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  • Writer's pictureKathy Troxler

What Inspires a Horse Trainer

This is probably not what you're expecting!

I don’t often sit down and watch TV. However, I do often have the television on in the background when I’m working in the house. I’d rather watch something great-over and over again-than sit through something awful. Everyone has their own definition of awful. I’m not interested in being patronized, terrified or in watching human stupidity being glorified.

Several years ago we became “network-less”, relying on primarily Netflix and Amazon to provide our viewing content. I like watching great stories and preferably stories that inspire me. Today I’ll share someting that people don’t know about me- to get “my fix”, I usually find myself turning to some of the great documentaries on Netflix!

Today’s recommendation is Abstract:The Art of Design! I’ve watched (or listened to) these episodes over and over again! Why? Why would I find that these stories speak to the part of me that chose horse training as a career? What common ground could there possibly be between Christopher Niemann (illustrator), Tinker Hatfield (shoe designer), Es Devlin (stage designer), Bjark Ingels (architect), Ralph Gilles (car designer), Paula Scher (graphic designer), Platon (photographer) Ilse Crawford (interior designer) and Kathy Troxler (Arabian horse trainer)? I have my theory, but it’s a bit long winded and I’ll put it below the fun part-the information about Abstract!

Netflix Abstract:The Art of Design

Abstract: The Art of Design debuted on Netflix in 2017. The 8 people I've mentioned above tell story of how they "do what they do" and how they came to be in their profession. Official website:

If you're looking for something to watch that is actually worth watching, I recommend Abstract!

So, the long winded part-why do I find these kinds of shows inspiring? Maybe because as horse breeders and trainers we're actually creating. Responsible breeders try to improve every generation and aspire to a theoretical perfect model. Trainers strive daily to create -at the very least-good equine citizens, and in the best cases, fantastic equine partners capable of safely partnering with a rider. Riding instructors step up to the task of teaching humans an entirely new way of moving-with a partner of different species!

I especially enjoy programs about artists, designers and performers! Why? What would a professional horsemen-be it a trainer, farm or ranch manager or instructor- have in common with artists and designers? Why would an owner and breeder of Arabian horses find dancers, chefs, movie makers and musicians inspiring?

Well, for one thing, there’s no denying that choosing to make your living training horses is a step outside the norm! Noo one has ever said “Open up a training barn! That has great profit potential”. Wow! I laughed out loud while I wrote that one. Also, artists and musicians spend years perfecting techniques so that something difficult looks easy and effortless-so do horse trainers. Authors and movie makers spend years putting their heart and soul into a project, that in the end will have to be judged and found worthy by someone else. Designers work on projects that don’t pass muster and have to return to “the drawing board” just as professional horse trainers and amateur riders alike must come out of an arena with more work to do!

But I think that the real reason is that deciding on a career working with horses is something that you choose with your heart, not your head. Like all of careers I mentioned above, you do not choose this lifestyle because it’s a smart decision. It’s more than a profession and it’s more than a vocation. The word ‘vocation’ does come close. I looked it up. The definition of vocation is-a person’s employment or main occupation, especially as regarded particularly worthy and requiring great dedication. Being a professional horseman is a passion and it’s also a lifestyle. You do it because you absolutely would be miserable doing anything else. Most of these stories that I identify with have some twisty-turny bits and almost always there was some serendipity. Sometimes the hero of the story had unflinching faith in themselves, sometimes they were lucky enough to have someone have the faith for them. In either case, these are the stories that I find give me inspiration every time I watch them. I like to think of these types of people as members of “my tribe”!

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