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How far can I go in showjumping?

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  • How far can I go in showjumping?

    Hi everyone,

    Been riding for three years now. I split my riding lessons between dressage and jumping. I believe the highest I've jumped is around 3 feet. Sadly I've been committed to my career for the past several years so I definitely do not ride as often as I should.

    I love jumping and I really want to get into higher levels of showjumping but I'm unfamiliar with the details of the sport and how one moves from amateur to pro. I use Longines as the benchmark for the highest level of competition, obviously the Olypmics is up there but I don't want to go that far.

    Assuming I have the time and money and some sort of talent and I of course put in much more practice, how far could I conceivably go over the course of a lifetime in terms of level of competition?

    ***I'm a 29 year old male, been in sports my whole life and very physically fit and active.

    ***Not sure if this was the exact subforum for a showjumping question, if it's wrong please move to correct forum!

  • #2
    Do you have a lot of money?
    and/or
    Are you charming enough to get and maintain owners/syndicates to buy you a top level horse?

    If the answer to either of those questions is yes, there is a third...

    Will you marry me?

    Comment


    • #3
      Short answer: as far as you want to go, assuming you have the time, money, and ambition to do so. You do not "age out" of horse sport as you could/would for going pro/competing in the highest levels in almost any other sport.


      Long answer:
      The three limiting factors to your success are going to be time, money, and ambition. I'd dare say that ambition is the biggest limiting factor of the three; with the right amount of ambition, one will tend to find the time and money to make their goals happen. Without ambition, it is much easier to let things slide by the wayside.

      Money: unfortunately for us equestrians, our sport is extremely expensive. Unless you happen to own land, you have to board your horse somewhere and regardless, you have to pay for coaching. I can only give examples of my own experiences. Of course you have to pay for board, lessons, farrier, vet, incidentals etc, I just did the math and my basic costs run about $20k/year, for reference I board at a nice facility with an accredited coach, and only lesson 2x/week. Shows vary wildly, but even a local multi-day show here runs $750-$1500. To hit up the bigger circuits are in the solid 4-figures to 5 figures per show.

      Pros typically don't show their own horses, they campaign horses for owners; the issue here is that many pros were practically born in the saddle and had successful junior careers. You have a bit of a disadvantage here that you'd have to prove yourself by yourself or find someone willing to take a chance on you, but you may have to foot the bill a lot more.

      Time: I'm an adult amateur that competes only in the local circuit, I only attend a handful of shows per year. I only have one horse, and ride 5 days/week, I figure that on average I dedicate about 25 hours per week to my riding habit, between travel, prep, riding, caring, etc. I have to use a lot of vacation time to go to shows, which means less time with my SO, and significantly less money for vacations.
      It can get tiresome, and I've burned out a couple of times already in my 25 years of being in the sport and had to take some time away from being in a competitive program.
      When in a competitive program while working full time and trying to keep up with running a house, there isn't a whole lot of time for other things.


      Can it be done? Absolutely. You'll have to be willing to sacrifice a lot to get there, but it is most certainly doable.


      Oh, I forgot one more thing: Injuries
      As you age, you don't "bounce" as well; you can get injured more easily and more seriously, recovery can take a long time. I had a bad fall (freak accident, not a naughty move on the horse's part at all) a few months ago and ruined my dominant shoulder. My shoulder will never be the same. I was off work completely for 2.5 months, and am still on part time days. I have been sidelined, and am currently not riding. It's killing me to be out of the saddle so I may try to get back on to hack soon, but I won't be back to any semblance of where I was for many many more months.
      Thank God I have good insurance which allowed me to take the time I needed to recover before having to return to work.
      Moral of the story: Injuries can and do happen, have good insurance and a contingency plan.

      Comment


      • #4
        There's a difference between "I can enter and jump safely around a grand prix jumping course" and "turning pro." There are many people who are both but you can easily be in one category but not the other. Many pros never jump at the Grand Prix level; some Grand Prix jumper riders do not act as professionals, in that they do not take students or train horses for others.

        Realistically, to get enough hours in the saddle to get to either of the professional ranks or to the GP show jumping ranks is probably about 10 years minimum of very dedicated, concentrated riding past the 3' jumping mark. Everything that Allusion and endlessclimb wrote above applies, but you need a lot of raw time in the saddle in addition to money and/or sponsorship.

        Find yourself a really excellent coach - someone who has been successful bringing riders like you along, however you define yourself - and arrange as much saddle time as you can (ideally on multiple horses). Money buys saddle time, great coaching, show experiences, and horses that can teach you your job.

        That said, if you have a career, there is a lot of satisfaction available below that very top level. You might find it just as challenging and rewarding to shoot for the high A/O jumpers, for example, and a bit more affordable in time and money. Decide what it is that is important to you in your goal. You can always raise your sights higher. As has been mentioned, there's no time limit.

        Good luck and enjoy your journey.
        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

        Comment


        • #5
          If you have -
          1) a strong drive to attain the "Longines" level and a strong work ethic that supports that drive
          and
          2) virtually unlimited money and time
          - choose your mentors carefully and get going. You can do that as an amateur.

          If you need to maintain your current career or remain in a geographic location which is not thick with international level show jumpers, you might consider adjusting your goal. Or at least break it down into smaller chunks. Like, have you shown over fences or just jumped in lessons? If you have not shown yet, that would be a good first goal.

          Comment


          • #6
            2 great COTH members who are doing pretty much as you desire come to mind.
            You might try sending PM to:
            supershorty628
            PNWjumper
            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

            Comment


            • #7
              Are you able to retire from your career and devote yourself to riding? I would imagine it would be hard to reach the Grand Prix level of riding unless you could devote hours every day to riding, and travel to the big shows that would require you to be out of town for many weeks a year. Is this a possibility for you?

              On the other hand, I think if you rode at least 5+ hours a week, with a good trainer and the right horses, within a few years you could become very competent showing at the 3' or 3'6" level and be competitive at A and B shows, which would be very rewarding.

              What I observed with my daughter and her barn-mates is that the trick is not how high you "have jumped" now and again... there is a huge gulf between jumping an isolated 3' fence and putting together a whole course of jumps that are 3' or higher. By the time they reached 18, they were just barely beginning to master the skills that would make this possible despite riding 3-4x per week for 5+ years. Of course, some of this was due to the horses available to them, since getting an easy 3' or 3'6" horse would likely have cost more than most parents are willing to invest...
              Last edited by HLMom; Jun. 3, 2019, 06:07 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                The cost of horses definitely doubles at about the three foot mark. The cost of horses is also higher for a fully schooled amateur friendly horse at these levels.

                The skills you need to jump include a good seat and fearlessness. But also the ability to see distances and rate a horse between fences on a course.

                Have you jumped a course yet? Can you shorten and lengthen strides?have you been to a show at any level yet? Really we can't evaluate you without seeing you ride.

                Around here if you want a solid horse for 3 feet to 3 feet six you are looking at about $50,000 I think. You will need to have him in a training program, ride daily yourself, and take lessons a couple times a week. With only 3 years riding there is a lot of basic horsemanship stuff you will still.not know and you will need support.

                You will probably need a 2 nd horse or a lease horse from time to time.

                A Longines type horse is at least in the multiple $ 100 thousands range and likely not beginner friendly.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                  The cost of horses definitely doubles at about the three foot mark. The cost of horses is also higher for a fully schooled amateur friendly horse at these levels.

                  The skills you need to jump include a good seat and fearlessness. But also the ability to see distances and rate a horse between fences on a course.

                  Have you jumped a course yet? Can you shorten and lengthen strides?have you been to a show at any level yet? Really we can't evaluate you without seeing you ride.

                  Around here if you want a solid horse for 3 feet to 3 feet six you are looking at about $50,000 I think. You will need to have him in a training program, ride daily yourself, and take lessons a couple times a week. With only 3 years riding there is a lot of basic horsemanship stuff you will still.not know and you will need support.

                  You will probably need a 2 nd horse or a lease horse from time to time.

                  A Longines type horse is at least in the multiple $ 100 thousands range and likely not beginner friendly.
                  This is largely accurate, but discouraging as hell, so I'm going to add that it is absolutely possible to get to the 3'-3'6 levels for much less than this, but it takes a lot of time and work and patience (and luck). I have a $1 OTTB I am just starting to compete at 3'6 locally. It's taken me three years to get him to this point, although I wasted a lot of time trying to make him into an event horse the first two years. It's probably cost me between $8k and $10k to get him to this point, but he also lives at home and I DIY everything as much as possible. He will not be a Longines horse even if I somehow came into that kind of money, but he is talented and brave enough to do the High Adults reasonably successfully and maybe eventually some little Mini Prixs if he stays sound enough long enough.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As others mentioned, yes, it's doable providing you have the horse, the ability, the time and the funds to get you around big courses. You do not necessarily need to turn pro to compete in Grand Prix. A former barnmate was jumping around 2'6 courses on a leased horse at our barn, she got a job transfer where she's landed in a good horse area and now she's sending us photos of her jumping around 1.30m courses - it's been about 2 years.

                    the main thing is finding a trainer and horse that can help you reach your goal. the rest is up to you

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I played at the upper levels of eventing 15 years ago. Did the FEI 2-star and national advanced (sort of like GP jumping equivalent). Funded it all on my own and sacrificed financial security, career development, stable relationships, and so much more. I was 37 when I was doing that. At one point I finished 12th in the American championships and was even ranked #10 in the US in the evening points for 40 and over riders.

                      I made my own horses (kept costs down) because I started riding when I was 3 and even did the local GP jumpers in the 1980s.

                      You can go as far as you want. The question is, what price do you want to pay?

                      This is a deal with the devil. And so long as you accept what can happen without feeling guilty, no reason why not try!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm 47 but just now testing the show jumping boundaries. I pay for it myself, I imported the world's least expensive superstar and we're playing at the 1.30 level so far.

                        I personally don't care about looking around and seeing what:

                        1) People are paying to play
                        2) Who is riding with what trainer
                        3) Hearing rumors about how much the horses in my classes cost

                        I am fortunate that I came to this point after a LONG time playing in other disciplines, horse jobs, life experience, finding my way in my own skin and so on.

                        I am better about 'staying in my lane' and enjoying the ride. None of this is owed to me and I thank the whole world daily for every step on this trail. Even the ones that look like setbacks. I know they're not and that patience and hard work will get me wherever I am supposed to get. If you can find a way to do this too, you'll be better off than some.

                        Em
                        "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Cost is the main obstacle for most riders, myself included. You can be a hard worker and have all the motivation but if you can’t afford to lease or purchase a horse and a weekend at a rated show costs half a month’s salary (or more)... you’re rather stuck.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            OP tells us he is 29 and started riding 3 years ago. It's not unheard of for young men with the body and mind for extreme sports to shoot up the ranks of show jumpers.

                            However, what OP does not have is deep horse experience.

                            A lifelong rider who was an accomplished junior might, at the age of 29, be quite well placed to start bringing along their own green OTTB with a bit of trainer support.

                            But OP does not have this prior horse experience, so if he wants to fast track his show jumping I think he is going to need ready made rides, whether he buys them or leases them or finds a niche riding ammie sales horses.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Some people are just annoyingly gifted athletes. I don't know the OP so can't comment on his athletic prowess but I can comment on a trainer friend of mine's husband. He didn't know what a horse was until he met and married her. She got him a "husband horse" within a year or 2 he had a string of polo ponies. He started riding and playing polo around age 31. Some years later they decided to do the Marshall Sterling Adult. He played polo, if he jumped anything it'd be the odd log on a trail. Now he's schooling over fences and pretty much nailing every one. Then there's the others of us at the barn who during a lesson could be hit or miss.

                              As Rayers said above, it's about how much you're willing to sacrifice and put into it. And I've had the pleasure of seeing videos of Xctygirl's imported horses.. another testament that one doesn't need to fall into the trap of you can't do this unless you have gobs of $$ for a hunter or jumper. I've warned Xctygirl not to take too many clinics with BNT as they might try to wriggle her horse(s) away from her.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Jock Paget didn't start riding until he was 18, then in two years he went from never jumping a fence to jumping around Advanced eventing. Later winning Burghley. It is possible. Is it likely for OP? Who knows -- probably not. But it is certainly possible.

                                If that's your dream, OP, start working towards it.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Far as OPs question about how to move from Amateur to Pro? It doesn’t work that way, there are no divisions specifically restricted to Pros only or height ranges that make a rider a Pro. If you get paid to ride or teach, you are a Pro, up downers over poles to GP. You see mainly Pros once you get up around the 4’9” on up Jumping classes simply because it takes a full time rider to reach that level of accomplishment and skill. Most full time riders support themselves with Pro activities.
                                  When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                  The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by gottagrey View Post
                                    I've warned Xctygirl not to take too many clinics with BNT as they might try to wriggle her horse(s) away from her.
                                    Let's just say that I am gonna doubt that Richard Spooner forgets Cudo very fast.

                                    https://www.flickr.com/photos/xctryg...57708922458652

                                    Em
                                    "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Xctrygirl View Post

                                      Let's just say that I am gonna doubt that Richard Spooner forgets Cudo very fast.

                                      https://www.flickr.com/photos/xctryg...57708922458652

                                      Em
                                      He don’t need no stinking bounce....
                                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by findeight View Post

                                        He don’t need no stinking bounce....
                                        Funniest part.....it was his 6th (!) time through.

                                        Video shows just how easy it was for him.

                                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZew6YQ503U

                                        (Sorry to side track the OP's thread)

                                        Em

                                        "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                                        Comment

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