Your Trainer - How to find one and work together!

The partnership between you and your horse is so important. When you own a horse you strive to build a bond over a number of years, coming to know the full extent of his behaviour, temperament and abilities. In some ways your partnership from the ground dictates your partnership in the saddle, and the basis for a loyal, long-term relationship in both interactions is respect, mutual understanding and cooperation.

When working with your horse there is always potential to experience bumps in the road - perhaps you are working on a new discipline or struggling to achieve a certain movement, task or technique. At this point it is highly recommended that you and your horse work with a reputable trainer who can guide you in strengthening the relationship between you and improving your skills and commands.

 Training for reining
Your trainer is an important part of your riding team!

Choosing a trainer is probably one of the most important decisions you can make. Not only will you require someone who has experience in your discipline but it is paramount that you work with someone whose opinion and knowledge you trust and with whom you can work cooperatively. Your trainer is not just someone who instructs you once or twice a week but he or she should also be your first port of call for training advice, and someone who can work with you collaboratively to improve your riding abilities and move you closer to your personal goals.

It is not unusual to try sample lessons with a couple of different trainers before settling on someone. You may even wish to watch the trainer with other riders before choosing to book a session for yourself. Different trainers have different styles and approaches and once you find someone with whom you work well, the benefits are exceptional. Your relationship with your trainer will heavily influence your riding style, competition success and overall performance, so if you do not agree or get on with your trainer there is little point in continuing instruction with that particular person. 

<h2 ">Choosing a trainer

When you are selecting a trainer and deciding if they are right for you there are certain questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Does your trainer understand your discipline and what you are hoping to achieve? You do not need to train with a leading expert or celebrity to get the best results – good riders don’t always make good trainers! Provided your trainer is suitably qualified, experienced and knowledgeable then you are starting in the right place. A great trainer will engage with their pupils and impart knowledge, promote understanding and create motivation and confidence – these skills can often be learnt but many are inherent characteristics of the person themselves.
  • Do you learn something new each time? This does not need to be something major, such as a spin, a piaffe or a 4ft fence, but something that challenges you and your horse to push your limits. A great trainer will identify areas for improvement and each time will focus on a new area, giving you exercises and ideas to continue to improve on between sessions.
  • Does your trainer adapt to your individual needs? All riders and horses are different and should be taught as such. For example, a nervous rider will need a significant amount of confidence-building work where their horse picks up on their nerves. Your trainer should be able to identify your needs and provide a variety of solutions.
  • Does your trainer help you progress? Do you share your goals and aims with your trainer and feel that you are achieving these? A good trainer will challenge you without leaving you overwhelmed or overfaced by creating appropriate smaller, achievable goals from your long-term aims.
  • Do you trust, and have a cooperative relationship with, your trainer? It is important to discuss feedback with him or her – what do you feel you are doing well, what could you do better and where do you need help? If you need more input it is important you feel you can ask for advice and support from your trainer at any time. Remember that feedback is a two-way street and your trainer should be open to receiving comments from you about what he or she can do differently in order to help you.
  • Do you enjoy your lessons? This is probably the most telling sign that your trainer is the right one. If you are enjoying your lesson, looking forward to the next one and leaving your session feeling motivated, energised and confident in what you are achieving, then you have probably found the trainer for you!

Finding a good trainer can make a big difference to your riding and partnership with your horse. Take a look at local riding clubs and associations for details of trainers close to you and don’t be afraid to ask friends for recommendations.


For more hints on riding, horse care and horses in general, visit Spalding Labs again soon!