How to Find the Perfect Horse Trainer
Hiring a reputable, qualified horse trainer is one of the most important decisions we can make when it comes to our horse.
If you choose an experienced, caring trainer the outcome may be all wine and roses. But hire a trainer who’s neglectful, or even abusive, and you could have a nightmare situation on your hands.
It’s not impossible to find a great trainer. It’s just a matter of following a few simple steps. A little due diligence will pay off when you experience the joy of a well-trained, obedient horse.
Decide your goals for the horse trainer
The first step in choosing the right horse trainer is to figure out why you and your horse need a trainer in the first place.
For example, you may want to start a young horse under saddle. Or maybe your goal is to prepare your prize horse for competitive dressage. Perhaps you simply need to work out a particular obedience issue with your horse.
You may have more than one reason you want a trainer. Make sure you have crystal clear goals in mind before you begin your search. Both you and your horse will be much happier with the outcome if you do.
Begin your search
Whatever reasons you want to hire a trainer, keep in mind that just as in any other profession, a good horse trainer will most likely specialize in one or more areas.
If you want your horse to learn jumping, search for trainers who have excelled in teaching horses that skill. Likewise, learning to trail ride would require a trainer skilled in that area.
Word of mouth is often the best way to get leads on good trainers. Consult with individuals in your local horse industry. Possible contacts are tack shops, farmers and ranchers, competitive riders, veterinarians, and local horse associations. Explain your goals and ask for leads on trainers specific to your needs.
Another good way to get names of qualified trainers is to check online forums and chat rooms related to your horse’s breed or discipline. Be prepared that the best trainer for you and your horse may not be close to you geographically.
Bear in mind that top trainers stay busy and may be slow in responding when you initially reach out to them.
Plan visits to potential trainers
Once you have a working list of several potential trainers, schedule visits to meet with them and view their facilities.
Prepare a list of questions beforehand that you want to ask the trainer. Important areas to cover include pricing information, their qualifications, training style, and a list of references.
Plan to visit no more than two trainers in one day. You want to allow yourself plenty of time to talk with the trainer and ask questions, as well as tour the facilities.
Ask each trainer to let you watch a workout of a horse near the same competitive level as yours. Doing so will allow you to see how the trainer is likely to interact with your horse.
If a trainer is reluctant to let you watch him or her work, then you should look elsewhere. An experienced, qualified trainer should gladly let you view a workout.
Be prompt for your appointment and respect the trainer’s time while visiting. His or her schedule is usually packed with several different horses to work on any given day. Nonetheless, you should be welcomed and treated warmly, with ample time set aside for your visit.
Once you have visited several trainers, check the references of those who make the final cut. Don’t be afraid to contact these references—the last thing you want is to endanger your horse with a less than scrupulous trainer.
Ask the references if they would hire the trainer again, and then why or why not. Also find out if they would refer family and close friends to the trainer. This is a good way to reveal their true feelings on their experience with the trainer.
Finally, go back and talk to your contacts in the horse industry again. Give each one the final two or three names you’re considering. Ask his or her opinion on the trainer, and listen carefully to any feedback.
Hire a trainer and sign a contract
After you’ve made your final decision, it’s time to work out the details with your chosen trainer. To protect all parties involved— including your horse—you and the trainer should sign a contract. Read it over carefully to make sure all terms are clearly explained.
Any questions you have should be addressed in the contract. This is your final chance for clarification before you entrust your horse to the trainer.
Follow up and check progress regularly
Even though you’ve placed your horse in the hands of a qualified trainer, your work isn’t done. Follow up with the trainer on a regular basis to check your horse’s progress.
Plan ahead with your trainer to visit your horse on a monthly basis, preferably at a time when you can view his workout.
Keep the lines of communication open with your trainer, reiterating your goals as necessary.
Do your research, rely on your network, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Take your time and don’t rush the process of finding a qualified trainer. The right one is out there waiting for you to find him or her.