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Your Horse Dreams: Then vs Now

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  • Your Horse Dreams: Then vs Now

    In light of one of the current threads, I thought it might be neat to discuss how much our dreams have changed as we've grown up and (hopefully) become wiser...

    I'm currently 23. Got the horse bug when I was 4 or 5, had to wait until I was 8 to take lessons in my city (though I worked as a barn rat/stall mucker/trail helper at a place for a summer before starting lessons - learned how to stay on at this place). Rode at the lesson barn until 2004, when I more or less "graduated" to my current coach. Was a working student over the summers for him for 3-4 years.

    When I was younger, I wanted to go to the Olympics. Period. Did want my own barn, didn't want to be a trainer... I wanted to go to the Olympics.

    As I got a bit older and realized that may not happen, I wanted to compete for the EC Medal (Canada's Maclay, more or less). This didn't happen either though, because I was horseless. Like so many others, I'm sure, I was the person at the barn who worked lots, helped lots, rode lots of youngsters... but didn't necessarily get to show.

    At the time, I didn't really clue in. I thought I should be showing with the other girls my coach taught, not running back and forth from the ring to the barn when they forgot something. I had the good sense to never voice the frustration that sometimes came when I was handed three horses to hold while they walked the coures and watched the first few rounds, but I did eventually have a conversation with my coach. I said that I wanted to ride more, to ride more than babies. I wanted to jump higher, to show. He understood where I was coming from, and said he would try to make the time for that as well, but he also told me that the reason I was riding the babies all the time was because I was good enough to do so. He thought I was talented, he trusted me, and he knew he could count on me to help with their training.

    That didn't really sink in right away, because all my 15/16yo brain was thinking was that I wanted to show in the Jr/Am, wanted to ride in the EC Medals.

    Then one day, I was sitting on the mounting block watching my coach and his son (a year my elder, much more talented in the saddle, had been riding his whole life) ride, being ring crew. His son was riding a young-ish (but broke enough to know better) mare who had recently developped a habit of knocking rails, just being careless and rushing the fence. My coach had me put the fence up a little bit, and instructed his son to just let the mare come at the jump as she wanted to, not to struggle with her.

    He did, and of course the rail went flying, the mare was a little taken aback... and my coach's son immediately started getting cross at the mare. My coach yelled at him to stop, saying that wasn't the point of the exercise (I was also cursing out his son in my head for the same reason). My coach asked his son how horses learned.

    "Repetition," I said to myself. My coach's son said nothing, and after a long pause, my coach answered his own question with the word "repetition." I was like a little kid at a spelling bee, who heard a word that he knew he could spell. I wanted to raise my hand and go, "oh, oh, I know!"

    It was around this time that I started to realize that sitting there on that mounting block through so many of my coach's rides, always riding the babies instead of the show horses... it was really furthering me as an equestrian. I may not have the show record as some of my peers (I still don't), but I had learned invaluable lessons with training and horse management.

    My goal then became to have my own horse. I might not go to the Olympics, I might age out before I could ever get to an EC Medal... but I would get my own horse, I would train them, and I would finally get to enjoy the fruits of my labour.

    I have my own horse now, again thanks to my coach. She's three, and we're just starting our journey to the show ring. Now, my goals are to enjoy my mare. To train her well. To show her, maybe even try some of the higher jumper classes, EC Medal distinction or not. To travel to Quebec and Ontario for a couple shows a year. Maybe even head to Florida for a few months some winter.

    I want my own little barn in my backyard, just for myself. I want a small breeding operation.

    I want a career that is flexible and lucrative enough to support all of this. Outside of the horse world.

    Long story short (long), I doubt I'll ever be an Olympic rider, but I'll be damn happy with my horses.

  • #2
    nice post Overthemoon! I think that so many people get wrapped up in the end goal, the forget about the journey.

    I'm currently living my dream . I didn't ride at all as a kid (except for a few trail rides, and three english lessons) but was always horse crazy and the ultimate goal was to own one. Fast forward to my mid 20's, when I finally started taking some legitimate lessons on a regular basis. After 4 years of that, I was in a place where I could financially make the plunge to buy my own, did it, and haven't looked back. I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I'm pulling my horse out of her stall and think "she is really ALL mine!". It still blows my mind at times, lol.


    • #3
      My goals have definitely changed. When I was younger, I had it so drilled into my head by my parents that horses do not equal a stable career and that I should be focusing elsewhere. Because of that attitude I didn't put riding first, I put school first. I stopped riding for several years while I went to school (I rode for school for the first semester and then couldn't handle the extracurriculars involved with riding and Greek life and school) and didn't seriously start back up until about 4 years ago (I am now 26). Did I ever imagine my life being dedicated to horses? No.... I Have to be honest I saw myself getting married, riding and showing locally, having kids, etc.. working in an office, getting promoted. Now? I have the notion emblazoned in my head that I want to be a professional event rider and trainer. Now this notion didn't just come out of nowhere - ever since I saw my first Rolex in person when I was about 13 I have wanted to event. I didn't pursue it seriously in high school because I didn't have the horse, and every trainer I've had since then has been a h/j trainer. But now I can think of nothing else. I obsess over making the right decision - right now I am trying to decide when to move East (right now I am in the Midwest) and whether or not to try to work to support myself or move home for a year to save money to be able to do a WS job, whether or not my horse is the right horse for me, etc. It's agonizing really because right now I can't make any big changes (for several reasons) but I want to always be able to look back and say I gave it my all and I don't regret anything. Will I ever run round the XC at Rolex? Maybe not, but I want to be able to say I did everything I could to try to get there.

      I could go on for hours but I think you get the jist.
      "Lord if we should fall, my horse and I, please pick my horse up first."



      • #4
        I always wanted to ride professionally and run my own barn. I am a freshman in college and started the year studying equestrian studies at SCAD and immediately realized that it wasn't practical and that I wanted to do something else with my life where I could fund my riding. I have now transferred to Hollins and will be studying child and cognitive psychology with the goal to work with kids who have learning disabilities. I of course want to be able to own my own horse (or lease like I currently do) and continue to show. I have always toyed with the idea of doing horse show photography professionally on the side since I already get payed to do it by people and have had offers for internships. For now though I would be content having a steady job and being able to show my own horse.


        • #5
          I started riding when i was 7. When i was 8, my mother took me to the Garden to watch the Maclay. I stood on the rail, watching the kids post with no stirrups in the flat, I turned to my mother and said, "This is what I want to do!" So, coming from a strictly middle class family with no horse budget, my mother made it happen..i didn't make it to the Maclay finals, but I made Regionals, Medal Finals, Zone II finals in the Jrs. It was great. I then worked for a couple of GP riders...life is good.

          Now, I'm 36, have a family and am happy that i have always had something to ride. I've been in and out of the show ring since my last jr years, but mostly out. I am happy bringing along my green horse and while he may never make it to the show ring, I;m ok with that. The journey is the part that interests me. I'd like to show him one day...only time will tell.


          • #6
            I have loved horses ever since I can remember. I grew up on a 45 acre farm, and my parents got my younger sister and I our first horse for my 9th birthday. Ever since then, I have been hooked. In 8 short years we have owned a number of horses, all ones that were given to us because their owners no longer wanted them. It took a lot of hard work and determination to get where I am now. A year ago I got a 4 year old dark bay Danish Warmblood mare sired by Voltaire. I started her under saddle myself, then started trailering her to my trainer's farm for lessons. We went from walking under saddle in February to cantering courses in November. I am so proud of how far my mare and I have come. We were just getting ready to start showing on the rated circuit when I had an accident (non horse-related) on Thanksgiving day. I tore my ACL, LCL, and meniscus and was told that I was not able to ride for a year from the date of my surgery, which was just yesterday (1/16). That crushed my dreams of showing as a junior, and now I think my goals have changed. My goal has always been to ride, train, and breed professionally. Since I can't ride for a year, I am thinking about breeding my mare in my time off, and we can sort of start over together again, and just show in Adult Am. My focus went from mainly riding and showing to breeding and training.


            • #7
              Ever since my parents gave me riding lessons as my 5 year birthday present, I've been hooked. But I didn't start out in a fancy show barn, more like a backyard farmette, with a very solid grade pony. At that age, I didn't even know riding was a sport featured in the Olympics All I knew was I liked riding, and wanted to keep doing it. Much to my parents dislike, I continued riding until I was about 11, which was when I broke my elbow, from falling off said gentle pony. I needed surgery, due to the fracture being very close to my growth plate. So because of my broken arm, and because my mom now saw the dangers horseback riding comes with, I was forced to quit.

              Fast forward to several years later, I couldn't keep myself away any longer. I started up again, this time on an appendix horse named "Fireball". This horse I believe really brought out my nervous nature, as he was perfectly named for his personality. I continued to ride him until he was sold out, the summer of my 13th year.

              I then looked for another barn, and found one that at the time fit my needs. The trainer found me a horse to buy, my first horse, and I stayed there until I was about 15. Of course, looking back, the horse found for me turned out to be the WORST horse for me, and by this time I was a VERY nervous rider, but I still loved it. I had no real solid goals at this point, I just wanted to ride.

              I then moved to the most influential barn in my riding career, which was a true show barn. I learned so much there, horsemanship skills, riding skills, and general life skills. I went from being afraid to trot my horse over poles, to riding him over courses, with confidence. But as I said before, this horse was never a good match for me, so we finally managed to give him away. After that I ended up leasing, showing more, and became totally engrossed in the show world. At this point my goals had changed dramatically, I not only wanted to ride, but I wanted to show. I wanted to do the childrens, the juniors, ANYTHING!! I was bitten by the show bug, but (theres always a but) I was not from a family with the money to support an A circuit show career. I ended up doing mostly schooling shows, albeit rather competitive ones, and just figured showing at all was better then nothing. I then leased my horse of a lifetime. I loved this horse, still do, and felt I really connected with him. Did a GM clinic with him, and attended a couple shows with him. Until one show I fell off and broke my ankle. Everything came to a grinding halt then. It was my senior year in high school, and it felt like everything was falling apart for me. My lease horse was off to be sold, out from under me no less, and I wasn't allowed to ride for 3 months. I was very depressed, and felt like a failure for aging out without anything to show for it.

              Fast forward to now. My close friend ended up buying my dream pony, so I get to see him and ride him often. I now attend college, and am in my sophomore year. I have a greenie now that Im hoping to just enjoy, no pressure, and possibly show down the road. It took a lot for me to realize that not showing at WEF or HITS is OK. It doesn't make me less of a rider, the sky wont fall, I wont die, life will go on. Maybe when Im older and Im able to support myself, Ill be able to play around in the show ring, but for now, Im just enjoying life.

              I think one of the biggest struggles that every rider goes through (that I'm still going through) is not comparing our experiences, wins, and horses with other who have more resources, and opportunities then us. We all have to learn to just relax and learn to love the here and now. All in all, I still love riding, and wouldn't trade it for anything. :-)


              • #8
                I spent a lot of time as a kid designing horse farms. Barbie held no charm for me until she came with bendable legs so as to "sit" the Bryer's better. I rode when I could - rented horses mostly. I took tap and ballet lessons - it never dawned on me that you could take lessons and learn how to ride. I did get to go to horse camp two summers in a row. The first year I got the steady eddy with a western saddle. The second year, I got ride English and was "given" an Irish Hunter to ride for the week. Instruction: when posting, go up and down. No helmets, no boots - I am sure we were all in tennis shoes. But it was heaven. We cantered, we jumped - and somehow my body knew exactly what to do.

                All I ever wanted was my own horse. A few years a go, I was lucky enough to hook up with a barn that has a wonderful trainer/BO. I started lessons, learned more horse care than I thought I would. My trainer owned my horse. It took me until I was 54, but I finally got him. And, got exactly what I wanted too. I have always loved TB's and lucked in to being able to buy Finnegan. 16.3 bay with one white sock and a long blaze down his head and nose (very kissable)!

                Like somebody else said, after almost two years, I have to sometimes pinch myself to make sure it's real!
                And nothing bad happened!


                • #9
                  I'm 12, and my dream is to go to the USEF Pony Final in Kentucky, but that's not going to happen. My family very supportive yet realistic and not at all horsey. We don't have the money to buy a Pony Finals quality pony and maybe never will, but that's okay. I'm happy with my various schoolies and the "B" shows we attend. I've even attended a few A-rated shows when I was younger!
                  Last edited by Crazy-Pony; Jan. 18, 2012, 05:51 PM.


                  • #10
                    I don't think I ever had Olympic dreams. Maybe that hovered in the back of my mind, but I never really saw it as achievable (or something I really wanted to do). For me, horses is more about the relationship and the process of getting to know a horse and bringing it along. I've always wanted to go out and work in a field I'm truly passionate about instead of chasing the dream. When I first started riding, of course I wanted to be a trainer and have my own barn, but now my perspective has shifted. I love college and love running campaigns and seeing results in my professional life. I'm still doing something that can easily revolve around horses. And to be honest, I take more pleasure in a great ride than a blue ribbon. Those fade. I took my jumper to the beach last weekend, and to be honest, letting him gallop alongside the waves was much more fulfilling than winning our show in December. It made me happier. But then again, that's been a dream of mind for quite some time


                    • #11
                      Oh dear have mine changed. I as well had the Olympic dream at the tender age of 5 till about 13. My parents weren't/aren't very supportive and I was just sort of handed a 3yr old OTTB mare at 12(I'm still alive to tell the tale and I still have her haha), but I had no clue. Then I stepped my dreams down from Olympics to International Level, then down to National level. I also wanted the massive facility as well. At about 16, I just wanted to one day get into the A/O Jumper ring. I refused to step them down anymore. I wanted to go right into horses after high school etc. etc.

                      Needless to say I went to college, got my degree in Psych and I still haven't let go of that A/O ring. I, however no longer want a major facility, or any facility. The only way I'd go into business is if it was a partner of a smaller place, or an assistant of a facility. Not no way I want my own all by myself.

                      I also can't quite let go the horse dream so I a really nice working student/job opportunity in Norway I'm going to give a go here soon.


                      • #12
                        my family is not horsey and I didnt start riding until 6th or 7th grade, so I wasnt really aware of how big a sport it all was, so I didnt really ever have dreams of the Olympics or anything. I loved horses and had a thriving breyer barn, I think when I first started out my goal was to be able to jump with the group lesson people my age which was 2'6''. I still remember the day when after a lesson the working student walked into the arena and just said (with the trainer there), jump that gate over there. we survived and my life was complete.


                        • #13
                          My main horsey influence as a small child was my uncle; a guy who always had a retired pony or two as a lawn ornament/lead line pony. He was big into fields and western trail riding. As a small child, before I actually did much more than summer pony camps, my dream was to gallop my own horse through a field, hair and tail flowing behind us.

                          By the time I learned a thing or two about horses, I was about 10. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I imagined myself someday potentially showing at a Pony Finals on my very own large pony, followed by hopefully maybe doing Junior Hunters for a year or two.

                          My family is very supportive yet realistic. We didn't have the money to buy a Pony Finals quality pony nor the horse shows, lessons and other expenses that go along with Finals, but we did have the money to get a cute large pony who had super basics but needed some 'finishing touches' that once-a-week lessons with a solid coach would look after. Had a blast on him, learned a ton, and pinned nicely at some B-rated shows. Never made it to Pony Finals or even showed in an A-rated pony hunter division, but guess what we did do? Cantered through a field, ponytail beneath a helmet and tail flowing behind us. I had a great time with him, and my goals adapted to my situation, and that was fine with me.

                          Eventually, my coach began to warn me that I was getting too tall. Thus, I began to dream of my future horse. Future realistic dream horse was going to need some finishing touches, like my pony, but be fancier. We were going to dominate our Children's Hunter division. I had accepted at this time I would probably age out before doing Juniors.

                          I ended up getting my heart horse. He is a good, but not great mover with an average jump and a heart of gold. Due to money, injuries (broken leg for me, as well as various minor yet untimely injuries for both of us at different times) and university, we have never shown at an A-rated show in a core division. But he is perfect- we just get each other. We have done really well at some local shows, and I hope to get out to a few more this summer, money and time permitting. Whether we only do hacks or actually work up to showing 3' by the end of the summer is up in the air- a goal, that once again, will be fine-tuned and adapted to whatever my situation may be come the Spring. Life got in the way the last few months. The time restraints on my goals are loose at best, which works well for the broke college lifestyle.

                          So now, my dream is to someday have my own small farm. 6 or 7 stalls- one for the heart horse, one for my old pony, a baby to bring along myself, and a few boarders. I have no aspirations of ever jumping 3'6- my mind and body can't handle it. But someday, my dream and goal are to show and pin on the A-circuit with my own horse that I have developed from 3 or 4 years old. Whether that takes 10, 15, 20 or 40 years- who knows.

                          On a side note, I love grooming. I spent this past summer following my barn's show team around to A shows with my guy laid up at home and had a blast. My coach is talking about taking her lovely hunter and her daughter's small to HITS next winter- I'd love to spend a week on Spring Break being her equine helper. 10 years ago, I would have imagined myself being the one needing a helper at HITS for my junior hunter. Now, I am happy to aspire to be the helper. My goals have changed, once again, in relation to my situation. Someday, I'd like my own helper at HITS. But that is all theoretical, and 20-30 years down the road, if I'm lucky.

                          So how are my dreams different? They have changed as my horsey interests have changed. Horses are a part of my life, but not my whole life. They are central to my happiness and mental well-being, but as I have grown up (although I don't consider myself a grown-up quite yet, at 20), I have happily accepted that I like other things too. I would go crazy without books, I love biology and anthropology courses, my friends mean the world to me, and lately, I've developed a strange liking for obsessive blog reading. I have had jobs outside the horse world that I have loved, but jobs inside the horse world that I liked equally. My dream now is for horses to be constant in my life; a part of my life, but realistically, they will never be my whole life. And that is okay.
                          Last edited by harkington; Jan. 17, 2012, 11:08 PM.


                          • #14
                            My goals include becoming the best rider I can be and giving my horse the best life I can afford. I can't afford huge shows, but I'm saving up for a weeklong horse show this summer and that's my main focus.
                            “Thoroughbreds are the best. They’re lighter, quicker, and more intelligent.” -George Morris


                            • #15
                              I've downgraded my dreams...used to be the next George or Margie. Now all I want to do before I die is to complete a GP. That's obtainable. Doesn't have to be one of the biggies, a small welcome will do. Hoping to do it on one of the horses I have raised, maybe the stallion I have now. I guess we'll see in a few years if we have the talent.
                              \"In all manners of opinion, our adversaries are insane.\" Mark Twain


                              • #16
                                I think it was a "junior issue" of Horseplay magazine sometime in the 80s that made me want to show at the most competitive level and do the big, historic shows (Devon, Upperville, that kind of thing)... that was my big dream. And it was a long way from reality!

                                Now that I'm in my 30's, married, working, moving around the country thanks to DH's job... my goal is just to improve my riding and my horse every time, every lesson, every show. If I can hop off at the end of the day and we're still friends and we're just a smidgin better than we were the day before, that's all I ask. I ride with an amazing trainer who helps us make this happen, and I am thrilled every day with the barn, the horse, and myself. Way better than my original dream!!!


                                • #17
                                  PONY FINALS!

                                  Pony finals.... that was my DREAM. I was a total pony freak. My parents bought me a been there done that pony for 10k when I was 10. Great jumper, not so great mover, TOTAL PILL. While I was able to do a few rated shows showing in the reg larges (and loved it) and was actually successful when the little brat decided to jump. It quickly became obvious that Pony Finals were not in the cards for me. My parent's had enough money to swing a few rated shows when the economy was still decent, but nothing close to being able to afford to go to Kentucky. Once the economy started going downhill.... the budget for my horse shrank. Significantly. Basically dwindled down to nothing haha.

                                  Eventually got the little brat sold and bought a fancy green medium to train. As soon as he was ready to win at some rateds... had to sell him. Bought an unbroke phenomenal large that had the talent to go the big shows and easily win. Same story there. Not only was I never going to make it to Pony Finals, but I was probably never going to see an A rated show again either.

                                  I'm 19 now and after my parents basically sold my large out from under me for a hefty offer, I stopped riding for a year and a half. At first I still rode other people's horses, but I wanted my pony back. He was my soul pony and riding was not the same without him. Thanks to some very special people in my life in an effort to help me through a hard time, I now own a 2.5 year old horse. The large may have been my soul pony, but this guy is my real soul mate. I realize I may never get to show him and the same thing will probably happen when he gets to level ready to show as the other greens I've owned. But I'm okay with that. I've found my niche: breaking and training babies. MAYBE taking them to some high end school shows, if I'm lucky. But since my parents no longer support me it's not looking good for this one. I don't care though, I love bonding with the babies and working through the hard times. It really has helped me grow from a bratty teen to a young lady and I've come to terms that I may never get to a big rated show again. The rewards of bringing a baby along are much greater than a blue ribbon at WEF.


                                  • #18
                                    When I was 12, it was SURVIVE THE COURSE.

                                    Now, at 22, it's make the course look pretty and move up the levels, on and still survive (I have anxiety issues lol)

                                    I guess my main goal was always to learn just how to ride better, I don't really care how well I do (ok, I care, but it's not the end of the world). I switched from hunters, to Arab western pleasure, to jumpers, to dressage, and now back to the hj scene. I think all of what I have learned has really helped me. And I have brought up my "baby" (she is almost 7 !) and we are learning together about the jumpers and how to safely get around a jumper course.

                                    I mean of course my major goal is to compete in a grand prix. A 'kid' can dream, right? It might take me a lot longer than others LOL.


                                    • #19

                                      my dream as a child was to ride in the olympics, now my dream as an adult is to see a horse of mine eventually do the bigger grand prixs. I have a 6 year old right now that has all the scope in the world, so we'll see how that goes! My dream for myself is to get into the grand prix ring next year for a welcome or smaller prix with what is now my 7 year old jumper. lots of work to do still but he is getting there. this would probably be my proudest moment as I bred and started this horse and that to me is the most rewarding part of it all.


                                      • #20
                                        They've never really changed for me (although I have plenty of years left for that to change).

                                        I've always wanted to be the best rider I could be, and I've always wanted to be able to train people and horses. Seeing as I currently do both of the latter things on and off, I suppose you could say I'm living my dream. I'm also hugely competitive, and since I'm point chasing around the A circuit this year, I'm living that dream too. I've got a funky little OTTB I adore, who is my dream horse, and I get to not only do what I love, but sometimes get PAID for it.

                                        Sure, I'd love to be a GP rider and own my own farm someday, but I'm taking it a day at a time. I'm 16, I've got time. No point rushing anything or stressing over how I'll get there. The fun is the journey! And if it never happens, I'll have actually ENJOYED riding instead of having stressed over the end goal.
                                        Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.