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How long from newbie rider to BN/N eventing? Also, where to train in Indy, IN?

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  • How long from newbie rider to BN/N eventing? Also, where to train in Indy, IN?

    I've never owned a horse and never taken lessons. I will be starting next Saturday at a local barn, learning the basics. My pipe dream is to eventually do low-level eventing (I don't even care if it's a rated/sanctioned show) locally, just for fun. With my current schedule and monetary constraints, I'll be limited to weekly lessons for a while.

    So how long could I expect to be taking lessons before this is a possibility? Also, I would love to know what's a good place to go for more advanced training once I'm closer to being ready for competition. (I'm in the Indianapolis area.)

    Thanks!
    Life-long horse lover, dreaming of the day when I have one of my very own.

  • #2
    Where are you starting? I'm curious because I used to live in Indianapolis. I didn't event at the time, so I don't know of an eventing barn to recommend--but if you want to event, at some point you should move to an eventing barn. They'll have appropriate school horses, and they'll teach you how to be safe out on cross country, which is something most hunter barns don't know how to do.

    I'd guess it will be a few years, at minimum, of weekly lessons before you're ready to take on any sort of event, even an intro level one. It's hard to be precise without knowing anything about you--your age, general athleticism, willingness to work, etc.

    Comment


    • #3
      It depends on a lot of things. The quality of the instruction, the quality of the school horses, how fast you learn things, and also the horse who choose to lease/whatever to take you to your first show.

      I started riding at 8, on a combination of steady old schoolies and my grandparents super green mare who bucked me off several times. Shortly after, the instructor at my barn changed and the new one happened to be a very knowledgeable event coach. She got me a lease on one of the nicer schoolies there that was also a great packer and had dabbled in everything over his lifetime including eventing. I went to my first show after about 6 months, a hunter show, and my first event about a year after, at BN. He was a really solid citizen, but I think because I was young I picked things up pretty quick, as I think that was a pretty fast timeline from new rider to first event. I would say more like 2-4 years is probably more realistic to event. Maybe 1-2 years to start going to CTs and little hunter schooling shows.

      I would imagine, if you could get a lease or buy an older packer, just something that had solidly gone around Novice for a few years, that would be your biggest asset. Not to mention a really good event coach. I personally dont think its worth starting out at some schoolie barn for very beginners, the coaching tends to be pretty bad, you could have to spend more time undoing bad habits than than you had learning them. Just find a good event coach who specializes in the lower levels, and they should have no problem teaching you from the ground up in good slow time. Also they probably have schoolies that you could show eventually.

      Comment


      • #4
        If you switch to more frequent riding, I'd say maybe 2-3 years to BN. If you stick with once a week, I'd say 2-3 years until local intro/starter/tadpole level.

        By summer 2010 (9 months) you might be ready to try an intro level (walk-trot) dressage test at a schooling show. Some hunter schools shows have adult W-T-ground poles, and adult W-T-C and those are great places to get your basics down in a show environment.

        Comment


        • #5
          As others have said, it depends quite a bit.

          But here's one way to think about it: Most folks agree that one should not be eventing at BN until one is solidly w/t/c with and without stirrups (so that you'll be able to handle a stirrup loss on course without ending up on the ground) and able to jump comfortably without endangering yourself or your horse. You need to be able to hold yourself in jumping position at the canter for at least three to four minutes at a time, preferably more. IMO these are minimum requirements and a smart student would exceed them before attempting an outing at BN. Many trainers also feel that to be jumping a BN course, you should actually be schooling Novice courses at home.

          Most of this has to be accomplished on the horse--you can't build the muscles necessary to ride without stirrups or hold a jumping position without being on a horse. But general fitness will help a LOT toward those goals--when you're trying to get 3 or 4 under-used muscle groups to behave themselves on a moving horse, it's so much the better if your other muscle groups are fit enough that you can ignore them. So if you're really serious about this and are not already working out at least three times a week, that's something to consider. It doesn't need to be crazy psycho working out, but some walking/jogging/cardio + once-a-week weight training REALLY help a once-a-week rider.

          How fast you'll achieve these goals depends hugely on the factors mentioned by other posters. Age, athleticism, natural ability, willingness to work, access to good trainers and school horses, etc. will all influence the progression. But let's assume a really ideal situation: that you're young, athletic, prove to be a natural in the saddle, show up to your weekly lesson ready to work very hard, have a top-notch trainer, and a schoolmaster been-there done-that horse who could tote you around a BN course in its sleep. I'd say even then, you're looking at 12 to 18 months of sustained work. And the rest of us mere mortals who don't have that perfect situation would take 2 to 3 years. I know some people who were weekly riders for 4, 5, 6, even 10 before all the factors aligned in their favor so that they could event at BN or Novice.

          That said, you don't necessarily have to wait until you've mastered all of those things to taste the thrill of eventing. Many areas have unrecognized events that offer even lower levels than Beginner Novice. In some areas, it gets down to levels where you only need to be able to walk and trot your horse (and not necessarily in jumping position) and to maintain jumping position long enough for your horse to step over a 6-inch log. That may sound like nothing to someone who's never ridden seriously, but once you've taken a few lessons, you will appreciate those feats as enormous accomplishments. And most people would be ready for that after oh, about 8 to 12 months of riding. As someone else already said, dressage and jumper schooling shows would be a good place to cut your teeth before trying the intro event.

          You can also start experiencing "the thrill of the sport" by volunteering at local events. Other than riding and doing clinics, the best way to learn this sport is to watch it being done. You'll learn volumes from things like jump judging, where you'll watch dozens of riders take the same XC fence, or being the dressage scribe, meaning you record every comment that the judge makes on every rider's dressage test. You will also make lots of great friends and show your face on the circuit, which can be indispensable in hooking up with the right horse down the line.

          ETA: Eventing is an addiction, and chances are that you'll slide further and further toward being a non-weekly rider. When I started eventing, I was literally scraping together my last dimes for lessons. Funny how these days, when my income is actually SMALLER than it was back then, I now own a horse and spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on this sport every month. But go ahead and start small, and see where you're going to be happiest both financially and spiritually. There is nothing wrong with being a once-a-weeker as long as you keep it in perspective. Most people who are eventing at BN ride at least 3x weekly (not necessarily 3 lessons a week), but most of them didn't start that way.
          Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

          Comment


          • #6
            Hm, it took me around 4-5 years to go from never having ridden to my first starter trial. However, I started riding when I was 8 and soon started working at the barn to be able to ride on non lesson days (so my parents paid for a weekly group lesson and I worked to take 2-3 'fun rides' each week). Also, I took lessons at a H/J barn for the first 3 years and did H/J shows while I rode there. Then I moved to a barn where the trainer was a retired eventer (I think she had done Intermediate) and learned dressage there and she took us to cross country schoolings and had a couple xc jumps in the hay field. I rode there for several (maybe... 5-6) months before I did my first pre novice starter trial on the OTTB I was leasing (and if I recall correctly we were eliminated at the second xc jump)... we (the horse, who I later owned, and I) did 2-3 years of pre novice starter trials before I felt we were ready to move up to novice.

            Anyway, that's how it happened for me. I never did an intro starter trial and I would imagine you could do one of them much (maybe a year?) sooner than a pre novice. It all really depends on how you ride and who you ride with (ie, do they event, will they take you xc schooling, can you ride a lesson horse at a starter trial) if you want to start doing it as soon as possible, but my advice would be don't rush yourself because you feel like you should be doing a certain level in a certain number of years... riding is all about the learning process and it should be able having fun, especially if you are a lower level rider with no professional/UL ambitions. Enjoy your lessons and see where they take you... you might discover you adore dressage or think H/J looks like a blast or want to go out foxhunting or trail ride for pleasure...
            'Not all those who wander are lost.'

            Comment


            • #7
              It depends on where you are in Indy--I (Come Again Farm) am on the northside in Sheridan and have an eventing barn and host a bunch of shows and two schooling HT (GAG-Training).

              Kate Gress--Penny Oaks Stables in Noblesville also focuses on eventing.

              Eron Owens teaches out of IRUS Stables in Lebanon.

              On the south side you have Stepping Stone Stables (Tricia Simpson), Dan Hobyn Stables (not sure who's doing the teachign), Rachel Skirven does some lessons.

              I'm sure there are others, but that's off the top of my head.

              Re: how long it takes, if you're starting from scratch you will need a good while to focus on getting your basics good and strong, and then if you have a willing horse and a focused attitude you can move on more quickly. This varies greatly from person to person depending on athletic ability, spare time, and commitment.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by LAZ View Post
                It depends on where you are in Indy--I (Come Again Farm) am on the northside in Sheridan and have an eventing barn and host a bunch of shows and two schooling HT (GAG-Training).

                Kate Gress--Penny Oaks Stables in Noblesville also focuses on eventing.

                Eron Owens teaches out of IRUS Stables in Lebanon.

                On the south side you have Stepping Stone Stables (Tricia Simpson), Dan Hobyn Stables (not sure who's doing the teachign), Rachel Skirven does some lessons.

                I'm sure there are others, but that's off the top of my head.

                Re: how long it takes, if you're starting from scratch you will need a good while to focus on getting your basics good and strong, and then if you have a willing horse and a focused attitude you can move on more quickly. This varies greatly from person to person depending on athletic ability, spare time, and commitment.
                Thank you SO MUCH for the names! I'm on the Northwest side of town, so I"ll look into these places and see what's available.
                Life-long horse lover, dreaming of the day when I have one of my very own.

                Comment


                • #9
                  "How long" really depends on how quickly you learn. I went out hunting (not 1st flight) after only having been riding a few months; probably not optimal, but as far as the basics went I was a quick study. Thirty years later, I haven't progressed much, but that's another story!

                  If you are ambitious and really want to progress, see if you can find a way to become indispensable around the barn--you will learn so much more than what you can in the saddle, and may be able to barter your time for extra lessons or riding. And as far as eventing goes, don't forget to volunteer--there are lots of opportunities there to learn and network as well. There is an organization called IndyEventers down there that does a lot of local stuff.

                  And if I lived near there, I would ride with LAZ in a minute.
                  Click here before you buy.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    "How long" really depends on how quick of a learner you are, and whether there is any natural talent. I have almost none of the latter, but plenty of the former, and I was out foxhunting only a few months after I started learning to ride.

                    Don't forget the opportunities out of the saddle--volunteering (check out IndyEventers, a local organization near there) and making yourself useful around the barn. You'll learn, you'll network, and you may even find some extra riding time by helping out and being indispensable.

                    As to "where", I'd go ride with LAZ in a NY minute if I lived in/near Indy.
                    Click here before you buy.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                      As to "where", I'd go ride with LAZ in a NY minute if I lived in/near Indy.
                      Yep, me too.
                      SportHorseRiders.com
                      Taco Blog
                      *T3DE 2010 Pact*

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Volunteering at Horse Trials will help you learn the rules and it will make it 10X easier (and safer) to ride in one!! It will help you develop an eye and see why/what you are learning and need to learn.

                        You want to be a good rider - then go see/study nothing but the best. Make that the mental picture you carry and it will be easier for you to learn to use your body right. Find someone who can tell you all the reasons and the theory and paint good word pictures that capture and translate what feel is.

                        I second the first vote
                        Last edited by pony grandma; Nov. 3, 2009, 12:46 PM. Reason: whoops I guess that I third it!
                        Don't let anyone tell you that your ideas or dreams are foolish. There is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by jn4jenny View Post

                          But go ahead and start small, and see where you're going to be happiest both financially and spiritually.
                          It's amazing to me that you used this word. I really do feel as though something huge has been missing my whole life and that horses are going to help fill that hole in my heart. I have loved horses since I knew what they were (I joke that I got it in the womb from my mother) and have never had the chance to do anything like this. I'm turning thirty next year, and I figure it's been long enough to be unfulfilled, dammit!

                          I'm in a pretty crappy place, personally, right now, and thankfully my husband understands that this isn't something I want to do ... it's what I need to do. I've been a SAHM for almost two years now, and if I have to get a job to feed this horsey urge, I will!
                          Life-long horse lover, dreaming of the day when I have one of my very own.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by deltawave View Post

                            As to "where", I'd go ride with LAZ in a NY minute if I lived in/near Indy.
                            I am one of the fortunate ones that does ride with LAZ, and I have for a long time. She has been instrumental in giving me the skills to be confident and capable - going from a green beginning adult to having my own farm and helping me bring along a couple of OTTB's, and I just purchased another one:-). She has an amazing talent to work with all kinds of personalities - both rider and horse. And she has an amazing eye and she does a fabulous job of matching up horse and rider, as well as knowing when to push you and when to back off. She's great and I cannot say enough good things.

                            And her farm is awesome, and the shows are fun and relaxed!

                            SK - I strongly recommend contacting her - but she doesn't have lesson horses, so she would be great once you have your own mount! Best of luck to you. I understand the "something missing" - I cannot imagine life without my ponies.

                            ETA the Indy Eventers url - http://indyeventers.org/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by SarahKing View Post
                              Thank you SO MUCH for the names! I'm on the Northwest side of town, so I"ll look into these places and see what's available.
                              If I were you I would take 465 South and exit 67 to 37 and go to Ellettsville and ride with Nad Noon at Up N Over Stables. If you are NW of Indy it might only take 45 minutes to get to Ellettsville where it can possibly take you that long with traffic to get to the Noblesville area.

                              Nad has one of the BEST facilities and is VERY kind. He also has a nice string of school horses and prospects for sale that you can ride. I HIGHLY recommend him.
                              Most friendships in the horse world are just an opinion away from doom.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                For me, I started taking lessons 1 time a week for about 1 1/2 years, and learned pretty much how to stay on in all gaits and a little bit of two point. I then switched to my current instructor and started taking 2x a week lessons for 6 months and got my first horse in May. All that summer, I took anywhere from 2-3 lessons a weeks and rode 6 days a week. By the end of the summer, I was confident and secure over 2'3" fences and could ride a basic jumper course and had schooled some BN XC, so I went and did a little starter horse trial that was just poles on the ground that October. Over the winter, we focused on show jumping/dressage, really straightened out my dressage and got us comfortable over 2'9" fences at home, and after a XC schooling in the early spring, I did my first BN event in Texas and came in 10th out of 11, which was mostly because nerves and a sudden thunderstorm during dressage killed our score. At my next event, I was unfortunately eliminated for jumping a N instead of BN jump, and at the next, we took 6th. We got 5th place at our next event, and 3rd at our final before nationals! The current plan is to do one more BN next year, then try a move-up to N. Slow but steady improvement

                                So, it took me about 3 1/2 years to go from a know-nothing to being fairly successful at BN. This is probably not the norm, though; it definitely helped that I had so, so, so many lessons that one summer before our first eventing season and that my boy, Val, is incredibly brave and safe cross-country. It's been an incredible couple of years, I'll tell ya!
                                Blue-eyed Eventers

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Just adding in that Nad is great as well as Rachel Skirven.

                                  Nadeem Noon at Up 'N Over Stables- http://www.upnoverstables.com/

                                  Rachel Skirven- (317)-862-9140 or rskirv@aol.com
                                  Originally posted by RugBug
                                  Don't throw away opportunities because they aren't coming in exactly the form you want them to.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    From where I am, Up N Over is more like an hour and a half. IRUS in Lebanon is the closest. Just waiting to hear back from them, and still considering my options.

                                    Thanks!
                                    Life-long horse lover, dreaming of the day when I have one of my very own.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by SarahKing View Post
                                      From where I am, Up N Over is more like an hour and a half. IRUS in Lebanon is the closest. Just waiting to hear back from them, and still considering my options.

                                      Thanks!
                                      Just a hint if you're new to the horse world: I hope you CALLED and did not EMAIL them. Despite how COTH Forums make it appear, trainers are still busy people who spend most (read: almost all) of their time away from the computer. Even the trainers who do check/answer their email usually have only a few minutes to do so and will prioritize emails from their existing clients. So phone is the way to go. In-person visits are even better, but the phone is a good compromise.
                                      Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I just wanted to check back in with a word of encouragement. As you can tell from the posts, we all think this is something you can reasonably do. I was home with young children too--they're 11 and 14 now, so the challenges are different--and I know it can be overwhelming, and also hard to believe you have the right to make time for yourself, particularly to pursue something brand new and potentially difficult.

                                        It's all right. Just say to yourself, "I want to learn to ride. I want to event." You don't need to qualify that with anything--it's just there, and it's fine.

                                        Volunteering at horse trials next year is a great idea--you'll learn a ton, and begin to be part of the eventing community. Another thing I thought of--get a book from the library and learn to do some of the Pilates mat exercises. They're not hard, and they really help with riding. A bit of cardio is good as well, but if you can only do one I'd pick Pilates. The nice part about the mat exercises is that you really don't need a class, you can do them at home with very minimial equipment and a couple of children crawling around you.

                                        Good luck!

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