Choosing a Trainer

There are plenty of good professional horse trainers who have the skills, talent and personal integrity to help you and your horses. However, because horse trainers aren’t required to undergo licensing or certification in the United States, pretty much anyone can declare they are a professional and charge a fee for their expertise. Here are a few tips on how to find credible trainers that are the right fit for your organization.

Begin by having a clear vision of what you want to achieve with most of your horses. Do you want your horses to learn fundamental ground skills and manners so that they can be safely handled by volunteers and adopters? Do you need help advancing horses with good ground manners to under saddle training? Or, do you need professional assistance with horses that demonstrate dangerous behaviors such as striking, biting and bucking? Shop around for trainers who focus on your areas of need and can provide current, documented success. If you’re more interested in general, all-around training, or schooling to address bad habits then search for a trainer who promotes their ability to work with green or problem horses. Beware of any trainers who say they do everything. Unless they manage a staff of assistants, it’s not likely they cover all areas equally well.

Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few trainers, visit their stable and watch them work. Do the horses seem fit, healthy and happy? Do the clients seem happy? What is the overall atmosphere at the barn? Though you’re hiring a trainer for their horsemanship skills, you won’t be happy if their personality and teaching style does not fit with your organization. Ask plenty of questions and expect direct answers. Does the training fee include board? How many training sessions are included each month? Will they come to your facility to train? Will they do any pro bono or discounted work if you are a 501c3? A true professional should have printed material that explicitly spells out set fees for services.

Predicting a reasonable charge for training is difficult, because it can vary from region to region and within a region. In general, trainers working in metropolitan areas are more expensive. Trainers with a string of national champions in their barn, and who offers fancy amenities, will most likely charge more than a no-frills trainer but don’t rely simply on appearances or price to make a decision.

The HSUS and Doris Day Equine Center offer Forever Foundation created by Carter Ranch Horse, a Plan 4 Progress for The HSUS