Everyone wants to talk about how high horse prices have gone, but what I don’t hear is people talking about the price of horse training going up. Training costs have stayed close to the same, while the opportunity for those types of young head horses and young heel horses has gone up tenfold.
What does that mean?
It means buying a well-bred 2-year-old didn’t make sense seven or eight years ago, but it might make sense today. As an amateur roper, you’ll be money-up on a horse by paying a trainer to make him solid.
If you start with a handy-broke 3-year-old for $12,000, I believe you should see an amazing transformation. I think after one year, if they’re mature enough physically and mentally to start, they should be dang close to ready to go for the futurities. And I feel like, in $6,000, you should know if you’re wasting your time or money or not before you get too far down the road. If you’ve got a good trainer, that’s money well-spent.
The ropers who want to own young horses shouldn’t be the only ones paying horse trainers, either. If you buy one of these expensive finished horses, maintenancing them is as important so you can have the horse you bought six months down the road. It takes some maintenance to keep that horse together.
It shouldn’t really be a pride-check to send your horse to a trainer. There are a lot of people who make a lot more money in this world than horse trainers. It’s not a pride thing that you spent your hours on a profession instead of learning to train a horse. It’s like being too proud to hire someone do your taxes instead of hiring an accountant. Training a horse is a skillset, and it’s learned best by experience and time spent, just like anything else. You can even use horse trainers to check your own progress with a horse by letting them ride that horse when you get it, and then stopping by for progress checks. They can let you know what skills have deteriorated over time, and you can see what you need to work on or keep things from happening, or they can plug holes before you sink.
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I am an example of someone who utilizes a trainer. If I get too many, I do not mind farming them out. I’m not just saying it. I think it’s money well spent because you get it back on the back end. When I was rodeoing, I would buy two or three horses, send them to trainers, and keep the one that fit me the best and sell the rest. And most of the time, the horse that I wanted to keep got trained for free because there’s that much value in seeing the process through.
Everybody will talk about “I’m not going to be spend $1,500 for 30 days,” but then they’ll lose $30,000 in the end. It doesn’t make sense.
What makes a good customer?
Everybody wants a good trainer, but not everybody wants to be a good customer. A good customer is someone who will be concerned about the progress of their horse but will also stay out of the way enough to let it get done, and not demand a six-month job done in 30 days. With that said, a good trainer will keep you updated with progress reports and videos at least every 60 days.