Saturday, June 9, 2018

Horse Training Journal Protects the Horse Trainer

It is surprisingly common for horse owners to move their horses from one trainer to another in search of a quicker 'fix' to their horse's dilemma. Whether it is a young horse in training or an older horse that needs some remedial work, the process is one of individual attention and a proper program for a logical progression in the horse's understanding, trust and physical development.

Unfortunately for the horse trainer, the satisfied client is usually best obtained by providing fancy or quick results. Whether or not the work is truly correct, whether or not the work completely resolves a previous issue seems irrelevant to some owners. It may be their ignorance or it may be their need to sell off the horse for a handy profit that drives their impatience. Whatever it is, as a horse trainer it is smart to keep a journal of the workouts and schooling sessions you have completed, and narrate the progress of your program through a journal. Preferably, a video journal.

Paul Alvin-Smith, GP trainer at Willowview Hill Farm schooling ANCCE/PRE stallion Celesto IV in half-pass in 2015

Over 25+ years training horses I have learned to do just this. It is not only a great way to look at the progress of the horse under your care for yourself, but it also serves as protection from false claims made down the road by the next trainer in line.

Regardless of whether the horse has a show record or not, I always take a video of first sessions and then once a program has been decided upon with a list of short and long term goals, I video once a week to record how things are coming along. Before the horse leaves, whether the move was planned or a last minute decision by the owner, a final recording is done to show the work that has been put on the horse. Of course, if you have shown the horse for the owner meantime you will also have the show results as a permanent indicator or the work you have completed.
Rushed and incorrect training will show up in the show ring later.

The best owners to work with are usually those that ride themselves and have some experience in the realm or discipline in which you train. 

Some issues that come with horses such as broken crests, broken connection to the bit at the 3rd vertebrae for example, take a long time to work patiently and correctly to resolve. Other issues, such as lack of balance, nervousness at mounting are quicker and easier to improve. Every horse has his own questions and as a horse trainer it is up to you to prioritize the ones you need to fix first, working toward a goal and not doing a quick fix just to garner a quick score in the ring, that will not be sustained in the horse's career because the basics have been overlooked.
Working on a broken 3rd vertebrae takes riding talent and time

In my experience as long as you are always true to the horse and his well-being and understanding, and build the horse up properly to not only understand his job but be able to complete the tasks with the proper physical and mental development, then you will always be happy. Good trainers attract good clients. Don't worry about the 'chop and change' clients. They will find what they need elsewhere.

Down the road if false claims are made about who trained what on the horse and you want to address those claims, you have the evidence in your horse journal. Keep good records of all your dealings with clients and make sure you have them in writing. A good contract will protect now and in the future, if the need arises. 

Remember you train horses because presumably you are good at it and enjoy it. Many horse trainers enjoy their time spent with horses more than they enjoy their time spent with humans. Be true to yourself and be true to the horse you are working, you will never regret it.

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