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  • to potential customers...

    ...just a business question here.
    when shopping around for a new trainer, where do you look? shows? advertisements in a magazine? word of mouth?

    ...next question...
    when communicating with prospective trainer, do you feel it is important for the trainer to demonstrate a keen interest in having you as a client or would you feel that is pushy?

    i'm actually asking this for myself as a rider not as a trainer...

  • #2
    There is no REAL reason behind this...except that it's a gut thing...I don't ever seek out someone who advertises...or I should say advertises ALL THE TIME. I'm kind of a word-of-mouth person. I've been lucky to have found the trainers I've had in life, and all of them came to me word-of-mouth.
    On one hand, I'd like to say I'd give someone the benefit of the doubt who just moved to the area and doesn't have word-of-moth to go by and, thus, has to advertise. But, the trainers the advertise monthly in the freebie horse papers....um...I don't know. I just sort of can't help feeling that if they had a good client base and kept thoe clients, there would be no need to advertise.
    "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” ~Sir Winston Churchill


    • #3
      my .02

      Advertising is good to get your name out there, but my sense is that most people ask around before calling. Word of mouth reputation will dictate whether you get a client IMHO. I'm not really very plugged into the horse community locally, and I'm amazed at how quickly word travels. And I'm afraid word of mouth is not very forgiving, and while the details are often wrong the gist of the message is generally on target.

      As to how to interact with a client to be encouraging? I'd say take an interest in terms of asking a lot about them and their horse, but avoid a hard sell. Things that I find off-putting are out-and-out bragging and bad-mouthing other trainers...
      Dressage, riding, sport horse blog
      Unique browbands for dressage and hunter riders


      • #4
        word of mouth

        Word of mouth. I haven't had a regular trainer in years, but I was lucky enough in high school to find a wonderful coach who allowed me to become a working student for her. It's really important for me to find someone who is enthusiastic about my horse. I've ridden everything from Percherons to TBs, and if the instructor doesn't call him 'handsome' at least once during the ride, I know it's not going to work. It sounds silly, but I find that you don't get the best out of people if they aren't as excited as you are about your horse.


        • #5
          I'm picky about trainers, but also now moving to a new area, so perhaps my view will help.

          Yes, advertise in a basic way just so that the newbie knows you are out there. I want to know which discipline you do and something about your facility. If you want to brag about your own wins, go ahead. If you tell me you have a schooling program or camp that will win some people. It is likely to send me in the other direction. But I'll call and ask to meet you/see the place if everything else looks right. I'll primarily make my decision based on the care my horse will get, and the conversation we have.

          No, you don't need to immediately explain how I'd personally fit into your program. You and I probably don't actually know, despite our best efforts to communicate. You don't know what I mean by "green horse" for example, and I don't know what you mean by "classical, correct flatwork." So I'll see if you do more or less what I want. Do you have other ammies like me who feel they are progressing? Are you at shows every weekend, despite what you say about training being your focus?

          I don't usually check out trainers via their students or show records. I think I can get more by talking to them, watching them ride one and finally, teaching a lesson. To me, if you have seen all that, you know what you're getting.

          Oh yes, and the tack room. Perhaps this is more applicable to the H/J barn, but I'll be able to learn a lot about how you train by casting my eye over the wall of bridles and other equipment I see hanging there.
          Last edited by mvp; Jun. 14, 2009, 09:25 AM. Reason: The tack room
          The armchair saddler
          Politically Pro-Cat


          • #6
            Originally posted by Trixie's mom View Post
            ...just a business question here.
            when shopping around for a new trainer, where do you look? shows? advertisements in a magazine? word of mouth?
            If you're shopping for a chef, you'd want to sample his wares. If you're shopping for a trainer, you want to see his/her "products". Shows are good, to see styles of training, riding, and interaction with students. Then, if one or more interest you, make "audition lesson" appointments with them, and go from there.

            ...next question...
            when communicating with prospective trainer, do you feel it is important for the trainer to demonstrate a keen interest in having you as a client or would you feel that is pushy?
            I think it's a little presumptuous. If this is an expectation of yours, you're basically asking a trainer to, upon first meeting you, jump in with both feet and welcome you to his/her training programme with open arms. If a prospective trainer were to exhibit that much "enthusiasm" when first contacted, I think I'd run for the hills. Not only that, but you're expecting a trainer to make the sort of snap judgement that, as a client, you're not willing to make yourself. So yes, I do think that's unreasonable.

            i'm actually asking this for myself as a rider not as a trainer...
            Good luck in your search.
            In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
            A life lived by example, done too soon.


            • #7
              "A keen interest in having you as a student".

              No. This is a business, and we are paying for a service. Too, a lot of trainers seem to be good iwth horses and not so good with people. Their first contact may not be that great.

              My experience has been that big name trainers are very welcoming, but they often have very tight schedules and a new student may have to jump in to cancellations or tolerate a lot of reschedules or both.

              Practically speaking, I have met in my entire life only two trainer/instructors that were in the slightest professional about returning phone calls or emails. It would be nice if they did, but most of them don't. It is usually several weeks before they call back on a cold call, and it may take a lot of repeat calls on the part of the student to get a response. If that's how you measure keenness to have you as a student it's going to be very disappointing.

              Most good trainers are quite busy, most of them are teaching as much as they want to already, and well...quite a few amateurs have impossible requirements (want lessons on an FEI school horse, after hours, their home/far from the trainer's route, etc).

              I look at results, qualification and history.

              It's also important to me that the instructor or trainer not be rough or have a bad temper. I avoid people with a criminal record and/or substance abuse issues.

              The trainer has USDF instructor certification, or has gone through the training successfully without major hiccups.

              The trainer has worked with top quality people in a longer term apprentice/working student relationship and has a traditional background without extreme methods - no extreme positioning.

              The trainer has show results that show solid scores at a number of different levels, on a number of different types of horses, including a variety of different breeds - baroque types, warmbloods, and has shown an ability to train horses wisely and patiently, according to their strengths and weaknesses.

              The trainer can communicate ideas in a simple, non-wordy fashion that is geared toward what each student can understand.

              I don't care much about advertising, except that it better be scrupulously factual. Too much advertising in dressage is peppered with...bs. Claiming to have trained a horse to a certain level, especially.
              Last edited by slc2; Jun. 14, 2009, 01:57 PM.


              • #8
                The trainer can communicate ideas in a simple, non-wordy fashion that is geared toward what each student can understand.

                I don't care much about advertising, except that it better be scrupulously factual. Too much advertising in dressage is peppered with...bs. Claiming to have trained a horse to a certain level, especially.
                Interesting because that is also a good proviso for the highly verbose internet experts on this board who are all hat, no cow, eh slc?.

                People will exaggerate and lie about their experiences and accomplishments as we often see on this board with never any factual evidence to back it up.

                Word of mouth / personal recommendation from someone you trust is still the best recommendation for a trainer and it also helps if the trainer and his/her students are out there doing well with verifiable results .


                • #9
                  I prefer to see them teach.. Or ride--actually both. Although some wonderful teachers are not wonderful riders, one can observe a lot by their approach to problems. Preferably working in a multilevel situation. I want to know that they have the same level of finesse dealing with the lower level horse or rider as with an UL horse or rider.

                  And usually you get to hear of them by word of mouth. Sometimes you audit a clinic where they are instructing. There a few ads I read without smiling.
                  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.


                  • #10
                    I would prefer word of mouth and then actually going to watch the trainer give lessons. I had no intention of ever riding again but went with a friend to watch her first lesson with a trainer. I was sold and am now boarding with this trainer. (After a year of training with her I actually bought a horse - which was NEVER my intention ).
                    We do not have an overpopulation of dogs, we have an under population of responsible dog owners!!!


                    • #11
                      I would like to watch them train, see how they treat the horse and rider. I've seen trainers reduce students to tears in each lesson, for no reason. I've seen trainers yank on the horses mouth so hard it made them bleed, and the rider said nothing.
                      I would also be leary of trainers that need to use 'artificial aids' to get a 'headset'. that's the last thing you need....if ever.
                      Equine Massage Therapy Classes and Rehab for Horses


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Trixie's mom View Post
                        ...just a business question here.
                        when shopping around for a new trainer, where do you look? shows? advertisements in a magazine? word of mouth?

                        ...next question...
                        when communicating with prospective trainer, do you feel it is important for the trainer to demonstrate a keen interest in having you as a client or would you feel that is pushy?

                        i'm actually asking this for myself as a rider not as a trainer...
                        After years of changing trainers when they moved away, I moved away, etc... I found the best way is to ask around for recommendations (word of mouth), then contact the trainer, speak with them and observe them training someone at or near the same level you are riding. I also prefer to see them train in a show atmosphere (schooling, recognized, etc.).

                        Do they need to demonstrate a keen interest in me? NO - they do need to listen to me, preferably ask questions to see what my expectations are, but if they acted like I was the only thing in heir life they'd come off as too desparate.

                        Where in Florida are you located? I'm east central and if you're in the area can tell you who to avoid and, depending on your level, who you might want to try or at least observe. If you're in my area you can come watch my trainer teach or I have a friend in the Oviedo area who knows decent trainers (lower levels) if you're from around there. PM me for details if interested.
                        Now in Kentucky


                        • #13
                          I usually rely on word of mouth. Ads are good ways to get started but without word of mouth, I will watch for a few sessions first before committing.

                          No, the trainers don't need to demonstrate acute interest in me as client (who knows they might just be very interested in my money ). But they have to demonstrate that they have faith in me and my horse. Meaning, they can see the potential in the horse and know how to bring the potential out.

                          If they tell me all my horses are grand prix horses, I'd know they're lying. But they need to be able to see what my horses can achieve and know how to get there. Now this gift is very very rare in my opinion. Most people see what are apprently out there not what are hidden beneath that thick hides of horses. When I find that gem of trainer/coach, I stick with him/her and work my butt off to get everyting out of him/her.


                          • #14
                            I was auditing a clinic featuring a BNT, and was very impressed by one of the rides- I found out who the rider was, and later emailed her about lessons. She wasn't able to take me on but recommended her assistant. I tried a lesson with the assistant and two years later I still think she (the assistant) is a wonderful trainer- she has taught me so much. I knew within the first couple of lessons that she would be a good trainer for me- she has a way of putting things so that I position my body correctly and then I feel how it is supposed to be. She is great at giving me visualizations that allow me to "see" things in my mind. Concepts that I have heard but not really understood become concrete and very clear. She is very kind but pushes me, and I always feel like she has a clear plan and knows every step of the way. She has also been successful at FEI, and as that is my eventual goal, it was important for me to find someone with experience at that level.

                            As far as a keen interest in having a student- she lives nearby and was willing to travel to me- so that was a big deal since I don't have a trailer. She was willing to give me lessons and told me that she felt my horse was capable. She asked about our history and our goals and that was about as "keen" as it got- she seemed willing to train us as far as we want to go, but it wasn't an overt "Come train with me, I'll make you a star" - more "I think this horse is capable and I can help you train her."
                            Last edited by swgarasu; Jun. 18, 2009, 12:13 PM. Reason: forgot part of the OP question


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Trixie's mom View Post
                              ...just a business question here.
                              when shopping around for a new trainer, where do you look? shows? advertisements in a magazine? word of mouth?

                              ...next question...
                              when communicating with prospective trainer, do you feel it is important for the trainer to demonstrate a keen interest in having you as a client or would you feel that is pushy?

                              i'm actually asking this for myself as a rider not as a trainer...
                              My two all time favorite trainers have been found through word of mouth. Personal recommendation goes a long, long way for me. I know it's no indication of whether or not this trainer will be right for me, specifically - in fact, one of my two trainers was recommended by a friend who did not get along with the trainer at all but still vouched for her abilities - but I'll certainly take a trial lesson based on a personal recommendation.

                              My all time *least* favorite trainer was found through her advertising.

                              I don't think a trainer needs to demonstrate an interest in taking me on as a client so much as they need to be honest in assessing both my & my horse's abilities and being clear about what type of training goals we're setting.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by thought View Post
                                It sounds silly, but I find that you don't get the best out of people if they aren't as excited as you are about your horse.
                                its not silly at all. it is extremely motivating when your trainer really likes your horse! it makes you feel good and want to work harder to keep up the admiration. (current horse!)

                                on the other hand its extremely depressing when the trainer does not like your horse.(old horse) you feel like you have to explain why you keep trying with a horse that is not liked. it makes you feel badly about your horse and then its hard to stay motivated and easier to give up.


                                • #17
                                  word of mouth

                                  I've always relied on word of mouth and seeing them teach first before I tried them out. I do also look at show records if they exist. Granted I do want them to have some serious expereince and sucessful students. For the most part all of my trainers have worked out this way. My current trainer came my way through various folks in my life who knew what I was looking for and what I wanted to accomplish. Her knowledge and experience spoke for themselves. I was impressed that she has her PC A rating, is a judge, and actively competes. I also only ride with trainers who work with students at all levels and all breeds.

                                  I am also very particular about how they communicate while they teach. I do not appreciate a trainer who constantly tells the student how wonderful they look and/are doing more than pressing them and giving feedback on improvement. I am paying to be taught NOT to be given useless flattery. Sure I want the trainer to tell me my horse is cute and working hard, etc., but sometimes I see this used as a means to keep students in training who never really improve all that much.


                                  • #18
                                    Look at who's winning locally- call and ask for recommendations. Audit lessons before signing up.


                                    • #19
                                      Take what I have to say with very little to go by as I have only had two official coaches since being in Region1/Zone 2. When I first moved here, I looked for ads, and visited the place, and watched a lesson and talked with the coach. Worked out very well we were together for quite a few years until I switched diciplines.

                                      The second coach, I saw ads, knew the credentials and also knew the person. If I were shopping today, I know some people. But I don't know a lot of names (I am still green to this dressage stuff) but I look at ads, verify credentials, look at the students and what they are doing. Sometimes I see these people at shows and see how they relate to their students and then I will make contact. I do this for clinics too.

                                      I feel at the stage my horse and I are at we need someone who has walked the walk and can get us to where I want to go.


                                      • #20
                                        I'm a newb in the dressage world. But, when I set about to find a trainer, I looked to friends/acquaintances who were progressing well and set about inquiring with their trainers.

                                        I do not really go looking for adverts. All word of mouth and assessing students really.

                                        Then watch a lesson and/or take a "trial run" lesson. My current instructor did not even charge me for the first lesson--said it was a get to know you thing to determine if we'd be a good fit. It felt every bit as much as an audtion for me as rider as it felt like interviewing a trainer.
                                        A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                        Might be a reason, never an excuse...