Local Horse Trainers & Coaches
SHOULD I USE A PROFESSIONAL TRAINER?
Professional trainers are the heartbeat of the industry. Professional trainers have given their lives to the discipline, the culture and to acquiring the skills that we hope to acquire over a weekend or at a shared clinic or school, or even from a book. Trainers have often spent a lot of money and time overseas learning training skills, finding out about the current trends and standards of excellence required for the show pen. We need to have a professional to provide goals, models and the resources that we amateurs rely on to help us achieve our dream.
Trainers do the hard yards of getting a raw horse to accept the rider, then they take on the long routine of taking the horse on to advanced work and to accepting new experiences, and then to confirming in the horse's mind all that it has learned.
We can't expect to do all this as quickly or as well as they can. It is their livelihood, whereas it is our pleasure. The most important thing is to find the trainer for you.
What to expect from a professional trainer
The trainer needs to be able to give the rider a solid foundation of skills and a plan for progression. This plan should incorporate the rider's goals along with a realistic assessment of the rider's ability and potential, taking into account the time required, the costs involved and the capability of the horse.
Basic teaching skills are an advantage, for example:
* The ability to relate to the rider as a person.
* Knowing what the rider is trying to achieve and match this to his or her potential.
* The willingness to take time to resolve problems and fears, but also to know when to 'push'.
* The ability to teach the rider to know when the horse is frustrated or 'tuned out'. The trainer should also know the same about the rider
* The ability to control the lesson. Each lesson itself will have a goal and a plan.
* The ability to motivate and take the rider through apprehension to confidence.
The above are characteristics of an ideal trainer. As all of us are human, and there are mixed levels of skills in trainers. The rider, however, must feel free to choose and to question. (The rider may have one or two faults as well).
The rider should accept some pushing, as sometimes riders rely on lessons and the trainer to do the whole job, not realising how much real personal effort and courage are required to progress from dependency on the trainer to independent riding.
The rider should accept the responsibility to work hard and to incorporate the training into their riding and personal habits.
As you learn and progress, you will understand how much the trainer knows and you will respect the job that he or she does.
'Top performers' may not make the best teachers. A person with a high level of understanding of standards of excellence in western performance, how to achieve them, and the ability to teach them, will make a good trainer.
Learning to ride is a truly leveling experience. No matter how much money one spends on a trained horse, no matter how much blood, sweat and tears the trainer puts into a rider's horse with them, in the end, if the rider can't do the work well, the horse won't either. There are no shortcuts - just a varying range of hard work for a good result and the truly enriching experience of shared effort (not to mention the joys of a good partnership with your horse).
Your trainer will not have the same dewy-eyed look as you do when talking about your horse. You should have an expert who will greatly respect horses and the effort that you are prepared to give. You can expect to be taught up-to-date skills and ways of competing. You should expect to be shown how to prepare for shows, how to compete, and to be helped to show your level as successfully as you can.
You should not expect or accept ridicule or excessive criticism of yourself or of your horse. 'Good fun' is fun; ridicule or contempt are not fun. Fortunately, such situations are rare, but they do happen. Don't tolerate such a situation if it does occur. Give and expect courtesy, directness and results!
Western Performance should be challenging, but it should be, above all, enjoyable. That's why you bought a horse. Your trainer is coach, model and partner in your investment. You will need a professional trainer even if it is just for advice and a good start.
How do I find a trainer?
We have our local trainers listed on the next page. The AQHA does not register trainers but can put you in touch with clubs near you which are affiliated with the AQHA and other national and state associations. A club can advise on the availability and location of suitable western trainers close to you. The AQHA can check on a horse's registration, status or on the membership of individuals. It can provide information on accredited judges, but not about teachers or trainers.
How much should I train?
Western Performance showing is a very rewarding way to ride, and it makes a wonderful partnership with a horse. It is important to consider training needs for Western Performance. Training is a steady commitment. The horse has to be fit, athletic and in tune with the rider. Training sessions should be consistent, to a standard, and, essentially, they should be enjoyable. Your trainer will advise you on the number and length of individual training sessions that are appropriate to the particular stage you have reached.
How do I know if I want to compete?
Western Performance classes are, for instance, all performed on a very loose rein. The trust, softness and collection involved in this riding is such an achievement that it is almost enough reward in itself. But, of course, you will want to show it off, and you will want to see if your horse can keep its cool composure and give a finely tuned performance in the show pen. You will want to compare your training achievements and your horse with others. This is the real fun. It is a fantastic challenge, and it's called competing at western performance shows.