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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!

  • BatCoach
    replied
    Originally posted by MysticOakRanch View Post

    And the really sad thing is - USDF is much more focused on Susie, because SHE has the horse(s), the resources, the trainer, SHE spends the money. But Susie is a rare rider in the population - there are probably 50 Betty's for every one Susie. I know several Susies, to be honest - being in CA, you see quite a few of them. But the Bettys are part of the scene too - I don't know a single trainer (OK, once you get into the Olympic names, it is a different story) that has a barn full of Susies...

    So for the trainer that only wants Susie, be aware you have a very limited pool to draw from - and you better be a big name, because that is what Susie will pay for.

    Even here in CA, which IS a bit of a dressage hotspot, many FEI trainers may only have one or two Susies, and the rest are all Betty... So if looking for a new location, do some serious market research. It is rare for a trainer to have a barn full of FEI students!
    Very true! I'm in So Cal, and me and my AA pals have stated numerous times that a good dressage trainer could make an absolute killing here by catering to AA students who are hard working but on a budget.

    We love our horses and put in the work, but the 'big' dressage training barns are more focused on students with more flexible schedules, multiple horses, and the $$ for full training. I totally understand why trainers need and even court the trust fund Susies of the world, but that leaves little time and attention to those of us with less flashy mounts and a limited show budget. I've had several friends switch to western or quit horses altogether when they could not find a supportive trainer to work on establishing proper basics with their 'off-breed' horses. You can only hear the "you really should buy this warmblood I have for sale" so many times before you realize that the trainer doesn't care about making you a better rider, they just need the $$ from a sale.

    So even in a dressage-rich area, I think there are plenty of niche opportunities just waiting to be tapped. There are only so many hours in a day when us AAs can ride, and many established trainers here are already booked for those covered after 5pm weekday sessions, so if you are willing to build a base of dedicated riders who would walk through fire for their horses but are somewhat limited on time and cashflow, you have the makings of a nice little business.

    Leave a comment:


  • ladyj79
    replied
    I would say that most areas that lack full time professional trainers do so because the market won't sustain them.

    Leave a comment:


  • lorilu
    replied
    Originally posted by Lunabear1988 View Post
    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.
    I have friends on the western side and visit there regularly, and am considering moving there in a few years ..... looking at the dressage scene there, it appears there is an active club that hosts schooling shows and one recognized show/year..... two members going to Regionals.... and the clubs year end awards top out at Second..... So perhaps even fewer trainers over there.....

    Leave a comment:


  • MysticOakRanch
    replied
    Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
    Here's something else about hard work money results.

    Susie Trustfund has been riding non-stop since she was 6, doesn't have a job, can afford to buy several unicorn schoolmasters with 9 gaits that are ammie friendly, she can pay for multiple lessons and training rides a week, she works genuinely hard at her riding because it's her main interest and challenge in life.

    Betty Hardscrabble started riding lessons at 12, took off a decade to go to college and start a family, is now back in the saddle with a $10,000 WB (super expensive to her), and tries really hard to ride every day after work. She can afford one lesson a week. The horse has some potential but she bought him as a solid training level w t c horse and could only afford him because he had a few quirks. Betty isn't poor by any means, she and hubby are solidly upper middle class, but to be that they need to live near a city with high cost of living and long commutes, and she needs to work 9 to 5. Buying a $100,000 horse would seem financially insane to them, almost a years combined gross income for them.

    Who is more likely to make faster progress up the levels?
    And the really sad thing is - USDF is much more focused on Susie, because SHE has the horse(s), the resources, the trainer, SHE spends the money. But Susie is a rare rider in the population - there are probably 50 Betty's for every one Susie. I know several Susies, to be honest - being in CA, you see quite a few of them. But the Bettys are part of the scene too - I don't know a single trainer (OK, once you get into the Olympic names, it is a different story) that has a barn full of Susies...

    So for the trainer that only wants Susie, be aware you have a very limited pool to draw from - and you better be a big name, because that is what Susie will pay for.

    Even here in CA, which IS a bit of a dressage hotspot, many FEI trainers may only have one or two Susies, and the rest are all Betty... So if looking for a new location, do some serious market research. It is rare for a trainer to have a barn full of FEI students!
    Last edited by MysticOakRanch; Sep. 30, 2019, 10:40 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • dotneko
    replied
    I am in North Central MA. Our show season is mid April to Mid October and I have something like 25 recognized shows within a 3 hour (many a two hour) drive from my farm. We have many FEI level trainers. It appears as though there is plenty of business to go around. The trainers who go to Florida for the season tend to have to more wealthy clients while those who stay north for the winter have more of the middle income riders.
    Region 8 just had 20 open GP riders in the regional championship class. Really deep in talent.
    Id say New England or New Jersey.

    Leave a comment:


  • Alterration
    replied
    The St Louis area is potentially a good one. The dressage scene is building, but we don’t have FEI trainers here, a few great locals who could help pass clients up the chain, a great show facility and people with trust funds all exist here.

    Leave a comment:


  • suzyq
    replied
    I would think someplace in region 9? Look at the championship show on showsecretary, 5 rings for 4 days. There are some really good trainers in the area, but with houston, dallas, san antonio all large populations I'm sure there is room for more. The cities are all spread out so maybe you could locate in part of one of them that needs more trainers.

    Leave a comment:


  • poltroon
    replied
    I agree the challenge of the niche is really about things not mentioned in the OP. Finding clients who want to ride with an FEI dressage rider who aren't already bound to a trainer, who have money to be in training, plus a network of usable local shows, that's a more challenging proposition. OP will no doubt want to be able to ride FEI and also access high level peers and coaching for herself.

    One way this happens is that a trainer follows a specific client who has enough wealth to bring a trainer full time. Another way is that the trainer has a place she wants to be and then she starts building from there. The funds you have and the timeline you have for getting a strong clientele are going to be part of the question. How long can you bleed cash? Do you need to train out of a barn or can you afford your own real estate?

    An area with jumping riders (h/j or eventing) can be of use because then you have infrastructure and potentially high level clients who are aging out or chickening out of jumping who still want and need high quality instruction.

    If you have the cash flow, you could potentially build your business someplace that feels good to you by investing in some young horses or offering young horse training. You don't necessarily have to have then, people who can come to you multiple times a week. Another possibility is to offer clinics/camps/training opportunities on site, where someone say comes for a week and gets to ride an FEI schoolmaster. It's a way to bring people to you outside of the dynamic of local relationships only. It's also a way to make yourself known to client groups that might be seeking a new trainer.

    If you're really good, people will move to where you are to train with you but that's on a timescale of years, not weeks or months. You might not have the cash to last that long.

    Leave a comment:


  • Groom&Taxi
    replied
    Originally posted by MissAriel View Post

    WRT horse-related resources, you might try looking for an area that has an active horse scene that isn't necessarily dressage and build on that. Farriers, vets, bodyworkers, feed stores, etc will to a certain degree be able to serve a dressage horse as well as a performance reiner, for example.
    This is what I was thinking as I was reading the thread - not sure exactly how one would go about identifying them but areas that have a decent hunter/jumper scene but not as much in the way of dressage would seem to be areas to focus on.

    As far as areas where people are willing to work hard and want to progress - I would agree that that isn't necessarily a "regional" characteristic, but I wonder if it could be characteristic of a demographic. I am inferring that OP's existing client base is lacking in that respect.

    Leave a comment:


  • MissAriel
    replied
    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."
    This describes me and many of my riding friends perfectly. My trainer is not an FEI rider, but she has immense patience, lots of tools in her toolkit to work through our various issues and an ability to push us without frustrating us or making us feel "less than". She also has a great sense of humor.

    5 years ago I switched to dressage and started riding with her, after decades riding H/J. Then I bought a youngster, started him with her help, and now he is 6 and we are showing first level, and working on all the second level work. We will get there when we get there.

    OP- I don't know that there is a location with more "hard workers" than others. I think what you are looking for is a place where those "hard workers" don't have adequate instruction to reach their potential.

    WRT horse-related resources, you might try looking for an area that has an active horse scene that isn't necessarily dressage and build on that. Farriers, vets, bodyworkers, feed stores, etc will to a certain degree be able to serve a dressage horse as well as a performance reiner, for example.

    Leave a comment:


  • Scribbler
    replied
    Here's something else about hard work money results.

    Susie Trustfund has been riding non-stop since she was 6, doesn't have a job, can afford to buy several unicorn schoolmasters with 9 gaits that are ammie friendly, she can pay for multiple lessons and training rides a week, she works genuinely hard at her riding because it's her main interest and challenge in life.

    Betty Hardscrabble started riding lessons at 12, took off a decade to go to college and start a family, is now back in the saddle with a $10,000 WB (super expensive to her), and tries really hard to ride every day after work. She can afford one lesson a week. The horse has some potential but she bought him as a solid training level w t c horse and could only afford him because he had a few quirks. Betty isn't poor by any means, she and hubby are solidly upper middle class, but to be that they need to live near a city with high cost of living and long commutes, and she needs to work 9 to 5. Buying a $100,000 horse would seem financially insane to them, almost a years combined gross income for them.

    Who is more likely to make faster progress up the levels?

    Leave a comment:


  • GraceLikeRain
    replied
    Originally posted by prestigeperformancehorses View Post

    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 made a few geographic suggestions above but I think those riders exist in every community. The rub is finding an area that has a large rider population, dressage interest, show access, some trainers but not too much competition, and then advertising in a way to attract those riders.

    Personally, if I were in your position I'd develop a list of communities that are viable. Then, I'd try to identify the more popular barns, learn about their programs, and see if they would be interested in hosting a clinic. Use that opportunity to explore the community, make connections, meet riders, etc.

    Another piece to process is cost of living for you personally. Perhaps that is not a worry but the difference between full boarding 1-2 competition horses and 1-2 sale horses in DC v. Birmingham, AL is vastly different. Similarly, what people will pay for a lesson v. a smaller community can be vastly different.

    I imagine that you also want to continue growing as a rider. How close do you need to be to your current trainer(s) to make growth possible? You referenced moving outside of FL entirely but are you going to trailer 12 hours for lessons, fly home and ride old clients horses, something else? Within your short list of ideal communities, how many have stellar vets? If you need to get your personal FEI horse to a university vet, are you hauling one hour or ten? Do they have multiple amazing farriers or is there only one person who you would trust and if things go south you have no alternatives?

    Leave a comment:


  • rothmpp
    replied
    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?

    Leave a comment:


  • piedmontfields
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • soloudinhere
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Scribbler
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • prestigeperformancehorses
    replied
    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??

    Leave a comment:


  • dressagegirl123
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • colorfan
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:

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