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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I would like to vent. I bought a horse from a dressage trainer and rider a 6 year Saddlebred fine harness horse that was started under saddle last June. I just want him to be trained for a trail horse. He is supposed to get (and I am paying for) board and care plus 5 training rides a week. I live a three hour drive away. I am no spring chicken and have 50 years experience keeping my own horses and riding trail. I rode to be alone in nature and be away from people. I have never had a riding lesson in my life but somehow I survived going 30 miles cross country in the hills and back and such. I had not ridden a horse in over 5 years. I came to the training barn and got basic lessons on school horses and rode my own horse a few times. As she had been riding and training for 6 months by then I kind of expected he could sidepass or disengage his hindquarters and was surprised he did not but did not say anything. I thought maybe I just don't know the signals she is teaching. She seems to yell what not to do but does not say what to do. So after I had been to some lessons I asked for a lesson I will pay for to see her ride so she can tell me how she does it but she refused.

Anyway, recently she started taking him on ponied trail rides. This was good, I knowthe horse is a 'paddock pony' and has had little experience in the real world. So then I was invited to go on a trail ride on my horse. He rode like a green horse, which he is I guess, and refused to cross water. So she yelled and screamed Hit Him! Don't let him turn away! Kick Him! Finally she got hold of one rein and led him into the water by ponying him. Fine. I know you can't let them refuse to do what they know how to do or they will always try it after that. But I got her to admit that this was the horse's first ridden train ride. He has been ponied three or four times before that.

The second trail ride a week ago was at the same park with trails. There were 4 other horses. My horse has long legs and he is a fast walker. He walks up behind and crowds other horses and mares who might kick him. I took him to the back of the line. He even bit Pretzel, a gelding, on the rump. The horse will not rate. It was awful. I hurt my arms and shoulders holding him back so hard (he rides in a bitless bridle). He steers like a plowhorse and just seems to go wherever he wants. She yelled at me for being about to let the horse walk off a cliff pulling on him like that when I was just trying to back him up. Is it me? Do I not know what I'm doing?

Later I texted her about all this and she said you said you wanted a trail horse and now you want a reining horse and that takes years. I told her I have ridden many horses that lightly turned right and left, WTC, stopped and backed up. I don't want a reining horse. I just want a broke horse.

Years ago my previous two Saddlebreds I bought unbroke and they each had 60 days with a trainer in Texas. I got them both back in Tom Thumb type bits, which I wondered they might be harsh. The first one I got back broke, would WTC stop and back up. Later I sent the second one and the palomino mare turned out to be gaited. Not only did she do all those things, she would sidepass and canter depart in the right of left lead if you placed your heel against her side.The mare would gait if you gathered her up and clucked.

My horse I have in training now since last July has had 5 rides a week so I figure he has had 180 training events and rides. Although she has taken really good care of him, kept him as if he was one of her own, kept him properly shod for a club foot and improved it, carefully doctored minor injuries, has cured his ulcers and put weight and fitness on him, has taught good ground manners (except that he occasionally bites people and won't get in the trailer sometimes). I have learned a lot from her and in spite of her yelly manner I like her as a person.

I am taking him home a month from now. I asked how about I drive up there, a 320 mile round trip, twice a week until then and we can work on whatever we can work on and she agreed. I did not bring him home sooner because we bought this new place with 16 acres of bottomland pasture but the fences were a joke- sagging barbwire held together with bailing twine and no barn. We built a new barn and replaced all the fences with horse fence. My husband is a retired cattle rancher, raised and trained his own horses and knows cowboy dressage. I will mark off a dressage arena with chalkline and hope to ride him there until I have a broke horse.
 

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My 3 yo has just shy of 120 rides. She is starting to neck rein pretty well, turns on fore quarters. hind quarters,side passes, quarter passes, WTC, ground ties, opens gates, backs well, mounts from both sides, rope broke, loads extremely well into a trailer and stands quiet. Stands without being tied to have her feet cleaned and is very respectable to the farrier standing quiet for all trimming. In my opinion yours should do all that and more. Sounds to me like your not getting what you are being told and your trainer may not be the person you need to train it. She certainly should give you a full lesson explaining the cues she is giving and they should be the standard cues so anyone can ask for and get the proper response. . I have done all but a handful of rides on her and trained her myself. She is not a fully broke horse, I would call her an advanced green broke as there is still a lot left but, coming along nicely.
 

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Sorry, forgot to mention she crosses creeks with no hesitation and goes in and out of creek bottoms and ravines also. She also crosses wooden bridges on the ground and logs with no hesitation. Yours should do all these too with 180 days on it.
 

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I think it depends on the number of miles. But even at one mile a ride, that's 180 miles (291 km). I've never waited until a horse was fully trained to start taking him out on the trail. If it could stop, turn and go, that was good enough for me. And it took about 180-200 miles for them to learn. I also knew a horseman with an excellent reputation as a horse trainer/dealer, who said he didn't sell a horse as a "trail horse" until the horse had about 300 miles (486 km) of trail experience.
 

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My first thought is you are not getting everything you paid for. If your horse has a legitimate 180 training rides for trail purposes, it should be saying good morning, helping you on, and crossing creeks should be second nature.

Ditto @charrorider if a horse had whoa and go, it was on the trail behind a couple of seasoned horses, and I can pretty much guarantee a weekend of that would have put the horse ahead of yours that you have paid dear money for that training:)

Annd, you could have ridden one of the seasoned horses for your own learning, and still watched yours in training:)

I don’t believe your horse honestly has had 180 rides:(:(
 

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Yeah, i also agree i don't think you are getting what you paid for. I was looking at studs yesterday and one of the ones i was looking at they had trainer progress videos with him. 10 weeks in neck reining great, lead changes on a straight, spins, rollback, kids riding. Looks like they are having him in for 6 months and expecting a well trained reining horse back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I don't think he has had 180 rides either. I was shocked to find out how much little he knows. If I had not been 3 hours and 110 miles away I would have known these things.

I found out she also considers ponying a horse around in the dressage arena as training. It costs $45 in gas to get there and back and $30 for a lesson. Thats a total of $150 a week for 2 lessons. She says people need at least 2 lessons a week to develop muscle memory. So thats $600 a month just for lessons. I am also paying $1000 a month for this training and board. I think since she says "He can't learn much in a months time", I will just not take any more lessons, use up my month I already paid for and get out of there.
 

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I think to some extent this can depend on the horse, as they each start at a different level of knowledge and will advance at their own pace. However, I agree the horse should have been out on trail (ridden) before you did it for the first time!

Your knowing such specifics on number of rides made me interested to see the numbers on my young horse, so I just added a ride count to my excel spreadsheet that I use to track mileage. Last year, I put 13 rides on him in the round pen, then 18 in the paddock, then moved out onto the trail for 64 rides. This year, we have done 26 rides on trail and 6 my neighbor's ring. So that is 127 rides total.

I admit to not being a big fan of ring work, so I have def slacked on some things. He will w/t/c, but is not consistent on leads. He has rudimentary sidepass and will back up. But, he's done about 450 miles on trail - he will go out alone, w/t/c, cross water, and deal with rocky terrain. He's quite reactive, so some days I feel like I should be further along than I am, but that is easy to say when you aren't sitting on him.


@AragoASB , did you express your surprise and frustration to the trainer? what was her response?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Granted, Western riding and trail riding is not her thing and she kind of looks down on western. Her thing is Dressage and going to shows earning points for herself, and training dressage riders and jumpers. She also buys, trains and sells a lot of horses for a lot of money. Someone bought my horse online from the opposite coast sight unseen as a Hungarian Warmblood and had him shipped across the country. It turned out he was not a warmblood, he was a Saddlebred so she had my trainer sell him. Since I did not have a barn or horsesafe fences I thought I might as well leave him there and have him trained while I made a safe place to keep him.

I have not been riding a western saddle all my life. I have ridden a dressage saddle across country because it sets your seat in the middle of the middle of the horse. I then got an Aussie saddle for the same reason, centered riding, but it does not fit my horse. He needs a dressage half pad with shims.

But western riding cowboy dressage- isn't that not a fancy dancer dressage, just a really broke horse? I hope my husband can teach me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Yes Saddlebreds are reactive as a rule.They are not like Quarter Horses. He was kind of a coocooloo when I got him. He came from an east coast Saddlebred barn so who knows what kind of abuse he suffered there? The things they do to their pasterns and hooves, the check rein. I know that some people go down the isle banging in the stall grills, honk boat horns and things like that. He is more calm now, but will blow up seeing sheep for the first time, things like that. He is young and has not seen much of the real world.

Yes I did express surprise and frustration and her reaction is Now suddenly you want a horse that is trained differently and this can't be done in a short time like it is my fault. I told her I never wanted a reining horse, I just wanted a broke horse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Phantomhorse says " I admit to not being a big fan of ring work, so I have def slacked on some things. He will w/t/c, but is not consistent on leads. He has rudimentary sidepass and will back up. But, he's done about 450 miles on trail - he will go out alone, w/t/c, cross water, and deal with rocky terrain. He's quite reactive, so some days I feel like I should be further along than I am, but that is easy to say when you aren't sitting on him. "

So like the trainer says, maybe I am expecting too much too soon. My horse has done maybe a total of 3 ridden hours on the trail, ridden by me.
 

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After 180 professional training rides, I'd expect my horse to clean his own corral and cook me dinner!

Bandit may or may not be afraid to cross streams. He hasn't seen a stream in years. He can be reactive to the unknown, or just get nervous at times. I think that is just who he is (Half-Mustang, Half-Arabian, 100% Opinion). I'm fine with it but he's never had a professional ride him.
 

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At a minimum, for 180 rides, the horse would go, stop, turn right and left, and move comfortably at three gaits over varied terrain. Regardless of discipline.

I read where you say you like this lady. That's great. There are many people that I like, too. But I wouldn't pick them to achieve a specific thing with a horse. Like asking a polo trainer to school a horse to doctor cattle. Or ask a rancher friend to work a potential hunter over ground poles.

Sure, you can still like her, but realize that preparing one as a partner in trails isn't in her skill set.

I wouldn't even hold it against her.
 

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I will play devil's advocate on both sides a little.

If she does not get on the horse to show you what it knows/she taught it, you should be done with her right away. I train horses and always ride the horse first to show a client what I have taught it. I want to show off what their horse can do because i am proud of what I have taught it, if she doesnt want to show you it would seem she is hiding something.

The fact that she hasnt been riding it on trails when you want a trail horse would be a big problem to me. I take them on the trail generally on their 2nd or 3rd ride, but i realize lots of people like to ride them in a ring or something a bit first, but she has had it far longer than using that excuse.

To play the other side a bit, every horse learns at a different pace. Sometimes you get an exceptional one that comes along very fast and others just cant be pushed very hard. If this was the case though, she should be upfront about telling you the horse is just not a fast learner. It does seem she has had it long enough to be going better than you describe regardless of its learning rate though.

Also, since she is a dressage person, she may just think of training on a much longer time scale as dressage traditionally can take like 7 years to make a 'finished' horse. Once again though, sounds like she doesnt even have basics on it really.

Not sure any one this helps, but just my thoughts on it.
 

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So like the trainer says, maybe I am expecting too much too soon. My horse has done maybe a total of 3 ridden hours on the trail, ridden by me.
This is why I asked what her reaction to your statements was.

If she had said, your horse is extremely reactive. It took me 30 days just to get him comfortable moving around in the arena without spooking and spinning. He was even worse on trails, so I have been ponying him with a calm horse .. yadda yadda. I would want very specific reasons for what has and has not been done. I could give you those with my own horse, so I certainly would expect them from a professional.

If her answer is she doesn't ride trail, then she shouldn't have taken your horse on.
 

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Do you get a discount in your lessons because you have a horse training with this person? $30 is way cheap for a dressage lesson from an experienced, accomplished rider.

It sounds as if it's not the best fit for your needs in what you want out of your horse. Is there any place closer to you for training?

Side note what does disengaging the hindquarters mean? I hear it in the NH/Western lingo but I don't know the definition/rationale of it.
 
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@Palfrey , To disengage the hind quarters it is essentially moving the hindquarters while pivoting on the fore quarters. It is incorporated with bending the head around with lateral flexation as is used in a one rein stop. Very handy to interrupt preparation for a buck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It's when the horse, due to pressure, steps sideways with the hind feet and does not go forward. Since the horse's 'motor' is in the back you need to have control of the motor. This is the basis of side pass and two track. It is best to see it rather than just explain it
I am just learning this myself and my horse also needs to learn it, apparently.
 

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So just to be clear, you wanted a safe & sane trail horse and enrolled it with a dressage trainer that you bought it from?

May I ask why? This just makes no sense to me.

Why didn't you find a trainer that specialized in creating safe & sane trail horses? Or seeing that you are in Oregon, a trainer that does the Mustang Makeovers (and has experience creating a safe & sane horse from something definitely not!)?

There is a trainer here in Michigan that just focuses on creating amazing, safe, sane, versatile trail horses. Every time I see one of their horses for sale I am very impressed at how sane they are with the obstacle courses and tough trails that they show in the sale videos. Gun safe, creek safe, bridge safe, heavy traffic safe, the list goes on...These horses go for low five figures.

I understand you are frustrated with the rate that your horse is improving, but Imo, I wouldn't expect a dressage trainer to teach a side pass (or really know how!).

I would start searching for someone that specializes in safe & sane not dressage, if you want a safe & sane trail horse.
 

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It's when the horse, due to pressure, steps sideways with the hind feet and does not go forward. Since the horse's 'motor' is in the back you need to have control of the motor. This is the basis of side pass and two track. It is best to see it rather than just explain it
I am just learning this myself and my horse also needs to learn it, apparently.
This makes a lot more sense to me now. In dressage, it's all about engagement of the hindquarters so I can see why there has been unsatisfactory results with this trainer. I'd call it something like lost in translation almost.

Now I am certain that this isn't the place to get your horse trained. Your best bet would be to move the horse to a person that specializes your preferred form of training.
 
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