Dear Friend and Horseman,
Recently, while at a big horse show, I over-heard a group of horse owners having an in depth conversation.
These people were strongly voicing their opinion about horse training, horse trainers and horse showing.
And to tell you the truth, what I overheard kind of bothered me.
The thing that bothered me was that these folks talked with a lot of "authority" yet had little understanding about the very topics they were talking about.
Their ignorance led them to CONDEMN some very good trainers that didn’t deserve their ridicule and scorn.
The reason I wanted to write about this is because I know there are a lot of folks out there who have the same "misconceptions" as the people I was eavesdropping on.
So in this newsletter, I’d like to discuss some things that apparently few horse owners understand.
One of the ladies in the conversation, mentioned the name of one of my very dear and long-time trainer friends.
She stated, "That guy must not be a very good horse trainer because I never see him win much money or be in the national year-end standings.
I’d never take one of my horses to him".
I have to admit, when I heard her say that, I was immediately teed-off.
The trainer she was talking about is a TOP HAND and has been a top hand for a long time.
When this guy was seriously hauling, he was very tough to beat.
He won multiple year-end championships, won multiple aged-events and made the finals a bunch.
Most of his big wins came BEFORE these ladies came on the scene.
These Johnny-come-latelys are totally unaware of what my friend has won or what he is capable of.
They brand my friend "a bad trainer" because they don’t understand what it takes to win big championships.
They don’t understand that it requires a whole lot more than just being a good horse trainer.
To win national titles, a trainer must be ready, willing and able to haul to all the major shows.
Which means, he needs a good crew at home training the horses while he is going down the road.
He’ll also need several "money" clients with ample funds to cover all the expenses… it’s really, really expensive to campaign a horse to a major championship.
And most important, those clients better supply the trainer with top, top horses capable of winning in the toughest of competition.
If ANY of the above ingredients are missing, the big championships probably won’t happen for the trainer.
Very few trainers manage to have all the ingredients come together on a consistent basis.
That is why you’ll see a trainer not win much one year and then jump up and be a "star" the next.
A good example is Boyd Rice.
Boyd is an outstanding horse trainer/showman and one of the hottest trainers in the country.
Boyd has been a top hand most of his life yet the public never heard of him until he reached his mid-fortys and started winning major championships.
What do you think happened to cause that?
Do you think Boyd just woke up one morning at age 45 and miraculously turned into a good trainer and started winning?
What really happened is after all those years, Boyd was finally able to put all the ingredients together so he could go win.
He managed to acquire a good client who was willing to supply a top horse and pay the expenses to go down the road.
His success going down the road, attracted more good clients with top horses and that brought even more success.
It’s a beautiful thing when it all comes together like that.
Another part of the conversation I over-heard had to do with several big-name trainers not making the finals at this particular show.
A couple people in the group commented about how some of the top trainers who they expected to make it to the finals, didn’t.
And they alluded that the reason those trainers didn’t make it, probably had a lot to do with them slacking off and not doing a good job.
Again, their ignorance and willingness to condemn, didn’t set too well.
Yes, they were right about some of the big-name trainers not making the finals at this show but they were totally clueless as to why.
This show was a big, cutting horse aged-event with a big money purse.
Big aged-events (where cattle are involved) are usually won by trainers who have SEVERAL horses entered up in each division.
Some of those horses will bomb-out but the odds are at least one will make it to the finals.
When you have a trainer with MULTIPLE entries competing against a trainer with only ONE entry, the trainer showing multiple horses has a BIG advantage.
At this particular aged-event, the ECONOMY had a lot to do with the trainers in question not making the finals.
Because of the economy, some of the big-name trainers who normally have multiple horses entered, now only have ONE.
If you only have one horse entered and a little "bobble" happens during your run, you’re done.
You have NO second chance to make it.
One of the men in this group, commented that he sent his expensive, well-bred colt to a top trainer to be started.
He said the trainer isn’t doing a good job because he’s had the colt for two weeks and its scared to death and hasn’t even been ridden yet.
The man also added, he knows the trainer is messing the colt up because before sending the colt to the trainer, he put his 12-year old son on the colt’s back and led him around and the colt was absolutely fine.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard somebody tell a story like this or a similar version of it.
Just a few days ago I received an email form a woman who basically said the exact same thing.
Here’s what these folks don’t realize…
Leading your kid around on the colt’s back means absolutely NOTHING (other than he’s gentle enough to let you do it).
Keep in mind, the colt is in a familiar environment with people he knows and he’s not being asked to do much of anything.
Once that colt goes to a trainer, he’s asked to learn a bunch of new stuff and learn it in a short period of time.
He’ll have to learn to respect the trainer’s space… learn to pack a saddle and bridle… learn how to lunge correctly… learn to willingly give to the bit… learn what whoa and cluck means… learn to pack a grown man’s weight… learn to respond and move away from pressure… learn to walk, trot, lope and guide… etc. etc etc.
Some colts are going to get worried or scared by all this.
Of course, in time they’ll understand what its all about and settle in just fine.
But if that colt’s owner shows up at the trainer’s place during that "worried" phase, the owner will assume the trainer is doing something wrong.
If you are an owner, these are facts you need to keep in mind.
Give the trainer a chance to do his job.
It may take a couple of months for the colt to settle in.
Now, the other side of that coin is that if the trainer truly IS messing up your colt… two months is enough time to RUIN him.
As the horse’s owner, it is your responsibility to do your research and take your colt to a COMPETENT trainer instead of some bulls**t artist.
It’s also your responsibility to educate yourself enough about training horses so you can tell the difference.
Well, that’s all for now.
Larry Trocha Training Stable