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Exercise Riding: Yay or Neigh?

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  • Exercise Riding: Yay or Neigh?

    I've been riding with eventing trainers since I was a small child and have good balance, am comfortable at a gallop and a thrill seeker. Today I went out to Finger Lakes racetrack and exercised a gelding [he was tranqued(!) - is this very common?]. I have about a million things to learn, but I loved it - just about the best feeling in the world. The track can be seedy, but more importantly, it's so blooming dangerous. The girl who was kind enough to bring me along had a list about ten feet long of her injuries. And then there's the chance of death or paralysis.

    It's my decision in the long run, but I'd like to hear input. Stories and statistics are welcome, also. There is a surprisingly small amount of information about exercise riders on the internet. I'm nineteen and am going to college. Is it really worth it?

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    I've broken most bones, Compression fracture of my skull and cheekbone as well. Dislocated my shoulder front and back, sternum, arm, finger, ribs, vertibae.. you name it. I've had a couple of incidents I should never have lived though let alone walked away from. More concussions than is healthy I am sure.
    BUT In all honesty I think the part of an exercise rider is learning to avoid problems. Ways to stay safe. It's not always you that's the danger, but the people around you. At high speeds things can go very bad very fast.
    It's a fun way to make a living. Lots of people use tranq, lots don't.
    Be careful. Listen to the people around you. Race horses are very different than eventers, cross country horses. It's a technique that sometimes takes alot of finesse or just plain BS when it comes to the tough ones.
    Never think you know evrything because you've ridden for years. Believe me people who offer information are looking out for themselves as well. Store all information. What works for one horse might not work for another. Make sure you are getting on horses for people who are going to look after you and not put you in a bad situation.

    Comment


    • #3
      galloping is a tough and demanding job (physically, mentally and timely) that does not go without inherant risks (to illustrate this, a gallop boy my husband and i have known for years died this past weekend as a result from a head injury sustained when a horse he was galloping threw him). this all being said, it is an extremely rewarding position also - and there is something special about seeing the sun rise day after day from the back of a horse, or galloping through the fog at the hallowed grounds of Saratoga or Keeneland.

      the people you will meet in this position, the horses you will get on, and the path this gypsy life will take you down keep life from being dull and monotonous. Galloping has taken me to the silver screen, the evening news, periodicals and journals and also has allowed me to get on horses that have run in the Kentucky Derby, horses that cost upwards of $2 million as unbroke and unproven babies, and met owners, trainers and jockeys that i prevoiusly only knew through the television screen. my husband has been around the world with racehorses, sat on some of the greatest runners in recent times, and has also dined with 2 presidents (the bush's) because of the races. in the mornings, the railbird tourists have a special envy for you, as only a select few are able to ride these majestic animals we call racehorses.

      now, to answer your question about a horse being tranqued, for some it is the rule rather than the exception. i know brand name trainers who ace nearly the entire barn each morning, save for the few days preceeding a race, and i myself use it on ours quite a bit. my husband and i believe it's better for the horse to settle and be able to focus on the task at hand and have a good training session rather than concentrate on being stupid the whole time.

      i was your age when i first came to the track, though i had been galloping for about a year on the farm. you are young and have your entire life ahead of you, why not make an effort to live out some of your dreams? the memories will last a lifetime
      To get in the winners' circle you must first get into the gate

      Comment


      • #4
        [QUOTE=QHJockee;3324639]
        Galloping has taken me to the silver screen, the evening news, periodicals and journals and also has allowed me to get on horses that have run in the Kentucky Derby, horses that cost upwards of $2 million as unbroke and unproven babies, and met owners, trainers and jockeys that i prevoiusly only knew through the television screen. my husband has been around the world with racehorses, sat on some of the greatest runners in recent times, and has also dined with 2 presidents (the bush's) because of the races. in the mornings, the railbird tourists have a special envy for you, as only a select few are able to ride these majestic animals we call racehorses.

        now, to answer your question about a horse being tranqued, for some it is the rule rather than the exception. i know brand name trainers who ace nearly the entire barn each morning, save for the few days preceeding a race, and i myself use it on ours quite a bit. my husband and i believe it's better for the horse to settle and be able to focus on the task at hand and have a good training session rather than concentrate on being stupid the whole time.

        Maybe the horses should be better trained. Then the use of a tranq. wouldn't be necessary. I trail ride and work cattle on my Thoroughbred race horse - stakes winner and stakes placed- when we aren't racing. I don't expect my exercise rider to train my horse, and I certainly don't depend on pills or a needle and syringe to do it. Funny how u think the horses are just being stupid. I use TITS - Time In The Saddle - to get my horses to settle and focus on the task at hand. If I don't have time to do that, I have too many horses. Just my opinion.
        "Go not where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail" - Emerson Honor Pursuit - more than just a name!

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        • #5
          take care/ beware of bad trainers

          Be sure you have a trainer who is not going to drug lame/ sore horses and then have you gallop them; one, who will listen to you when you say the horse is sore ., not drug the horse and put you up to "breeze him /her; I had always thought a trainer would appreciate an exercise rider telling them, the horse is showing signs of lameness that you can feel; but, the one I rode for was a real Jerk! a very promising 2y o had been diagnosed with cracked sesamoids behind, from kicking the th ewall of his of his stall; the vet said the trainer must have given him cocaine or heroin to get him to run/train like he did
          breeder of Mercury!

          remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans

          Comment


          • #6
            I galloped for 25 yrs, and also rode races for a few of those years...

            I feel extremely lucky that I've only broken one bone, and was only taken away in an ambulance once...(had a horse fall while breezing, knocked us both out cold)...

            Go into it knowing that you are going to get hurt eventually, it's pretty much a given... and the odds of it being severe are high. I have a few friends that are no longer here, due to bad accidents either racing or in the morning... it's just part of the job.

            I found myself in a few hairy situations (had a bit break in two... on a two yr old breezing) stirrups fall off saddles, and horses stumble and somehow manage to get up... the odds go up the more you ride.

            I was around some really nice horses, and met incredible people... never made it to the White House, but did dine with the Gov, had box seats at the wire for the Derby, and ate Crawfish with Pat Day and his mom... Calvin was there too, but at the time he hadnt made a name for himself...LOL...

            I shared a house with Julie Krone, and I'm still friends with some of the top jocks in the country... I wouldnt have traded one second of my life while on the track! I say go for it!

            Comment


            • #7
              Yep, Acertainsmile we do know alot of the same people...
              Pretty much you need to be fearless. You will get hurt. Collar bone breaks are very common. Let me correct fearless and half suicidal. You start thinking you're gonna get hurt you will get hurt. It's a great job but it IS dangerous. Stupid people will risk your general health and well being wihout a thought.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Chiniko View Post
                Yep, Acertainsmile we do know alot of the same people...
                Pretty much you need to be fearless. You will get hurt. Collar bone breaks are very common. Let me correct fearless and half suicidal. You start thinking you're gonna get hurt you will get hurt. It's a great job but it IS dangerous. Stupid people will risk your general health and well being wihout a thought.
                Yep, amazing how as we get older those stupid people start wearing neon signs...

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think it's worth it if you love it. Try it and see if you love it - both galloping and the whole racetrack atmosphere.

                  I'm thinking there is someone who posts here who gallops at Finger Lakes. Does anyone know who I'm thinking of?

                  Riding for good trainers is good advice. But, remember the fanciest barns and most nicely dressed trainers are not always the best. Ship-in trainers always need riders, but those horses are generally either really nice or really, really bad to ride.

                  One of the big differences between riding and racehorses that new people find surprising is that with a riding horse if you come off, people are worried about you. With a racehorse, people are worried about the horse.

                  At the track, you're there to get the job done in a timely and efficient manner. If a horse is rank, won't stand still for a leg up, comes out snorting fire, or whatever, it needs to be galloped. And, there isn't much time for analysis when you're done galloping - it's time to move on to the next one.

                  Everyone has given you good advice about the dangers. And, something else to think about - you don't get to choose your tack. Even some good barns have scary tack. Sometimes, that makes me more nervous than the horse.

                  The track can be a hard place to be. I don't even work for anyone else anymore, but I still have moments at the track when I'd really like to just cry - or throw something - or both. But, I still love it in the end.

                  Bottom line: try it and see what you think.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The person who gallops at Finger Lakes is Olympicdreams04. I haven't seen her post anything in a bit.

                    Regardless, if you do decide to work at the track, be sure to look for "The FLTAP ladies (check my signiture line for a little more info about FLTAP)." We're around every Saturday, and you can tell us by the cameras we carry, and the black clipboards. Don't be afraid to stop us, and say hello.
                    If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
                    Desmond Tutu

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hey guys. I'm the gallop girl at finger lakes and put Adair on a couple of my DEAD broke horses. Ultimately she decided it wasn't for her and that is a decision I totally understand. It take a pinch of psychosis, a dash of iron to clad ones balls, and a love of all things both thrilling and dangerous. Oh yes, and an affinity for early mornings. Oh well I think she learned a thing or two and now I get my easy horses back. All that's left to do now is break the hearts of all the guys whpo glimpsed the "fresh meat" lol.
                      "Gallop as if you were to die tomorrow, jump as if you were to live forever."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well that wasn't much fun!

                        I, too, enjoyed my years galloping horses. I also got on some amazing horses and still enjoy looking through my scrapbook of clippings.

                        Accident wise I only ever had a broken wrist. But the worst accident which was very minor was when I sprained my neck and did something wacky to a nerve. It was my last year of galloping actually and at the time we were dealing with a few friends that had been killed, not on horses mind. So next thing I know every morning I'm going into work, can't breathe, feel dizzy, and limbs start going numb. Still not diagnosed with the sprained neck, sent me to a shrink instead because I have anxiety disorder. Let's just say anti-depressants weren't for me so went to a nuerologist and finally got diagnosed properly. But that was 3 months of worry and dread I had to deal with while going to work everyday and trying my best to hide it.

                        I'm really happy I had the fun and excitement of it all, but am really glad I moved to Ireland and tried my hand at doing other things with horses. I still gallop out a bit in the summer when things are quiet so I can stay in shape, but it's fun now and not something I have to do. Plus nobody starts riding out here until about 8am so I can get all my horses fed, ridden, and mucked out before galloping somewhere else.

                        Terri
                        COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                        "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.

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                        • #13
                          Olympic Dreams 04,

                          Can I try getting on those horses next?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DickHertz View Post
                            Olympic Dreams 04,

                            Can I try getting on those horses next?
                            DH, your welcomed to come ride any time. My dead broke horses or anything u see around my barn that suits ur fancy
                            "Gallop as if you were to die tomorrow, jump as if you were to live forever."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              $$

                              So since this thread is about working as an excersice rider, could you give a newbie an idea of how much it pays? Is it per ride? Or just too many variables to really say...

                              Bottom line: is it enough to pay your health insurance premiums? :-)

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                $10 per horse as a free-lance rider in the Mid-Atlantic region

                                Some riders are salaried by larger barns and work exclusively with them.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I make $225-$240 a day when I was freelancing. It's 7 days a week, so not a bad living

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    $10 - 15 up here, with the median being $12.

                                    With around 30 years of galloping, hubby's never gotten hurt (huge knocking on wood here) and just celebrated his 60th birthday last week. But as he's gotten older he's gotten somewhat wiser and is picky about what he gets on anymore. He use to think he was superman (a pretty good quality when you like looking for the rankest like he did), but now he'd prefer anything that goes straight and has some brain matter filling the space below the ears. He gets on ours, and occassionally a few others. But I think the 10-12 a day he was doing in his 50's is finally gone. I watch, I enjoy watching, I respect the riders for the jobs they do, but I'll keep to enjoying TBs after they've hung up their racing plates.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I make an easy $230-$250 a day, 7 days a week, and pony/run horses in the afternoon. Ponying @ $20/head and running @ $30-$40/head.
                                      "Gallop as if you were to die tomorrow, jump as if you were to live forever."

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Thanks to everybody who gave me advice - very pragmatic, no bull. I went out to the track again today, and like Lauren (OlympicDreams04) said, I just don't think it's a good fit. I'm grateful that she wasn't embarrassed to be seen with such a newbie (seriously, it was humbling). To have had the opportunity was lucky, interesting and memorable and now I know what it feels like to gallop a racehorse. So despite feeling feeling like a liitttle bit of a pussy (they really do have balls of iron), I'm swallowing my pride - I just don't want to risk getting permanently injured. For now, galloping out on the xc course will have to do.

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