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Up to what level can you "DIY"?

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  • Up to what level can you "DIY"?

    Title says it all: Up to what level would you say you can "do it yourself" and get by safely and well without the help of an experienced trainer? Does this differ any if you're on a seasoned, veteran event horse or if you're training your horse to event on your own?
    "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"

  • #2
    I think the answer to this question is largely determined by the *rider's* experience and competence; I'll be interested in hearing the responses.
    "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

    "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")


    • Original Poster

      I was thinking along the lines that the rider had experience in other disciplines (like h/j and maybe dressage), but not in eventing.
      "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"


      • #4
        TYPE of experience does count for something...

        Does the rider have experience "riding out", or going across country, trail riding (other than casual), foxhunting, etc.? Did the rider ride as a younger person, and if so, did they ride outside the ring, get confidence riding at speed, over uneven terrain, jumping up and down hill, doing water, ditches, natural obstacles, etc.? If not, then yes--IMO a more experienced horse would be an essential part of the equation if the rider were not getting regular feedback from a trainer. And then clinics with competent people would be necessary, even if the horse knew what it was doing...

        So I would still say "it depends", because there are so many variables. Novice would probably be a safe bet, *but* again--how confident and SECURE is the rider? This would help determine the answer (along with the other aforementioned things), but I am supposed to be in bed by now, so others should take over this discussion.
        "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

        "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")


        • #5
          there was a girl at Rolex this year. The announcer mentioned that she trained the horse to the **** level with the help of her dad and good training books.

          If you are naturally talented and the horse is really talented you can do it.
          In theory advanced is 3'11''. It's not the height of the jumps that is the issue.
          And the dressage is not even true dressage FEI level. So that is fairly basic. Maybe the changes are tough though.

          And any horse with a bit of scope can jump the SJ course. It's smaller than derby hunter height.

          My friend bred a nice trakehner and took her from novice to advanced with no help. Just one or two clinics with Jim Graham each year.

          I was close with my horse. We were going to move him up to Intermediate but he up and broke first. Nice of him.
          Though I was at the point where I was going to get some help with the dressage because I had hit my limit of knowledge and limit of ability to 'wing it'.

          I think most of us are held back due to phycology. When I bought my 'first' horse I would point...she would jump. I went to a couple novice HTs without even knowing you were supposed to wheel a course and use a watch. I finished in the middle of the pack with no fear. I then found a trainer that could not deal with my lack of knowledge and the fact that my horse didn't care. She made me crash a few times by giving me exercises that she knew my horse would balk at...
          After a few rough times I couldn't get the mare to jump jack shi*t. Took me two years to get it back together.

          The mare would have been blistfully happy to keep jumping while I was clueless. I then got *smart* and screwed her up.

          there is something divine about it all don't you think? Young and stupid ain't so bad. LMAO.
          well, now I guess I know better.
          Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


          • #6
            It completely depends on the riders experience level, and the horse is a huuuuge factor into how safely they can get around. But really, if you have a good enough rider and horse that you would be asking this question and expecting that you have enough common sense (not to be rude at all) to realize when it is unsafe, i'd say maybe about training because when you get to prelim is when it really gets much more technical and not all horses can take that climb from training to preliminary without a very experienced rider. But that being said, many rider can make it around without a trainer, but placing well? I would say you'd need a trainer to really stand out so to speak.


            • #7
              I've taken my little guy from birth to Training all by myself. I live in a non-eventing area (well, there's lots going on in my Area, just it's all a good 3+ hrs away!) so I've brought him along using past experiences with young and difficult horses I've ridden, (I've never had or really ridden longterm a "made" horse) taking occasional clinics with the best people I could get to (& afford), and looking at my score sheets and photos. We've done 3 rated T's so far with mixed success. Not unsafe, but crappy scores in 2 of them and a TE in MidTN HT 'cuz I put him at the Prelim #14 instead of the T. Ooops.

              I'm 47, ridden all my life, done a bit of everything horsewise but never really competed much in anything, certainly not in any upper levels or on any circuits. I took regular lessons as a kid before I got a horse, and then for a couple of years in my late twenties while I was working at a barn. I've always been the brave (stupid?) sticky one who got put on new horses that came in, or taken along on shopping expeditions to be the first one up, push buttons, see what they did or didn't do. I got to ride the spoiled and obnoxious horses that needed a firmer hand than their owners could give them. Before Keogh, my other horses were all horses with "issues", and in truth weren't much fun to ride though I learned a lot.

              Keogh's 8, out of my little AQHA mare and by the TB Deputed Duke - who was by the same sire as Denny's wonderful Reputed Testamony. He has a very good mind, is sane and brave and willing, and has just enough of his mother's 'titude to keep him interesting and give him some bottom when things get a little tough. (Not that he's ever really been pushed to the max, but I know if I ask it'll be there.)

              I'm now at my own personal limit for safety and comfort. I could probably plug along through Training just fine, if I was happy with mediocre scores. The jumping is not an issue- he's got the scope, but the dressage is, and so are things like learning to jump out of stride at speed, and learning how to rebalance his gallop without losing the power. He's a tad long backed and a tad downhill, so teaching him how to carry himself better is our next challenge. I'll be making some overnight excursions to Jim Graham's this winter to get our act in gear for next year

              Here's a pic from Midsouth in KY last weekend:

              We had 2 refulsals at the water (fence #4(!), hidden water til the last second, and really bad footing by the time we rode) but he never looked at anything for the rest of the course.

              Love my smart pony


              • #8
                I think without any help - no clinics, no parents, etc. someone with previous riding experience (only outside the discipline) would be able to make it to Novice easily. That is assuming a brave jumper. Once you hit training, you start getting more difficult combinations out on cross country that could get you into a little bit of trouble, but nothing major. The dressage test also becomes more difficult and leaves more room for mistakes from the inexperienced. You can make it through Training, though. Once you get to Prelim, if you do not have at least a working knowledge and a few clinics or lessons under your belt.


                • #9
                  I've a different view, I think - I don't think there is ANY level where you can get by "by yourself". From beginner on up. Your whole riding life, I think you need to check in once and while with someone better than you, no matter what level. Boyd Martin just won a three star (in what everyone agrees was an incredible performance on a horse he made himself) and he stated within days after getting that blue ribbon, that he wishes he could ride Neville Bardos with Hubertus Schmidt to improve his dressage. I truly do not think there is anyone at the upper levels who goes and does Rolex on their own, or similar. Some of these "dads" and "moms" and "grooms" know as much or more than a lot of trainers who have big barns of students!
                  Not saying you have to be in full time training or even regular lessons, but I think you do need to check in with a mentor on occasion unless you have solid skills, like the skill chart that Jimmy Wofford published last year -- I can't find it right now but I am thinking the 7 or 8 level to safely produce something like a novice horse.
                  Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                  Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                  • #10
                    I agree with Retreadeventer, I think riders at all levels need help.

                    When riders come from the hunter world, they are often out of balance over jumps, with their weight too far forward. Not such a big deal in the ring, but wait until you have a jump with a slight drop or downhill landing in bad footing.

                    A rider can "wing" the dressage and get by with no help, although the placings will no doubt reflect that. But the skills used on x-c are very different from the hunter world.

                    Those who have lots of experience galloping around on uneven terrain are usually fine, but the average lower level amateur without this experience who thinks they can do it with no help are often an accident waiting to happen, unfortunately.


                    • #11
                      No, it would be an exceedingly rare bird who could teach themselves to ride well enough to bring a horse along to competition level w/out SOME input somewhere.

                      The assumption is though that most competitive riders work with someone on a regular basis, and/or compete on a horse trained, at least in part, by someone else. We hear so much talk about 'my trainer' this and 'my coach' that, and questions about lesson barns and training facilities that it's an easy assumption to make.

                      But I'm curious too about how many people go solo, and in what capacity.


                      • #12
                        I've done a lot on my own.
                        I'm 21, I was born on a horse.
                        I was a 10 year member of 4-h (did more harm than good)
                        I got to my C-2 in pony club (decided not to go further b/c of school, 3 jobs, bills, and no free time)
                        I've evented up to training level with a horse I've trained myself with minimal help (although I am supervised by my barn boss) I got him off the track almost 6 years ago. At that point in time, I knew nothing about OTTB's and had only ridden naughty ponies. I was so not ready for that at the time. Have I mentioned I have a that he is Super?
                        We've had trouble moving up to prelim. and I am looking for someone to find the "missing link"

                        I have some experience riding saddleseat, I've done 4-H hunters (not real hunters, lol) some Arab Hunters (over fences), driving, long lining, I trail ride all the time. I've started a handful of babies.

                        I have a lot of experience of just getting on and Riding or just getting on and Playing.
                        I'm an athletic rider and I have good timing. (generally)
                        I am lacking some finesse.

                        I'm good at learning something new and applying it to other area's of my riding.
                        You show me and tell me how to do something and I will figure it out.

                        But I am now to the point in my riding, that if I want to reach my goals, I better be getting some help.
                        So I'm looking.
                        "Hell yes I can ride. I was riding when I fell off!"


                        • #13
                          I'm somewhere kind of in the middle - bought an OTTB about 6 years ago; I had previously evented to Training and the mare hadn't done much of anything (two years standing in a field, a little W/T/C under saddle) since coming off of the track.

                          I had probably a handful of lessons with a trainer when I bought her, but she had a couple of injuries and then I left for college (and brought her with me). At school with no trailer and no trainer at our barn, we were pretty much on our own. We got in a couple of dressage lessons, and I had two brief stints as a working student for event trainers when school allowed (both of which were IMMENSELY helpful). Now I'm in vet school, and we're trainerless again. We've been doing Prelim for a while and are entered in our first Intermediate in a month.

                          So I would have to agree with retread - we don't have a consistent trainer, no one comes with us to events, and the horse certainly wasn't trained by someone else before I got her, but it has been crucial to "check in" with someone who knows more than I do whenever we get the chance. Getting another opinion, a fresh perspective, and some professional input have all been very important in getting to where we are now.


                          • #14
                            With Gwen I did all the way up to Prelim without a regular eventing trainer, just weekly dressage lessons and input and occasional clinics with a BNR.

                            With Bonnie I hate to even go Novice without my current trainer, who is a soon-to-be BNR.

                            The older I get, the less I like to do on my own.
                            Click here before you buy.


                            • #15
                              I think it depends, I feel at this point in my life I could take a horse and train it to training or so without any help. I am 23 and been riding my whole life, the past few years doing the hunter thing. Made it to C-1 in pony club when I was 12 then decided to do hunters. But I don't think I would say I made it to such and such level without any help because I have had a ton of help throughout my life. But I feel that everyone needs some help, and someone on the ground who can tell you that you look like crap haha. Doesn't mean you need constant lessons and schoolings but they do help make for a more solid foundation that will help at the higher levels.


                              • #16
                                I'll echo that one can "do" (as in get through) Novice alone, with some experience in jumping and flat work. Placings are different.

                                I had a lifetime of experience in western pleasure, equitation, trail, stock horse, reined cowhorse, cutting, english pleasure and equitation, saddle seat, etc, etc, etc, plus I had foxhunted and point to point raced before deciding to try eventing.
                                I took a handful of lessons before doing my first novice, thinking my instructor was going to be wowed with how much I knew....and I was instead wowed at how different even eventing dressage was from the schooling on the flat I had done. And even having hunted, I did not, starting out, have the xc skills I needed. I had to learn to sit up and contain a stride, stuff that everyone needs.

                                Doing lessons once or twice a month as I could afford to, I moved that first horse to training after a year , and then to prelim the next, always placed well in novice, but training and prelim are different animals.
                                My next horse, I took 3 jump lessons on him before I started showing him novice, just to be sure of what I had, and moved him right up to training after 3 horse trials,and he placed at training, too. Just a better mover.

                                I'm not disputing the story of someone who rode at Rolex solely on reading books, but I think it's probably a "mis-report" of the facts by some publication . (remember at the Olympics in either 1996 or 2000 when the commentator was told that some horse David O'Conner was showing (was it Giltedge? )was a QH?)
                                Perhaps the person STARTED out eventing with her dad helping and reading books, or perhaps this person already had evented, had had training and experience with other horses. I wonder: was this was a fairy tale story of a first horse, with someone with no prior eventing experience going to Rolex enhanced by an uninformed reporter?
                                Years ago, I was the first woman trainer/rider to win a particular reined cowhorse futurity, and some woman came up to me a couple months later and said "I think it's great that you're an amateur and you beat all the pros. Good going!" I was not an amatuer, but someone had reported it because they had not seen me at a futurity before that one.
                                I'd love to hear more.
                                What would you try if you knew you would not fail?


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Mach Two View Post
                                  I'm not disputing the story of someone who rode at Rolex solely on reading books, but I think it's probably a "mis-report" of the facts by some publication.
                                  Or they're mis-remembering the movie Sylvester as a documentary.


                                  • #18
                                    There are 3 types of riders:

                                    1. those that are consciously competent (they know what they know)

                                    2. those that are consciously incompetent (they know what they don't know)

                                    3. those that are unconsciously incompetent (they don't know that they are A.F.U.)

                                    As long as you fall into one of the first 2 groups I think you can go it alone until you realize you need help. Problem is, if you're in group 3 you probably don't know it.

                                    Then you end up the topic of discussion of this BB, and we all know where that goes . . .
                                    Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

                                    The Grove at Five Points


                                    • #19
                                      Perfect ACM!
                                      What would you try if you knew you would not fail?


                                      • #20
                                        When my daughter started eventing, two years ago, she came from a jumper background. She was comfortable jumping 3'9 to 4' at that time. It wasn't always pretty, but she was pretty effective as a wall of blue ribbons pointed out. However, when she started she took her 3'6" horse and started at Training level. Well, after being almost laughed out of the dressage arena, she really didn't know much, and wouldn't listen, she managed to go out and do fine both x/c and stadium. Now realizing it was a schooling horse trial, so didn't count nearly as much as a "recognized" event, she did great, and ended up in 3rd place. She also won the Gambler's choice, and as a side note, that is when we all decided eventers were the COOLEST people in the world, cause they came up in numbers to say how amazing it was to watch her and the horse jump.

                                        She jumped right in, lol, and went to Champagne Run 3 weeks later. She did okay. Finished I think 8th, or something like that.

                                        All we heard for the longest time was, "I can't believe you are starting at training" But the fact is this:

                                        IF you have jumped 3'6" in jumpers, you are going to have some rather difficult questions. Some technical questions. NO, they fall down, but if you have a rider like her, and she goes in it to win, that falling down just doesn't cut it. So we have our skinnies, and our irregular distances, we have our oxers off a turn, and our combinations. IS it less dangerous, of course, but bad things happen even in Stadium.

                                        Where we found out that she was the worst lacking was in the dressage ring. We are a small facility, and she hasn't had the option of going for lessons each week with someone, nor is there much of anyone nearby anyway. BUT she has done a few lessons with Huber, and Black, and She Leslie, and that helps. So her dressage has come a long way.

                                        SO I guess my answer is this, would it be more helpful to have a coach OF COURSE it is.
                                        WHEN DO YOU HAVE TO HAVE ONE? I think when you start questioning if you need one. And some other indicators? If you school, and you start having refusals, or getting bad spots more often then good, or even one really bad, maybe then it's time to start looking. It might be the level that you choose, or maybe the course. I know we can safely navigate most of the prelim courses in our area, but PineTop was another story. There I wish we had had a coach.

                                        Hope it helps.
                                        May the sun shine on you daily, and your worries be gone with the wind.