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Wrangling on the Range #172

10 Questions before Training school


10 QUESTIONS ... to ask before putting your horse in training.

Choose the perfect training program with these talking points. By

Sending a favorite horse to a trainer can be nerve-wracking,
especially if it's your first time. Before checking out a trainer
- whether local or out-of-state - review these questions to find
the right program for you and your horse. Trainer Duayne Williams
of Precision Ranch in Grand Saline, Texas, offers these
discussion topics when considering a professional horseman.

1 "How much is monthly training, and what does it include?"

Before jumping into any questions, ask budget-related questions
first. Avoid "sticker shock" on the first month's bill by being
upfront with any financial questions. Keep in mind the trainer's
price will vary by his experience, qualifications and location,
Duayne says.
"Especially with the economy the way it is right now, people are
looking for the most bang for their buck. You always want to know
how much you'll spend," he said.
Don't forget to ask what a month of training includes. Most
monthly training fees include basic boarding care, but don't
hesitate to ask about specifics, like turn-out schedules.

2 "Can 1 come tour your facility?" 

Owners can visually assess a potential trainer's facility with an
in-person visit to the farm. If you meet a trainer at a show or
clinic, contact them to schedule a barn tour. Make sure you like
what you see: the horses look healthy and happy, and the clients
feel at home. A website can also provide an great first
impression-or make an owner steer clear. "On our website, we list
how big our stalls are, how big our turn-out pens are-basically
everything we've got," Duayne said.

3 "How many horses do you keep in training?"

Non-pro owners with busy schedules sometimes need close personal
attention from the trainer and expect their horses to receive the
same one-on-one time. Although there are pros and cons to large
and small training operations, you might find you prefer one size
over another.
"Clients want to know they're getting their money's worth,"
Duayne said. "I try to keep it small, but some guys have 30
horses in training. We have systems that work for us, but people
want the guy they're paying to ride their horse."

4 "How do I arrange for hauling to shows or other locations?"

"With diesel and gas prices going up and up, if you're hauling
long distances most people expect you to haul their horse,"
Duayne said. "But if you're staying local, people might haul
themselves to save a little money to put toward their show bill."
While Duayne doesn't mind if clients want to haul their own
horses to an event, some trainers prefer to "carpool" in one
trailer. If you're used to shuttling your horses on your own, ask
the trainer what his preferences are.
"You want everything to be up front," Duayne added. "That's
really important that everything is on the table, and the client
knows where they stand."

5 "Who takes care of clients' horses if the trainer is away?"

Trainers understand how much owners love their horses, so
providing top-quality care is important-even if the trainer is
gone to a show.
"Horses are like people's kids," Duayne said. "It's important to
know there's a person left behind who they can trust because
horses do cost money. Make sure the horse is going to be safe and
in the same program as if the trainer was at home."

6 "What veterinarian and farrier do you use?" 

"I run into the situations sometimes where clients want to use
their own farrier or vet," Duayne explained. "That's a very big
question someone should ask."
Duayne prefers his clients use his regular vet and farrier, so he
can ensure clients' horses are receiving the best possible care.

7 "Do I need to bring my own feed or hay?" 

If an owner feeds their horse specific grain, hay or supplements,
check with the prospective trainer to be sure they don't mind
feeding something different.
Most trainers prefer to feed every horse in the barn the same
type or brand of feed, to make feeding time more efficient, which
equates to more time in the saddle. If your horse has special
nutrition requirements, be up front about his needs.

8 "When can I come ride my horse?"

Coordinating a trainer's and owner's hetic schedule a can be
formidable, so talk ride time with a prospective trainer early in
the conversation. "The client needs ample time learn his buttons,
especially if they're preparing for a horse show," Duayne said,
explaining that his clients schedule lessons more frequently if
they have competition goals. "One day, they're going to take
their horse home. They need to know how to ride and maintain that

9 "What can 1 tell you about my horse?" 

Briefly explain your riding history and the horse's training
background. This helps both of you know what to expect, Duayne
Duayne invites prospective clients to his facility for an
evaluation lesson, giving him a chance to project if a horse and
rider will flourish in his program.
"I want both the horse and rider to be part of the training
team," Duayne said. "The evaluation tells me if the horse is
willing to be trained, and if I feel I can get along with the

10 "How can you help me meet my riding goals?"

Reach for the stars just don't forget to include the trainer in
your dreaming. Paint trainers entered their profession because
they love horses, so they'll want to help you plot a successful
future with your horse.
"I'll ask `What are your goals?"' Duayne said. "'What do you want
to achieve on a six-month level or a year level?' and we go from
there. I don't feel like there are any goals that cannot be
achieved; it's just a matter of how much work and time the
clients are willing to put in."

Laura Stevens is assistant editor of Paint Horse Connection. To
comment on this article, email

Meet Duayne Williams

The 2011 world champion in Solid Paint-Bred Western Pleasure
aboard Impulsive Sensations, Duayne teaches all-around
performance horses and riders in a myriad of disciplines. Duayne
lives in Grand Saline, Texas, with his wife, Amy. Learn more
about Duayne's program at

From PAINT HORSE CONNECTION - Summer 2012    

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