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Riding Opportunities

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  • Riding Opportunities

    Does anyone know how you can get more riding opportunities when you don't own your own horse? My daughter is 14 and has been riding for 6 years now in loudoun. She wants to eventually ride intercollegiate..We have had a couple opportunities to have her exercise or free lease older horses but looking for others..Anyone have answers?

  • #2
    Consider any opportunities at all...in this litigious society...with a child below employment age...a gift...and don't look a gift horse in the mouth.


    • #3
      Agree there, all opportunities are good ones!

      However, just be present at the barn. Work hard, support the other riders, she'll get noticed and people will see she doesn't have a ride and offer their if suitable and/or available.

      I have a young rider (12) who rides my pony, her older sister was able to use one of our former BO's OTTBs to ride, but he was too much horse for her. She was always at the barn, brushing the cats, fussing over the horses, supporting her sister. I let her try my QH and she fell in love and rides him regularly now (though not as regularly as during the summer). Had I seen her just as someone who wanted to ride and nothing else, I probably would not consider it.


      • #4
        Is there a therapeutic riding center in her area or a horse rescue? SOME rescues have skilled trainers available to them and once a horse has a good foundation like to have volunteers who can ride and just put hours in the saddle. some do not have that capability, and won't ever have a horse she could manage. either way, if she is helping out, as said above, she'll need to show herself as patient and willing to do whatever is needed rather than just riding -- when we get a volunteer who clearly only wants to ride, unless they are really experienced with rehab work, we say no thank you.

        Best wishes,
        AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
        Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)


        • #5
          Kids that want to ride are a dime a dozen.

          A kid that consistently makes a hand in a barn, no matter what the job is, those are worth fostering.

          I was one of those kids and spent hours holding horses for the farrier, eventually making horseshoes and for nine glorious months learning to trim and shoe.
          I spent hours in the saddle shop, edging and rubbing leather and repairing old halters and all sewing was done by hand.

          Eventually I was the test pilot, starting all colts and feral horses.
          Talk about chances to ride!
          But, they came after a few years of spending every spare hour there.

          Kids that are passionate about horses and will practically live in the barn if they can and do all and anything they can there and really appreciate the times that may include chances to ride are those that do get horses offered.

          I think that go getter attitude starts at home, where a kid learns there are chores to be done by all, it is how life works.
          Add a passion for horses and you can't keep a happy kid, with a good attitude for life, from being noticed and put to good use.


          • #6
            I agree with everyone else here. You and your daughter need to change your "marketing" message from "seeking opportunities to ride" to "seeking opportunities to assist and learn from those in equine professions." This is how one pays one's dues in this industry and that is how opportunities develop.

            The kids that get to ride my horses are the ones that ask to learn more about grooming/trimming/show prep, tack care and cleaning, routine vet and farrier care, etc. They are the ones that are eager to hold or lead a horse, to sweep and scrub just to be around the horses and have a chance to stroke a neck or apply a brush, the ones that ask for reading or research assignments to learn more, the ones that look around, notice things that need to be done and ask, "Miss CH, can I do that?" or "Miss CH, what else can I do to help?"

            The ones that show this level of dedication are the ones that draw my attention and are offered riding and other privileges. The ones that ask "Do you need horses ridden?" get nothing more than a smile and a "No, thank you."
            Equinox Equine Massage

            In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
            -Albert Camus


            • #7
              Perhaps try moving to a trainer with more of a sales barn? As a junior, I moved to a sales barn type place cause it offered more horses to ride (I was horseless). I didn't ride the same horses consistently, but I was able to ride a lot & showed. Catch riding has it's perks, but it's also a "job"--you don't perform, you lose the ride. I also worked in the barn & at shows doing whatever was required. Granted I was at the barn 6 days a week & didn't have much life outside the barn (didn't want to miss an opportunity), but it was where I wanted to be.

              The bonus of having a lease horse is your daughter will at least always be guaranteed to have a horse to ride. If you don't own/lease something, there's no guarantee of ever getting saddle time or at least not consistently.
              "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"


              • #8
                My advice to you is to ensure that she is religious about keeping to her schedule for exercising the horses she has been offered already. If she says she is going to do it, she must always show up and do her job (and, it goes without saying, cool the horse out properly and put everything away neatly). If she is responsible with what she has now, additional rides will follow.

                I arranged to have my horse ridden by a couple of different teens who really, really wanted to ride (they said) and it was anyone's guess as to whether they would actually do it. Needless to say, both lost the ride.
                According to the Mayan calendar, the world will not end this week. Please plan your life accordingly.


                • #9
                  If your daughter wants to ride in college, try to find an IEA (Interscholastic Equestrian Association) team to join - it follows a format similiar to IHSA and you don't need to own a horse to participate. Having experience showing an unknown horse will be a leg up when she tries out for a college team and it will give her more saddle time without looking for "opportunities".


                  • #10
                    My advice to you is to ensure that she is religious about keeping to her schedule for exercising the horses she has been offered already. If she says she is going to do it, she must always show up and do her job (and, it goes without saying, cool the horse out properly and put everything away neatly). If she is responsible with what she has now, additional rides will follow.
                    Definitely agree here.

                    And with what everyone else said. If you want opportunities to ride, and only ride, and you don't own a horse, expect to pay for them. It’s pretty rare for a horse owner to need someone to “just ride” and frequently, when they do, those rides go to the kids in the barn that have proven themselves to be competent and reliable. Further, if you are willing to put the time and work into proving yourself to be reliable and competent, people will become more and more willing to let you ride their horses.

                    If you have opportunities ALREADY for a free lease or an older horse to ride, TAKE THEM. Any experience is good experience, and every horse has something to teach you. Drill this into her head.

                    You can also ask to become a working student. Some trainers will allow this for underage riders, and they trade rides or lessons for farm work. Try to get the agreement in writing if possible. Some trainers will help a deserving kid find catch rides, but it does frequently take a backseat to paying customers, so it's important not to set yourself up for disappointment in this regard.
                    They're small hearts.


                    • #11
                      If you can find a barn that will let your D be a working student that is a great way to start. I can tell you that if you don't have a horse of your own or are not in a regular program it can be hard to get the rides.

                      My DD has a horse and has worked for her trainer as a working student. DD spends as much time at the barn as possible and is always given extra rides by the trainer because she helps out and is available. Also I think that if a trainer has someone with a horse in training and they want more rides the trainer will likely give rides to that person.

                      I would suggest that you lease a horse for your DD if possible and get her in the show ring if she wants to ride in college as many of the girls that do have been showing for years.


                      • #12
                        What everyone says above is dead on.

                        When I let a kid ride my horse, I choose a kid who is always at the barn, just wanting to learn things. The ride is a bonus to those kids, not the end goal.

                        I helped out at a stable as a teenager-I worked very hard at whatever I could-mostly picking stalls or paddocks, but occassionally helping to groom and tack up school horses. I maybe got to ride one hour for every 20 I worked. You have to be willing to be that kid. There are lots of kids with equal riding experience or ability, so the ones who get the privileges are the ones who show they want it the most, that they just want to be with horses, even if they never get to ride.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by loshad View Post
                          My advice to you is to ensure that she is religious about keeping to her schedule for exercising the horses she has been offered already. If she says she is going to do it, she must always show up and do her job (and, it goes without saying, cool the horse out properly and put everything away neatly). If she is responsible with what she has now, additional rides will follow.

                          I arranged to have my horse ridden by a couple of different teens who really, really wanted to ride (they said) and it was anyone's guess as to whether they would actually do it. Needless to say, both lost the ride.
                          Heck, I even had the same thing happen with two grown women (different times) who asked if they could jump one of my horses....After about a month of "gungho"...it then became a "Yeah, I didn't get to it this weekend, etc"...needless to say they no longer ride the horse.....I wanted the horse exercised when I couldn't ride, they wanted a horse to ride...frustrating when someone commits and then doesn't follow through.


                          • #14
                            One other thing: No matter how old, ugly, grouchy, green, difficult, or uncomfortable the beastie, she needs to remember that it's somebody's baby and find something nice to say about it to anyone who asks. Even if all she can think of is "This is a really good opportunity for me and I'm grateful Suzy Horseowner thought of me." Nothing will get a ride pulled faster than an owner finding out she's bad mouthing their horse.
                            According to the Mayan calendar, the world will not end this week. Please plan your life accordingly.


                            • #15
                              My daughter has her own horse, but he's currently semi-retired. Because she's always handy around the barn, and because she always helps out with the kids' lessons, she has her choice of other horses to ride.

                              She helps the trainer with lessons - tacking up the horses, helping the little kids so that the trainer can give larger lessons. She spends ALL day during the summer out there helping to run the summer camps - not just helping the kids ride, but teaching about horse care and everything from feeding to minor vet care.

                              She scrubs water troughs, feeds for the BO, turns horses in and out. She's proven herself to be a quick learner, and to be very reliable even though she's only 14.

                              In return, she gets her own lessons free, and has the use of one of the better school horses - he's a darned nice horse NOW, but wasn't when she started riding him - he'd sooner dump you than trot. But he's reliable and very easy to ride now that she's been on him for 6 months - all he needed was regular work and someone who wouldn't take his crap.

                              She's very grateful for anyone who lets her ride their horse, and I think loshad's advice is the key - she LOVES everyone's horse, and not in a starry-eyed way. She really sees the potential in horses, and has a knack for bringing it out, and so people like that. She sees opportunities - our babies were not being worked with, so rather than just pick a favorite, even though she had one, she worked with the whole herd until they were great for the farrier, easy to lead, and sane. So guess what? She's getting the pick of this year's foal crop to break and train.

                              Someone told me one time that she was having a typical teenage fit at me at the barn once, and that she said she was going to get on her horse and just run away. But in typical fashion for her, she quickly added the comment "but of course I'd warm him up good first, because he's 21 and needs a good warmup!" Everyone thought that was just hilarious, but she got a good reputation as someone who puts the horses first . So she'll never lack for rides, even though we don't have a lot of $$$ for lessons, etc.


                              • #16
                                thatmoody can you ship your DD up to us this summer? We would love to have her volunteer!

                                Young horsepeople like your daughter are exactly what we hope we produce with our program. We want them to have the passion, the determination, the knowledge and the common sense they will need to enjoy horses for their lifetime. The first thing we tell the kids is that it really isn't about the ride itself, it is how you relate to your horse and what you bring to the ride that makes the difference!

                                I get about 10-15 emails every week from parents that go like this:

                                Parent: "My daughter would like to volunteer"

                                Me: We would love to have her, our volunteers groom, help with chores, lead horses during lessons, side walk and help during special events."

                                Parent: "Oh, she doesn't need to do any of that...she's a good rider and has her own tack"

                                Me: "We offer discounted lessons to volunteers but other than that volunteering does not involve riding."

                                Parent: "Do you know where else she can get free lessons for working?"

                                Me: (seriously holding back the giggles at this point) If she isn't willing to do chores, groom and assist I'm not sure what other type of "work" she is looking for?"

                                Parent: "you know, exercising the horses and riding. She already knows how to clean stalls and groom, she just needs to ride."

                                Me: "I'm afraid I don't know of any programs that offer that. I wish I could help, but appreciate you contacting us."
                                I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

                                Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.


                                • #17
                                  the riderless horses thread is a good place to start.

                                  I rode almost everything that went through the barn when I was coming up, from about age 14 and on up. But more than that from about age 12, when I started boarding there...I cleaned stalls, fed, cleaned tack, shoveled sawdust, scrubbed buckets, fetched horses. For a whopping 25 bucks off my monthly board on my horse. But I earned riding time, and that's the only way I'd do it now. They have to want to earn it.

                                  Prove to a willing barn, she's up for it.


                                  • #18
                                    Well, in all fairness to the kids in your program, DD comes from an old horsey family. I had to sell my horses when I got divorced (we now have 2 again!), but:

                                    Uncle raced trotters up at Scarborough Downs for YEARS, now runs a boarding farm in Maine...

                                    Other uncle had a cattle ranch in Florida, which is how we came to be in FL - my dad came down to help him and here we stayed...

                                    Aunt trains barrel horses...

                                    Grandfather on her dad's side ran a boarding stable/trail ride place and imported QH's back when all that was in Florida was cracker cowponies...

                                    And my parents ran a boarding stable, so I grew up exercising and feeding, etc. I knew when we didn't have horses how to get her rides, but she definitely has her own work ethic.

                                    I had horses literally all my life, so she grew up around them. She's not the best rider ever, but she is sympathetic and has a good seat.

                                    This is NOT to say, by the way, that she does not whine about the work - she does NOT like doing the summer camps, especially. Doing ANYTHING in Florida, in the summer, is NOT fun. But she doesn't whine to the trainer, she whines to me. She doesn't like all of the horses she rides, but I try to help her see what they need to be their best, and to appreciate all of them for who they are and how they got to be that way. School horses don't always have an easy life, and although ours have it pretty cush, most of ours are either rescues or problem children to begin with, so they do have some issues.


                                    • #19
                                      I have on several occasions offered my horse to a teen whose family does not have the finances and/or experience to get a horse.

                                      With zero exceptions thus far, kid fails to show up.

                                      But i'm still looking for "that kid" to take under my wing and offer everything I can. I think there are lots of other horse peeps out there doing the same thing.

                                      If you were in my area I would certainly offer your kid an opportunity...but the follow through seems to be the issue.

                                      good luck!
                                      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                      Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                                      • #20

                                        I just checked www.virginiaequestrian.com's employment ads and found a few possibilities (listed in order of most recent rather than location):

                                        Rescue/Rehab Facility Seeking Riders (Rapidan, VA)

                                        P/T Working Student in exchange for lessons/showing (Berryville, VA)

                                        Seeking PT Working Student (Aldie, VA)

                                        looking for student interested in working in exchange for lessons (Leesburg, VA)

                                        There are others as well - for all the employment ads, see:

                                        Don't know how/if your daughter's age will factor into this, but it's worth a shot. Good luck!
                                        Equus Keepus Brokus