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What do I need to know about sending a horse for training?

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  • What do I need to know about sending a horse for training?

    I've been thinking about sending a green horse to a pro for training during the winter. I've never sent a horse for training before so I feel totally clueless. What questions do I need to ask potential trainers? Do I need an agreement? What are pitfalls to avoid and the must-have discussions? Help!

  • #2
    Go watch how the trainer works. Ask how the trainer works as well. See if the two jive.

    Have set expectations of what will and won't be done, how often the horse will be ridden, and by whom. Will it get other work? Etc. A very competent working student working with your horse can be totally beneficial, but you need to understand if that will be the case.

    Once a horse is in training, stop by both at planned times to see rides and unexpectedly.

    Keep in mind, a young horse doesn't always progress to plan. I would be as wary of a trainer saying "we will do this after two weeks, at the end of two months do this, and at the end of 4 months be here" as I would one who blows off questions about a plan with "oh, we just see how it goes..."

    There are so many pluses and minuses... I'm sure as other folks respond I'll come up with more!
    If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


    • #3
      I'm going through this too and I will say that reputation is a good place to start. Then Google, then of course Fugly.com
      For me, my horse has learned to buck/crowhop and I admit I am a bit scared of it so he is going to go to sleep away camp as I call it. Here is what I am looking at once reputation checks have been cleared.
      Am I going to have to pay for feeding and hay on top of training? If I bring the feed he has been on, is the additional charges for feed/supplements and blanketing?
      Who is going to be riding him? Can I meet every person before they even meet him and see them ride?
      How many times a day will he get worked?
      How often will he be out, stall cleaned, fed etc?
      If the trainer gets hurt during a session with him, am I liable or do they assume responsibility? Do I sign a waiver?
      Does he need insurance?
      How often can I come to see him? Do I have to call first?
      Will I be included in his training sessions in the saddle?
      How will they discipline him for acting like an ass?
      If he needs vet care, will they use my vet or theirs?
      What shots do they require?
      Do they use my tack or theirs?
      Will they work towards my goals with him or just put miles on him?
      Farrier work: mine or theirs?
      Can I ride him without it being a training session, like to go for a ride around the fields or something?
      References references references and check them! (Also check the web and post for info on BB, talk to everyone you can, even those who have had bad experiences.)

      I'm sure there will be more questions I should have posted here but these are the basics.

      Good luck!


      • #4
        I have always done this through word of mouth/trainers I know. Reputation, price and location all figure in for me. I have sent horses off to places where I would never see them and that was ok because I knew the trainers very well. If you want my specific recommendations, feel free to PM me. I know good trainers who will do this in several parts of the country.
        OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


        • #5
          Do you have a coach/trainer that you ride with regularly? Their recommendations would be a good place to start.

          What are you hoping to accomplish from this trainer? For instance my mare went to a 4-H, western trainer for her first 90 days of training. She's a big warmblood, and I bought her to event, but I wanted her to experience the CHAOS of a 4-H barn (pigs, cows, chickens, dogs, kids, 4-wheelers going down the aisle way).

          She was coming in out of pasture life and was COMPLETELY ignorant. There she learned to stand on cross ties, lunge, stand quietly for mounting, and to carry a rider at a walk, trot, and canter.... She only had about two weeks under saddle there, but it was the perfect place for her to get the education she needed at that point.

          Once that was done, I sent her to my coach/trainer where she has been in training for eventing. Yes, my coach could have done the basics with her, but it just made much more sense for us to let her get started under saddle with a western trainer who was quite frankly, a lot less expensive. To have her doing the basics on my horse would have been a lot like having Bobby Flay make microwave pizza....

          If you're looking for a rider to refine and polish though, by all means, go to the best you can find!

          My recommendations:
          Watch trainers ride lots of horses and look at the scores of the horses they ride. Lots of good dressage scores with several different horses? The trainer probably has a strong foundation. Lots of Es on XC with lots of different horses? Maybe the trainer doesn't really inspire confidence.

          Find someone who consistently has horses that look like ones you would like to ride. Yes, every trainer may have an occasional "freak" but for the most part you can tell a lot about a trainer by seeing him/her work a few horses. If most seems steady/happy/confident, the trainer is probably doing a good job. If most are stressed and fighting, your horse will probably end up stressed and fighting too.

          When you find a trainer you like find out:
          1) How long they will want a horse to stay (some accept month to month, but lots say 90 days minimum)
          2) How many rides per week the horse will get, and will it all be with that trainer, or with working students, employees too?
          3) Do you get lessons too?
          4) Will they show the horse and if so, what are the additional fees?
          5) Anything you would ask in a NORMAL boarding situation (feed, turn out, blanketing, etc)

          Where are you located? People here just LOVE to tell you all about their favorite trainers!
          The rebel in the grey shirt


          • #6
            What do you need to know?

            Things can go horribly and terribly wrong. So trust your gut while shopping, and while following up.

            But don't let that scare you completely. There are plenty of good trainers out there. Good luck in your search. You will get plenty of good advice. Follow it.


            • #7
              For me the #1 is communication/honesty. Will you email me, call me and keep in touch about the progress regardless of whether it is good or bad. If you don't return calls/emails then I won't do business with you. If you can get pictures/video then even better. I have clients that live hours away and I frequently send them pictures and videos so they feel in touch with the process. I don't want to be lied to so if my horse is a total ass then I would like to hear about it. If you think they aren't ready then please don't force them and instead call and discuss with me.

              What is included in the board- amount of grain, hay, blanketing, wrapping, minor wound care, turnout and all that good stuff.

              What is your turnout situation like- group vs individual. How many hours do you turn out? What is the fencing like. How about footing in the ring and fields.

              Who is doing the riding and how often. What will your tentative plan be for my horse. I understand they don't always go to plan but I want to make sure we are on the same page.

              Will there be hacking/trail riding or out of the ring stuff being done?

              How much is trailering and show fees?

              Discuss vets/farriers/tack so expectations are clear.

              ***Very important that if you have a difficult horse they have experience in that area. I had a very sensitive horse come back seriously messed up but it was my fault for not checking up frequently enough. I should have went more than once a month to see the progress and I would have been able to see he wasn't happy.

              - I would want to see pictures/video of similar horses they have ridden and talk to people and get references. Some people are awesome riders but not good with young horses.


              • #8
                Word or mouth recommendations, reputations, etc. If my trainer is a horse trainer, all the better. I'm bad, though, I call and visit and watch all the time. I don't want anyone else schooling them and make that clear. The two I sent off to the trainer turned out to be really naughty horses, so maybe I knew it and that's why I sent them. I always start my own, except these two. If I could, though, I would send one or two now and again for tune-ups. Good luck.

                I like a program where my lessons on the horse are included, so I keep up with the progress...


                • #9
                  I sent my horse for training 2 times and had the local barn (2 different barns) "ride/train" him while on vacation etc.

                  The first time I sent my horse to eventing trainer 1 over Christmas break (get a month off for college), the only thing my horse learned was how to paw in the cross-ties. I wasn't impressed, but I do know that 30 days isn't a great amount of time. Upfront I knew that the trainer was going home as well for a week, and I knew his working student would do well to hack him out for a week.

                  The next year, I was riding with a different eventing trainer, and left my horse for 2 months. (1 month for Christmas, and then I ended taking the semester off, so I was at the farm for month 2). So I paid for two months of training. In month 2, s I am on a trot set with a working student, she tells me how much she loves my horse and how he helped her get over her fear of ditches. Wait, what? You're telling me I saved and paid $1200 for my horse to be A LESSON HORSE?! So that was what happened Month 1. Month 2, I was there working everyday (getting berated and yelled at for being late when I was only volunteering since I was a PAYING customer, and had no set time that I was required to show up) and paid my $1200. I received a total of 8 lessons and my horse 4 training rides in 30 days. I also rode some of the clients horses and was told if the clients asked that I was to not mention that I was riding their horse. Not how I like to do business, not on par with my morals, so I took my horse and left. Said trainer never addressed to me that other people had ridden my horse, although the students and workers told me themselves.

                  Then in the summer, there is a h/j trainer at the farm who offered to take my horse on in training for a week while I was away at my brother's wedding. Again, the working student (who can BARELY W,T,C) rode my horse WITH DRAW REINS! while he was at a show. He told me this when I came back right upfront like I was supposed to be okay with this.

                  The current barn I am at has a dressage trainer who rode my horse for me when I got too busy with school. My horse in 2 months, with 4-8 random rides a month, jumped from 1st level dressage to third level dressage. This barn has no working student program.

                  Moral of the story, find out UP FRONT if the trainer is intending your horse to be ridden by working students. While I teach MY students on MY horse to help them with their phobias, it is NOT okay when I am paying a trainer for training, large sums of money.

                  If I ever put my horse in training again, EVERYTHING will be in a contract up front with a clause that if I find out the contract was not followed (ie someone else rode my horse that was not cleared beforehand like with trainer 1) the agreement will be null and void and I will get my money back. Or, if it is a working student oriented type of program it will be negotiated what they can and can not do as far as riding because I can find a friend of mine to just ride my horse at no charge who have all been working students for some ULRs.

                  I agree with everyone else about finding out what they tell you actually matches up with what they do. If the trainer is not okay with you dropping by unannounced or on short notice, something is going on there.