What makes a good trainer?

Last week we looked at why you need a trainer. Today we are going to delve into the qualities you should look for when selecting a trainer.

Formal Education:

Do they have a formal education working with a master trainer? Just because someone has been riding for a long time, doesn’t mean they know how to train a horse or teach someone to ride. Time spent riding does not equal knowledge of training. When looking for a trainer make sure that they have a formal education. This usually means that the trainer has spent time apprenticing with a high level trainer, learning from them how to train horses and teach lessons. Certifications and degrees are good too, but time spent working with a master trainer is better.


Experience is also very important. What kind of experience does your trainer have? Have they worked with a variety of types of horses? Each horse is unique and learns differently so the more horses and trainer has worked with, the more adaptable they will be. Does your horse have a problem? Make sure to find a trainer who has experience working with that type of problem. Looking to learn a specific discipline? Find a trainer who specializes in that discipline.

Continuing Education:

There is always more to learn about horses and horse training. One can never learn it all. It takes a lifetime of dedication to even touch the surface. Good trainers are constantly trying to learn more about horses so they can improve themselves. This means reading books and articles, attending clinics and seminars, taking lessons, and engaging in dialogue with other trainers. A trainer who is not continuing to learn and improve will quickly reach the limits of what they can teach. A good trainer should also encourage their students to be actively trying to learn, grow, and improve. A good trainer, and a good rider, does not settle for average, but always strives to be the best that they can be.


My mentor use to say, “There are two things you need when training horses: patience and a sense of humor”. Training horses is a slow, repetitive process. There are no quick results. Learning how to ride is a similar process. A trainer must have the patience to work with a horse even when it is being difficult as well as to help a rider work through something they are struggling with.


A good trainer must be adaptable. Not every horse learns the same way nor does every rider. Something that works with one horse, may not work with another. Likewise something that makes sense to one rider may need to be explained in a different way to another rider. Be wary of trainers who are not able to adapt and try new things if something isn’t working.


This is important. Does your trainer achieve results? Is your horse improving and learning new things? Has his behavior and willingness improved? Are you as a rider improving? Do you feel challenged in your lessons? Are you learning new things? Or are you stuck in the same place you’ve been in for the last three years? Training and learning to ride is a slow process and it does take time, but you should also see improvement. If there is never any growth, then something is wrong.


It’s hard to learn from someone who you don’t get a long with, so make sure your trainer has a personality that matches up with yours. There are many different teaching styles and many different ways of learning. Find a trainer with a teaching style that works for you.

Most importantly find a trainer who truly cares about your horse and its well being, as well as you as a rider. There are so many trainers out there who are just in it for the money. But there are many who really have the horse’s best interest at heart. Your trainer should never be willing to sacrifice their standards in order to achieve quicker results, earn more money, or make a client happy. The horse has to come first. Always.

To learn more about how to achieve a better relationship with your horse, visit our website or blog, where we feature information about French Classical Dressage training, as well as care and maintenance of the horse!