Non Pro Rules

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then reining trainers must be from Heaven and non pros from… well, use your imagination! By Francesca Sternberg.

Francesca Sternberg

In the 20 plus years that I have been showing Quarter Horses I have had the privilege to ride with many of the greatest trainers on the planet and benefit from their words of wisdom. I just wish I could have understood them all! I have come to realise that they do indeed speak a different language, and although mostly we have shared the common ground of speaking in English, that hasn’t always helped me get the point they are making. I have decided to compile a list to help trainers and non pros around the world comprehend their situation better. This should perhaps lead to a greater understanding and an easier ride all round. Please take this in the humour in which it is written and many thanks to those who contributed, you know who you are!

NON PROS

1 YES BUT…

Never, ever, ever say ‘Yes, but…’ to a Trainer, unless you wish to witness something akin to Krakatau erupting. This is without a doubt the most important rule in ‘non pro -ism.’ You may think ‘Yes, but…’ but do not ever say it out loud.

2 DO NOT ASK ABOUT THE OUTFIT

Do not consult your trainer about your show clothes. It is a waste of time and he is probably colour blind anyway. He, himself, will only like to show in a white or sludge brown shirt. He will immediately become annoyed with you as he thinks you have your priorities wrong and you should be thinking about your pattern. You, of course, know that the outfit is a priority, but that is where your opinions will have to differ.

3 SHOUTING

When your trainer shouts at you it is because he thinks you cannot hear him. Actually, you can hear him loud and clear, you just have no idea what he is talking about.

4 AFTER THE PATTERN

When your trainer tells you how poorly you rode your spins/circles/stops he is not being mean but merely offering you some constructive criticism so that you may improve. Unfortunately this may make you feel like quitting altogether.

5 KICK HARDER, USE YOUR LEGS

When your trainer tells you that you ‘kick like a girl,’ refrain from reminding him that last time you checked you were a girl.

6 NEVER COMPLAIN ABOUT THE HORSE

He is a wonderful and well trained beast; it is you who are not wonderful and well trained. You may be a beast.

7 BODY CONTROL

This is referring to parts of the horse, not whether you need a sports bra.

8 FENCING

Most non pros hate this part and most trainers love it. Just when you are going at what feels like breakneck speed they will yell, ‘Go faster!’ Actually, they do not wish to kill you as you pay the bills. Remember this as you are heading for a brick wall at full speed and have faith that, if for this reason only, they have taught the horse how to stop.

9WHO IS GOING TO SHOW THE HORSE?

Be careful when purchasing the horse that he is good enough to make your trainer look great when you are on top, but not too good. If that happens the trainer will take the horse away as it is too good for you and he will have to show it himself.

10 THE PATTERN

Do not ask your trainer what your pattern is or how it goes. He won’t know but he will be mad at you for you not knowing.

11 DO NOT ASK YOUR TRAINER TO ENTER YOU IN THE SHOW

Although he probably sold you the horse and has been training you for some time he will have no idea what division/class you are both eligible for.

12 SELECTIVE  HEARING

I have found over the years that it is easier to agree to everything and only listen to half of it. As long as you are having a nice time at least 50% of the team will be happy.

13 LAST MINUTE ADVICE

You can tell a non pro whatever you like at the gate before they go in, but he/she will have forgotten most of it by the time they reach the middle of the arena. The only two instructions they really need to know are ‘don’t fall off,’ and ‘try to stay on pattern.’ When the trainer says ‘have fun’ what he is really thinking is ‘please don't embarrass me!’

TRAINERS:

1 LANGUAGE

Remember to keep things really simple for the non pros. They do not understand even the most basic commands and quite often stare vacantly at you after they have been given an instruction. It is not that they are totally stupid, just that they don’t process information too well when their feet are not on the ground.

2 LEFT AND RIGHT

Even the most highly qualified and intelligent person, prominent in a professional field or career, might not be able to tell his left from his right when sitting on a horse. Many will also struggle to count to four.

3 RETENTION

Even though you do the same exercises over and over again with your students, and give them the same instructions, by nightfall they will have forgotten them all. In the morning you will have to start all over again.

4 CO-ORDINATION

Most non pros cannot coordinate very well. If you give them exercises that include direction and speed, along with hand and leg movements, they will become very confused. That is why reining is so difficult for them.

5 TISSUES

Always carry a few tissues with you because at some point there will be tears. You have to hope they are not yours.

6 CHAPS

Never only have one non pro at the show at a time. There will always be one who can’t get their chaps on, so you will need another one to help him/her.

7 TOO MUCH PRACTICE

Allow your non pro to know his horse just well enough that he can pick it out of a line up, but not so much that he ruins all your good training.

8 SOCIALISING

It is difficult to get non pros to understand that the horse show is not a social event, a place to meet up with friends and go shopping. Non pros have real difficulty staying focused in environments like the fair grounds. For some reason they seem to think they are there to enjoy themselves.

9THE TRUTH HURTS

When a non pro asks, ‘How did that look?’ it often pays to lie. A comment such as ‘Well, you look like a monkey playing with a football’ is not acceptable. You can say something like ‘You ride a little bit like Shawn Flarida’ instead.

10 MEMORY

Non pros have very little memory, and last minute instructions will be forgotten the moment the gate closes (see non pro list number 13 above).

11 LOOKING DOWN

What is the fatal fascination with the saddle horn and why do non pros have to stare at it all the time? Does it do something special, or have directions written on it? Would it not be so much better for them to look where they are going?!

12 OVERSEAS

If you truly can’t help the way you teach get a job in a foreign country. That way some of the really rude bits will hopefully get lost in translation.

13 FINALLY,REMEMBER THE FOLLOWING

When the non pro wins, it is because he/she is trained by a great trainer. When the non pro fails it is because he/she is a non pro twit.

When the trainer wins it is because he/she is a great trainer. When the trainer fails it is because the horse is useless. The non pro needs to understand that they have to buy a better one.

Non Pros, you are not alone. Trainers, you are not alone either. Enjoy the show!