Don't Own Your Own? No Probs...
When people first hear that you are an equestrian they instantly jump to the conclusion that you must own your own horse or pony to be able to go out competing. Although this, in most cases, may be true, it is possible to get out and about without owning your own and just being the rider. If you put yourself out there in the right way, you may find that people contact you or you could even advertise yourself as looking for a stead to bring on and take out. How do I know this? Well, this is exactly what happened to me.
As you may be aware, I ride and compete a 13.2hh chestnut mare called Odelle (or Delli for short). I do not own or even officially loan her but I am able to do with her what I would do with my own. We go out and compete regularly, I can go and ride her when I like, and I can spoil her as much as I want – which is a regular occurrence I'm not going to kid! This arrangement came about when in the back end of summer 2015 I was contacted by Delli's owners asking if I was interested in bringing on a young mare (6 years old) who had a talent for jumping. They had been following my equestrian antics on social media and the progress with, what was my loan horse at the time, Sebastian. I quickly took up the offer and went to ride her for the first time. This; however, was not as successful as hoped. It was clear that she was in need of regular schooling as well as an enthusiastic rider to help her over even a pole on the ground, and yet she still either refused or pinged dramatically over it – I even ended up meeting the floor at one point but I did land on my feet so that makes it a bit better! Luckily we know the cause of this behaviour which is just people purely being nervous when jumping (rather than any injury or discomfort), Delli picked up on this and began to take note.
So how can you ‘put yourself out there’ I hear you ask. Well, it's all about being positive. But first, please make sure that you are going to be a committed rider and not just ride the horse or pony at times when it suits you best and then abandon it for months or say you're not going to ride it because “it is not schooled correctly” as this is part of your job too remember. Anyways, back to the point of being positive...
If you are passionate about the sport it shouldn't be unusual for you to share news of recent events and riding updates on your social media accounts and pages; however, if you are looking to increase your chances of finding a stead, it is important that you share these regularly and reflect on anything which could be improved as this will portray you to be a kind rider with the horse's best interests at heart, which is exactly what people look for when scouting out a potential rider. Furthermore, if you have not done so already, I would recommend making either a Facebook page or Instagram profile dedicated to your riding. This is helpful as you can invite certain people to like the page or follow your antics which will prevent the ‘non-horsey' people on your private pages becoming bored of seeing loads of equestrian related posts. Opening up to a new audience could also increase your chances being put in contact with an owner.
On the other hand you could always advertise yourself as a rider. There are plenty of groups on social media where you could put up a post expressing your needs. Said groups may not only find you an owner but they may give you some incredibly helpful advise on how to go about things and making sure that this is the right path for you. Obviously I did not need to do this with Delli but this is definitely an option I would look at using if I were to be looking.
So overall it can be slightly determined by social media presence but you have also got to be a good enough rider to be able to bring on horses which are very different to those in a riding school.