How to get into the world of horses?
Hello, my name is Abby, I am completely new to the forums and pretty new to horses. I, like probably many other people, was that little girl who always wanted a horse, but didn't have a family who could afford horses or really lessons. I'd do anything to get near a horse, taking the same trail ride again and again until I got old enough that I thought I could work. I decided to send type a letter and place it in the mailbox of a house that had a stable behind it explaining I had no experience, but was willing to work for free for knowledge in return (I was 12 at that time.) Well I have been a stable hand there pretty much until 2 months ago when I moved to finish up my last two years of college. I learned a lot of respect for horses, because the stable had 3 mustangs all very green and two were off limits when it came to riding. There was one Morgan horse who was older and so sweet and amazing and when I was younger I rode her a couple times a week, but nothing formal. And she got leased out when I was 16 and pretty much haven't ridden again until now (I'm 20).
Okay I know this is kind of a long story, but I want people to understand where I'm coming from so that can better direct me what I need to do.
Anyways, now I am down at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN and I joined the intercollegiate horse team here. It's the first time I've ever been on an English saddle, and I'm absolutely hooked! But here's the thing, I want to learn how to train and care for horses through all levels from untouched to advanced. (I understand this will take years and years of commitment and there will always be more to learn) but I don't know where to start?
I've thought about going to schools like Meredith Manor after I graduate, but that would be $50k. I feel like I could approach a trainer and offer then $50k and have them find me a horse to buy, give me lessons, and teach me to train my own horse and all levels of horses for less than that. But truly where do you start? Are there trainers who train you to train? It seems like I'm on the outside of the horse world with me face smoothed against the glass looking desperately in, but have no key to the door.
Hello and welcome to the forum! I think working as a stable hand is a great way to start your horse 'career'. I started by volunteering at a large boarding barn. Have you considered taking lessons at a local barn? I'm not sure about Bloomington but here in Raleigh we have tons of english barns who provide lessons on their horses for around $30/hour. That would be my first step. Perhaps you could talk to some fellow members of the horse team and ask them for contacts in the area. If you have time, maybe you could work part time at one of those barns so you will learn more than just riding skills.
When I was 18 I moved down to Ocala, Florida and joined up with a company called Equistaff. I worked for a bunch of different places through them, different breeds different disciplines. Mostly some of the hottest thoroughbreds you'll ever see, and as a result of that early trial by fire there isn't a horse around that I'm afraid to handle. Most are relatively easy compared to those racehorses. I also worked in Lexington, Texas, Arizona and California.
I can tell you what I did, and what I think I'd do if I had it to do over again from the beginning. Right now I own 5 horses. I bought them all for reasons that I thought each one presented a unique challenge that would spur me to develop as a horseman, and they have. However, if I could change anything today it would be not to own horses but to stick to riding horses that other people own. There are a couple of reasons. Aside from the obvious broken record of saying that they're expensive to own (and moreso than I ever imagined) I came to realize gradually that these horses are not prospects nor are they likely future superstars. They are sacrificial lambs. Those early horses that will bear all the brunt of a first-time horse trainers' rookie mistakes. If I had it to do over again I'd rather have not owned my sacrificial lambs. Instead I'd have stayed free and traveled longer and rode more horses before becoming an owner. Spread out my mistakes over more horses and gained that vast experience that would come from riding a few hundred head over a few dozen states (or wherever).
I have no doubt that programs like Meridith Manor or the Thacher School are excellent and you'd probably get an education there that would be unlike anything else. At the end of the day though, it's what you can do that counts and experience is king when it comes to learning about horses. I would ride as many horses as you can make opportunities for yourself to ride, be willing to travel if you want to really get good, develop the ability if you don't have it already to ride outside the arena and to gallop over all kinds of terrain outdoors, don't make yourself someone's crash dummy but develop those skills in areas where the majority of riders have disadvantages (many people really fear going fast) and you'll stand out from them. Cultivate a love for the process of learning about horses.
Know that you're going to fall again and again, but don't worry about it. Every time you hit the ground just use that surge of adrenaline to jump back up there and finish the ride. It's like a wave you can ride if you catch it right and it actually feels amazing. Every fall you live through makes you stronger as a rider so welcome it WHEN (not if) it comes. I heard a saying attributed to the French. "It takes seven falls to make a rider". I don't know how I got so deep into falling but you get the idea lol.
Above all remember that the greats are great because horses are their life. That's one common thread I've found across all disciplines and corners of the horse world.
An internship or working student program is a great way to start also! In these types of programs you are more exposed to all aspects of horse care and training then just taking lessons. It also will not be as expensive because you can work off the education! A great place to find these in your area is Equestrian Jobs and Staff, Horses and Horseboxes/Trailers for Sale and Equestrian Dating. Good luck, horses are tons of fun, and this is a great industry to work in as well!
Thanks to all who have repsonded!
As of right now through the equestrian team I lesson for one hour a week at our trainers barn, conveniently through these Intercollegiate Horse Show Association you ride on your competitors horses and they ride yours with no time to warm up, so we get lots of good experience riding all different kinds of horses.
I am thinking about half leasing a horse so my ride time will go up from once a week to 4 times a week at the same stable and I've sent an email asking if they ever do internships or work studies, explaining I wanted to learn how to train.
That's the big thing, I can lesson like crazy on the back of hundreds of horses, but what I want is to understand how to train a horse to get there, what kind of ground work to do, how do you solve behavior problems, how do you raise a fool, break in a horse, and once you have a good well mannered horse for showing how do you continue to improve that horse in the show ring? These are the kinds of things I want to learn hands on.
I'm not afraid of hard work, I mucked stalls for free for years when I was just a kid, I found and still find even the grunt work a privilege just because I get to be near horses. I'm not afraid to fall or bleed and I would practice until I could barely stand (as long as the horse could stand that kind of activity).
I just want more than anything for someone to take me in and push me hard everyday, teach me, correct my mistakes, and give me the chance to prove myself.
It takes a lot of time and patience to be able to train like how you are describing. First, you must "lesson like crazy" because the foundation to training is knowing how to ride so well you don't even think about it. I have been riding my entire life, 21 years, but I only started "training" when I was about 16. That's about 5 years of simply learning how to sit on a horse, and I didn't actually get relatively "good" at training until I turned 18. And even now I'm much better than I was 3 years ago. The worst possible thing you can do is bite off more than you can chew. There is an infinite amount of knowledge when it comes to horses, and an infinite amount of danger. You want to be an excellent rider so when those critical training moments happen, you have the confidence and the natural body memory to succeed.
An apprenticeship or job as an assistant to a trainer or groom are probably your best bets.
Do you have a discipline that you prefer? I am more familiar with the Western disciplines of cutting, reining and making really solid trail horses. As I started having more early onset back and arthritic problems I had to go from reining and cow work to the slower, less demanding trail training, but, I will always train -- even if it is from a wheelchair. It is WHAT I DO!
I try to keep an apprentice here to help me put the work in that I can't do any longer. It is not the ideal situation because I can no longer get on one to show someone what needs to be done. I really miss the fast cow work. So someone like me would not be the ideal.
Show trainers need people to tack up and warm up their horses and cool down horses. A trainer can ride twice as many horses if someone else is getting them ready and warming them up. These jobs can turn into being an assistant trainer for people with the 'talent' and 'feel'.
Developing that talent and feel is what it takes to become a trainer. This is not something that everyone does. There are many expert riders that never become trainers. If you go to the big World Championship shows, you will find that most World Champion riders in the Amateur and Non-pro divisions have trainers and have kept their 'day job'. I have found that those individuals that actually become trainers have a certain mind-set. They are people that want to 'fix' or improve everything a horse does. They seize on every little thing a horse does that they think they can improve. They are very aware that every horse they get off of is doing something better or worse than when they got off of that horse last time.
If a person goes to work for a trainer they will find out if fixing, improving and figuring out a horse comes naturally to them or always remains a mystery. Even if becoming a trainer is difficult, there are many assistant and support positions that always need to be filled. There are some excellent horsemen that groom for H/J or Polo trainers for many years but never become primary trainers and do not want to.
One thing is for sure: If a person goes to work for a trainer, they will find out just what part of the industry they are cut out for and will excel at.
Then I am a rider several times over.!
Meredith manor in wv? Don't come to wv looking for horse experience. Even through a school I live in wv and looked into the school. You will pay out over 50k plus you have to bring your own horse and supply's. You will learn no more than what you could at a stable for free. Plus all you get is certifiied which doesn't mean anything. Wv is the last place to look for experience with horses half the people here no very little about horses. Trust me on that I've been looking for help here for 4 years! My advice look for a good trainer and learn how to ride. You gotta know how to do it all yourself before you can start training horses tobe ridden. Once you get to a high enough level start helping trainers
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