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Starting your own colt
Colt Starting Quiz
Problem Horses, part 1
Fear Problems, part 2
Bad Actors, part 3
The Cold Backed Horse
Want to Compete?
Bit Basics
Going Places
Common Sense, Horse Sense
Horsemen's Christmas
Rainy Day Training
Try Something Different!
Green Broke
Resolution Time
Going in Circles
Hot Enough for Ya?
Pleasure or Equitation?
Return to Work Carefully
Saving your "Good Stuff"
Holding Western Reins
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Cold Weather Warm Up
Expect the Unexpected, 1
Expect the Unexpected, 2
Bad Attitude
Horse of a Better Color?
Power of Exercise
Importance of the Herd
Bath Time
Even Up
Choosing a Martingale
A Good Night's Sleep
Alternative Therapies, Part One
Alternative Therapies, Part Two
Get the Most out of a Clinic
Blanket or No Blanket?
Does Practice Make Perfect?
A Change of Pace
The Power of Observation
On Line Horse Trading
The Right Horse at the Right Time
Putting On A Show
Weather Or Not
A Lifetime of Stall Cleaning
Water Obstacles

Who’s Your Trainer?

There are some riding disciplines that thoroughly embrace trainers and instructors. Dressage, for example, encourages everyone, no matter how experienced, successful or well-known, to participate in feedback and training sessions. It is considered a given that no rider can improve without the critical eye of another horseman to help them interpret the ongoing training of the horse. Unfortunately there are a certain number of riders who, for a variety of reasons, seem resistant to ever taking a lesson, or asking for advice. I run into them occasionally and am often befuddled by this attitude.

Horse owners have brought horses in for training because of specific problems -- one such situation involved a mare who was terribly nervous and would run off. Since I knew this mare before the current owner had bought her (and knew that she had come from a very competent trainer), I suggested to the owner that he take a few lessons to get himself and the horse on the same page.

“Oh, no!” the owner insisted. “I don’t DO lessons!” It only took a few minutes of watching the man ride, pulling on the reins, grabbing with his heels, and pounding hard in the saddle, to know that without the fellow learning to ride there was nothing I could do to help his poor horse, other than suggest that he sell her. I never did figure out why this owner, who had so much to gain by taking some instruction, refused any help.

I have had riders tell me “I’ve been riding all my life” as if that makes them a good horseman. Unfortunately simply getting on and practicing bad habits for years does not make one a competent horseman. Other riders might admit that riding under a critical eye makes them nervous, or that they have had bad experiences with instructors in the past. There are many types of teaching styles and if one has had a demeaning experience with an instructor, they should be aware that there are plenty of positive, fun instructors out there who can ease their fears.

So, when does a rider “know enough?” Many of us say, never! There is always something more to learn, another way of doing something, or an insight into better riding. Accomplished riders need to seek out mentors, just as beginning riders do. It might take some time to find the trainer who best suits you, but it is well worth the search. Even working a few times a year with the right instructor – to assess one’s progress, set new goals and get that “fresh-view” feedback can keep a program on track. And let’s not forget the positive reinforcement. When your mentor compliments you or your horse, it’s some of the best encouragement one can have!

So I strongly encourage riders to attend clinics, take a few lessons, even find a friend with a good eye to provide feedback. I do it myself, and find it to be an invaluable experience.


Doris Eraldi of Eraldi Training in Potter Valley, specializes in training for all around horsemanship. She can be contacted at 707-743-1337, or by e-mail, or read her blog at Horseman's Diary

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