I'm looking for a really special trainer ...
Hi -- I'm pretty new here, and I'm looking for some kind of advice or at least encouragement. : ) This is a kind of long post but I feel like I should explain as much as possible right away.
I've had my half-Thoroughbred gelding for six years, ever since I was sixteen and he was not-quite two, and we've been in love the whole time. We've had a good partnership and he's been easy as pie -- I put all the groundwork on him, started him, and put his initial training on him almost all by myself. He had a few rough patches (he's a very powerful horse, and I was quite a small rider) but we worked through them and I had high hopes of making him my four-star eventer or mini-prix jumper!
However, three years ago, I went to college, and my horse proved to be too much for my mother. She took a bad tumble trying to jump him, and pretty much stopped riding him except at a walk and trot in the arena. Because of money issues, she also was unable to hire a professional rider or in fact any other rider except whoever would hop on him for fun, so my horse pretty much got to "chill" for a while.
Fast forward to now: I've quit college and want to get back into riding. The problem is that I'm pretty much out of riding shape, and my horse is too. He's also eight years old and quite green. He still has all of his good sense and near-perfect ground manners, he's still pretty easy to ride in the basic sense, and he still has a talent for free-jumping everything he can leap in the pasture or arena ...
I can throw a tarp over his back and hang a cooling sheet off his ears, put a novice rider on him for a supervised walk-trot lesson, and perform pretty good lateral work and walk pirouettes on him ...
but he's hesitant to take contact from the bit, move off my leg, go outside for more than a hack down the driveway, consistently pick up the canter (much less his right lead ... ), or jump even so much as a crossrail.
(He doesn't duck out or refuse, he just declines to actually jump ... he either trots right up to the jump and then breaks to walk long enough to step over it, or he -- and this is embarrassing -- trots right through it. It's not from lack of talent or training ... before I left, we trotted poles and little flower boxes in the arena, and jumped small ditches, banks, and even a fallen tree on our trail rides. In my assessment he's just worried because of the time he jumped too eagerly and my mother fell off.)
I think I've missed my window of opportunity for making a four-star event horse. But I still have hopes for eventually developing a solid Prelim competitor... I know my animal very well, and I know he could be a flatwork packer in a matter of months and a successful Novice eventer by next year if we could just get his confidence up.
The problem is that I need to get my confidence up too. I schooled Training and Prelim on my first horse, but that was a long time ago, and I've had a bunch of injuries, a bunch of naysayers, a period of inactivity, and a terrible stint on a very unsupportive college riding team in between then and now.
The point of this article is: I need to work with a trainer ... but I have literally no money (due to a few personal emergencies and misfortunes). I know I am very good at working with young horses, especially Thoroughbreds (I've worked on the back of racetracks and reschooled ex racers in their new homes as well), and thanks to a time spent working at an A-show barn I have almost endless patience for mundane tasks like cleaning buckets, polishing tack, mucking stalls, and grooming and braiding horses ...
but I'm not sure if those skills and traits alone are enough to make me a good candidate for working-studenthood anywhere.
I can ride, but I was mostly self-taught, instinctive rather than by the book, and all of my boldness depends on the horse underneath me.
It's also not like I have an expensive or mind-blowingly talented horse (I've seen him jump four feet with scope to spare, but he's no Theodore O'Connor, and even with a lot of training his dressage will never be Grand Prix quality) ... or even an incredibly outstanding horse in any sense other than he's beautiful, easygoing, and I love him.
So I wonder ... is there any chance in Heaven that a young, self-taught, moneyless rider could find a niche with a good, patient, and understanding trainer who could help her average-sized, rather quirky, and slightly self-conscious horse become the kind of animal I think he could be?
Thanks too for your patience in reading this little novel. : )
I would find eventing barns in your area and contact them. You sound like the ideal person for the working position job: ambitious, young, works with greenies, and has worked for shows/shown. I'd give all the barns a call and ask about it and explain your situation and your past experiences. Good luck! I want a working position, but I don't have that experience. :(
Any tips for me?
It would probably help if we knew where you are :D
whats your location?
I'm currently located in Pennsylvania -- my horse is in Erie, but I've been living in Pittsburgh.
I had the unfortunate luck to grow up in a relatively closed horse community. My mother grew up riding with almost all of the local trainers or the mothers of the trainers, so she has an opinion on all of them ... and doesn't want my horse to train with any of them. To be honest, I don't really want to stay in Erie, so that is all right.
I've contacted a number of trainers within a two-hundred-mile radius, but as far, no one has responded favorably. I think it is because of my financial situation.
I'm not asking to live in anyone's house or anything ... but I can afford either rent and a car or my horse, and it's clear which option I've chosen! ; )
I guess I am just too shy to ask someone if they can give me a discount training rate, or even just let me trade my services for theirs. I know that training is how some horsepeople make their living ... no one walks into a restaurant and says, "Hey, could I have a free dinner if I wash the dishes?" ; )
(Although in my opinion they maybe should ... heh)
To Nigel -- all the advice I can give you is to be plucky. I chalk most of my luck up to stupidity of youth and an extreme stubborn streak; nobody really liked either my first horse or me, but I just kept showing up every day anyway, and to compensate for that and my lack of finances I just worked so hard that nobody could criticize me. But just a love for horses -- taking care of them as well as riding them -- can do just fine on its own. ; )
So ... just keep showing up! Stick your neck out a lot, by visiting new barns and making a network of people in your area who can direct you to trainers, horses, other riders, etc, that you might not have known to go to on your own. They can in turn teach you lots of things and, most importantly, offer a support structure. It's really fun to go to an event with two or three really good friends and their horses; even if you end up competing against one another, it's MUCH better and more encouraging than having to go alone.
Also, if you can find some Practical Horseman magazines circa 1996-2000, read, read, read, I beg you! Of all the riding resources I've ever encountered, Jumping Clinic and Lessons with Lendon taught me the most. : )
Not to mention that, at the time, the magazine also ran stories by and about other amateur riders or even professionals who had worked especially hard to make it to the top. My favorite was about a nineteen-year-old girl who had taken over her mother's backyard off-the-track Thoroughbred and trained him up to be her NAYRC mount ...
Hope that helps! : )
Wow, I wish I could help but I don't have any experience with jumpers. I will just wish you luck in your endeavors.
I can get back to you, seeing how i am not positive, but my father requested me visiting some family members this summer in Penn. and I was thinking of going. I'm not quite sure if i am going or not since i need to refer to other family members but I'd be glad to help you out with your horse if I end up going to Penn this summer. please keep in contact with me through email if you are interested on my summer offer.
i check my email more then i am on this site so please email me back if you are interested.
I live in PA. But on the complete opposite side of what your horse is on. I owuldn't mind training it or helping you work with it. But I am also only 15 years old but I have trained an offtrack standardbred that was 17 years old and turned him into an amazing jumper in a year. I now have my own pony that is actually 8 years old and I am training her to be a hunter/jumper. Now I am not doing this on my own, my trainer is helping me with her but I am a very good rider. If you wanted to see pictures of me riding, go to the 'critique' section and I am the one with the post called "Critique Donna please!!-- long and lots of pictures" you can send me a private message on here if you want. You just might be living too far away from me. I am located in York, PA. If you send me a private message I will give you more detailed info. about my riding history and all that good stuff. it not its okay!
i think my trainer is looking for someone like you, but we're pretty far away... near philadelphia.
I'd love to have someone like you here, and would be willing to work something out where you work off most of board, and still leave you some time for a PT job or FT job if you wanted so that you could afford rent and car or w/e, but I'm pretty far from you....I'm in Northern NJ literally a mile from NY state and 6 miles from Matamoras, PA. We're building an indoor, and have a large outdoor and a modest facility as we're primarily a rescue, but have a separate small boarding business. I live on the property and have had working students before, however unfortunately we're not well off enough to offer a paid position, which I know makes it hard.
Your horse sounds wonderful, and wish I had the opportunity to work with him and you. Right now I'm in need of some barn help as well as someone to help ride/train some rescues to make them adoptable. We ride primarily jumpers, dressage, and eventing here, and are local to a barn that holds events, as well as a nice network of barns that do rated and local shows in h/j. It's a pretty fun atmosphere.
Good luck with your horse - he sounds great! Just needs a little more time!
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