So you wanna be a horse trainer, you’ve seen horse trainers at your barn and other barns in action and now you’re in love? Well, then look no further, here’s a guide on becoming a top-notch horse trainer
The first step is to learn how to ride, that’s a pretty important part of training horses. Take lessons and ride until your legs are like jell-o, your butt is covered in saddle sores and standing up feels weird. Ride until you don’t know what it means NOT to ride. And fall. Oh, do lots of falling. If you can still count how many times you’ve eaten dirt on your fingers, then you haven’t fallen off enough. Fall and learn how NOT to fall, learn to stick so well to that saddle your trainer accuses you of putting glue on your ASS. Ride everything you can, that pony with five legs and horns sticking out of his head? Ride it. That Paint horse with blue eyes and flames shooting out of its nose? Ride it. That Quarter Horse who’s only known gaits are “Gallop-Buck-Crow Hop-RUN”? Ride it. That Llama that looks suspiciously like a horse? Ride it. That cow? Ride it. When you’re done riding the cow you can move on to step 2….
Step two Learn how to have patience. Patience is something you are going to need a lot of. I take after my Irish Great-Grandmother. My temper is short and my supply of patience even shorter. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” is something you’ll hear me utter, say and yes, yell, often if you spend enough time around me. I’ve been learning to develop more patience slowly while at the same time feeling my sanity slowly fall apart….Patience for the horse you’re working with and patience(probably more patience than what you had for the horse) for the people you’ll deal with. Why? Because strangling people is bad for business…..
Step three People skills…remember how I just said strangling people is frowned upon? Yeah well, so is telling them that they’re a “Freaking moron with a pool noodle for a brain” or telling them to “Leave you the HELL alone because you have work to get done and can’t stop for tea time” is also frowned upon. Even when your back hurts from lifting 6-7 bales of hay and four 50 pound bags of grain, when you’re delayed on getting stalls done because the fricking tractor won’t start or when horses have been moved around and nobody thinks to tell you where everyone is at now-still you have to slap a smile on your face and make semi-polite conversation with those pesky humans…because..after all how are you supposed to be a horse trainer if you’ve scared off all your potential clients? That’s right, swap out the Dragon-Lady face and horns for the halo and smile…
Step four Is to Forget anything and everything you know about riding horses. Trust me when I say you don’t know much about riding anyways, none of us do. There is always room for improvement and there are always going to be new, different ways to do things. Ask questions, harass your barn trainer and any other person there who claims to know anything about horses. Pester the shit out of them, google things, read articles, read books, watch horse training shows, go to clinics, soak up as much information as you can. Watch others ride their horses and learn what to do and what NOT to do. Take lessons, take lessons on taking lessons. Intern anywhere you can. Work under different professionals for different disciplines. You are never NOT learning when in the world of horses, and you can never learn too much or ask too many questions.
Step Four Become a Jack-Of-All trades…..somebody has to feed the horses, groom the horses, clean up after the horses, fix the tractor, fix the tire on the trailer, deal with lame horses, etc. Oh? You thought you’d have time to ride the horses? LOL that’s cute. Maybe after you get done stacking those 300 bales of hay you’ll have to time to brush one of your horses. You’re too broke to hire any real help at the barn so yep, that means you have to do the dirty work yourself. Maybe if you hadn’t of given that one lady the finger for telling you your horse looked fat she would have let you train her horse, and THEN you’d of been able to hire someone to help….but noooooo just had to lose your patience eh? When you’re a horse person or trainer you are also vet, mechanic, groom, stall cleaner and fence fixer. You chose this life Bob the Builder, now own it.
Step five When you have the time, if you ever have the time, stop to remember why you chose this. Make a list of everything you like better than horses(I doubt there’ll be anything on the list, but still go for it) and then make a list of everything you love about horses. Try to picture yourself doing something outside of horses and training? Can’t do it? Well, then you obviously didn’t make the wrong decision, now stop crying and go clean those stalls!
Step six Enjoy your life and chosen career. You’ve survived the first five steps now stop, take a breath, drink a sip of wine(or the bottle, which ever works for you) and rest easy knowing you are doing what you love.
Ladies and Gentleman, I am not a horse trainer at all by any means. If anything the horses train ME not the other way around. The first time I sat on a horse I was four years old, the second time I sat on a horse I was 14, I took a two year hiatus and got back in the saddle when I was 16 and spent 3-4 days a week, every week riding. I ended up taking another two years off from riding due to life but re-entered the saddle when I was 18 and have been back in action since. I intern now at a reining/training barn where I try not to destroy anything with the tractor, pester the trainer or get bucked off of horses TOO often. I’d like to better my riding, better my groundwork and better myself as a horseman and yes, become a trainer of the equine species. I’ve a long road ahead of me(and little patience haha) but I am prepared to do anything it may take to walk that road and I hope you and any other future equestrian and/or trainer will do the same. I’m sure there is much more to becoming a trainer than the examples I listed, but that’s a start.
Have a happy ride folks