Why Horse Trainers Are Horrible People Who I Can’t Live Without

I work with a couple of trainers who happen to be husband and wife. Let’s call the husband trainer Good Cop. His wife is Bad Cop.

Good Cop says things like ‘great job’ and ‘good girl’ anytime I do anything resembling an improvement. He’s very encouraging and makes me feel as though I might have a chance at not embarrassing him when it comes time to show.

Then there’s bad cop. Bad cop yells at me to fix my flaws. The most offensive of my flaws is leaning forward. This was made abundantly clear to me the day she yelled “Sit your ass back!” at me. Although I think there may have been an additional expletive in there. But you must have Bad Cop with Good Cop. Good Cop gets your confidence up so you keep getting better, keep driving forward. But Bad Cop is honest with you about your “areas of opportunity.” Bad cop is that one friend who will tell you that yes, in fact that dress does make you look fat. But you asked her. Actually in this case, you’re paying her to tell you. And really, you don’t want to wear a dress that makes you look fat anyway. The same way you don’t want to ride poorly.

I mean, who wouldn’t yell at me to sit back?

Good Cop and Bad Cop have a gift for pushing you past your comfort zone and getting you on your way to being a better rider, a better equestrian. But sometimes that push is more like a hard shove off a Grand Canyon cliff. Take for example a relaxing trail ride I took with them and their family this summer. We were taking our time, walking and trotting, keeping a good safe speed for the young kids of our group. I was happy because I don’t like going very fast.


Good Cop and Good Cop’s son, along with another rider I’ll call Amazing-Teen-Rider, decided to break off from the group for a an extended loop of trotting. Bad cop asked me if I wanted to go with them, asked me if I wanted to go with the trotting group. TROTTING GROUP.

“Mainly trotting?” I asked.

“Yes, mainly trotting. Some cantering. But mostly trotting. You should go.”

“Sure.” I like the sounds of mainly trotting. Oh Bad Cop. How you betrayed me.

I was late to take off for the ‘trotting’ group so the Amazing-Teen-Rider and I had to lope to catch up. Nice, gentle, rocking-horse loping. We lost the trotting group. Good Cop’s son had to come back and find us. And thus, now we needed faster loping to make up time. We caught up. And we hit a narrow path hugging the river. We slowed it down to a trot. I took a breath. I looked around. I was still alive. I laughed and said I couldn’t believe I could hang with them.

Why did I have to say that? The narrow path ended and Good Cop told his son we needed to pick it back up. Back to loping. Even though this was supposed to be a ‘mainly trotting’ ride. Wait, why is he going faster? Why am I going faster? Oh because Gangster cannot get left behind. So now we are galloping. Do you know what they do at the Kentucky Derby? They gallop. On straight stretches and in deep dirt. We were on gravel and weaving between trees. And OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT?!? Gangster just spooked at a pile of poop on the trail and jumped four feet to the side while galloping. I’m wondering how I’m still on and Good Cop is behind me laughing and telling me ‘good girl’.

Good Cop should probably be called Asshole cop now. Yes. Definitely Asshole cop. I haven’t thought of what to call Bad Cop because I’m still trying to stay in the saddle. We catch back up with the family and kids and I finally resume breathing normally.

After I take stock of my body and note everything is intact I decide they are both Good Cops. They’re just pushing me along in my riding. Kicking me out of grandma gear. Really, they should win an award for having so much patience with my sometimes insecure approach. See? Not always overly confident.

I’d love to hear the evil things your trainer made you do that made you a better rider. Please share!

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Seriously. Look at that face. That is the face of someone recovering her oxygen who almost died. Okay, maybe not. But I certainly felt alive after the 'trotting' ride.
Seriously. Look at that face. That is the face of someone recovering her oxygen who almost died. Okay, maybe not. But I certainly felt alive after the ‘trotting’ ride.


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Theresa Rice

Writing a modern day western and telling my daily stories of humor, sadness or inspiration. Depending on the day, it might be all three.

2 thoughts on “Why Horse Trainers Are Horrible People Who I Can’t Live Without”

  1. So much yes.
    From a post on the subject: Coach had pondered ways to improve my soft-to-the-point-of-ineffective hands. She decided on long-lining. This morphed into driving lessons. On the first day, we talked endless driving theory: how to do it, what to expect, how it should feel, how a class is conducted. She stood in the ring and answered every question I had for as long as it took.

    Before my next driving lesson, I was still nervous about the whole idea. I started asking more questions. She interrupted me with, “Just get in the damn cart.” Okay, she’s Southern, so she probably didn’t actually say damn, but it was strongly implied.

    At Nationals, I had mini-meltdowns before each drive. She stood at Alvin’s head, silent and impassive, until I just got in the damned cart.


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