Thursday, 14 November 2019
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Top Tips for Aspiring Trainers by Johanna Ullström

Top Tips for Aspiring Trainers by Johanna Ullström

Johanna kindly gives some of her precious time to write for Merlin’s Kitty Klub. One of the most successful trainers in Europe, as well as the top female trainer, Johanna has been showing Arabian horses since the 1990s. Her ArcticTern Training Center in Belgium has seen some of the world’s most beautiful Arabian horses through its doors, and Merlin’s Kitty Klub is honoured to have Johanna share her Top Tips for our younger readers.

*Don’t show your horse if it’s not ready for it.

When you are new and you want to make a good impression, it is very important that you do a good job! Make sure your horses are in good shape and condition, as well as behaving well in stand-up and trot. It’s important to be seen doing a constant good job, and it’s better to leave unfinished horses home, no matter how pretty they are or how exciting it is to bring them to the show.

*Communicate with clients.

It is important to discuss with horse owners in an honest way. It is easy to talk about the fun parts but equally important to be honest and up to date when things don’t work as well; if the horse has some problems, is ill or other bad news. To be honest and straight makes relations last long and clients turn into friends.

*Be fair to your horse.

The horse should of course respect you and is not allowed to misbehave. But you should respect your horse too! Try to build a team with your horse, where you both try your best! None of you should master the other. You make the decisions and you are the boss and teacher over your horse, but a good boss and teacher uses encouragement to obtain willingness, not abuse to obtain a slave.

*Make sure to give a good impression.

If you want to become a professional trainer and handler, you should not be the last one leaving the party at the shows as the most drunk person. You should act well to everyone, also people you don’t specifically like. Dress properly in the show-ring and make sure you have good helpers to assist you; the overall impression is important!

*Be a good looser.

It is disappointing to lose, and to be unfairly judged; it happens to everyone! Keep your head cool, congratulate the winners, try not to use too many excuses and just look ahead and aim for the next class/show.

To be a good winner is easy, but equally important when competing is to loose with grace.*Learn how to clip well before the show!

Don’t start to clip the horses just before leaving for the show, as it is not as easy as it looks! Try on horses not going to a show, or a long time before! Ask other trainers if you can watch and learn; you will surely be welcome by most trainers!

It is also important to learn carefully what blades to use and where.

*Don’t be afraid to ask!

Be open about your weaknesses – that is how you are going to learn so much quicker, and also how you will gain respect as someone that wants to move forward. By hiding your shortcomings and pretending that you know, you will learn nothing! Maybe ask trainers you respect and admire if you can come with them to learn more when possible.


To be a trainer and handler takes lots and lots of work. Don’t expect it to be easy. The white shirt and the black trousers, with a beautiful horse beside you in the show-ring, is the result of many months of hard work, and at that moment you should be happy and proud of yourself for all the efforts you have put into your horse. Don’t forget to enjoy the road to there! Teaching a horse to be confident, seeing muscles develop its coat start to shine and owners smile is worth every drop of sweat!

If you have any specific questions, please contact Merlin’s Kitty Klub through where he and his expert friends will help find the answers that you need.

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