Ahem. My name is Sarah. I own and ride an OTTB. And I...don't have a trainer.
I know, I know!! It's wrong. It's so wrong.
Here's the thing; the money, it's tight. I want to be able to have a cushion (however small it might be) in case Miles gets hurt, or colics, or...whatever. We also have the aforementioned Herd, a few of whom are geriatric, and I want any extra dollars we might have to be set aside for them. Ugh, I hate money talk, so that's all I'm gonna say about that.
The other thing is...well, things are going well with Miles. Oh sure, I know we may have holes in our training, but we're progressing with no huge issues (omg did I actually write that? We're doomed now:). When I think back to our first rides, and how horribly he would drop his right shoulder, or wiggle and shimmy down the long side of the arena instead of marching in a nice, straight line, we have come So Far. I honestly credit Miles more than myself. Not to mention I've been ecstatic ever since we've been cantering in the outdoor arena...we are a horse and rider pair that can perform all three gaits, whoo hoo! It's the little things:)
Another thing is...I would have to seek out and find a trainer. My last trainer was and is amazing, but she works her butt off out of her barn, and can't travel all the way to mine for one lesson, which I understand. We have no trailer, so I can't go to her. I have a couple of contacts in the area for good dressage instructors, one of whom I adore and have worked with in the past but haven't spoken to in, oh, 10 years or so.
So these are my excuses, which are lame, I know. I KNOW I have position issues to work on...well, everyone does don't they? I'm sure there are things I could be doing to help support Miles more than I am. I do always try to error on the side of caution, and to maintain a soft, quiet position, but I miss those second set of eyes on the ground to help me.
In the beginning with Miles and his horrid ground manners, I summoned and utilized my previous 20 years of experience with horses (give or take;) naturally, but I also sought the advice of my friends at the barn-one of whom is incredibly knowledgeable and generous, and shared with me a TON of her Clinton Anderson information and equipment.
I had never really looked at any of the "Natural Horsemanship" guys before, mostly because they aren't necessarily geared towards the English world (although a horse with good ground manners should be universal in all disciplines!), but also because I had never had a horse who was so damn pushy on the ground before. It was a wakeup call, that's for sure. I honestly had no idea how to deal with this 16.2 hand high blockhead who kept crowding me. I would sort of sigh at him and try to shove him away with my elbow...yeah, THAT was effective (note-it was not effective).
Watching Clinton's DVDs and reading his material was a HUGE help. I'm not going to go into details, but his method WORKED for Miles and me, and definitely brought us closer as I became less exasperated with him and he grew to respect me and trust me.
I will also admit that I thought some of this Natural Horsemanship business (not just Clinton's method) was so much common sense. Weren't Clinton, Parelli, Lyons, Cameron, Cox et al just teaching what everyone knows to beginner horsemen and women? Well, no, not necessarily.
I will say I don't agree with all of Clinton's methods, and do not employ them all. While I love RFD TV just because I will watch any show with a horse in it, I think a LOT of these guys use their air time to hawk their carrot sticks, rope halters, DVDs, etc. Some of their shows are more infomercial than anything else.
Still, I imagine there are a lot of people out there like me, doing this on our own without a trainer. I am lucky to have a background in horses to help me, as well as the awesome people at my barn, but some people don't, or don't have "structured" training (eg taking lessons) in their past to fall back on.
Should that exclude them from horse ownership? In my opinion, not necessarily. In this day and age when soooooo many horses need homes, being a beginner shouldn't stop someone, AS LONG AS they have others around them that are experienced to help, and they are willing to learn. Ugh, it's a complicated subject for another day I suppose.
I also think it's really dumb to ask a question of my audience when I have one (maybe two!) beautiful, awesome readers, but Ima do it anyway. What is your opinion of the Natural Horsemanship trend? Good or bad? Do they do more good than harm, or vise versa? Are some better than others? Are they all selling snake oil? Or are they out there helping Jane and Joe Schmoe in a way that other well-known English trainers do not?
No judgement from me no matter what you say, promise! Unless you're mean to me, then I'll cry.