training questions posed by trainers

training questions posed by trainers

Post by Sue Littlefie » Thu, 09 Apr 1998 04:00:00


It was interesting to me to read questions posed by a trainer
to this forum. Mainly the questions posed by the lady trying
to retrain the morgan horse.

I must be a bad trainer. I have restarted *many* horses, started
lots of them from scratch, and I used to take in, quite routinely,
mental cases and problem horses that needed a serious overhaul.

Now, being the bad trainer that I must be, the first thing I *always*
did, was a let down. I'd take them in and do *nothing* with them for a
couple of weeks. This let down was always accompanied with a grass
hay only diet. And during those 2 weeks, I'd watch the horse, I'd
personally feed it, I'd just spend time in its stall trying to see
how it interacted with people, what its general interest level was
toward people, and how easily I could halter it, lead it, and I'd
establish what kind of personality it had and what its basic manners
were like.

It *never* occurred to me to get on and ride, just for the sake of
riding. Whilst on the ground and in the stall, I also established
what kind of pressure the horse could stand and how it reacted to
different things. That way, I could gauge what I needed to do, I could
gauge what habits needed to be fixed on the ground, and I could attempt
to gauge what difficulties the horse had with certain aspects of training.

The next thing I *always* did was to put the horse in the round pen
to see how it moved. I also did this to make sure the horse could relax
and work comfortably. All this was done before I ever put a stitch of
tack on the horse. When the horse showed me that it was capable of
moving off relaxed and with ease, and was attentive, then I started
ground exercises to show the horse the new rules without pressure.

I could go on and on, but I guess the whole point of this post was
to ask, why do folks call themselves trainers when they appear
to lack the basics themselves? If you can't read a horse, and you
are not willing to give the horse the necessary kindergarten education
it might take to start that horse over again in a new career, then
how can you be a true horseman? A honest to goodness trainer ought
to be able to read a horse and ought to be able to formulate a plan
based on what that particular horse shows you, and not have to go into
a lot of unnecessary background. Background is only a nicety. The whole
point here is that whether or not that horse was abused, or whether
it was an english horse or a western horse, or a carriage horse,
or a war horse, today is a new day and the new education begins today.
And to begin a new career, you have to have a basic set of skills
on which to build a future.

I have a horse now (one that I bought) who's a morgan cross. He's a basket
case and sure, I'd love to know what has happened to him, but I never
will. But that has not stopped me making progress in his training.
We make progress every day because we essentially started over on a
lot of stuff, and it was not all that necessary to just get up and ride
him every day.

My whole point is that lots of folks call themselves trainers, and I
always believed that if a person was really a good trainer, they'd
have to skills to retrain as well as to train. And to train or to
retrain, a person has to be able to red a horse, understand what
he appears to be capable of, and then start over with the new education
building on the basics even if you have to teach new basics. It
always seemed elementary to me. It's time consuming, but that's what
I always thought it took, to do the right job.

Sue Littlefield

"Looking the part helps get the chance to fill it. But if you fill the
part it matters not if you look it."  Malcolm Forbes

L7 Ranch, Simla CO
breeding Quarter Horses and commercial Corriente cattle
sue period littlefield at lmco period com  

 
 
 

training questions posed by trainers

Post by Eiya » Thu, 09 Apr 1998 04:00:00

<<I could go on and on, but I guess the whole point of this post was
to ask, why do folks call themselves trainers when they appear
to lack the basics themselves? >>

<<My whole point is that lots of folks call themselves trainers, and I
always believed that if a person was really a good trainer, they'd
have to skills to retrain as well as to train.>>

My first question is why is follow-up to this post only allowed via email??

To the issue of trainers - I don't think being a "trainer" is necessarily any
more inclusive than any other profession.  Doctors specialize in different
fields - while some "specialize" in general practice, they send patients to
specialists when needed.  Likewise, trainers come with all sorts of skills.  I
know some very creditable trainers that only deal with upper level horses.
Someone else gives their horses the foundations upon which these trainers work.
 Other trainers excel in laying the foundation work.  I could go on, but surely
you get the point.  

I don't specifically remember the post you refer to, but I would tend to think
that any trainer that posted a training question on this board should be
commended for seeking advice for a situation they felt they needed help with.
Seeking knowledge should be applauded - not criticized.  I've been involved
with horses for close to 40 yrs. and I can't think of one single trainer who
"knows it all". While I am a trainer/instructor myself, I am in a constant
state of learning.  
Ann  

 
 
 

training questions posed by trainers

Post by Joel B Lev » Fri, 10 Apr 1998 04:00:00



  [stuff]
:
:My first question is why is follow-up to this post only allowed via email??

Again?  You're not the first AOLer who has had that reaction to Sue's
articles, but I'm damned if I can see any reason in the headers for you not
to be able to do a normal follow-up.  I'll bet there's something in AOL's
newsreader; maybe you could try to get the attention of one of their helpful
support folks and ask them why you can't follow up?

        /JBL

--


POTS: (617)873-3463  |  stood with all her faculties rooted to the floor."
ARS:  KD1ON          |                                  -- S. J. Perelman

 
 
 

training questions posed by trainers

Post by Eiya » Fri, 10 Apr 1998 04:00:00

Joel suggests:

Quote:
> maybe you could try to get the attention of one of
> their helpful support folks...

Thanks for the laugh, Joel.  :-)
Ann
 
 
 

training questions posed by trainers

Post by Benedicte Bascl » Fri, 10 Apr 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

> It was interesting to me to read questions posed by a trainer
> to this forum. Mainly the questions posed by the lady trying
> to retrain the morgan horse.

> I must be a bad trainer. I have restarted *many* horses, started
> lots of them from scratch, and I used to take in, quite routinely,
> mental cases and problem horses that needed a serious overhaul.

> Now, being the bad trainer that I must be, the first thing I *always*
> did, was a let down. I'd take them in and do *nothing* with them for a
> couple of weeks. This let down was always accompanied with a grass
> hay only diet. And during those 2 weeks, <....>

I think you are overreacting a bit, Sue. In an ideal world, anyone
would do like you do. But most trainers need to get results in as
small a time as possible, because their clients won't pay for the
extra 2 weeks of horsey relaxation, or because the horse belongs to a
school who wants to put it to work asap. It didn't look like the
original poster was unknowledgeable, or not concerned with the welfare
of the horse. May be she's very competent with youngsters, or
retraining peanut-rollers, and simply has never retrained horses with
a very high had carriage before. I think it is very commendable that
she ackowledged her lack of experience in the area and asked for
advice, instead of trying the first thing she could think of.

Benedicte

 
 
 

training questions posed by trainers

Post by AlaTmP » Fri, 10 Apr 1998 04:00:00

Sue,

I guess trainers now a days feel that retraining a horse requires different
skills than the initial training process.  This is really a shame.  These
"trainers" get so fixated on the history of the horse that they cant work on
the horse in front of them.

Granted that retraining a horse is more difficult(more time consuming) than the
initial training, but basics are basics and most problems that I have run into
with horses have been with basics.  Once they have the basics reconfirmed for
them the problems that existed seem to fix themselves.  Granted one or two
horses will require a little extra  help, but this is due to a lack of
confidence rather than not knowing.

Because so many trainers today specialize(cutting, reining, etc.) they will
farm out their colt starting to others and then work with a 90 day horse.  The
attitude at this level is if the horse,  mentally and physically,  stands up to
what is thrown at it then fine, if not  then sell it and let it become someone
else's problem.  I'm retraining one of these now, and she didnt get a good
start in basics and thats where we are now.  Day by day she is calming and more
accepting as she realizes that she does know the answers and her confidence in
herself grows.  I personally would like to meet the "TRAINER" that did this to
her and give him some of his own medicine with a hot shot.  But in the meantime
will just keep helping this mare.  Now all I have to do is train the owner LOL.

Bill

 
 
 

training questions posed by trainers

Post by Sue Littlefie » Fri, 10 Apr 1998 04:00:00

Regarding people's statements that I'm "over reacting" or that
I'm condemning those who ask advice, I have this question
to ask of you: why am I not entitled to my questions or
viewpoints as you are entitled to yours? I did not make an
issue specifically, I did not infer that the person was inept.
I simply stated my views as I see them.

Out here, there are lots of 30 day wonders produced every day. There are
also lots of 30 day wonders tht end up at the sale because their minds
are blown. When someone takes on a "retraining" case, those horses,
by default, require a LOT more time than the simple start from scratch
types. If you don't know that, then you are the one who should be asking
questions.

If feel that any trainer who takes a horse in who is a retraining
project, and isn't honest with the owner about the time requirement,
then that trainer should not be in the business as that trainer likes
to take money from people and nothing else. I'm tired of those types
pollutng the world for the honest trainers out there, who tell people
what to expect and paint an honest picture. If that triner is a
"spit and polish" trainer, I ask what she is doing with a retraining
case anyway when the case clearly warrants starting over. If that
person is not a trainer who gets involved with the basics, she should
have tunred the horse away.

Ann said:
 Doctors specialize in different
fields - while some "specialize" in general practice, they send patients to
specialists when needed.  Likewise, trainers come with all sorts of skills.
 I
know some very creditable trainers that only deal with upper level horses.
Someone else gives their horses the foundations upon which these trainers
work.

That's true Ann, but if that's the case, then starting this horse
over from scratch (which from the description is what this horse
needs) is something that this person should not have taken a client's
money for. This horse should have gone to the appropriate person for
the job.

There are no quotes more true than those from "Don't Squat with
Yer Spurs On" that say:

"Pick the right horse for the job." and "It's rare to find a
horse that everyone agrees is the best in the herd."

My issue is, and was, that trainers have an obligation to their
paying public. That obligation is this: if you are out of your
element, don't take the job. If you do, you are not serving your
paying public as well as you should. You owe your paying public
the best of your skills and you owe them results. However, if you
are so determined to get results that you cost a horse its sanity,
then again, you have provided the worst DISservice anyone has to offer.

Every retraining case I take I explain the time commitment, in detail,
so the owner can make the best decision available to him/her. I also
reduce my fees for preliminary evaluation work so that I have a good
feeling in my heart that I am being fair to my clients and the horses
in my care. I consider myself to be competent in a number of areas,
and am considered by others as competent. However, I would not
take a horse in to train it english, I specialize in problem cases
(mainly retraining horses that have mental disorders) and I specialize
in starting and finishing team roping horses. I know my limitations.

However, if you take in a horse that needs something that you are
not qualified to deliver, then you should not have taken that horse.
I give horses a couple weeks of evaluation before I commit. What
the owner gets charged for this is a feed bill. If there are not more
trainers like me out there, who do their best to be fair to their
clients and who do the best possible for the horses, then I'm really
saddened that the industry has degraded so badly.

Ann said:
I don't specifically remember the post you refer to, but I would tend to
think
that any trainer that posted a training question on this board should be
commended for seeking advice for a situation they felt they needed help
with.
Seeking knowledge should be applauded - not criticized.  I've been involved
with horses for close to 40 yrs. and I can't think of one single trainer
who
"knows it all". While I am a trainer/instructor myself, I am in a constant
state of learning.

Sure, it's always good to get advice, because no matter how good you
are, there's always someone better. And the day *I* stop learning about
horses will be due to my having stopped living. My post was about people
taking in horses for training who don't have the basic knowledge themselves
in the area required, to have taken the job on to begin with.

Benedicte said:
In an ideal world, anyone would do like you do.

No, in a honest world, people do what I do. I train horses, and I
have an obligation to those horses. My obligation is to give them
what *THEY* need. If I'm so worried about 2 weeks of reduced fees
to give a horse what IT needs, then I should not be in the business.
What is good for the horse, is good for the owner. If the owner
does not recognize that, I won't take the job.

Benedicte also said:
But most trainers need to get results in as
small a time as possible,

Yup, hence the 30 day wonders that I pick up cheap at the sale barn.
And guess what? When that happens, the owner's dreams are usually
shattered, and the trainer's reputation is usually shot with that
person. IMHO, that's what's wrong with the training world; so
much emphasis on making money, so little emphasis on making horses...

More..
because their clients won't pay for the
extra 2 weeks of horsey relaxation,

That's because the owners support the 30 day wonder school of horse
training. That's because owners don't really want to spend what a
quality education takes. And what came first, the chicken or the egg?
Unfair trainer pricing, or stingy owners?
As long as those practices remain, people like me will stay in business
fixing the broken minds and broken bodies that the 30 day method turns
out.

Also, I take issue with your use of the term "horsey relaxation".
If you knew horses, or knew a thing about training, you'd know it
was as much psychological as physical. If you don't get into a
horse's head, how can you educate it??  If you can't read a horse
and understand what its limitations and anxieties are, how can
you be successful with it? My whole point was based on "retraining'
a horse, that's usually a case of a horse that has a problem. How
can you fix a problem that you have not taken the time to understand
in the first place?

Most of the problems I see and deal with are *casued* by those who
won't spend the time necessary to understand a particular horse,
and who think that education can be crammed into a horse's head,
just like that. If you don't spend the time getting to know a horse
before you try to inject that educaton, you are setting the stage
for failure, both for you and the horse.

Each horse on this planet is an individual, just like we are. Some
horses learn well from the school of hard knocks, others need a
velvet glove. I bought a mare from a man who had sent this mare to
one of the nation's top reining horse trainers. In 60 days the trainer
called and told this man to come get his mare, it wasn't working.
The mare had blown so many gaskets that she was a mental wreck
and was no longer suitable to be around. She'd kick your brains out
if she could and did kick this man when he got her home. I bought her
for kill price because she was not safe. She had been pushed to
the "fight back or die" point, and instead of backing off, and trying
to understand that this mare needed a different approach, the trainer
pushed until the mare mentally failed. In summary, she was ruined and
was 4 years old. The man was not qualified to fix her and had
already spent a bundle to get her mind blown. I bought her for
a song, and did my usual routine, and in 2 months was using her as
a school horse. Getting into their heads can be *very* effective,
but you have to be willing to do that.  

Still more:
or because the horse belongs to a
school who wants to put it to work asap.

Yup,they'll put that sucker to work asap, even if the foundation
has;'t been properly laid. Afterall, it's all a matter of economics
isn't it? That's why there are broken horses, broken minds, broken
hearts, and shattered dreams.

I was reading recently in one of my english rider mags, that the
top trainers in the worl, spend plenty of time letting thier
client's horses down, and then restarting one step at a time
to overcome problems. And, as those trainers are the world's best,
and the owners are apparently high caliber, they pay it, and the
good trainer gives the horse what it *needs*. What I find most
interesting is that the world's best english and western trainers
are qualified and often do start colts and proceed to put on more
spit and polish than most of us will ever see. That's a *good* trainer.
People who spend client's money only schooling at the top make me wonder
how they got their education in the first place. Because you have
to crawl before you walk, and you walk before you run. Look at Lynn
Palm (can't remember her new name). Tell me that she isn't qualified
to take a horse back down to ground zero to fix a problem or to teach
it something new. She'd probably be the first to turn away from someone
who thought something could be accomplished in 30-60 days, or who
thought that starting over was a bad idea.

Benedicte said:
...and simply has never retrained horses with
a very high had carriage before.

Nor have I, but I'll tell ya what, the first thing that horse
needs to figure out is how to lower that high head and how to relax.
It's not a tough concept, and lots of ground work will accomplish that
pretty easily. Trying to ride it out is the wrong approach.

[...] and asked for advice, instead of trying the first thing she
could think of.

If she had a decent foundation in her own skills, she should know
that the horse needs to learn to relax and travel with its back ...

read more »

 
 
 

training questions posed by trainers

Post by Sue Littlefie » Fri, 10 Apr 1998 04:00:00

stuff that I agree with wholeheartedly, deleted...

Quote:
> I personally would like to meet the "TRAINER" that did this to
> her and give him some of his own medicine with a hot shot.

Oh buddy, I know the trainer that fouled up the mare I bought
for a song (top reining ***lines to boot, Handy Bonanza
bred mare). He quit training finally (deep sigh of relief).

  But in the meantime

Quote:
> will just keep helping this mare.  Now all I have to do is train the owner LOL.

> Bill

AMEN!!!!!! I find that the owners are the most difficult part.
I speak horse pretty well, I don't speak owner worth a poop :-)
But it's kinda like someone's signature file read, the more I know
people, the better I like my horse (or something to that effect).
As far as friends go, I'd take a horse anyday :-)

Sue

"Looking the part helps get the chance to fill it. But if you fill the
part it matters not if you look it."  Malcolm Forbes

L7 Ranch, Simla CO
breeding Quarter Horses and commercial Corriente cattle
sue period littlefield at lmco period com  

 
 
 

training questions posed by trainers

Post by cele.. » Fri, 10 Apr 1998 04:00:00

-excellent post Sue.
cm

 
 
 

training questions posed by trainers

Post by W kyo » Sat, 11 Apr 1998 04:00:00

Sue,

You may know everything about all horses, but most of us don't.  Ithink the
poster did well to acknowledge something out of her normal knowledge.  I think
she did well to present her situation to a board of people with vast knowledge
over many topics.  Any trainer that "knows everything" is dangerous in my mind.

 
 
 

training questions posed by trainers

Post by Eiya » Sat, 11 Apr 1998 04:00:00

<<My post was about people taking in horses for training
<< who don't have the basic knowledge themselves
<<in the area required, to have taken the job on to
<<begin with.

I understand what you're saying - but I'm not so sure it's that cut and dried -
at least in all cases.  I can usually "assess" a horse pretty accurately in a
fairly short period of time.  But there have been a number of horses that
"surprised" me.  Either they responded much more readily than I had expected,
or they were more difficult than I had expected.  If I took on a horse that
later showed problems I hadn't anticipated, I wouldn't necessarily tell the
owner to find another trainer.  If it was a problem I was unsure of, I would
probably ask someone I knew for their opinion - or I would try a few different
things to see if one worked.  Bottom line - training horses is not a black and
white procedure.  One person might succeed with a horse because they "connect"
where another trainer - even one with better skills - had failed.  

I think if the original poster had felt she "really" couldn't deal with this
horse, she would have said so.  But I think she probably ran into a problem she
hadn't had much experience with and wanted some advice.  How do you think
trainers learn??  Every horse we get our hands on is a guinea pig to some
degree.  After dealing with many different horses/problems, we accumulate a
sizeable "tool chest".  But we did alot of experimenting along the way.  Maybe
not what you owners want to hear, but it's reality.

<<Lastly, if I ever use an outside trainer, I will NOT
<< use one that is not capable of going back to ground
<< zero if it's warranted.

I would agree with this - "if it's warranted".  I have my own little "tests" I
do with any horse to determine any "holes" in his training.   If I find a hole,
I fix it.  But if I don't find any, I don't take the time just for the sake of
taking the time.  IOW, I don't say "I'm going to spend 2 weeks learning this
horse" if I can find out the same information in 2 minutes.  Basically, I agree
with much of what you say.  But it all boils down to "interaction" between 2
different species and 2 different personalities.  And the combinations possible
are infinite.  Which means we can never say "never", and we can never say
"always".  
Ann

 
 
 

training questions posed by trainers

Post by CATHERINE ALEXANDRA PAFO » Sat, 11 Apr 1998 04:00:00


Quote:
>It was interesting to me to read questions posed by a trainer
>to this forum. Mainly the questions posed by the lady trying
>to retrain the morgan horse.

Ok. Maybe people should be more careful with deeming themselves 'trainers' -
after all, every rider of a certain level should be able to keep his horse on a
certain standard and, if possible, advance him. Which makes all of us trainers.

I'm quite in favour of people asking questions. I do it myself. And quite often
those are questions where I *think* I know an answer - but it might not be
'the' answer or I might get additional input from the other side.

Different horses pose different questions. If you presented me with a 'park
horse' I wouldn't know exactly what to do - because I lack experience with the
particular problems bad execution of that style seems to bring with it. OTOH,
I'm quite familiar with stonewallers, since I grew up with one and rode another
one for some time - and many experienced riders just don't know when to use
LESS aids on a horse that slows down and ignores them. So, if you've never been
in a certain situation, what you'd do instinctively can be VERY MUCH the wrong
thing - and it could be bad for your health.
Asking questions of other people who've been there isn't a bad thing.

Quote:
>Now, being the bad trainer that I must be, the first thing I *always*
>did, was a let down. I'd take them in and do *nothing* with them for a
>couple of weeks.
<snip>
>It *never* occurred to me to get on and ride, just for the sake of
>riding.

Sometimes you know you're dealing with a nutcase/a horse that has been
abused/illtrained. Fine. You know what to do. But, to play devil's advocate
here, in some cases you are not initially aware just HOW DEEP the holes in a
horse's training are - especially if someone else, with the necessary skill,
can make the horse look like a trained horse. The decision to go back to
initial trainig and to assume that the horse does not know anything at all is
pretty easy in the case of an OTT TB - but a horse that does *more or less*
what it's supposed to may only show the problems consecutively.

I think your programme for restarting a horse is very sound and admireable. But
I've been in the situation where I had to carry on riding a retraining prospect
because there was zilch turnout and it was the only way I could provide him
with adequate exercise.

Quote:
>The whole
>point here is that whether or not that horse was abused, or whether
>it was an english horse or a western horse, or a carriage horse,
>or a war horse, today is a new day and the new education begins today.
>And to begin a new career, you have to have a basic set of skills
>on which to build a future.

I find it's the safest to assume that the horse has had no education/training
at all, and to take him very slowly along the lines I'd train a green horse -
if he can do it, we move on, if he can't, I can fix it there and then. And I
don't move on until the basics are established.

Catja

 
 
 

training questions posed by trainers

Post by Sue Littlefiel » Sat, 11 Apr 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

> Sue,

> You may know everything about all horses, but most of us don't.  Ithink the
> poster did well to acknowledge something out of her normal knowledge.  I think
> she did well to present her situation to a board of people with vast knowledge
> over many topics.  Any trainer that "knows everything" is dangerous in my mind.

To the anonymous poster here:
Interesting, you must not be able to read for comprehension.
In my post I said I knew my limitations. I never claimed
to know it all. Go back to reading 101 then get back with me.

Sue Littlefield
L7 Ranch