A Great Horse Trainer for Someone Else Could Be a Bad Horse Trainer for You
And It May Be Up to 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.
Why Transferring Relationship Is Important
In the following section, horse trainer and clinician Amy Skinner talks about the importance of “building relationship” in horse training.
The problem with horse training is that society is set up to believe that you can buy a service and have things the way you want in a certain time frame. People look at horse training as if they’re spending their money on a product. And yet even the best horse trainers will tell you the horse takes its own time, and no one can guarantee a horse will be doing what you want from it when you want from it. The other problem is that even if your trainer can get it done with your horse, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to. Getting a horse right takes an amount of commitment on the owner’s part to develop the same type of relationship that the trainer has, otherwise how can you expect from your horse for yourself what your trainer gets, when it’s they who have put in the hours, the and sweat, the patience and the desire to get along with that horse? You aren’t spending money on a tune up for your car that you can take home and drive. The fact that money is involved leads people to believe they deserve something for what they paid, and they do, but, it happens in the animal’s time, not the humans. I think any good trainer would say they would do this for free if they could, just to help horses and people. And yet, we all have to eat.
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.
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 great 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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