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Developing a Successful Trainer and Client Relationship – with Highpoint’s Ashley Dunbar-Clock

Now that the horse show season is well underway, many people finalize their show calendars and set up their goal list for the upcoming season. Maybe your goal is to begin saddle breaking your 2-year old or attending the 2021 All American Quarter Horse Congress.

Whatever you may want to do with your horse in 2021, having a successful client and trainer relationship can aid in the process. GoHorseShow sat down with a trainer at Highpoint Performance Horses, Ashley Dunbar-Clock, to talk about traits that help in a successful client/trainer relationship.

Clock started training horses at a very young age and has been a trainer at Highpoint Performance Horses for the past five and a half years. Highpoint Performance Horses is nestled in Pilot Point, Texas, and provides high-end horse care and all-around horse training, which accommodates mostly Amateur and Select Amateur clients.

To cater to all of their clients’ individual needs, they have multiple trainers at the barn who work together to help reach their goals. Their program has produced multiple World and Reserve World Champions, Congress Champions, and NSBA Champions.

For a client to succeed, they should understand what characteristics make a successful trainer and client relationship. The basis of a successful relationship starts when the client selects a program.

At Highpoint Performance Horses, they interview a potential client before accepting them into their program to ensure it will be a good fit for them. They give the client an overview of Highpoints’ guidelines and emphasize a drama-free atmosphere. The atmosphere produced from the interview process, allows for the clients’ best learning experience to reach their goals.

To have a confident atmosphere in the practice pen, it is essential to establish a positive relationship between the client and the trainer. Ashley says, “We try to match our clients with horses that will help them be successful.” Additionally, she states, “We want the client to understand the event they are showing in, and we help prepare the horse for them.”

Highpoint strives to cater to every clients’ needs and prepare the clients to perform at their best. Clock likes to teach positively and break big concepts into smaller pieces, so the client understands what she is teaching.

In any client and trainer relationship, clients should work together with their trainer to achieve their goals. “It is important to be comfortable and confident with the trainer who is teaching you,” Ashley expresses. If you feel that the program is not a good suit for you, communicate your concerns with the trainer.

Clock emphasizes that, “Communication is key. Talk to your trainer as soon as possible to try to figure out what is best for you.” To fix a problem, clients should communicate with their trainers as ultimately, trainers want what is best for their clients in the long run.

When you find a program that best suits your needs, you may find yourself with a second family. Your trainer may turn into a person you look up to, and your stablemate may turn into your best friend. Ashley says she loves going to dinner with their clients at horse shows, especially after a big win.

Whether you want to trail ride or dream of going to the Olympics, having a successful trainer relationship will help you achieve your goals (and make you happy).

About the Author – Jenna Menetrier has been an equestrian for 19 years. She attends Davidson College and works for a breeding farm outside of Charlotte. Jenna shows her horses, Shez Got Hot Leggs and DGS The Fundamentalist, over fences, halter, and showmanship.