Pursuing a career in dressage.
   

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Pursuing a career in dressage.

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    11-27-2011, 06:19 PM
  #1
Foal
Question Pursuing a career in dressage.

Okay so basically I have this whole plan and to me it seems fool proof I would just like to get some opinions and advice (and basically write out my life story while I'm at it, or at least that's what it feels like lol)

Anyways, lets start out with I'm 19 just quit college because I felt I was wasting my time not pursing my passion and dream, or as I call it, my goal. I'm a smart kid so I know I can go back and do fine, so that's not an issue. But basically I'm trying to make a name for myself from scratch. I work full time and ride about five horses on a regular basis. I am whole heartedly dedicated to riding and improving with efficiency and speed. I believe I am talented (don't we all?) and I know I can become the best but I don't know if my plan about it is actually feasible.

What I plan on doing is becoming a working student for competent dressage facilities for as long as it takes to become an exceptional rider, and network around the country (possibly world). Find a place that I like that will permanently hire me on as barn manager or assistant trainer and focus on building my name and reputation. Eventually have my own place, and become a world renowned trainer. ;) I don't care so much about having my own facility or having money, for that matter. I just want a career in what I love because I honestly can't picture my future any other way. So my question is can you become great from nothing? Are working student positions the way to go? I have so much determination it scares me sometimes, I honestly think I could be great one day, but is it actually possible THIS WAY? Or do you have to be born into it?
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    11-28-2011, 12:21 AM
  #2
Foal
Hmmmm, well I certainly never fault ANYONE for their dreams. Dreaming big is great... it keeps your eye on the prize so-to-speak and that is a good thing. I don't think anyone is really 'born into' being a horse trainer... I know several horse trainers who have kids that don't even ride! Most horse trainers HAVE made names for themselves from nothing. What I'd do (if I had your dream) is to go to school for something in the equine studies and join the equestrian team. If the school doesn't have an equestrian team... don't go there. anyway, be good at riding, study hard and through that you should be able to get a job at at least a decent stable. It might not be as a barn manager at first, BUT keep working your way to the top and eventually you'll get there. Then, you can make a name for yourself by taking on clients horses. Just remember along the way that every successful horse you train and their happy own will tell at least ten people about the experience they had with you as their trainer. That also goes for any bad responses... sometimes the bad news travels faster than the good. That being said, don't be afraid to chase your dreams but enable yourself with the tools to make it come true.
     
    11-28-2011, 04:24 AM
  #3
Green Broke
Honestly?
Qualifications are everything. Look at any equine realted courses you can do online, teaching, health, management.
These people look for experience and qualifications. You need to start helping out, volunteer, or low paid work in local areas, even if its mucking out boxes. Show you're a hard worker, get your fingers in every pie. Attend local shows to get to know people who are competing, whats hot and whats not.

Last year I was offered a job in Munster with an international dressage rider. I looked around, no quals, no formal education around dressage, but they still wanted me. THAT was lucky, pure and simple. I would have been able to take the horse too. I was also offered a job in Belgium with the son of a very rich Arab, I was like ooh, fancy. When I looked through his site, all his grooms were young, blonde blue eyed girls. Ahem. Skipped that one.

Work your butt off girl and you'll get where you want to if you have the determination!
     
    11-28-2011, 06:51 AM
  #4
Trained
As said above, dream big :)

Just be aware that to get a career in the equine industry is VERY difficult, to get one in the dressage sector of that industry is even harder... to get a career in the dressage industry that pays well enough to live off.... well, its hard.

Most people at the top of the sport have other careers to fund their dressage 'career'. There are many vets, doctors, scientists etc. in the sport.
Finding well paying work in horses is near impossible, and most as I said, rely on other work, family, sponsors and partners to fund the hobby, rather than living entirely off the industry.

I'm not trying to crush your dreams, but your plan is not foolproof unfortunately. Things always come up, and though you may be talented in your area, it is a whole other ball game when you want to be a professional rider and compare yourself to top riders and trainers in Europe. Even here in Australia, where the dressage community is reasonably small, to get picked for the big teams and get a name for yourself, you do need to have a lot of cash behind you and have worked extensively with European trainers. Generally you also need an imported horse.

My advice would be to not put all of your eggs into one basket. By all means pursue your riding career, but also think about doing some other study, even a short course in office administration or similar, so help get you by. As a working student, you won't be making many, maybe just enough to scrape by, but don't expect to be living the high life.
     
    11-28-2011, 06:52 AM
  #5
Showing
Dani, I know number of people who became great from scratch. My trainer being one of them: she tried number of different disciplines and currently is the owner (and the trainer) of the dressage barn. She's well known and respected in my area with many ship-in lessons, clinics, judging, etc. I also have to add that she has a non-horsey profession (she was a nurse for number of years).

Yes, working student is a great start. As long as you have a dream and a plan, just go for it.
     
    11-28-2011, 08:53 AM
  #6
Super Moderator
First, roll up your sleeves and be ready to work extremely hard. Don't even think about a life outside of horses for a while.

Since you don't have the money to do it the easy way, you are on the right course to become a working student. That is what I did. Just be careful to shop your coach carefully. Not all will give you the opportunity you need but will simply consider you cheap labor. Some will give you every opportunity that you EARN. Don't expect to get anything free, though. It is an earned opportunity. Find a coach that will give you at least several hours in the saddle, every day, under supervision. Get a coach that has doors to open in todays show ring.

Good luck. It IS attainable....but not without great sacrifice on your part.
     
    11-28-2011, 09:03 AM
  #7
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dani9192    
Okay so basically I have this whole plan and to me it seems fool proof I would just like to get some opinions and advice (and basically write out my life story while I'm at it, or at least that's what it feels like lol)

Anyways, lets start out with I'm 19 just quit college because I felt I was wasting my time not pursing my passion and dream, or as I call it, my goal. I'm a smart kid so I know I can go back and do fine, so that's not an issue. But basically I'm trying to make a name for myself from scratch. I work full time and ride about five horses on a regular basis. I am whole heartedly dedicated to riding and improving with efficiency and speed. I believe I am talented (don't we all?) and I know I can become the best but I don't know if my plan about it is actually feasible.

What I plan on doing is becoming a working student for competent dressage facilities for as long as it takes to become an exceptional rider, and network around the country (possibly world). Find a place that I like that will permanently hire me on as barn manager or assistant trainer and focus on building my name and reputation. Eventually have my own place, and become a world renowned trainer. ;) I don't care so much about having my own facility or having money, for that matter. I just want a career in what I love because I honestly can't picture my future any other way. So my question is can you become great from nothing? Are working student positions the way to go? I have so much determination it scares me sometimes, I honestly think I could be great one day, but is it actually possible THIS WAY? Or do you have to be born into it?

You go girl!
     
    11-28-2011, 12:07 PM
  #8
Foal
I had the same dream as a young adult, but the decisions I made caused my life to take a different path. At the time, I was devastated. But I'm very happy not being a trainer/professional. I like not having to view dressage, riding, and horses as my main source of income.

Couple of things:
As a trainer/professional, you'll be your own marketing department. Are you a good sales person? Because you'll live or die by how well you can sell yourself to potential clients, investors, owners, and stables.

You'll also need to be very adept in securing outside sources of investment. I believe this is still mostly done through arse kissing the rich people. Are you willing to set aside your principles in order to smooze the people who can buy you that imported warmblood?

In addition, you need to be financially savvy. College courses in business management would be highly beneficial with this. Specifically, courses in finance.

Management classes would also help you when you get to the point of running a stable (even a small one). It also helps by showing barn owners that you have passed courses that deal with managing a business when you are seeking your own barn to work out of.

You should also have documented proof of experience, or courses in nutrition, biomechanics, biology, reproduction in horses, etc.

Being a professional trai er means you are your business, and you have to run it as a business. I have seen extremely great riders and trainers who couldn't make it because they either weren't good with selling themselves, or weren't on top of the financial side, or refused to arse kiss to get the money they would have needed (or to get the client who had the horse that was great). It's not just about how well you ride. It's all those other annoying factors that will make or break you. Its all about how well you can play the game.

I think it's fantastic you have this goal, and you absolutely have to go for it! But don't ever forget that you are your main product - you have to make your product as desirable to have as possible. Which means you need to be well rounded on all facets of the horse industry (nutrition, training, teaching, sales, reproduction, management, legal rights and liabilities, marketing, etc). Many people think that just because they ride well, they can succeed in the horse world. Unless you come pre-gifted with loads of money, then it takes far more than just skill on a horse to actually succeed.
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    11-28-2011, 12:20 PM
  #9
Banned
While I am a firm believer that perseverance and hard work can bring success to one degree or another to most people, I also believe that a good education not only provides a strong foundation of skill sets, but opens many doors. If you have the opportunity to finish school, you really should. It is far easier to put off work for your education than it is to put off your education for work. If you finish your education, you may do the same or you may do better - you won't do worse...that's a no-lose situation...
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    11-28-2011, 01:32 PM
  #10
Showing
^^ Completely agree and just want to add... Majority of successful trainers I know around here do have education. As I already mentioned my trainer was a nurse until she bought a farm and switched completely to horse-related stuff. Some have degree in animal science, some in sociology, etc. You never know how things in life will turn.
     

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