This question has been asked by several of my readers and I have received e-mails as well as telephone calls regarding this. The Horse Exhibitor, Horse Trainer, and The Horseman have a place or a function in informing the horse enthusiasts in there education or curiosity of understanding and communicating with there horses. Let me take them one by one and in my humble opinion this is how they fall in each category.
The Horse Exhibitor
This is a person that rides horses and explains to you how the horse that he or she is riding was trained, such as in a clinic or by competing in a horse discipline. Rarely are you going to know if they themselves trained or took part in the training of that horse. In most cases only a trained eye can observe and tell you the truth. If it’s a horse clinic most all clinicians want you to believe that they train that horse without admitting that they did not. Some will tell you that they have learned all that they know from other trainers. But as going as far as saying that someone else trained that horse that they are showing you, they won’t say because in this way they lead you to believe that they are the actually trainers and they can sell you on their videos and equipment. Allow me to give you an example. One popular trainer was riding a horse on RFD TV, that horse was fully collected (collection is when the horses head is in a vertical position) when he first started the video yet this rider was riding him with split reins and he held each rein in each hand. There was a lot of slack in both reins. Towards the end of the video the horse knowing that he was not being held in collection started to pick up his nose. The video had a lot of cuts (this is when you edit out the mistakes and show only the good parts) this convinced me that he could not do it all in one take. In this video he was showing you how to properly rein a horse. But when you see him live at a clinic he is showing you how to start a colt. He never has a clinic live that shows you how to train a reining horse as he did in the video because he does not have the real trainer off camera to correct his mistakes. So live he has to go back to the only thing is does know and that is starting colts. It’s up to you, the viewer, to determine if he is good at it or not. This I call is impersonating a horse trainer. But if a horse trainer did train a horse for someone that is showing it, it’s not necessary to know who actually trained the horse or had part in the horse training they are simply showing their horse in competition.
The Horse Trainer
This is a person that through his or her past experience working with other horses over weeks, months, or years has the knowledge to communicate with this horse in order to get the results that they want. Using the example above lets say a reining horse when trained is a horse that will walk, trot, and lope on cue. If he is a seasoned trainer he will also have their leads, stop, spins, and etc. Horse trainers come in many forms most of the time but not always they usually stay in one discipline such as reining. Rarely do they do more than one or two disciplines. Regardless if they are a reining trainer, barrel, team penning, calf roper and etc. they will try to hone their skills in that discipline that they like and enjoy or make money doing it. Like I mentioned before horse trainers come in many forms. A horse trainer that can make a horse walk or trot only is considered a horse trainer because the horse did not know how to do this on cue. So the trainer did show these two steps to his horse. From this type of trainer to a world champion there are hundreds or maybe even thousands in between that can be called horse trainers.
This is a person that dedicates their lives to learning all about the horse, his instincts, the breeds, conformations and the limitations or the advantages of the different types. He studies all aspects of the horse and his behavior under different circumstances. The horseman generally tries to train horses in as many disciplines that our short lives allows us to. He competes against others in all of these disciplines in order to perfect each discipline while keeping an open mind and absorbing all that is shown to him or her. In this category very few fit in, it is a thankless job, no incentives such as money or fame and in my fifty years career I have only known one. I have tried to pattern myself after him because all I ever wanted in life was to be a complete Horseman. It is disappointing to me to find out that I will never be a complete Horseman. One cannot learn all there is to learn in one lifetime. I can only try to get as much knowledge as I can and pass it on to others in any form that I can. I have convinced myself that I am an apprentice Horseman. I may become close to being a Horseman in my lifetime if God continues to give me life and the energy and the good health to go on. What good would it be to dedicate your life to becoming a Horseman and not being able to share it with others, otherwise my work would die with me. But I know now that I don’t think it is possible, but it has given me enough knowledge to try to help others. This is one of the reasons why I try to show others that it is not as difficult as some may say. The horse is a very simple animal and he lives in a world that is unlike ours and he reacts to his herd instincts. If you study him long enough you will understand this.
See you next month.