Monday, February 25, 2013

trainer shopping

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!


  1. I think your criteria for a trainer looks spot on! Best of luck finding a great one!

    It is also difficult for me to think more leg when Riva is avoiding contact or acting naughty - but it does work :)

  2. What a great list of what you are looking for in a trainer... I just stepped back and thought what would I want and I think you are much more thought out then I am!

    I hope that you and Lucy find the perfect trainer that fits you both!

  3. Looks like you have a good grasp of what you and Lucy need right now! I'm sure you'll find someone great to help you two work through your issues :-)

  4. Sounds like a good plan of action!

  5. VERY good list. I hope you find someone. If not, I know someone who can come down to you.

  6. I agree, very good list. Very reasonable and I think you should be able to find someone thats fits every characteristic!

    Hey, I was talking to one of my friends last night about Lucy...will you do a recap post about her and kind of tell us again everything you've looked into and tried for her? She is a new reader & is curious but I don't think she'll have the time to go back and read from day 1. :)

    1. Another new'ish reader who'd love a recap post if possible, as won't be able to read from the beginning - sorry!

      Great list for trainer pre-requisites, I hope you find a great match for yourself and Lucy. Also delighted to hear that ye had a much better spin then the day the videos were taken.

      PS: sorry to hear about your friend, i lost a friend a few years back and it was tough. I agree with others, if Lucy is highly attuned to you she may have picked up on your feeling down and didn't know how to handle the emotion so acted out - not an excuse but it does happen unfortunately!

  7. If possible, try to go watch a prospective trainer teach and ride. That can tell you a lot.

  8. Good for you for deciding to seek professional help with Lucy. Getting into a consistent program with her I think will help tremendously! To help choose a new trainer, as someone else mentioned, see if you could go watch them teach and ride. That should give you a better idea of their philosophy/training style.

  9. Great list, and I agree with Terry. Watch the prospective trainer teach another lesson, and watch them ride first. I had a trainer who was decent on the ground, but I would NEVER have let her ride my horse. I've also paid for some very expensive lessons with some very BNTs who couldn't teach their way out of a paper bag. It definitely pays to do your homework! Good luck finding someone who's right for you and Lucy!


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