I take most opportunities to share my insight on this matter whenever it comes up, because I just went through this very same thing not too long ago. I got a young, untrained horse with a great disposition, willingness to learn, but no manners. While it was true I had horse riding and handling experience, I was in over my head when it came to training and owning. I had some sense to have a trainer come out even before I bought my horse, to watch me and her and see if we'd be a good match. Initially, I was expecting that reading books, watching videos and other people, and going to clinics would be enough, maybe the occasional visit from my trainer. But really, the books, the DVD's, the clinics- its all just supplemental. The true fundamentals come from someone that has been there, done that, and is brave enough to shake you up and teach you how to have what it takes. She told me, you have taken on a huge responsibility that you don't fully understand yet, and if you really want to train this horse yourself, me and her are BOTH going to demand alot out of you. And boy, was she right. The first couple of months, my trainer wasn't really helping me train my horse, the lessons concentrated on me more. My mare knew exactly what I wanted her to do, what I was asking, but she wasn't about to give it up so easily. I'd get so frustrated because my trainer would just waltz in and it looked like she wasn't doing a thing. (Meanwhile, I'm trying to catch my breath and sweating.) After years sizing up threats and evaluating her surroundings, she could read in between the lines and would totally call me out. I almost felt like she was saying "you're not brave enough, you don't really mean it, you are scared of me" She never took full advantage of those things she knew I felt, (though she very well could have) rather she just waited for me to grow and get to the point where I earned enough confidence and ability to have a place in her world, a person to listen to. This is the point in our training path where I relied alot on her disposition, and if she had been a "problem" horse, well, it wouldn't have worked. If you think about it, horses are always looking for someone to rely on, to ensure their self-preservation, whether it be horse or human, and no sensible horse would give that responsibility to someone that sent mixed messages visible to the human eye, nevermind the keen survival-based senses of a horse.
As far as the time, money, and commitment - these are the obstacles I faced, as you will too. You need a good trainer, and established trainer, someone you can trust. I can write or ask my trainer anything, call her up if I encounter something during a session, and she is always available. There's alot of trainers that just want to deal with the horse, but you are looking for someone that is essentially going to apprentice and develop you as a horse trainer, because he/she is responsible for monitoring the partnership that will begin to grow between you and the horse, and neither party will function properly if one is deficient. Good trainers like that aren't found free-of-charge too often. I pay mine 90.00 an hour, and there were many times in the beginning she would come out two times a week. It was worth it though, because alot of good, quality trainers will "spend the time it takes" to accomplish what they had in mind for that particular session.
Also, (I know this is lengthy) you will have to work doubly as hard. This is just the way it is! It's like having a full-time job. I can't get away with only coming up 2-3 a week, or working half-heartedly, because the holes show up in our next training session and I get called out by my trainer. Even though I have gotten better, this habit is ingrained and I still train 4-5x a week. You may not move any quicker either, you'll just be keeping your head above the water. I worked all through the winter too, and although it kept her in shape and benefited her, it was more because I couldn't afford to lose what little skills I acquired. It does build a good relationship, and you get to see the gradual changes, which can be rewarding. I'm sure you'll find, however, that most of those changes will be in yourself. These changes, at least for me, have improved things way beyond the barn, have integrated into my common life, and for the better.
So invest in a trainer. It's kind of like paying a life coach too. lol
Last edited by Seahorseys; 03-29-2010 at 11:40 AM.