Trainer vs. Rider

I’ve been doing this riding thing for a long time and I hate that I’m still only riding Training Level, but I realized today that I’m not as bad as I thought.  But I also solidified something else I’ve been thinking about for a while.  There are two types of people who profess to ride well: those who can ride a broke horse and make it look good (riders), and those who can actually train a horse to do something (trainers).  And while all trainers are good riders, not all riders are good trainers.  To go one one step further, you can be a good rider and not a good trainer but to be a great rider, you need to be at least a good trainer.  And it’s definitely possible for a rider to learn to be a trainer, although it doesn’t seem that many want to because it takes a lot of work and if they are given or can afford nice, broke horses, why should they.  Nevertheless, too many people put out shingles saying they are a trainer when they are really just a good rider.  On the flip side, there are some (rare) amateurs who are very good trainers.  For the most part, I think we amateurs really profess to want to be good riders but sometimes get confused and think we should be trainers, which is where I’ve been finding myself.

I am definitely in the rider category, which is a step up from the failure category that I was beginning to believe I belonged.  Unfortunately, I keep picking up green horses, thinking I could be in the trainer camp.  However, I don’t think all of my efforts are wasted and that by trying to train PJ and my last horse, and several before them, I’ve become a better rider than I would have if I had only had broke horses.  Now, why the switch from failure to rider?  Because as Bridget’s been riding PJ, he’s become more consistent.  Now when I get on, I can actually maintain, and more importantly, build on what he offers (I had a good lesson today).  Also, when I got on Jesse, Bridget’s PSG schoolmaster, or Phoenix, I could actually ride them half-way decently.

I’m seeing the light at the end of the Training Level tunnel.  I’m hoping that by continuing to have Bridget train PJ, I can actually concentrate on becoming a better rider. By becoming the best rider I can be and leaving the training to the professionals, I feel I am being the most fair I can be to PJ, and that’s my overall goal.

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2 Responses to Trainer vs. Rider

  1. Dom says:

    I think the fact that you are AWARE of all this makes you a much better rider (and owner) than most. There are so many Riders who tell themselves they are Trainers because they’re the only ones riding their horses, and that’s a dangerous concept. Realizing that you can ride your horse well at his ability is the first step to bettering your horse, whether it be through hiring a trainer or bettering your own riding on more advanced horses. Denial is a powerful thing and you see a lot of it on the Rider-Trainer border.

  2. Net says:

    I’m lucky in that I own a horse who deludes me into thinking I’m a better trainer than I actually am, and I just bought an unstarted two year old who will help me understand humility and why it is I have a trainer rather than just an instructor with whom I ride. 🙂
    But as far as your riding, don’t believe your trouble with forward means you can’t teach anything. At times we hit road blocks where we may not truly understand something well enough to learn how to teach our horse to do it. That’s why surrounding yourself with talented professionals is important. But good for you for admitting you’re at one of those road blocks – it does not mean either you OR PJ are doomed to the lower levels; it just means you learned an area where your ability to teach is weaker and you needed help from the outside. No shame in that, no harm in admitting it, and you should take pride in your ability to see and admit that you needed help!

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