Trainer Goals/Results Discussion

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Trainer Goals/Results Discussion

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    01-01-2010, 08:54 AM
Trainer Goals/Results Discussion

I had an interesting discussion the other day with some of our horse friends (ranging from single horse casual riders to well established breeders) about trainers, and I am curious about other people's experiences and opinions, especially since there are so many 'back yard' trainers out there.

Most folks that I know that have used trainers will send their horse off for n days, pay the trainer, and almost assume that the trainer has done a good job. If the horse is not up to their expectations, they figure that they need to send their horse off for more training.

Our long time breeder friends, though, will not 'accept' the horse back from the trainer (or pay) until they have verified and are satisfied that the training goals have been met. I do understand that a large, established ranch may have considerable leverage compared to a single horse owner.

For all you folks that have used trainers, did you have an 'acceptance' criteria for results?

To all you trainers out there, would you enter into an arrangement that had an acceptance criteria as condition to being paid?
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    01-01-2010, 09:43 AM
I once read something that said if you want to be a horse trainer, then your job isn't to train horses, it is to give the client what they want. Unfortunately, this has become a trend in the horse industry that isn't in the best interest of the horse. The horse is a product of the consistent release of pressure, making obedience and cosmetic affect the goal of many training programs.

I personally have never sent a horse off for training, but I have taken horses in for training. My barn is in my back yard, so could you call me a back yard trainer? Call me what you will. If someone hands me a horse and says I want him walking, trotting, and cantering with headset and good on trails in x amount of time, I would refuse. That is not what I do, I take the horses in after they have failed that type of training program, the horses that have decided that the deal people have given them isn't quite worth it. Quite often, they come with aggression issues, bucking issues, bolting, extreme fear, extreme lack of respect, etc as well as injured people under their belt.

I was at a trainer friends a month or so ago that showed me a horse that he had in for training, it was a young gelding that had tossed his owner a few times, so his job was to teach him not to. So, they got on him, and rode him out, made it hard, they taught it not to buck. When I looked at the horse, I saw a topline that was in horrible shape, a saddle that did not fit at all, a snarling lip and chomping teeth with ears pinned back. I had no question at all why the horse had been bucking, but they were hired to do a job and that's what they did in a short amount of time. In the best interest of the long term performance of the horse? No, not at all, but definitely what is accepted and actually promoted across ignorant horse owners.

I recently had a horse come in to me that is going home soon. The horse had come in at 5 yrs old, with multiple throwings of his riders, including hospital trips and surgeries. He's owned by a young family that did have the impression that a good horse will walk, trot, canter and steer without question of its rider. However, these people also noticed that their horse was "grumpy" and the cookie cutter dvds as well as the trainer they were working with weren't fixing. As I was working with the horse, the people came out regularly. What she noticed was he was suddenly curious about people, wanting to work, no longer biting or kicking on the ground and enjoying riding. Could I have brought him in for 30 days and taught him not to buck? Sure, but it wouldn't have been in his best interest. Instead, he stayed for 90 days, learned to trust people, learned how to cope with issues and accept corrections, learned the basics of self carriage and how to work with the rider, and how to actually enjoy his job at the same time his owners were learning to communicate with him. His owner even said that her main concern was that he stopped bucking, she never realized that the bucking wasn't him being bad, but him being defensive about his insecurities, all the holes left in his initial training.

Its sad, so often horses are made to conform to our time restrictions, our idea of what a horse should act and look like. "If its head up, teach it to flex and keep its head down". This softness is promoted by many trainers, including NH, but is it actually good for the horse? No. Horses have become an object, a mere prop in our every day life. If it doesn't do something correctly, its a bad horse, without consideration that it may be (and usually is) the person causing the problem.

Ok, so I got off track a bit. So, I am a backyard trainer, I despise showing, my husband and I take care of every horse in our barn ourselves, and I am the only endorsed trainer by a nationally known trainer that works with NH as well as classical dressage and specifically behavioral and physical problems. I have found that I can't take the clients expectations for their horse in the time expected for the horse to achieve 90% of the time because it is not in the best interest of the horse. However, I do my job, I teach the horse and I teach the owner every step of the way. I encourage people who have me work with their horses meet with me at least once a week, they get a list of books to read in the mean time about horse behavior and horses physical needs as well as exercises to strengthen their abilities as a rider even when they aren't out here. Can I pump out trained horses in a short amount of time? No, not at all, and I refuse to try to. I tell people right off the bat that if they want something completely obedient with no opinion just for their own pleasure, then they should go buy a 4-wheeler. Unfortunately, I highly doubt that the horse industry will ever put the horses best interest first besides what they see as necessities through the human eye. Poor riding and rapid, physically manipulative training is encouraged through poor judges and showing systems that set the standard for the equine athlete. The sooner we achive that image, the soon we achieve success. Sorry about my rambling.
    01-01-2010, 10:25 AM
Originally Posted by PaintHorseMares    
To all you trainers out there, would you enter into an arrangement that had an acceptance criteria as condition to being paid?
I will give a guarantee as to what the horse will know at the end of a time period. They pay for certain packages.
In one month you get a horse that walks and trots only. Stops , steers, backs and side passes so so. You also gets lots of trail running and some road exposure.
At the end of a month that is all you get.
Leads I will not teach to a young horse until they have months of legging up.
I will ride bad mannered horse that have problems but that is a one shot deal. I charge traveling time plus $20 to ride a problem
    01-01-2010, 11:30 AM
Very well put Flitterbug!

It is the commercial product that rolls off the assembly line compared to the custom,hand made,hand fitted item.

Many people want the end product and they just want it now!
    01-01-2010, 11:58 AM
I find that most problems start with owners. They do not fully understand the horse they are sending out to be trained. They have un realistic expectations.

Each horse is different. You first must do your research. Know your horse know their lines and then get to know your trainer. Find out how well they work with those lines and that personality. Talk to your trainer. Not only at the beginning so they know what your end goal is with that horse. Then and this I find most people really do not do. GO and watch they work and ride your horse. Also ride your horse. I have a mare at the trainers right now. I have used this trainer for quite a while now and I know what he can do. I also know my mare and her lines very well. I also know how my trainer gets a long with this line as he has had several by the same sire. However my mare is not quite like those horses she is more like her dams lines. Again this is something most people over look. I am heading up their next week for the first time since I dropped her off. She has been there for a little over a month. Now I did have her walk trot following her nose and she has a natural stop. I know what I should see when I go up to see her based on experience not only with this horse and her lines but also my trainer.

I do truly believe that most people do not do their research and do not talk to their trainers. Yes I know at times that is like finding hens teeth but you still need to do it.
    01-01-2010, 01:57 PM
Unfortunately, Flitter has it right. The customer is what is paying your bills so the customer is the one that you have to satisfy. I have higher expectations from trainers than most people because I grew up with it and I know what can be done and how quickly it can be done if the trainer knows how. By the end of 30 days, I expect a horse to be consistent at all 3 gaits, know leg yields, neck rein, and if not doing flying changes, at least be consistent with simple ones. The people that I don't understand are the ones who have a horse for 30 days and never take it out of the roundpen and don't even teach it to give to the bit. One of my supervisor's at work went through that. He sent his horse to the trainer for 30 days, paid $1000 and when he got the horse back, was given instructions to ride it in the roundpen for 30 more days before ever taking it out. It took all of about 3 rides for the horse to start bucking his wife off (she is the better rider). I agreed to go out to ride the horse a couple of times and I could hardly believe what the trainer did..........or rather didn't do. Shiloh would not give to the bit, had no cue for forward motion, when I tried to turn him, he just layed on the bit and kept going straight. When I picked up the reins and tried to stop him, he just rooted his nose and kept going. When I popped him on the but to get him to move, he did try to jump around a little bit. That, to me, is completely unacceptable. At 30 days, even the worst of trainers should have the horse giving to the bit, stopping, turning, and moving consistently at the walk and trot at least.
    01-01-2010, 02:42 PM
My training facility is also in my backyard so for what it's worth I'm also a backyard horsetrainer. I make no gaurantees on the horses I take in. I will tell the customer what is typical of a horse with 30, 60, 90 days of riding but I don't even promise they will get a live horse back. Every horse is different. Some horses will be loping circles on a loose rein in 30 days and some might want to buck me off still so I keep the owners informed of the progress and invite them to come and watch whenever they can but there are no promises.

If I have not been able to put in what I feel is enough time on a horse then I will keep the horse for an extra week but most of the time they go home when they are scheduled. Like as posted above, I train for the horse not the owner. If the horse is ready to do roll backs and hard stops then that's what we work on but if not then we work on walking out and traveling in frame or maintaining speed and direction or whatever else the HORSE needs. A few years ago I had a horse come to me with very little riding but he was gentle and will and had been handled well. In 60 days he was side passing to open gates and backing real well. I could lope him both ways real nice and he was picking up leads well. Just recently I had a paint stallion in training and after 60 days he would walk, trot and lope without bucking, not much side pass but a good back up and not much else. The difference was that the paint horse was older and had never been handled much. He wasn't leading well and he was so conflicted that it took me a while to get him to line out and travel without wanting to buck me off. I would have lost my shirt if I had promised to ride him untill he performed like the first horse.

The point I'm trying to make is that different horses take training differently regardless of the persons time table or any contractual agreements.
    01-01-2010, 11:33 PM
Thanks to all for the responses and opinions. I have read them all very carefully and can appreciate the different perspectives.
I'll just pick a few points from the many to comment on...

I find that most problems start with owners. They do not fully understand the horse they are sending out to be trained. They have un realistic expectations.
I can easily believe this. I've know many folks that bought young, untrained horses, sent them out for 30 days, and expected to get a basically a bomb proof, dead broke horse back. Also, I've known people that have sent their horse out for 30 days, get it back, put it out in the pasture for 6 months before riding it once and wonder why their horse seems almost untrained at all.

The people that I don't understand are the ones who have a horse for 30 days and never take it out of the roundpen and don't even teach it to give to the bit. One of my supervisor's at work went through that. He sent his horse to the trainer for 30 days, paid $1000 and when he got the horse back, was given instructions to ride it in the roundpen for 30 more days before ever taking it out.
Sadly, I've seen this too.

Thanks again.
    01-02-2010, 12:03 AM
I think it also depends on what type of training... Breaking? Problem solving? Tune-up? Getting a horse competition ready?

I only train for myself - For now. It means I have the luxury of taking as long as I want :] Because of this, my training happens as it comes. I just get out and ride - I do things, go places and see what comes up. When it comes up, I deal with it. So - My horses learn to move off leg and side-pass by opening gates. They learn to shift their weight back and push forward through the body by long-trotting up hills. Thye learn to sit back and turn on their haunches by keeping up with a cow. They learn to follow their nose by poking along behind a mob. What I call a 'practical' education :]

I'm currently breaking in my first horse - So I don't really have a set method or time. I've had her now for a month, virtually unhandled, and so far have ridden her three times, just at a walk. Of course i've been interrupted by christmas, new years and holidays :] She has never been worked in an enclosed space - All in the open. I will be taking her out on the trail on the next ride or two - She will learn to trot, to canter, to travel forward until I ask for something different, to move off my leg, out surrounded by the Australian countryside, with an open trail ahead and a companion somewhere nearby. Im hoping she will turn into a brave, willing, happy riding partner.

However, I also think that stopping, backing, and giving to the bit are things that are essential. She already has those three things down pat at a walk after three rides - She will stop off a heavy seat and suggestion of contact, and she will back straight with her nose tipped and no resistance, lightly and easily. She is also beggining to learn to move off my leg.

I would have NO time for a 'trainer' who didn't insist on foundations including stopping, backing up, moving off leg and giving to the bit - All lightly and without resistance.
    01-02-2010, 12:12 AM
Originally Posted by wild_spot    
I would have NO time for a 'trainer' who didn't insist on foundations including stopping, backing up, moving off leg and giving to the bit - All lightly and without resistance.

With all the trainers I have worked with this has been the primary thing that the horses learn with in the first 30 days. When I see a trainer or person/owner for that matter say I can or want my horse to walk trot lope stop back and do all these things in 30 days big red flags pop up and I go looking for a different trainer. I have found over the years of not only using trainers but training my own that in the first 30 days I do not care if they ever leave the walk. I want they to be able to follow their nose stop back and move EVERY single part of their body and do it with little to no resistance. If you can get this solid at the walk and when I say solid I mean the horse doing it like they have done it all their lives not just hit or miss then everything that comes after will be a walk in the park. I see so many people rushing this so they can say my horse can do this after only 30 days. Well who cares. IF they are not solid it makes no difference what they can do.

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