Along for the ride: Choosing a horse trainer

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider

How do you know if your trainer is “the one”?

They say that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. At least that is the tactic I used when I’d conduct interviews when I was in HR. If you could get the candidate to give you specific examples of things that they had done in the past, you could evaluate how that would work for the position and environment that you were recruiting for. Even better was to get work samples or put them in a simulated work environment. It wasn’t foolproof, but it was a lot more objective than some interview strategies that I had used and endured in the past.

Luckily we live in a digital world where finding feedback on anything or anyone is as easy as clicking a few times. You can find feedback or examples of the product or service that you desire and compare it to what you want and make an informed decision.

Choosing who you want to get help from to train your horse is no different. Unlike most professions, anyone can call themselves a horse trainer – no credentials needed! This makes your job even more difficult and frankly a bit scary.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you are considering someone to help you with your horse:

  1. What do their horses or horses they have worked with look like? Would you like to climb aboard and take them for a ride? How have they PROVEN to you that they know what they are doing (that they walk the talk)?
  2. How long have they been training horses? How many have they trained?
  3. Does the person explain things in a way that you understand and fits with the way you learn? Can you get enough information from them for you to be successful? Do you believe in what they are saying?
  4. Is their process easy to duplicate? Meaning, at your level is there something for you or do they inspire you to make changes?
  5. Are they accessible? Do they answer your questions or have available avenues of feedback?
  6. What are they achieving? Are they getting better? Improving? Evolving? If so, is it in the direction you want to as well? If not, are you ok with that?
  7. How do they treat others? Are they someone you would like to learn from? Would you like to spend time with someone like this?
  8. What do other people say about them?

These are just a few of the questions that come to mind, I’m sure there are more. Warwick’s advice is to follow someone’s process all the way through, whether it’s his or someone else’s (as the wife, obviously I advocate for his!). If you’ve chosen your person and answered positively to the above questions, then whomever you have chosen has proven that their process is successful.  Our advice is to follow that process all the way through from start to finish. THEN you can go back and refine, tweak, experiment, etc. I heard Jonathan Field say once, “First you have to know the rules, then you can break them.”   What I interpreted that to mean was, after you get through it all successfully, then you can modify, change, add or delete from the process.

It reminds me of what our Scottish friend, Brandon McAuslan, once told Warwick about being a black belt in the martial arts. He thought that once he was awarded his black belt that it would be the pinnacle, the end all to be all. Then he got there. Then, he started over to get his second black belt (or something like that) and got to go back through everything with a black belt’s eyes and knowledge and learned SOOOO much more! That made a lot of sense to both of us. If you go through a successful process all the way through, then you can go back through it and you will inevitably see things deeper and more clearly. THEN you can “break the rules” and tweak things.

Warwick says that at first you have to Stick to the Damn Plan…then you can Stick to the Damn Principles. I think he’s onto something there!

STTDP everyone!

Thanks for reading!

Post script – this was not meant to be an ad for Warwick – it goes along with his newest Youtube video here:
and I had been composing something along the same lines, so I thought they would compliment each other.