What do you look for in a Trainer?

I am sure location is the most important thing to most people when choosing a trainer, but there has to be other factors. How much does the monthly bill factor in? What about Farrier and Vet services? Show schedule? How about Age? Show Experience? Show record? Ethical standards? Client handling?

It seems like there are some trainers that flit around from barn to barn, never owning their own facilities and never offering an explaination as to the relocation. Why don’t they buy a barn? And what about trainers that change their farm names, or locations, or whatever. Why change? Should that raise a red flag?

Also, how do you know if a trainer uses illegal practices or not? Is there a place where I can call or log on to find out who has received fines from the USEF in the last ten years?

I am trying to place my mare with a trainer, and have called around a lot, and the one of the three places I wanted to send her has a waiting list.  The other two both have openings, but the one trainer I spoke with asked me a lot of questions that I didn’t have answers for, and I got the feeling that he wasn’t interested in working with my horse. So that leaves the last place, and they seemed very eager to take her, but I wonder why they have so much availability when they have been around for such a long time. Am I looking to deep here? What questions should I ask? I have heard the nightmare stories. I don’t want my horse messed up. I want a trainer who will do the work.


26 Responses to What do you look for in a Trainer?

  1. colwilrin says:

    I wouldn’t discount the trainer who has empty slots and seems eager. With the recession, some very competent trainers may have openings that they wouldn’t have predicted just a year or so ago.

  2. Merlcann08 says:

    One thing I’ve learned is there are never any guarantees. As the owner you make the best judgement you can with the information at hand. As an example I rode dressage for a number of years and purchased a ‘sport’ morgan as a weanling. I scouted dressage trainers in my area for a number of years. I found a very reputable young woman who was highly skilled, Olympic long list, working all kinds of youngsters. Then life got in the way. She changed her priorities. She fell in love, sold all her horses (babies to Grand Prix), her well established Warmblood Stud facility with two highly successful studs, moved to England and had her first child.
    While my horse was well taken care of at her facility, I can’t actually say I got my moneys worth.
    I wouldn’t discount any of the situations you mentioned. So your first choice has a waitlist, get put on it, you never know what can happen. What kind of questions did the second trainer ask. Maybe he has more knowledge than you are used to having expressed, but at least he/she is up front and communicates. Also, it might not be the horse he doesn’t want to work with or perhaps he needed to get back on a horse or had another appointment. For the third, I agree that some people are opting out of training this year. Also, they may just not have a heavy client base. Say a breeding establishment that has a few client horses, but mostly brings along their own stock. In that case they would be willing to have a paying client in the barn and put some of the babies on the back burner.
    All that being said, I would arrange to visit each location and watch how they handle the horses in the barn, in the arena. How is turnout handled? How many days a week will the horse be worked? What day/s is the barn closed? Who is the vet and farrier? Contact them for references. Most likely they will give positive references, but listen carefully and I’m sure you can distinguish positive from glowing. Go on a Saturday and meet some of the other clients.
    The most important thing is that the atmosphere works for you. Some trainers work with young horses, some work with junior exhibitors, some amateurs, some prefer park horses, others like driving horses.
    Also, there may be some on the blog from your area who could assist you privately with this decision.
    Good Luck!

  3. Flmorgan says:

    I would encourage you to visit the facility and get a feel for the place. Then be sure to
    Pick a Trainer who specialized and is competant in the disapline you wish your horse trained for. As Merlcanno stated, most Trainers have their specailty and their preferences.

  4. leslie says:

    The overhead costs of opening a barn are pretty astronomical. Also, owning a barn means running a business, and horse trainers are not always business people, or simply want to focus on the horses and have someone else worry about the accounting, marketing, etc. I imagine that’s why a lot of trainers choose to work for other people instead of getting their own place.

    Ask if you can come out and watch them work horses. If they’re unwilling to let you do that, that’s obviously a red flag. If you’re really worried, make sure you find a trainer who doesn’t mind if you want to come out and see your horse worked more than the standard once a week. In my opinion, it’s always preferable to be somewhere where the trainers want their clients to be involved in their horses’ training.

    As far as finding out about violations, it is public information, though I’m not sure how readily available it is. It wouldn’t hurt to call the USEF and ask.

  5. parksaddle1024 says:

    I agree with the suggestions of spending some time at the barn before you commit to sending your horse – maybe even schedule a lesson or two to make sure the instruction you receive is what you are looking for. Watch the trainer work a horse that shows in the same division your horse shows in. Talk to the current customers (they most likely won’t say anything negative, but you can tell if someone LOVES their trainer or is lukewarm about them), get a feel for the culture at the barn to make sure it’s a good fit for you as well as your horse (I think we over look this sometimes and just worry about who the top name trainer is. My list of priorities has changed in the last few years and it is the reason why I switched trainers a few years ago (I left a good trainer for another good trainer to better fit mine my horses needs). Show season is just starting, but if you can get to a show, observe the trainers you are considering placing your horse with. Watch how they handle the horses, the customers. Watch how their horses go. Stop by their barn aisle and get a feel for the atmosphere.

    Good luck! There are so many great trainers out there your sure to find a good one!

  6. IED says:

    I’ve picked out one trainer in my life… the other one I sort of fell into via the phone book. I was a horse-crazy kid and needed some riding lessons! I stayed there for quite a few years.

    Anyway, the way I chose my trainer is by watching the horses go at horse shows. I liked every single thing they brought out and showed, and thought that, in particular, the hunter trainer (hunters being my main interest) made one heck of a showing and always presented snappier, cooler looking hunters than her contemporaries. Then they turned out to pretty much be the nicest people I’ve ever met. So that decision was pretty easy. :)

    I’ve been pretty lucky in picking my trainers, I will admit – If I were to do it again, I’d probably go and visit, watch them work horses for a day or two, meet some clients and gauge their happiness levels.

    I met mine at a horse show, but if I were you I’d think about visiting with them at a horse show, unless you are planning to put your horse into training right now. In that case, reputation is everything. You can usually tell pretty well who’s winning, who treats their horses right, who genuinely cares about their clients, and who’s got that fine reputation behind them.

    Some trainers will move mountains to accommodate new clients, and perhaps that is why this established trainer you are talking about is available to take your horse. Having a waitlist is great, but a lot of times trainers can move horses around or kick some of their own outside or whatever in order to make space for a new (paying!) client horse. So don’t discount that trainer just because of that.

    I think if you poke around on USEF you’ll be able to find a list of who’s been fined in the past several years… if not I’d imagine if you e-mailed USEF with the names of the individuals you are interested in, they would probably be able to let you know.

    Age IMO should NOT be a big deciding factor – there are some incredibly competent young trainers, and some incredibly INcompetent older trainers! :) It’s all about who treats your horse right and gets the job done. If you are looking to show your horse, go to a trainer who goes to horse shows and has a good win record. Client handling should be a top priority – you don’t want a trainer who’s going to rebuff you and write you off, but keep in mind if you call them for an hour every day they might get annoyed. :) Ethics are also important.

    I’d ask around as to these trainers’ reputations; obviously you don’t want to put that all over this website, but there are a great deal of knowledgeable folks who could probably point out this or that trainer’s strong points/flaws and help you to make your decision.

  7. Mocha Mom says:

    I haven’t visited Above Level for quite a while and maybe things have changed, but I’m surprised that no one is naming names. Is there no one out there besides me who is absolutely THRILLED with their trainer and willing to share their name with the PrincessPrada? I have had horses in training with TIM AND SHIRLEY O’GORMAN for 7 years and would recommend them to ANYONE, WITHOUT RESERVATION, even if you have to get on an airplane to visit your horse.

    When I started with them I had never had a horse with a professional trainer before. I had always done the training and showing with my family. When I moved away from the family I found that it was not only NOT as much fun by myself, but that it could even be downright dangerous. Fortunately, Tim and Shirley came to town and set up their business just half a mile from my home. I needed help, so I decided to cough up the money to try them because they were so close. I visited frequently, usually unannounced, just because I could. I never saw anything going on that I found disturbing or distasteful. Now they are a three hour drive away, near Toledo, OH and I have three horses with them because I keep finding new reasons to be delighted with the way that they train and manage my horses. I have complete confidence that my horses are well taken care of. I feel like I have a secret treasure that very few people know about and appreciate.

    I have often wondered why they don’t have a waiting list and I think I have finally figured it out. ALL of their focus is on the horses and clients they currently have, rather than beating the bushes to find new ones. They spend their time getting the job done rather than talking about getting the job done. They have never even hinted that I should advertise my wins (and there have been a lot) in order to promote their business. When I do advertise, I do it to brag and I’m happy to give them the credit for getting me there.

    They do everything in their power to make your horse the best that it can be, now matter what the discipline. They won’t guarantee you a blue ribbon in 90 days, but if you are patient and follow their suggestions, you WILL have a champion. And, if your horse is not destined to be a World or Regional Champion, they’ll tell you that too. If you decide that you want a champion of your backyard, they will help you to achieve that goal. They won’t guarantee to sell your horse for a boatload of money, but they will do their very best to sell your horse to a worthy owner.

    I drive 3 hours one way, once a week, to take a riding lesson and to ride and drive my horses. Even though I have been riding since I could walk, Tim has made me a much better rider without ever raising his voice or talking my ear off so that I can’t concentrate on trying to do what he suggests. He never “tells” me to do anything. He just makes occasional suggestions and lets me figure out how to do it. Then I drive home and practice on my horse at home for a week.

    I love going to shows with O’Gorman Stables. They let me participate as much or as little as I want to and they do EVERYTHING else. Some of you may see me at shows grooming horses, cleaning tack, and mucking out stalls. I do that because I want to, not because I have to. It’s just not in my nature to sit back and let someone else have all the fun with my horses while I pay for it. I want the hands-on kind of experiences I had when showing with my family. The best part is that I don’t feel like I have to remember to do everything to get both me and my horse into the ring, turned out to the nines. As a result, I no longer get nervous when I show because I know that everything that can be done, will be done. Now I can enjoy getting into the ring and showing the world what we can do. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s not so good. Every time I love it, I learn something, and no one is ever disappointed in me. Tim and Shirley ALWAYS find something positive to focus on in every performance. And if the performance does not meet their expectations, they immediately try to figure out why.

    I have seen some excellent suggestions here for things to consider when selecting a trainer. Only you can decide whether or not you are “getting your money’s worth,” but I would caution against having unrealistic expectations. I’ve been there and didn’t even realize it. I’ve been showing Morgans since I was 10 years old and have seen many owners come, and then go, because they had unrealistic expectations that they were unwilling to revise. Tell a potential trainer what your goals and expectations are. Ask questions, and LISTEN to their replies. Continue the dialog after you place your horse in training. Tim and Shirley will always converse intelligently with you and answer your questions honestly. They will never make you feel like any question that you ask is a stupid question.

    If you’re interested in more information, click on O’Gorman Stables @ Cedar Creek Farm on the Blogroll. Due to the economy they have immediate openings.


  8. GoodLookinGal says:

    I am going to directly answer your questions, Princess. Here goes:

    How much does the monthly bill factor in?
    I would have a range that you are comfortable paying, and then work within that. Be sure to find out what is NOT included in that monthly rate.

    What about Farrier and Vet services? Ask for references

    Show schedule? Not a factor for me.

    How about Age? There are plenty of older trainers who are so paifully outdated in methods, I think I would prefer a younger trainer.

    Show Experience? Show record? Ethical standards? Client handling? I want a trainer who has a consistent record, a good reputation, and plenty of clients. I prefer a trainer who doesn’t have one client with a ton of horses that can throw their weight around within the barn.

    It seems like there are some trainers that flit around from barn to barn, never owning their own facilities and never offering an explaination as to the relocation. Why don’t they buy a barn? And what about trainers that change their farm names, or locations, or whatever. Why change? Should that raise a red flag?
    It does for me. There are good trainers who just move a lot for reasons beyond their control, but I like to think of my horses in a 3 year plan (minimum) so I need that kind of a commitment from a trainer. Name changing doesn’t say a lot for a reputation. If you have a great one, I don’t think you would want to change your name away from it.

    Also, how do you know if a trainer uses illegal practices or not? Is there a place where I can call or log on to find out who has received fines from the USEF in the last ten years? Ask around. There are a few that are notorious for using, and some that are very open about NOT using.

    I am trying to place my mare with a trainer, and have called around a lot, and the one of the three places I wanted to send her has a waiting list. The other two both have openings, but the one trainer I spoke with asked me a lot of questions that I didn’t have answers for, and I got the feeling that he wasn’t interested in working with my horse. So that leaves the last place, and they seemed very eager to take her, but I wonder why they have so much availability when they have been around for such a long time. Am I looking to deep here? What questions should I ask? I have heard the nightmare stories. I don’t want my horse messed up. I want a trainer who will do the work.
    I would sit on the wait list, if thats your first choice. I think sometimes a trainer like to take whatever business is avaialable at the time. A wait list suggests quality control, and I like that. On the other hand, some barns like to keep a few empty so they cazn pick and choose who to take in.

  9. StacyGRS says:

    From the other side of it, yes…I think you might be looking a bit too deep? So, you want into the barn that can’t take you but you are concerned about the ones that can/will? Would you have been concerned about the one with the waiting list if it had had an immediate opening? If that alone would have changed your opinion of your first choice, then you are looking too deep. If you aren’t happy with the 2 that could/would take you., then don’t go just because they have openings. Find one that you are happy with AND that can take you.
    I think going to the barn on a day that has multiple clients there and watching can teach you alot. Watch the clients…are they happy or are they bothered by things? Watch the horses…are they happy? Talk to the trainer…are they open about what they do? Are they open about their strengths and weaknesses? Does the trainer appear to work hard? Use your common sense…does it appear a “show” is being put on or simple work is getting done as it would daily? Good luck and have fun:):)

  10. khummel says:

    I would like to offer up somthing that was passed onto me by Lonnie Lavery , a very wise man and trainer of World champion Morgans and Saddlebreds and mentor to many including myself. He said it takes one good trainer horseman (horsewoamn) to make a great horse. But…. It takes three trainers to make a great owner. Meaning an awful lot of people have to go through atleast one or two trainers to learn how to be a proper owner. I understand what he meant perfectly, I think most trainers would understand it.I find it is not always true, but true more often than not.

  11. colwilrin says:


    I understand that completely.

    In my years as an amateur, I have noticed a few things that most likely spell disaster for a client at any training barn.

    1. Clients that want their horse made into XYZ. These are the people who buy a young horse and want it made into a park horse. Unfortunately, the horse’s neck comes out of the shoulder too low, and it slows to a jog after 5 minutes of lunging. The client still wants a park horse…but won’t listen to what the horse wants. A good trainer will tell you what division the horse will accel at. The trainer learns this from working with the horse. A client who won’t accept this usually leaves in frustration.

    2. The diva. This is usually a newcomer to a barn (yep, they never stick around one too long!). They roll in and expect to have all the attention, regardless of the other 10 clients that have been there for years. They expect their horse to be the trainer’s first priority, regardless of its level of talent or training. Diva’s usually last one season…then get disgusted when someone else gets any attention.

    3. Barn blind. Here is the client that has a 4H horse, but thinks it can win at OKC. Even though we all think our horse “hung the moon.” Some just aren’t OKC quality, and should be kept at lower level shows where they will succeed. Owners who can’t see this will often blame the trainer for not being able to make it win…and leave.

    I think the key to being happy at a barn is to be objective…about the trainer, your horse, yourself, the other clients…everything. Listen to your trainer, really listen. Good communication is key. To me, the best trainer will tell you what your horse, and you, are able to accomplish and when it is time to evaluate your goals, and if necessary, move on to another horse.

    Also, remember you are not the only client. Be respectful when someone else needs a little extra help from the trainer. I actually take it as a compliment if my trainer is able to direct their attention to someone else when I am riding. That means I’m doing it RIGHT!

    Lastly and most important, horses are supposed to be fun. Find a barn where you like the people. If you aren’t having fun…find somewhere else. It is an expensive hobby. Way too expensive to be unhappy.

  12. khummel says:

    Colwilrin That is a great observation ! I have another situation that lends food for thought. How about the Diva child? The parent and child do everything they can to run the other people and there children out of the barn behind the trainers back and set themselves up as know it alls and use every oppurtunity to make the other customers very uncomfortable. Often by the time all the damage is done its too late. Diva child customers make the whole barn atmosphere just no fun . These people need to be kept on a short leash . They can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time and all behind the trainers back. I have met the best of human nature and the worst of it in the horse business. A negative energy in a trainers barn isnt always put there by the trainers . Sometimes it is put there by people who have there own agenda and or extreme need to be the center of attention.

  13. colwilrin says:


    You just perfectly described my Jr. Exhibitor years, and the reason it took me 20 years after that to consider using a trainer again!

    We had one in the barn that made that nasty Veruca Salt, from Willy Wonka, look like Mother Theresa!

  14. khummel says:

    good lookin gal I agree trainers that move around alot would make me nervous too. But sometimes it isnt that they cant keep a job or cant get along with people. Sometimes the people they have worked for were truly the problem. And not everyone is able to save enough money in the horse business to buy there own barn. that doesnt necessarily mean they won’t do a good job for you. As has been mentioned not all good horsetrainers are necesarily good business people. I would look at longevity in the Morgan breed as a big factor. Also if I were a client I would want to be treated with respect and I wouldnt put up with being yelled at . coaching intently would be apppreciated, yelling and losing there temper with me would not be appreciated. Also, I would not want my horse abused in any way but soemtimes thats hard to know who likes to use the whip instead of there brains. And in this economy reasonable fees and outstanding service goes a long way. Our barn is usually full . We offer great service and the most modest fees in the industry. People want to be treated well and they want there horses treated well first and foremost.

  15. GoodLookinGal says:

    About drug use and violators….

    There is a list of currently suspended/penalized violators in the back of each issue. This month is no exception, and unfortunately, contains the names of some of our own.

  16. khummel says:

    Being that there always two sides to a story number one,do not believe everything you read as gospel and two, some infractions are actually just innocent mistakes in dosage to kindly help keep an old horse comfortable per the vets recomendations. Just because a person is found responsible for an innocent mistake doesnt mean they are necesarily a bad person or a bad horse trainer. A lot of good people have found themselves in violation of USA EQ rules so be careful using that as your guideline. Even soda pop and certain linamints are testable and fineable so I dont follow the logic unless the trainer in question is or has been listed for poor sportsmanship or illegal practices or repeatedly in trouble.

  17. PrincessPrada says:

    Thank you KHummel. I give you credit for representing the other side of the story, and I agree that some of those violations are innocent mistakes, BUT, testers can’t find what you haven’t given your horse. The legal amount of bute a horse can be given and still test legal is surprisingly high. You have to be giving a lot of bute to get in trouble. And if you aren’t sure of the legal limits, should you be giving anything at all? And for some of the other drug violations, if your horse needs it, they shouldn’t be showing. I just don’t know that I can give a trainer the benefit of the doubt in this situation. The grey area between giving your horse a drug within the legal limits vs. overdosing on that drug is just that- a grey area. Stay out of the grey by NOT GIVING ANYTHING!! :-) Simple solution to a simple problem.

  18. PrincessPrada says:

    PS – I don’t define a person by these guidelines… as in, I still think a “good person” can end up on the list. I do define them as a trainer, however. Symantics, yes, but a big difference to me.

  19. colwilrin says:


    I respectfully disagree. Another name for “drugs” is medication. Many substances that are USEF violations to show under, are also very helpful medications. The difference between legal and illegal is often controlled by the amount of medication, and the time it takes to clear the system. It may not even be the amount that was too high, but the fact that the horse was shown too soon after administration.

    For example. I had a horse that had allergies. At a show, he blew out in horrid hives. He was uncomfortable, itchy, and swollen. The veterinarian gave him a steroid to bring down the hives, and bute for comfort. Both substances had to clear the system to a certain level to be “legal.” The estimated time to clear was about X hours (can’t remember it exactly). Within hours of being medicated, the hives began to subside, and he was himself again. The next day was his class, almost exactly X hours after administration of the medication. He was fine to show, and we did. However, had our calculations been off by one hour (of clearance time), he would have tested in violation. BTW…he was chosen for testing after that class (which he won) and was found to NOT be in violation.

    Had we not given anything, the horse would have been in pain and full of hives. We chose to tread the gray area for his comfort, and I got to make my first victory pass at OKC (yes it was a bit selfish on my part). We could have not shown, but there was no reason not to as he showed no signs of discomfort.

    I’m not saying that all violations are a mistake in dosage. Some drugs have very little medicinal purpose to be given to a show horse. However, people do miscalculate…even the show veterinarian who tells you it will be safe to show the horse in X hours. Even if the calculation is correct, a horse may just metabolize a drug slower. People (generic, not you Princess) read a much more sinister meaning into it.

  20. ech2023 says:

    Its been really interesting hearing everyone’s opinion on this. There’s been a lot said about what NOT to do as an owner, but I was wondering what one is supposed TO do if you are unhappy with your horses progress. If you are a competent owner and realistically know what kind of horse you own, yet see the horse actually going backwards in their training and slipping into bad habits, how do you address this with your trainer without being dismissed as a “know-it-all”,”unrealistic”, or “overbearing”?? I guess I’m just wondering the best way to voice concerns without being dismissed with a poor excuse or without causing tension and bad feelings with your trainer???

  21. Mocha Mom says:

    To answer ech2023 in a single word, COMMUNICATE, but don’t wait until you perceive a problem. Start talking WITH, not TO, your trainer from day 1, if not sooner. Also, experts in conflict resolution will tell you to voice such concerns using the words “I feel…” and “What do you think?” Your relationship with a trainer is an emotional one, much like a marriage. I think you should treat it in the same way.

  22. colwilrin says:

    Mocha Mom,

    I totally agree. If you start off building a great relationship early, then if you see an area of concern later, it won’t be taken in the wrong way. If you see something you don’t like, start with explaining your observation and asking “why.” (ie. His head seems lower today, why do you think he’s doing that?) Try to focus on what the horse is doing, not on what the trainer may or may not have done with the horse.

    If the horse seems to have “back-slid,” tell the trainer exactly what you see and mention that it seems to be a regression. Ask if they have any idea why the horse seems to have regressed. The answer may surprise you. Sometimes if a horse has a big problem, the trainer has to “tear down the barn” and start building the horse up from scratch.

    Not that they should ever ignore a client, but once you have a good relationship with your trainer, they will become more comfortable to include you as a bigger part of the training equation. You become another set of eyes and another brain to pick for suggestions.

    It is like any other relationship. People feel each other out in the beginning and develop a rapor and trust as time goes by.

    If all attempts to civily communicate fail, then maybe it is time to consider if you and the trainer have a proper working relationship. Some personalities just don’t work together.

  23. StacyGRS says:

    If you are afraid to ask a question about your horse, then you are not with a trainer that treats you with respect, IMO. Not to say you should question each and every thing, but if your horse used to carry it’s head higher (as was the example) you might ask “Now, in the past I’ve noticed his head higher…why the difference?”…you may find that in the past his head was higher and his mouth tougher. Your trainer may have specifically dropped his head to try to get him to relax and push up to the bridle as opposed to brace against it. You may find that they disagree and think it is the same. You may find that they resent you asking the question. This is your first chance to say ” I don’t know the how’s and why’s, just trying to figure them out. I find it all very interesting…” and see if you can open the door of communication. If not, this is probably going to be a problem. To me, the biggest thing is to not let things fester…if you want to know about something, ask about it BEFORE it makes your blood boil…there may be a good reason or it may not be as relevant as you think…or the trainer may have their own concerns about it…but if it is already an irritating topic nothing good will come of the conversation. This is a person that you need to feel that you can voice concerns with, be honest with and have them be honest back, and generally trust. If you can’t do that, then don’t assume it will get better. I don’t want to see people ditching trainers everywhere for no reason, but what Colwilrin said bothers me…I HATE to see people leave this industry with a bad taste in their mouth…I’d much rather see them change trainers and stay in the show world.
    That said, if you ask a question, LISTEN to the answer…if it is what you want to hear or not:):):) I have seen all too often an honest trainer loose a client for telling them the truth only for more of a “cheerleader” trainer to get that client for a few years and tell them that the last person was wrong, all is well, your horse is fabulous, etc, etc and when there is no success (and alot of money paid) in those few years, at the end of the day the first trainer was up front and correct about the outcome. If someone is really trying to look out for your best interests, let them, don’t punish them for it. Honestly, it’s a tough thing…clients that don’t know alot about their new spot are in a tough place…you have to walk the line between giving someone the benefit of the doubt and a fair shake at it and being the dummy that didn’t see the writing on the wall. Your best bet is to work with someone that will tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear, and you feel shows you the real situation, not a show put on while you are there. And, if you need to make an appt to come and give your horse a carrot or visit with it, that’s questionable as well, IMO.
    Drugs, well, as someone said…we’re talking Advil here…we take it all the time and I don’t think I shouldn’t do what I do because I need it sometimes. Metabolism, weight, water intake all contribute. That said, we try to stay on the safe side but mistakes happen. A few years ago I had a horse that had a small belly ache the day we moved into OKC. This was a horse that usually got bute (sorry, but those eq horses show 6 times that show and stand on asphalt for at least 8 straight days…they deserve it if they want it) before it showed. Vet gave it Banamine for the bellyache so we had to give Banamine, not Bute (you can’t cross the 2 over) and I literally woke up at 2:00 AM one morning freaked out because I was SURE I had given Bute. I called the girl that held the horse for me (she was pleased that I woke her up:) and asked her…she said I gave Ban. Not convinced I went to the show, in my PJ’s, and went thru the trunk going thru all of my motions and reading how much Ban was missing from the tube. It all said I gave Ban but I was freaked out! Of course, it won (blessing and a curse:), got tested, and I got to worry for months…but apparently everyone and all of the signs were right, but the point is, mistakes can happen. Most of all, don’t assume that everything you’ve heard form your former trainer (good AND bad) is accurate…find out for yourself. People tend to speak the most ill of those that they are the most threatened by.
    Use your sense..if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If they’ll tell you a truth that benefits them the least, you can at least realize that they are willing to give you a true opinion.

  24. colwilrin says:


    If my post suggested that a client give up on trainers easily or leave the business, I am sorry. That was not my intent. No one should ever give up on a sport/hobby they love.

    What I intended to say was that sometimes, despite the best intentions, a client and trainer just don’t make a good team. There is a huge personality conflict that cannot be overcome. In that event, I think it is best that the client seek another trainer who would be a better fit, and make their experience more enjoyable.

    I agree with your cheerleader comment. Personally, my horses are in training because I still have things to learn. I wouldn’t be learning if my trainer just told me “good, wonderful.” Constructive criticism makes a better rider. The client has a responsibility to constructively voice concerns and questions, and actively listen to constructive criticism the trainer offers. The trainer has the responsibility of providing constructive criticism in a way that will help the client learn and improve. In addition, they must also actively listen to the client’s concerns and answer them in a productive manner.

  25. StacyGRS says:

    NO…I meant the one where you said you left the industry for years before coming back!! I hate to hear that…client OR trainer that drove you away, I hate to hear that!! That’s all…

  26. colwilrin says:


    Oh! Yes, but…the other client did not drive me away from the business. I am really tenacious and would never give anyone that satisfaction. I just went and played with Saddlebreds for a few years, then returned to Morgans and did it on my own for a long while,…and had a great time too. I do want to be clear that I don’t blame the trainers for a bit of what happened, and it was a nasty convoluted series of events. There was no way to control this client or the parents. Karma will take care of them, I have faith in that.

    I was VERY lucky this time around. The trainer I have now was also at that barn (briefly working with another client’s horse) while I was there as a Jr. Exhib. I always had great respect for him, knew him well enough to know he had a great personality, and had an established trust of him. That made establishing our rapport very easy, and it quickly extended to his wife/co-trainer. They have found a very special horse for me, and I haven’t been this happy riding in years. Sometimes it just takes a lot of trial and error to get the right combo of horse, rider, and trainer.

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