Finding the ideal trainer to suit you and your horse can be a challenge, but once you’ve found the right one, there are some simple things you can do to ensure the relationship works as well as possible.
Here is some useful advice from the horse’s mouth – a freelance trainer based in Hertfordshire who really wants to help her clients get the most out of their horses, while avoiding any unnecessary misunderstandings along the way.
1. Most trainers are self-employed, which means if you cancel a session this impacts on the wage they take home that day. As few earn a salary, it’s always appreciated if cancellations are restricted to when they are absolutely unavoidable. Also try to give your trainers as much notice as possible so they have a chance to book someone else into your slot.
2. As horses are horses, trainers do understand if unforeseen circumstances prevent your lesson from going ahead when they have already arrived to teach you. But in this situation offering your trainer at least an appropriate amount to cover the time and money they have spent travelling to you would be appreciated. In an ideal situation you will agree in advance whether you would need to cover the full cost of your training session in these circumstances, then everyone knows where they stand.
3. A hot or cold drink is often welcomed either before or after your lesson, but if your trainer declines they may need to head off to another commitment, so pay them promptly so they don’t need to hang around. Then if they decide to stay to discuss your lesson/horses/life choices, you can be confident they are doing so because they want to.
4. The vast majority of trainers will not be offended if you take lessons from others, but it’s best to be open if you’re going for a session with someone else. In many cases a new pair of eyes will be able to offer a useful alternative technique and everyone will benefit.
Debby Lush, a List One British Dressage (BD) judge and a registered BD trainer, gives the solutions to your queries
5. Be ready for the agreed start time of your lesson – ideally on board and warmed up – not be dragging your horse in from the field as your trainer arrives. While these things happen from time to time, it’s fair for your trainer to cut your lesson short if you can’t start on time. However, if your trainer arrives late, then it’s fair to expect to get the full time you booked.
6. If you are seeing your trainer regularly, then make a concerted effort to work on what you discussed in your last lesson before your next one. This gives you maximum benefit from the money you are spending and will help avoid your trainer from saying the same thing week in, week out.
7. Be honest about what you’ve been doing with your horse since you last saw your trainer. If you tell them porkies, they will know…
8. The best trainers are continually learning and looking to improve themselves as well as their clients. Constructive criticism can be helpful. And a good trainer won’t be afraid to admit if an issue stumps them and direct you elsewhere when it is appropriate.
Are you a trainer and have a suggestion to add to this list? Or are you a rider and have a top tip to help maintain a great relationship with your trainer? Let us know below…
Piece inspired by the musings of freelance instructor Lynne Wilson from Hertfordshire