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Trainer's services at shows: is this the norm?

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  • Trainer's services at shows: is this the norm?

    Just asking a question for a friend.

    We grew up showing fine breed horses and when you pay full training plus day and coaching fees, you can usually safely assume that all you're gonna have to do is show up at the show and get yourself ready. The horse is taken care of.

    My friend is a pretty darn good rider with national titles in her other breed of choice. She recently got into stock horses for a change of scenery and decided to put one of her fillies into training with a local stock horse trainer so that she could have something nice to show without the added pressure of keeping one worked right and prepped right for the showring (she has a full time job, young son, a few additional horses, plus shows dogs).

    Filly is doing well in training. friend pays full training and the mare gets worked 3x a week plus a lesson.

    We hauled in friday night, bringing my gelding and one of my friend's other horses.

    The filly was there in her stall, not bathed, clipped or banded. Trainer was out to dinner, came back super late, did a barn check and then left. So my friend and I bathed her horse and then got up way early the next morning to clip, band, etc...

    My friend did her own grooming touch ups/blacking and had to go track the trainer down with a couple minutes to spare to put the mare's switch in. She got a 30 second showmanship lesson and went in the ring.
    Later that afternoon she rode the mare in her first ever trail class, no help warming up or other attention from the trainer.

    Same thing this morning- had to seek trainer to get switch put in. No help in the warmup. He coached her on the rail (had multiple clients in the class). Plus her saddle didn't get brought along and so she had to borrow one and snide comments were made by the trainer and his girlfriend.

    She is rather frustrated with her experience this weekend to say the least- she could have hauled the horse in herself for cheaper and the attention/help she received was beyond minimal. Before she has a heart to heart with the trainer, she wants to make sure that it's not just "how it goes" in stock horse world.

    Any thoughts (I'm kinda keeping my thoughts to myself... I'm not a fan of the guy because he was VERY insulting about my breed of choice, accused me of "knocking into one of his clients" in the arena which.... no... didn't happen. My horse likes his bubble. His client's horse got upset because we picked up a canter behind him and had to immediately pass because the client couldn't get the horse to canter and the horse lost it when my guy went past.... )

  • #2
    My trainer offers a variety of services at shows. If you want to do it all yourself, you can, or they can have everything done and you just get on your warmed up, banded or braided horse and go ride. All of those options are spelled out on her price sheet.

    You say she had her first ever showmanship lessons right before the class. Why was she even entered if she'd never done it? The same for trail? That makes no sense to me. My trainer works with her clients prior to their classes, usually the day before once we get the patterns. She's there to coach and critique after the classes. But our prep work takes place at home. No one just goes in "cold". Why waste your money?

    In my experience what you've described isn't the norm. But I don't know your friend or her trainer. My trainer takes great care to make sure that the horses showing from her stable are impeccably turned out and that her clients go to the shows prepared to show. What you and your friend experienced should never happen in a reputable/professional trainer's program, in my opinion.


    • #3
      Originally posted by blairasb View Post
      Plus her saddle didn't get brought along and so she had to borrow one and snide comments were made by the trainer and his girlfriend.
      Seriously, that is not OK. She should pull her horse from training and find a professional horse trainer.

      We don't show, however, we did have our horse in full training with a western trainer.

      We went and picked him up for a week to bring him home for a New Year's Day Trail ride. When we picked him up he was all bathed and newly clipped for us. They also loaned us a headstall that had the bit he was currently using as we hadn't gotten one yet.

      They couldn't have been kinder or more accommodating whether we were emailing them, visiting our horse, taking a lesson at their facility or simply getting our horse ready for us to take to our local trail ride.


      • #4
        Well, I've discovered that there's a HUGE difference between service at a H/J show and what I was used to when I was showing western. BIG difference in price for show fees, too!

        Western trainers, generally speaking, don't babysit clients. You are expected to know how to clip, pull manes, braid, bathe, wrap...you get the picture. You clean your own tack and put your own horse up at night. You're the one lunging your own horse during the wee hours of the morning before the show starts and/or riding in the show pen to school before the show starts. If you're lucky, there will be a groom to wipe your horse and your boots before you go through the in gate. Come to think about it, the only things I didn't do was clean stalls, feed and water.

        You are also expected to school yourself. While the trainer is generally around to keep an eye on you and give advice, there's not a lot of hand-holding.

        There's also no coddling. If you screw up, you'll hear about it and right quick...usually in the schooling pen with every hot trainer on earth there to hear it!


        • #5
          the problem here is that she a trainer did not discuss what was going to happen before the show, who was responsible for what

          if the trainer expects the client to clip, bathe and band the horse that needs to be mentioned

          I would have guessed that if the saddle was at the same location as the filly then yes it should have been brought, along with the rest of the filly's things as they are with the filly

          however your friend should have asked b/c they are with a new trainer and have never shown with them so how would they know what the "norm" is for this trainer

          some are all inclusive, some are not and most fall somewhere in the middle

          grooms are not common in western barns


          • #6
            Client SHOULD have asked what was covered by the Trainer at the Show. TRAINER should have covered the details if customer didn't ask!!

            Comes down to quality service, having clients who then have a good time showing. Women trainers tend to be more detail oriented than men in Western disciplines. But the BEST Trainers (either gender) consider that the client is part of "the presentation from his barn", his training products, so to speak. So it is in the Trainer's best interests, to have clients understanding and smoothly going thru what is needed in each class, with a properly prepared animal. Anyone coming by their stable area sees CLEAN horses, NEAT and clean stalls, at ALL TIMES. Bringing an ungroomed, dirty horse is totally unacceptable for that row of stalls in public view. People in the audience, reading show results, see that the people and animals from his barn are winners, look good, perform well. This will make Trainer more desireable to use by folks who WANT to win. Trainer is ALWAYS selling their services at shows, has to present themselves as Professional, keeping things up to a high caliber in everything people see at the show.

            There are always lesser Trainers, and they may have some good features, but skip over the harder work of making their Clients a "total package" in the show ring. It is a lot less work for Trainer to do things this way, but Client needs to KNOW this when they want to attend a show as part of his "groupies" from the farm. Client then can be prepared to do the work needed for good presentation and know how to work the horse in those Classes. Why throw your money away, if you don't have any idea on how to do Showmanship patterns? Western is extremely stylized now, you have to be better than perfect to place in the big shows. So guessing is not a good idea on classes you don't know about. Trainer needs to help you practice ahead and get you CLEAR on what is expected in the ring.

            Your friend sounds like she got stiffed in several catagories. I would also be unhappy about his attitude and comments regarding her appearance in borrowed tack, since HE didn't bring her saddle. Having to constantly try to find the Trainer for information, assistance in a new setting, is not what I would expect either. And while the Client whose horse got upset when passed is his, he should SEE that as something horse needs to be worked with to get over, not getting on you because you are within range. He wouldn't have hunted down another person to make those remarks. Shouldn't be making snide remarks about other breeds to a Client's friend, who might otherwise consider using him if they got a Western horse. Narrows down the future Client list a LOT. He is acting less than professional in his setting, and will probably be quite insulted if your friend questions anything that happened at the show. She probably will be better off looking for another trainer, so he doesn't "get even" later on.


            • #7
              What Goodhors said at any breed show or quality open show.

              Seems to be a definite lack of communication on all parties.
              Never argue with a fool. Noone can tell who is who.


              • #8
                I guess my question would be, is the trainer a "horse trainer" or a "people/horse trainer"?

                Sometimes folks can train horses, but don't really work w/the people, it's possible the trainer thought he'd done his job getting the filly ready for the show.

                The derrogatory remarks he alledgedly made - no excuse for that, but maybe the context was misunderstood. ???
                Never explain yourself to someone who is committed to misunderstanding you.


                • #9
                  I agree with Goodhors. If a trainer is aiming for a show clientele, then success at shows is what prospective customers want to see. An unprepared student will reflect badly on the trainer's operation.


                  • #10
                    He may have some sort of attitude regarding her other breed activities and figure she needs a little humility, but it's not his place to do that as a professional and a businessperson. Dead giveaway will be if he is confronted and says, I don't know how you do it in the "insert breed name" world, but this is how it's done, bla bla bla.

                    Find a different trainer.
                    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                    Incredible Invisible


                    • #11
                      I have a young horse in full-time training with a reining trainer. This year we have been hauling him to shows and his trainer has been riding him in schooling rounds and open pen to get him used to being at shows. I pay my trainer mileage to bring him to the show and back to his barn. Since he is in full time training he is basically maintained in show condition at all times but he will get a bath and clipped prior to the show by the trainer. He makes sure he has several clean blankets/sheets to bring to the show as well. I pay him a day fee to ride him in the schooling rounds and open pen. If I happened to be showing that day fee would include him schooling him prior to me showing him and coaching before, during and after my runs. I usually bring my own saddle so I can ride him when my trainer isn't but he always brings enough saddles that I wouldn't need to. I am extremely fortunate to have a trainer that treats my horse like he is his own and truly cares about how his barn is represented.

                      I think that the OP's friend should have talked to the trainer about what was going to happen at the show but regardless I would have been furious if my horses trainer had treated me this way. Honestly......I would be looking for another trainer.
                      RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
                      May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
                      RIP San Lena Peppy
                      May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010


                      • #12
                        Communication is an amazing thing.

                        Your friend can not be mad if she did not communicate with the trainer to find out what was on her plate and what was on the trainer's plate.

                        I can not imagine showing up at a show and expecting to go into a class that I have not bothered to take a lesson about beforehand.

                        Originally posted by Go Fish View Post
                        Western trainers, generally speaking, don't babysit clients. You are expected to know how to clip, pull manes, braid, bathe, wrap...you get the picture. You clean your own tack and put your own horse up at night. You're the one lunging your own horse during the wee hours of the morning before the show starts and/or riding in the show pen to school before the show starts. If you're lucky, there will be a groom to wipe your horse and your boots before you go through the in gate. Come to think about it, the only things I didn't do was clean stalls, feed and water.
                        Again, communication.
                        When I did hunter shows my relationship with my trainer was as you describe here, plus I did my own stall, feeding and such.


                        • #13
                          In my state in the breed show world, trainers range from charging a $25. day fee that covers feeding and cleaning only, you do the rest, to a full service H-J type day care at a H-J full-care rate, you just show up. Generally, juniors/youth to more of their own cosmetic horse prep, the 50 and over ladies tend to gravitate to the full service barns. Most of the competative horses do not require much longing.
                          Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


                          • #14
                            Im going to preface this with the fact that I dont do breed/stock type shows. But is the horse in full TRAINING at the barn? In my mind, that doesnt have anything to do with showing.

                            I would imagine you would have to communicate to your trainer which services you would like for the show. I would never just expect my trainer to have my horse completely ready to go, but thats just me. If that IS what I wanted, I would call to be sure that was happening.

                            I also always bring my own tack to shows. I've only been at a few show barns, but I always cleaned my own tack, and at least helped pack it myself.
                            Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
                            White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

                            Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


                            • #15
                              I show "stock type" breed. My trainer ALWAYS has my horse prepared at the show. Bathed, clipped, Braided/Banded, Tail/Switch In. My horse is worked 5 times per week in Full Training Board. 3 Times per week would be partial. My full training board includes 1 lesson per week. I pay Day Fees at shows on the days that my horse shows, off days are not charged. I can show up, climb on and go into the ring and my horse is always ready! I don't have to feed, groom or clean stalls, but do so because I like to help out and like the bonding time with my horse. I know lots of "Western/Stock Type" trainers and very few do not provide the same type of care/service as my trainer. If you are getting that type of treatment, then I recommend finding another trainer. You don't need to pay to be insulted!!! And I truly dislike when all trainers are lumped together, don't let one bad apple spoil the whole bunch... Do your homework and find out what you are paying for, a good honest trainer will gladly discuss it with you and explain it all! You are paying for a service!