View Full Version : When to "do it yourself" or hire someone...

Dec. 8, 2007, 09:31 AM
The thread about trainer's fees made me wonder about the decision to either work a young horse on your own (with trainer help) vs. when to have the trainer take more ownership in the process. I'm curious of what others have experienced.:confused:

Dec. 8, 2007, 09:44 AM
If you know what you're doing and have the time, health, fitness and facilities then do it yourself. If not then don't.

In the main I've trained nearly all of mine through my lifetime. But I've had 4 of my horses trained by other people: 1, I started but then broke my leg so a friend finished her. 1 when I was very unwell. 2 that I bred myself and thought they'd benefit from being sent away from their dam's and to a different environment for a while.

Dec. 8, 2007, 09:52 AM
I too start/train my own; however, I have sent two away due to: (1) my pregnancy at the time and (2) wanting to get one I had plans to sell out into another environment after having done all the groundwork/backing at home. Currently I'm starting my 3 year old stallion. I have no intention, at least for now, of sending him off because he does have a difficult personality to deal with and could be easily ruined. The challenge for me at the moment is having a capable ground person available at these early stages. Fortunately my riding instructor is well versed and comes up twice a week to assist me when I need it most. Due to her health issues though she cannot get on. Fortunately I don't really need someone to get on him for me - more to be the steady anchor that keeps him from bolting when I mount and dismount since his solution to everything is to bolt. It would be really tempting to send him off for someone else to deal with and then send him back with a more mature head on his shoulders but I've been down this path before and it's far too risky to have him mishandled and returned with an even bigger problem to fix than to just deal with it on my own (as stated with the necessary help) relying on time, patience and perserverance.

Daydream Believer
Dec. 8, 2007, 10:06 AM
I have always trained my own. I never had the money to pay someone. I've done OK too...took one young horse up to 3rd level with a coach's help, evented many others through Championship training level, have worked with some very wild and difficult horses in the last 3-4 years and trained my own stallion from a nearly wild 3 year old ranch baby. I just hung out my training shingle last Fall and now have some of my first client's horses in training. When I see what some of the other trainers are getting to do the same thing, I wonder if I should raise my fees or not!

Dec. 8, 2007, 10:22 AM
When I see what some of the other trainers are getting to do the same thing, I wonder if I should raise my fees or not! Personally speaking I never understand why anyone wants to do a job for less than the market rate.

It seems to me that if you want to be considered as a professional within your peer group that you don't go under-cutting. That would just make you a busy fool

Dec. 8, 2007, 11:59 AM
Having ridden all my life, just about every discipline, I started my own for years. After my family came, and I switched to Dressage, hubby has asked that I don't put the initial rides on. I have a very good friend, who happens to be a very good trainer, that lets me do all my ground work, then I haul in for the initial backing. I have had a couple that she rode 2 or 3 times, and 1 that she recommended leaving for a few weeks. I trust her and am lucky to have her. She is not my dressage trainer, but sometimes the issues that come up are less dressage than colt stuff. There are times when I go to her for a lesson between my regular dressage lessons.

Dec. 8, 2007, 07:33 PM
i hqave trianed all off mine and do other peoples when asked to
i only sent 1 away thinking it would have better education than self paid alot for it to
and he was good but really the level was the same as i could have saved myself money
but i wanted him to have the best -i loved that horse to bits as nutty as he was at times
notsaying she did a bad job op he had a brain tumor didnt know till the end

Dec. 9, 2007, 06:44 PM
Thanks everyone. It is a tricky decision to make. I am not necessarily in a huge rush, but would like to get on and walk/trot/canter comfortably. However, I find that (in my experiences) the training methods that seem to move horses along quicker tend to end up with adverse responses in some way or another. I will cruise along at status quo, and see how we do.
On a side note, does anyone have a "standard" timeframe for bringing an ottb along? I know that they are all different...:confused:

Jan. 13, 2008, 10:53 AM
I am hoping to get some more perspectives on sending a horse out to be trained. As I fumble my way through the training process with an ottb, I constantly wonder if he should be off with someone for 1-2 months. In talking with others, I keep hearing about how I will not know how to continue to work with him like the trainer did, and how I will only end up frustrated once he came back. I can't help wondering though, if it would be "easier" if someone were to put some miles on him for me. :confused:

Jan. 13, 2008, 02:39 PM
I backed and started my now 5 yo homebred mare, and taught her basic stuff like poles on the ground, wtc etc. Then I sent her out to someone for a couple of months so she could be ridden several days a week consistently before she got the rest of her 3 year old year to grow up. The problem was, as someone said, having other people around. My horses are at home so I did not feel comfortable working too much with her with no one else around, and I also have a full time job, so I felt it would be better to be away from home and get worked consistently. She went out the next spring while my husband was deployed, I was so busy at work and with the farm I didn't have time to begin the next phase and be consistent, and again the riding with no one around thing.
I sent her out again last spring after I shattered my wrist so that she would not just be sitting while I was laid up, and also to introduce the next steps in her training while she was some where where she could be worked consistently. I sent her to someone else this fall for a month to introduce the next level of jumps and introduce her to more xc stuff, and also to make sure there aren't any holes in her education.
In between sending her out, I try to take regular lessons and get training rides to maintain it.
I probably will continue to send her out at least once a year for the next several years just to ensure that everything is tuned up and to continue her education.
I'm not a dressage person, I mostly foxhunt but training is training.
As someone else said, if you have the knowlege and the facilities to do it yourself, do it. Just be honest enough to recognize when you have reached the end of what you can teach them and they need to go to someone more knowlegable for the next step in their education. There is no shame in that.

Jan. 13, 2008, 02:49 PM
I am hoping to get some more perspectives on sending a horse out to be trained. As I fumble my way through the training process with an ottb, I constantly wonder if he should be off with someone for 1-2 months. In talking with others, I keep hearing about how I will not know how to continue to work with him like the trainer did, and how I will only end up frustrated once he came back. I can't help wondering though, if it would be "easier" if someone were to put some miles on him for me. :confused:

"the basics" are so important and many folks dont have the education to put this on a horse correctly. and if a horse does have the correct foundation - it makes learning on them SO MUCH easier.

i dont believe that if a horse is sent out to training and is worked correctly that they would be harder to work with and be less able to learn from. - that doens't make sense to me at all.

i see folks struggling to learn to ride on a horse that doesn't know anything - this makes it very hard for both.

i cant recommend highly enough learning to ride on a trained horse and having someone train your horse if you dont yet have the skills.

Jan. 13, 2008, 03:12 PM
i dont believe that if a horse is sent out to training and is worked correctly that they would be harder to work with and be less able to learn from. - that doens't make sense to me at all.

I totally agree with this. I'd also tend to think that a good trainer will show you how to work with your horse before sending it home. Which won't magically make you ride as well as the trainer (or if it does, sign me up!), but it should put you well on your way, especially if you continue working with that trainer or another good one.

I'm doing it myself (not a young horse, but a relatively green one), and I find it immensely rewarding, but it's not like that approach is frustration free. ;) If I could afford to have training rides put on my horse, I'd do it in a hot minute; as is, getting someone more advanced on his back makes always makes things easier for all concerned.

Jan. 13, 2008, 04:47 PM
Thanks for your replies. They were very helpful. I have been thinking of possibly doing this since I got my new guy in August. The reasons why I haven't is because a)I am afraid to take him out of the barn and lose the spot. and b)My trainer is actually not on board with it. She is very willing to work with him as much as I want though. I am so not the type of person who doesn't think I need help. I am more the type who is afraid to make decisions on my own. I have gotten rusty though, in terms of my timing and muscle tone so I often wonder if we would be better off with him in training for a while. We are not necessarily on a bad path, we are just creeping along slowly. (He was sssoooo naughty on the lunge line yesterday, and that is what prompted me to rethink.-Today, a little superstar-go figure.) I don't know, I could think this to death!:mad:

Jan. 13, 2008, 04:52 PM
:) Enjoy the long slow journey, especially if you have an instructor ready to help you. Be prepared to go super slow. and have those one step back days. It is so worth while. If you sent him out to be trained, you then would need to put yourself together with him. This way, poor thing, he won't know any different. :) :) :)

Jan. 13, 2008, 05:57 PM
As they say...'half the fun is getting there'!:yes: It's a journey, I love learning things on my horse-then working with him to get it right! Then knowing that he can do it, when I ask him to. Knowing that I took a 2yr old from having to be direct reined, to being a second level dressage horse, doing it myself-with a trainer coming once a week to instruct me. That is the whole point of it, learning as you go. How would you expect to be good at algebra, if you don' learn your numbers, how to add and subtract, etc.?? Do you expect to just 'get on a ride' a piaffe someday??
I say, get a trainer, and do the work yourself-much more rewarding.:yes:

Jan. 13, 2008, 08:12 PM
I prefer to do it myself, but to be prepared to have someone better than me take the horse for a 2-3 week stretch once in a while. Mine have just had 4 months off (due to the EI epidemic) and I was a bit worried about getting on the youngest one again, however he has come back in as though he hadn't had any time off at all. I was all prepared to have his eventing jockey come and get on for the first few rides, but didn't need to.

Jan. 14, 2008, 12:26 PM
Completely unbacked young horse and OTTB is rather different scenario. The OTTB has been around the block already, backed, shipped, raced, blanketed, bathed, bandaged etc, and basically just needs to chill and be re-schooled. They have already been exposed to a lot. The off the farm young horse can benefit by seeing the world and learning to work with other people, especially if they have only been handled by one person, so I would be more inclined to send those babies away for training.

Have you actually ridden him yet? Did he get a chance to let down after racing or did he go straight from track to boarding barn? Perhaps it would be possible for trainer to ride him for a couple of weeks first before you get on and for you to ride something else for a bit to get the "muscle memory" back?

Jan. 14, 2008, 01:17 PM
He has been off the track for a year now. He was let down nicely-in a big pasture at the rescue org for several months before I got him. He has been wonderful to work with; very rewarding and smart.

Jan. 14, 2008, 01:50 PM
Is there any reason your trainer can't ride him where he boards now?

Jan. 14, 2008, 07:58 PM
Yes, and she does. :yes: I guess I am being impatient...

Quiet Riot
Jan. 14, 2008, 08:06 PM
I feel if you have the experience and knowledge, you can train the horse yourself. But that's not to say a "pro" to help you along isn't a good idea.
I have tons of experience and do most of the training myself, but still continue to takes lessons to get a professionals view on what's going on.
In my mind, you can never know too much about riding and each horse has different issues that need to be addressed. :D

Jan. 17, 2008, 09:41 PM
I think it depends on your situation.
When I bought my horse at 6 months (he's now 4) I was confident that I would take him through the training process just like I have done with the 6 other horses I have started in my riding career. The problem is that the last one I started was 16 years go. So yes, more than a few years have gone by. (of course I didnt think about that at the time!)

So fast forward to my young horse being ready to start work at 3 - and its now 18 years since I started the last one...............my husband suggested I get someone else to get on him first. I did - he was fine. I had done a lot of ground work, saddled him and he was ready to be ridden.

My next issue, was a time issue. I found that with my full time job, and my current schooled horse that I was doing the occasional show with, that the young horse fell to the bottom of the time schedule. So I'd get organized and do a flurry of activity with him for about three days. And then it would be three weeks before we did anything again. Consistency, was a real problem. Progress was slllllooooowwwww

I also found that climbing up on a young horse 18 years since I did that the last time, was a whole different story. I'm clearly not as flexible as I was (and hes 17 hands). And I was having second thoughts about how well I'd bounce back up off that hard ground if/when he did a "young horse" thing and I didnt do it with him.

So I decided to have a local freelance trainer work with him. Not only is he getting regular work, I no longer have the guilt I used to have every time I saw him just hanging out in field watching other horses ride by on the trails.

Did I think this was where I would be when I got him - No. But I AM very happy that he is getting worked and am looking forward to getting on him in another month or two . I'm REALLY looking forard to riding a horse who knows a heck of a lot more than he would have if I hadn't done this.

Jan. 17, 2008, 10:22 PM
Linda, do you mind me asking what his training program looks like-in terms of scheduling?

Jan. 18, 2008, 04:27 PM
Well we just started it, but our plan looks like this:

Since he is out of shape, we'll go back to ground work - light lunging in side reins and ground driving. The lessons will be short - probably about 20 minutes to start while he gets used to going back to work and starts to build up a little endurance. We'll limit the work intitally to three days a week while he gets in shape and gets familiar again with the work. We may do this plan for a couple of weeks and then go back to a combo of ground work at the start of the session followed by riding.

When I was riding him, it was pretty much walk, trot, circle, whoa - basic stuff. So we'll revist that and then move on. The last time I rode him (before the holidays) I rode him briefly outside of the arena - up and down a path by his barn. And he was fine. So we'll plan to move back to that again too.

At this stage, I don't want to get him too fit. Rather, I want him to have enough endurance to be able to do light work safely but I don't want him to be too fit and wild (!!)

The woman who is working him thinks that in about 60 days, we'll have walk, trot, canter, circles and whoa going ok and can comfortably do some calm quiet trails. We will continue to add to his work schedule (with her help and time) as seems appropriate.

I have a larger agenda - we will be moving from the city to property we have in the mountains in the early fall of this year. I want him to be as reliable at basic work as a young horse can be by that time. When that move happens, I wont be working any longer (!!) so will have the time to work both this horse and my jumper.

I think a key part of training the youngsters is to take it slowly. I didnt intend for it to be THIS slow but life gets in the way sometimes! So we're starting with sessions a few times a week and gradually lengthening them and then adding more sessions.

Long term, I plan to jump him. But as my trainer says, jumping is all about flat work with jumps in the way. So I plan to give him a good foundation in dressage for a year (or more) before starting any jumping work.