Friday, June 13, 2008

What a Trainer Wants

This is so self indulgent I can't believe it. I was asked what a trainer expects from her clients. What a wonderful can of worms!
I am dead tired again. Raced around this morning trying to fit in coffee with my Dad, who's visiting from Spokane, get my chores done, and still hit the reining in the afternoon.
Got home after 8:00, and am trying to stay awake so I can pick up my daughter from work at midnight.
The show's going well. The Shining Spark mare decided to hold her minimal brain together and showed today. Her owners were ecstatic. It made me look pretty good, she easily broke 70. Considering she came to me in October a quivering wreck, I'm pretty happy.
She'll earn her way in life yet.
My yellow horse didn't let me down. She has become eager to enter the arena, and keeps kicking out these calm and reliable patterns. I swear she's having fun. I can't wait for the next cowhorse show.
So, what does a trainer want from their clients?
1. Pay me. Please. At the first of the month. Like your mortgage.
I have to buy hay, grain, and fuel. I have to pay my farrier and vet. If you can't afford to pay me then take your horse home.
2. Bring your horse to me in good flesh.
I work them hard. Often harder than they have ever worked in their life. Expect them to lose weight while I have them. If they gain while in training it means they were too damn thin when they came in.
3. Have them newly shod or trimmed when they come in.
It slows me down when they have two year old pasture feet or shoes clinking on the concrete.
4. Don't bring me a sick horse.
5. Make sure they are UTD on shots and worming. See #2 and #4.
6. Let me know what you expect. If you think your five year old, uncut, unhalter broke, 1300 pound wonder boy is going to have a stop and a turn around in 30 days, I am not the trainer for you.
7. If lessons are part of the deal SHOW UP! It's rude and inconsiderate to stand me up. Plus I could start whispering God knows what into Fluffy's ear. Be warned.
8. Don't pick your horse up on the week-end if your time was up on Tuesday. I have to feed Ol' Fluffy, clean his stall, and turn him out, even if you don't come when you're supposed to. At least bring me replacement hay.
9.Find out what the trainer's ground rules are before you commit to training. Does she have an open door policy? (I do, but I expect you to pick up a manure fork.) Can you ride your horse whenever you want? (Yes, but I don't ride Ol' Fluffy the days you do) What areas are appropriate to ride in? (Across the boss's newly planted grass is NOT COOL) Can I come on your days off? (NO!)
10. Be prepared for the trainer to want to use her vet and farrier. I have a close working bond with my vet and farrier. I work best with them. If a client has a specific reason for wanting me to use theirs, I will. I won't like it though.
11.Be prepared to hear the truth. You have paid good money for my opinion. Listen to me. If I tell you a mechanical hackamore sucks, don't fuss. You can torture Fluffy on your own time.
12. Do not bring me the bit the guy who runs the feed store told you would put a stop on Ol' Fluffy. Try that crap out at home before you bring him. That way I'll get to train him a lot longer then you thought.
13. Don't come to me and then tell me which clinician's method you expect me to use. I do what I do. They do what they do. Take your pick.
14. Ask me lots of questions. Why am I doing what. How am I getting those results. But please, ask me when we're sitting on the arena rail. Not when me and Ol' Fluffy are snorting across the arena.
15. Be involved. Be aware. Whether your horse is an investment, a week-end get away, or your best friend, stay up with what's going on at the training barn. It will protect all three of us.
That's all I've got for the moment. I bet there's lots more.
Man, I'm beat...


  1. I would like to ask you some questions about training and exchange students? Would you contact me off blog?
    SOS Leatherworks

  2. Your "wants" are mostly just common courtesy and respect, sadly a lot of people lack that kind of consideration nowadays.
    Especially things like asking questions when you're NOT riding, paying on time, NOT riding on the boss's lawn (please don't tell me that really happened... my hubby would FREAK lol)
    In regards to payment, my friend used to board at a place where board was due on the 1st. Every day late there was a penalty added. There was a sign in the barn suggesting boarders hand over several months worth of post-dated cheques at a time to avoid penalties.

  3. I'd have to agree with cdncowgirl -- those all seem like basic courtesy. I would be happy to do all those things for a trainer. I'd probably bring baked goods every once in awhile too, which is what I do for my trainer =]

    Though she's trainer in the sense that she gives me frequent lessons -- doesn't ride my horse that much. But that shouldn't change things.

    I would add to your list "Don't ignore everything I tell you the instant your horse comes off the property," since that seems to be both prevalent and a pet peeve of yours!

  4. I've come to terms with folks ignoring everything I say the moment they get off the property. Usually a little bit is retained, and they come back for refreshers. I get frustrated and whiny on the blog, but the reality is that most people have very busy lives, and don't have the luxury of riding lots of horses like I do. They can't absorb everything I throw at them. If they get my concepts, and try to muddle through them, I've learned to be happy.

  5. Amen to this post!

    I have seeing people being rude or making up excuses for their tardiness. If only all our mothers raised us this way :P

  6. I'll add my amen to Sydney's - I'd love to see your list posted on the door next to the "helmets required in the arena..." sign.

    I've ridden a few places where barn etiquette was seriously lacking and, it's made for a miserable place to visit & ride. From a boarder's perspective, there's nothing quite like having your horse used for lessons without permission, having your tack used and tossed back on the rack (or left in the aisle) dirty, or... well, there's a laundry list of possibilities, isn't there!

    Basic respect and communication of expectation goes a long way -- either that, or my horse is going to go a long way away from there, lol!

  7. fssunnysd: people using your stuff without permission, grrrr! I hate that. Just one of the reasons I'm grateful that I board at a private home (my friend's parents place). I'm their only boarder. No one uses my stuff without asking :)

  8. >>I get frustrated and whiny on the blog, but the reality is that most people have very busy lives, and don't have the luxury of riding lots of horses like I do.<<

    I've said on the other blog, nothing really teaches you to ride like riding a couple hundred horses. I don't care how much you compete or what you do on a horse or if you ride with George Morris, you don't learn the same range of dealing with equine behavior nor develop the same instincts as the person who rides for a living and rides a ton of different horses all the time.

  9. Totally agree with fugly, the ONLY way to learn to get a horse, any horse going is to ride lots of them.

    I train for one person, a multi millionare businessman for whom horses are his hobby. He has far too many, if I sell some, great. If I win stuff on them so he can play the Event Horse Owner, even better.

    All he wants is his three personal horses ready for him to hunt every autumn, and for them to stay sound and jumping all season. He rides in the 'holding on for dear life around horse's face' style, so this is easier said than done.