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Gold Medal: Do you care how your trainer got it?

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  • Gold Medal: Do you care how your trainer got it?

    I’m curious to know opinions on trainers and their medals, specifically the gold medal. Do you look for someone who has trained a horse up to GP or is riding a schoolmaster or “Made” horse acceptable. In my area there is only one trainer I can think of who has made several GP horses, others who have produced one, and only one that I can think of who chose the schoolmaster route.
    Last edited by JLR1; May. 12, 2019, 01:39 AM.

  • #2
    Depends on where you are and how thick on the ground trainers are, and how picky you can choose to be...

    For many in the hinterlands, as long as they didn't mug someone and steal it, then it shows at least some some chance that they might have a better idea about how to ride a GP test than the next person--and if that's what you want from a trainer, then there you go..


    • #3
      If you’re trying to make a GP horse, it’d be useful to have a trainer that has been down that road. If you’re trying to be successful on a horse someone else trained, that’s its own skill set. The two paths aren’t mutually exclusive, but they are rather different.

      The training journey is the buzz for me, so I’d rather ride with a trainer that gets more horses to the FEI level, even if they sell them on before getting to show them for gold medal scores.


      • #4
        Yes I care. To get to the highest levels, my trainer should have experience in getting there, not just “how to” ride a movement. I see trainers renting schoolmasters to get these medals and then they think they can teach at those levels. I took a lesson (waste of money) with Burgees at Saddlebrook in New Jersey because she has medals. She didn’t help me nor knew her butt from her elbow! She was lost and I felt taken. Later I found out she rented a school master from her trainer. So from my experience, they should absolutely get those medals legitimately, and bring their own horse up the levels.


        • #5
          Originally posted by atr View Post
          Depends on where you are and how thick on the ground trainers are, and how picky you can choose to be....
          I am lucky to be in an area where I have not only trainers who have developed multiple GP horse but HOW it was done. I am fortunate to be working with a classically trained person who has made multiple GP horses, does not yell or denigrate me or my horse and doesn’t think the first answer is draw reins or rollkur. She is also a good teacher and quiet and effective rider.

          But every person needs slightly different help and what works for one might not work for another. My instructor has lost clients as ‘it takes too long’ and others have ‘wanted to only do the cool stuff’. Plus my instructor gave up showing a few years ago when it got political in our area(also about the time BTV was popular). So I also get help from a young woman who should get her gold this summer on a horse she brought along, only needs one more score. She would already have it but the first horse she brought up got sold too soon. Luckily she also is classic in her methods.


          • #6
            There are many paths to success and getting that coveted medal is an indication that the rider can at least navigate through the test. It doesn’t tell the whole story.
            my trainer for instance was working her butt off to train a PMU shire cross rescue up to GP. A few before her first show at GP he had a catastrophic injury in his stall. Lightening struck in the field behind his barn and he bolted through his gate and became tangled in it.
            Her mentor felt so bad that she loaned her a GP horse to show. So my trainer didn’t get her gold on a horse she’d trained and was given a “made” horse. She has since trained other horses to FEI and also GP.
            every story is different and to me if my trainer is out there getting it done and knows more than me I’m happy.
            Also GP looks really really hard


            • #7
              I agree with those who feel that as a student, I receive far more value from an instructor who has started their horses from scratch. Yes if the horse is already confirmed at an exercise, ot a level the rider has to learn how to communicate with the horse to produce the required movements, but that in no way is related to learning to explain to that horse how to get there.

              I can sympathize with Rerider 54's instructor. Sticking by your guns and teaching correctly, and encouraging the student to do the work That it takes to get there is not always easy. And not every rider wants to work that hard.
              After all "The horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty"

              Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

              Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


              • #8
                It matters to me because I am trying to train my own horse to FEI. If I'm not riding with someone who knows the steps to getting there, its not nearly as helpful as working with someone (like my trainer) who has made a lot of FEI horses. Its also really helpful to have seen her, over the past 10 years, make those horses from scratch. I've seen them at the naughty 5-6-7 year old phases, and also seen them grow up to be solid citizens who can do all the things. Dressage training is hard, and every horse rides the struggle-bus as they work up the levels. Without having that model of my trainer going through precisely the same kinds of struggles, it would be so much harder to persevere and get there.

                I can say that she helped me get my very average in many ways Welsh Cob/TB to PSG a few years ago (after starting from ground zero at First Level) and has been incredibly encouraging with my new young horse who is just 7 this year. I really don't think I would have made it through that 5yo year with my mare if I hadn't seen her go through lots of the same things with her horses.
                With a young horse, there are ups and downs and circles where you chase your tail, but none of it is very interesting. Until you look back and see what has really happened.
                Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.


                • #9
                  I prefer someone who's trained up the levels, ideally on a few horses. I don't think I can be picky enough about their gold medal specifically. But I do think someone who had to train to get they would be able to train someone else to do it perhaps a little better.


                  • #10
                    While my trainer recently got her on a horse she brought up the levels and trained herself, it is not that important to me right now. Gold medals are not something I look for or highly value in an instructor since I have never ridden above third and my current horse will hopefully be training/first (waiting for soundness evaluation)

                    I think getting a gold medal on a horse you brought along is a great accomplishment, but I am not sure it is really important for someone like me. This trainer had also help numerous riders advance calmly and correctly up the levels on a variety of horses. That was more important to me.

                    Many fine trainers dont get rider medals because they dont do the paperwork to get them and are constantly selling horses as they advance. I do think it is a greater accomplishment to earn it on a horse you trained, but being able to ride any GP horse and get the scores is a significant achievement.

                    All other things being equal, I would prefer that my trainer trained her way up to get her medals, but sometimes circumstances conspire and horses are sold or go lame, so using a made horse to get the scores for your "bucket list" is no problem. Still, I am much more interested in the results of the trainers students. We all know that some riders and trainers are just not gifted (and some wont put the work in) in instructing others.


                    • #11
                      I would like to ride with a trainer who has trained the horse, not bought the ride. Personally, I want to see a trainer bring several horses up the levels - not necessarily to GP, but at least to PSG.


                      • #12
                        Honestly we don't get that many people here in my region going for medals, and its mostly amatuers from the lists I've seen.

                        With trainers I would look at their show records and from that it is often clear if they have brought along a horse or not. Also the records where they are the trainer and a client shows.

                        I agree that the ups and downs of being a professional may mean that you sell off promising horses when that makes sense. Also that since almost no one is riding above Second Level here, it might be most lucrative to sell off prospects at First Level.

                        That said, does riding a horse at a certain level make you competent to claim to train or coach at that level? My personal experience is a resounding no, it does not. I'm currently riding a schoolmaster that has most of Fourth Level, with some holes. Everything that she has confirmed, I can ride no problem. Can I school a horse to that level? I might be able to do it in future with guidance from my coach, but riding a trained horse does not equate to being able to train it.

                        But really it is going to depend on what is available in your area.

                        I do think some of the short cuts and "frames" I see people using reflect the fact they aren't really considering how faulty movement that works OK in training and first level, will impact more advanced work later.


                        • #13
                          The trainers that interest me are the ones who have taken multiple horses up through the levels as far as was safe for those horses (without damaging them). IOW, I'm not interested in working with anyone who goes through horses to get to where they are.
                          Last edited by kande04; May. 12, 2019, 02:48 PM.


                          • #14
                            Getting a medal on a made horse is not a dealbreaker for me but I want to see that trainer actively bringing along horses that are not too far behind. Similarly, I don't mind if a trainer earned a gold medal on a made horse for personal reasons like they brought a horse up the levels and had to retire the horse one score shy of their medal. To me, that becomes more of a personal reason for fulfilling that requirement.

                            I have a huge issue with the trainers I know who have never brought a horse up above 2nd/3rd but got their medals on leased/purchased schoolmasters and are now charging twice their old rate using their medal status as a marketing tool. That really really rubs me the wrong way.

                            On the other end of the spectrum, I know several trainers I really respect who only have a bronze because they spend most of their time bringing client horses up to 3rd/4th and then getting the AA rider in the tack. Bringing a horse along well enough that you have a solid FEI foundation and can make it AA friendly is way more impressive to me than sitting like a lump on an international quality schoolmaster and eeking out a 61%.


                            • #15
                              Do I care? Well I guess I take note; but, there are many other variables I take into consideration as to whether or not I care to ride with 'that' person. Mostly for me, I need a system, not necessarily one person, who can help me in areas where I don't have the background or the vantage point to do it myself - like a qualified, educated eye on the ground and more to your point either be able themselves or have direct access to someone (who I can ride with because of that) with the ability to train a horse the movements that I have not yet trained a horse to do. There are also 'qualified' trainers with gold medals who regardless of how they got them I would not ride with them because of what I've seen with respect to injuries and training challenges that have been 'created' by their methods. There is/was a trainer on the East coast who used to go through horses like socks yet has credit for getting 'a lot' to GP, the smaller percentage that she got there represent the much larger percentage she left in her wake.
                              Ranch of Last Resort


                              • #16
                                I couldn't care less about medals.

                                I am quite picky, quirky and I'm a different type of student.
                                What I look for:
                                I want a coach who has much more skill than me and one who has methods I believe in.
                                As well as one who I am able to understand. One who can think outside of the box with me if needed.
                                I want a coach who I trust to hop on my horse if needed. (Sounds crazy but the are tons of coaches who I would not let sit on my horse).

                                I currently have two coaches I ride with a few times a year and they are very different. They work on different things with me and have different techniques. I need them both very much.
                                One is all about feel and the other is uber technical. One teaches me how to train my horse the other teaches me how to ride my horse.
                                Teachings from both give me a great rabbit hat to pull from.

                                One has medals ... the other, I actually have no idea.
                                Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                                • #17
                                  I used to believe it was really important. I’m close to my bronze and I’ve found someone who “only” has their bronze but is a really gifted teacher and has a great eye.


                                  • #18
                                    It depends on what the goal is.

                                    Both of the professionals I work with, the horses they achieved their medals on they trained up on their own. This is valuable to me because I am not riding a horse that has the grand prix education that needs finesse, but I am riding the horses that don't have the FEI level education - I need people who are capable of bringing horses along first and foremost.

                                    Now, if I were a rider with an advanced horse that already had the buttons but needed refinement, finesse, or I as a rider needed a better education on how to ride the movements/push the buttons so to speak, then I think it's less relevant to seek out professionals who brought their own horses along - find the professional with the most educated seat, aids, and understanding of the horse you are with at that point. (Now, oftentimes these are still the professionals who have brought their horses up through the levels - but not necessarily.)


                                    • #19
                                      When I was in grad school, a professor made an interesting point during a lecture:

                                      "At the Bachelor degree level, you learn the body of knowledge. At the Master's level, you summarize that knowledge. At the Doctorate level, you create the body of knowledge. "

                                      Even a bronze is nothing to sneeze at. But I'd personally pick the trainer that has a track record of producing good horses and riders. In other words, that doctorate level rider. Maybe they don't have a gold. Maybe they don't have any medals. Can they consistently meet a horse/rider combination where they are and leave them better? Any trainer with a breed bias "Oh, I hate TBs," is a poor trainer in my book. They don't hate the breed. They're scared of the breed because they don't have necessary knowledge and skill to work with the breed. No one can know everything. However, a trainer worthy of hanging out a shingle ought to have enough breadth of knowledge to come up with positive, effective ways to address a student's issues. Even if they themselves have never directly experienced that issue.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by kande04 View Post
                                        The trainers that interest me are the ones who have taken multiple horses up through the levels as far as was safe for those horses (without damaging them). IOW, I'm not interested in working with anyone who goes through horses to get to where they are.