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Why do great riders sometimes suddenly stop showing or step back?

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  • Why do great riders sometimes suddenly stop showing or step back?

    This may seem like a random topic but...consider this:

    Donald Cheska was a dominant grand prix show jumping rider back in the day and...I can not think of the last time I saw him a major GP event.

    Rodney Jenkens stopped doing GPs a long time ago..but it was kind of all of a sudden..

    Conrad Homfeld was a great rider at one point and we have not seen him in a GP in forever (Joe Fargis still does the GPs some). I know, I know...Conrad does course design now.

    And let's not forget Michael Matz (ahhh Jet Run)...known now more for his race horse training prowess...he just kind of up and left our sport long ago.

    Bernie Traurig, another GP talent, left show jumping for dressage horse sales...

    When was the last time Don Stewart showed a hunter? I remember watching the great Don ride back in the day at the WEF. (BTW, I am aware that Don is still a BNT.)

    What makes a great professional rider decide to call it quits or just to fade into being a big name from the past?

  • #2
    My best guess would be age, injury, burnout, or lack of time due to training clients.
    Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
    My equine soulmate
    Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

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    • #3
      Rodney is training TB's for the track as well. He and Michael both had several horses entered at Pimlico yesterday and today

      I would think age and experience have something to do with it. I would imagine you lose some of the drive to compete for fun after awhile. If you can make the money from the sidelines, why push yourself to show if its not fun anymore? I'm a quarter of the age of some of those guys, and I'm already burned out on showing for myself. I do it all the time for clients, but I rarely think "I'd really enjoy showing this horse next weekend". It only happens when there is an exceptionally fun horse involved.

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      • #4
        Don't forget money! Its not cheap to campaign at the top levels (or even at the "not so top" levels.) And it's really difficult to make money in the sport.

        Many top trainers also end up not physically being able to ride anymore. Riding lots of horses a day for many years can wreak havoc on your body.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by theinstigator View Post
          Don't forget money! Its not cheap to campaign at the top levels (or even at the "not so top" levels.) And it's really difficult to make money in the sport.

          Many top trainers also end up not physically being able to ride anymore. Riding lots of horses a day for many years can wreak havoc on your body.
          it really is hard to make a lot of money in the hunter / jumper space...if you are a really talented race horse trainer, you can make ace loads of $$$$...AND for some reason, horse racing in the US of A is main stream...not so with hunter / jumper. ESPN used to show GPs back in the day...you will almost never see a GP on TV in the US.
          Last edited by worldclass777; May. 16, 2010, 03:31 PM.

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          • #6
            Bernie is still teaching, I and others have him for clinics. He still rides the best, but at his age, his back can't take the big jumps anymore. It happens, a person's body wears out. Bernie is 65. He doesn't look it.

            Rodney is probably around the same age, and did judge a lot for a long time, although he seems to have given up his judges card. I guess the race horses make him more cash and he doesn't have to be bored to tears watching the hunters of today go around. He was still judging in the late 80's and early 90's.

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            • #7
              money, lack of time, changed interests, family, loss of interest
              (|--Sarah--|)

              Blitz <3 & Leap of Faith <3

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              • #8
                Not sure what the cause was, but I definitely miss seeing Donald and his brother Richard Cheska in the big ring.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by theinstigator View Post
                  Don't forget money! Its not cheap to campaign at the top levels (or even at the "not so top" levels.) And it's really difficult to make money in the sport.

                  Many top trainers also end up not physically being able to ride anymore. Riding lots of horses a day for many years can wreak havoc on your body.
                  echo and to add when ones at the top then its hard place to be and to mantain that same standard or to stay there lots of rider have horse changes as sponsors change or they move to another rider or horse or perhaps as its recession now for exsample - go into liqudation so therefore the horse is an asset that has to be sold------- or perhaps sponsors cant afford it for other reasons
                  like perhaps they have aged or died

                  so many reason why people have to change there chosen career into something else or simular

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                  • #10
                    Of course age, injury, losing the passion for it and being on the road 45 weeks a year don't help.

                    Huge reason would be not having a great horse-most elite level riders do not own their horses and a few have had even World Cup level mounts sold right out from under them-and there is NOTHING wrong with an owner making that kind of decision. Sometimes the owner hit a financial wall and just cannot foot the bill anymore.

                    Assortment of personal issues like divorce or parenthood and young children can take down either rider, rider's spouse or the owners or combination of the above.

                    And, honestly, some just don't have that great a reputation and don't get that many elite level horses unless they get lucky.

                    Just like any other sport or life in general, people change and their circumstances change, sometimes it's voluntary and they simply discover a new passion. Sometimes it's circumstances they cannot control, sometimes it's a bad decision they did have control over. Occaisonally some serious misdeeds are involved.

                    Or it is simply a business deal gone bad and partnership between rider and owner(s)dissolved.

                    Just seeing the names in the magazines does not tell the whole story about a rider.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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                    • #11
                      I believe Donald is choosing to focus on his daughter, and his wife's own showing career.

                      And all those other people you named are really old! They probably hurt
                      When the boogeyman goes to sleep, he checks the closet for George Morris. -mpsbarnmanager

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                      • #12
                        I seem to recall that Conrad was in a really bad wreck in which he broke his thigh bone (or something like that). Really a pity, I liked watching him ride.

                        I think that those big fences and riding green horses just takes a toll on a persons body. Some last longer than others, but you don't see alot of old GP riders.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by worldclass777 View Post
                          it really is hard to make a lot of money in the hunter / jumper space...if you are a really talented race horse trainer, you can make ace loads of $$$$...AND for some reason, horse racing in the US of A is main stream...not sot with hunter / jumper. ESPN used to show GPs back in the day...you will almost never see a GP on TV in the US.
                          Nah...look at the majority of race trainers-no "ace loads" of money there, even ones with Classic winners and consistently good stakes horses don't make what is implied here. And race trainers are trainers, not riders, so they can do it much later then a rider can.

                          It's no secret one of the riders named on here earlier married well and did not need to remain a jumper rider.

                          Far as horse racing? It's mainstream because it is more available-most states have tracks. And the biggie is you can bet on it in person at your local track or via simulcast at most tracks nationwide. People watch to see how they did with their wagers. And they can watch a race for 10 minutes, hear all the names and see the post parade and know who won, not sit through an hour having no idea what the announcer is talking about.

                          Show Jumping is more of a niche sport with an elitist reputation that is not undeserved either.
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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                          • #14
                            I imagine the constant travel must wear on someone. Think of all the rock songs about living on the road! Even those heavy partiers admit it can be grueling.
                            Man plans. God laughs.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by worldclass777 View Post
                              ...What makes a great professional rider decide to call it quits or just to fade into being a big name from the past?
                              From the ones I know and talk to, it is simple, they "grow up" and realize that life is a lot more responsibility than riding and going to competitions. It is taking care of family, providing for them and yourself. They see that there is a lot more to life than horses or competitions. And yes, their bodies just are beat to hell, thus in order to keep making a living they have to stop.

                              Reed

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                              • #16
                                I have to say, I still miss seeing Rodney at the shows. I didn't get to see him show a ton, since I wasn't always at the same shows, but whenever I had the chance, I would watch him on anything, from a pre-green hunter to a Grand Prix horse.

                                He was so talented, and he made it all look so easy. Plus he always seemed friendly to me.

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  This kind of an off the topic comment...but my favorite rock song about being on the road that REALLY reminds me of showing horses is by Bob Segar and is called, "Turn the Page."

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                                  • #18
                                    Also - the horse business can make a cynic out of you. I'm sure there are a few that became fed up with one thing or another - or several things.
                                    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

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                                    • #19
                                      I recently saw a documentary on the 2006 Derby (when Barbaro won, obviously trained by Michael Matz) and Michael's daughter talked about how he had basically done everything there was to do in the jumpers and wanted a new challenge, so he took up training racehorses.

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by worldclass777 View Post
                                        This kind of an off the topic comment...but my favorite rock song about being on the road that REALLY reminds me of showing horses is by Bob Segar and is called, "Turn the Page."
                                        The other one that fits (though not rock) is "There's No Business Like Show Business" from Annie Get Your Gun. It mentions smells, horses, shavings, and the towel you've taken from the last hotel.

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