A Trainer Someone Else Likes May Not Be the Best Horse Trainer for You
The best horse trainer for you is the trainer who can convey a good relationship as well as good training to you. If you’re not willing to work with the trainer or perhaps you can’t work with the trainer to help that process, you may be disappointed. If you expect your horse to be push-button like a car, your expectations may not be met. The best horse trainer for someone else may be a poor horse trainer for you. It’s not a label, it’s a working relationship.
That “best trainer” is the horse trainer who works with you, the willing client, to transfer a good relationship as well as good training to you. Lacking a willing client, there’s a good possibility that the best trainer’s efforts will not be realized in the “client version” of the horse. It may also be that distance prevents working with your horse’s trainer.
My Horse Trainer “Failure” — And a New Trainer’s Success
Many years ago I purchased a Quarter Horse gelding named King at the Great American Trail Horse Sale in Lexington Virginia. He was replacing a trusted mare I’d ridden for more than 14 years and was now retiring. I’d watched the gelding perform flawlessly during a challenging trail demonstration the night before the sale, and I was confident I’d found a good replacement for my mare.
When I picked up my new horse, the Ohio seller’s trainer made a point of asking me how often I rode, and he looked doubtful when I said a couple of times a week. I pasture-boarded my horses at a farm just south of Charlottesville, Virginia, and I turned out the gelding for a few days to get used to his new surroundings before I saddled him up for the first time.
I caught King in the pasture and saddled him, but he was not as relaxed as I’d expected. I put my toe in the stirrup to swing up, and he started bucking as soon as I put weight in the stirrup. I just slipped my toe out of the stirrup and landed on my feet, but it was an indication of things to come.
Obviously my gelding’s trainer had established a relationship that allowed him to “get it done” with my horse. Because the trainer returned to Ohio after the auction, I wasn’t able to work with the trainer to build on the relationship he’d established.
When I received the gelding’s papers, I called the owner prior to the seller. She told me that she’d bought King as a two-year old stud with the intention of training him as her daughter’s AQHA Western pleasure show horse. She told me that the trainer she employed used harsh methods, including spurring and whipping him. He finally bucked off her daughter and then the trainer.
I worked with this gelding for about a year and a half and slowly made progress with him so that I could trail ride safely. If he bucked, he didn’t buck hard. Then a job change with substantial travel demands changed my riding from a couple of times a week to once a month. That wasn’t enough time to build or even sustain a relationship with King, and the hard bucking returned.
I sent the gelding off to a training barn to prep him to be sold. While at the training barn, he caught the eye of a classical dressage trainer, Linda Bertschinger of Classicus Farm. Linda had the skills and the time to establish a great relationship with this horse, and he has become her students’ favorite lesson horse. Linda was and is the patient horse trainer that King needed.
The Lesson for Me — The Best Horse Trainer Is …
So the best horse trainer for you may be the horse trainer that can work with you, the willing client, to transfer relationship as well as skills. It’s wise to consider how that horse-human relationship can be transferred when you’re picking a trainer for your horse.
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