I love this picture. My girl is stepping through
a wonderful spin. Her pivot foot is buried, and
she's showing all her wonderful Hollywood Jac 86
flexibility. She's the best. I wish I hadn't dropped
my inside shoulder, but what the hell. She showed
MugWump on Trainers
I know. I said I hate them. I do. I hate Lima beans too. Nasty, slimy, slippery things. And then there's the lima beans.
But sometimes we need a little more fiber. I will still go to trainers for help with the horses I ride. I ask my questions, I ride my own horse, I absorb as much as I can.
The reality is that a steadily employed trainer knows a lot of good stuff. He will ride several horses in a day, usually working with each horse at varying levels, all towards a specific goal.
My cowhorses may be at different stages, but I want them all to become cowhorses. So I have the advantage of trying to achieve the same goal in many different kinds of horses. I try to solve different issues with each horse. I figure out how to get a frightened horse to look at a cow. I think about creating a hesitation in an aggressive horse. How to develop softness in a dull horse, or ease a nervous one. It gives me a ton of good information to share.
I'd like to share how I would look for a trainer. I have to be honest, it would be hard to get me to leave one of my horses with anyone. Not necessarily because I don't trust them, but I know how I want my horses managed. I don't feel it's OK to demand that somebody that I trust enough to train my horse, still has to abide by my perception of horse care.
I would look at the horses in training carefully. At most of the barns I have ridden at, the horses are very quiet. Until I worked for the Big K for several months, I couldn't tell if the horses had been fed or not, when I came in. Even if they were hungry they would all stand quietly, ears politely pricked forward, and wait to be fed. That's also how they looked when you walked into the barn, anytime of the day.
I had never witnessed that level of discipline. It amazed me, and was a little unnerving.
If I had prejudged the situation, I never would have learned how to maintain that much order in a barn.
When I pick a trainer, I come for lessons once a week, or twice a month. I bring my horse. I open my mind to what they are saying, and absorb everything I possibly can. I try not to judge. I never tell them they are wrong. I have to know them extremely well before I argue. I will try anything they show me. I get value from learning what not to do, as much as what to do.
I keep my opinions to myself, ask as many questions as possible, and then go home and practice. I chew on what I've learned until the next time I see the trainer.
As time goes on I watch the how the trainer rides. I will try to emulate him, absorb his hands on the reins, the slump of his shoulders.
I watch the horse he rides. I try to figure out what he expects from his horse and how he gets what he wants.
Is the horse happy and willing? Is the horse afraid?
Even if the horses are afraid, I'll hang in there, to see if they cheer up as time passes.
Trust me, a bunch of the horses that come through my barn aren't real fond of me for the first few weeks.
I want to know how to train my horse. I want to know how to guide them through each maneuver. I want to win.
If I was a non-pro looking to send my horse in for training, I'd approach things the same way.
I would take my horse as far as I could on my own before I even started looking, then I'd want to ride with them before I made a decision.
If my lessons went well, and I felt comfortable with the trainer, then I would consider leaving my horse.
I would take lessons on my horse at least once a week.
I would probably volunteer to clean or groom in order to observe.
I would keep my mouth shut.
And I would yank my horse faster than you can holler "Aunt Greta" if I wasn't happy.
Remember, a trainer can't change who your horse is. If your horse is a dumb ass, it will still be one when you get it back. If it's a spook, it will always be one. If it has no talent, the trainer can't give it any.
That's why I would always be hands on in any training process. I would want to know how to deal with the quirks of my horse. I would want the trainer to teach me how.
It won't do me a damn bit of good if the trainer can ride my horse and I can't.
So is going to a trainer worth it? In my mind, yes. I can teach wonderful things to my horses. The very best came from the very best trainers I could find.
I guess it all depends on what you want.