Prior to 9 years ago, I had no interest in horses. My daughter was somehow born with the horse bug, no one else in our family prior to her had anything to do with them. So in the last 9 years, I've learned much more about horses than I ever intended to. Due to our location and the type of riding/training that occurs in this area, she has mostly trained with Paint and Quarter Horse centric trainers in Stock Horse type competitions.
During that time, she has trained under six different trainers for periods of time, took one-off lessons from many other trainers and has attended more clinics than I can remember. Also during that time she trained and competed in Halter, English, Western, Ranch Versatility, Team Sorting, Barrel Racing events and then into Reining working her way up to the NRHA level.
Throughout this process I've talked to a lot trainers and have heard so many different things from them. And so many of their methods were in direct conflict with each other. For example, I've taken my daughter to NRHA level trainers who say that she is as good of a rider as any of the Non-Pro competitors that train with them. On the other hand, I've taken my daughter to trainers that don't show/don't like competitions to hear them say she is a terrible rider and needs to start over in the round pen for a year or so.
I've found over time that trainers that actively show seem to have a consistent training program that falls into the discipline and train towards that goal. It makes it easy to compare their horses and riders with their competition to get an idea of how good of a horse trainer they are. Fortunately that's where my daughter's interest lies, so we stick to those trainers.
But as mentioned earlier, there are trainers that don't compete. Say competition is bad, etc. And I always wondered, without the standard that is set through judging/competition, how do you know that they are good horse trainers? What would be the end goal of going to that trainer? How do they know they have become competent riders/trainers?