I have been pondering this question for a while: when is it okay to ignore a trainer’s input or viewpoint? I feel awkward even blogging about this because 1.) I respect my current and former horse trainers tremendously and I don’t want anyone to think I’m writing about them, because I’m not and 2.) I’m a rule follower/authority respecter.
Regular readers of this blog know my day job is as a teacher. In that role I’m constantly learning –which means I’m really still a student–and being introduced to experts on various subjects (like this one who made me realize riding horses is good for brain health).
Given my high respect for authority and keen awareness that I am not an expert, it just seems wrong to doubt someone who is a professional and has more experience in the realm of all things horse. Most of the time, that is.
However, are there times when as a horse owner/lover we have to trust our own judgment and NOT listen to the expert? Are there times when we should definitely ignore a trainer’s input?
Two stories I’ve heard recently made me start thinking about this subject.
Story #1: Less Than Ideal Conformation
The first was a friend who rode in a clinic with a locally recognized trainer/horse show judge. I’m told the trainer was really kind, and an excellent communicator but inadvertently pointed out my friend’s horse’s conformation shortcomings by describing how the “ideal” horse would be put together in the hind end and how that better conformation would be better for things like transitions, lead changes, better form over a fence. Better, better, better.
My friend had a good ride, but came away thinking that her horse was mildly defective and not capable of a basic level of athleticism required for showing locally over small fences. In short, she felt down on her horse, a horse she loves.
Thankfully, my friend said two things that happened right after this helped change her viewpoint:
1.) a rider who had no knowledge of the trainer’s clinic comments rode her horse and remarked on how excellent the horse had been in one of the areas of training that the clinician was saying the horse would supposedly not be able to do well. Fancy that!
2.) a second horse friend who is a seasoned horse person basically said to ignore the clinician feedback and that the horse is fine for her purposes.
My friend decided to disregard the input of the expert based on non-expert of advice of fellow horse lovers who are close to the situation. In short, she realized it was okay to ignore a trainer’s input/opinion.
Story #2: Not Experienced Enough to Own a Horse
The second story is based on a different friend who grew up riding and had horses for years; she was involved in 4-H as a kid. This friend was out of horses for a long time, but has gotten back into them recently. She started taking lessons with a trainer who was recommended to her by word of mouth and even found a horse she’d like to buy at that barn.
My friend has been honest with the trainer that she would like to find a barn closer to her home. Long story short, the trainer is discouraging her from buying the horse stating that she is not ready/doesn’t have enough experience to own a horse.
Interesting to note: the barn she and the horse she loves are at now is a full service training facility and my friend not only wants to board closer to her home, but she enjoys taking care of a horse. She’d like a place where she can do some of the care which is not only fulfilling to her, but much less expensive. Cheaper and closer to home.
There is no conclusion point yet to Story #2.
What are your thoughts?
Have you ever chosen to ignore a trainer’s input (or other horse professional)? Can you think of situations when the experts should be disregarded? Please share your thoughts or stories in the comments section!
P.S. This post is not intended to disrespect or minimize the importance of trainers. It’s simply a reflection on whether or not we as equestrians should listen to our guts and our fellow equestrians more than experts in some instances.