Finding a Horse Trainer Who’s Right for You (or Your Child)

Who you pick as a trainer can make all the difference for your (or your child’s) enjoyment and your horse’s health and welfare. A seasoned equine veterinarian offers her advice on critically evaluating trainers and their programs to find the right fit.

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Finding a Trainer Who
When hiring a horse trainer, you want to find someone who understands you and shares your values, integrity, work ethic, and hopes for the future. At the same time, you'll be entrusting this person with your horse. | Photo: iStock

Hiring a horse trainer is a bit like internet dating and identifying appropriate daycare for your child simultaneously. You want to find someone who “gets” you and shares your values, integrity, work ethic, and hopes for the future. At the same time, you’ll be entrusting this person with a member of your family, expecting the trainer will protect your horse from harm as well as provide an education that combines mental and physical advancement.

A horse might be an animal of service, but he should have a life without fear that includes appropriate food, water, exercise, and shelter. Education might be the best way to ensure that life. An educated horse that is both respectful on the ground and talented under saddle is a joy to own during its early competitive years, then as an amateur or a youth horse, as a beginner or child’s horse, and finally as a companion.

Consider what would happen if you died: Would there be a line of horse trailers in your driveway with fights over who gets your horse? Or do you need to provide for his care in your will because he is a problem child with no means of supporting himself? If you lean toward the latter, an excellent trainer might be the solution to your worries

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Amy Rucker, DVM, of Midwest Equine is a podiatry-focused ambulatory veterinarian in Columbia, Missouri. In her practice, Rucker treats horses participating in a variety of disciplines. A lifelong horse enthusiast, she was inducted into the International Veterinarian Hall of Fame in 2012. She keeps a small herd of horses, including several retirees, and enjoys trail riding.

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