California Riding Magazine • January, 2010

Good Things Take Time
It’s all about the journey.

by Kelley Fielder

With all the goings-on in today’s economy there have been some subtle, yet noticeable changes in the way trainers are running their businesses. Prices of horses are dropping and people are cutting down on shows they are attending. Many people (including my husband) are pleased to see this change, and because business is slower clients are beginning to expect more from their trainers. By holding us accountable and having higher expectations, they will force us to look closely at how we run our businesses and force us to become better trainers.

I am extremely lucky that I have not lost any clients or horses due to the economic downturn. This is because I have held myself and my employees to a high ethical standard. We do not push our clients to attend every horse show. We make our show schedule fit our clients’ individual goals and they appreciate that. The horses appreciate it, too!

Scheduling and organizing my business around my clients’ specific needs keeps everyone more content. Horse and rider combinations that have specific programs designed for their needs obtain better competition results. Through positive reinforcement and goal setting riders learn confidence. My clients understand their strengths and are able to rely on them in the show ring.

Kelley’s students enjoy the journey.

Teaching riders confidence and how to recognize their strengths is really fun. Younger riders especially thrive in this type of learning environment. At the same time, horse and rider teams progress when they are allowed to make mistakes and not feel bad about it. In my 12 years of teaching I have found that every rider is too hard on themselves, including and especially me!

I was lucky to start riding at the Grand Prix level last year, but before that I would beat myself up for not having progressed to that level. For years I felt defeated because I wasn’t where I wanted to be as a rider. Then, after a lot of soul searching, I realized becoming a great rider doesn’t happen overnight. After realizing this I relaxed a bit and I started enjoying the journey. Well, the journey took me right to the Grand Prix ring!

Learning important lessons like that through riding allows me to be a better instructor. These lessons also apply to life away from the horses and outside of the show ring. We would all like to be at the end of this economic recovery and be back on top again. This, too, will not happen overnight. Instead of feeling defeated and let down, let’s think about the steps to recovery and how do we learn and grow and become better as riders, trainers and people.

Kelley Fielder operates Surfside, LLC, a hunter/jumper training barn located at Ridgemar Equestrian Center in Del Mar. She can be reached at or

Kelley Fielder