Unqualified "Trainers"

People can have such weird schoolmaster jealousy. My current one is a lease that I did kind of luck into by being in the right place and the right time to meet his owner just as I was in search of a ride and she was in search of a leaser.

But my schoolmaster mare was a totally different story. I could never have dreamed of owning a horse of her quality unless I remortgaged my house. I found her literally the day after I sent my lower level horse to his semi-retirement home, tried her the next day and made an offer that night.

The nasty rumours I heard about how I had “dumped” my old horse just so I could buy a fancier one instead of putting in the work to bring my guy up the levels hurt. Especially since my guy came with a host of physical issues (some which were not fully disclosed to me at the time of purchase) that made progress beyond Second incredibly difficult, frustrating and physically painful for him.

And then all the snarky comments about how lucky I was to get this nice PSG schoolmaster and how I didn’t deserve her, she should have gone to a better rider, etc. REALLY pissed me off, because literally any one of them could have bought her too. When I went to try her she had been advertised for sale for more than 4 months already, but I was only the second serious inquiry the owner had had. She was 22 years old and I guess nobody else was willing to take a chance on her. Because of her age she was within my almost nonexistent budget and I never regretted taking that chance.


Is her name Cheryl?

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Yep, they are everywhere. I guarantee that almost everyone who read the description thought ‘are they talking about XYZ in my area?’, because I know I did.

It’s hard for people starting out (or even switching disciplines) because they literally don’t know any better, and they take what the “expert” says as gospel because that’s why you pay a pro. Often these types of trainers undercut the market, too, which brings in the bargain shoppers. And there is always an excuse at the ready for the lack of success or proven results (most often, blame the judge!).

I once had a “trainer” tell me she shows all her dressage horses in pelhams… that was everything I needed to know in one short sentence :rofl:


However, as a general point it has to be admitted that there are good trainers whose riding ability is somewhat lacking, and good riders who are absolutely incapable of training another rider. Being good at riding and good at training do not necessarily walk hand in hand.


Or is it Courtney?

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LOL, I gave up showing many years ago because I HATE having to get up early. Six AM is tolerable but not earlier and then only after at least one cup of coffee. I also hate riding in the heat, especially while wearing appropriate show attire.

Sometimes a rider has to realize that a very good trainer may just be the wrong trainer for her.


I think you have defined one of the greatest issues facing the majority of the horse owning population. I grew up in a family that bred and raised Morgans for many, many decades which included competition and working on a farm and our saw mills. While I was the black sheep of the family and went a different direction with my equine pursuits I did always have that foundation that my grandfather instilled in me. This has helped me identify some of the ‘crazies’ and negotiate the waters a little bit better. That isn’t to say I haven’t been ‘taken’; but, my gut feelings have often saved me and kept me on the right path, or guided me to more compatible waters. This hasn’t been solely beneficial to identify or avoid unqualified trainers. I have also experienced BNTs try to convince me to drink their specific brand of kool aid over topics that really caught them with their pants down. The latest experience of that kind was over a ‘diagnosis’ that said BNT made regarding my horse while I was riding in her clinic (third time I had ridden with her over a 18 month period) insisting that I follow up with a student of hers who also is a vet. She became very insistent to the point of belligerence. In her defense I suppose it was over concern for my horse. However, being a vet and knowing the inside and out of my horse very well as he’s fourth generation of my now retired breeding program it didn’t take much time to show her how badly her arse was hanging out of her breeches. She certainly didn’t apologize being the god that she is but we did agree to part ways in a professional manner…‘her barn vet’ and I had a side conversation later. She was very apologetic for the overzealous push for more business. Point is that you can never be too careful or ask enough questions and it isn’t always due to a party who is misrepresenting themselves in the horse business.


What was the impetus for you branching out? Seeking better?
Those other riders…I think it can sometimes be as simple as They don’t have what it took for you to do it. Maybe there’s a level of being educable, curious, aware of nuance to recognize what we see that isn’t what it should be.

I know, for one thing, it can be hard to accept that lessons worth having can be double, or more, the cost of the lessons with a wannabe.

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Its also a huge learning opportunity if you have an open mind.
Go, observe, listen, pay attention to the details.

That’s one red flag I became aware of early on, any trainer who discourages learning from others (lessons, clinics, riding other horses, getting others to ride your horse) is not someone I want to affiliate with.
A BNT in H/J who’s barn I rode at (with a different, better instructor) once said to me “you know too much”, as I was musing training philosophy. Huge red flag.


Oh, this ^^^ for sure!

My first trainer, back when I was a kid (I’ll call her Katie), was extremely possessive of her lesson students and training clients. The only clinics we could ride in were ones where she picked the clinician and the whole barn participated.

Katie’s barn was at a large, multi-trainer equestrian complex. One day the best ammy adult rider in our barn made the mistake of hopping on a hunter that was in another trainer’s barn, just so they could shoot some sale photos. Katie found out about it, was furious, and kicked the ammy out of the barn for being “disloyal.”

I remember the ammy rider crying and saying, “I’m sorry!”

Katie said, “People in jail are sorry too, but they still get punished.”

I’ll never forget that. Needless to say, we left that barn.


Well, if we are being honest there was a million other things that caused me to leave but I limited this conversation just to old trainer’s training experience or lack thereof. But since it does seem to go hand-in-hand with these delusional backyard trainers so often, I will say that this Delusional Trainer really shouldn’t be involved with any animal care. The care was horrific, missed feedings frequently and low quality hay/grain, the facilities were in terrible condition with no upkeep, the arena had zero maintenance so it was just packed earth and weeds, the trainer refused to call the vet for any reason which led to the death of her own horse, it was just a bad situation all around.

And the cherry on top?

She charges the same as most reputable boarding facilities and trainers in this area.

Which is why I am still so baffled that she has managed to surround herself with a cult group that will sing her praises rain or shine. Their horses look terrible, underweight, dull coat, no topline, but they will still proudly declare that Dobbin is in the best shape of his life all thanks to Delusional Trainer and her phenomenal care and any naysayers are just jealous. These backyard delusional trainers and their clients live in an entirely different world than the rest of us and I feel bad for the horses that are subjected to it.


Absolutely! That has been added to my list of “red flags” ever since I left my old trainer. I love that my current trainer is always scheduling clinics, encouraging working with other trainers who specialize in different things, etc. My old trainer was very very clear on the no outside trainers policy and would give you the cold shoulder (and spin up the barn gossip mill) if you took a lesson anywhere else (trust me, I learned this the hard way).

My question for these types of trainers, though, is where does any new information ever get to come from? My own Delusional Trainer refused lessons, refused clinics, refused just about anything that could improve her own riding and yet her students were also not allowed to partake. So the only information we could possibly get came from Delusional Trainer… whose methods were questionable at best and completely made up at worst.

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Tribalism is alive and well in the horse world and clients are vested in believing their guru trainer shines above the rest no matter what harm or lack of improvement that trainer may have caused. It’s kind of like certain groups being weirdly, fiercely loyal to a politician despite that politician being repeatedly proven to be a kook and a fascist dictator wannabe.


The thing I’ll add here is that quality trainers AREN’T that common. It is HARD to find a qualified teacher that will work with you let alone if you bring any pesky restrictions like work hours and commute parameters or a limited horse. People who are good at training horses are hard to find. But horse people who are good at training people at high levels are shockingly rare.

One of my own personal red flags is, I don’t like to work with anyone who isn’t themselves devoted to their continuing education in some fashion with a mentor or some other way. I don’t think this is a high bar and yet because of either money or personality quirks, this criterion alone drops a majority of professional horse people I’ve come across in my experience.

So, people settle, hoping it will be good enough, at least for a while.


Haha Knights_Mom astute observation drawing the parallel between political figures and trainer gurus. A cult is a cult…

Part of the problem IME is also that in the US, potential new clients just don’t fathom that nothing stops grossly unqualified people from hanging out a shingle and calling themselves “trainers”, unlike e.g. doctors or teachers or members of any other more structured profession that has to meet a demonstrated level of competency.

Also, there’s something about horses that can override critical thinking faculties :heart_eyes: :star_struck: and lead people with good judgement otherwise to suspend their normal thought processes.


Not only horse shopping, can become a modus operandi in all horse:



A friend of mine was told by an “event trainer” that said trainer was going to compete Prelim at Inavale in a Western saddle and sidepull.


The funny thing that occurs to me with all these stories of bogus trainers gathering loyal followers who inexplicably keep on training and attracting ignorant clients, Nick Peronace, according to his own recent book, has been completely unable to accomplish even that.


There is a whole ‘nother thread on how fickle and undermining so-called “barn friends” can be when you move from a situation that is not working for you to one that does. Even in spite of doing the absolutely right thing for the horses on both sides of the equation. When they could be happy for you, for some reason they just can’t do it.

Been there. It is hurtful.


Wow! That is next level.