Monday, April 12, 2010


Percheron Going Grey

In a recent post FHOTD made seven points on how to find a trainer. What are your thoughts on the points and can you add to the list?

1. See the horses trained by a potential trainer. Look for sound, happy horses
2. Review the trainers barn policies and make sure that you have access to your horse.
3. Research the trainers history to see if they have been disciplined by an association or if they have a bad review online.
4. Go to the barn to see if the horse there are health and happy.
5. Watch how the trainer treats their clients and horses at shows and under pressure
6. Don't expect results if you trainer-hop
7. It's cheaper to buy a fully trained horse than to a hire a trainer for inexperienced horse.

Kaede made an excellent suggestion where she states,

"…she doesn't seem to take into consideration the riders skill and innate talent.

One Saddlebred Show trainer I know spends a great deal of time bringing a horse down to the level of their rider. Taking a Park horse down to country pleasure type thing. For you huntseat folk, it would be like taking an Rolex eventer down to HUS. This does the horse no harm,and hopefully the rider and the horse can be retrained together."

She's correct when she points out that they trainer must understand the skill level of the rider and thoroughly understand who they are training for.

One approach that I do agree with is that in classical dressage the trainer trains the mind of the horse as well as the body. The end result should be a highly responsive, healthy, athletic horse with a quiet mind. We are often taught that we should adapt to the horse's personality and ride what's there. But, I feel that the majority of riders need a trainer that understands the development of the quiet mind. There is a great deal of skill involved in developing a solid trail horse. I think that the majority does not want to fight and manage difficult behaviour on a regular basis. Any thoughts?


  1. Developing a quiet mind...exactly!
    I'm appalled and rather frightened by the BS some trainers allow a horse to get away with. A horse needs to have SAFETY instilled in all aspects of it's training. It's also a better guarantee that the horse will find a good home. A quiet, safe horse is much more likely to become the beloved family horse for life. MOST of the riders I deal with want to be able to go on trails and have fun. Not all want to compete at any level. A good horse should be able to compete on a novice or intermediate level with a trained rider, and also stay calm when jaunting around the neighborhood.
    The highly specialized horses are really at risk when they are no longer competitive in their niche.

  2. "The highly specialized horses are really at risk when they are no longer competitive in their niche."

    I agree 100%. These types of horses are going to get booted from the barn when they no longer earn money. Then who's going to take them in? The majority of riders are not going to want a "fried brain" or a problem.

    The problem lies in the training. Most horses come out of competitive training with a portion of their brain fried by the training process. Any idiot can boot a horse around a course, but it takes a high skill set to train for true responsiveness. That is to "go for it" only when it's asked for. These horses should have a solid basis in "quiet mind" training before they begin competitive training. The "quiet mind" training has to be reinforced throughout the horse's career.

  3. I think there's a deep disconnect between what many trainers want (students and riders who want to show which equals increased income from show fees and other extras) and what most riders want (as Kestrel put it: "to go on trails and have fun").

    I understand that developing a quiet, fun, easy-to-handle horse for a non-competitive rider doesn't equal much financial gain for trainers. And I know most trainers struggle to make a living, but this disconnect drives me crazy. It's how I ended up with a really unsuitable first horse that needs an intermediate or better rider. My then-trainer insisted the horse would be perfect for me and that we would grow into our show career together and that I would be bored with a quieter, easier horse. Turns out she was wrong, wrong, wrong.

    It took trying four trainers before I found my fifth. She helped me find my dead-broke, slightly challenging but super fun QH gelding. She knows I'm interested in dressage, but she's wise enough to understand that I'm not going to achieve Grand Prix levels. (Heck, I'll be lucky to get beyond training level, and that's not because of the horse, believe me!) She doesn't make a ton of money from me, but I'm a steady-paying customer who tries to never miss a lesson and who loyally recommends her services to anyone who'll listen.

    I'm not sure what the answer is because good trainers need to make a living, and let's face it, they're not going to make their entire living from boarding or lessoning or even from most training. The balance must be gained through something else, and for many, it's the fees they charge to help their student's show. I wish there was an easy answer!

  4. And for training riders! I've seen quite a few in perfect form... all the way to the ground! The skills necessary to wrestle a horse around the show ring are a limited set of the true rider's arsenal. The truly great competitive riders I've met seem to calm a horse when they step onto them. No matter how well trained a horse is, an insensitive rider can fry their brains.

  5. "It's how I ended up with a really unsuitable first horse that needs an intermediate or better rider. My then-trainer insisted the horse would be perfect for me and that we would grow into our show career together and that I would be bored with a quieter, easier horse. Turns out she was wrong, wrong, wrong."

    I have heard this story so many times. It's sad because the process is disheartening for all involved.

  6. Kaede,
    Saddle seat is common way of riding draft horses. They have a natural high step like that of the Saddlebred. The difference is in the head carriage as they have a high set neck but not as high and craning as the Saddlebred. Their neck position is similar to that of a Morgan.

  7. Fugly's list looks pretty good, but I noticed that it doesn't take into account that many (most?) of us who most need trainer advice aren't looking for a trainer for show, we're looking for a trainer that can help us get our skills together and get us matched up with the right horse (either by training ours or helping us find another).

    Seeing how a trainer's students/horses do at shows is great, but you miss out on the trainers who are focused on creating safe, sane partnerships without ever stepping into a show ring.

  8. NAF,
    There is certainly a lot of money going into training manageable horses these day. I think that says a lot about the nature of the industry. I can see hls' point about costing more to train a sane horse, although, I'm not convinced that this is completely accurate. But, if a trainer was known for producing sane competition horses then I'm sure that there's a market that would pay for that service.

  9. Went trail riding in the Smokeys last week - I went to three places before I found one I was satisfied with. Told the owner I had ridden a long time ago but considered myself a beginner. He paired me with a horse, Target, that was considered to be slow and put me at the end. This horse, was EXACTLY what I would like! He was not slow, he was careful. With me, he had pickup as long as I was reasonable (i.e. not asking him to go go fast down the mountain - this guy knew his job).

    After we finished, I told him Target had a bad rap, that he was not slow and that I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. This old cowboy smiled and and didn't say much - I had a feeling he thought we would be a good pair.

    If I could make that cowboy my trainer, I would. He matched me perfectly.

  10. WIHAH: I go riding with an outfitter like that. He has a string of mostly gaited horses and matches folks up with the right horse pretty well. This last weekend he goofed just a bit - he matched me with the right horse, except that I took a bad fall about five weeks ago and am still a bit spooked. The "right horse" before my fall is a bit too peppery for me right now. Dalton swapped me out onto another horse (the right horse for me now) as soon as I cried "uncle!".

    He doesn't have show horses, and I don't know that he's ever shown a horse at all, but I would not hesitate to call him up and say "Dalton, I'm ready to buy a horse, can you find me the right one?". If I lived closer to his place, I'd happily hand him a horse for training with confidence that he would hand me back a safe-and-sane trail horse.

  11. Completely OT but really funny:

    My gelding was standing in cross-ties today, and he was being a bit of a twit. I had stepped around the corner to put something away in the tack room, and he started whinnying for me and dancing around.

    So I walked back into the aisle, and he had his tail lifted to take a poop (of course!). A few apples plopped down, and somehow it scared the stink out of him. He startled and rushed forward in the cross ties.

    I was laughing so hard. I guess that hot poop landing near his back feet was really too scary. Of course, he was in mid-poop, so there was no stopping the scariness. It just kept coming. He's such a goofball. :-)

  12. fhotd says:
    April 14, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I have always wanted this. I’m actually working on putting together some shows this year and they WILL have super senior horse classes!

    Sure you are Fubb

  13. Anyone who would participate in a show that Fubb is involved with should think twice. She'll be looking for any reason to antagonize people and out them on her blog.

    Run away!

  14. So what's her real motivation for putting together a show? Fodder for her blog? No thanks!!

  15. I wonder who she slept w/ to sponsor a show... *snort*

  16. Please tell me that Fugs isn't going to be one of the judges.

  17. Srsly, after "outing" the 20 year old who simply forgot to flip her number, how many people would attend a show run by Cathy Atkinson?

    Perhaps this is part of her self-fulfilling prophecy campaign: "horse showing is all political, so the only reason BYC can't win is because of meeeeeeeee."