What do you expect from a breaker?

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by StraightandTrue, Aug 27, 2018.

  1. StraightandTrue

    StraightandTrue Senior Member

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    Bit of a long post, but I'm curious to know what people expect from a breaker. A friend of mine recently sent their horse off to be broken in. I've known the breaker for a while and have always been impressed by how well mannered and calm her horses are. She even let me hop on her competition horse and one of her youngsters while she was out at a training day - both horses were an absolute joy to ride and I felt super safe cantering them around. She has a knack for creating calm, sensible horses, which is why I recommended her to my friend when she purchased an unbroken horse that only had very basic handling.

    The breaker charges a fixed fee for her breaking in program, which is a minimum of 8 weeks but sometimes goes over (in which case there is no additional cost). To me this makes sense. There are people who will say "I'm only prepared to pay for 4 weeks" and expect the same outcome as if their horse was in training for double that time. When their horse comes back half finished they're quick to badmouth the breaker for cutting corners, and ultimately it's the breaker's name and reputation that will suffer. The breaker I recommended spends a lot of time desensitising the horses and putting them in lots of different situations to ensure they're safe for the owner to ride. All her breakers are ridden out in open paddocks, on trails, around cattle, on roads etc before they go home. Her thorough breaking in process is what she's built her reputation on, so it seems reasonable to me that she has a fixed program.

    Unfortunately my friend has been unhappy with the way the program is structured. The breaker spent the first 3 weeks desensitising the horse and doing a lot of work on the ground (tying up, pick up feet, long reining, walking over tarps, wash bay etc). Week 4 the saddle went on and the breaker had some very gentle rides in the round pen while continuing groundwork. Week 5 she began increasing the intensity of the rides in the round pen.

    When I spoke to my friend at Week 6 she sounded really unhappy at how long everything was taking. She was expecting the horse to be going on trails and doing all the exciting stuff, and was disappointed that the horse was only just starting to get ridden outside the round pen. I told her 6 weeks was really not a long time in the overall scheme of things, and that although it was taking longer it's because the breaker was being thorough. I told her she needed to trust the breaker's process, and also reminded her the horse would only be green broken when she got it back so not to expect too much. She took this on board, but still seemed impatient and frustrated.

    The breaker has since told my friend she would like to keep the horse for an extra 2 weeks (at no extra cost) due to her competition schedule taking her away for extended periods. Again, to me this shows the breaker is committed to doing the right thing and not cutting corners, but my friend was really annoyed by the delay. I guess I'm a bit surprised that my friend, who is herself quite an accomplished rider and has trained a few green horses herself, is picking apart the breaker for taking things slowly. I'm almost certain she is badmouthing this breaker to other people too, which seems totally unfair. I went to see the horse with my friend the other weekend - unfortunately the breaker was away at a comp, so we just long reined the horse in the roundpen. It was blowing a gale but the horse stayed focused and worked beautifully. I was impressed by how calm, confident and happy the horse was even in challenging conditions, but my friend was really 'meh' about the whole thing.

    I don't know, am I expecting too little here, or is my friend expecting too much? I feel like the training is rock solid and it will be easy for my friend to build on the foundation the breaker has put down, but she doesn't seem to see that? What would you expect if you sent a horse that only had basic handling (literally only knows how to lead and nothing else) to a breaker?
     
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  2. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

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    That's an excessive amount of time in my opinion on ground work unless she was too busy with other clients and didn't spend much time daily. Ground work's important, but three weeks of it..

    It'd be different if someone was piddling at their own barn with a horse and there was no schedule. It makes no sense as a pro with an eight week schedule.
     
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  3. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Your friend has no idea. The horse should have already been desensitized to ropes all over it's body and had all it's groundwork installed, before it was sent to be started.

    No horse trainer can desensitize, start and then have a horse reliable enough to go out riding in 8 weeks time UNLESS the horse is super laidback, willing and cooperative and has had it's ground training done.

    Eight weeks of riding is not a lot. Three weeks waisting time doing what the owner should have done to prepare the horse for being started puts the horse way behind.

    If she is annoyed, it should be at herself. Most horse trainers, you bring them a horse like this, you pay for 90 days to have something ridable in the end.
     
  4. bellalou

    bellalou Senior Member

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    I think a lot depends on the horse I send to the person. There are horses that might need 3 weeks of ground work but there are plenty of horses that don't need much at all. A lot depends on the horse's grounding at home. Any horse I sent out for training would already be fine with oddball stuff so I would not be happy paying for 3 weeks of stuff my horse didn't need.

    What's important is less what I think the trainer (hate the term "breaking") should be doing but what the owner and trainer come to as a mutual agreed-upon plan. If your friend isn't happy with what's getting done, she needs to talk to the trainer.
     
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  5. StraightandTrue

    StraightandTrue Senior Member

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    That's this breaker's point of difference though. She has built her reputation on being thorough and making sure the training is solid. I don't know, 3 weeks before getting on a horse that has only occasionally had a halter put on it and didn't know how to tie up, stand for grooming, pick up feet (the horse's feet were in a terrible state when my friend bought it) doesn't seem like very long to me. To me it seems smart to take the time to mouth, long rein, and work the horse with flappy things tied to the saddle before putting a foot in the stirrup. Better than jumping on at the end of Week 1 and finding yourself in a rodeo!
     
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  6. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

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    You can incorporate lunging with other work as you're working on other issues in training. Most people are not into this type of training unless you're leaving your colt there for a long period of time. I'd more than expect this if I were sending to a trainer for advanced work to progress to, but you don't put a time frame on that kind of training.

    I hope you understand I'm only framing this in the 8 week training schedule. I don't care if she's willing to go over at her expense, it smacks of inefficiency at the least. She's probably really good, but it's not coming across well just as a professional. You have to set reasonable parameters within the time you're given. My opinion, sorry. I tend to be very slow with my own as she is, but when you've a client you adapt for their pleasure. They have an agenda also.
     
  7. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Breaker is not the right term. Horse trainer who specializes in starting horses.

    If someone said to me: “ I'm taking my horse to the breaker“. My mind would go right to: “ Why? Is he an electrical technician?“. ;):ROFLMAO:
     
  8. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

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    You asked for opinions. I'm sorry, but it literally is not necessary to spend almost a month on ground work.
     
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  9. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

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    I know, I cringe at that word.
     
  10. StraightandTrue

    StraightandTrue Senior Member

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    There were circumstances that prevented my friend from doing this stuff prior to sending the horse to the breaker. It was either a) send the horse off to the breaker without the handling, or b) leave the horse untouched in the paddock for 6 weeks, then do the handling, then send the horse off to the breaker for finishing. She decided to go with a) to save time.
     

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