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This Trainer's Life: Initial Intake Explained

What is the initial intake? You contact me about training your horse. I will ask you some questions about what your goals and riding level are and about your horse. If it sounds like you and your horse may benefit from our training program we will schedule an initial intake.

During this time you will bring your horse to Cornerstone Farm for a week’s time. I will spend this week evaluating your horse’s mental capacity and temperament as well as their physical capacities. I will take this information and compare it to your goals for this horse and yourself and at the end of the week I will discuss what I found in your horse that are strengths and weaknesses and how they will or will not meet up with your goals. I will also take this information and build a plan for training and access how long I think this horse will need to be in training to reach your goals.

This is pretty radical compared to other trainers isn't it?

In reality it is pretty radical. Most trainers will take your call, might ask you a few questions and then tell you when they can take your horse into their training program. This trainer’s main income is training horses, and quite honestly they will be much less expensive than me, but their frame of mind is “I must make this horse into what the owner wants it to be”. This is backwards thinking driven by their need for the income.

When you go to look at a horse to purchase the first thing you should look at is its mental state. Is the horse smart? Is the horse a quick learner? Does this horse have the temperament I need? Second you should look at their physical body. Is it a good balanced horse? Does it have solid legs? Does its overall body have the build I am looking for to do the job I need this horse to do? From there everything else falls into place, breed, color, eye appeal and so on. The same approach needs to be taken when accessing a horse for training.

So I take this Initial Intake time and I asses your horse on these levels. I do this for several reasons. Number one reason is to find out if this horse is going to meet your needs. If it isn’t then I don’t want to waste your time or money on a horse that isn’t going to be able to do the job you want it to do. Second I access the horse to find out if what you have told me about it is true. You will not believe the number of horse owners who have a false view of their horse and it is never the horse’s fault. I will then come back and discuss this with you as the owner, not that I want to tell you that your view of your horse is wrong, but to discuss the horse’s true strengths and weaknesses and how they play in with your goal.

There will be times where I come back to the owner and I tell them their horse will not meet their goals. You then as the horse owner have three options: 1) to take the horse to a different trainer who will work their best to force your horse to be what you want it to be and possibly, after lots of time and money you may, or may not have what you wanted. 2) To change your goals to fit your horse or 3) to purchase a different horse that will meet your goals.

I am not going to say that you will not get what you want with option 1 but you may quite possibly sacrifice the horse to get it. There are trainers that will do whatever it takes to get the horse to do what they want it to do and many times you will not get the same horse back when they are done, and not in a good way.

Don’t buy into a false hope

Many trainers will also give you false hope riding on their own pride of “I can train anything” and in the end do nothing but waste your money trying to do it. Years ago I worked for a lady that brought me a horse that was not what she described and was never going to be what she wanted him to be, but he was pretty, a Trigger reincarnate. I had him for about 30-45 days when I finally realized I was never going to get this horse broke, to even sit on him! He would have been better off as a rodeo bronco.

I called her and told her I was not going to be able to continue his training. Of course she thought I was a terrible trainer and honestly I thought so too. But then come to find out she took this horse to 2-3 other trainer who said “I can get him broke” and found out they found the same things I did. I have no idea how much time or money she spent to find out all she had was a pretty rodeo bronco.

I have learned that this Initial Intake works the best for everyone involved. I have a clear idea of what I am really taking on as a project and then I can discuss this with the owner and not waste our time or your money. I do this mostly to benefit you as the owner. There are several times where all that is really needed is you as the owner just need to know how to better communicate and work with your horse and that can be done with lessons rather than training and it makes things better all around because you are building the trust, confidence and relationship with your horse directly and I can give you the tools to keep everything going at home.

I want to give you the tools to continue on in what you invested in

Another problem I have found with training horses is I will put much time and effort into turning your horse into a good citizen only for you to take them home and fall right back into the old habits you had before. This is to no fault of the horse, but is all on the owner. Training a horse is maybe 25% actual training and 75% building relationship. It does neither of us any good if you do not build this relationship with your horse after training and why I encourage owners to come and take lessons at least weekly. Sometimes I have owners work with a school horse first to help them learn how to use the tools needed to build the relationship and then move them onto working with their own horse. Sometimes the horse is at a place already where the owner can work with them and we go from there.

Bottom line is I love working horses and making better partners for their owners (or future owners if it is a horse I am training to resell) and I want you to be happy with my work I do. To learn more about this relationship check out my blog post Groundwork: The Short and Skinny on it.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" Matthew 5:3

Jesus told his disciples the first thing they needed to realize is what their spiritual situation is. This is the beginning of the end for all of us. We must realize that without God there is nothing good, including in us. When we choose to see that and surrender to God as Lord and repent of our sins we enter into an abundant life. But when we choose to not see the truth of our situation compared to God we lose this life and the abundance that the Lord wants to give us if we choose to accept it.

The same goes for the training if your horse. We really can’t live the good life with our horse until we take a good look at it and access it in true light. This is where I come in and I want to help you have the best relationship with your horse possible, whether it is taking it in for training or working with you in lessons. One of the greatest blessings I have is realizing that our relationship with the horse mirrors our relationship with God.