The Pros and Cons of Playing Owner

This year with Henry has been a really interesting one in a lot of ways, probably most of which (for me anyway) is the increased trainer involvement. Several of my past horses have obviously had trainer rides, but really only one of them was shown or ridden regularly by a pro, and that was Sadie.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

She was a baby, just learning the ropes, and since I had bred and raised her I really wanted her to have the best possible start. Aside from her, though, the rest of my horses have been resale projects, so were almost exclusively ridden and shown by me. This year when I tossed Trainer aboard for Henry’s first couple of Trainings, I wasn’t really expecting it to go much further than that. There was no grandiose end goal, I just wanted him to have a confident ride over some bigger courses before I made the attempt. But I’ve been really surprised by just how much I enjoy watching a pro ride and show him – I really love it. Some of my favorite things about it, for example:

  • seeing my horse learn new things
  • having his confidence grow, which in turn grows my own confidence
  • just being able to watch him compete (damn, he tears up XC, and looks so happy doing it)
  • enjoying competitions without actually competing (less pressure)
  • getting some good results on his USEA record
  • it brings me joy to see my horse bring joy to someone else
8_ixug
the fist pump and pats ❤

The first time she mentioned running him Prelim, my first reaction was “YES!” with zero hesitation. That was never part of the original plan, but I would love to see him do it. And yes, mostly just because it’d be cool as hell – one more notch in Henry’s girth. And also because if he’s run around Prelim (and maybe even a CIC* like we’ve discussed), he’ll be totally golden with anything I half-assedly attempt to point him towards at Training. I’ve literally never had a horse that was more experienced than I was.

XC3

On the flip side of things, when you’ve only got one horse and limited budget, playing owner becomes tricky. Really tricky. Especially as you go up the levels and things get more expensive (and not just USEF fees, show fees, etc, but also the increased level of care). I still want to ride and show him, because I’m unwilling to hand him over totally. I’m also unwilling to give up showing him for a while, because we’re finally to the point that I had labeled Wildest Dreams a couple years ago and I don’t want to hit the pause button. That makes it really challenging to try to map out a schedule, especially when both of you want to run around the same venue. And because I just don’t have the money to send him to every recognized show in Area V… not even half of them. To make it work, it’s definitely going to take some compromise (or a sugar daddy. Maybe two.).

Image result for money please gif

I’m just gonna keep my options open and see what road the horse takes us down. In the meantime, we’ll keep having fun with it and re-evaluate things as we go along. Damn, it’s fun playing owner sometimes though. Anyone else really enjoy watching a pro show and ride your horse?

 

 

31 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Playing Owner

  1. I’v always loved it. LOVED it. I swear there were shows where I had way more fun watching him go around the Pre Greens during the week than I did actually showing him in the Adults on the weekend. But I also love watching other non-pros ride my horse. I’ve always taken a lot of joy in having a horse that other people wanted to ride and that was good for people. I always want a rideable horse.

    And watching a pro do things so beautifully with my horses just thrills me… But in the hunter world it’s pretty normal and just a drop in the bucket of an already $$$ show. He was going to be there from Wednesday through Sunday anyway. I was going to be paying for him to be taken care of. Adding a division for my trainer to go in wasn’t that much more than the already stupid amount of money I was paying!

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  2. my gut reaction is “you are insane no way”

    but upon thinking about it… to see someone else enjoy a horse that i’ve done all the work on thus far… and think hes nice and actually WANT to ride him… that would make me unbelievably proud. so maybe in an alternate universe where i can share, yes.

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        1. I’m getting ready to click “order now” on my RW order and now I’m sitting here wondering if you have some secret code on top of the sale they’re having or nah haha.

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  3. When I was first getting into dressage a few years back, I had a very experienced local college student putting some rides and shows on my very green mares. Slightly different experience obviously because she wasn’t a pro and I didn’t pay her, but at the time, I really enjoyed watching my horses from the sidelines and playing groom/photographer/trailer driver/etc. If I had the funds, I’d love to have a pro riding my baby right now!

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  4. I personally do not like to show. It makes me extremely nervous and ends up not being fun. I’m one of those people who can barely stand someone watching my lesson.

    On the other hand, I love having someone show my horse. I act as groom and just get to relax. It’s fun watching my horses go, and I just get to hang out and observe.

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  5. This is also the first time in my life I’ve ever had a pro ride one of my horses, and it’s been really super. She’s fixing things that I either can’t fix or aren’t aware are a problem, since I don’t have the feel or timing that she does. Then I can get on and feel the difference, and work toward that. It’s like riding a schoolmaster – once you have a feeling of what’s “right,” you can work toward getting that feeling and keeping it. It’s interesting though, because while I’m like LET’S DO MEDIUM TROT and will go out and play with that, she’s 100% focused on the basics of straight and through and connected. Which… ahem… we need a lot of work on, and I tend to find somewhat tedious. But I feel like we compliment each other, because when I DO manage to ride him straight and through and connected, the medium (or shoulder in or whatever) just happens like magic.

    So yeah. Love them trainer rides, but for now I’ll stick to showing my own horse. Might be a different story with a different horse though!

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  6. I don’t think I have ever had someone else show a horse for me until I watched Annie get jumped around at Tryon and it was AWESOME. I loved seeing her boldly jump around and it definitely translated into my rides.

    If I end up with a baby horse I would love to eventually have a trainer help me move it up the levels. It would be really awesome to have a horse that knows more than me haha!

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  7. I quit eventing after I sent my horse around with my Trainer. I enjoyed not riding him so much- I had zero anxiety and I was just able to enjoy the event. I loved being groom and owner and not being the rider. At that point, I did an evaluation of why and came to the conclusion I wasn’t having fun in any jump phases anymore, if I wanted to keep eventing I should probably have Trainer do more training rides on him and take him around a bunch more times so he could pack me around so I could just work on my own fears. I still wanted to ride him myself though, so I ended up quitting jumping altogether. Haven’t looked back! I still enjoy watching and grooming for Trainer, but I’m really enjoying my straight dressage ride now!

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  8. That GIF at the end kills me. I use it all the time, sooo funny.

    To answer your question, absolutely! Having my trainer ride B in his first recognized show was cool Of course I’m headed in a different direction now, but it was still fun. Then there’s V on Yankee. I adore seeing her learn so fast on a seasoned horse who knows his job. It makes my heart sing to see her joy when they pop over the bigger stuff with ease!

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  9. I have definitely played owner a bit with Gavin and I’ll admit that it’s also a guilty pleasure for me. I get to feel proud, I get to watch him learn, I get to see what he’s really capable of, etc. I’ve had a total of three trainers work with Gavin outside of me (I’ve owned him for six years). In total, he’s probably been in training for about 6 months. I don’t regret any of it, or any of the money I’ve spent. Those trainers had things to teach him that I just couldn’t (I had the experience on trained horses, but not the experience to teach him myself). Now that we’re a bit more fluent, I try to teach him new things, but I’m not above getting some more trainer-time if we get stuck. 🙂

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  10. I get where you are coming from – I enjoy watching my horses being ridden by trainers/other horsey friends simply because I get to see them move, see them experience things, and watch them go around without having just a view between their ears. Even watching my friends take Spud around for a drive made me smile – none of them have driven before and it was a beautiful experience to watch him take care of them.

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  11. I’ve never had a pro ride my horse for more than a few minutes at a time. Whomp whomp 😦 I would love for it to happen, especially if they could fix an issue or two but alas I don’t have a sugar daddy either and it is out of budget. If you find one, do a write up on how the rest of us can find one too!

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  12. I love to see a better rider than I (not hard) ride my horse, I haven’t had the luxury of anyone showing them for me & tbh Kika is prob too old to toss back into showing hoopla. The activity would completely short-circuit her fragile brain. Nancy prob has the brain for show atmosphere but we haven’t yet ventured into any showing arena…who knows if i ever do breed from either girl I may send the babies off to be professionally trained/shown. As you rightly point out though finances and having the right people to work with play a huge role

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  13. YES. Always loved watching a pro take Leo around some larger classes. Not sure I could hand Eli’s reins over to anybody for very long, though. There is also a downside–when you have a pro taking a horse around a job he doesn’t want to do, it’s excruciating. And then you eventually move barns so you never have to experience that again.

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  14. Haha. I guess we’ll find out. I have a sneaking suspicion my trainer doesn’t actually want to show my horse (he can be “difficult”) but I’m looking forward to the pro miles she’s going to put on him anyways.

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  15. I’ve actually been playing owner with my last two horses, as they were both strictly investments. Its been a lot of fun, because who doesn’t love seeing their pony go around so nicely with a pro and pin well?

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  16. this isn’t an issue i’ve confronted before, esp with regards to the ‘limited resources’ thing – it’s never even really been an option bc if there’s just enough money for one rider, it’s gonna be me. all the same tho, i’m legitimately excited for you (and Henry, and Merritt) bc it seems like a great opportunity for everyone involved.

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  17. We need to talk. Maybe I can get you to put some low level show mileage on my giant. I would still love to dabble in your world but not sure I should do it on a baby green that needs his hand held while I need mine held

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  18. I don’t share well… I really only want someone to ride him if I think they are at my level or better then me.

    I do enjoy watching the WS ride him bc she has balls I don’t have. I mean she jumped him 4′ and i almost died watching lol

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  19. As a kid I never understood how my grandmother could enjoy watching a pro exclusively ride and show her horses. I thought she was insane. But flash forward 25 years and I was shocked to find out that not only did I enjoy watching a pro give “confidence” rides. But it’s oddly satisfying to watch your horse go be successful and compete – even if you aren’t in the irons.

    I imagine this must be similar to how soccer (/dance/basketball/whatever) moms get SUPER into their kids’ sports. I just don’t have a comparison for that (yet)

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  20. A mixed bag – I loved to see my young mare look so much better with my trainer about 1. 5 years ago as she was super fresh under saddle. But, I’m on this journey for ME, really, and I truly want to get there with her, and ME aboard. Now, if money was not so thight, I wouldn’t hesitate to send her again for 2 -3 months, as long as I got to get on her at least 1 per week and be part of her education. Then, I’d absolutely LOVE watching her be ridden, and study myself how to do it, but I think I’m a bit selfish and really want to show her myself 🙂 Even though we suck 🙂

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  21. Occasionally I wish I had a trainer I trusted with me during my rides so I could yell ‘FIX THIS’ and jump of and hand them the reins. As soon as they started having fun though, I’d be like ‘Ok, get off my horse’ and take him back. Because I’m greedy like that.

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  22. I used to love watching the pros show my hunter way back when I was a junior. I had a little appendix horse that I got when he was five and I was 11. We learned together which was an adventure. He showed in the green hunters and eventually the regular working hunters with some pretty famous riders. My old trainer had a lot of connections. It was so exciting to watch him jump those big jumps and actually get noticed! I’m not a great rider, and he always bailed me out, but he didn’t get to shine with me the way he could with a pro.
    As for currently, the only time the pro’s ride Jamp is when he’s naughty… so that’s exciting but not in the same way. And I have actually yet to see my trainer ride my baby horse. Which is kind of sad given he lives with her. Stupid job getting in the way of horse time.
    I think you have a great outlook in the wait and see where you go concept. I’m pretty type A and like to plan everything, but I’ve found with horses that’s pretty unrealistic. Sometimes you just have to see where you end up.

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  23. I have always loved being an owner. I would love to have the money to actually be an owner for someone doing spectacular things, however, I just have to be happy watching my trainer take the derpy pony out BN for me. It’s expensive, but I love to watch it anyway.

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