Friday, August 11, 2017

Won't Get Fooled Again...Experience Counts!

Few things upset me more than folks getting ripped off. When those who call themselves horse trainers fleece clients, steal their money, ruin horses and generally wreak havoc, they give all of us in the profession a bad name. Nowhere is this more apparent, or more prevalent, than the High Desert of Southern California -- my proverbial backyard. I don't want to insult folks, but some people tend to be, well, cheap. There's nothing wrong with liking bargains, and I'll never complain if someone wants a good deal, but in certain instances that old adage of you get what you pay for really does ring true. Particularly when it comes to the training and welfare of your horses.

A good, experienced, knowledgeable trainer spares no expense for his or her charges. They also know what type of equipment is necessary to get the job done, they know how to fit a saddle and adjust a bridle. They also have an experienced,  professional, knowledgeable team of veterinarians, farriers and oftentimes equine chiropractors and dentists to help ensure their horses well-being.

If someone proclaims a certain number of years in the industry, they should have at least been twelve or thirteen years old at least before that experience really began, when speaking of professionally training. An 18 year old kid who says he or she has 10 years of experience may not exactly be lying, they might have been riding horses for 10 years, but that's not professional training experience. That young 20-something who proclaims he or she has been training horses for "years" can't have more than an honest say 10 years real experience, if they're twenty-two to twenty-five years old. And at that age, I'd expect they were honing their craft, working for real trainers, not pretending to be trainers themselves.

Many of us have paid our dues. Most real professionals spend our first years as trainers working under true long time pros who gave us mountains of knowledge, allowed us to gain loads of experience, and taught us what we're supposed to be doing. My mentors were all great horsemen, multiple National and World champions in a variety of disciplines, and drilled into my brain how to do things right. I also learned much about how not to do things during the formative years of my career. But my greatest teachers have been the horses themselves, though a disclaimer here -- many people will say that, but the proof is in the pudding and the results they produce.

I'm what I call a Serial Watcher. I could sit in the grandstands all day long at any number of shows and competitions to just watch horses work and observe their riders or trainers. I'm a knowledge sponge, even though I've been doing this now for more than 35 years (yes, professionally ... getting paid to do it). There is no better way to learn than by asking questions, too, and that's something I have spent a great deal of time doing myself over many, many years. Even now, I'll occasionally see a technique I'm not familiar with, or have an issue crop up that I'm not entirely sure how to fix on a horse. There will always be someone with more experience, more skill, or even just more innovative ideas to bring into the training barn.

This is a subject I could write volumes about, but I'll close now with this parting bit of wisdom: Pay close attention to anyone you may consider hiring as your trainer. Do keep in mind, you're paying this person for their knowledge, their experience, their expertise, and entrusting both your safety (as well as your pocketbook), and your horses welfare, to them. It should never be a decision you make lightly or based solely on cost. Best of luck to you all!


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