What questions should I ask a potential trainer? - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 Old 05-25-2011, 11:08 PM Thread Starter
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What questions should I ask a potential trainer?

I would really like to find a good dressage trainer for Cookie and I, however all I seem to find is people that "have ridden all their lives" and no one that's really done anything in terms of competition.

The people at my barn have recommended a trainer they give rave reviews, but considering she's apparently good at everything, western, jumping, dressage, etc. and has never competed.....I'm not sure about that.

Am I wrong to think it's better to find a trainer that specializes in one area?

What sort of questions should I ask about their experience?

Having a hard time sorting through the backyard trainers to find someone truly experienced that can teach me the correct way to do something. I don't want to have to unlearn it all later!
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post #2 of 8 Old 05-25-2011, 11:46 PM
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If you want to compete successfully, definitely find a trainer who has or is still actively competing. If dressage is what you want to focus for, I'd try to find a trainer who has his/her USDF gold medal.

I'm sure there are trainers out there who can ride several different disciplines well, but I think they're not very common.

If the trainer does not compete herself, ask about her other students. Do they compete and have they done well?
Some trainers are not competitive, but still teach well.

Also, not all super good riders are super good teachers.

Really, I think the best way to see if you and a trainer will work well together is to take a few lessons. Base your descision off of that.

"He doth nothing but talk of his horses."
~William Shakespeare
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post #3 of 8 Old 05-25-2011, 11:51 PM Thread Starter
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I don't have any intentions of showing Cookie, at least not at this point. We both have a lot of work to do before that would even be an option.

I would actually like to focus on jumping, but she carries herself so wrong that I think dressage lessons would help more right now.

Thanks for the suggestions on what to ask!
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post #4 of 8 Old 05-26-2011, 12:39 AM
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I don't think its necissarily better to find an instructor that only does one disipline, it really depends on the instructor! My current instructor does "specialize" and prefer dressage but has done higher level eventing, vaulting, and more. Really I think the more experience and exposure to different ideas and styles of riding the better. When I was looking for instuctors I tried to find information on their experience, years of training and coaching, show experience (and success in show ring), what level of students they have or are training. Like someone else has said it can be really difficult to tell the good from the bad and its best to take a few lessons to see how you guys fit. I've never done this myself but I have a few friends that have gone and watched (with the instructors permission of course) their potential instructors teach a lesson or two before deciding whether they wanted to pursue lessons with them. Good luck!
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post #5 of 8 Old 05-26-2011, 07:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coffeeaddict View Post
Am I wrong to think it's better to find a trainer that specializes in one area?
IMHO (and from my experience) yes. Also the best probably would be to find one competing and judging in dressage (or at least judging as I know 2 trainers who can't ride/compete anymore because of the physical issues).

I'm not so sure about questions though. I never asked anything - just took lessons. Usually in 2-3 lessons you can tell if the trainer works for you and your horse.

P.S. And (again from personal experience) run away if the trainer says your horse can't progress/not good for dressage/can't compete at all etc.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass: it's about learning to dance in the rain..."

"When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves."

"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours."
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post #6 of 8 Old 05-26-2011, 10:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coffeeaddict View Post
I would really like to find a good dressage trainer for Cookie and I, however all I seem to find is people that "have ridden all their lives" and no one that's really done anything in terms of competition.

The people at my barn have recommended a trainer they give rave reviews, but considering she's apparently good at everything, western, jumping, dressage, etc. and has never competed.....I'm not sure about that.

Am I wrong to think it's better to find a trainer that specializes in one area?

What sort of questions should I ask about their experience?

Having a hard time sorting through the backyard trainers to find someone truly experienced that can teach me the correct way to do something. I don't want to have to unlearn it all later!
It is far better to have a trainer in either the Western riding discipline or English Jumping, Dressage discipline. I have friends in the Upperville, W Virginia who take in and train OTTBs for training of second careers as 3-Day Eventers in Dressage, Cross-Country and Stadium Jumping. They also take in individual owner's horses for trainng. If you would pm me I'll give you info to get in contact with them.
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post #7 of 8 Old 05-27-2011, 06:02 PM
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Your intial post said you were looking for a dressage trainer, then a later post said jumping. Which is it - or is it both?

A GOOD dressage trainer will train both you and your horse and make the (eventual) jumping better for both of you, so if the answer is both then looking for a dressage trainer who has shown OR had student that have shown SUCCESSFULLY (60% or above in RECOGNIZED shows) at second level or above. Even if you do NOT compete in either discipline there are MANY trainers out there who will give you the wrong/incorrect information. They'll probably believe it is correct but if they and/or their students are not doing well at recognized shows then you know the information they teach is most likely NOT correct.

If you can't find that look for an Eventing trainer (they do both dressage and jumping, with preferences USUALLY in the jumping realm). I'm not certain of the eventing levels but at least Training level with jumps around 3'3". Again with successful competition experience for themselves and students.

Before you select a trainer write up some questions and ask them, recording their answers. Then ask to watch both beginner and more advanced student lessons. By then you should be able to decide if #1 - you like their teaching style (some people need yellers, others don't care for them), #2 if you think instructor knows what they're doing and #3 if your eye finds how their students are riding "nice" (means they're probably performing correctly versus yanking horses around, etc.).

Other things to ask:
1. Can they/ will they get on your horse if you and horse have an issue? They have been a few times over the years that what appears to be happening (to the instructor) is not at all what it feels like. In that case I ask the instructor if they can get on - then they can do what they've been telling me to do. Most times they figure out something completely different than they thought is the issue - then they work with horse on that and have me get on, as soon as they get off after working the issue, so I can "feel" the correction.
2. Do they have any lesson horses so while you're trying to learn you can first feel the "correct" way the horse is to move (before attempting to teach it to the horse). That shortens your learning time, and the horses too!

Dressage is for Trainers!
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post #8 of 8 Old 05-27-2011, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
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Valentina, like I said before, it's both. My goal is to jump with her, but I think we would both benefit from doing dressage first.

Thanks for the suggestions, I will use them!
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