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jhoover 08-07-2012 05:49 PM

New Trainer Contradicting Previous Trainer
Hi There,

So, here's my situation. I spent the last two years riding with an eventing trainer whom I really respected. I bought my horse a little over a year ago and, together, we've trained him through Novice level. Due to finances, I had to take a break from training and move Storm closer to home.

There is a hunter/jumper trainer at my new facility and I decided to take a lesson with her (as barn rules specify no jumping unless in a lesson). She was very kind and positive, but the way she had me ride was completely different than what I've been doing for the last two years.

Basically, my previous trainer had me riding "on the bit" the majority of the time. There were definite times for relaxation and loose reins, but most of the time during a lesson (jumping or dressage) we were working in a pretty tight frame.

My new trainer had me loosen the reins (kind of imagine a dressage "free walk" or "stretchy trot") for the entire warm-up. Even when jumping, she had me on a very light contact and had me give almost completely before a jump (being careful not to "drop him").

I noticed that there was a significant improvement in his hind suspension and a lengthening of stride while on a loose rein. He seemed very flexible, animated, and happy. However, it felt strange to just be trotting and cantering around with loose reins ("flapping in the wind" is what my previous trainer would have called them). I felt like we weren't really working hard.

The new trainer kept saying that Storm goes naturally on the bit and that his mouth is "like butter," but I didn't feel like we were on the bit at all (at least not in the way my previous trainer defined it).

Is this a hunter/jumper thing (new trainer) vs. an eventing/dressage thing (previous trainer) or do the two trainers just have completely different styles?

Any thoughts on the new style vs. the old style?

I would really appreciate the feedback, as I'm feel a bit confused. Thanks! Happy riding!

(15 years riding experience, but only 3 years jumping/eventing)

Cherie 08-07-2012 06:00 PM

Welcome to the Horse Forum and welcome to the world of horse trainers.

Horse training is an inexact science. Unlike math, there is no 'one right answer'.

There are almost as many 'styles' as there are trainers. You have evaluate each trainer and how they work with you and with your horse. Some trainers can adapt from horse to horse but most have their style and if a horse does not adapt to them -- well they want you to get a different horse.

My personal recommendation would be to ride with this trainer for a few lessons and then very realistically step back and look at how you and your horse are BOTH doing. It could be just what you both need or you could have your horse's performance go downhill fast.

Some horses need more contact and get strung out and fall apart with too little contact and too little 'push'. Other horses develop a lot more try and feel if they have a little more space.

CLaPorte432 08-07-2012 07:12 PM

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Cherie, wonderful advice.
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longshot 08-07-2012 07:20 PM

yep Cherie covered it, not to mention if this is the only trainer available you get to adapt to their style. The horse seeming to respond to it better is a plus!

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