Anonymous Trainer Poll: “What is one radical change that you believe would completely change our industry for the better?”

BY Piper Klemm

We polled 10 household named trainers anonymously… 

“What is one radical change that you believe would completely change our industry for the better?” 

  1. “I wish we could give people the power to be part of things where they do such a good job that they outgrow them. That trainers passed to the next trainer when ready. That we had a system that maybe the lesson barn trainer passed on clients at the right time and then the first show trainer split the first 3 commissions of horses they sold to them. That we can incentivize trainers investing at being the very best in their lane in every aspect of the industry. We need everyone to thrive- we need the most school programs and then fewer show barns and then fewer elite barns. There has to be a financial and pipeline agreement way to incentivize our sport to flip back to this.”
  2. “No shows in the month of December. There is zero reason to have rated shows in December. Let people have families and holidays and plan their pregnancies around having a break every year. Have a let down period and seriously excited people to horse shows in January. Let people clinic, teach riders the basics, do barnwork, and work on green horses and if some local shows or schooling days happen, that’s great.”
  3. “Make different hunter courses, not the same jumps and same simple design all over the country. Bring back the coop, start with a line, have both more simple and more intense jumps in all regular hunter classes. Make challenge win the game and not simply a perfectionism contest. Make courses challenging enough that we don’t know who the winner might be before the class starts. The point and the excitement of the hunters is to be bold and we can recapture that.” 
  4. “Allow small ‘r’ judges to judge any horse class under 3’ at any horse show. Encourages new people to judge, changes up the pool, and modernizes the direction of the sport. Where our sport goes has always been a sum of judging opinion vectors and this helps get current trainers and active voices in the booth quickly at major horse shows.” 
  5. “Make a commitment that 25% of your shows are within 60 miles of your home base (or somewhere where most of your students can sleep in their own beds). If there are not the shows in your home base, make them. This might mean showing local instead of rated shows a quarter of your time.” 
  6. “Teach everyone through the lens that you do not need money to develop intuition and intuition is the most valuable concept in our sport. Intuition with horses, on the ground, on soundness, on riding, and with teaching and people.” 
  7. “I think people need to ride radically more. I think so many of the issues that people are facing is due to not riding enough. Stop trying to make it perfect, ride something green, something with issues, something extra, and figure it out. Most horses need more training, most riders need more training, and we can all work together to figure out how to have less “horse waste.” Systems in place we have don’t create bold riders or people who can train horses.” 
  8. “Figure out how to have systems of credit and leeway. “Back in the day,” shows, trainers, and so many more helped the current generation of trainers start their businesses. As these are increasingly owned by short-term profit groups who don’t think long-term about growing the people in our sport, there is less credit and ability to survive and grow. I’m not sure how to do this, but occasional credit is necessary for the true grit and workers to pull themselves up in our sport. Everyone wants to ‘invest’ in horses or real estate but what we really need to invest in is people, knowledge, and standards. That’s where the real sport, lifestyle, and fulfillment lies.” 
  9. “Refuse to compromise on standards and character. I think trust can be gained in our community again, but it feels lost right now. Every transaction, every lesson, every interaction. Is this what is best for our sport? And quite simply do better, encourage those around you to do better, be a role model of doing better, and research everyday what doing better means for your horse, for your students, and for yourself.” 
  10. “It is outrageous how many people pay others to do their barnwork and then go to the gym. We can make our sport more efficient, more personal, more empathetic, physically and emotionally stronger, and more cost effective by taking that sweat to the barn and doing some work.”