Should Your Horse Go “Back To School”?

working with trainer Julie Goodnight RFD TVLooking back on a summer of riding, were there things you wish that were different about the partnership between you and your horse?  Do you wish your show results were better?  Did you not quite get to your goal of jumping 3′?  Are you still uncomfortable riding out on the trail?  Maybe it’s time for your horse to go “back to school.”

Sending a horse away to a trainer for schooling requires a good deal of trust, since your horse’s care and well-being will be in the trainer’s (and often a new barn’s) hands. If you’re planning to send your horse away for training, you will want to make sure that the horse will be safe and that the training will be a positive experience. Here are some factors you’ll want to consider.

Find an Experienced Trainer

When choosing a trainer, look for one who is experienced and who trains horses full-time. A person who has made training their career should take their work seriously, and should also have plenty of success to show with the horses that they have previously trained. When someone trains full-time, you know that their focus and energy are on the horses in their care and their progress. Additionally, for a full-time trainer, training horses is a profession, so the operation is more likely to be managed professionally.

Make Sure the Training Facilities are Safe

Before you agree to send your horse out to a trainer, you should pay a visit to the training operation with an eye for the safety of the facilities themselves. Ask plenty of questions, such as how much time your horse will be spending in a stall and whether he will have access to turnout. Look for standard safety issues, such as the quality of arena footing, the condition of paddock fences, and that horse stalls are designed to provide adequate room for your horse to move around.

Additionally, watch to see the condition of the other horses on the property. Do they appear to be well-fed and in good physical condition? Look out for hoof issues, low body weight and the presence of saddle or girth rubs, all of which could signify that the horses aren’t receiving quite enough attention or care.

Hire a Trainer With Similar Training Methods and Approaches

When you send your horse away for training, it is important that the trainer you choose is someone who shares your same training methods and approaches to training. In order for training to be a success, both you and the trainer need to agree on the desired outcome and what training methods are acceptable to get there. You will also need to find a trainer who shares your view on horse care, and who will keep your horse in good health while he is away in training.

Get and Check References

Everything might look great at a facility, but you should absolutely still get and check references on the trainer. Call each reference and talk with them about their experience with the trainer. Ask them what they sent their horse to the trainer to learn, how long the horse was away in training, what the results were and whether they encountered any issues.

Sending your horse away for training is a big decision. In addition to following the above tips, be sure to fully read the training contract and ask any questions you may have before signing the agreement.

Photo credit:  Julie Goodnight-RFDTV

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