bad horse trainers
Dressage On A Dime Tips

6 Trainer Types To Stay Away From

There are many types of trainers out there.

I’ve been lucky to train for some really good instructors, but maybe you have met any of these sneakier types below?  Being able to identify them quickly solves half the trouble!

These are found in all disciplines, but somehow most often in dressage.  And yes, dressage riders still take lessons after 20 years of riding, don’t let anyone say something else.  Spend the time wisely.

Let’s get at it and meet the first 3 types!

Dressage On A Dime A Horse For Elinor

1     The Neigh Sayer

This Trainer Professor will often ask questions during the lesson, only every answer you’ve got will always be wrong.  This instructor already has a planned, single specific answer.  No matter what you have to add, it’s going to be shot down.  Your answer is always wrong.

A style that can fit many riders – just be aware that in the end, students taught this way will become more and more reluctant to answer at all.  Your own response to your riding journey is, stifled.

If dressage is an art, then art needs creativity…  Or at least an implied creativity.  The Neigh Sayer will not feed into this.

close up of horse legs cantering

2    The Theoretical Sermon Holder

At first glance, similar to The Neigh Sayer:  Questions are asked during lessons.  Only here, there will be intricate questions you simply don’t have an answer to and this trainer won’t take -“I don’t know” for an answer.

Maybe it’s a tricky question, or the subject is simply above your riding level, or you are too focused in the current task assigned with your horse (Who is about to brace and evade any second now, you can feel it and better figure out what to do!).

The Theoretical Sermon Holder does not teach “in the moment” – instead asking some version of this question over and over.  Preferably at a halt.  At the end of the lesson there is, you guessed it, a lecture.

This riding session ends up more of a tirade, a theoretical oration, leaving the rider with that – “I’ll just never figure this out” feel.  Riding is shrouded in mystery, you consider saddling off for a couple of months to read up on more theory, or maybe switching disciplines.

Riding is physical, a sport with two athletes, in continuous motion.  Want to talk about doing it?  Want to talk about how to do it?  Or want to try to do it while actually trying to do it?  Just curious.

best detangler for grey horse tail

3     The Monarch

Under Monarch’s reign, your requests around your own barn/your own horse/your other animals/your own equipment are ignored.  You’re in Dressage Queen/King Domain, and no matter what you petition, The Monarch will waive the dressage whip scepter and denounce your appeal.

If this is a relationship you want; a version of dictatorship of each minute detail on how your horse is handled, by all means continue on.  It’s a very easy route, just do the right thing – just make sure it’s never your own thing.

But, riders not enjoying hobbled dependency – be aware of this subtle red flag!  Soon, there will be no tack purchases without consulting the majesty, you will stifle any resourcefulness in handling your horse, and, most importantly, you will forever be second guessing your training technique.

cantering legs

Met any of these?

Coming up early tomorrow morning – the next 3 types!

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Dressage On A Dime A Horse For Elinor

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27 thoughts on “6 Trainer Types To Stay Away From

  1. Problem with the Neigh-sayer is that there is hardly ever only one correct answer when dealing with a multiple of horses. Or even the same horse on different days…

    The Theoretical Sermon Holder isn’t actually too bad, as long as they are “lecturing” at the END of the lesson, amplifying the why and how of what you were working on during the actual lesson. An occasional “do you know why we are doing this” during the lesson as it regards some particular move (such as shoulder in, for example) is also helpful in assisting the rider to understand what the actual training purpose is as opposed to just riding rote instructions. But the bullying part and berating the rider while he/she is trying to do what is requested falls into the horse-poop category.

    The Monarch needs a good whack on the head with their crown–unless they are perhaps of the butterfly species.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree – with all of these three types, it is really hard to grow as a rider. It’s sort of like forever being delegated to being spoken to like a 5 year old. It’s a very interesting dynamic to observe from the outside. Not so much when in the middle of it, right?

      I’m sure through your years of riding you’ve met a Monarch Alli 🙂
      I just never seem to be able to bow down deep enough for them… Maybe it’s the arthritis, don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s a common denominator among these three types, and I suspect in the next three: in their view, it’s about them and their expertise. Not the student and not the horse. For these types, training is a master/supplicant transaction, the ultimate purpose of which is to confirm the superiority (not to mention the inaccessibility) of their wisdom. Any true teacher/trainer/coach, in any discipline, works from a very different place and feels most deeply rewarded when equaled or surpassed by their student — equine or human.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jan, yes!
      Nailed it.
      The ultimate Confirmer-Of-Their-Superiority is “The Monologuist”, forever discussing their own riding. More on the monologuist tomorrow…

      As you mention at the end – we all can realize that Carl Hester is a true master, after reading about him breaking out in tears watching his student Charlotte break the world record in the dressage ring the first time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yikes. Who would ride with someone like that? I’ve had two regular trainers, so my sample is pretty small, but there is no way I’d put up with that. I have ridden with a number of other trainers at clinics or at impromptu times, and even none of them were that way. Am I just lucky, or do I spend my money wisely. :0)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know right?

      I’d say a little bit of both: luck and smartness 😉 I know you’ve got a keeper! 🙂
      Be sure, these types (perhaps a bit stereotyped in the post, not sure, I just work here.) are alive and well in the dressage rings.
      Then of course, on the opposite end of the spectrum – the Ego Stroker, who will pet you gently along your hairs the way you’d stroke an elderly cat during every lesson. Not much to be learned there either.
      I’d say it takes riding for at least 15 different trainers to encounter all of the types. Not sure how I’ve calculated that.

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      • I’ve definitely ridden with a few that I didn’t care for, but it was more about a lack of personal connection than being a bad trainer. Not to tell tales out of turn, but a friend of mine finally quit her trainer who would get everyone else ready for a certain “thing” only to leave my friend out. Once I talked friend into a different trainer, she almost immediately earned her bronze and is zooming through the levels. It was as though the trainer didn’t want her to succeed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh…
          Never ceases to amaze, sometimes it just doesn’t “click” with a certain trainer. Or, I guess in that case, the trainer isn’t interested in helping that person all that much.
          Strange no? I’ll never figure it all out!!!

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    • Smart girl.

      And yes, thank you for adding to the mix!
      Of course the Confidence Sucker! This one is reminiscent of “The Non-Stop Criticizer” (Featured in tomorrow’s post) but with the confidence sucker it’s a slower process. The rider is never “built up”, just slowly picked apart and there’s a growing suspicion of “not-ever-never-going-to-be-good-enough.” Makes you feel you’ve picked a GREAT hobby!

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  4. I had the Monarch/Wrangler combo. The 5 minutes of actual instruction were decent, but I paid out the nose for a 45 minute lesson. Every horse I bought, as soon as I started seriously moving toward 2nd she was pushing me to sell (due to it not being good enough). The last horse she pressured me to sell was the horse she sold me. Which I found hilariously ironic.

    I have two favorite trainers. Out of the two, one terrifies me. She had a “kick you hard in the pants” type of style that she tempered with a hearty “Gooooooodddd” when you finally got it right. I’d probably have ulcers riding with her full time, but she really brought out the best in me. The other trainer is equally as demanding, but in a less intense way. She doesn’t make me want to down a bottle malox after a lesson. If only one would move closer (or both), life would be grand. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I meant sermon holder (without the enlightening sermon), but she was a terrible Monarch too. My subcouncious must be stuck on that.
      I got home from a 4 hour haul one day, got my horse settled and was headed to the bathroom when she stopped me and demanded that I clean out my trailer that very instant. Like the world would end if I didn’t do it right then. That was the last straw for me… I’m pretty easy going, but I do insist on the freedom to pee when I need to. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Got it. The sermon holder will orate during the lesson, and especially at the end. Sure, helpful, from a technical standpoint. But you know, it’s riding, not game programming. So…

        Proud of you for leaving the Monarch. There’s some serous control issues going on out there. I’ve tried to explain this to friends outside horses, and they really don’t get it.
        Glad you’ve got your freedom back 😉
        You go girl! (See what I did there? Soooo geeky.)

        Liked by 1 person

    • Just can’t help but smile about this.
      It’s all so true, and isn’t it somehow sad that most of us seem to have been there?
      I ride very bad for “the death gripper, booty kicker”, second guessing every move, and in the end, it’s all about staying on a 20 meter while not being told I’m riding like I’m driving a motorcycle. The Gooood, never came I guess. Or I was too stressed out to hear it 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Outstanding article and I can’t wait to read part Two! Very insightful and spot on. Your description is humorous but sadly, these trainer types wreak destruction, don’t they? I’ve seen so many people stay in thrall to them, losing confidence in themselves and ending up never able to take a step on their own. I’ve ridden with some of these trainers…but never for long (!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is SO strange when looking in from the outside! Really. I don’t know any other sport where it’s all so complicated. I’m sitting here trying to think of one but I can’t.
      Maybe professional dancing… I am not sure, I only took ballet at an early age.

      Liked by 1 person

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