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Discussion Starter #1
Prior to 9 years ago, I had no interest in horses. My daughter was somehow born with the horse bug, no one else in our family prior to her had anything to do with them. So in the last 9 years, I've learned much more about horses than I ever intended to. Due to our location and the type of riding/training that occurs in this area, she has mostly trained with Paint and Quarter Horse centric trainers in Stock Horse type competitions.

During that time, she has trained under six different trainers for periods of time, took one-off lessons from many other trainers and has attended more clinics than I can remember. Also during that time she trained and competed in Halter, English, Western, Ranch Versatility, Team Sorting, Barrel Racing events and then into Reining working her way up to the NRHA level.

Throughout this process I've talked to a lot trainers and have heard so many different things from them. And so many of their methods were in direct conflict with each other. For example, I've taken my daughter to NRHA level trainers who say that she is as good of a rider as any of the Non-Pro competitors that train with them. On the other hand, I've taken my daughter to trainers that don't show/don't like competitions to hear them say she is a terrible rider and needs to start over in the round pen for a year or so.

I've found over time that trainers that actively show seem to have a consistent training program that falls into the discipline and train towards that goal. It makes it easy to compare their horses and riders with their competition to get an idea of how good of a horse trainer they are. Fortunately that's where my daughter's interest lies, so we stick to those trainers.

But as mentioned earlier, there are trainers that don't compete. Say competition is bad, etc. And I always wondered, without the standard that is set through judging/competition, how do you know that they are good horse trainers? What would be the end goal of going to that trainer? How do they know they have become competent riders/trainers?
 

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If you are looking for a trainer to train a competition horse be it a reiner or H/J or dressage then competition is needed. If I am going to send a horse to be trained to be a reiner or any other type of competition horse I am not going to send them to joe blow down the road.

However if all I want is a trail horse then I might consider Joe. However I am a firm beleiver that with horse training you get what you pay for and I have found over the years even if all I wanted was a nice sane sound trail horse trained I would still use a reining trainer. They just put such a good handle on a horse. However if that is not an options and for some it is not then I would look at the horses they have trained talke to everyone I could who have horses trained by that person. I would go and watch them ride and train not just once but several times.

Then and this is where I find most people fall short. GO AND WATCH them ride your horse. Do not just drop it off and expect you will get a trained horse back in 30-60 days. Also be reilalitic about how long it will take to get a good reliable horse back. 30-60 days with most trainers is just not long enough. If something feels off ask. Talk to the trainer find out WHY. This is anouther thing I have found with people and trainers too. They do not talk to each other. I find this is the bigest proplems between trainers and owners.
 

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I am interested to see what people say in response to this question... I for one don't know how you would be an effective trainer for students who want to be competitive without showing.

I give lessons and I know that I keep myself in training and showing to keep up with what is going on in the showing world ...
 

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If you are looking for a trainer to train a competition horse be it a reiner or H/J or dressage then competition is needed. If I am going to send a horse to be trained to be a reiner or any other type of competition horse I am not going to send them to joe blow down the road.
Excellent advise but not all great competitors make great teachers. If you looked at a trainer's students and what they were doing, you would get a good idea of how well their methods work.

As nhrareiner suggested, if a trainer isn't competition oriented then they are not going to point you in the direction you need to go if competition is your goal.
 

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If a trainer doesn't compete then you base their abilities off of their students, and the horses in the program. My trainer hasn't competed in a long time, but her students (I included) continue to do well in the show ring, all the horses under her tutelage are happy and healthy and her riders can ride their horses.

That being said I'd go with a trainer that can continuely produce Riders and Horses that are show ring ready because the show ring is where I want to be. There are too many people who go hang a shingle that have no business doing so IMHO.

There is a really long, big thread about this on COTH if anyone cares to go look.

Beginner/Intermediate Types that declare themselves trainers

Why is success in the show ring suddenly the only measure of a rider/trainer?
 

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I think when you get into other events like H/J and Dressage and even WP and such. You can get a way with a trainer who just works with students and dose not show or do a lot of training. I have not found this to be true with reiners. There are no NRHA shows for low level reiners. Most non pros can not train a reiner so you NEED a trainer to train your horse. I have been breeding and showing reiners for about 12+ years now and although I do start mine and I can keep them legged up and honest I know my limits and do not train to a finished horse. I use a trainer for that. In the end you will be so much further ahead b/c even in the rookie ranks those are still some of the best reiners around competing. Even in the youth they are top horses when you are showing in the NRHA.
 

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I am interested to see what people say in response to this question... I for one don't know how you would be an effective trainer for students who want to be competitive without showing.

Not everyone wants to be competitive. Myself and a group of my horse friends for example.... Enjoy horses but our idea of enjoying horses does not include parading around an indoor arena for endless hours demanding that our horses heads sit a certain way and there legs do a certain thing so that next summer we can sit in the hot sun, parade around a chubby judge and see if maybe we get to take the pretty blue ribbon home.

I give lessons to a few girls who want to learn how to properly ride, train, handle and care for the horse. Girls who also do not want to be competitive but to simply enjoy horses. I do not feel that I'm 'not qualified' to instruct just because I myself do not show & find most showing ridiculous. If they'd like to show, go elsewhere. I have plenty to teach from the ground to out on the trail.
 

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I am interested to see what people say in response to this question... I for one don't know how you would be an effective trainer for students who want to be competitive without showing.

Not everyone wants to be competitive. Myself and a group of my horse friends for example.... Enjoy horses but our idea of enjoying horses does not include parading around an indoor arena for endless hours demanding that our horses heads sit a certain way and there legs do a certain thing so that next summer we can sit in the hot sun, parade around a chubby judge and see if maybe we get to take the pretty blue ribbon home.

I give lessons to a few girls who want to learn how to properly ride, train, handle and care for the horse. Girls who also do not want to be competitive but to simply enjoy horses. I do not feel that I'm 'not qualified' to instruct just because I myself do not show & find most showing ridiculous. If they'd like to show, go elsewhere. I have plenty to teach from the ground to out on the trail.
You missed an integral part in that sentence

FOR Students who WANT to be competitive. Not all riders want to compete, but just as many riders do. If I didn't want to show it wouldn't matter to me that my trainer doesn't show either or have a record in the show ring whether it be their own or their students.

And not everyone who competes, works endlessly in an indoor ring. Most top level trainers and riders do cross-train their horses, hack out in an open field and on the trail. Good horsemanship is Good horsemanship.
 

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I am interested to see what people say in response to this question... I for one don't know how you would be an effective trainer for students who want to be competitive without showing.

Not everyone wants to be competitive. Myself and a group of my horse friends for example.... Enjoy horses but our idea of enjoying horses does not include parading around an indoor arena for endless hours demanding that our horses heads sit a certain way and there legs do a certain thing so that next summer we can sit in the hot sun, parade around a chubby judge and see if maybe we get to take the pretty blue ribbon home.

I give lessons to a few girls who want to learn how to properly ride, train, handle and care for the horse. Girls who also do not want to be competitive but to simply enjoy horses. I do not feel that I'm 'not qualified' to instruct just because I myself do not show & find most showing ridiculous. If they'd like to show, go elsewhere. I have plenty to teach from the ground to out on the trail.
I think that is all find and good and I agree that there is a place for that type of trainer. However the question is how do you (any you) prove that you can train a horse to do that job if there is no outside un bias opinions given?? To me that is what a horse show is. An out side un bias opinion as to the training of a given horse on that given day and when you put several of those opinions together over time you get a good idea of what that horse can do and what that trainer can do. With out that how do you prove what you can do with out spending a lot of time showing a person?? I think that is what the questions is here.
 

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And not everyone who competes, works endlessly in an indoor ring. Most top level trainers and riders do cross-train their horses, hack out in an open field and on the trail. Good horsemanship is Good horsemanship.
I agree with this. My horses when they are up at my trainers do many things. My one mare has been roped off of she has been out on trails. She not only has NRHA earnings but NRCHA earnings with no extra training really. I have shown her locally in many other events and done well. Nice thing about a well trained horse is you can take them and do anything with them.
 

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New image... Like Void said you missed my point. Not all riders want to be competative and not all trainers are. I am not saying all trainers have to show BUT a trainer who has students who show needs to be in that world I think :)
 

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Some competitors are not great trainers and some trainers are not great competitors. You just need to do your homework when you select a trainer. Go watch the trainer ride, if he/she has students watch them ride and if possible ride one of thier horses. Most good trainers will give references and you should check them. You don't need to have a trainer that haas won $100,000 in cutting or reining to make your next trail horse. You do need to put in the work to find a good trainer. I can't believe how many people talk to me one time on the phone and drop off thier horse and a pretty good chunk of change without hardly even knowing my name. Some people pay me to pick thier horse up so they don't even know where I live. If I gave them a false name they would have no way of tracking down thier horse.
 

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Being competitive doesn't make a good rider, it just means you are a competitive rider (good or bad). I have a dressage trainer who rides at the fourth level and all she does is occasional clinics and small shows. She is an incredible rider to watch. The reason she doesn't show is because all she wants in her riding is for improvement of the rider and benefit for the horse, nothing else. I am also the type of rider who is more interested in this type of riding than showing. I judge her quality by watching her ride her horse, watching her ride my horse, listening to her feedback during lessons, and evaluating her students (some of which are competitive). I don't think of shows as an unbiased opinion. I need not mention what is going on in dressage rings these days, and the nerves caused by shows can distort the actual progress of the rider and horse in and out of the saddle. I am by no means against shows, it's just not something I find worthwhile for what I want to achieve. I can tell the difference between good riding and bad on my own, I don't need scores from people I have never met.
 

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Not everyone wants to be competitive. Myself and a group of my horse friends for example.... Enjoy horses but our idea of enjoying horses does not include parading around an indoor arena for endless hours demanding that our horses heads sit a certain way and there legs do a certain thing so that next summer we can sit in the hot sun, parade around a chubby judge and see if maybe we get to take the pretty blue ribbon home.
I don't have any kind of ring, indoor or outdoor, and I still show and win. I train out on the trail.

*

I, personally, think showing is another skill for a tariner to add to their repertoire. Many, many riders can get their horse going brilliantly at home - But a lot of those riders would fall apart under the pressure of a show situation. Being able to sucessfully present a calm, obedient and willing horse at a show and being able to get a good performance out of them there is a skill I won't discount. Just another POV.

I also agree that showing is a great way to show a trainers results. I am lucky to show in a discipline/breed that has a relatively low level of abuse/mistreatment/cruel methods compared to most. In my discipline, good, solid, working horses who are performing calmly and soundly win in the ring - So it IS a good judge of a trainers work.

I also campdraft - And a campdraft trainer isn't worth anything if they don't actually campdraft! It is scored - Not 'judged' persay, so is an even better marker of the horse and riders performance.

I would always choose a trainer who successfully shows over one who doesn't, as long as all my other requirements are met.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
But as mentioned earlier, there are trainers that don't compete. Say competition is bad, etc. And I always wondered, without the standard that is set through judging/competition, how do you know that they are good horse trainers? What would be the end goal of going to that trainer? How do they know they have become competent riders/trainers?
I probably should have phrased this a little better. The core of what I'm asking is:

If the trainer and rider (have never and) do not want to compete which dictates that they work towards a specific end goal of riding ability, how do they know that they are competent riders and therefore trainers?

Or put more succinctly, how can a trainer be competent if they have never trained a horse for competition?
 

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And I always wondered, without the standard that is set through judging/competition, how do you know that they are good horse trainers? What would be the end goal of going to that trainer? How do they know they have become competent riders/trainers?
This is actually why I don't compete. That standard is set through judging and competition. Its what is the current trend, not what is actually correct for the horse and rider. I hate seeing a horse cranked down in draw reins or maniplated in an unnatural way. Unfortuantely, those judges do set our standards of what is acceptable and actually promoted, which is commonly very far away from the truth of the horse. Is this true for all trainers? No, but trainers that are willing to take the time to make a proper horse are few and far between. Riders willing to commit to learning as much as possible to benefit that horses body are also few and far between. I saw a show on RFD TV a couple weeks ago where a trainer of cutting horses said "I use this bit because it cuts my training time down by 6 months". This is someone who is nationally competitive and successful. I have known some good cutting horse trainers, yet the horses I saw in his demos were far from correct. It is a business, which is not wrong, everyone has to make a dollar, but it is done sacrificing the horse to maximize output and maximize profits. The judges only encourage this when these horses win. I personally enjoyed reading the bashing letter against the 2006 Olympics by German vet Dr.Gerd Heuschmann, criticizing how the sport of dressage had been poorly displayed and highly rewarded and how they were only encouraging the damage done to equine bodies and poor riders by placing these horses highly because they fit the current acceptable "image".

So, how do I identify a good horse trainer? I don't look at the ribbons they have won, I look at the horses that they produce. This takes more learning about the horse before employing it with a certain discipline. When I was younger, I was very interested in biomechanics of the horse, I took a working student position with one of the most well known and successful dressage trainers in my area. I was so appauled putting what I'd learned together with what I was seeing in her "show horses" that I couldn't even return for a second day and she actually still owes me a lesson that I'm never planning on collecting on. At the time, I continued looking for trainers, I had just put my best horse on break because of a sore back. I was trying out a new trainer that wanted me to ride my main horse, and after a one hour lesson, that horses back went from tight and sensitive to loose and supple, after riding. Within the next few months, the rest of his body followed the trend, his movement improved, and my riding improved, that was what determined my trainer. She does not compete, but she does do what is best for the horse, and I can see that through results that the horse shows me, not the judges.


I train also, I teach lessons and take horses for training. I do not work with horses planning on making it big in the show ring, I take horses that either failed the regular training methods, the horses with too strong a sense of self preservation to submit to the deal they are offering, and teach them how to do things right. I have never had a "bad" or "untrainable" horse fight this. I also work with horses that have already been destroyed by training methods and some had extensive successful show careers. Once they go lame or hurt so much they start giving behavior problems, I get to start physical repair work. The behavioral issues usually subside on their own by addressing the body.

I have pretty much given up on the fact that people will look at the horse instead of at the ribbon, but a question was asked, so I answered.
 

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I can tell the difference between good riding and bad on my own, I don't need scores from people I have never met.
This may be true. I know I can also. However when it comes down to it. Especailly if you are selling a horse or a prospect or even more so when breeding. That independent, un bias, PROVABLE opinion is quite important.

I have people who buy Embryos out of my mares. They have never seen her show. They will never ride her. Most will never even see her. However they can go to an outside source and see what and how she has done. They can see how many horses she has beaten and so on. That is what showing can get you among so many other things.
 

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I've been going through the same issue for sometime - to find a good trainer. I agree with nrhareiner that if you want to compete the trainer MUST have experience with showing. Because then he/she knows those particular things Bill down the road doesn't.

I personally will never go with Bill down the road again even for trail riding training. I had experience with "back yard" trainers several times (was bought by "references" and in some sense price too although it wasn't very cheap at all) and it was just waste of money on my side. They know close to nothing about the correct position, how to teach horse to be light on front, and all other things I really needed help for both of us. And I don't want to pay to someone just watching me trotting around and telling me how good my horse is (which is not a case anyway IMO considering amount of training they both have).

However trainer with "20 (30, 40, ...) years experience in showing" may not be a good trainer (even though he/she won lots of medals). I honestly think one has to have a talant to be a trainer and recognize what the problem is with horse and/or rider and resolve it making a better horse/rider team out of them. The trainer I took lessons from (she's absolutely great I wish they'd have lesson horses I could take lesson on now) said "if there is no improvement in you and your horse it's time to change the instructor". And I just can't agree more with it.
 

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This may be true. I know I can also. However when it comes down to it. Especailly if you are selling a horse or a prospect or even more so when breeding. That independent, un bias, PROVABLE opinion is quite important.

I have people who buy Embryos out of my mares. They have never seen her show. They will never ride her. Most will never even see her. However they can go to an outside source and see what and how she has done. They can see how many horses she has beaten and so on. That is what showing can get you among so many other things.
I do think that if you want a horse for competition then a showing record of the parents etc is a good idea. If I wanted a horse to win a competition than I would look for a horse that has won competitions in the past. However, that is not what I am looking for so show scores (or lack thereof) do not mean much to me and I would thus never buy a horse that I didn't visit twice (plus vet check) before buying. The horse I own now has a sire that competed GP and almost got into the Olympics for dressage plus a dam that was top DWB mare in Holland for awhile (I think it was 3 years), but if he had homely parents that didn't compete and he was still the same horse he is now I still would have bought him anyway. He has only done two small schooling shows in his life and his movement and potential is better than many, regardless of the fact that he doesn't compete.
 

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I do think that if you want a horse for competition then a showing record of the parents etc is a good idea. If I wanted a horse to win a competition than I would look for a horse that has won competitions in the past. However, that is not what I am looking for so show scores (or lack thereof) do not mean much to me and I would thus never buy a horse that I didn't visit twice (plus vet check) before buying. The horse I own now has a sire that competed GP and almost got into the Olympics for dressage plus a dam that was top DWB mare in Holland for awhile (I think it was 3 years), but if he had homely parents that didn't compete and he was still the same horse he is now I still would have bought him anyway. He has only done two small schooling shows in his life and his movement and potential is better than many, regardless of the fact that he doesn't compete.
This is really funny, not in that anything you said was wrong but reflecting on myself. My trainer is one of the types thats been in the horse show world for 45 years, comes from a horse show family, friends and rode with most of the greats etc. Thats the primary reason why I chose her.

My horse that I show with on the other hands is an OTTB, with nasty personality lines, and I didn't vet. I never saw him move because when we got him he had a torn suspensory. If I hadn't gotten him for free (and basically gambled on whether he would be good or not, which fortunately he was good). I guess if I was spending any amount of money on a horse i would have done more homework and a PPE. lol
 
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