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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here’s the thing. Out of all the different occupation options I’ve considered over the years (psychologist, vet med, writer...) none of them have ever made me feel that I could really wake up every morning and not have to drag myself out of bed for... Except for the one thing I’m truly passionate about, which I finally found my passion for again over this last summer after a few life events caused that passion to fade— which is working with horses. I do have some rather personal reasons for that, but I think it can easily be summarized by the Buck Brannaman quote, “The horse saved my life, so that’s kind of why I’ll spend the rest of mine trying to help them.”
I uh, have yet to speak to my folks about this, because, uh, well, I’m not sure of the reaction I’ll get... so why not get all the questions I’m uncertain about out of the way first, right? I have a few, for any horse trainers out there.
So...
1) Do clients usually have their own tack that you use or do you have to use your own? Does it just depend? What’s more common?
2) Is there anything wrong with only taking on one project at a time? I think that’s all I could manage with college going on.
3) I thought of trainers as usually going out to the client’s barn, but when I talked to a family friend he talked like it’s the other way around, like they leave it with you. What’s more common? What’s better in your opinion? What do you do? Do you charge more for one than another?
4) How much should I charge? How do you charge it (by session, by the hour, by the day?)
5) What do you usually do if you get “stuck”?
6) Would it be weird to ask a client a couple questions before agreeing to work with their animal? For example, say I was going to be training a colt. I would want to ask if the client is okay with the first rides being in a rope halter instead of a bit as in my experience starting in a bit is much more difficult.
7) I’ve only worked with non gaited horses— if someone offered up a gaited horse to work on something with besides their gait, would it be ok for me to accept or should I avoid the gaited horse due to my lack of experience with them? I ask because there are a lot of TWH in my area.
8) What about long ears (mules donkeys etc)? I’d love the opportunity to work with one but... I’m not so sure about trying to squeeze it into that “30/60/90 day” thing horse people like. I’ve heard they can take longer.
If I think of anything else I’ll add it to this post!
 

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It is a good idea to either work for another trainer who's methods you like. Or get a good showing resume on horses you have trained.

I do rehab. When beginning the return to riding I use one of my western saddles on everything. I've never had a horse object. I've never had an owner object either. Later I will likely use the tack for the discipline the horse does. And if I don't have something to fit, owners provide it.

I also have a good full-time job that more than pays the bills (mortgage, vehicles, horse trailer, insurances, food, fun).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
It is a good idea to either work for another trainer who's methods you like. Or get a good showing resume on horses you have trained.

I do rehab. When beginning the return to riding I use one of my western saddles on everything. I've never had a horse object. I've never had an owner object either. Later I will likely use the tack for the discipline the horse does. And if I don't have something to fit, owners provide it.

I also have a good full-time job that more than pays the bills (mortgage, vehicles, horse trailer, insurances, food, fun).
Well, that would be great if I knew of anyone. But given that 99% of my horse journey has been done alone, with just someone to ask for help on occasion, and I have not had all that much exposure to other horse people in general except through the internet for a lot of reasons, all out of my control. It would be a bit hard to “work for” someone. I don’t even know of any serious boarding barns in my area, I live in the sticks. Like, very in the sticks. I’ve got no idea where the nearest barn with a reputable trainer is.
I am not really looking into training show horses, nobody shows in my area seriously, they just go to fun shows and trail rides. Looking more so at starting horses, for those kinds of things. Not only is no one around my area into the show industry, I’m not either.
At least for now, anyway, I’d just be looking into doing simpler stuff. That’s actually, I think, in some amount of demand in my area. In my area amateur barrel racing and rodeo and whatnot trainers are a dime a dozen compared to folks who start colts or put a foundation on a horse or work on behavioral issues and all those things... from what I’ve seen, anyway.

Edit: I know this probably sounds stupid to a lot of people on here... I think this forum mostly consists of show folks, right? I know the whole thing probably sounds far fetched and overall just plain stupid and like it wouldn’t ever work out, I just don’t see the use in not trying. Though, to be honest, I do have this issue where I don’t believe in myself at all and the only reason I’m considering pursuing this dream at all is this one horseman family friend dude that encouraged me to without even knowing i wanted to. If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be bothering at all but I guess I took it as a kind of sign. So I guess the reason I’m adding this edit is just to say, please be gentle...
 

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1) Do clients usually have their own tack that you use or do you have to use your own? Does it just depend? What’s more common?
2) Is there anything wrong with only taking on one project at a time? I think that’s all I could manage with college going on.
3) I thought of trainers as usually going out to the client’s barn, but when I talked to a family friend he talked like it’s the other way around, like they leave it with you. What’s more common? What’s better in your opinion? What do you do? Do you charge more for one than another?
4) How much should I charge? How do you charge it (by session, by the hour, by the day?)
5) What do you usually do if you get “stuck”?
6) Would it be weird to ask a client a couple questions before agreeing to work with their animal? For example, say I was going to be training a colt. I would want to ask if the client is okay with the first rides being in a rope halter instead of a bit as in my experience starting in a bit is much more difficult.
7) I’ve only worked with non gaited horses— if someone offered up a gaited horse to work on something with besides their gait, would it be ok for me to accept or should I avoid the gaited horse due to my lack of experience with them? I ask because there are a lot of TWH in my area.
8) What about long ears (mules donkeys etc)? I’d love the opportunity to work with one but... I’m not so sure about trying to squeeze it into that “30/60/90 day” thing horse people like. I’ve heard they can take longer.
1) I brought all of my own tack to use, but wasn't against using clients tack - I was just familiar with staying on top in my own tack.
2) Depends on how often your clients want you - I see no reason why it would be bad. I would travel with-in 30 minutes of my college, and sometimes rode multiple horses on my off-days. I specifically trained (or gave lessons to) three different locations, but I lived in a low population, generally lower-class area (many people wouldn't pay for training or lessons).
3) Do you have a place to keep their horse, and also insurance to cover any accidents on your own property? Otherwise I would travel to their barn, and factor in the cost of gasoline (and drive time!) into what you charge.
4) I charged per hour, $30/hour
5) Ask the advice of other trainers, research online, or walk away. I walked away on one ridiculously explosive bucker, that I couldn't even put my foot in the stirrup of. Starting out as a trainer, especially as a college student, you will get all of the bad, nasty horses before you get any easy ones.
6) If I'm paid to train the horse, I am training it the way I know best, period. I typically started in a rope halter, and then a bridle with a rope halter over, and then just a bridle.
7) I felt way out of my comfort zone on the gaited horses I rode - luckily it was just for sales videos. If it was training from scratch, I would be hesistant.
8) Never trained one, so don't know.

Things to consider - the cost to maintain yourself - you will get injured at some point, and you will need some sort of care. The money I had to spend on a chiropractor, heating pad, ice packs, etc etc made it so that I barely came even - the cost of starting out training and getting all of the nasties. I will answer any other questions you have, I trained for a summer in college.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
1) I brought all of my own tack to use, but wasn't against using clients tack - I was just familiar with staying on top in my own tack.
2) Depends on how often your clients want you - I see no reason why it would be bad. I would travel with-in 30 minutes of my college, and sometimes rode multiple horses on my off-days. I specifically trained (or gave lessons to) three different locations, but I lived in a low population, generally lower-class area (many people wouldn't pay for training or lessons).
3) Do you have a place to keep their horse, and also insurance to cover any accidents on your own property? Otherwise I would travel to their barn, and factor in the cost of gasoline (and drive time!) into what you charge.
4) I charged per hour, $30/hour
5) Ask the advice of other trainers, research online, or walk away. I walked away on one ridiculously explosive bucker, that I couldn't even put my foot in the stirrup of. Starting out as a trainer, especially as a college student, you will get all of the bad, nasty horses before you get any easy ones.
6) If I'm paid to train the horse, I am training it the way I know best, period. I typically started in a rope halter, and then a bridle with a rope halter over, and then just a bridle.
7) I felt way out of my comfort zone on the gaited horses I rode - luckily it was just for sales videos. If it was training from scratch, I would be hesistant.
8) Never trained one, so don't know.

Things to consider - the cost to maintain yourself - you will get injured at some point, and you will need some sort of care. The money I had to spend on a chiropractor, heating pad, ice packs, etc etc made it so that I barely came even - the cost of starting out training and getting all of the nasties. I will answer any other questions you have, I trained for a summer in college.
Thank you, I really appreciate the answers. If I think of any other questions I’ll definitely ask away. I guess I do have one— did you do a working-with-the-owner kinda deal, or a one-on-one with the horse thing? Did it depend on what you were working on?
 

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Biggest thing I can tell you is...
If horses are your passion don't make them your living.

When you think you want to be so immersed in horses you eat, breathe and depend on them to literally have a roof over your head, food in your belly, a dime or more in your pocket....
Then you have not lived and been in the trade long enough to realize that you need other avenues of interests, things to do to meet the daily needs of survival.
Its called burn-out and if you do what you think you want you will end up burnt-out of desire, rational thought and happy....
Been there and done it as have countless others here...some of those who have responded all mentioned they do for the love of the animal and have other well-paying means to eat and sleep safely with a bit of spending money to call theirs.

My best recommendation is....
Find a career you like to do...hopefully one that pays handsomely to afford your passion.
Your passion of horses is not enough to survive on alone...
You have no name, no training, no animals who are seen and out making a name for you as their trainer....
Gives you little to no chance of someone walking in and offering you hundreds of dollars a month cash for each animal brought to you to "train"...
Sorry to be a downer, but realistic is what you need to be.
Keep your passion your passion and find a career to make the money to afford your passion to follow.
jmo...
🐴...
 

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Thank you, I really appreciate the answers. If I think of any other questions I’ll definitely ask away. I guess I do have one— did you do a working-with-the-owner kinda deal, or a one-on-one with the horse thing? Did it depend on what you were working on?
My biggest client (who had 20+ horses) needed to downside her herd, so I was in-charge of saddle breaking or refreshing some of the horses. I did the one-on-one horse thing with one of her mares, and then worked with her on the other two to bring them on trail rides or make sale videos.

The bucking horse I mentioned, I worked with one-on-one, with the owner constantly supervising because she knew just how dangerous the horse was.

I did teach lessons to one little girl, I worked one-on-one with her and her horse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Biggest thing I can tell you is...
If horses are your passion don't make them your living.

When you think you want to be so immersed in horses you eat, breathe and depend on them to literally have a roof over your head, food in your belly, a dime or more in your pocket....
Then you have not lived and been in the trade long enough to realize that you need other avenues of interests, things to do to meet the daily needs of survival.
Its called burn-out and if you do what you think you want you will end up burnt-out of desire, rational thought and happy....
Been there and done it as have countless others here...some of those who have responded all mentioned they do for the love of the animal and have other well-paying means to eat and sleep safely with a bit of spending money to call theirs.

My best recommendation is....
Find a career you like to do...hopefully one that pays handsomely to afford your passion.
Your passion of horses is not enough to survive on alone...
You have no name, no training, no animals who are seen and out making a name for you as their trainer....
Gives you little to no chance of someone walking in and offering you hundreds of dollars a month cash for each animal brought to you to "train"...
Sorry to be a downer, but realistic is what you need to be.
Keep your passion your passion and find a career to make the money to afford your passion to follow.
jmo...
🐴...
Yeah, I guess hoping that it’ll pay all the bills is a big stretch but i think I did mention I am going to college, I’ve got other plans too because they are likely to be needed... I just don’t see a use in not trying. I mean, at the end of the day, a little cash from training a random horse or two to help pay for college definitely does no harm.
 
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For myself...I wouldn't hire someone to train a horse unless they had lots of real world experience (grew up on a ranch working with horses - and could show me the horses they had trained) or worked under someone first or had success in some form of riding. How could you convince a stranger you have the skill to train? I would also need to know they had insurance. Wouldn't want someone to get hurt on my horse and sue me for their medical bills, or hurt my horse and say, "Tough luck!"
 

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I think this is something you need to do. Right of passage and all that. Now, other people will tell you that you'll get burnt out, you'll lose your passion--they're not wrong. I'm right there along with them agreeing. But, I think and believe, that people need to do what they want and you have to experience life through your own journey. And, if you don't do this now, you'll always look back with regret for not having done this.

If you make this your full time job/career, you need to be okay with being pretty much at the mercy of others. You may be self-employed, but you're really not in a position of power. You also need to be a people person--smoothing over any miscommunication with grace and ease, and being able to deal with crazy, difficult clients (which are in no short supply in the horse world).

I would ask around to find out what the going prices are for similar training in your area. Realistically, yes, people showing horses or wanting show/competition training are going to garner a higher dollar amount than people wanting simple breaking. But that's okay, if you can manage it financially!

Very smart to have a back up (college)! I wish you the very best of luck!
 
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I think you really need to step back and evaluate your skill level. I broke horses in high school and worked for a trainer in college - I was a stall cleaner/ exercise girl/ jack of all trades. Back when I broke horses in high school the expectation of the owners were that the horse could be ridden with no issues, no buck etc, could be ridden along the road or trails, pick up feet, go forward and stop. that was about it. Nothing fancy. And I did it in about 30 days at my parents home. Then I had a colt get killed in a freak accident while at or house and the owner got angry and threatened to sue and we had to make a claim with home owners insurance. No more horse training at home for me. I still did work for some people I knew at their houses etc.

When I sent a colt away for training a few years ago I paid for 60 days of training (I had started him so he could be ridden) he came back with a lot of bells and whistles (side pass, turn on the forehand and haunches, back up) So I think people's definition of a "trained" horse may be subjective.

When you get to college look for local barns needing help. A lot of boarding places or training places need stable help - its a foot in the door and a way to make money.
 

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If this is what you really want to do, it sounds like you're limiting yourself by only focusing on your local area. If there are no resources (trainers, ranches, breeding farms, racetracks) to help someone who wants to learn to start horses while making a broader name for themselves, then you probably need to expand your geographic area and be willing to move. If you're in college, great, then focus on finding working student options for the summer and the longer breaks.
 

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I agree with @bsms . As a horse owner, I wouldn't trust my horse with someone unless I had some proof of what they were capable of. I mean, something concrete. What have you done that would lead me to think you could train my horse? You are asking a bunch of procedural questions, but they are kind of pointless unless you can get someone to agree to be your client. You need to figure out how to get some sort of concrete experience before worrying about all of those other details.

If you do have that experience, then you need to figure out how to market it. You need to be able to demonstrate to people that you can get results in a manner they approve of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I agree with @bsms . As a horse owner, I wouldn't trust my horse with someone unless I had some proof of what they were capable of. I mean, something concrete. What have you done that would lead me to think you could train my horse? You are asking a bunch of procedural questions, but they are kind of pointless unless you can get someone to agree to be your client. You need to figure out how to get some sort of concrete experience before worrying about all of those other details.

If you do have that experience, then you need to figure out how to market it. You need to be able to demonstrate to people that you can get results in a manner they approve of.
Well, I think some of you are severely overestimating the amount of care people in this area have for their horses lol 😅 There are a) rodeo folks who care the average amount, b) people who have horses and know nothing about them and are looking for someone... affordable, and c) type b but they bought 12 year old little Timmy a horse for $500 and little Timmy can’t handle it and doesn’t know how to get it to where he can handle it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I should probably also state that my number one motive isn’t to earn money, either. I’d straight up do it like charity work if it weren’t for wanting a reason for my parents to agree to it lol. My motive isn’t the money at all. It’s just that I want more experience in whatever form I can get it. I want to work with more than just the same three horses, I guess, so I have that experience. I just want to learn more, and to take it, pun intended, straight from the horse’s mouth— I want the firsthand experience.

Edit: oh also, there seemed to be some confusion about college? I’m already in college. By credit hours I’m... either an almost through sophomore or a beginning junior, I’d have to check. Dual enrollment messed with all that. This coming semester I’d be a sophomore if I had the regular number of credit hours for how long I’ve been there
 
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I don't suppose there's a horse rescue near you, where you could maybe work and get some experience? I'm sure they'd love to have someone willing to train horses.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I don't suppose there's a horse rescue near you, where you could maybe work and get some experience? I'm sure they'd love to have someone willing to train horses.
Eh... not within about two hours. There’s an equine therapy place I tried to get on volunteering with a while back but nothing came out of it. Other than that place... no. That’d be my first choice, to work with a rescue, otherwise.
But, there is an unofficial one come to think of it. I could see if they need any help?
 
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There are a lot of problems, as folks have pointed out. But, there is not one reason why you shouldn't give it a go. Start small. Ask around if someone needs their horse excersized, or worked in a round pen. Start small, but look hard for an opportunity to work UNDER the tutelage of a good trainer.
 

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If you are determined to make your career about horses, then you have to let your heart guide you.

I would suggest finding a good mentor or working student position to help you get a feel for what the job entails. Someone that can guide you as you train some horses. The only way to learn is by doing it. You can read all the books and watch all the videos you want, but it is not the same as actually being there and having the horse give you feedback.

Each horse has something to teach you. So if someone offers you the chance to ride their horse, take it. It may mean you do it for the experience, not for money.

Being a trainer is more then just working with the horse, it's also working with the owner. People skills will be important, as well as your ability to explain what it is your doing and why. Teaching the owner how to ride their horse is necessary or the same mistakes will continue to be made.

I always ask the client questions. Like what they want help with, any problems they're having, what are their goals, what is the horse's training history, etc..

If I get stuck I do my best to figure it out. The more experience you have, the better your intuition is on what to do in a tricky situation. But the best advice my mentor gave me is 'training horses is all an experiment. What works for one horse may not work for the next. You just have to be flexible and have many different ways to approach a single problem.' (Even nearing her retirement she still gets excited when she learns something new from a horse!)

Stay true to yourself. If a client asks you to do something your not comfortable with, explain why you do things the way you do. Keep the horse's well-being in your response. If that doesn't work for them then they are free to find someone else that's a better fit.

Good luck with your decision!
 

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Another thing (rather something I'd rather emphasize more) is again, put money aside (or invest in a health insurance that covers it) for your own body work (chiro, massage, whatever).

I only say this because I stood on my feet for 8 hours yesterday, making Christmas cookies of all things, and by the end of the day my hip and knee were aching. I sprained my hip almost five years ago taking a fall off of one of my own horses I broke out, who had never, ever done anything unexpected under saddle up until that point. I neglected to seek out any sort of physical therapy/etc for it, and now I feel the after effects pretty much anytime I'm on my feet for long periods of time or riding more than one horse. The knee was originally from an unrelated, non-horsey oops, but again, riding more than one horse or standing for long periods of time pretty much puts me on the couch with a heating pad.

I'm willing to say that many equine professionals put themselves on the backburner (farriers, dentists, trainers, etc) and don't take care of their bodies enough (on top of the back-breaking work that comes with equines). I don't know if this is because lack of time, money, or what, but I believe it is vitally important to take care of yourself. Future you will thank now you for taking care of yourself.
 
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