The Trainer Dilemma

I am struggling still with the whole trainer thing. I think I have unrealistic expectations, not so much in how “much” I will learn from a trainer, but rather of how interested the trainer should be in my progress/activities once I am out of class and/or at a trial.

I grew up riding horses, at a barn, for many, many years. The majority of my childhood until I left for college. These were nothing fancy by any means, but we did ride 3-4 times a week and show on the local B/C circuit. I had the same trainers for years. Really–depending on my age–they were probably 50-75% trainer and 25-50% babysitter. They had a vested interest in how I did, how my horse was, and at the shows, they were right there with us. And this was with a large barn of somewheres in the neighborhood of 30-50 students at any given time…

So I know agility is different than a hunter-jumper barn. And I also haven’t been doing this that long, so maybe I just haven’t found my training hero yet. Having a horse in training is exponentially more financially draining than going to agility once a week and trials a few times a month–so maybe it was a money thing… Or maybe this will be my thing to “go it on my own” in some capacity… But really I am seeking someone who gives a crap once I’ve left their classroom and my $20 session isnt in effect. Someone who at the shows doesn’t have to hold my hand, but at least will actively watch my runs, and give me advice on the course, and not either ignore me or tell me all about how they will run their dog (without any relation to how mine might go)… is this too much to ask?

I went to yet another facility last night. I was proud of myself how I tracked this one down. After old trainer had a strained look on her face when I told her who I had taken a few classes with up here, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt (even though she drives me crazy sometimes, I still respect her opinion and want to continue in the vein she has started us off in), and kept hunting. I racked my brain for someone I had seen run their dogs up here, around my level, whom I thought was good. One young girl popped into my mind who runs her Mini Aussie and Cavalier. She runs quietly and positively and her dogs do well. So I internet stalked her via our Club and luckily for me she is exceedingly nice and invited me to sit in on her class last night.

Really nice facility, nice trainer (not the head one I hope to take classes with, but I’d be happy with this one too to start). I like that all the main trainers seem to run mixed breed/rescue dogs along with their purebred dogs. That seems silly, but it means a lot to me, to have someone who is interested in overcoming those little unique behavioral issues that rescues come readymade with. So… we’ll see.

I’m not trying to become one of those people who is notorious for trainer-hopping and being in denial of issues that the dog/owner has, just looking for the right “fit”… to be continued.

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3 thoughts on “The Trainer Dilemma

  1. So one difference is that when you’re at the horse show, that’s all the trainer is focusing on schooling you. This is her paid job, all week. Even when she has to get on horses and ride in the open classes, likely most of the weekend when the kids and amateurs are showing, 100% of her time went into watching and taking care of you guys and your horses.

    At the dog show, your trainer may have multiple dogs of her own that are causing ring conflicts and can barely walk her own courses, may be working nearly full time to help keep the show running, and this may be her hobby time. So she might want to be more helpful, but it might not be within her total brain capacity to help each and every agility student as much as she’d like. She might try hard to get there to watch your run, but it might not happen. She might try to walk snookers with you, but it might not happen! She might feel sad about this!

    Also, your old horse trainer probably had complete control and say over every aspect of your horse’s care and well being, and yours at the barn, 7 days per week Or at least 6. Your agility trainer probably has 1 hour a week to work with you. Total. Which is a teensy, tiny portion of your overall training, and sometimes it’s hard to totally connect with students for that quick one hour, especially in a big class. I think that’s why there’s more of a DIY vibe to agility.

    • All totally valid–and better-knowing of the subject than I–points.

      Maybe you hit it on the head though—I am hoping for someone to not necessarily always be there, but just someone who maybe at leasts “wants” to see my runs, or ask how I did, or offer advice.

      And, maybe thats another difference—because it is so DIY—the actual competitors are more friendly with each other than they were/are at horse shows? Thats how it seems in my limited experience anyway… So maybe really what I am looking for is a support group of people who are better/more experienced than me to help me along… I am sure I will get there, I am always just in a rush to make things happen like, NOW… big breath.

  2. You will make tons of agility pals! Eventually you will go out drinking with them and they will be in your phone. They might know right where you screwed up your front cross and they might know exactly where you should be to get the gamble. It might take a long time to find agility pals that are real pals. You might stumble through some faux agility pals on the way. When you find your true agility pals, you will know! You will have some that are way more experienced than you, and some that you will help to learn the same things that you are learning now.

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