Choosing the Right Horse Trainer
Finding The Best Match For You And Your Horse
Choosing the right partner is key when trying to achieve your equestrian goals and dreams. When it comes to developing a strong team, not only do you need a good four legged partner, the right two legged training partner can make a world of difference. In a perfect world, there would be a match.com-like app that allowed you to put your needs into a system and out would pop a list of suitable trainers. Unfortunately, since there isn't an app, it's up to you do your homework and find the best match for your situation.
Word of Mouth
The best way to start your search for a trainer is to ask around. Ask your friends what their experiences are with various trainers you are interested in; contact local horse associations for a listing of trainers; or even pose the question at your local tack shop. Getting recommendations from others is even more important if you are looking at switching disciplines or need help in an area you are unfamiliar in such as starting young horses. Keep in mind, the best trainers are so busy with their current customers they don't need to advertise. Word of mouth will be the best way to find out about these hidden gems.
Visit & Ask Questions
Once you have narrowed down your choices, it's time to observe the trainers in their natural habitat, whether that be working young horses, teaching students or showing horses. Schedule a time where you can watch them work with a variety of horses and students so you can get a grasp of their breadth of knowledge and skills. If you visit their barn, you will also get a feel for how horses thrive under their care and how the facility is maintained. You can learn a lot just from observing how the horses look and are handled.
Don't be shy. Be prepared to ask questions so you can find out if this prospective trainer is right for you. Questions may include:
- What are services do you offer?
- Can I have a price sheet?
- What's your training style for horse and rider?
- I want my horse to do xyz, can you help me reach that goal?
- How long have you been training?
- Notable accomplishments?
- What is your show schedule? Is there someone at home when you are on the road?
- Do you have references?
- What are the barn hours?
Things to avoid
- Don't choose someone just because they are the hot pro of the moment. You want to make sure they help you accomplish the goals you have for you and your horse.
- If you observe something that makes you uncomfortable when visiting, such as the way a horse is handled, walk away before you even get started.
- Stay clear of someone who appears to just be going through the motions when dealing with you and your horse. You want to make sure they are as committed to your plan as you are.
It's Up to You
While selecting a trainer is a big decision, it is simply a business partnership. You have hired them to provide their expertise, if by chance you made a poor selection, you can always walk away. It's important to always remember you are the customer and you have to do what is right for you and your horse.