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Does your trainer restrict or otherwise stipulate your ability to ride your horse?

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  • Does your trainer restrict or otherwise stipulate your ability to ride your horse?

    I recently encountered this in a breed-specific barn (Arabian) and it was foreign to me, coming from hunter/jumper/eventing type barns in the past. I've had horses in training and just plain on board at several barns over the years, and the only real stipulations I've run into were jumping restrictions at some barns, though they were usually waived for adults. Even when I had a horse in training, I was still welcome to ride my own horse any time, even if that meant the horse got ridden twice in one day. I also sent a horse once to a "cowboy" type trainer and his policy was very open as well (i.e., come and ride whenever you could). In fact, I'd say that riding my horse as frequently as possible was encouraged strongly by those trainers. If/when I wasn't progressing as much as expected, I was usually told I needed to spend more hours in the saddle.

    So when I was having lunch with a fellow arabian-owner friend last week, she informed me that it was the norm at every arabain barn she had ever been a part of for the trainer to determine when/if the owner was to ride the horse. She had only been a part of arabian barns so it did not seem odd to her that the trainer dictated when/if/what horse she could ride.

    There were many things I did not care for at that barn (hence my departure!) but this was one of the oddest things. Is this an "arabian" thing, or do other breeds/trainers/disciplines do this as well?

    I can see where a trainer might feel the need to work on a horse without the owner's interference in certain circumstances (such as the horse being too green and/or possibly dangerous for the owner at that point) but aside from that, I find it extremely odd and egotistical for a trainer to expect a client to write big checks for the privelege of not riding their horse. Am I out of touch? Is this perhaps the reason that arabian show numbers are dwindling?

  • #2
    Originally posted by meaty ogre View Post
    I can see where a trainer might feel the need to work on a horse without the owner's interference in certain circumstances (such as the horse being too green and/or possibly dangerous for the owner at that point) but aside from that, I find it extremely odd and egotistical for a trainer to expect a client to write big checks for the privelege of not riding their horse. Am I out of touch? Is this perhaps the reason that arabian show numbers are dwindling?
    As a sporadic participant of the arabian breed show circuit, i think you've hit the nail on the head.

    I've always been the primary rider/trainer of my horses, with help and input from my coach, and when I show with the arabians, I'm in the minority. At the arabian shows, it's a common occurrence for the trainer to warm the horse up in the AM, tune them up before the class, pop the rider on 20 minutes before they're called to the in-gate, and pray that horse and rider make it through the class.

    I've always thought it was the weirdest thing.

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    • #3
      As the trainer at a hunter/jumper barn I strongly encouraged my students not to jump their horses more than two or three days a week. Other than that, they were welcome to ride. At shows, riding was more structured. The BO and I worked out detailed schedules about when the rider should be ready to mount, warm up, and enter their class. They were pretty much rank amateurs and needed this kind of scheduling.

      Several clients who had showed gaited horses said they barely got to ride. The trainer did what Arabdiva said.

      Comment


      • #4
        Last year I bought a Morgan mare as a dressage prospect and eventual kids' horse. She wasn't going to work out for that, so I decided to look into other disciplines. I spoke to several breed specific trainers and found much the same as what you describe. It was very odd. Basically you turn the horse completely over to the trainer. One barn said I could take a weekly lesson, and might get to ride my horse, or may ride another training horse instead. Ok, weird. Other than that, no riding allowed.

        The barn I board at now doesn't allow jumping outside lessons unless discussed prior with the trainer. The barn I work at has a relatively strict no jumping outside of lessons rule. Both those have more to do with liability than anything.

        I can't imagine owning a horse and not being able to ride it or basically have any "ownership" of it beyond writing the check for it each month.
        We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

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        • #5
          My horse, I can ride when i want. That's IMO. Sometimes my trainer may suggest not working on certain things without her but how are you going to learn the horse or get better at riding if you don't ride your horse?
          Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

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          • #6
            If a trainer did that, I would drop the trainer. It's MY horse. I still go for weekly gallops in the forest, even though it probably isn't helping with our canter work. My horse, my rules. End of story.
            Fit Dog Blog
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            Blog Post: How I Became a Werehorse and a Bit About Bites

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            • #7
              I would never put up with that bullshit.
              I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo

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              • #8
                My horse is in full time reining training and has been for 18 months or so. I didn't ride him for the first 7 months or so but now I ride him when ever I want. At first he was still green and learning so it made sense for me to wait. He is now almost completely finished and ready for me to take him home and show him.

                I would have a real problem with a trainer telling me I couldn't ride my horse.....my horse, I can do what I want with him!
                RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
                May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
                RIP San Lena Peppy
                May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Likewise, it is apparently common for arabian owners to keep their horses in training barns out of state, several hours or more away. It boggles my mind. I really don't see the point. For a garland of roses?

                  From an outsider's perspective, the arabian horse industry (and any other industry that is built on such silliness) is not long for this world. They'll never attract and retain fresh new clientele that way.

                  And don't even get me started on the ridiculousness in the show rings. Why on earth do they strap moon boots on their horses' feet to encourage high stepping action in a class whose rules specifically say that extreme action MUST be penalized? It's beyond absurd. It's no wonder I ran out of there like my hair was on fire. I thought maybe they were just micro-managing control freaks but when my friend told me this is the industry standard I really just couldn't believe it. Sad. No wonder all the reasonable people are going to the sport horse divisions. Arabian industry, are you listening yet?

                  I really am wondering though, do AQHA or APHA or other breed specific trainers do this? Dressage divas are known for being controlling...do they limit their students' riding? I really just am curious.

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                  • #10
                    I saw a lot of what you are describing in Morgan/Saddlebred/Hackney barns in the 1980s. Owners live states away, rides once a week during a lesson, if at all, etc etc. I can't imagine it has improved much.

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                    • #11
                      My past hunter trainer didn't like us to jump outside of lessons(mainly the kids). Other than that we could ride whenever we wanted. My current horse when I had her at trainers to begin training I didn't ride her for almost a year, but she was a total green bean and I was a slightly fearful adult. I got to ride some of the school horses and also had a retired gelding that I did some flat work and trail riding with.

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                      • #12
                        This is the norm for Arabian, saddlebred and Morgan barns for horses competing at the regional or national level. Most barns want their clients coming out once a week to lesson, sometimes twice a week. Often times clients come out to lesson once or twice a week on school horses to work on their riding skills. Some people (especially equitation riders) own a practice horse that is not kept in training and they ride every day. If it is not your cup of tea no need to talk negatively about it. Very few amateurs who work full time jobs have the skills and/or time to train and condition a regional or national level Arabian, Morgan or Saddlebred, and that is the service these barns provide.

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                        • #13
                          I think it's just the mind boggling fact, that these are no longer being treated as horses, but sports equipment. And I'm coming from an Arabian background view, who still watches shows (from the outside, I got myself a fancy thoroughbred jumper, I am not sure why lol) and would still go back, as an active owner. I've seen this in other disciplines as well.

                          But why have a horse, when you don't form a bond with it? I watch trainers, who are part of the horses lives, warm up, then see a non-active owner hop on and can immediately tell the difference.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Please do not paint all of us Arab trainers with the same brush! There are those of us who train and compete in the sport horse disciplines (hunters, jumpers, dressage, etc) who do NOT use clown shoes nor do we restrict the riding of horses. My owners are encouraged to ride when ever they want, even if I already worked the horse! I don't want them to jump unless there is someone else there to keep an eye on them or if the horse already had his share of jumping for that week. The winds of change are blowing thru the Arab world and we sure hope they bring in improvment all around!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TBRedHead View Post
                              I think it's just the mind boggling fact, that these are no longer being treated as horses, but sports equipment.

                              But why have a horse, when you don't form a bond with it?
                              Those 2 sentences say it all for me.

                              I worked with a guy who owned 16 Morgans kept in another state.
                              All he did was write checks and go to the occasional show 99.9% of the time as a spectator.
                              On the very rare occasion he was allowed to show one of the horses, always one the trainer chose for him.
                              He would occasionally rotate one of the trainer's rejects to the barn we both boarded at.
                              Always nice horses and honestly - the guy could drive & ride, but rarely did.

                              But he talked about "his" horses and honestly could not understand why this type of "ownership" baffled me.
                              Did not help that he'd tell or ask me things that made my eyes roll back in my head:
                              Examples:
                              *Should a sweaty horse be cooled down with rubbing alcohol in Winter - uh, nope - how's about putting on that championship cooler hanging on your stall door?
                              *lame horse at trainer's place might have WLD - was that serious?
                              *Trainer wants to breed the mares he owned, despite the fact that last year's foals were still unsold.

                              And on & on, ad nauseum.
                              Not my idea of being horseowner.
                              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Thankfully there are lots of different types of boarding and training barns so this set up that makes so many of you snarl in disgust is not a requirement for you. It is clearly something a certain number of people like and have no problem with.
                                Some people prefer to see their horses do great instead of being the one doing great on them. Some people admit they are not a trainer and they hire someone they trust to make their horse the best that it can be.
                                It does not have to be your cup of tea but just because it is different does not mean it is horrible or wrong.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Its common for arab barns. Not my thing but some people don't want to ride that much or can't due to work. Some dressage trainers keep their students on a short leash but its not as prevalent (or the student wants to have their hand held) -- I had a prospective trainer tell me not to ride much so I didn't mess up the horse between trainer rides. Sigh...

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
                                    Thankfully there are lots of different types of boarding and training barns so this set up that makes so many of you snarl in disgust is not a requirement for you. It is clearly something a certain number of people like and have no problem with.
                                    Some people prefer to see their horses do great instead of being the one doing great on them. Some people admit they are not a trainer and they hire someone they trust to make their horse the best that it can be.
                                    It does not have to be your cup of tea but just because it is different does not mean it is horrible or wrong.
                                    Yup. I know barns like this, and it's not my cup of tea, but it clearly IS for some people. For what it's worth, the barn I'm out of has both main ring and sporthorse arabians. Clients are encouraged to ride, and ride often. Actually, one of the trainers insisted on me riding through most issues rather than letting him deal with it. He'd get the horse through the worst if needed, but you NEVER got away with "now that it's fixed, let's put Dobbin away." Once it was safe for you to get back on, you got back on and rode through it from there.

                                    Yet we do have some people in the barn who love owning nice horses, but would rather see that horse do well with a good trainer than ride/show themselves. They are also the people lending their nice horses to talented youth who could never afford such a nice horse to show. These people are some of the most generous and sweet people, and I really have come to appreciate having them in the barn. Once I got to know them, I understood them a LOT better. That kind of generosity isn't something I'd seen much in other barns.

                                    And really, it's not just breed-show barns where this happens. I've seen it in some dressage barns as well. This is a training model that works for some people, not others.
                                    Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique

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                                    • #19
                                      I guess we have to answer the question with a question: what's your goal?

                                      If you're a "grandstand owner" that's going to watch your horse perform (vice perform on it yourself) then the trainer ought to have a complete veto power over what is or is not done.

                                      If you're going to campaign the horse yourself then the relationship is going to have to a lot more dynamic.

                                      We also have to ask what stage of training the horse is in. A youngster just under saddle will be different from a seasoned campaigner.

                                      What is the riding skill of the owner? I'm personally familiar with multiple cases of owners being grossly overmounted and suffering significant injury from being thrown as they could not control their horse.

                                      If you hire a professional, any kind of professional (doctor, lawyer, CPA, broker, etc.) to advise you on a project then you're paying for their advice. If you think the advice is sound, follow it. If you think it's defective then discuss it with the professional; or fire them. But don't just ignore them and go your own way. That's not fair to the professional and can be very hazardous to your health.

                                      G.
                                      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        For your dressage question, I've never had a dressage trainer tell me I can't ride my horse. Like i said I maybe be told not to work on certain things when not in a lesson. Which makes sense because it is usually for good reasons. Like I'm not doing it right or I need her help. Also as a barrel racer and hunter I was never told this. Now if I could afford to buy an olympic caliber dressage horse and wanted it to go there then i would not ride and hire an Olympic caliber rider to do it for me because I know I can't lol but to me that's a lot different than nationals in the arab or Morgan world
                                        Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

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