Career in Dressage?

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1 January 2016
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Okay so I'm wondering if it's possible to make your way to the top of dressage, as in get to Grand Prix, if you aren't on any of the pony teams and squads etc. My parents aren't interested in horses and are scared of them, however I loan a pony with a yard owner who is very knowledgeable and teaches me everyweek. She competes advanced medium regional level and is training her horses to passage/piaffe etc.

I've competed I unaff. Before up to elementary level, working some medium movements at home. I'm still in my early teens and so like to think it might be possible to get to Grand Prix?!

I've never had a flashy horse etc, but think it's something that would be simply a dream. I know everyone would love to ride their ponies for a job, but it's just not always possible.

Also, is there anyway of not spending hundreds of thousands to buy the Grand Prix horse in the first place, as in buying a younger horse who doesn't know all the tricks etc that I could train?

Thanks for any replies in advance.
 

be positive

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My friends daughter has, or is getting there, her parents are supportive but do not have pots of money so although she has always had her own pony and later horses they have not been expensive or particularly well trained, like you her first "proper" dressage ride was an older pony who had been competed by her then YO while she was in ponies, then he was used as a schoolmaster for one or two young girls to teach them the basics.

Friends D has worked her way up, been an apprentice, done her BHS exams and ridden anything and everything along the way, her own 2 horses have got to advanced level, been to various championships but have not stayed totally sound along the way, she is lucky that her hard work and talent have been noticed and she has been able to compete, I think up to PSG, on a few horses for clients of the yards she has worked on, now in her mid twenties she is managing a dressage orientated yard and has a few horses to compete as if they were her own, she is now getting a decent wage, keep for her own horse and accommodation etc. her parents had supported her to some extent until recently to make up the shortfall in wages.

It is certainly possible to buy a young horse and train with it up to the top levels without having a huge budget but you will still need to factor in a lot of expensive training, that not all horses will or can do the more advanced movements well enough however well they are trained it may be beyond them and you cannot find that out until the training gets to that point, horses break far too easily so you may need a few to get you where you want to go, having ambition at your age is great, work hard, look out for opportunities, be realistic about what you can achieve and you may get there.
 

dressage_diva

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The alternative of course is to decide to have a career outside of horses, earn a bit more money and compete at your weekends/days off and try to move up the grades that way. I work full time in a non-horsey career which pays well and has enabled me to afford a talented but green horse that I'm hoping to one day take all the way to Advanced/PSG. At some point in my life, I would like to compete GP (though I don't expect that will be any time soon and probably not with my current horse) though I don't see myself working full time with horses.

I feel like dressage is probably one of the horsey discipline where it is still possible to compete at a very high level whilst not working in the equestrian industry. I'm not saying it's guaranteed that you can compete at GP level, but there are plenty of very competitive and very successful amateurs who do make it to the top level - just look at Steph Crawford and Mr President. If you are on FB follow Diamonds in the Rough Dressage - the two ladies on that have high dressage aspirations but my understanding is that they have non-horsey jobs too!
 

nikkimariet

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Yep we both have totally normal lives and totally normal jobs!

I have a little ex racer. He's not flash. But he's got 70%+ prelim-med and scoring high sixties at AM. He's placed at regionals, high profiles, area festivals and premier leagues. He's been to the winter nationals 3 times. And he cost me a grand to boot lol!!!

You do need to be really determined to fit it all in and make it work. Have a plan. For the week the month the year the next 5 years.

If I get 60% at GP I'll retire happy!!!

The great thing about dressage is that if it goes wrong you just get a crap score. If your horse can't make the back bar of the oxer you're heading to, you're in trouble and no amount of training can make a horse a bigger jumper but you can absolutely change a horses movement with good and correct training.
 

rachk89

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I think it's possible. I am in the category of owning a green horse with potential while working in a non horsey job. It doesn't pay overly well either and my parents do help out but aren't rich. I want him to get to grand prix level as he has the potential and is only 7 now so plenty of time.
 

Orangehorse

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I know someone who went from a totally non-horsey background, although they had supportive but not rich parents who has made it from learning to ride at a riding school up to running a livery/training/breeding dressage yard and competed at the Nationals last year.

Apparently it was all my fault too! I had a pony birthday party for my daughter and that was the catalyst to start this career.

The advice I would give is to get as wide experience as possible, the person I know helped out at the riding school, learned and asked all they could, got a job at a livery/hunting/competition yard/took all BHS exams and now is I an intermediate instructor. While you are young I would try and get some wider experience before committing to dressage only.
 

daffy44

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Hi Equi2012, I have trained my own horse to competing at Grand Prix 63+% on our first couple of tries. I have totally non horsey parents, who while lovely have absolutely no interest in horses or dressage, I certainly never did pony, young riders teams etc. I learnt to ride at a riding school and on a friends pony, i then worked at a dealing yard from my teens upward, also grooming, working on a breakers yard etc, all geared towards show jumpers, i basically just rode and backed anything and everything, bought a few very cheap tricky, quirky horses, sorted them out, sold them on etc. I came to dressage in my twenties when i bought a very cheap failed eventer, that i failed to make event again, so i began to be interested in flatwork, i trained that mare to grand prix, but didnt compete her sadly, as her eventing experiences had totally blow her brain. I then bought cheap foals, backed them, produced them, and now the first one is competing at Grand Prix.

So its totally possible without horsey supportive parents, and without loads of money. But it has taken a long time, a lot of work, and total commitment and i think without those things its impossible! But best of luck, work hard and you can achieve whatever you want to.
 
Joined
1 January 2016
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Okay thanks everyone! It's given me a lot of inspiration and also allowed me to think of working outside of just dressage and horses!
nikkimariet and dressage_diva I do follow Diamonds in the Rough Dressage and your posts really inspire me!
 

_jetset_

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I would say if you have a trainable horse and a trainer who can support you, getting to the advanced levels is very achievable.

However, for the Grand Prix work the horses do have to be put together in a particular way which makes the higher collection easier for them. That is not to say that a horse who is not built for the job cannot get to the level, but I am sure those who have achieved this will agree, it makes it much harder to achieve and in my opinion a very talented rider.
 

Pigeon

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Also you can work on your fitness off the horse. Yoga and pilates are great for balance and core strength.
 
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