Primarily, I teach other riding instructors and trainers. They come from all over, as I gather them up, from the clinics and judging that I do across the country. In the winter, they come to me in Florida for a month or two of for thorough evaluations to figure out how to get themselves ahead; they come to me for intensive tune-ups, for competition and concentrated training for themselves, that they are unable to get through clinics and occasional lessons while they are busy running their own businesses. It is difficult for many of them to get away. For them it is a time away from their businesses allowing them to focus again on learning and to have time, privacy and opportunity to focus on what they need to get ahead in their own riding careers.
The gamut of information that these trainers from second level to Grand Prix may need to get ahead to progress in their businesses, their competing, their equitation, their horse health management and their training skills, is always unique. It continually surprises me what they want to talk to me about.
Today, one trainer talked to me about her concerns with a client. This trainer has been a working horse professional five years. She has ridden her whole life but had day jobs in other industries before taking the plunge five years ago to being a full –time horse professional. Like many, she has taken numerous riding lessons, clinics, read extensively, went to Pony Club as a child and has “ hung up a shingle” to become a professional riding instructor. She is anxious to continue her education in a thorough and formal way and has my respect that she is doing so. Since she has had horses her whole life, the long hours required for the stable and the care of the horses has not been really a shock, but it was really only today as we talked that she realized truly the alternate life style it is to be a full-time horse professional. It just had not occurred to her (even though she’s been working) that when clients have time to call horse professionals, take a riding lesson or go horse showing is going to be on THEIR time off. That is going to be– before work, after work (nights) , weekends and holidays. Professionals need to be flexible and available to service their clients. Balancing their family and personal times can be a challenge. There will always be a horse show on July 4. That probably means no family barbecues on July 4th– EVER. An additional challenge is the patience required with clients that are on their time off. Some tend to be casual about their time and appointments at the stable because this is their recreational time. It is an often discussed problem for professionals that some clients are not timely for appointments. (Thank goodness for those of you who are and bless you! Of course, to be fair there are professionals who are not timely. But that discussion is for another time. Additionally there is some difficulty with people viewing your assistance as being worthy of payment. Non-professional horse people swap ideas and information with their friends continuously. You will do it for a living. Often it is difficult for them to realize that all of your information is hard earned and worth money. Your time is worth money. In reality, it is time– it is all that you have to sell. Information yes, but time has a limit, as you can only work so many horses a day or teach so many lessons.
For the horse professional, the horses need to be cared for morning, noon and night daily, and the clients care and instruction after hours and on weekends. For people coming into the industry it is important to recognize and think about this different lifestyle and bio rhythm. I counsel riders who are thinking about becoming professionals to be sure to be a working student somewhere or to job shadow a professional for a number of days. It is a way of life that has great demands as well as fulfilling rewards. Be sure it suits you before you begin.
READ MORE ABOUT AUTHOR BY IDA ANDERSON NORRIS