Would you like to become a better customer and work with your trainer to
develop a successful partnership? Trainer Darla Lee of Plain City, Ohio
has 10 suggestions on how to be a better customer and was kind enough
to share her thoughts with GoHorseShow.com. We hope that this list is
helpful in preventing trainer/customer disagreements from happening in
the first place.
Top 10 Ways To Be A Better Customer
Communication--This is the number one reason why trainer/client relationships fail. As a trainer, it can be hard to please customers when it is not clear what the expectations are. So, be clear what you are expecting when you choose a trainer . If you are particular about shoeing, brushing, feeding, harsh treatment, vet work, etc.-- make your views clear in the beginning of the relationship.
Speak Up--If something upsets you, it's always better to talk to your trainer before the situation gets out of control. It's worse to keep your frustrations to yourself and then have a larger problem later. Take your trainer to the side or schedule a private time to meet and discuss what's bothering you.
Do not get other clients involved in your business--Horse trainers hate in-barn drama. Keep your nose in your own business. Don't get caught up in talking about your trainer and or other clients with fellow clients. This can make for some uncomfortable situations at horse shows and can jeopardize your relationship with your trainer.
Pay On Time--This seems like an easy one, but, remember, this is a business for your trainer. Horse trainers have huge overhead costs and most of the time have a lot of animals to feed and a lot of workers to pay. Remember that when you pay late, you run the risk of your trainer not having funds to keep your horse fed and taken care of to the standards you are supposed to be paying for.
Help Out--Although you are paying for your trainers to get your horses trained, and taken care of, every horse trainer is busy. So, if you are able bodied, sweep the aisle, water your horse, brush your horse. It may seem like small tasks, but it can really make your trainer feel like you care about them.
Respect Your Trainer's Cash Flow--If you attend a horse show, bring your check book and pay for your horses stall and shavings etc. If you know the farrier is coming, leave a check so you can pay him directly. Horse trainers can have thousands of dollars out per month and any little bit you can take off their plate is helpful.
Be respectful of their time--When you say you are coming for a lesson at 1:00 be there at 1:00. Or at least call and say you will be late. If you are going to be late, make sure they do not have a lesson coming right after you that will interfere.
Don't keep them on the phone during working hours--It's great to call and check on your horse, but ask your trainer what's the best time to call. Some don't mind if you call anytime, some would rather do their phone calls in the early morning or later in the evening. Remember, if you keep your horse trainer on the phone for an hour in one day, that's one hour they are not working your horse. Texting and emailing has helped this out a lot, but when you call, make sure that you are using your time wisely on the phone.
Have Fun--Horses and shows are supposed to be fun. If you show, make sure you are enjoying it, it's far too costly and too much work to do if you don't enjoy it.
Be Positive and Have Goals--No one likes a Debbie Downer. Be positive about things that are going well. Don't focus on the bad things or more bad things will come to you. Make realistic goals and you will find great pride in achieving them. Work with your trainer on what your goals should be depending on your horse's ability.
Thanks to Darla for sharing her helpful tips. Stay tuned for her next article, Top 10 Ways to Be A Better Trainer.
If i am paying a day fee, then why am i paying this if i am performing the work which a day fee covers??? Where i work i do not advise customers on how they can make my time at work easier, they advise me how i can make their life easier, and i do so to keep their business!!! maybe the horse business is subject to an entirely different set of business rules
too bad trainers don't realize this some of the time. When i started showing as a 12 year old my family and i basically handed over our checkbook to the trainers. We bought the horse THEY wanted us to buy from one of THEIR friends. We bought the clothes THEY wanted us to buy from one of their other clients, and when these custom clothes didn't turn out the way THEY liked, we were blamed. I remember taking lessons and getting screamed at, going over a log for and hour long lesson. I remember at one horse show, a woman approached my mother and told her she couldn't believe she was letting my trainer and his wife yell at my that way. When we approached them and said something, one of my trainers' other clients proceeded to post a sign for everyone in the barn to see and it said "TRUST YOUR TRAINER." ha. A also remember the show we considered to be the last straw. My trainer wanted to show my horse in Sr. WP because he was a competitive horse, and while he was showing my horse "blew up" and wouldn't calm down. it was embarrassing to watch him go around and especially embarrasing when my trainer couldnt even get off and walk him out. he made a huge scene and backed him out of the ring, got off and threw the reins at me, a small 12 year old girl and told me, you go show him. to say the least i was scared to death. but my mother told me to simply calm down and do the best i can (looking back i can't believe i went into that class). I turned around and won my class. Then my trainer's wife turned around and told my mother that her husband was very embarrassed that i had done as well as i did. so to say the least there are some MAJOR horror stories out there :)
As a customer, I find that there is a lot of down time at shows for me but not for trainers. They have many customers and horses to get ready for various classes all day long. I love being able to take care of my horse when I am at the barn. If a client can't take a few minutes to help out by picking their own horses stall, watering, and brushing, maybe they should rethink having a horse. At the end of the day, you get more honey with sugar!!!
As a customer returning the show world after 20+ years, I have slowly asked my trainer to show me how THEY wants things done so I can help and expand my knowledge. They are training me to be a trainer and I appreicate it. They have never asked or expected me to do anything from sweep to saddle but we are slowly learning the ropes and don't mind helping out. My choice, they are happy to have us helping or not and are always appreciative when we do help.
What a shame to see an article like this published
I think it is encumbant upon the trainer to have an organized plan for clients and to be clear about their program and their expectations of clients. Also. a trainer should treat all customers the same as long as the customer is paying the same fees as the other customers. It would be helpful for trainers to communicate expectations of clients at the very beginning of the relationship. A trainer should never forget who is paying the bills. If trainers were actually respectful of their clients, there wouldn't be a need for an article like this.
It's funny that this list did not mention what it takes to be a good trainer. That is the problem with this business. The client is your customer. If you don't want to treat them like one then don't be a trainer. Train your own horses but don't take people's money if you don't want to treat them like customers which means: what they want matters, it's their horse not yours, it's their money not yours and if you don't want to treat the people that pay your salary like customers then you will be one of the many trainers that can't keep clients. This industry is in the shape that it is in because trainers think they rule the roost. Not true unless we let them. The horse OWNER is the one that should call the shots.
You get what you pay for and communication is everything
As a customer if you want a good trainer you have to treat them like the professional they are. If you want a slave hire a personal assistant. This article is a nice window into the complex relationship between customer and trainer. I for one appreciate the frank communication. Communication is the most important thing in any professional relationship. If your takeaway from this is "the trainer wants me to do their work" you may have missed the larger point. It's about the goals and objectives. It's about the relationship. Owners/Trainers... it's a professional relationship of it's not.
I agree with the last post. If I am paying day fees, I expect not to be taken advantage of by my trainer. I enjoy helping out and the other clients don't help or aren't there then I should not be taken advantage of. Also, just because you communicate with your trainer doesn't mean he or she listens. Sometimes the trainer thinks they know better because "their the trainer". Bottom line is if I'm paying the bills I will make the final decision regarding care and showing of "MY" horse.
as an owner/breeder/exhibitor, (remember when we had a class for us old farts) I find all the comments amusing, I do it all , all by myself. I raise my prospects, put up hay, get grain, get savings, clean stalls, ride,blah blah, and haul myself to the show, braid my own, ride my own , train my own, show my own, and find that most of the above comments are indicative of what is wrong with showing Quarter Horses , and no I am not just a whiny person who can't compete at QH shows. I have bred,, trained and shown 2 home growns to a 4th, 5th, 10th, multiple finalist positions at Congress, who needs the trainer!