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Dear Dana: My Dream is to be a horse trainer… what steps can I take?

By DANA HOKANA / Horsetrader columnist - February 17th, 2010 - Q&A Dear Dana

DEAR DANA: I have always wanted to be a horse trainer, and I am going to start to try to fulfill my dreams in becoming one. Can you provide me some information about what it takes to be a trainer, and what to expect?
–Lacy Thompson, Moberly, MO.

DEAR LACY: How wise you are in seeking information about becoming a horse trainer before just starting a business. The first thing that I recommend that you do is to give thought to what events you want to train for. Also, do you want to train horses and people for shows, and if so, at what level do you want to show? Local shows? World class shows? Breed shows or Open shows? Anyone can hang their shingle and be a horse trainer, but strive to be excellent at whatever you do!
Another key step: Be qualified. You do that by doing your homework and taking the time necessary to being the best you can be. It takes years to develop the skills needed to be a good horse trainer. You will need to develop feel and timing in your riding.

Also, the discernment and wisdom to learn to read horses and decipher what is needed to overcome a problem when it presents itself. You will need “people skills” also, as you don’t just deal with the horses, you have the owners as well. There are many trainers that are great with horses, but not with people. There are also great riders who aren’t good teachers. Identify your strong points as well as your weaknesses, then you can work on your weaker areas.

As a next step, write down your goals. Then, from that, research those whom are some of the best trainers in the area you pick. Contact them and see if they have an apprenticeship program.
I tell people that they should commit to work for someone for five years. It takes a long time to learn someone’s program. Also, make sure the person you will work for is willing to spend time teaching you!

These are the steps I would recommend you take in order to lay a good foundation for yourself. You’ll be ready to go out on your own as a trainer. Then, you will need to find a good facility, and get an insurance policy. I recommend a liability and care, custody and control policy. You will need a truck and trailer if you are going to shows.

It is a lot of work, but is fulfilling to see riders and horses progress and to help people to achieve their dreams!

Best of luck to you!


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