10 Questions to Ask Before Putting Your Horse in Training
November 7, 2014
Taken from the magazine, Paint Horse Connection:
10 Questions…to ask before putting your horse in training
Choose the perfect training program with these talking points.
By Laura Stevens
Sending a favorite horse to a trainer can be nerve-wracking, especially if it’s your first time. Before checking out a trainer—whether local or out-of-state—review these questions to find the right program for you and your horse. Trainer Duayne Williams of Precision Ranch in Grand Saline, Texas, offers these discussion topics when considering a professional horseman.
- “How much is monthly training, and what does it include?”
Before jumping into any questions, ask budget-related questions first. Avoid “sticker shock” on the first month’s bill by being upfront with any financial questions. Keep in mind the trainer’s price will vary by his experience, qualifications and location, Duayne says.
“Especially with the economy the way it is right now, people are looking for the most bang for their buck. You always want to know how much you’ll spend,” he said.
Don’t forget to ask what a month of training includes. Most monthly training fees include basic boarding care, but don’t hesitate to ask about specifics, like turn-out schedules.
- “Can I come tour your facility?”
Owners can visually assess a potential trainer’s facility with an in-person visit to the farm. If you meet a trainer at a show or clinic, contact them to schedule a barn tour. Make sure you like what you see: the horses look healthy and happy, and the clients feel at home. A website can also provide a great first impression—or make an owner steer clear.
“On our website, we list how big our stalls are, how big our turn-out pens are—basically everything we’ve got,” Duayne said.
- “How many horses do you keep in training?”
Non-pro owners with busy schedules sometimes need close personal attention from the trainer and expect their horses to receive the same one-on-one time. Although there are pros and cons to large and small training operations, you might find you prefer one size over another.
“Clients want to know they’re getting their money’s worth,” Duayne said. “I try to keep it small, but some guys have 30 horses in training. We have systems that work for us, but people want the guy they’re paying to ride their horse.”
- “How do I arrange for hauling to shows or other locations?”
“With diesel and gas prices going up and up, if you’re hauling long distances most people expect you to haul their horse,” Duayne said. “But if you’re staying local, people might haul themselves to save a little money to put toward their show bill.”
While Duayne doesn’t mind if clients want to ahul their own horses to an event, some trainers prefer to “carpool” in one trailer. If you’re used to shuttling your horses on your own, ask the trainer what his preferences are.
“You want everything to be up front,” Duayne added.
- “Who takes care of clients’ horses if the trainer is away?”
Trainers understand how much owners love their horses, so providing top-quality care is important—even if the trainer is gone to a show.
“Horses are like people’s kids,” Duayne said. “It’s important to know there’s a person left behind who they can trust because horses do cost money. Make sure the horse is going to be safe and in the same program as if the trainer was at home.”
- “What veterinarian and farrier do you use?”
“I run into the situations sometimes where clients want to use their own farrier or vet,” Duayne explained. “That’s a very big question someone should ask.”
Duayne prefers his clients use his regular vet and farrier, so he can ensure clients’ horses are receiving the best possible care.
- “Do I need to bring my own feed or hay?”
If an owner feeds their horse specific grain, hay or supplements, check with the prospective trainer to be sure they don’t mind feeding something different.
Most trainers prefer to feed every horse in the barn the same type or brand of feed, to make feeding time more efficient, which equates to more time in the saddle. If your horse has special nutrition requirements, be up front about his needs.
- “When can I come ride my horse?”
Coordinating a trainer’s and an owner’s hectic schedules can be formidable, so talk ride time with a prospective trainer early in the conversation.
“The client needs ample time to get to know their horse, learn his buttons, especially if they’re preparing for a horse show,” Duayne said, explaining that his clients schedule lessons more frequently if they have competition goals. “One day, they’re going to take their horse home. They need to know how to ride and maintain that horse.”
- “What can I tell you about my horse?”
Briefly explain your riding history and the horse’s training background. This helps both of you know what to expect, Duayne says.
Duayne invites prospective clients to his facility for an evaluation lesson, giving him a chance to project if a horse and rider will flourish in his program.
“I want both the horse and rider to be part of the training team,” Duayne said. “the evaluation tells me if the horse is willing to be trained, and if I feel I can get along with the person.”
- “How can you help me meet my riding goals?”
Reach for the stars—just don’t forget to include the trainer in your dreaming. Horse trainers entered their profession because they love horses, so they’ll want to help you plot a successful future with your horse.
“I’ll ask ‘What are your goals?’ ” Duayne said. “ ‘What do you want to achieve on a six-month level or a year level?’ and we go from there. I don’t feel like there are any goals that cannot be achieved; it’s just a matter of how much work and time the clients are willing to put in.”
Article was featured in the Paint Horse Connection.
Duayne Williams is the 2011 World Champion in Solid Paint-Bred Western Pleasure aboard Impulsive Sensations. Duayne teaches all-around performance horses and riders in a myriad of disciplines. Duayne lives in Grand Saline, Texas.