I posted on a local bulletin board looking for trainer recommendations, and soon my email inbox was overflowing with them. The list included cowboys, eventing trainers, dressage trainers, and hunter trainers.
I've lived in Rhode Island since 2004 and I have a good idea of who's who in the horse community here, but what scared me was not knowing most of the people recommended to me. I started feeling overwhelmed...I mean, how do you pick the right trainer?
I decided to come up with a list of things I was looking for in a trainer:
-Must have worked with/retrained OTTB's in the past
-Must be willing to ride the horse, not just teach me
-Has to be firm but gentle
-I'd like them to be more about the riding than the groundwork, though I do appreciate the value of good groundwork
-My barn owner requires that any trainer be insured
-I don't want to be paying more in travel fees than I am for the training session so I'd prefer someone who is close-ish
After I had narrowed down the list a bit, I emailed a few trainers and explained the situation with Lucy. I included the problems I was having with her, and my short and long term goals. I asked whether they thought they could help, and what their rates were (including travel). I also requested videos of them working with horses, and that's where I'm at now!
Yesterday I had a pretty decent ride, with zero tantrums from Lucy. I thought back to some of the lessons I had taken on her in the past, and one trainer always said to add leg every time I wanted to pull. Yesterday I said a little prayer and added leg every time she got fast. I kept my contact through the bridle light and steady, and asked her to move up into it, instead of trying to run through it. This worked very well and we had a lovely trot in both directions, and then she offered up a little canter to the right and was very good! She still felt quick and rigid, but not as bad as the day we took that video, and there were a few moments where she carried her own front end instead of me having to hold it up. This all made me feel encouraged and happy, though I will still enlist the help of a trainer to make sure these "good" rides keep happening!