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Can This Trainer Relationship Be Saved?

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  • Can This Trainer Relationship Be Saved?

    I have a young horse that was started incorrectly and developed numerous physical problems. Went to another trainer for 6 months and the horse didn't improve. Went to a third trainer who lunged the horse 4x per week for 2 months, then worked up to 4 sessions under saddle per week. After 6 months with this trainer, I had to tell him that I wanted to start riding my horse again. For the past 2 months he's permitted me to ride her once per week under his supervision.

    I'd like to increase the frequency of my rides as my horse now understands how to work over her back correctly and is doing much better physically. However, the trainer has told me that ideally, he would like to work with her exclusively for another 2-3 years before I start riding her more. He tells me this is not because my riding is that bad, but because it would be better for her to be that much more advanced so she and I aren't trying to learn together. Call me crazy, but I really didn't buy a horse not to ride it (especially for 2-3 yrs!). Also, the training expenses would prohibit me from taking lessons on or leasing another horse in the interim to work on my riding.

    There is no disputing that this trainer knows what he is doing and that my horse is doing very well with him. However, he's not interested in talking to me "off the clock", really isn't interested in my goals as the owner/rider and won't offer any updates on my horse's progress (unless asked) other than to say that she needs to get stronger.

    My horse isn't fancy and I have no ambitions to do upper level work -- I just want to become a better rider and horseperson and work with a trainer/mentor who is willing to talk to me and help me work towards those goals. My dilemma is that this trainer is good for my horse and I don't want to risk having her progress set back by moving to a less skilled trainer.

    Would be very grateful for any suggestions/ideas as to what I should do - Thanks!

  • #2
    2 to 3 years?!?!?!? Pick up your horse and find a different trainer.
    Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
    White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

    Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.

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    • #3
      I can understand how you feel because I've run into trainers like that before. Some feel very strongly that young horses should only be paired up with very experienced riders.

      Then there are others who understand that some people want to learn how to bring a young horse along.

      There is some truth in both approaches. Which one you should take depends on your goals. It sounds to me as if the riding "experience" for you is very much about the partnership. If that's the case, then I would recommend either discussing that with your current trainer or continuing the search for a new one who understands and supports what you want.

      If you really like what you are learning from the current instructor, I'd tell him that you love what you and your horse are learning, but that it is important for you to be part of the process. Talk with him about your plan whatever it is. If it's one pro ride and 1 lesson, or 1 pro ride and 2 lessons, etc. let him know what you would like to try and why. Then see how he responds. If he expresses some concern but agrees to try what you suggest, then stay with the guy. If he continues to push for him riding your horse exclusively for 2-3 years, then I think you should move on. Although I can understand a professional taking a horse on exclusively for 3-6 months, 2-3 years is another matter entirely.

      Comment


      • #4
        Talk to the trainer. Insist that you ride more often. He can still do what he wants with her during the week, but you *must* be able to ride.

        The only reason I would leave if the trainer outright refused to let you ride more times per week. It sounds like they're working well together, and I understand his concern for the horse. However, it is YOUR horse, you would be under his supervision, and really, it isn't his decision.

        Comment


        • #5
          Methinks said trainer sees a sucker in you, or is playing reverse psychology and knows such a statement will make you walk.
          That's craziness! For that cost you could buy 2 made horses!
          www.destinationconsensusequus.com
          chaque pas est fait ensemble

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          • #6
            "My horse isn't fancy and I have no ambitions to do upper level work -- I just want to become a better rider and horseperson and work with a trainer/mentor who is willing to talk to me and help me work towards those goals."

            You are paying for your needs and goals that are not being met in this situation. You are being ripped off. You need to find a different barn. There are some wacky trainers out there.

            Comment


            • #7
              I also think 2-3 years is very excessive! I see this all the time in the Arabian show world where people are only allowed to ride their horses once a week. Some of the trainers are control freaks, and some I think are more comfortable in the role of trainer versus instructor. You should share your concerns with him and let him know that as the owner of the horse you expect to be riding more frequently and if he is unwilling to work with you on this issue you will be leaving. (In the meantime interview other trainers in the area who might suit your needs better).

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                WOW!!! I just joined the forum because I really felt I needed some feedback on this issue and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the quick replies -- Thank you!!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yes, there are trainers who believe that all young horses should only be ridden and handled by pros in their early years in order to have them reach their potential. These people, in most cases, aren't wrong. What they don't grasp is that every owner's goal isn't the development of their horse to its utmost potential.

                  Talk to him, even if it involves paying for a 'lesson' that only involves talking for an hour in his office. He needs to understand what your goals are- and that the current arrangement isn't meeting them anymore. Tell him flat out that you're ok if it takes 4 times as long to bring the horse along because you are riding instead of him, and that your goal is to improve as a rider, and improve the partnership with your horse. If he is receptive- stay.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    flipside: you can go to a different trainer, have a ruined and/or lame horse - ride to your heart's content then...

                    Really, I would talk to the trainer, and say that you can do more lessons or you will have to ride on your own for a while.
                    What about watching the training sessions? What about working on the basics even if just in a walk? You would be amazed how much can be learned about feel, timing, connection, contact all in a walk.

                    Keep trying to communicate and work with your current trainer. Sounds like he was hard to find, but in the end it is your horse, YOUR hobby and your decision. He is not the only one out there.
                    Horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      As a trainer let me say this.

                      BECAUSE everyone puts so much faith in a trainer if they win and have something to "show" it can cause them to be very protective of their success stories. As clients you MAKE whacky trainers. Most of us can't afford the best horses and have to rely on those that show up on our door.

                      That said, talk to him. You want to ride more and you want him to make that happen.
                      “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
                      ? Albert Einstein

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by horsefaerie View Post
                        As a trainer let me say this.

                        BECAUSE everyone puts so much faith in a trainer if they win and have something to "show" it can cause them to be very protective of their success stories. As clients you MAKE whacky trainers. Most of us can't afford the best horses and have to rely on those that show up on our door.

                        That said, talk to him. You want to ride more and you want him to make that happen.
                        Wow. How offensive. I pay my trainer for her training and advice, and I certainly don't expect miracles. I'm quite sure that there are completely batty clients-- but if training is your business, you made the choice to deal with them. If you have a nut job for a client, the onus is on you to send them on their way, not on all of us peons to make your job easier by not ever wanting to ride our own horses!!!!! Sheesh.

                        OP, it is YOUR horse. YOU pay the bills. YOU call the shots. If trainer can not even be bothered to talk to you, after making a crazy suggestion like that?? Talk would be too kind for what I would be doing. Now, if you said you expected the horse to go GP, ok, but for you to enjoy as a partner, you need to ride!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jumpsnake View Post
                          Wow. How offensive. I pay my trainer for her training and advice, and I certainly don't expect miracles. I'm quite sure that there are completely batty clients-- but if training is your business, you made the choice to deal with them. If you have a nut job for a client, the onus is on you to send them on their way, not on all of us peons to make your job easier by not ever wanting to ride our own horses!!!!! Sheesh.

                          OP, it is YOUR horse. YOU pay the bills. YOU call the shots. If trainer can not even be bothered to talk to you, after making a crazy suggestion like that?? Talk would be too kind for what I would be doing. Now, if you said you expected the horse to go GP, ok, but for you to enjoy as a partner, you need to ride!
                          I don't think it is offensive to recognize that both partjes in the relationship bear responsibility for keepin' it real. There are successful programs that exist where the trainer is the epicenter, the clients exercise almost zero control over their own horse, and they are handed a tacked up, prepared horse and ride more as a social activity than as passionate pursuit of a sport. There are grown women who will buy any custom blanket the trainer says and who are too insecure themselves to wear a helmet when no one else does, who want to fit in at all costs, etc.

                          Sometimes the.clients have unrealistic expectations and need to be dialed back. Not everyone is qualified bring along every young horze. Sometimes it IS in the best interests of the horse to have a better rider ride it.

                          None of this is offensive; it is merely a recognition of the facts of life that, most of the time, the trainers and clients need to meet somewhere in the middle. If all the clients bend over without question that does contribute mightily to Trainer God Complex syndrome. On the other hand if every fearful training level rider wants to train up their own ottb with no help, that's not the best scenario either.
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                          • #14
                            Just to play devil's advocate...this is conjecture since I haven't seen your horse or your riding... but neither have the other posters who are assuming the trainer is simply taking advantage of you.

                            The first trainer had trouble with the horse and a second trainer couldn't do much with her in 6 months, so maybe she is not the easiest horse to ride.

                            You say the current trainer says the concern isn't that you are a "bad" rider. However, there is a wide spectrum of riding ability between bad and good enough to be safe and effective on a difficult young horse. This "good enough" is not the same as being a professional, but there is a certain level of balance, feel and proper reactions that are needed to deal with young horses. Maybe the trainer doesn't want to hurt your feelings. It is often difficult for trainers to state the cold harsh truth that this may be your dream horse but you are over-horsed.

                            You could ask the trainer if he/she has a horse that would be a suitable intermediate level horse to take lessons on and hone your skills. The opinion of a knowledgeable third party to evaluate your riding and your horse could also be sought.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My answer is "NO", the relationship can't be saved because....

                              However, he's not interested in talking to me "off the clock", really isn't interested in my goals as the owner/rider and won't offer any updates on my horse's progress (unless asked) other than to say that she needs to get stronger.
                              If this horse needs a couple years in order for you to be able to comfortably be the sole rider (and that IS a possible situation), then selling this horse and getting one more suitable for your level might be a better option that keeping it in training.
                              Last edited by ToN Farm; Nov. 11, 2012, 08:53 AM. Reason: spelling

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                sell the horse

                                You have put in time and money and are not having fun. Let trainer sell the horse and find something you can ride today.

                                Life is too short and there are lots of fun horses out there.

                                Find a no drama barn and enjoy your horse time.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  So, the trainer says 2-3 more years of riding the horse before you can ride it. Ok, let's do some math...lets say the total cost of keeping your horse is $1500/month, including board, training, supplements, vet, farrier, chiro, insurance etc. Actually, just for the sake of argument, let's go with an even lower number, lets say $1200. Ok...12 months per year, two years... Holy cow thats $28,800!!!

                                  Erm, are you REALLY willing to consider spending $28,800 plus for a trainer to ride your lower level horse that may or may not still be sound and healthy at the end of 2-3 years? While you get to twiddle your thumbs in the meantime? I'm sorry, but this trainer is NOT your advocate. If I told a trainer the goals you have stated and this was the plan they came up with, I'd be incredulous.

                                  IMO, a horse that TRULY needs 2-3 years of training before its owner can even ride it is probably unsuitable for that person (unless being a non-riding owner is part of the plan). If your horse is unsuitable, a good trainer would allude to the math we've done above and suggest that for the goals you have in mind you would be better off with a different horse. Even IF being a non-riding owner was your goal, it still makes no economic sense to invest $30K in a not-very-fancy horse because the horse is not going to increase in value proportionately.

                                  Oh, and how exactly does this trainer think that you are going to be prepared to ride your horse correctly and well after doing nothing for 2-3 years? Taking 2-3 years off is going to be a huge hit to your riding skills and ability. Most likely that time off is going to make it even harder for you to achieve your stated goals.

                                  Keep in mind, some trainers are very good at training horses, but VERY poor at training people to ride them. If you are the kind of owner who wants to actually ride your horse, you need a trainer who is good at helping people learn to ride their own horses. Look for a program where you see students riding their own horses.

                                  I also want to point out that based on your horse's history, I have some concerns about him/her. It sounds like you have already invested quite a bit in this horse and not gotten very much back. Your horse is not very fancy, has soundness problems/physical issues that require special riding/training, and after over a year of professional training still can't be ridden by you...is this right? I'm thinking that the money you have been spending on training might have been better spent on a more suitable animal. Your trainer telling you that you shouldn't expect to ride the horse for a few more years might be his way of telling you that the horse is not a suitable mount for you.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    "Your trainer telling you that you shouldn't expect to ride the horse for a few more years might be his way of telling you that the horse is not a suitable mount for you."

                                    Good point.

                                    If that is the case (and we don't know fur sure), then the OP should definitely move on. A good trainer will tell their student what the advantages and disadvantages are from keeping their current mount vs. finding a new one. Their primary interest should be in helping their client reach their goals, whatever that may be. In this business, the problem is that some are more interested in padding their wallets.
                                    Last edited by SnicklefritzG; Nov. 11, 2012, 11:25 AM.

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                                    • #19
                                      I guess the deciding factor for me would be, what are the actual training problems and are they dangerous? If the horse is unsafe with you riding it, and can only be managed by this trainer than he has a reason to keep you off.

                                      Of course if that's the case then I would sell and buy a more appropriate mount. If said trainer just doesn't want you messing up his perfect training day, then ahhhh......no, you should still be riding your horse.
                                      "Your best can be worn at any length"- Jason Mraz

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Unfortunately, none of us knows enough about your skill, the horse's potential and temperament, and the trainer(s) skills or agendas to be able to give you a definitive answer. But we can all help you look at the situation & think about the hard questions:

                                        The first tough search in riding is to find a sound horse of suitable training and temperament for the rider to have a safe and enjoyable ride. And the second tough search is to find a trainer who shares the rider's goals and can help the rider achieve them. I can't tell from your description whether you have not completed the 1st or 2nd search (or both) but it looks like one or the other is missing.

                                        With this trainer, if you are having fun learning the training process, the education might be cheap at the price. If you are NOT having fun, then you are paying good money for someone else to meet their goals, you need to consider parting with the horse, the trainer or both.

                                        In your position, I might ask the trainer to estimate the value of my horse, once its 2 or 3 years of education was completed. If the money you will put in outweighs the value you get out - and you are missing out on the fun of riding in the interim - it might give you a perspective on what you should do. And when I say "value you get out" I mean the intrinsic value to YOU, more than the increased value of a horse you might intend to keep and not sell.

                                        Best of luck, whatever you decide.
                                        Last edited by KBEquine; Nov. 11, 2012, 12:22 PM. Reason: typos & a pesky incomplete thought . . .
                                        Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.

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