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View Full Version : WWYD? (warning: a bit long)



alterego212
Apr. 27, 2009, 12:23 AM
First: using an alter so as not to make specificly known of whom I speak (although I don't think she nor her clients come here).

Second: I am really torn as what to do, and after mulling it over a few days, wanted some other input. I hate losing sleep.

Situation: Recently I gained a new client. She is quite nice, and her daughter is so eager and willing to learn. Pony needs work but I feel there is a great horse under all the BS (created from not so nice riding & handling, mostly at the hands of previous trainer). They actually could not afford me without working off some fees, but as mentioned above, their desire to learn and grow was so genuine, I found a way for it to work out for all parties. :)

Previous trainer took leaving VERY badly. In fact, I was asked to pick up pony two weeks earlier than scheduled due to drama and tears. But inclement weather delayed me a day or two, and thank god, b/c during that time the pony (and eventually the whole barn) came down with a cold from a new horse that arrived a week earlier. Pony finally gets better, and I get the green light to pick up.

Trainer is rude, childish, and spiteful towards me (whatever :rolleyes:) Pony looks very thin with a terrible coat, poor feet, and no muscle. :sigh: I may not know this trainer, but I'm starting to get the idea of how she runs her program.

As time creeps by, I start to learn of very *interesting* training techniques used on pony, as well as some unique interpretations of discipline (beatings with a crop to teach pony to stand still at mounting, for example). My favorite one is that a boarders meeting had to be called to address "the beatings of horses by kids" (Gee, wonder where they learned that from?). These stories are not told with "bad mouth" intentions, but rather in passing when I discuss the past issues with said pony, and my goals and plans to take a different approach to her handling, riding, & overall care.

The more I hear, the more offended I become. However, I am not one to jump on the bandwagon. You know how it goes in the horse world...sometimes stories are a bit stretched. They had a bad parting of ways. Maybe I'm hearing resentment and not the truth? So I called a third party familiar with said trainer and her program...not only did she confirmed it all, but she added her own favorite stories. :(

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that this isn't the only unhappy horse from that barn. Since Mom still keeps in touch with former barn mates, many of them still look to her for help and advice. And although desperate to reconnect with their mounts, they are too ignorant to know it won't happen as long as they stay with their current trainer.


Delima: What do you do when you know another trainer has a poor program, and that kids and horses are suffering because of it? I'm not talking a difference in riding philosophies....I'm talking about very questionable horsemanship on the verge of abuse. Do you mind your own business? Do you, as a professional, have an ethical obligation to say something? How do you get information and educate people without overstepping your boundaries (is that even possible?)

As I mentioned before, my new clients really don't have the budget to afford me outright. I am rather confident that most of the other boarders would be similar, so I am certainly not in the position (nor do I have the desire) to "steal" these clients. I just am so saddened and sickened to hear of what is transpiring and don't know what to do. :confused:

Haalter
Apr. 27, 2009, 12:57 AM
Trotting out my alter to answer this one :uhoh:

I had a somewhat similar experience re: a local trainer. Kid came to ride with me and I was like :eek: at some of the stories I heard. Wondered at first if it was just sour grapes, because truly it was hard to imagine someone could be so backward, but no, it was confirmed by asking a mutual acquaintance and finally by witnessing this piece of work at a horse show.

The only thing I've done is report incidents I witnessed at show to the steward. It amazes me that the people who ride with her can't figure out for themselves that what she's teaching is just plain WRONG, but there you have it.

Personally, I think it's hard to do anything about it if you aren't actually there witnessing what goes on and just hearing horror stories. Like you said, it's not just a difference in riding philosophy, it's much deeper than that and in my case, seriously unsafe for both horses and riders. I've considered making an anonymous call about this person to animal welfare, but since the horses are fed, not sure they'd be able to do anything...But at some point, one of her students is going to get seriously injured or killed, and I'll feel terrible that I was powerless to stop it :sigh:

`reppy
Apr. 27, 2009, 01:03 AM
Unless you've witnessed the abuse, I don't think there is much you can do.

However, I will say karma is a b*tch and usually places like that loose their clients pretty quickly once they realize that this is not the norm and that there are better situations out there. I think by your student's mom telling them about how great the pony is doing with you and how you do things might really help the situation.

Good luck, it sounds like your in a really tough position.

Lostboy
Apr. 27, 2009, 01:04 AM
I don't think you should say anything about events you haven't personally seen. Help the one you have.. that customer will in turn talk to her friends and the ones that understand the difference will move out of that bad stable..

and don't buy anything from that barn.

GettingBack
Apr. 27, 2009, 12:24 PM
Dilemma: What do you do when you know another trainer has a poor program, and that kids and horses are suffering because of it? I'm not talking a difference in riding philosophies....I'm talking about very questionable horsemanship on the verge of abuse. Do you mind your own business? Do you, as a professional, have an ethical obligation to say something? How do you get information and educate people without overstepping your boundaries (is that even possible?)


I was in a situation like this some years ago. And all I could do was to educate the people that came to me about *why* I didn't do what previous trainer did (without bashing previous trainer) or *why* I handled a situation the way I did. They then "woke up" and started sharing with their friends at the previous barn and things got better.

It's still a heartbreaking scenario. For sure.

gloriginger
Apr. 27, 2009, 12:49 PM
Take the high road, don't engage in these stories, simply put- "we do things differently here" and explain. The proof will be in the results that you get from the pony with your methods.

Everything at this point is hearsay- until you witness things first had, you really can't do anything about old trainer and her questionable horsemanship. If and when you do witness something- go through the correct channels- do not confront trainer directly. Until then, if you do intervene, you run a very high risk of looking bad yourself. This is not someone you want to engage with...and I would be very careful what you say to yournew client, because it very well could end up getting back to this trainer, and I don't think she is someone you want or need to get involved with...this is your profession, the horse world is very small.

findeight
Apr. 27, 2009, 01:20 PM
Deal with this by being that much better then the other place.

Stress horsemanship.
Be polite and professional.
NO gossip.

KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT in discussions involving JAWs (that would be jackass wannabe trainers).

Set a proper example at all times.

Other then that, not much to be done. Abuse can be subjective and there is really nobody who can take action against this JAW unless they have no food or water or she draws blood.

At a show, of course you can go to mangement or a steward. But on her own property it's, well, her own property.

It always amazes me the parents who will choose these jerks and let them abuse horse and child or the adult riders who allow themselevs and their animals to be mishandled and derided. But such is life.

People make their own choices. Try not to let any conversations get directed to this other trainer by your clients, just change the subject.

It is very true that what goes around, comes around. But it can take a long time. be patient and show the class to avoid adding to that bad karma.

Sebastian
Apr. 27, 2009, 02:14 PM
FWIW, I was in a similar situation years ago... What I learned -- there's really nothing you can do...

In my sitch when issues began to arise, trainer's clients came and asked me directly what I thought of said trainer's methods -- and I told them. Calmly and honestly what I thought. They thanked me for my time and proceeded to leave their horses with this trainer even when she was asked to leave the barn because of her abusive practices.

And, while I don't go out of my way to shout it all from the rooftops, I also am honest with people when the subject comes up. I will impart my observations and opinions about this trainer -- who still has a barn in the area. I don't believe in sweeping this stuff under the rug. But, there will always be those "clients" that are uneducated and gullible, and feel so dependant on these trainers that they buy the lines -- hook, line and sinker.

So, run the best program you can and be honest if asked for your advice/opinion. At least that's how I sleep at night... :yes: :winkgrin:

Seb :)

hype
Apr. 27, 2009, 02:16 PM
It is very hard in any situation to see abuse going on. Doesn't matter if it is at the barn or a youth coach. You as a parent have a few choices, ignore it and stay put, say something to the trainer or leave.

Usually when something is said the third choice comes into play.

Unfortunately many parents are not knowledgeable regarding horses but truthfully I don't think it matters that much as I see a whole lot of youth sports coaches abusing the kids and the parents not saying anything at all.

It is a sad situation in America today. I just can't believe how many parents are afraid to stand up for themselves and their children.

Calhoun
Apr. 27, 2009, 02:26 PM
Your post indicates with all the "interesting" training details of the other trainer you like the drama. Admit it. In reality, it doesn't really matter what the trainer did, the pony isn't in her barn anymore, it is now with you. Instead of coming on this board and asking advice about how to handle horses/clients in what you think is a poor training program, you get on with your own business. As a professional trainer, you should present yourself as such and stay out of the other trainer's business. Yes, it's a shame the pony came in bad condition and not performing up to it's best abilities, but here is where you can shine. Use your training techniques or proven system to turn this pony into a star. I admire your compassion for the other horses, but there is not much you can do. You can only help those who seek your services. Good luck!

Trixie
Apr. 27, 2009, 02:40 PM
Yes, keep your mouth shut unless you see any actual abuse, or witness it at a horse show.



Take the high road, don't engage in these stories, simply put- "we do things differently here" and explain. The proof will be in the results that you get from the pony with your methods.

Exactly.

alterego212
Apr. 27, 2009, 03:32 PM
You all are saying what I knew to be true...I just wanted to hear it from someone else so that when a kid or horse (or both) gets hurt over there, I don't feel responsible for not getting involved. :sigh:

Unfortunately reporting her to a steward at shows is not an option as she doesn't attend any shows with a USEF sanctioning or affiliation. I'm afraid that the only way things will change over there is if there is an uprising, all the riders leave, or someone gets hurt. Let's hope for the first two options.

I have told my client that very shortly the old trainer's name and stories will no longer be permitted in conversation. Right now I'm trying to learn all the poor riding advice given so I can undo the bad habits and misinformation. Hopefully all the great progress her horse is making (she was stellar today BTW:D) will trickle back to other barn, and they will at least see that there is more than one way to deal with & ride your horse.

Thanks again...maybe I'll catch some zzzs tonight. :sleepy:

alterego212
Apr. 27, 2009, 03:40 PM
Your post indicates with all the "interesting" training details of the other trainer you like the drama. Admit it.

That's actually the irony of it...we are such a laid back barn that the only drama we have is the crap going on at other barns. :lol:

But seriously, I really hate drama. I said "interesting" because I do believe that this is an industry with some serious subjectivity to methods. What I find appauling may be quite normal for others. Some people think my way of doing things too slow and laid back. I merely wanted to point out that what I'm hearing isn't draw reins or spurs...it was quite off the norm for most training programs.

kookicat
Apr. 27, 2009, 03:52 PM
How skinny is skinny? I would be tempted to report her to animal control/etc. Even if they can't do anything at this point, it lays a foundation for the future in case anything else happens. Over here, she would likely get in to trouble for beating the horses, if nothing else.

I think there's too much of this 'keep your mouth shut' business going on. That's why abuse carries on for so long in many cases, because no-one will step up and say something.

Sebastian
Apr. 27, 2009, 04:01 PM
Your post indicates with all the "interesting" training details of the other trainer you like the drama. Admit it. In reality, it doesn't really matter what the trainer did, the pony isn't in her barn anymore, it is now with you. Instead of coming on this board and asking advice about how to handle horses/clients in what you think is a poor training program, you get on with your own business. As a professional trainer, you should present yourself as such and stay out of the other trainer's business. Yes, it's a shame the pony came in bad condition and not performing up to it's best abilities, but here is where you can shine. Use your training techniques or proven system to turn this pony into a star. I admire your compassion for the other horses, but there is not much you can do. You can only help those who seek your services. Good luck!

I must admit, I find this attitude disturbing... Why are those of us who choose to speak up about abuses suddenly drama queens?

I think this "shut up and never speak of it" attitude is PRECISELY what keeps horses in abusive situations. I certainly recognize that people are going to do what they are going to do...but without alternative perspectives and opinions the ignorant just continue to be ignorant.

JMO,
Seb :)

Calhoun
Apr. 27, 2009, 07:52 PM
Although I agree with you Sebastian, there are degrees of abuse. Some of us on this board would consider cutting the nerves in a horses tail abuse, others would look the other way if the horse was in good care. There are some who think horse racing is abusive; racing a 2 yr. old causes breakdowns. Many on this board would disagree.

Regarding your comment "the ignorant just continue to be ignorant", how would you propose the OP approach the other trainer's clients? I'm not trying to be snarky, you may have a very valid contribution.

Sebastian
Apr. 27, 2009, 09:42 PM
Although I agree with you Sebastian, there are degrees of abuse. Some of us on this board would consider cutting the nerves in a horses tail abuse, others would look the other way if the horse was in good care. There are some who think horse racing is abusive; racing a 2 yr. old causes breakdowns. Many on this board would disagree.

Regarding your comment "the ignorant just continue to be ignorant", how would you propose the OP approach the other trainer's clients? I'm not trying to be snarky, you may have a very valid contribution.

I understand that... And, I'm not advocating that she seek out the other trainer's clients.

BUT, and maybe I completely misunderstood you (and a few others), it seems that there is a consensus of people that just think we should look the other way and never say ANYTHING... Which feels a lot like an "elephant in the living room" approach.

MY approach is that I will speak up honestly about what I think of certain practices -- if asked. AND, I will intervene if I'm present for something I consider "abusive." I think we all do a disservice to those that really don't know any better if we just remain silent and, for lack of a better term, politically correct. That's the point I wanted to make.

Sorry if I singled you out, was not my intent. :winkgrin:

Seb :)

mvp
Apr. 27, 2009, 10:09 PM
I haven't read all the post, but I did read the first one.

I'd do nothing. Other peoples' methods, clients, horses aren't your business.

In addition, why would you want to "steal" a swarm of clients who can't afford your rates? You can make deals with a few who actually work off their fees and whom you like. But you can't cash their services at the grocery store. Some of your clients need to be able to afford you.

As to the pony mom who "everyone" seems to ask for advice, I'd be ware. People need to pick their own trainers, not follow one charismatic client. That's a recipe for disaster, IMO.

Calhoun
Apr. 28, 2009, 10:19 AM
Sebastian . . . understood and respect your opinion.

"In addition, why would you want to "steal" a swarm of clients who can't afford your rates? You can make deals with a few who actually work off their fees and whom you like. But you can't cash their services at the grocery store. Some of your clients need to be able to afford you."

MVP, love the way you think!

findeight
Apr. 28, 2009, 10:35 AM
Oh come on now, there is no "need to learn all the abusive training practices". What a waste of time. It does not matter a whit what was done, only what you do now.

Abuse is not to be tolerated but can be subjective, especially on somebody else's property with somebody else's clients on somebody else's horses. And for sure when unseen but relayed by second hand information from those with an ax to grind, like former clients who left under less then ideal conditions.

I don't know what some expect OP to do here...if they have food and water and she does not draw blood, there is no Animal Control to intervene, no stewards and local show management will not intervene? You want her to march up and confront the other trainer? With her opinion?

It is just not professional and will do no good for the horses. Lead by example, not confrontation or gossip.

alterego212
Apr. 28, 2009, 10:43 AM
I haven't read all the post, but I did read the first one.

I'd do nothing. Other peoples' methods, clients, horses aren't your business.

In addition, why would you want to "steal" a swarm of clients who can't afford your rates? You can make deals with a few who actually work off their fees and whom you like. But you can't cash their services at the grocery store. Some of your clients need to be able to afford you.

As to the pony mom who "everyone" seems to ask for advice, I'd be ware. People need to pick their own trainers, not follow one charismatic client. That's a recipe for disaster, IMO.

I DON'T want to steal these clients...I am well aware that my services are not a not-for-profit charity (although it can feel that way sometimes :lol:). But I just am heartbroken when I hear some of these situations. Forgive me for being such a softie, but I really have a weak constitution when it comes to "problem" horses that are obviously just mis-understood and poorly handled horses.

That said, I understand that I can't butt into a crappy program and fix things. I understand that being professional and staying positive is my role. But this is an industry where those who are in lower income brackets are limited in their exposure to the sport, and are, therefore, more at risk for getting fed a bunch of poor information. In essence, they are so ignorant they don't even know they are ignorant. :no:

This situation is exactly why I am really looking forward to getting my USHJA certification; maybe if all the knowledgable trainers do so, that will help weed out all the not so great ones.

findeight
Apr. 28, 2009, 10:56 AM
In YOUR OPINION the "problem horses" are just mishandled and poorly trained. You don't know that, it's a cliche that is not always true and you could be the one to look foolish. There are knotheads out there and some that will not accept training so be careful what you promise or theorize.

Part of being a Pro is learning to tend to your own business and letting the others be. Having been in barns where there is a fight going on with another barn, I can assure you it does your clients no good and creates more stress with clients of the other barn. Ill will all the way round and it makes no difference who is "right" or "wrong" because the client suffers the fallout.

Don't kid yourself, clients on the lower rung financially are NOT going to seek out USHJA certified trainers and there is no legislation to force certification in this country.

It is unfortunate but a fact there will always be those with questionable practices and they will always get clients. Rise above that and stay there, for the good of your clients if nothing else.

alterego212
Apr. 28, 2009, 02:03 PM
In YOUR OPINION the "problem horses" are just mishandled and poorly trained. You don't know that, it's a cliche that is not always true and you could be the one to look foolish. There are knotheads out there and some that will not accept training so be careful what you promise or theorize.


I agree there are some horses that are just not trainable (although I personally haven't had the misfortune of dealing with one yet). But
when I'm told my multiple sources that most of the horses arrived in great spirits and in a matter of months because sour, kicking, biting, and just plain miserable, so much that a vet is called in to find out what's wrong, I'd call that "mis-handling" more than a problem horse.

I would never say I can fix every horse. But I'm always willing to give it a try. Isn't that my job as a professional?

Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl
Apr. 28, 2009, 02:53 PM
Lead by example, not confrontation or gossip.

Nice line! To the OP, a good example does get noticed more often than you might think.

Czar
Apr. 28, 2009, 03:43 PM
I have to agree with the MYOB crowd though I understand how difficult that can be. I've seen many horses ruined by a poor program and I always think what a shame it is but IME, it wouldn't matter if you "enlightened" the clients anyway. People need to make up their own minds.

Plus, really, what CAN you do? Give the abusive trainer a talking to? Start spreading word about that barn? It wouldn't matter if you were completely justified...it would come off as childish & petty. Much better as others have said to let your results speak for themselves & hopefully people will see the difference.

As far as allowing abuse...again, what else is there to do? I don't like it anymore than the next person, but I would think it would be fairly difficult to actually "do" something about an abusive trainer especially if it pertained to training methods & not care. Obvious abuse that results in wounds is one thing but mental abuse is a whole nother ball game & rather tricky to regulate.

A dressage horse I knew comes to mind...healthy & well cared for, bred to be a top competitor but HATED his job. Personally, I thought it abusive to continue to try & make him accept the training - that was one unhappy sucker but...what can you do?

Beau Cheval
Apr. 28, 2009, 08:51 PM
It's hard, and I've struggled with it, but eventually either the boarders learn what's right or they don't. You could always report to the SPCA if you are really concerned, but most Long Islanders know of a barn that fits above description and nothing has been done in the last 10 years. Luckily, said barn is slowly but surely being run into the ground. I just hope the 45 ill-bred half starved horses they've got in there don't end up at slaughter when the ship goes down.
But unfortunately these situations arise and the local horse people are left to shudder, avert their eyes, and offer helpful words when immediately applicable (i.e. right in front of you at a horse show) which are often misconstrued as mean and "oh they just don't like us. but we're the only ones doing it right in the WHOLE wide WORLD". There really is nothing you can do. :no: