Question? Reasonable Expectations on Horse Training
I would appreciate some clarity from the group on reasonable expectations from a horse trainer when you put a horse "in training".
To give you a brief background on my situation, I purchased a 6 year old quarter horse that had been ridden sporadically most of his life, about a year ago. I wanted to get back into riding and he needed a good home.
You could lead him, pick up his feet, saddle and ride him. However, he did not move off the leg or neck rein. He was just kind of all over the place with his body.
Also, he had been desensitized pretty well. You could throw ropes all over him without much of a reaction. Generally, he was/is a nice horse with an affectionate personality. However, he tended to be a bit lazy and he had poor ground manners.
In July of 2011, I decided I did not have the skill to improve his ground manners and make him proficient in collecting himself, moving off the leg, side passing and neck reining. I felt he was worth the hefty financial investment to have him trained by a professional. My goal was to have a "finished" trail horse.
I found a trainer at a local equestrian facility that trains for western pleasure. She had an excellent reputation and seemed very capable. Her training program consisted of five rides per week. Each training session was about 1 hour to 1.5 hours long. I also would get one lesson per week.
My horse has been in training for about 4 months, now. Due to the trainers show schedule and my work schedule, I have not been able to get my weekly lessons. I have had about 5 lessons during the last 4 months. When I did have a lesson, it was very helpful and I felt my horse and I were learning.
Also, I did go out and work with my horse on my own about 2 times a week.
So my horse will be coming home at the end of this week, because I am out of training funds. His ground manners are greatly improved and he has learned to move off the leg. He still seems uncollected, unless he is in a martingale, and he cannot side pass, or neck rein.
I have to admit, I'm a little discouraged. So I need reality check from everyone.
Is it reasonable to expect a horse to be profitent in what I requested in ~ 80 hours of training over the last 4 months, assuming the horse and owner are not nut jobs?
Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks for reading!
It depends on the horse. The first things horses need to be taught is to move off of leg, and then sidepassing, neckreining, collecting and such. Also, it depends what you mean by 'collecting". Do you mean having him be responsive and relaxed when riding, or using the topline (poll to hindquarters) and bringing his hind legs under him? Im a dressage rider, but im assuming that western pleasure riders collect horses like that to. The first one, that is a reasonable goal. However, the topline one should be reserved to after they get well trained in all the basics and are well enough developed for it (your horse is 6 so thats fine, you just dont want like a 3 year old doing it for longish periods of time). It seems like you bit off more than you can chew, financially, experience, and time wise, but you have gotten into this and payed to have him trained so you obviously dont want to give him up. If you have any questions please feel free to message me!
I think the trainer probably has done a fair job in the time she's had. Fair meaning decent but not spectacular. It takes time to build the muscles so that a horse can learn to 'collect' or 'round up' or 'carry himself in frame'. IMO by now, sidepassing is generally fairly easy to teach and I would have expected that goal to be met. I'm not sure about the neck reining because it depends on how she was bitting him up and what bits she was using whether or not that would be a reasonable expectation at this point. And actually, neck reining is kind of a misnomer because while you might lay a rein over his neck while turning, he really should be turning off of seat and leg cues and at this point (4months) that might be expecting a bit much.
Thanks Casey and Dreamcatcher!
To answer Casey, I was meaning collection as relaxed and responsive.
I was unaware of the progression of horse training. It's difficult to detach yourself emotionally from this sort of thing when if comes to a horse you feel is your partner and may not be getting the attention you feel he deserves.
I am not looking for a refund from my trainer, but to become more knowledgeable if I decide to get professional help in the spring.
I have to say, I was hoping more from the neck reining. It was more for me to ride comfortably on the trail.
Just to give you something to think about: If you got 1 percent of improvement a day, you'd have a finished horse in 100 days of riding. 1 percent a day is ALOT
Yes, AmazingC, that is a head scratcher! I think I do need to give it more time where my trainer is concerned and not get wrapped up in certain aspects of goals, like neck reining.
Thanks everyone! It's been very helpful and eye opening. :)
I think more progress could have been made. I've taken horses from unridden to where you want this horse in less than 4 months. If you want your horse to be a trail horse then don't take it to someone that trains in an arena. If I wanted to be an NBA basketball player I wouldn't train with the St.Louis Cardinals even though they are great athletes.
It sounds like she was more invested in her schedule than her contract with you and your horse. Four months is QUITE A BIT of time and money and I think you should be frustrated. I'm in a somewhat similar situation. I think my horse was rode hard with training aides instead of addressing the real problems and when I rode him it was "my fault" he wasn't responding better. In four months he should be in top form based on the fact that he was already started just not finessed. Do get a trail trainer if you further his training. He needs "real world" experience not just a few hours in an arena! Keep up the ground work, that's where I'm at and it's helping tremendously! Good luck!
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Has she ridden a demo for you? Does he respond for her? I'd make sure you get out there before you pick him up and get another lesson and watch her ride him closely. If there isn't much improvement (especially under the goals of your contract) she should keep him longer and meet the goals with no further payments required. I grabbed my horse and ran because I was furious on his condition and her surprising methods! But if you feel she hasn't put in the time I'd ask for her to do the right thing and fulfill her duties.
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To be honest I'd expect more after 4 months if I had a professional trainer. I've noticed how much improvement I can have in one week with persistent work, after 4 months I'd expect pretty good improvement, even more so with a professional trainer. It sounds like all she has done in 4 months is to improve ground manners and get him moving of the leg... I'd be pretty annoyed about that. You'd probably have been able to get similar results by getting a weekly trainer out to instruct you and give you things to work on. Are you sure he's been worked as much as she claims? Do you have any recourse? I didn't even know people sent a horse to a trainer for four month, I thought it was a month, two at most, sort of deal.
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