Identity Crisis – “A Trainer”

Horse Trainer – There is a really good chance you aren’t one – and we need to leave the title only to those who are willing to bear the burden, responsibility and accountability of the job.

I am NOT a horse trainer.


There was definitely a time in my life that I “identified” incorrectly as one.  As I have aged and specialized in my own field, I feel the weight of people who “identify” with something yet don’t bare the weight of responsibility with the title. 


My hope with this article is to add some insight and give credit where it is due, and maybe help others to do so as well.


I am an observer, an analyst and have some incredible data processing skills. I am fascinated with psychology as it is a facet of nature that I feel I can never know enough about as a coach and a teacher.


When I created the Performance Horse Academy, I had a goal of sharing  proven facts (not opinions) with other humans that love performance horses.


I specialize in coaching and teaching riders and their horses in non-judged speed events.


Over the course of 13 years, I put together functional bio-mechanics data that was all proven with a Farm Tek timer line to be true, false or find the variables to show when it works and when it doesn’t and why.


I have added training to horses, I have halter broke a couple, swung my leg over a few for their first rides. I have taken a few from the 4D to the 1D. 


I used to think this made me a “Horse Trainer”.  It quite simply does not.


The title “Horse Trainer” gets thrown around like confetti at a 1980’s wedding. 


Being a horse trainer is one of the most THANKLESS parts of the equine industry.  The current trend of everyone calling themselves a trainer is severely  undermining the people in the trenches actually doing the job. 


In Functional Horse Bio-Mechanics there are 13 main structure ratios in a horses body that determine the bulk of the horses ability in an athletic event.


They are:
Vertical Center of Balance, Horizontal Center of Balance, Body Balance, Body Axis Points, Stride Length, Stride Length to Strength, Loin Length, Loin to Flank Balance, Body Width to Depth, Muscle Type Front, Muscle Type Hind, Neck Balance, Bicep/Tibia/Gascon Balance.


We go through the function and combinations of them in detail in our Foundations Courses and show you how your horse is built and what will be challenging, easy and everything in between for them.  If you want to learn more about our course, click here:


With the 1000’s of horses I have analyzed in a research environment, there are only a handful of structure ratios in combination that CANNOT successfully compete in the barrel pen, when given the correct path and posture to use their build to the fullest.


When doing my research over 100,000’s of runs I was able to distinguish that some ratios show up more often in Juvenile and Futurity events, rodeo has its own set of combined ratios, but compared to say the jumping, cutting, team roping where you have only a few sets of combined ratios that CAN consistently compete and win at high levels, the barrel horse trainer has a lot harder task than many other industries.


This is simply because the gap between CAN or CANNOT for a barrel horse is as wide as the grand canyon. 


Barrel Racing has so many levels & SO MANY VARIABLES!  Pattern size and setup, ground conditions, environment and our breeding program has created the largest set of skeleton’s of any industry.


A horse trainer is not a hobby – it is just like a Dentist or a Plumber – it is an earned title.


The problem in our industry right now is people take an otherwise trained horse around the cloverleaf a few times and suddenly they identify as a barrel horse trainer.


This has skewed the perceptions of the job and the value in the job itself, causing people to scoff at the rates trainers are charging.


Here is a quick list to see if you ARE in fact a horse trainer.

You need to check off ALL of the list, not just 1 or 2.


This is not an all encompassing list – being a trainer is so much more involved than this but this will give you a really quick idea if you are mis-identifying yourself.


#1 – Consequences: What are the consequences if your don’t get the training done? A true trainer has restrictions, requirements, consequences and deadlines. You don’t get to pick it up and drop it down as you please and your family is directly impacted when you cannot train because there are financial consequences.

#2 – Credibility: How many horses have come through your hands and OF THOSE how many of those horses have you trained to a purposeful level of success to function UNDER SOMEONE ELSE’S HANDS? Time also factors into credibility – we can all make a good one on the 8 year program but that is a hobby, not a job.

#3 – Quantity: Quantity undeniably creates experience in the least. If you can learn, quantity also lends to competency and the ability to distinguish the capacity and level each animal is capable of. 

#4 – Accountability:  Who are you accountable to?  Anyone related by DNA or Marriage does not count unless you refer back to #1 and that requirement is met.

#5 – Balance: The hard reality of being a horse trainer is having to balance the principals of business and success.  You have to make decisions that weigh the time you have invested, still need to invest, the capability of the horse and THE COST of all of these factors.


Being A TRAINER or ADDING SOME TRAINING on a horse is NOT THE SAME, yet the term “horse trainer” is being used ambiguously in both of these situations.  


The question then to me is WHY does everyone want to call themselves a “Horse Trainer”?  I am not qualified to provide an answer to that, but the psychology articles I read point a finger at our missing “sense of self” that social media has made us feel in the hustle & bustle of trying to get to the top of the feed.


A second bit of insight on this was a video I watched by writer and modern day philosopher Mark Mansen “Why We Do Things We Hate” – the message I got out of it is this:


We like the idea of being something more than we like doing the act itself.


To add to this from my own philosophy:


Social media allows us to self title without the accountability or responsibility.  No one is fact checking to see where your knowledge came from – did you read a couple books and are you parroting information OR are speaking from self experience alone?  Both of these are the current normal and EXTREMELY SCARY SCENARIOS.


Lastly, we are lead to believe that to be considered a successful barrel racer you must also be a trainer.  That concept get’s thrown around all the time and that just isn’t true.  It does not make you any less of a competitor if you didn’t train the horse you rode in on.


Just like you need a qualified carpenter to build the foundation of your house (not your neighbor who watches DYI and tiled her own bathroom floor) for it to last a lifetime, the training foundation of your horse will determine how easy or hard every interaction he has with humans and learning going forward.


Cool beans if you can start your own, I will give you a gold star all day for that, but leave the title off the profile and out of the conversation.


Let those who have to bare the weight of the responsibility and the accountability carry the title Horse Trainer proudly and distinguished, like they deserve.