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Pro's- Is it Still a Passion? Or is it Just a Job Now?

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  • Pro's- Is it Still a Passion? Or is it Just a Job Now?

    I'm currently on maternity leave with my SECOND child (which incidentally leaves me way more time than usual to read COTH while I'm nursing the baby ). I never thought I'd really ever have kids and here I am with two of them. First one was a surprise, second one was planned (and now we are DONE! I never need to be pregnant again ).

    While I LOVE the life I lead and 99 out of 100 times would make all the same decisions again, sometimes I definitely think about the choices I've made and wonder how the hell I ended up with two kids and a mortgage and buying furniture with extra cash instead of more lessons or a saddle or something. I do ride 4-5 days a week, but I don't compete any more and some days I just can't fit everything in, and it's the horse who usually suffers (I do have other people who will ride her for me if I can't).

    And I do wonder about what would have happened if I'd gone into horses as a career, instead of where I am now as an ammy with one horse trying to make as much time as possible to ride in between the husband and the kids and the house and the non-horsey but well-paying and very-secure-job-with-benefits to help pay for it all. I really like my job but a lot of the time it's just a job that pays the bills. Since I spend a good third of my life doing it, I sometimes wonder if I'm missing out on what I could have been doing- but what would I have had to give up that I have now and love?

    I truly envy those who have successfully turned their passion into their livelihood, and are still passionate about it.

    So pros, are you happy with the career you chose? Are you where you wanted to be in life by now? Do you feel financially secure? Would you make the same choice if you could go back and do it over again?
    ~Living the life I imagined~

  • #2
    I think there are some people who do amazingly well as professional horse people. They are good horsemen and better businessmen, and probably a little bit lucky. So, some people you ask are going to say yes, I am living my dream and financially secure. There are many others who are going to say they are horse poor, but living the dream, many who are working their job and many more who say a bit of both. I also know a number of people who have gone under or had to switch to a filed they don't care for to make ends meet.
    For myself, it's a bit of both. There are days when I am just working the job, until I realize that if I have to work (and I do) there isn't much else I think I could make myself do everyday. And then there are days when I have a wonderful ride, meet an interesting person or teach a great lesson and I am just as happy as when I first started. From what I can tell, most people who work in their field of passion go through these types of emotions.
    Shop online at
    www.KoperEquine.com
    http://sweetolivefarm.com/services.php

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    • #3
      When I loose the Passion for "the Horse" I will quit...........
      But after 44 years of riding I don't see it happening.........

      Comment


      • #4
        I've been doing this professionally for about 10 years, full time for about 3.

        MOST days it is still a passion.... some days it's a job. I've always said that if it stops being fun and something I WANT to do, it will be time to quit.

        Some days I do think being an ammy and being able to focus on my own horses would be a blessing, but I know I would miss my job after a very short while. I think no matter what you do, there will always be days that are just harder then others.... but, 99% of the time, I still think "wow, I'm lucky to have this job" and am able to smile, even if it's -20* and freezing cold. LOL
        Concordia means "Harmony" in Latin.
        Full Time Dressage Addict

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        • #5
          I mostly love my career with horses, but honestly I think wondering "what if" is pretty normal. Sometimes my biological clock gets to ticking and I wish I had chosen a profession where I could afford to take time to have kids--at my level, with my husband's job, it ain't happening here, which I knew going in and am okay with. And it can be really hard sometimes. I just got in from riding in really high winds and am covered in grit and dust and feel disgusting (but don't want to shower until after I go back out to feed) and all my horses were spooky and stupid and on days like this I kind of hate it. But mostly, it is still a passion, especially now that I've found my niche and have a clientele I really like.

          I think you will find a wide variety of answers, and I think the only real answer is that it is so different for everyone.
          exploring the relationship between horse and human

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          • #6
            I have been giving lessons and starting greenies on and off for at least ten years now, but only really went into "business" last summer. I did it for about a year before quitting due to my pregnancy, but I'm telling you I am hesitating when I start to think about getting back into it. I found that the PEOPLE I dealt with took away a lot of the passion part of it-- the horse part was great, the business part kind of sucked. Maybe that's the sign that I'm just not meant to be a pro

            I loved starting babies (which is what I focused on), I love the fact that each horse is different, and it's so rewarding to watch that lightbulb go off in their heads and to mold them into these useful working animals. But the owners... yikes. Even in the year-ish I did it, I could tell you some stories....

            So at the moment I am not planning on going back to it anytime soon, but six months down the road I may pick up a client or two every month for extra income and to try and keep enjoying the work. Until then, I will just enjoy my own horse!
            Vancouver Equine
            www.vaneq.com

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            • #7
              Im coming at this from a mid/late twenty year old Pro, so am not a twenty year veteran. My Mom was a part time trainer when I was growing up. She worked a day job and taught evenings and weekends. I have always worked.. started at 13 yrs old cleaning stalls to pay for my horses. When I came out of high school I was already managing a small private farm on a part time basis (barn work/riding and keeping horses fit/fox hunting/doing all ordering and appointments etc) and was exercising race horses 5 hours a day somewhere else. For the next few years I moved on to riding at a few different barns at one time and co-managing etc. THEN I hurt my back rather badly. I wasn't able to ride for months. I was forced to find a non-riding job. It was actually probably one of the best things that could of happened to me. It showed me how the "real" work world worked and it showed me exactly where my heart was.

              I was able to begin riding 4 months later but stayed outside the horse industry for almost 5 years-- and I will tell you, while I still had my own horse, I MISSED it so much. Just last year I was offered an opportunity and am now back at it full time--Teaching and riding. I couldn't be happier or feel more fulfilled.

              That being said, I think it has to be the right situation. You have to be doing what you LIKE to be doing within the horse industry and it has to be a decent place with decent clients/horses (there is always one or two not so great ones at any place). There are definitely days that people completely ruin it for me but then something great happens and I just think to myself "Wow.. isn't it great being able to do what I love every day". Definitely many more good days then bad.
              -SW-
              Precious Few- 1998 OTTB

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              • #8
                Been in the horse industry professionally since coming out of college. About 10 years back I had a back accident on my own horse and had to get a "normal" job. I worked in a high school for a year and then for a bank. I made way more money at the bank than I could ever hope to with horses. But their came a point in time when I literally felt like I was being strangled working there. DH and I discussed it and I quit immediately and went back to the horse world.
                While I definitely think you can become a little jaded doing it day in and day out, the passion is most assuredly still there. The day it's not- I quit. I can't imagine working in the horse world without the passion? Who would want to work for (mostly) crap pay, be out in the elements, be on call 24/7, be bit, kicked, trampled, launched, etc if they didn't truly have a passion for it?
                I'm good at being uncomfortable so I can't stop changing all the time -Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
                If I were your appendages, I'd hold open your eyes so you would see- Incubus

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                • #9
                  I did the pro thing (riding/training/showing/hunting/managing) for a couple of years and the passion died, so I ended up leaving for a "normal" career (which I am happy in and pays for the horse habit). I didn't know if I really wanted to be a horse professional because I didn't think I had the passion for it, but ended up doing it anyway. But to be fair, I never have to look back and wonder "what if." I was good enough at that level, but it stopped being fun and I stopped loving what I did. I have no regrets, I had some incredible experiences in that life, met great horses and people, and I'm much happier having had that journey and ended up where I am now. It requires a truly special individual to make it work.
                  War Horse Blog

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                  • #10
                    Different time, different world, but never gave working with horses a second thought, it was what I loved doing, from just watching them for hours to working directly with them for hours.

                    They tell me as a two year old I was already mesmerized by horses and wanted to be by them, nothing else in the world mattered.
                    Guess that I was well imprinted to them, however it happened.

                    I have to say, still today, anything horse mesmerizes me the same way it always has, when as a little kid I could not pass a horse in print or live without taking notice.

                    I don't think you ever lose that and if you can make horses your life, well, everything else doesn't matter, really.

                    We only get one go at this thing called life.
                    Would that others be as happy to know what floats their boat and are able to make it happen and happy at whatever level they get to make it happen.

                    My straight answer, no, working with horses has always been a pleasure, never "just a job", even building fences for the horses or any other that is not working with horses is still not "just a job".
                    I guess it is hard to explain a true passion for something.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I see it in two parts...riding horses, and everything else. I have a never dying passion for horses and no matter the weather, the horses, and the hours I work. But everything else can definitely burn you out. Like this week, three feet of snow, I spent 15 hours on the tractor plowing the driveways and paths in the fields to encourage the horses to move around and so I could spread manure and put round bales out. The spreader broke, I snapped the key for the tractor off inside the ignition and had to install a new ignition switch at 8pm last night and THEN do roundbales (happy v day to me). The shoveling, icy driveways, etc. that stuff kills me because you feel like you just CANNOT get ahead. The outside stuff needs to get done but you also aren't getting your horses ridden and we are now counting down the days until the first show.
                      Anyways, I would say 90% of the time I have a huge passion and it isn't just a job but the wingers are tough, it separates the men from the boys to be sure.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I tried it and ended up moving on. I was burnt out on the people, but still loved the horses. I have been out of it for about 6 years and for the first 4 all I wanted to do was trail ride, and just enjoy my horses. The last 2 years I have started to get the itch to show and train a little bit more and have moved back in that direction again.
                        I will never regret trying though, because like the other poster said, I never have to wonder "what if"
                        www.michelesfindinghappiness.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          When it comes to passion and careers, there are (at least) two different types of people in the world.

                          I learned pretty early in my 20s that when I do my passion for my livelihood, it becomes nothing but work very quickly. I know I'm not the only person who thinks this way.

                          Other folks never tire of it. It's not work at all to throw themselves into something 100%, whether if be as a horseman, a small business owner, an executive, etc.

                          I know some professional horse people who love every second of it. I know others who are miserable with their lot in life. It all depends on your personality.
                          Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Texarkana View Post
                            When it comes to passion and careers, there are (at least) two different types of people in the world.

                            I learned pretty early in my 20s that when I do my passion for my livelihood, it becomes nothing but work very quickly. I know I'm not the only person who thinks this way.

                            Other folks never tire of it. It's not work at all to throw themselves into something 100%, whether if be as a horseman, a small business owner, an executive, etc.

                            I know some professional horse people who love every second of it. I know others who are miserable with their lot in life. It all depends on your personality.
                            "it all depends on your personality" is sure true for many.
                            They tell me my grandfather was just like I am about horses, going on with his life as needed, but lighten up when it came to horses with a passion hard to ignore.
                            Once he brought a to him wonderful horse and called to Grandma to "come look at this new horse".
                            When she was not promptly appearing, he led the horse in the large farm kitchen and presented him to her walking him around the big kitchen table ... and thought that was perfectly normal.
                            She too happen to like horses, just not traipsing around in her kitchen.

                            I do think there is an inherited component to the tendency of some to have certain unquenchable passions, horses one of those.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by hey101 View Post
                              I'm currently on maternity leave with my SECOND child (which incidentally leaves me way more time than usual to read COTH while I'm nursing the baby ). I never thought I'd really ever have kids and here I am with two of them. First one was a surprise, second one was planned (and now we are DONE! I never need to be pregnant again ).

                              While I LOVE the life I lead and 99 out of 100 times would make all the same decisions again, sometimes I definitely think about the choices I've made and wonder how the hell I ended up with two kids and a mortgage and buying furniture with extra cash instead of more lessons or a saddle or something. I do ride 4-5 days a week, but I don't compete any more and some days I just can't fit everything in, and it's the horse who usually suffers (I do have other people who will ride her for me if I can't).

                              And I do wonder about what would have happened if I'd gone into horses as a career, instead of where I am now as an ammy with one horse trying to make as much time as possible to ride in between the husband and the kids and the house and the non-horsey but well-paying and very-secure-job-with-benefits to help pay for it all. I really like my job but a lot of the time it's just a job that pays the bills. Since I spend a good third of my life doing it, I sometimes wonder if I'm missing out on what I could have been doing- but what would I have had to give up that I have now and love?

                              I truly envy those who have successfully turned their passion into their livelihood, and are still passionate about it.

                              So pros, are you happy with the career you chose? Are you where you wanted to be in life by now? Do you feel financially secure? Would you make the same choice if you could go back and do it over again?
                              Definitely still passionate about it. The difference is, whereas 25 years ago the passion was all about pushing the edge riding, training, and competing, now it's about the day-to-day running of the farm. As some TV character once said, "I just love it when a plan comes together!" Like when we manage to get the 12 tons of hay in the barn 6 hours before the snowstorm hits, the trims done on the one sunny day above freezing, and the new horses join the herd without any fisticuffs.

                              Where "the edge" is found these days for me is seeing what's possible in terms of keeping older TB's, and several of the Oldest Old of varying breeds, in the best condition possible. We have so many more wonderful tools to work with today that weren't around when I started; Senior feeds, Previcox, flaxseed and rice bran oil, not to mention far more certainty and less guessing in veterinary diagnoses.

                              I'm learning all the time! Horses who would have been put down at 19-24 for being "poor doers" now are gotten through that phase with great dental work and go on being BETTER keepers often even into their 30's. Horses that have been dropped off here as "last stop before Valhalla," not expected to last due to problems like COPD or dropping fetlocks, have been with me now 7-10 YEARS and doing fine!

                              The challenge, not unlike in training, is learning what each horse's individual needs are; there is no one-size-fits-all. One 16.3 h. TB need 16 quarts of Triple Crown Senior a day; his best friend, same size and breed, gets one quart of Hay Stretcher. Figuring all this out and finding everyone's place in a well-oiled routine is The Work.

                              And anytime it feels like "a job," and believe me it has plenty this winter, I think about all those poor blighters in the incessant traffic jams on our local highways, watching their gas gauges go down while they scramble to some miserable cubicle job they hate just to get yelled at by the boss. Then I wouldn't trade what I'm doing for all the tea in China, even though my body knows it's worked at the end of the day. . .

                              Oh yeah, and I still get to RIDE, too!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                For some, horses are in our heads and hearts:
                                Attached Files

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                                • #17
                                  Honestly sometimes, it's like 'do I gotta". and then when I'm past that and started the gotta, it's "Ah this is what I'm here for."

                                  And some things you just do.
                                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Funny that this old thread of mine popped back up, and even funnier how much life can change in 3.5 years.

                                    I'm 2.5 years into a job I LOVE. I was fine at my old job until one day I wasn't fine- I realized I was beyond bored, couldn't stand who I worked with, and was withering on the vine. Within 3 months I landed my current job and was instantly 10x happier. I love my colleagues. I work from home half the time so my stress level is 10x lower. I travel about half of what I used to do.

                                    We are 6 months in to being back in a horse property. The impossible has happened- we found a horse property 20 minutes from the beach in SoCal so hubby can surf, I have my ponies at home (literally actually, just picked up a pony for the kids on Wed! plus my mare I've had forever and a stunning OTTB retrain project I've fallen madly in love with and he is no longer a project but a keeper .

                                    I can look out my window from my desk while I'm working and see my horses in TURNOUT!

                                    I'm an hour closer to hunt fixtures so I've been able to hunt just about every week. Our kids are thriving and absolutely so much fun. Every now and then I think I would have had one more (but that thought always passes within 5 or 10 minutes!), and we are so fortunate with the two we have.

                                    I read that old post of mine from 2010 and can honestly say I don't have any thoughts anymore whatsoever that things have not turned out absolutely perfectly. Not one single regret. In fact I'm actively glad I never entered the professional horse world. I participate in horses on my terms and enjoy ever single second and they are still a passion just as much as when I was 5 yrs old.
                                    Last edited by hey101; Feb. 16, 2014, 01:37 AM.
                                    ~Living the life I imagined~

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by hey101 View Post
                                      Funny that this old thread of mine popped back up, and even funnier how much life can change in 3.5 years.

                                      I'm 2.5 years into a job I LOVE. I was fine at my old job until one day I wasn't fine- I realized I was beyond bored, couldn't stand who I worked with, and was withering on the vine. Within 3 months I landed my current job and was instantly 10x happier. I love my colleagues. I work from home half the time so my stress level is 10x lower. I travel about half of what I used to do.

                                      We are 6 months in to being back in a horse property. The impossible has happened- we found a horse property 20 minutes from the beach in SoCal so hubby can surf, I have my ponies at home (literally actually, just picked up a pony for the kids on Wed! plus my mare I've had forever and a stunning OTTB retrain project I've fallen madly in love with and he is no longer a project but a keeper .

                                      I can look out my window from my desk while I'm working and see my horses in TURNOUT!

                                      I'm an hour closer to hunt fixtures so I've been able to hunt just about every week. Our kids are thriving and absolutely so much fun. Every now and then I think I would have had one more (but that thought always passes within 5 or 10 minutes!), and we are so fortunate with the two we have.

                                      I read that old post of mine from 2010 and can honestly say I don't have any thoughts anymore whatsoever that things have not turned out absolutely perfectly. Not one single regret. In fact I'm actively glad I never entered the professional horse world. I participate in horses on my terms and enjoy ever single second and they are still a passion just as much as when I was 5 yrs old.
                                      Thank you for the update.
                                      Sounds like you found your pot of gold at the end of your rainbow.

                                      All is well that ends well.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        As an older adult and a long time rider (not pro), I can give you the benefit of my life experience having been around horses, riders and barns for most of my 60 some years. The life of a pro rider is physically hard and limited. If you are lucky you might be able to ride professionally for 20 years without a bad injury but eventually, as with all pro athletes, the injuries mount up. I'm in pretty good shape because I've worked at it and I'm very careful what type of horses I ride now. But the facts are that when you are in your fities and sixties you will have aches and pains and will not feel like getting up with the crack of dawn and jumping onto the nearest horse to train. If on the other hand you choose to get a good education that leads to a good job, with benefits, you have the choice of riding the horses that you like and when you like. You can have a balance in your life...... family and horses, you won't have to choose one or the other and wonder ...what if. Although a career around horses seems so attractive when you are young, strong and eager things really do change as you get older and if the riding is suddenly taken away from you by life's circumstances if you have all your eggs in one basket so to speak, what do you have left? Enjoy your babies, the horses will still be there when you are ready and eager to ride again.

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