I was raised in a German household, never learned to speak it, but I sure knew when I was in trouble.  Shortly after my son began riding, I began the transformation from Jumping to Dressage and after about three years of training locally, I went to a very “reputable” and expensive trainer. At our first meeting, she explained that she was classically trained by a German master, now well into her late 60’s. As a young girl fresh out of high school, rather than going to college, she went to Germany to study Dressage… OK! I’m impressed. She used big words, talked down other methods and yelled a lot. OK! I was on the fence.

By the time I began training with her, I had been riding for over 30 years although I had only been full time committed to Dressage for 3 to 4 years. I was showing second level successfully, with scores in the high 60 low 70’s… Her plan was I HAD to ride everyday, 7 days a week.

Never mind if I worked, or had a family, or that her barn was 68 miles from my house. Our first mounted lesson she shouted, swore at me in German, I broke out in hives and we both concluded I never rode a horse before in my life… Within two weeks, my confidence was shattered, I cried openly all through a lesson.

I told my husband I could not do it. Mind you, for two years, I had been whining how I needed a “real” dressage trainer, one that emphasized classical dressage. HE FOUND HER!!! She hated my horse, told me he was a kicker… he never kicked a day in his life. I got my horse when he was 18 months old and he was 7 at the time we started into training with her.

My horse needed grain and lots of it, she told me I knew nothing when I told her my hose was grain sensitive and could not have grain. She said there is no such thing. Next, he was lame and then he was dangerous. My husband came to watch a lesson. She was so sweet, she talked to him about how much potential I had as a rider I just need….. blah blah blah!!! The next day she went back to yelling, swearing… so I loaded up and left.

To quote my husband “this is what I do for fun” even though I might be a tad tooo serious about my dressage, it still has to be fun. Each afternoon, I pour books all over the viewing room, planning what lesson I will teach myself. Laughing at my western pleasure trainer reading from “Classical Dressage for dummies” on how to create better “flaxation” or both of us drawing lines in the sand to find tracks for me to follow trying to learn 3 track shoulders-in.

Point of this story, not all trainers are good. And not all trainers will work for you.

Ask questions get references, see what they have accomplished. Where do they compete? What are their personal goals and most importantly, are they capable of making it fun?