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Some refreshing honesty about the "suckiness" of the horse biz.

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  • Some refreshing honesty about the "suckiness" of the horse biz.

    http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/decision-not-go-pro

    Now since this person is now an 'amateur,' they are allowed to admit to these things. I suspect a current professional would be slaughtered if they dared to comment publicly on the downsides to their work. After all, 'they are paid to to ride so they should just shut up and be grateful' right? (Or so the commentary on COTH often goes....)

    Anyhow, I like the article. I think we could do everyone in the industry a lot of good by having more of this open and honest feedback from everyone about their experiences.
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  • #2
    I was talking to my coach about this the other day. I could, in no way shape or form, do the job of "Pro Rider" even if I was talented. I watch the one or two top, top talents in the area...and the amount of time they have to spend coddling, schmoozing and catering to their big-money owners is just...well, it takes skills that I don't have.

    I'm an engineer with pronounced hermit tendencies. My idea of a really kick-butt weekend is a four-hour conditioning ride, by myself, on my ornery horse followed by sharing a dinner at home with my husband. Honestly. The idea of having to ride horses all day (fun) and juggle the hopes/wants/fears/whims/wishes of owners who are in the game for an EXPERIENCE...well, they'd be very disappointed with me. And I'd jump off a bridge.

    I'm trying not to sound like the owners and trainers I'm talking about are bad or anything...it's not coming out right...it's not that I don't respect and value the lifestyle and skill, or that I don't respect people who WANT to go to the parties and enjoy the social/prestige aspects...it's just so completely far opposite of what I want out of horses that I have trouble explaining it properly.

    I don't mean to sound rude...and I'm sorry that I probably did. Mad props to the owners and Pros, you keep the sport moving, you get sponsors interested, you engage the media, all of that needs to be happening so that people like me are free to haul in with our ornery horses and skip out on the social event afterward
    Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

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    • #3
      I really enjoyed that article. It makes me feel more confident in my decision to go to school and pursue a corporate career as opposed to being a working student and becoming pro.

      I especially like the comment about how each person's life with horses will be different. It really is true. And I agree, I think i would much rather have a traditional job and pay bills with it and make a retirement fund, then ride as an ammy on the side and really keep it only enjoyable.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by rugbygirl View Post
        I was talking to my coach about this the other day. I could, in no way shape or form, do the job of "Pro Rider" even if I was talented. I watch the one or two top, top talents in the area...and the amount of time they have to spend coddling, schmoozing and catering to their big-money owners is just...well, it takes skills that I don't have.

        I'm an engineer with pronounced hermit tendencies. My idea of a really kick-butt weekend is a four-hour conditioning ride, by myself, on my ornery horse followed by sharing a dinner at home with my husband. Honestly. The idea of having to ride horses all day (fun) and juggle the hopes/wants/fears/whims/wishes of owners who are in the game for an EXPERIENCE...well, they'd be very disappointed with me. And I'd jump off a bridge.

        I'm trying not to sound like the owners and trainers I'm talking about are bad or anything...it's not coming out right...it's not that I don't respect and value the lifestyle and skill, or that I don't respect people who WANT to go to the parties and enjoy the social/prestige aspects...it's just so completely far opposite of what I want out of horses that I have trouble explaining it properly.

        I don't mean to sound rude...and I'm sorry that I probably did. Mad props to the owners and Pros, you keep the sport moving, you get sponsors interested, you engage the media, all of that needs to be happening so that people like me are free to haul in with our ornery horses and skip out on the social event afterward
        I just nodded as I read this.

        I'm an engineer as well, and an introvert. I am not good at the whole "selling myself" thing which you have to do when running a business in which you're offering a service many other people do as well.

        I also have types of horses I prefer, and while I will ride others to help myself improve I would hate to have a career dependent upon riding the horses other people pick out and have problems with.

        I am a total beginner in dressage, but I'm sure if I had wanted to stick with breed showing I could have made a career in it. I chose against that in Jr. High when selecting a high school - I picked the college prep school over the one near my trainer because I wanted horses to be a hobby, not a career.
        If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
        -meupatdoes

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        • #5
          Considering my abilities, there has never been much risk of me 'going pro'. But I always had vague ideas of how amazing it would be in theory until I started riding with a big name trainer and actually see what she deals with in terms of people, horses, and schedules every day of her life. I am eternally grateful that she has the work ethic and personality for it because god knows I never would.

          Plus, I don't even own any capes. No one would take me seriously in the dressage world.

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          • #6
            A very well-written and thought-provoking article, but written by a person that young has the effect of coming off as a bit of a "sermon." I'm all in favor of the balanced life she recommends, which I have mostly had, but the truth is marriage and children bring no guarantees of security, financial or otherwise, anymore than working in the horse business does.

            Life comes with NO guarantees--even working for Goldman Sachs! What I do believe is nobody on their deathbed ever regretted building their life around what they most like to do.

            Many pros have solid business plans, support they have built and earned, and enough resources to retire. It's really just like any other business.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Lady Eboshi View Post
              A very well-written and thought-provoking article, but written by a person that young has the effect of coming off as a bit of a "sermon."
              How "young" is she? I did some estimates. 21 years, then completed a degree (4 years) then "started her own business" 5 years ago, so she's at least 30. Probably had a job before she started her own business. She also talks about her pro friends and watching them "over the last decade".

              I think that 30 - 35 is an acceptable age to look back and reflect on a decision not to go pro.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Lady Eboshi View Post
                A very well-written and thought-provoking article, but written by a person that young has the effect of coming off as a bit of a "sermon." I'm all in favor of the balanced life she recommends, which I have mostly had, but the truth is marriage and children bring no guarantees of security, financial or otherwise, anymore than working in the horse business does.

                Life comes with NO guarantees--even working for Goldman Sachs! What I do believe is nobody on their deathbed ever regretted building their life around what they most like to do.

                Many pros have solid business plans, support they have built and earned, and enough resources to retire. It's really just like any other business.
                I agree. Unless you are the boss there usually someone's ego that needs stroking regardless of what business you are in.
                Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

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                • #9
                  Kristin is 28, IIRC. Late '84 model. But nice to see someone so 'young' who is smart enough to realize that being a pro isn't all glamour and self-fulfillment. Wish I'd been that smart!

                  Jennifer
                  Third Charm Event Team

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                  • #10
                    While I am not now, nor ever have been, talented enough to ride professionally I'm glad that it's a hobby for me.

                    Work is work and I would hate to ever wake up some day resenting the very thing that I love so much.

                    Of course since I'm 53 and pretty much a timid, talentless hack odds are in my favor that I won't ever have to make that decision.
                    "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple” – Barry Switzer

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                    • #11
                      I thought it was a great article that had some very good insights into the decision of whether or not to be a pro rider. Loving to do something can be very different from doing it as a career.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        In my other reply, I got off on a tangent. Thinking out loud again.

                        When I rode for others, I enjoyed the horses, not so much many of the owners. I just wanted to RIDE not schmooze.

                        Very happy to have horses (actually ponies) as a hobby now. So much fun!!
                        Last edited by goneriding24; May. 25, 2013, 01:15 PM. Reason: .
                        GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!

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                        • #13
                          Everyone always says, "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." In my late teens/early 20s, I followed that advice and pursued a career in horses. It didn't take me long to realize that statement isn't true for everyone.

                          Part of the problem with "going pro" is that horses become a business. You have to love the business as the article described just as much as you love the horses, or else you're never going to be happy. Some people do-- they thrive in the business aspect, and I'm glad those people exist. But I learned I am not one of them and I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
                          Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

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                          • #14
                            Interesting article that summarizes a lot of the reasons I opted out of going pro when most of my horse friends were doing so. Like the author, I've watched my pro friends over the years too, and mostly been grateful that I have a job outside of the horse world. I will admit many moments of jealousy and second-guessing my decision (the grass always seems like it could be greener!), especially when one of them has a super nice young horse that's progressing quickly. Inevitably money wins out, though, and I've watched trainer friends do incredible jobs bringing a horse up through the levels, finally reach the top (be it the 1.40m, a GP, or a Hunter Derby) only to have the horse sold out from under them. And those with their own horses often lack the funds to campaign that horse the way they may be able to campaign their owners' horses.

                            I also realized that I have no patience for people in general. I have huge respect for my friends who train because I realize how much they put up with on a regular basis. I just got back from a week at a show with Greg Best, and it's amazing to me to watch someone who is genuinely as interested in his 0.70m people as his 1.40m riders. I do not have the same passion for teaching, but I do have a passion for learning, so I guess that sticks me solidly in the "amateur" camp

                            Mostly, though, I'm thankful for the fact that there are people for whom training is a true passion because the industry wouldn't exist without them.
                            __________________________________
                            Flying F Sport Horses
                            Horses in the NW

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Texarkana View Post
                              Everyone always says, "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." In my late teens/early 20s, I followed that advice and pursued a career in horses. It didn't take me long to realize that statement isn't true for everyone.
                              OTOH, saying "find a job that pays the bills and do what you love as a hobby" ignores that means you're devoting 40+ hours a week to something that makes you miserable and you end up without the time or energy to do what you actually enjoy in any meaningful way. Depends on what you actually like doing--obviously if you HATE the business end, you'd be miserable doing horses as a business. I would not want to deal with riding-world clients, or with the pressure of riding other people's show horses. That would not be 'doing what you love.'
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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by danceronice View Post
                                OTOH, saying "find a job that pays the bills and do what you love as a hobby" ignores that means you're devoting 40+ hours a week to something that makes you miserable and you end up without the time or energy to do what you actually enjoy in any meaningful way. Depends on what you actually like doing--obviously if you HATE the business end, you'd be miserable doing horses as a business. I would not want to deal with riding-world clients, or with the pressure of riding other people's show horses. That would not be 'doing what you love.'
                                I never had a horse job that was only 40 hours a week except when I gave lessons. Then I could make my own hours and I did that part time. Otherwise, the track was 7 days a week 365 days a year (maybe a day off if you were sick or had a very special event) and show horses was usually at least 6 days a week.

                                And it does become work no matter how much you love horses. I reached an age where I realized there were easier ways to make a living and now my horses are my release from the world.
                                Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

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                                • #17
                                  Thank you for that link -- I thought it was a well-written article that I identified very much with and elucidates many of my own decisions (although I have no desire for the wifey-mommy route). She very rightly observes that everyone has their own journey and their own skillset and while there are people who are GREAT at being a pro (and I know some of those amazing people), they are far fewer in number than high school kids believe.

                                  I do work in a field that I love -- conservation -- and I am passionate about what I do. At the same time, I have learned that no matter how much you love it, it still becomes WORK. I will never, EVER get tired of the wildlife, but many of the other aspects exhaust, drain, and sadden me.

                                  I never wanted that to happen with horses. I wanted them to remain an escape and something that I could set the parameters for and enjoy at my pace. I'd been involved with the horse world long enough to know what it takes and what the compromises are; it was not what I wanted for my life. The best moments with my horses have been standing at the top of a mountain during a long weekend camping in the woods and I would hate to have missed those beautiful bits of time.
                                  Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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                                  • #18
                                    I basically got that talk when I was a starry-eyed teenager from a pro close to me and I am forever grateful.
                                    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

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                                    • #19
                                      That link should be a sticky note somewhere so when the next starry-eyed prospective equestrian degree, I-wanna-be-a-trainer poster can be referred there.

                                      In many ways I was lucky growing up because my father had been a pro until he grew up and got a family and a real job. It was very apparent that he loved, and still loves working horses, but he also worked with a bunch of crooks, @ssholes, and owners who occaisonally entered in shows because they wanted to go to the exhibitors' party. In other ways it sucked b/c it wasn't something he particularly wanted his little girls into, even if they had been bitten by the horse bug.


                                      Wanted to add "Find a job that pays the bills and do what you love as a hobby" doesn't mean you have to hate your day job. I like my job; I have seen some really cool stuff that most folks wouldn't dream of seeing and it has absolutely nothing to do with horses.
                                      Visit my Spoonflower shop

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                                      • #20
                                        I'm coming at this article from a slightly different perspective. I, too, am an engineer who works full-time at a fairly demanding job. I own two of my own horses. And, as of this year, I'm now a professional as I give lessons on my weekends.

                                        I am an engineer, and not a full-time dressage trainer, because I don't want to sit on other people's potentially dangerous mistakes (and also because I make fairly decent money as an engineer, which supports my unhealthily expensive dressage habit). But I've got enough work on the weekends with amateurs honestly trying to get better that I get a couple neat benefits:
                                        - offsetting some of my other horse costs
                                        - helping others learn dressage
                                        - staying connected to the dressage world.

                                        And honestly, that third point is pretty crucial for me, as I was getting a little burned out when I was schooling by myself surrounded by hunters.

                                        So, I'm now a pro showing the GP. I'm not going to the Olympics by a long shot-- after all, I do have that pesky full-time job and also that pesky lack of talent.

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