ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP WITH A TRAINER.
Whether you have a horse or not, find a trainer who does lessons for adults. You’ll be surprised how many of them only do lessons for kids from 9am to 4pm.
Start by traversing google and facebook. Googling something like “western horse lessons ThisCity, State” should bring up some results. You can also google boarding facilities in the area. Many of them will have a trainer associated with them. Google “horse boarding ThisCity, State”. Some trainers have their own facilities, in which case, you can google for “performance horses near ThisCity, State”. Facebook is also a great resource. You can search the using same keywords as above or find a state/area wide horse forum and post a question. Everyone on the facebook group should be willing to help if they can. To find these you can facebook search “horse state” ex: horse Colorado.
Once you have a list of trainers to contact, here are some questions to ask.
- Do you provide lessons for adults?
- I have a busy schedule, would you be willing to be a little flexible in your time? What is your cancellation policy in case I have an unexpected meeting or work trip?
- Do you have lesson horses available?
- Are they kid lesson horses or finished show horses? Which horse you end up riding will be determined by your goals and riding experience. Be open to both but if you’re wanting to show, it would be beneficial to have the option to “move up” to finished show horse which will challenge you to become a better rider.
- If they do have lesson horses, double check that they have tack that you can borrow.
- In the case that you have a horse or plan to have a horse: Do you travel or would you allow me to trailer in? What type of horse health papers do you require?
- What frequency of lessons do you recommend?
- Every week, every other week? Ultimately you’ll need to figure out what works with your schedule and budget
- How much do you charge per lesson?
- Do you provide show coaching?
- This is where they go to a show with you and help you out. It’s a good resource for the first few shows.
- If I decide to purchase a horse in the future, would you be willing to assist in the search?
- Most trainers offer this service and it is NICE! They have a lot of contacts to find a horse that fits your skill level and goals. If you buy a horse from a reputable trainer, then the seller pays your trainer a little commission. If you purchase from someone who’s not a trainer, then you’ll usually need to pay your trainer a little bit for their time. Either way, it is worth the money to do this.
- What disciplines are your focus as a trainer and what do you teach?
- It’ll usually be obvious on their website or facebook but sometimes it’s not. If you’re wanting basic western, something more specialized like reining, English, or a combination of disciplines, make sure they offer them. If they don’t offer what you’re looking for, ask them if they know someone in the area they can recommend.
What to expect from contacting trainers:
They’ll usually ask you a little about your experience with horses and your goals. Be honest when you tell them, do not by shy or ashamed if you haven’t touched a horse ever or in 10 years. They need to gauge where you are and what the best horse is for you so you can learn the most while staying safe. Expect to sign a waiver, if they don’t have one, be a little weary. Several trainers offer the first lesson for free, this gives you the freedom to see if you work well together, if the lessons are instructive, and it gives the trainer the ability to gauge your riding level and if they can continue to help you.
Some other important notes.
Be honest, dependable, and have an open mind. It’s okay if a trainer isn’t a good fit, you can tell them and amicably part ways. Don’t be too flakey. They’re usually understandable that work/life happens but remember this is how they make a living. They won’t prioritize you if you postpone a lot, especially if it’s last minute. Finally, you’re paying them for criticism. It sounds harsh but you only get better/ show worthy if you keep an open mind and take their critiques/advice to heart.