Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hey horse trainers? Why didn't you just do this?


I know I have a lot of readers who spent years, and years, and years as working students/apprentices to big name trainers in order to learn. You mucked stalls, you pulled manes, you slept in stalls at horse shows, you longed horses who tried to charge at you, you showed in 100 degree heat and broke ice out of the buckets in 10 degree cold...all that, for years and years, in order to learn what you know now.

Well, apparently, you could have avoided it all by taking a three week course! An alert reader sent me the web site for a guy in Minnesota who is offering a three week horse training course. After perusing the web site, I have determined that this is the place to go if you want to learn how to load a horse into the bed of a pickup truck, walk through a circle of balloons, or sit down and kiss you on the ear. (But apparently not lead without a stud chain...)

You guys know I never think much of these kind of theatrics. I'm more impressed if you show me a horse who will walk, trot and canter for an intermediate rider, pick up his leads, stop and stand quietly on a loose rein, get into the horse trailer without drama, etc. Ever notice THAT horse is a lot harder to find in today's world than a horse you can throw a tarp at? I can find horses who will push a ball with their nose on every corner, but try to find one who picks up a lead on command in the center of the arena.

But people, sadly, are not impressed by useful skills. They are impressed by silly theatrics. And that is why people are paying - are you ready? $7500 for three weeks of instruction. Good grief.

"During the 3-week class each student will train a horse the basics; neck reining, backing-up, sliding stop, and other basic handling techniques, such as; halter training, gentling, sacking, controlled and free longing, bitting, and flexing. Students will also desensitize their horse to gunfire and ATV's." OK, whoa, back up. We're gonna go from halter breaking to sliding stops in three weeks? WHAT? I sure hope that is not on the same horse! If it is, I'm gonna set up shop next door to him - it's going to be a rehab program for mind-blown horses coming out of his program. I'll only charge you another $7500 to get their brain back in their head. Unfortunately, that part is going to take a lot longer than three weeks...

What bugs me about this is that you know people are coming to "horse training school" without even intermediate riding skills. You know it. So what are they really getting for their $7500? They are probably getting some useful instruction in ground work and how to work around a horse, but would 150 riding lessons have gotten them a lot closer to their goal of being an actual horse trainer? OF COURSE!

(Or, you know, you could apprentice with an actual trainer...for fact you often get paid something for that or at least you get a place to live and fed...I know a lot of people who would happily give a place to live and meals to someone who reliably did the work with the horses they had agreed to do...of course that is pretty much a whole other blog topic!)

A fool and his/her money...that's all l have to say about it. Wow.

P.S. Yes, all the horses look happy and healthy. I have no criticisms of the facility from what I can see and the man has nice stallions. I am merely commenting on the phenomenal waste of money that would have been better invested in improving riding skills which would help create an actual horse trainer out of some of these students!

FHOTD welcomes a new sponsor - the Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation. This is a Wisconsin based rescue which is competing in the Care2 contest for America's Favorite Animal Shelter which will award $10,000 to a worthy animal rescue. MHWF is the only equine rescue among the top 10 front runners, so please consider giving them your vote!