modest "regional college" and had to seriously reduce my expectations of my students.
                        I think the OP would find it even more discouraging to live in an area where there aren't any FEI classes to ride in because no one else is doing FEI and they don't have the money to bring in a qualified judge for any FEI classes.

                        I come from an area that had several dressage barns but I never met a single FEI rider. Highest level was Second, and there were only a couple of those, and they traveled an average of over 100 miles to show because there weren't any classes for them in our area. As to FEI horses, they're kind of like unicorns, aren't they? We all believe in them, deep down, but how many of us have ever seen one in the flesh?
                        Rack on!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

                          Needed is a complicated word. The vast majority of ammies across North America do not get past first level, whether that's because of limitations in quality of horse, quality of riding, amount of cash to spend on the sport, and lack of time in the day to ride, or some combination of the above. Now dedication and an excellent coach might get these folks up to second or third level, but being an FEI competitor isn't the sole qualification needed to be successful in getting an adult ammie from training to first to second level. You'd need to have a knack for working with the less than gifted, the slightly stiff, the less pricey horse, and the older or slightly fearful rider who doesn't really have a "forward button." And you'd also need to not feel like you were wasting your time with riders with no "prospects."
                          I feel like this deserves repeating.

                          What most of us need the most is someone with a deep toolbox training - 2nd level who loves working with average riders on average horses. If an average horse has become a $50k import who only shows potential through 4th, it may not be a lot of fun having me bounce around your ring on an off bred hony who at 6 does not totally understand how to canter with some semblance of balance.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If you are looking for a part of the country where advanced trainers are lacking.....right HERE! Northern BC I have never met anyone who has competed beyond pr st George level, and that was when she was a teenager, living at home with her parents footing the bill and she lived 5 hours south of me.
                            I would have to travel almost 3 hours to get to the closest registered show.
                            This area sure could use a high end trainer to inspire and coach. Video lessons only go just so far.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Remember that "dressage deserts" don't have shows, but they also often lack good farriers, vets, body workers, saddle fitters and trainers for you... It takes a big support team to support FEI horses. If you want to continue to ride at that level, you have to look at everything. And a business (as many have mentioned) needs people with enough income to own horses and take lessons on them. It can be discouraging to teach someone one lesson a week, on Saturday, and they can't ride in between because of weather or darkness (in winter). Its hard for them to progress like they would like to. So you need very wealthy people if you want multiple students moving up to FEI. Its tough to do.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by GraceLikeRain View Post

                                I feel like this deserves repeating.

                                What most of us need the most is someone with a deep toolbox training - 2nd level who loves working with average riders on average horses. If an average horse has become a $50k import who only shows potential through 4th, it may not be a lot of fun having me bounce around your ring on an off bred hony who at 6 does not totally understand how to canter with some semblance of balance.
                                I think you might be right about some FEI trainers, but at one point or another we were all bouncing around trying to figure out the canter. My favorite type of client to teach is one who really wants to learn and get better. If second level is all they'll ever make it to then I want to help them be the best 2nd level rider they can. Im looking for an area in the country that the riders aren't content with just getting by, but who really want to learn and progress and hopefully exceed their own expectations. Any ideas where I can find those riders??

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by colorfan View Post
                                  If you are looking for a part of the country where advanced trainers are lacking.....right HERE! Northern BC I have never met anyone who has competed beyond pr st George level, and that was when she was a teenager, living at home with her parents footing the bill and she lived 5 hours south of me.
                                  I would have to travel almost 3 hours to get to the closest registered show.
                                  This area sure could use a high end trainer to inspire and coach. Video lessons only go just so far.
                                  You could expand that to all of BC as well. Dressage is concentrated in the Vancouver area but I dont know that there's any coach that fits the description of has all their medals (medals aren't really a thing in Canada and those that go for them tend to be ammies), has brought multiple horses to FEI level, and is actively competing FEI. Maybe a couple of older coaches fit the last two descriptors but I think these days only riding in local shows. I would need to get on Equine Canada show results to verify this though.

                                  ​​​​​​We had a local trainer in contention for the last Olympic team but I think she was already based in Florida.

                                  The current big deal expensive traveling dressage trainer coming to our
                                  barn had one season showing Grand Prix on a client's imported teenaged school masters and that was enough to make her reputation. She hasn't trained horses to that level. I don't think any of her students see this as a problem.

                                  Of course you'd need a work visa to come to Canada.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by prestigeperformancehorses View Post

                                    I think you might be right about some FEI trainers, but at one point or another we were all bouncing around trying to figure out the canter. My favorite type of client to teach is one who really wants to learn and get better. If second level is all they'll ever make it to then I want to help them be the best 2nd level rider they can. Im looking for an area in the country that the riders aren't content with just getting by, but who really want to learn and progress and hopefully exceed their own expectations. Any ideas where I can find those riders??
                                    I'm sure there's hardworking people anywhere.

                                    The issue is, more critically, that they're pretty rare. I look around at the other clients of my trainer (a GP rider who has a lovely KWPN stallion she's bringing along), and I'm the only one putting in the time and money to progress. The rest take one lesson a week and might be content to go to a training level schooling show.

                                    The reality is that dressage is hard, harder than most people think and harder than most people are willing to work. I don't personally think it's difficult to bring a horse to second level but as it turns out, it IS hard for a lot of riders who don't have a lot of natural talent or the drive to focus and really become better.

                                    You might find this experience disappointing, or you might find that you're fine collecting a check from once-a-weekers who will really never progress. That's up to you, really.
                                    Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                                    you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I agree with the points that you need to look for FEI competitions and support resources, plus consumer wealth.

                                      Nashville is a booming town with real wealth, but it lacks the depth of equine resources typical outside Atlanta or Charlotte. However, Nashville seems to have potential for equine dressage businesses, as it is not over saturated at all. The Lexington area in Kentucky has more trainers, but also seems to be a place that a talented person could carve out a market--if there were enough demand.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by soloudinhere View Post

                                        I'm sure there's hardworking people anywhere.

                                        The issue is, more critically, that they're pretty rare. I look around at the other clients of my trainer (a GP rider who has a lovely KWPN stallion she's bringing along), and I'm the only one putting in the time and money to progress. The rest take one lesson a week and might be content to go to a training level schooling show.

                                        The reality is that dressage is hard, harder than most people think and harder than most people are willing to work. I don't personally think it's difficult to bring a horse to second level but as it turns out, it IS hard for a lot of riders who don't have a lot of natural talent or the drive to focus and really become better.

                                        You might find this experience disappointing, or you might find that you're fine collecting a check from once-a-weekers who will really never progress. That's up to you, really.
                                        ^^^This^^^

                                        I used to ride at a barn that had some people who would go to shows, but it was about the social time. There was one year that I and one other rider were riding in the same regional championship class. I placed, she didn't. I happened to overhear her whining to our trainer about it, and the trainer told her in no uncertain terms, that I just worked harder than anyone else in the barn. She told her that I come and ride everyday - rain, snow, bugs, heat, hangover from friday night, etc...

                                        OP - I'm not sure what the best way to go about finding what you are looking for. Many have touched on the issues that exist if there is not an existing base of FEI riders. It's a bit of chicken/egg. The area can't easily draw in the talent without an existing ancillary support industry (sporthorse vets & farriers, bodyworkers, fitters, etc...) but those people aren't coming to an area where there is no existing client base.

                                        I'd probably start by identifying areas that you are willing to live. You're coming from south Florida. 6+ months of winter in Minnesota is going to be a shock, for example. Then I'd check out shows and results in those areas to see if there is a possible base of riders and how many existing FEI trainers there may already be. Also - be open minded. If you pick an area that has a limited amount of riders (and they are likely to be pretty loyal to their existing trainers to start out), do you have the finances, contacts, talent, and ability to wait out a potential slow start?

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