How Do I deal with Pressure from my trainer when I like her, but feel that she is pushing me and my horse too fast?


That is an excellent question and thank you for asking it.  First of all if a trainer knows what they are doing, they will be able to teach you at your level, and only very gently challenge your comfort zone, so as to move you forward but without fear. 

A good trainer will have the best interests of the horse as their main focus, making sure that all the basics are covered: health, feet, teeth, correctly fitting tack, bodywork and a doable training schedule for the horse’s breed, discipline and level of fitness.  This is very important, so don’t go for somebody who is dangling carrots in front of you “oh you will be able to show in a month”. Really?? 

First of all you have to decide what you want to do and an honest trainer will tell you the truth about whether your goals for you and your horse are realistic. Not make you promises they can never fulfill, or worse try to get you there in way that is impossible for your horse to cope with and sacrificing the animal’s soundness along the way.  This happens a lot as people see dollar signs instead of trying to fulfill a need in a common sense way.  After all if you get hurt, frustrated and your horse goes lame, the whole purpose of riding has been lost which to me is: having fun, staying safe and learning something.

Now, with these boundaries in place, have a sit down chat with your trainer, discuss your concerns and try to come up with an amicable solution.  Some trainers are control freaks “it’s my way of the highway” and they will not give an inch in their approach, neither will they give you validation for your feelings.  They will bounce the ball back to you and make you feel that your concerns are unfounded and all in your imagination.  This is a snow job on their part to make them right and you wrong, so you stay under their thumb because you are intimidated into submission – the will train your horse the same way!!

If your trainer is willing to work with you at a place where you and the horse are comfortable, great.  IF not and they are trying to strong-arm you and force you to do things that you do not want to do, then it’s time to look for another trainer.  You are paying the bills for a service so it should suit your needs and the needs of your horse. You should be able to trust that the trainer has your best interests at heart, and the needs of your horse, and is not just lining their pocket with no regard for your feelings or the soundness of your horse.  Beware of anybody that tells you that Bute is a supplement!!

As a trainer for 30 years, I am able to teach many levels of people and horses, but not everyone is like that.  Some folks are great with beginners but do not teach the upper levels, others are great with good riders who want to show, train hard and have no fear issues.  I have the personality to be able to teach just about anybody, but that is not common in the horse world, many people specialize in a particular thing that is their strong point.  So it really depends on what you want to do and deciding if you are with the right person to teach you what you want to learn in a safe and non-aggressive way.

So sit down with your trainer – go for a coffee and get out of the confusion of the barn so you both can focus.  If you need to – make a list of concerns to keep your mind clear and the conversation on track.  IF you feel intimidated and the person gets into trying to bully you, you are not with the right person.  Otherwise see if you can work out a plan that suits both of you, it has to be a win/win situation for it to work – and good luck!