Professional Horse Training Time Frame
Here’s what to expect when you place your horse in training with a professional horse trainer.
Dear Friend and Horseman,
Larry Trocha here.
I often receive email from folks saying how they wish I lived closer to them so I could train their horse.
What these folks don’t realize is they don’t need to live close to me to have me train their horse. It’s not uncommon for owners to send their horse to me even if they live a long way away.
I’ve had training clients live as far away as Florida, Hawaii, Alaska, Texas, Canada, Mexico and Europe.
These days, its pretty commonplace for owners to send a horse whatever distance necessary in order to have it trained by somebody they trust will do the job.
And, it’s a lot easier to do it than you might think.
HERE’S HOW YOU GO ABOUT IT…
First, give me a call and make sure I have the room and time available to add your horse to my training schedule.
If I agree to take your horse, the next thing you need to do is make arrangements with a reputable horse transporter. There are several good ones I recommend.
NOTE: To cross state lines, your horse will need a negative coggins test from your vet. The coggins papers must travel with the hauler. The horse should be current on his vaccines too.
The hauler will come to your house, load your horse and deliver him to my barn, safe and sound.
And the cost is usually LESS than you could do it yourself.
Once the horse arrives, I usually give him a day or two to settle in and then we begin the training.
Most of the horses in my barn are here to have a good handle put on them, get them working a cow or get them ready for a specific performance event.
Those are the areas I specialize in and enjoy doing the most.
One of the most common questions I get from prospective clients is…
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?
Well, that depends on a number of factors.
The horse’s previous training (or lack of it) will play a part in how quickly the horse will advance.
If the horse has a bunch of pre-existing problems or nasty habits, those will need to be worked out as we proceed with the training.
Horses also greatly vary in how “trainable” they are.
Some are easy to train and learn fast… some are pretty tough and take a lot longer.
As a rule of thumb… on the average horse… it takes approximately three or four months to put a good handle on him.
Now… by “good handle”, I mean the horse will stop well and rollback, do a good turn on his hocks, maybe even spin a little, pick up the correct leads and back-up straight.
He’ll also do a controlled walk, trot and lope and do it with a LIGHT MOUTH and GOOD HEAD POSITION.
Be aware, with four months of training, the horse will be working pretty darn good and he’ll have a good foundation on him but he sure won’t be solid or ready to compete in a reining or cutting horse class.
To have a horse ready for tough competition, usually takes 12 to 16 months or more.
If the horse is a “born natural”, it may not take quite as long.
COLT STARTING CRITERIA…
I hate to be so strict on this but experience has taught me to stay the course.
I usually only accept colts which have NOT been “messed-up” or recklessly started by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
BTW, if you need a reference to a good colt starter, I may be able to recommend someone I trust will do a good job.
Overall, I prefer a colt not to be saddled… and I prefer them not to be introduced to any kind of bit.
Because many people screw it up and cause problems which could have been avoided!
I sometimes make exceptions and take a messed-up colt… but the training will take longer as I’ll have the additional job of trying to un-do any mistakes which have been done.
I also prefer not to take colts who have been exposed to any weird or troublesome experiences.
This includes colts who have been attacked by mountain lions or bears… Colts that are orphans and been raised in the house… or colts that broke their neck as a baby… nothing strange like that.
Nor do I want colts with obvious conformation flaws… flaws that predispose a colt to injury or lameness. Every single time I have deviated from this strict rule, I have regretted it.
COW WORK TIME FRAME…
It’s a little different with the cow work.
Here the horse’s natural aptitude to work cattle plays a HUGE part in how well the training goes.
Hopefully, the horse has a lot of cow.
If he does, then nothing will be more fun for the horse than working cattle.
A lot of good training can be accomplished when working cattle without the horse even realizing he’s being trained.
A cow is the best tool I know for helping a horse overcome problems and advance quickly.
However, a horse that doesn’t have much cow will take much longer and will never be as good as a horse that is loaded with cow.
And if the horse doesn’t have ANY cow, having a trainer work cattle on him is pretty much a waste of money.
Better off to just put a handle on the horse and call it good.
It takes about three months on cattle to get an idea of the horse’s aptitude as a cutting or cow horse.
It takes six to eight months to know if he’s a definite cutting prospect.
With most horses, six to eight months on cattle is enough for them to do a decent job at team penning, sorting and ranch cutting.
A “competition” cutting horse usually needs 12 to 18 months of concentrated training before he’s ready to go to his first show.
And usually another 6 to 8 months of show experience to get solid.
HORSE TRAINING ISN’T ALWAYS PRETTY…
It’s been my experience that most horse owners don’t realize that training horses doesn’t always go smoothly.
They think if the horse ever gets upset, resists or gets scared, the trainer must be doing something wrong.
THE REALITY IS…
There will sometimes be highs, lows and a few rough spots along the way.
MOST of the time, the training will go smoothly and the horse will come along fine. However, there can be short periods of time when it’s not looking so great.
SIDE NOTE: This is the biggest reason many owners don’t have success training their own horse. They hit a trouble-spot and quit, thinking they must be doing something wrong.
It doesn’t occur to them, that “problems” are a natural part of horse training and they just need to work through it.
The BIGGEST PROBLEMS usually occur the FIRST MONTH.
When a horse first comes into “concentrated” training with a professional trainer, the horse is usually NOT in the correct FRAME OF MIND to accept the training.
More than likely, the horse’s previous training has been pretty inconsistent or very low-key.
He’s really never been asked to do much… let alone do it lightly and respond immediately.
He’s in the habit of being heavy, taking his sweet time responding or maybe NOT responding at all.
Nor does he know how to concentrate or how to SEARCH to find the release of pressure.
When this new training is introduced, most horses will initially RESIST it and want to ARGUE about it… because he’s never been asked to do this before.
If the trainer hangs in there and insists the horse respond, some horses will then get really WORRIED about it.
So, that first month, its not uncommon for the horse to waffle back and forth between resisting and being worried.
For a lot of horses, this is normal.
A good trainer will know how to work through this without it getting out of hand.
And of course, it’s this first month the owner wants to see some big progress. He wants to see results to justify the training fee he’s paying.
In reality, seldom will there be any big results that first month.
The trainer is more concerned with teaching the horse to “LEARN” HOW TO LEARN. (read this sentence again)
He knows until that is accomplished, RESULTS will not happen… at least not any good ones.
Once a foundation of “UNDERSTANDING” is established, the horse will settle in, have a good attitude and be willing to quietly learn.
In the second month of training, things will start to get good.
And its usually the third month when the real advances come.
If your horse is already trained and just needs a “tune up”, one month of training should be enough to get him back working up to par.
If your horse isn’t completely trained, a one-month tune up isn’t going to be effective. It’ll take a month just to get him light, supple and in the right frame of mind to learn… and that must be done in order for the horse to advance.
It’ll take 3-months of full-time training for the NEW training to “STICK” and be retained by the horse.
Now, I realize not every horse owner can afford to have their horse trained by a professional trainer.
And many owners who have spare time available, prefer to have the satisfaction of training their horse themselves.
For those folks, I highly recommend my…
Or they can get a huge DISCOUNT by ordering my…
Okay, that’s all for now.
Larry Trocha Training Stable