While riding horses all day may seem like a dream job to most horse enthusiasts, there are many things that trainers do that often go unnoticed. Photo © Ruehle Photographix

Flashback Friday: 10 Things Trainers Do That Often Go Unnoticed

Editor’s Note: It’s Flashback Friday – This article was one of our most popular articles of 2016. In case you missed it or want to refresh your memory, find out why it went viral on social media and struck a cord with so many of our readers.

Exceptional horse trainers dedicate their lives to their clients and the equine athletes in their barn. While riding horses all day may seem like a dream job to most horse enthusiasts, there are countless things that trainers do that often go unnoticed. Besides riding, many trainers spend their days doing whatever it takes in order to better our horses and make their clients happy. Below are 10 things that great trainers do that clients may take for granted.

1) Plan Their Day Around Us

Even when trainers are not at the barn or in the saddle, they are often thinking about things to make their clients and horses better. Whether they are out buying things to improve the barn, or scheduling and planning out their rides, they are usually thinking about horses. Sure, scheduling lessons for the week may seem like something that all trainers have in common, but they often do more than just schedule a time slot for us to come practice.

“I think everyone knows that training horses is a tough job for 8, 10, or 12 hours a day, but what they don’t realize is that it does not just stop there. Just about everything we do outside of the barn is still involving doing something for our horses,” says Chase Barnes, a trainer from Warren, Pennsylvania. While moving their schedules around to better suit their clients may not always be their first choice, they do it for us to accommodate our lives and make things easier on their clientele.

2) Above and Beyond Personal Care

While an additional flake of hay is one form of giving the horses extra love, we may forget about the other things that trainers do that go above and beyond.

“I like to make sure my horses get plenty of free time to themselves,” says Lori Gingrich, a trainer from Johnstown, Ohio. Lori believes that horses need turnout time in the grass field or even just free play in the arena. Our trainers want our horses to be happy because a happy horse makes everyone’s job easier.

Many clients will forget about the time it takes to provide this additional care like turning out, washing blankets and even doing a double-check before leaving the barn for the night to make sure each horse is tucked in and happy.

3) Getting Us Show Ready

Typically, when we think of our horse trainer, we think their primary purpose is to get our horses ready for the show pen. However, many trainers also help us, the exhibitor, get show ready. From giving their input on all things tack and show clothing, most trainers know what they like and what they think will look best in the pen.

All in all, the main concern is to get the judge’s attention with a good ride and overall picture of success. Trainers will make sure we have appropriate attire and tack for each class. While they all have their own style preferences, they critique us in order to make sure we have the best chances possible.

4) Sacrificing Their Sleep

Whether they can’t sleep at night thinking about the next day, or they are up late riding, our trainers often sacrifice their sleep. At shows, it is typical that the arenas are not open until hours after the show concludes. Sometimes, this can be well into the night or even at some point in the early hours of the morning before show time. Luckily, as clients, our trainers are usually the ones to get our horses in the arenas so they aren’t frightened upon entering for the first time with us aboard. Trainers spend many hours during the day working our horses, and we sometimes forget that they go above and beyond while we are in bed asleep at the hotel.

5) Keeping the Horses Healthy

Like any animal, our horses often require vet work to be done. They are competitive athletes, and it is common for them to develop some kind of need for the vet. Luckily for us, our trainers have much more experience than we do and can usually have a good idea of what our horses need done. They can give the proper medicines, find abscesses, perform flex tests and also schedule and haul the horse to vet appointments when needed. We may forget that our trainers do everything they can in order to keep our horses in the best shape and keep them show ready at all times, which includes making sure they are healthy.

6) Staying Up-To-Date

While some may think this is common sense, a trainer that stays up-to-date and current on new trends can really be a blessing. Also, a trainer that stays up to date on new rule changes and revisions is important. Clients are busy in their day-to-day lives and while they might enjoy being up-to-date on all things horse related, our trainers usually have the upper hand on any inside knowledge. They also stay up-to-date on upcoming shows and any other information that could benefit us and our horses.

7) Wearing Many Hats

While we might see them as just our trainer, they often wear more than just a cowboy hat. “What the clients don’t realize is that we also have to be a trucker, entertainer, banker, therapist and magician,” says Chase Barnes.

While some people may chuckle at this, it is true that our trainers have many duties to fulfill. From juggling all of their clients to making sure everyone is happy, they like to satisfy us and make sure we are having a good experience. Hauling our horses across the country, listening to our troubles and even putting in extra work on a stubborn horse is all part of their territory.

8) Love the Horse Like Their Own

“One thing we do is give lots of treats when nobody else is around,” says trainer Blake Weis, of Moberly, Missouri. Though many may think it creates bad habits or an extra mouthy horse, many trainers can often be found sneaking treats to their horses after a long day of showing. This can be in the form of peppermints and horse cookies, or just an extra flake of hay in thanks for a job well done.

Trainers spend so much time preparing the horses and their respective riders for the show pen, that when everything goes as planned, nothing makes them happier than seeing the horses in their barn succeed with their owners.

While success is always a plus, trainers spend everyday around our horses and usually know them better than we do. Therefore, they love and cherish them like their own and will always go out of their way for the comfort of our horses.

9) Parting With Our Partners

Trainer, Brent Maxwell, of West Mansfield, Ohio, brings up a great point that many clients will forget about, especially if they do not live close by. “Not all customers have a place to bury their companions when that special horse needs to be laid to rest for one reason or another,” says Maxwell. While this can be a particularly hard subject for owners to think about, it can be equally as hard for trainers to deal with. “Putting their halter on for the last time, giving them the last grooming and even feeding them a final treat is something that stays with you forever, and is often the hardest thing we do,” says Maxwell.

10) Be A Friend

Paying our trainers to train our horses is one thing, but as clients, we often develop close relationships with them. We spend our weekends, holidays and summers with our horse show family, getting to know the ins and outs of their training program and our their personalities.

Trainers become good friends to us and offer their advice in the horse industry, but they also care about our personal lives. We go out to dinner with them, spend hours in their barn and even do things outside of the horse world. Though, they are only required to have a business relationship with their clients, we are lucky enough to get a great friend in our trainers as well.

What are some things that your trainer does that often goes unnoticed?  Let us know in the comments.