When Do People Consider Themselves a Trainer?

How does someone go into the leap to consider themselves a trainer? Is it after X amount of show experience, X amount of horses worked, or do they just wake up one morning and declare themselves a trainer?

I’m not new to horses and have ridden quite a bunch myself from green ponies to warmbloods but I don’t consider myself a trainer. I’m in my mid twenties and I see “trainers” that are around the same riding level as me. I don’t consider myself a bad rider but I feel I still have a lot to learn before becoming a trainer.

My main question is - if you’re a student looking for a riding instructor or someone to help with a problem horse, what are your expectations for the “trainer” to have done before?

Expect them to have successfully produced good riders on well schooled horses with as much quality as the owners can afford properly managed and turned out.

The best way for the wannabe trainer to get to that point is working as an assistant for a respected trainer…doesn’t have to be GM, just one with a good reputation and good results.

I suppose the way most make the leap is when owners seek them out to work after seeing and liking their results with as opposed to wannabe trainer hanging up a sign and seeking out clients.

For me I went through the EFA NCAS Level 1 Instructors Certificate.

I then worked as a Level 1under a Level 3 while training as a Level 2.

Before that I had won in competitions and broken in my own horses and one for a previous employer.

Sadly, I think for a lot, it’s just whenever they accept their first dollar for working with a horse.

Are you asking from a credential standpoint or more of an overall theory of what constitutes the transition from rider to trainer?

I can’t speak of the former, but my take on when you become a trainer to your horse is the point when you can both identify and correct training issues with your horse without needing the outside assistance of “eyes on the ground”.

Honestly a lot of it depends on the area you live in and the environment of the facility that you’re at. It seems to me that the majority of people who begin teaching and training do so because someone saw them riding and asked if they could hop on their greenie or problem horse. I’ll get on people’s horses to give them an opinion, put a quick change on them, send them over a scary jump, etc. Or I’ll teach the odd walk-trot lesson if they’re in a bind. However, I don’t charge for any of these things and won’t ever give up my amateur status. I’ve had people ask me why I didn’t go pro, and to them I say “I can admit that I don’t know a lot of things, and making mistakes with my own horses is a learning curve,but making mistakes with client horses is wasting their money.”

IMO … Your a professional when you get paid to train horses or riders.

That said there are good trainers & bad trainers. Very experienced trainers & green trainers. That will forever be a mainstay. Just like there are good drivers & bad drivers.

Some trainers are better training horses ~ while some are better w/riders. Some professional trainers who compete @ high levels actually are really bad @ teaching people. While other trainers are phenomenal @ teaching the basics to beginners, but will never go beyond teaching that level & maybe don’t ride @ a very high level themselves.

Trainers can be specialized. Some will take on problem horses, while some other trainers send their own young horses out to be backed. Some aren’t that confident to train youngster, while others are too busy with a show career & would only ride horses ready to start in grand prix.

Some riders choose a trainer based on their own personal experience. Then as the rider becomes better they have a stronger eye to evaluate for the next trainer. Which then they will usually seek out a better trainer. One who can challenge them & take them to compete in the next level up.

I disagree with some of the things said in previous posts. A wise trainer doesn’t have problems asking for advice from the ground. Especially if they are having difficulty w/a training issue. Trainers as well as riders benefit from having lessons. There is no point where you just know it all. Trainers continue to learns new things everyday just like everyone else.

The trainer is usually more of a go getter & risk taker than most people.
They are perfectly willing to give up a solid 9 to 5 job ~ to train horses full time. Most trainers are highly dedicated, athletic, hard working & passionate beyond the point of obsession. They usually are the students who found riding to be very natural & they progressed quickly. Training or problem solving came easy for them as they communicated well w/horses from the get go. They were the riders who stood out ability wise & got offered compensation to ride other peoples horses. This is the point where most riders either work as an assistant or apprentice. Gradually moving towards a point where they have their own clients. Eventually leasing their own aisles or stable or partnering w/ the trainer they worked under.

In the past year I have been in need of a “trainer”. I am in an area of the country where there are many good h/j instructors. But, what I was looking for was harder to find.

I consider a trainer, an individual who has successfully produced upper level jumpers and/or hunters depending on what your main interest is. And by produced, I mean started with a green bean, not just taking an already well schooled horse and showing it in the Grand Prix. I also want to see this trainer having success in the show ring on their own horses and client’s horses. I want to see their current clients doing well as well. And last but not least, I want this person to work with the horse I have, not tell me that horse is this or that and that they can find me something more suitable.

Another thing that I want to see in a trainer is willingness to ask for help when they need it! Many top riders and trainers still get help from outsiders and/or have someone on the ground helping them out. If someone is closed minded to getting help, I find that a red flag.

A good instructor may not always be a good horse trainer, and vice versa, I try to look for both.

I find watching the warmups at horse shows useful places to pick up teaching/training styles. I have also gone to clinics with potential trainers to get a feel for their approach.

I think there are a lot of variables. When I look for a trainer for myself I want someone who has experience showing and bringing students up to a certain level (typically higher than the level I hope to show). I want to see how they develop green horse and how they teach the rider/owner to develop their horses. I think for me the ability to work with green horses and produce good results in the most important thing for me. I don’t have a huge budget so I have always had green horses to bring up.

That being said, I am a pro by the USEF rules. I was a working student for a few years and now ride for a very nice couple. I “train” their horses in exchange my horse lives at their farm for free. I do not market myself as a trainer nor do I give lessons. I still lesson when I have a chance and ride in clinics. If I wasn’t receiving any renumeration I would happily be an amateur.

Hahaha… in my town its soon as you can spell Trainer (it can also be done phonetically) or Tranenor and has a magic marker that they can put up on a piece of cardboard “Traner for rent call me good with horses. Call xxx-xxxx”

Unfortunately it really is that bad here.

It also depends on who and what level you are training at.

A person can be a very qualified and capable trainer for someone wanting to do the 2ft at local shows but not be a qualified trainer for someone trying to do the junior jumpers.

I also don’t think it is necessary to have a huge show record or huge riding record to be a good trainer. Some people are much better teachers than they are riders, and vice versa. Of course it depends on your goals. Would I go to a trainer with no show experience with my bigeq horse? No. But I would have no problem sending a green horse to a trainer that consistently churns out nice, easy ones.

I would define a trainer as someone under whose guidance you can improve as a rider and achieve your goals.

Very broad, but think about your first lessons learning to post. Your trainer probably didn’t meet the criteria a lot of people have thrown out, yet they still helped you improve and started you on the path to being a rider.

Thanks for all the great responses! :slight_smile:

I understand what all of you are saying. I rode with one trainer that did the lower level competitions on rescue horses but she was one heck of trainer. She developed my seat and had me ride the difficult ponies - learned a lot from her.

Another trainer I rode with I wanted to experience upper level jumping. This trainer had the nice horses and competed at the top shows. Rode with her in a couple of lessons and felt that I didn’t learn anything. All she had me do was warm the horse up and jump fences the entire lesson. No feedback on improvement or finding solutions… just “go over there and do that” type stuff.

Before I went to college I was that person who took care of the boarded horses and the boarders wanted me to ride/exercise their horses for them. They complimented how under my care their horses were happy with me and behaved. Now that I’m back from college and a few years worth of barn drama that divided the boarders up… trying to get my feet back in again.

Hahaha… in my town its soon as you can spell Trainer (it can also be done phonetically) or Tranenor and has a magic marker that they can put up on a piece of cardboard “Traner for rent call me good with horses. Call xxx-xxxx”

Unfortunately it really is that bad here.[/QUOTE]

Yep, exactly. Can’t pin at a local schooling show? It’s all politics anyway, I’ll just be a trainer. Can’t hold down a job? It’s always someone else’s fault, I’ll hang my shingle out as a trainer. Can’t ride my way out of a paper bag? Natural horsemanship trainer :rolleyes: Working student position? LOL but that’s real work!

Duckz, you nailed it!

When do people call themselves a trainer?..usually too soon (because the time they should is never :P)

Apparently I live near BigButt…

I grew up in the unofficial HJ capital of GA (Alpharetta) and moved out to the boondocks in college. Here there are all sorts of people coming to the ranch wanting to be trainers and display their mad skillz by cantering around on the wrong lead with their hand on the horn :eek:

A lot of these same people look down on me when I say I have a lesson coming up or mention the fact that I have a trainer.

My response is always the same - I have no desire to go pro and until I’m in the Olympics there will always be someone better than me to train with… Seeing that I’m 27 and showing my greenbean paint mare 3’ I don’t think we’ll be in the Olympics any time soon :stuck_out_tongue:

I think every “trainer” should have their own trainer. Just because you are competent to work with horses and clients at whatever level(s) you choose doesn’t mean there isn’t always someone else (someone better?) out there who can teach you a thing or two. It’s a sport where you need to keep working on your skills and keep learning. It doesn’t mean you can’t be a competent trainer at the same time as you are continuing to be a student of the sport.