Kate Chadderton knows what it takes to make a living (or some semblance of one, anyway) in the horse industry. Growing up in a modest household in Australia, she gained some experience bartering and selling horses at a young age.
Now, she’s passing along her knowledge to her working students in a unique way: giving them each a green horse to work with, retrain, market, and sell during the summer months. Her hope is that she can give them exposure to what is involved in being an equine professional, minus a few of the green mistakes she herself had made along the way.
“I had this pony growing up that was too small for me,” Kate remembered. “These neighbors moved in on the street and they had a horse that I thought was quite handsome. So I rode my pony up to their house, and they explained that their horse was a bit too big. I said, ‘Well, my horse is too small, yours is too big, want to swap?’ And I rode that new horse back to my house. That was my first taste of the horse business, and I kept doing it through high school to earn money.”
As she’s grown into the professional she is today, Kate has learned many lessons along the way. “I’ve made plenty of mistakes, especially with my communication,” she said. “Now with my girls, I am hoping they can learn the ins and outs of the industry, hopefully without making the same mistakes I did.”
She started this project last year, obtaining green horses to give to her working students as summer projects. “I would advertise for project horses, and I would do the initial work for them,” she said. “I would sift through the many responses, looking for the right age, generally good conformation, breed, and suitability. Obviously with a resale horse you’re going to have some parameters.”
This year, Kate selected two ponies for her working students, Emily Pryzborowski and Melissa Lempicki, to handle as resale projects. “They came from the same place, and I let the girl each pick who they wanted,” she said. “They will do everything with them. I’ll be there for the first ride to make sure nothing goes wrong, and I’ll be around to keep an eye on things but this is their project. I want them to figure it out, and I’ll give them goals along the way to meet.”
Emily and Melissa will be in charge of preparing the ponies for sale, advertising them and fielding inquiries in the a timely manner when the responses begin to come in. No matter what, though, Kate wants to make sure the ponies are trained correctly and not just glossed up to “flip.”
“At the end of the day, these are still my product that they are selling,” she said. “I want them to be trained with lasting results, not just a temporary fix for any problems. I fund everything myself, so I want these to be horses I am proud to sell.”
At the end of the day, Kate hopes that this process will help her girls figure out if pursuing a career in horses is something they want to do. “One of the questions I get asked a lot is whether or not someone should go to school,” she said. “Most working students want to figure out if they want this as their career. I think this process helps them figure out if they it’s something they want to keep doing, and if they do hopefully it will instill some knowledge and skills that they can use in the future.”
As she keeps a watchful eye on her working students and their projects, Kate is happy she can pass along the things she has learned over time to a new generation of young equestrian professionals. “It’s difficult to come into the business side from a rider’s perspective, and I’ve made my share of mistakes. This is the girls’ opportunity to experience things for themselves, only they will hopefully skip the mistakes I made along the way and become more familiar with the equine business world at the end of the process.”
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