This summer has been spent wishing Paige wasn’t lame for various reasons, but one of the most pressing was that I was wanting to ride with a few different trainers to get an idea of who I want to send Joey to in the future. It’s very important to me that whoever I choose is just as good of an instructor as they are a trainer because, spoiler alert, one of my big goals in life is to get a title on Joey with me in the saddle. It’s a big goal, but not impossible. Don’t get me wrong, a world title with his future trainer in the saddle would be amazing too, but dammit I want to win something.
Which means I need a good trainer. My parameters are the above (must be good instructor, not just good horse trainer) plus the following:
- Within 3 hours of home, the closer the better because more lessons!
- Include turnout for baby Joe.
- Willing to start him at his speed. I don’t want him rushed or pushed too hard. He’s supposed to be the horse I’m riding in my 30’s and my 40’s.
- Serious ranch horse competitor. Must be showing at the Congress/World show level successfully.
- Must be interested in hauling to/showing at APHA shows, not just AQHA.
I initially had four candidates, but I’ve whittled the list down some due to the above parameters. One lady is just too far away down in NC, but is SO friendly. I’ve met and spoke to her twice now and she’d be much higher on my list if she weren’t over 4 hours away. I can’t be that far from baby Joe. One guy in NC I haven’t researched as thoroughly as the others, but he’s just under two hours, so he’s still on the list of potentials, I just know the least about him.
Another is one of the top ranch trainers in the country. He just won the APHA World in Ranch Trail and is around 2.5 hours from home, which is close enough to keep him in the running. We stalled with him at the show at Lexington due to mutual friends and I was able to pick his brain about things, which was a great opportunity. His client horses get a lot of turnout and he prefers they come to him having already been started, preferably with 60 days of riding on them. He was really fond of Joey and shows APHA a lot with the mutual friend who is his client. So he checks all of my boxes. When he asked where I was from and learned my location he immediately said that I don’t need to send Joey to him (though he’d still take him) but to my fourth candidate, who hadn’t even been brought up in our conversation until then.
You see, my fourth candidate is all of 30 minutes from home and also shows in the higher levels, but I’ve not gotten terribly excited about him because he seems to primarily show AQHA. When I mentioned that to the trainer at the show his words were “if he had one that looked like yours standing in his barn and ready to go, he’d show paints. And if he still won’t show APHA, you bring him to the show and I’ll show him for you.” He then went on to say that the trainer near home is honest, good to his horses and a family man that works his butt off and is really making a name for himself in the ranch horse world.
This conversation was worth a lot to me, because outside of being very flattering regarding Joey, it told me a lot about both trainers. A lot of trainers will talk down about each other in order to get/keep business in their own barn, so I found it refreshing that he would so openly endorse another trainer. It also spoke volumes to me about the trainer near home that someone at the other trainer’s level would speak so highly about him.
So my game plan now is to meet/ride with the trainer close to home. While I’m still very fond of the trainer I met at the show, being able to visit Joey as often as I want and take multiple lessons on him a week is just too good to pass up. If he were 2.5 hours from home, I’d probably only be able to get up there every other week or so and we all know I’m too attached to the little turd if I have the option of quality training so close to home.
I’d previously planned on having Joey started as a three year old, but mentally he’s ready, which is mind blowing, but he’s a little freak. He’s physically not there yet obviously, but I’m keeping the option of having him started as a two year old in mind, especially if he’s only going a little way down the road and I can constantly evaluate how he’s handling training.
It’s truly crazy that we’re already at this point and that I had people asking me if we’d be showing under saddle next fall or in the in hand classes again (they offer all his yearling classes again for two year olds, which is awesome in my opinion). Mind blown to consider that next fall I could be sitting on baby Joe. Then I see him standing beside his momma and being not a lot smaller than her and I see it. 😳 He changed so dramatically between last fall and this fall that next fall he could very easily be a 15hh riding horse. Cue panic.