#TBT: The 7 Trainers You’ll Encounter in Your Life

The Mentor, the Motivator, the “Magical Unicorn”… which of the following best describes YOUR trainer?

Confession: I am a barn-hopper. Since the Bank of Mom and Dad stopped subsidizing my horse habit in high school, I’ve ridden at all kinds of barns and with all kinds of people as part of my neverending scheme to get my butt in the saddle. So when it comes to trainers, over the years I’ve encountered the good, the bad and the ugly…as well as some truly amazing ones.

The Motivator: This kind of trainer makes you want to drop your stirrups and do laps. He or she is an amazing rider–and though some lead by quiet example and others are outwardly encouraging, this kind of trainer makes you feel like you can achieve greatness too. Even if you can barely sit the trot.

The One Who Literally Has No Clue: She may have dozens of students in the ribbons at shows. Or he may have a stable full of adoring acolytes, and all the trappings of success–a barn you’d like to live in, imported horses, and monogrammed everything. But once you escape the echo chamber, and you enthusiastically crank and yank your way through tryouts for your college riding club, you will be extremely confused and embarrassed at the holes in your education, and you’ll basically have to learn to ride all over again. Ask me how I know.


My arms and legs are there, but just for show. Complete passenger-itis!

The One Who Has a Clue But Can’t Explain It: This person can make a Mustang ride like a Ferrari. Unfortunately for the rest of us, a God-given talent for bringing the best out of horses doesn’t always translate into teaching ability for humans. You might end up frustrated and asking why, why can’t I ride my horse?! Then years later, someone else will explain that  jamming one’s heels down isn’t just for looks, and suddenly you’ll be able to use your legs properly. Again, ask me how I know.

The Mentor: This kind of trainer gives more than she gets. She takes pleasure in enabling the horse-crazy by trailering out for fun adventures just because, or letting you catch rides on her horses, or sharing her favorite training books and videos. If you’re lucky enough to encounter a trainer like this, you’ll never forget all of the special things he or she has done for you without a second thought.

The Clinician: You may not see this trainer much–but when you do, you improve by leaps and bounds. He or she will challenge you in creative ways and push you to do things you never thought possible.

The Voice From Beyond: This trainer may not be a trainer at all–it might be a book, or a blog, or something you see in a show like Calleva or something. For me, it was the Rita Mae Brown mystery books that gave me the foxhunting bug. Whatever the source, you’ll find yourself going back again and again for inspiration and knowledge, and learn something new every time.

The Magical Unicorn: This person is elusive and rare, but they do exist (unlike magical unicorns), and combines everything you want in a trainer and a human in general. He or she is knowledgeable, inspirational, and completely knows how to communicate with you in a way you’ll understand. Over the years the relationship moves from professional to trusted friend–and you always know they’ve got your back. Even if your back is laying in the arena dust.


How would you describe your trainer? Share in the comments below!

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