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View Full Version : Trainer/rider....Stockholm syndrome??????



BridalBridle
Jul. 2, 2009, 11:20 AM
When and how did the atmosphere of the trainer has ownership of the rider/ horse/parent get so out of control? It's like Stockholm syndrome. Where the warden becomes, in the mind of the prisoner, the safe keeper? Why is it a nightmare to change trainers? Why is it such a huge "scandal" when someone does? The barn members feel uncomfortable at the shows and won't even speak to the one who "escaped". Many times the trainer has horrible things to say about that person. It just reinforces the "fear" of those left behind to even think about leaving.
Why can't people take lessons, use many trainers and feel free to use who they want when it comes time to show, buy or take lessons??? I have heard trainers get angry when one of their students take a "clinic" from a famous trainer. And GOD forbid they look at a horse to buy or even sell their own horse without the trainer having total control. It really wasn't this way until the 80's is when I think it started....or was it?
When I went to college I didn't have one professor. Why do I have to have to have one trainer? I understand that seeking other advice is healthy. I understand that long term work within a "system" of one trainer is healthy. But at some point there may be a time when it's time to move on or learn a new system....and this can happen at the same time. The client is not a walking wallet. The client is to LEARN and to achieve SKILL from the trainer. And the trainer is responsible for a "long term" riding skill NOT JUST THE RIBBON NEXT WEEKEND. Sometime the trainer is responsible for telling the client the painful truth. Like the horse they have is NOT a good match for them. Maybe the rider is not skilled enough and needs to change divisions. And when the time comes, maybe the trainer needs to tell them they need to go and move up to another trainer. When all that matters is the ribbons, a part of your soul gets lost.
I had an old trainer who is respected and now semi retired, tell me....that it never bothered him when someone left. He knew that if he didn't make a fuss and let it go gracefully that they would be back and even refer people to him. He had a very loyal AND NOT HELD HOSTAGE following. He had it right. Do the right thing. Be honest about the "match" of horse and rider. Let the client have input and actually listen. And when they leave, know that good "break ups" can still lead to long term relationships. Let them have freedom and give them good service. He made mistakes as we all do but he wanted the right thing for his client. He knew who paid the bills. Where did this work ethic go?????
I have seen trainers NOT teach their customers how to even tack up a horse. Or put wraps on. Or lunge. Or basic horsemanship in order for them to feel that they are incapable of taking care of their horse. It makes them dependent on purpose. I had one trainer say to me...."oh I forgot you can tack up a horse" when it was time for my lesson. SINCE THE OTHER 15 COULDN'T DO IT. She let the groom go to the others who couldn't do it.
How did we get here? There is so much tension with the "paying customer" and the "barn politics" and the trainers that you can cut it with a knife. Ive been showing since the 50's and I'm just overwhelmed by all this. I'm not kicking trainers around if anything I'm shocked by the client who allows themselves to be a victim. WHO IS THE BOSS?????It's the guy who writes the check the last time I checked.
Maybe I'm the one who is wrong. Maybe it's time to retire to the hunt field. Maybe it's time for the "service" industry of the trainers to provide a real service and that includes respect for the paying "BOSS" client. Maybe it's time for the "paying their hard earned cash customer" to stop being a Stockholm hostage.

Dixon
Jul. 2, 2009, 11:34 AM
How unfortunately true. Here's the nail you hit on the head:


It makes them dependent on purpose.

Many owners/riders crave the sense of belonging and acceptance from a trainer, so they don't question the trainer. And trainers enjoy the dependence because they make way more money when they can charge clients for absolutely everything, from grooming and tacking up to ordering the clients' tack to replacing the clients' horses.

mvp
Jul. 2, 2009, 11:46 AM
Your candor is refreshing. I'm a child of the 80s who did, indeed, learn to tack up her own, poultice, choose bits, whathaveyou. IME, the really good trainers don't want to make helpless hostages. They're ultimately a PITA.

How do you separate the deserved BNT from the wannabe BNT? Walk in and say you want to groom your own and watch. I did this one time in the barn of a BNT in Connecticut. I was a little clueless and just wanted a good facility and care for horse, with some good lessons to boot. I had made this horse myself, but was sure we could both improve some more.

The very nice and accomplished assistant trainer showed me around and introduced me to the head groom before we found the grand poohbah of the whole operation. She tried to show me the "club house" upstairs and I said I wanted to see the stalls and know if it would be a problem for me to use one while the pro grooms were working on other horses. When I was finally introduced to The Man, he also asked if I had seen the really beautiful club house upstairs. The assistant said to him: "This one wants to groom her own." We all looked at each other. There could have been meanness and judgement there, but I walked away feeling like we each knew that we were cut from sections of the same, old-fashioned cloth. Had I had the money to choose that barn, I think we would have gotten along fine.

I'll give any trainer a chance to teach me something I don't know. But I'll be quick to leave when I hear the "my way or the high way" rigidity that comes from someone who has already hoped to get the job done by being defensive.

dags
Jul. 2, 2009, 11:49 AM
Maybe its time for COTH to find some new topics of discussion. Show vs. field hunters is going on again down in a (completely unrelated) video thread.

Again, not all programs are like this, though some may be. Though it sometimes sounds like it on here, there is in fact NOT a giant trainer conspiracy out there with the sole goal of raising a barn full of sheeple.

Trainers that are easily threatened by the influence of another trainer upon their students typically lack confidence, and in my experience it's for a valid reason. So I would get out of there anyway, but probably because I had recognized what talent was lacking that caused the decreased confidence.

In other instances it can occur because the client wants the blue ribbon next weekend, NOT the trainer. And in that case we have to get pretty insistent about exactly what is done with the horse, since you've given us 7 days to turn it into the winner. And ensure it gets along with your kid, which may lead some to limit the time horse and kid play together.

Trust me, it's not always the trainer driving the barn to such Stockholm means (again, it may be in some cases but NOT ALL), often times its that instant gratification, results NOW mentality that seems to think we can magically transform horses into ribbon winning carousel ponies regardless of any circumstances what-so-ever.

"He's playing in the corners! We just spent $XXXX to come home with a green ribbon???"
"Did you get him out yesterday, and hack him hard like I told you?"
"We trotted for 20 minutes and went on a trail ride!"
"Nevermind. I'll just add him to the micro-manage program. Your next horse show will be better sweetie."

Sorry, I was inundated with blanket statements last night and still feeling the residuals :)

War Admiral
Jul. 2, 2009, 11:50 AM
Agree completely, BridalBridle! Great post. Dixon has also found the key point in your post. ;)

Long Shadow Farm
Jul. 2, 2009, 11:50 AM
I have seen it but lucky to not be in it.

My current trainer (and friend since we were in Pony Club together) actually encourages us to ride with other people and wants us to be independant. Matter of fact, she hooked me up with another local trainer that does the QH circuits so I would have someone to help me at those shows since my trainer cannot attend many due to conflicts with H/J shows. So now I have two trainers <G>. Plus I ride with different people for my eventing stuff!

Bobbi

kenyarider
Jul. 2, 2009, 11:53 AM
I too am dismayed at the way the horse world is going. I haven't been showing since the 50's (sorry) only since the 60's but I have shown in jumpers on 3 continents so I feel like I've been around. The situation in the US is absurd. Horsemanship is NOT taught. Fees and costs are out of sight. The industry is destorying itself. There is some hope in the opinions coming out of the USHJA and USEF leaders and perhaps the trainer certification program can begin setting out ethical standards in addition to teaching riding and training skills. Of course, as consumers we need to be aware that we are purchasing a service and that trainers are not our mothers/fathers but our employees. Like all services that are based on business but involve a personal service, it's very easy for the lines to be crossed and a feeling of familiarity, friendship and intimacy are present when they are not earned or returned. If consumers would remember that they are the employers of trainers and insist on taking control over the care of their horses and their training, it might change. The consumers (us!) are taking the easy way out by giving over control of every aspect of their horse's care and their own training to a trainer. It is simpler if you just show up, ride and write the checks but there is a price to be paid for that. The price is not only in the pocket book but in horsemanship and the future of the sport. If young riders don't know how to manage and care for their horses, and they are the future trainers, we are facing a huge problem. George Morris with his Horsemaster's program and USEF/USHJA's trainer certification programs are small steps. But I think consumers need to engage in conversations with their trainers about the high fees and "total control" and engage in conversations with show managers about the rising costs of fees and what those things are doing to horses, riders and the sport. For example, I engage in regular conversations with my trainer about show fees and other costs and insist that we consider all options before I sign off on the blank check. I also have contacted local show managers about their costs and would like to see other consumers do the same. It's important to ask why each year stall fees at shows increase and braiders charge more when the economy is failing. For those organizations that are member-owned, take a look at the balance sheet. Ask questions about the profit/loss statements. I try and engage my trainer in regular conversations about cost saving methods. Surpising enough, my trainer not only listens to me but sometimes adopts my suggestions. Taking the easy way out by writing blank check is expensive and harms the horses in the long run. If a horse is merely a commodity, then when it's no longer winning, it's too easy to let it go to a home it's not suitable for or worse. I am encouraged by the recent op-eds in the Chronicle about the problems in the industry but consumers need to engage in conversations with trainers and show managers also and not be put off by the comment "well, it's an expensive sport". It is expensive but it's doesn't have to be this expensive. After all, the skiing industry is expensive if you ski in Vail or Europe but even there the resort works hard at providing a product that is affordable for middle class families not just the weathy.

findeight
Jul. 2, 2009, 11:57 AM
Well, you got people of all ages looking for something missing in their own lives thinking they repalce that with a trainer.

We got parents who dump the kid at the end of the driveway and allow the trainer to be parent. Lots of them.

If you treat it like a business relationship, it works fine on both sides. But if you are replacing real friends and, face it, more then friends, with somebody you are paying...it creates an unrealistic environment, sort of a pseudo parent/ child thing.

For some reason, trainers who are very controlling seen to attract this type. But it only happens when you let it.

Just look at your relationship with your trainer, they may be your friend on one level but you absolutely have to treat it as business first and never lose sight of the fact they work for you and you write the checks.

On the trainer's side of this, some like it and encourage it. But you usually see this more in the barns run by borderline to outright bad trainers, you know, the verbally abusive type JAWS who specialize in the pointed put downs of their rider. Maybe to compensate for crappy teaching and riding skills on their part?

Anyway...no this is not new. Back when I started we saw the same kind of things...and would be remiss not to mention the then shrugged off inappropriate advances of older male trainers towards younger female students. That is much less acceptable these days but you know it still happens. That is dark side of the student/coach relationship and cannot be ignored. Young people are emotionally immature and develop crushes easily, a good coach can see this and not let it proceed. bad coaches need it to boost their self esteem-I guess.

Anyway, I got on well with my trainers and, although uncomfortable, never had trouble leaving. From the trainer-awful time from some of the barn owners though.

czgm7r
Jul. 2, 2009, 12:08 PM
I just left a situation like this. So I feel your pain.

findeight
Jul. 2, 2009, 12:10 PM
I'll just put this here instead of edit it in above.

Stockholm Syndrome is a good analogy. Sort of. It means the captive is so controlled by the captor, they start empathizing with them and their cause. Anybody with any law enforcement or aviation training is well versed in it. It can happen to anybody placed in a hostage situation for an extended period of time where lack of contact with the real world and frequently lack of proper nutrition and living conditions warp the perceptions of the victim. To the point they become terriorists, criminals and end up marrying the guy. But it happens to the men as well.

Some of the same things at work in a sick trainer/client relationship. No gun to the head, no lack of contact with the outside world but you certainly see enough of the warped view of what is going on in their extreme defense of what is obviously, to anybody outside, a bad situation.

Never could figure that one out-much better trainer right up the road at the same price but they defend the abusive, controlling trainer and never, ever want to see or hear the truth.

Hmmm...interesting.

mroades
Jul. 2, 2009, 12:20 PM
Can I give a perspective from the other side of this coin?

trubandloki
Jul. 2, 2009, 12:26 PM
Again, not all programs are like this, though some may be. Though it sometimes sounds like it on here, there is in fact NOT a giant trainer conspiracy out there with the sole goal of raising a barn full of sheeple.


I am with you on this one.

There are barns at all extremes of this situation. And most are some where in the middle.

People pick a barn that fits what they want. Some people actually like that set up.

zahena
Jul. 2, 2009, 12:31 PM
As a trainer, I will say I encourage my girls to go out and find additional instruction if they are so inclined to continue their riding to the next level. But some people just ride for fun, and we're that barn. I have a few serious girls and we work seriously hard.

So I'll play the other side of the coin. Well. Kinda. As a trainer nothing pisses me off more than to see a kid just be LAZY. I'm pretty low key. I push people in ways that don't require me to scream and terrorize the kids. But....

Some kids just need it. Some kids push you so far or you see them letting a horse repeatedly get away with something and you know they are just doing it for whatever purpose (fear, lazy, etc.) and so it upsets you as a trainer that they act this way. And that's where the screaming and terrorizing comes in. I can think of 2 off the top of my head that I feel waste my time by coming to lessons because they have no desire to better themselves as equestrians and that bothers me. Even if you are riding for fun, be the best you can be. Or at least be bothered to listen to me.

So I can see where doing this for a living and having to deal with multitudes of people like this could drive you to being a horrid person to EVERYONE. And there are LOTS of things that happen behind the scenes that cause peoples attitudes to change.

But as per usual, FindEight says it best!

tidy rabbit
Jul. 2, 2009, 12:42 PM
On the trainer's side of this, some like it and encourage it. But you usually see this more in the barns run by borderline to outright bad trainers, you know, the verbally abusive type JAWS who specialize in the pointed put downs of their rider. Maybe to compensate for crappy teaching and riding skills on their part?


Yep.... I heard something to the effect of "Do you know the definition of intellegence? It's not making the same mistake over and over again." Instead of giving an actual suggestion on how to change the ride and correct the mistake. That was the last time I wrote a check to that trainer; I believe that decision showed my true intelligence. :)

dags
Jul. 2, 2009, 12:57 PM
Honestly kids today don't have the time anymore, and a lot of them don't have the interest in the REAL work of becoming a well-rounded horseman. Between piano, volleyball, cheerleading, other siblings' schedules, increasingly long commutes to barns, homework and all that other jazz they simply cannot maintain their horses the way their horses SHOULD be maintained.

And then they don't get why they don't win. And then they complain. And parents think wrong horse has been bought.

Or worse, their lack of attention to their animal results in injury.

4-5 hours a day after school, 8+ hours each day of summer. That was my barn life, but that does not happen anymore.

Your flip side is the trainer out there from dawn to dusk, turning out, medicating, going over feed regimens, putting him in the bitting rig, making sure boots are soaked, clipping and pulling, holding for farrier and vet, wrapping for shipping . . . it only takes a few times to rely on a client to do something we deem as crucial for whatever reason, and it not happening, before you throw up your hands and say, fine. I'm going to manage the care for all of these horses.

I think most professionals would prefer to not have to be such hawks, but we are the professionals for a reason, and often it's because our regard for programs, consistency, fitness and care are elevated beyond that of the average horseman. When we see that vision lackadaisically maintained we can either step in for the benefit of the horse (who I consider to be my true employer), or watch the ensuing trainwreck that we know is coming.

It is more frustrating than I think many realize, and it often stems from trying to do what is best for the horse.

Mara
Jul. 2, 2009, 01:03 PM
When I was most active in the 80's, there was a girl at our barn who had her own trainer, rather than using the stable owner/trainer.

Trainer controlled nearly EVERYTHING. And the girl's parents let her.
A typical exchange (trainer was fond of yelling at/humiliating the rider in front of everyone, which was uncomfortable for US as well as the girl):

"XXXXX gets no dessert for the next two weeks, and she goes to bed at 8 or the minute her homework is done. If her lessons improve, or if she has a good show next weekend, I'll let you know if you can lift the punishment early."

This really happened. We were all completely slack-jawed, and the poor girl just stood there with her head down as Mom nodded and agreed with trainer.

mroades
Jul. 2, 2009, 01:09 PM
Honestly kids today don't have the time anymore, and a lot of them don't have the interest in the REAL work of becoming a well-rounded horseman. Between piano, volleyball, cheerleading, other siblings' schedules, increasingly long commutes to barns, homework and all that other jazz they simply cannot maintain their horses the way their horses SHOULD be maintained.

And then they don't get why they don't win. And then they complain. And parents think wrong horse has been bought.

Or worse, their lack of attention to their animal results in injury.

4-5 hours a day after school, 8+ hours each day of summer. That was my barn life, but that does not happen anymore.

Your flip side is the trainer out there from dawn to dusk, turning out, medicating, going over feed regimens, putting him in the bitting rig, making sure boots are soaked, clipping and pulling, holding for farrier and vet, wrapping for shipping . . . it only takes a few times to rely on a client to do something we deem as crucial for whatever reason, and it not happening, before you throw up your hands and say, fine. I'm going to manage the care for all of these horses.

I think most professionals would prefer to not have to be such hawks, but we are the professionals for a reason, and often it's because our regard for programs, consistency, fitness and care are elevated beyond that of the average horseman. When we see that vision lackadaisically maintained we can either step in for the benefit of the horse (who I consider to be my true employer), or watch the ensuing trainwreck that we know is coming.

It is more frustrating than I think many realize, and it often stems from trying to do what is best for the horse.


This kinda what I was going to say. This business is unique in that you cannot put the horse in a closet like golf clubs or a tennis racquet. I DO know better than my clients how to take care of the horses, and they had better let me do it, or I cannot be responible for the results.

As far as the never letting them ride with other trainers....I never got that, dont subscribe to it, and am not planning on changing that.

zahena
Jul. 2, 2009, 01:12 PM
Oh amen Dags on all the stuff parents put their kids into. Keeping them so busy they never get to be KIDS! Trying to do makeup lessons with some of my kids is down right impossible sometimes and I just throw up my hands and tell them they've lost their lesson.

I will say, on the other side of that, that I have been really blessed with a SMALL group of riders (I have around 20 total riders because this is part-time) who are extremely dedicated to their animals and their welfare. And I'm even more blessed to have parents who just let me do my job.

I've found though that my style is completely different than other trainers. I feel a show is just that. A show. I don't scream from the rail *unless I can't help myself change that lead*! I make a plan with my kid before they hit the ring, and let them show what they have LEARNED! I can only get them so far. AT some point it becomes about what they have learned and their relationship with their animal. And we seem to do pretty well with that plan.

Having said that, I've seen AT EVERY SINGLE SHOW parents who scream at their kids to the point that I'm humilated for the child or trainers who scream the entire time they ride. Give them a break and let them ENJOY themselves. We're at back yard shows here. We're not winning Olympic medals here!!! And you know, I've never heard George Morris screaming like a banshee at Beezie Madden to spur Authentic until he has a hole in his side!

findeight
Jul. 2, 2009, 01:13 PM
Yep.... I heard something to the effect of "Do you know the definition of intellegence? It's not making the same mistake over and over again." Instead of giving an actual suggestion on how to change the ride and correct the mistake. That was the last time I wrote a check to that trainer; I believe that decision showed my true intelligence. :)

Well, obviously, one of you knew the definition of intellegence;).

shawneeAcres
Jul. 2, 2009, 01:15 PM
I teach and train. I am NOT a BNT. I run my own smaller barn. My students are NOT "required" to buy certain things/brands etc, that thread made me sick! Soem of my students opt to buy GPA's, some don't, I don't care as long as it is an APPROVED hard hat. My students don't do "hunter hair" and do jsut fine in the shows. I ALMOST NEVER get on my students horses at shows, I am not a trainer that does a division on the students horse so it is tired out, bahving for them. I EXPECT my students to warmup and ride their OWN horse, if the horse needs lunging then THEY do it. They wash their horses, tack their horses, etc. and they clip their horses for shows, unless the horse is VERY difficult or it is a smaller student. I will braid for them at bigger shows as many jsut aren't good at that. I do often pull manes, or wash horses, doctor cuts etc when the owner is not able to get out and do it, or for the younger kids. The hroses care will not be compromised at my barn no matter what. But I also treat the horses like horses! I don't have "rules" about not jumping outside of lessons, any student is free to jump their horse, or do any other activity with their horse AS LONG AS an ault is present (for minors). I don't TELL them what horse to buy, but I do assist them with finding the correct horse. I allow and encourage cross training, most of my students have done at least a few dressage tests, done some cross country jumping, trail riding and even western. I encourage riding/clinicing with other GOOD instructors. I do sometimes get frustrated when the student isn't coming out and riding enough, mostly because they expect a lot out of their horses and the hrose is not fit enough. I will do training rides if requested but don't require them. I also don't "require" them to take a specific number of lessons etc. I thinka ll of these things are absolutely ridiculous, of course maybe that is why I always have to scrape to make ends meet! I absolutely will go without myself in order to have the barn taken care of properly!!

fordtraktor
Jul. 2, 2009, 02:00 PM
Some kids just need it. Some kids push you so far or you see them letting a horse repeatedly get away with something and you know they are just doing it for whatever purpose (fear, lazy, etc.) and so it upsets you as a trainer that they act this way. And that's where the screaming and terrorizing comes in.

Maybe this isn't what you meant (I hope not), but students who let horses get by with things because of fear don't need to be yelled at. Fear is a legitimate problem, and one that requires a lot of patience and confidence-boosting from the trainer. It is a huge disconnect to equate it with laziness or just think they are doing it for "whatever purpose" and that they are just "acting that way".

If it upsets you, please hand off scared students to a trainer who can work with the fear issues instead of just getting upset and terrorizing students. Frustration with fear is NEVER, EVER an excuse to terrorize a kid -- guess what, the kid is already terrorizing itself and probably doesn't need your help.

One of the big problems I see with your approach is that scared kids are the ones least likely to stand up to the harsh trainer. Instead, they eventually quit riding. They would be much better off if you are less concerned with making progress and more concerned with helping them overcome or learn to manage their fears.

RockinHorse
Jul. 2, 2009, 02:04 PM
With so few people able to keep horses at home any more, many riders see much less need to be horsemen. After all, realistically, they will probably always be boarders :sigh:

Go Fish
Jul. 2, 2009, 02:32 PM
This is not a trainer problem...it's a customer problem.

Queen Latisha
Jul. 2, 2009, 03:08 PM
Clients allow this Stockholm Syndrome.
I've been riding for eons and all my trainers have encouraged me to be independent.
I can't believe riders who are showing, are unable to tack up a horse!!!:eek:

Long Spot
Jul. 2, 2009, 03:32 PM
Honestly kids today don't have the time anymore, and a lot of them don't have the interest in the REAL work of becoming a well-rounded horseman. Between piano, volleyball, cheerleading, other siblings' schedules, increasingly long commutes to barns, homework and all that other jazz they simply cannot maintain their horses the way their horses SHOULD be maintained.

And then they don't get why they don't win. And then they complain. And parents think wrong horse has been bought.

Or worse, their lack of attention to their animal results in injury.

4-5 hours a day after school, 8+ hours each day of summer. That was my barn life, but that does not happen anymore.

Your flip side is the trainer out there from dawn to dusk, turning out, medicating, going over feed regimens, putting him in the bitting rig, making sure boots are soaked, clipping and pulling, holding for farrier and vet, wrapping for shipping . . . it only takes a few times to rely on a client to do something we deem as crucial for whatever reason, and it not happening, before you throw up your hands and say, fine. I'm going to manage the care for all of these horses.

I think most professionals would prefer to not have to be such hawks, but we are the professionals for a reason, and often it's because our regard for programs, consistency, fitness and care are elevated beyond that of the average horseman. When we see that vision lackadaisically maintained we can either step in for the benefit of the horse (who I consider to be my true employer), or watch the ensuing trainwreck that we know is coming.

It is more frustrating than I think many realize, and it often stems from trying to do what is best for the horse.

Very very well said.

GGsuperpony
Jul. 2, 2009, 04:38 PM
This manipulation is not a horse-world problem, though. It is an every-world, every-hobby problem. Insecure people everywhere want to cut down or be hateful to others who intimidate them or that they see as having something (knowledge, personality, ability, a better set-up, a better program, a better life) that they want.

Insecure people occur in similar populations everywhere, but the horse-world is so small in most areas that it seems disproportionate. Plus when you add in the financial pressures/fears/needs of most trainers, that'll make even a normally-secure person feel a little, well, desperate. Then add in the subjectivity of "good training" - that someone can love a particular trainer and another person can be completely dissatisfied with the exact same situation - and it's a confusing nightmare of am-I-good-enough to the already-insecure, financially-panicked trainer.

So they devise ways to keep from having to face abandonment by their clients in many ways - manipulating clients and fostering helplessness among them. The fact that it's rooted in their personality does not make it acceptable behavior and I am not excusing it, but I have found that understanding behavior makes it predictable and understandable so you can avoid it in the future or possibly even change it with an honest conversation (unlikely, but possible). And avoiding or preventing these situations is the entire goal, right? :yes:

justathought
Jul. 2, 2009, 05:08 PM
This kinda what I was going to say. This business is unique in that you cannot put the horse in a closet like golf clubs or a tennis racquet. I DO know better than my clients how to take care of the horses, and they had better let me do it, or I cannot be responible for the results.

As far as the never letting them ride with other trainers....I never got that, dont subscribe to it, and am not planning on changing that.

Interesting post. I agree when your clients arrive at your door you should know better than they how to take care of a horse - however, as a teacher your goal should be that before they leave they do know as much about taking care of their horses as you do. The greatest compliment a teacher can achieve is to have their students ultimately exceed them in knowledge and in accomplishment. THAT long term is the best measure of a teacher.

dags
Jul. 2, 2009, 05:44 PM
But that's a teacher, and these are professional horsemen. Certainly some specialize in teaching, but others are there to live/breath/eat/sleep/die horses, and it is that very unique trait that clients are paying for.

Additionally, your 4-12 hours a week at the barn will never top our 80 and the knowledge/experience that produces. And before I am mistaken I TRIED TRIED TRIED to get the kids to properly take care of their own darn horses, and that knowledge could not be fed to them unless it was filtered through a damn ipod. They. did. not. want. it.

Out of the 60+ kids I witnessed show for a solid 6 years I could count on two hands the number of real horsemen that would come out of that group. That's a lot of nice, expensive horses left to the flakey whims of disinterested 12 year olds. 1 of those 60 was my kid, who is now PreVet at UK, and is getting ready to run circles around me in all things veterinary :) Yes, it is humbling!

hellerkm
Jul. 2, 2009, 06:47 PM
I was a child rider of the 80's and I learned it ALL, I am sooo glad I did and now I am passing that onto my girls. They can tack up , braid , wrap, bath, muck, poltice, and just about anything else they are physically capable of doing. I rode at home we were the BO's, my mom was the trainer. We never had a groom, not ONE and we all worked together to feed water,hay, groom, help the lessons learn to tack up ect!!!
I WAS the groom for my best friend , she rode and showed large pony hunters and she was GOOD!! I was her extra set of hands, and I learned soooo much just from standing in the warm up ring and at the in gate with her trainer, and other trainers.
I think its a shame that kids ride and can't care for their horses, are their really people who OWN horses and can't tack up??? that seems INSANE to me.
I personally will stay where we are, on my parents farm , where we have to help breed mares the old fashioned way, and feed every morning ( we see and access EVERY horse each morning so its easy to know if there is an issue) and where we grow bail and stack our own hay EVERY summer ( so my kids know just how much work and time goes into feeding their beast) and where we can use 4 different NEON colored polos if the mood strikes us. Our horses are fat and happy, they live outside year round and they never get skinny! I like it this way.Life is simple and laid back, growing up my mom NEVER rode my horse, she taught ME to fix the problems, there were no fees for trainer rides because she did NOT ride the boarders horses. She taught them to ride their own horses, and we did learn, we went showing and we all did well, we did NOT go to a show to school EVER, we went to show, and we went when we were good enough to win and NOT before. Old fashioned?? YES , good training YOU BET!
the barn and trainer the OP described is really not the issue at all, the customer who allows all of that to go on is.

KristieBee
Jul. 2, 2009, 07:53 PM
This kinda what I was going to say. This business is unique in that you cannot put the horse in a closet like golf clubs or a tennis racquet. I DO know better than my clients how to take care of the horses, and they had better let me do it, or I cannot be responible for the results.

As far as the never letting them ride with other trainers....I never got that, dont subscribe to it, and am not planning on changing that.

i have been following this thread avidly, because as a thirtysomething who grew up doing the 8 hours a day every day all summer long/4hours after school during the school year thing, while i only did local shows and my equitation left much to be desired, lol, i DO know some things about horse care, and i enjoy it very much.

i have had a trainer argue with me that my horse was NOT lame and i should "stop being so paranoid!", when it turned out (after i pushed through my intimidation and stood up for my horse) that while the arena masked much of it, on hard ground, he was a 2 of 5 and an mri showed collateral ligament damage.

i have been made to feel like a bother for wanting to discuss my horse's nutrition and supplements and shoeing.

i have been intimidated into feeling i cannot handle my own horse without a trainer's constant intervention. (i've been riding for 30 years, though admittedly never a horse that was as much horse as my current boy. in hindsight and after better experiences, i see i just needed to be given help, guidance, and confidence - not had him ripped out of my hands or scorned and made to feel incompetent)

i've been sent to work with a sigh and a brusque "we can handle the vet visit for you, you don't have to reschedule the (late) vet" - only to have my horse be overtranqued (they forgot about that slow resting heart rate) fall and get severely hurt requiring lots of vet visits and an expensive layup. oh and who paid for all of that? me.

i've seen a trainer who's known for fab horse care miss the fact that a horse was getting DOUBLE electrolytes by mistake until it got really sick and had kidney problems. that was a just show up and write the check type of owner, who counted on them - who then had to write a really big check to a vet.

i have been criticized for my grooming style being too thorough. but i never had a horse with scratches as a kid and i'm amazed at the number of cases i see now that i see horses handled by more grooms than owners.

now on the flip side i'm sure many of you are thinking, well maybe you're a pain in the tush, too paranoid, too whatever. well, you can't know either way i suppose as we're all just here on a discussion board, and every freak thinks they are reasonable. but i care about my horse, and i have seen others that i think are either too disinterested or too fanatical and i feel pretty safe in saying i seem to fall pretty solidly in the very reasonable middle.

fortunately i found a trainer who is wonderful and respects my history and knowledge - and i respect what she knows and realize i still have so much to learn. it's lovely, because before i felt that even though i took an interest in my horse, and had a lot of history owning horses, (my horse is my eighth) i was given no credibility. the A trainers i encountered before my current trainer had a micromanaging regimen, and i got in the way of their efficient assembly line output. groom gets horse from stall, tacks horse, owner gets on at mounting block, lessons, hands horse back to groom, writes check, and goes home.

i understand from a business efficiency standpoint why trainers want people (and horses) who fit into one mold. i do. but the horses suffer for that mentality and heaven knows truly avid interested owners do too.

sure, there are vampire clients who will obsess and take up all your time. draw a boundary. and there are foolish clients who won't take care of their horses well. but great trainers are those who know how much to give and where to take more control and don't treat each horse and rider like something out of a factory.

i was ready to scrap my dreams of showing altogether after my prior experiences in A barns. my joy comes from owning a horse, maintaining his health, having a real relationship, and learning to be a better rider. before i met my trainer today, A barns had left such a bad taste in my mouth i was ready to trail ride my imported german warmblood in my custom antares saddle for the rest of our lives.

so - trainers, please - try to at least see the people who care to learn, and reward that. i know your time is valuable. i know some people are fools and others are overly obsessive vampires. but please, reward people with a genuine interest in true horsemanship. my prior experiences were so disheartening i almost gave up my dream of pursuing riding and showing at this level altogether because i felt like such a square peg.

Kenike
Jul. 2, 2009, 08:07 PM
OMG, Kristie....that was an AWESOME post! One I can completely relate to. Nicely done :)

KristieBee
Jul. 2, 2009, 08:19 PM
OMG, Kristie....that was an AWESOME post! One I can completely relate to. Nicely done :)

thank you! it's so nice to not feel so alone. i feel so much better after writing that and getting it all off my chest!

*exhales*

whew!

mvp
Jul. 2, 2009, 08:32 PM
KristieBee, your post rocked. I'm like you. I have paid my dues and learned a great deal about keeping horses. I'd really like to find a good trainer who can help me go further. But it can be tough to find someone who is that good and doesn't have the factory business-model you describe. It really seems to either be "the way" or "the way to actually make a living at professional horse training."

As you point out, it's not good for most horses. But the bigger problem is that the big barn factory is not for a small number of owners who know better and will stick up for their animals.

You put something like bona fide "time vampires" and thorough, caring horse owners in separate categories. But as your own experience suggests, one person's vampire is another person's better lameness diagnostician.

In any case, I really needed to read your post just now as I'm moving to a new state and looking for barns in a more high-end area than I'm used to. I just needed the kick in the a$$ that says 1) I do know my own horse well; and 2) I can't lie about that and what I know is right for him. I'll politely stick to my guns.

justathought
Jul. 2, 2009, 08:47 PM
But that's a teacher, and these are professional horsemen. Certainly some specialize in teaching, but others are there to live/breath/eat/sleep/die horses, and it is that very unique trait that clients are paying for.

Additionally, your 4-12 hours a week at the barn will never top our 80 and the knowledge/experience that produces. And before I am mistaken I TRIED TRIED TRIED to get the kids to properly take care of their own darn horses, and that knowledge could not be fed to them unless it was filtered through a damn ipod. They. did. not. want. it.

Out of the 60+ kids I witnessed show for a solid 6 years I could count on two hands the number of real horsemen that would come out of that group. That's a lot of nice, expensive horses left to the flakey whims of disinterested 12 year olds. 1 of those 60 was my kid, who is now PreVet at UK, and is getting ready to run circles around me in all things veterinary :) Yes, it is humbling!

I thought that we were talking about clients who ride their horses.... If you are talking about "investment" horses - people that buy horses for professionals to ride and show up to watch... then the professional horseman probably does run the show. But, that is not how I understood the focus here.

Trainers - in almost all cases - are teachers as well as professional horseman. And, when I select a trainer it is for both attributes - professional training of the horse and professional teaching of the rider -- so yes they are TEACHERS. If they are not they should refuse all clients who want to ride and specialize only in riding (but most do not have that luxury and I understand that).

Beyond that, you have a lot of assumptions here.... First that the person in question is only at the barn 4 - 12 hours a week.... How about 4 or more hours a day ( a lot of us are that involved) - and that may not match the 80 hours a professional puts in or their years of experience BUT if the client is not taught and does not get to do then they never will have that experience. For all the complaining from high level professionals that we are not producing horsemen.... there is an awful lot of resistance to teaching clients to be horsemen. Sure, clients will make mistakes - but so have all the professionals out there at one time or another - mistakes are how we learn, the professional is there to make sure that the risk of injury to the horse and/or rider as a result of the mistakes is minimized.

I agree that some clients do not want the knowledge or responsibility. I am friends with some of them. Its their choice... not one I understand, but if they are willing to pay the costs of having someone else do everything for them, they are entitled to make that choice. But, some do want the knowledge and the responsibility... and they are entitled to that as well.

If fifteen pecent of your students wanted to be real horsemen - I think thats a pretty good ratio. Sounds like your daughter will be a fabulous vet!

Soldier06
Jul. 2, 2009, 09:06 PM
I agree that it is a client problem.

I am currently riding with a fairly BNT but I do not board my horse with them. We have 3 horses, and only mine does the hunters/eq (other does dressage and the pony is a jack of all trades). We care for our three horses (mom and I) daily, from morning feed to night check hay. It's great and I would not have it any other way, but it is also very time consuming. My trainer agrees with the way that our horses are cared for and has no complaints, we often bounce ideas back and forth off of each other especially since he is a bit of a problem horse.

When I started riding with them I told them that I also rode with another BNT who is a family friend when she comes up this way. Unlike my prior trainer who didn't like the family friend because she was seen as "competition" (not really since she lives many states away...) my current trainer saw it as a great opportunity for me. What the family friend says only re enforces what my trainer tells me so there is no reason for complaints on her side.

Another issue was the horse. My trainer and my horse have a love hate relationship. She likes him because he's super honest, very smart and when he does it right very nice, but she hates him because he's very smart, very big, makes things more complicated than they need to be, and doesn't mind saying no. If she pushes him too much he pushes right back and just becomes harder to ride. In the beginning this was a problem, she wanted something that was easier to ride and that I could walk into the ring on and be successful. That is n't this horse, you can set it up right and it can still go wrong. ;) But I don't have him just to be successful on, I have him because I love him and he is a very hard horse whose taught me so much. Every single trainer I have had has said that he has a lot to teach me (and our vet tells me that since he seems to like weekly visits from her to present his new strange issue :rolleyes:). Trainer and I talked about this and each of our expectations and came to an agreement that for me it is about the riding, not the showing, and I know I could be more successful on a different horse but that is not what I want out of it. She's happy and so am I. :)

Trainer and client relationships can be hard, each side needs to lay out the expectations and come to an agreement; can't agree and you won't have a relationship beneficial for you or your horse.

Peggy
Jul. 2, 2009, 09:16 PM
We have kids and adults at our barn that truly want to learn how to do things like wrap, adjust tack properly, lride different types of horses, set fences, and are willing to do things like hand walk their own rehab horses, hack an extra horse, set fences, walk out a hot horse and bring the next one to the trainer, and so on. They have been known to spend 5+ hours at the barn. Those who want to learn and/or do their own stuff are encouraged to learn and are helped in the process. Do their wraps look like mine or the trainers? No, but they gradually get it right and someone watches them and has them re-do it until they learn to do it consistently. Does every person at the barn have the time and the willingness to do this? No, but that's OK.

If the horsemen of today do not teach the next generation to take care of horses we're going to end up with a bunch of horses and tack and no way of connecting the two so that people can ride.

Learned helplessness is not good for horses or for people.

A knowledgeable and willing ammy or older kid can probably do the bulk of the basic care their 1-2 horses as well as a professional can look after 35 of them. They will likely know their own horses better than someone who deals with an order of magnitude more horses and has proportionally less time to deal with each one.

IMHO, the horse owner (or parent) is ultimately responsible for seeing that their horse is well cared for. They also have the right to do this. This includes being able to talk directly to a vet or shoer and being part of the decision WRT what is done with their horse. Some people chose to (and at some level there is a choice, including the choice of a lifestyle that is busy with other activities) to contract this out. They are welcome to that choice, but my choice is to be a more active participant in my horse's life.

HobbyHorse101
Jul. 2, 2009, 09:26 PM
I agree with the OP, alot of trainers do not teach their clients how to take care of their horse so they won't leave and they become dependent on the trainer. My first trainer wouldn't let me ride if I had a piece of tack out of place, or if I hadn't groomed the horse properly. She taught me how to wrap, clip, and braid and now I don't have to depend on anyone at shows, and it is a very nice feeling. Through pony club I have learned to take in different opinions and take what works for your horse and use it, if it doesn't work just let in go back into memory incase of a horse that does. I've learned to go to shows on my own and ride what feels good saving me coaching fee's ect.

I enjoy taking clinics, and my current trainer understands this and I inform her of everything they taught us and I'll tell her exactly what I liked and what I didn't, same with shows that way she knows what went wrong and what went right and we can learn from it, and amazingly my horse just gets better and better.

80s rider
Jul. 2, 2009, 09:40 PM
Great Post!!! Trainers often feel like they own clients. What about a 'free-lance" client? That would be cool. Ride with different barns. Go to what ever show you want. Use whatever trainer you want at that show. No one can "claim" you as theirs. Wonder how that would work... with an advanced rider of course:)

mroades
Jul. 2, 2009, 10:21 PM
Great Post!!! Trainers often feel like they own clients. What about a 'free-lance" client? That would be cool. Ride with different barns. Go to what ever show you want. Use whatever trainer you want at that show. No one can "claim" you as theirs. Wonder how that would work... with an advanced rider of course:)


except somehow i am supposed to be making a living....

all of my kids know how to do everything except braid (and I have my own reasons for that)( i can, but i try not to) and because i teach them all of those things, i can no longer bill for it, so i have a barn full of horseman and i cant buy new socks.....I am not saying its right, but the "factory" business model is the most financially rewarding. I absolutely LOVE it when a student learns how to clip their horse for the show...but their goes that 10.00 for me...ya know what I mean.

AGRHJRider
Jul. 2, 2009, 10:30 PM
Good thread!
In response to the stockholm syndrome thing, i think a lot of parents fall into this trap becuase they are so uneducated that they believe every single word that comes out of said trainers mouth. And unfortunately many trainers see this as $$$ a great way to make money off someone unsuspecting.
Then as the parents of clients learn more they start to make suggestions and trainers go along with it because once again its another opportunity to bill or charge.
For example I will clip ponies and pull manes etc when students are young, but once they start to reach 13 and or have several years of experience under their belt, its their responsibility. Hell, I had at one point 2 six year olds that could ride, bathe, clip, clean tack and load the trailer the night before a show. Of course with supervision, but if a 6 year old can do it my older kids better be able to do it as well.
I also facilitate a strict buddy system at my barn, all the younger kids help the older kids groom and are jump and ground crew and the older kids spend time mentoring the younger ones. Basically they are my eyes and ears when I am not in the barn or riding.
There are some things that I dont mind doing. I will put in a "midnight ride" when owners aren't there to ensure that the horse has good rounds the next day at a show, ill help clip the troublesome pony etc. But I think its so very important to educate parents and students alike. One thing I like to do is explain why we do things not just say "becuase this is how we do it".
One of the things that is most important to me is producing knowledgable, effective riders and horseman. I think this is truly the best form of advertising for a trainer.
One thing we have to just accept though is that some people are happy having every single minute of their life to a schedule of someone elses making. good luck with that ! lol
And i encourage my students to ride with other trainers in clinics and lessons. I am only one opinion and one set of eyes and a second opinion can always help.

myvanya
Jul. 2, 2009, 10:47 PM
Fantastic subject- I admit, the "what does your trainer make you buy" thread bothered me because the whole concept was so foreign to me. You pay them; how can they make you buy something you don't want or need?

I also have to wonder at seeing the people I show with frequently that have the horse groomed, tacked up for them, and then go ride their class. And if they mess up- someone else rides the horse for a while. When they come out of the class the trainer berates them and details every wrong thing they did (if it is an especially good trainer they might get a hint how to fix it, but it is usually something super helpful like, "establish better rhythm in the lines next time"). Yet, people continue to pay these trainers and ride for them. I haven't been showing on this local h/j circuit (such as it is) for very log, but I don't see much improvement in people who did well in the past (as shown by year end awards), moving up to higher levels. I know there can be excellent explanations for that, but it feels like riding is being dumbed down at the lower levels (adding crossrails classes at local rated shows for kids and adults) and made more inaccessible at the higher levels (mostly due to income level required to show- though that may just be my personal feeling since I don't have the money :winkgrin:) In this respect I think stockholm syndrome describes the situation well. Trainers at the low levels are stuck, I suppose it is not out of the realm of possibility for the riders to become equally stuck.

So, we have trainers who really are stagnant in some ways, (I am not trying to be offensive to trainers at these levels it just appears to me that becoming a BNT is a herculean task, though the reason for that is somewhat unclear to me) and some really pretty clueless riders. Some of the riders just aren't motivated, I agree. They would rather listen to their ipod and text their friends than read about conformation and clean tack. But some are probably really clueless that they don't know how to care for their horse; it just doesn't occur to them and no one says anything. But I think to blame the phenomenon on any one thing would be to over simplify it.

That being said, I prefer to do my own work and, though I am trying to find one, don't even have a trainer right now. I don't depend on anyone at shows (except sometimes my husband to drive the trailer if there is not good parking :lol:). And, I should note, most of the people at my barn make fun of me for the time and attention I spend on grooming, but my horse looks fantastic without my using all kinds of weird stuff on him :)

I have groomed for friends and ridden any horse I can, and taken every opportunity I have had to learn new things, even if that meant helping the vet with someone else's colicing horse for several hours just so I could gain the experience. Part of why I go without a trainer, do all my own grooming etc. is because of my economic means, but part of that is because I think being a horseman is more than being a rider. I think many people now may just want to ride, which may be ok. But if you want to be a horseman I think you have to be willing to work harder than you have ever worked for anything, and feel more sorrow than you thought you could, and at the same time, when you succeed, which is not defined by ribbons, feel more joy than you knew was possible. (a little cheesy I know, but I really think it might be true)

Ok, I feel better now I got that off my chest even though I didn't say it half as well as I would have liked.

"A"HunterGal
Jul. 3, 2009, 07:46 AM
This has been a very interesting thread to read, and as I'm waiting for the sprinklers to finish before I ride, I thought I would add my take on the subject.

IMHO, there are different types of trainers, and I'm not talking the seperation b/w BNT, LNT, NNT, etc. Some are solely focused on the rider, and work out of lesson mills (though some of these trainers are less than adequate). These places usually drop the ball on the horse care at both ends, as the more lessons get taught, the more money the place makes, and the horses are the ones that suffer.

Then there are trainers who teach both riding and basic horsemanship so that the clients are expected to do it all. This is where I grew up riding, a very old school operation in Northern Virginia. The pro/con there is that yes, I knew how to do everything, but at a young age and as a beginner, not everything very well. While my horse was under supervision and nothing got too bad, I know a lot of horses who were left to the eye of their adult amatuer riders and in retrospect, lots went missed.

Then there are trainers who consider themselves as responsible for trainer not only the rider, but also the horse. This is where some of the stockholm thing can come into play. The trainer takes both under their wing, and therefor, sees the need to have control over the horse's program. Just as an elite athlete places their well being in the hands of the trainer, since the HORSE is the main athlete part, the trainer naturally steps in. While there are many adults who are capable of acting in their horses best interests in terms of a care regimen, I think that trainers who operate this way have very set "programs" that they believe in. So if you LIKE to have a say in what supplements/training rides/etc your horse gets, simply don't choose a trainer who has this viewpoint.

I also know that there are lots of controlling trainers who like to have dependent clients, and they are at all levels, but you can usually tell very quickly if they are the trainer above (very interested/hands on in the horse care) or whether they like to distract with lots of fancy perks and can't calmly explain their care regimen when questioned by a potential client. ANY trainer should be able to explain why they like XYZ done at their stables, why it's good for the horses. If they can't, or they get defensive, chances are they themselves are clueless about what goes on.

There are all kinds in any industry, this one included. If you're the type of person who likes to be controlled, then you will more than likely feel comfortable with a controlling trainer. If not, then no. Whatever floats your boat.

KC and the Sunshine Band
Jul. 3, 2009, 08:23 AM
Great Post!!! Trainers often feel like they own clients. What about a 'free-lance" client? That would be cool. Ride with different barns. Go to what ever show you want. Use whatever trainer you want at that show. No one can "claim" you as theirs. Wonder how that would work... with an advanced rider of course:)

I can tell you all about that. Ultimately what happens is they try to get you into their fold and unless you're very strong willed; it's easy to get sucked in, but it's just as easy to break free when the pull gets too strong.

Some #$(*$#*$( idiotic things I've heard....

"You have talent but I can name many riders who ruined their careers by keeping their horses out of the training barn and riding alone on a regular basis."

Trainer: "You can't do THAT!"
Me: "Can YOU tell me what I should do then instead of just telling me I'm doing it wrong?"
Trainer: <chirp, chirp, dead quiet>
followed by some BS from a palatates class!

O.M.G. Time to RUN, not walk, out of that barn.

It is unfortunate that most trainers will start to belittle the rider when the rider's level is higher than the trainers and that trainer no longer knows how to help the rider. Belittling them/ emotional abuse keeps the rider second guessing themselves. The moment I feel that going on with a trainer I'll call them on it and then I'm done with them. I've found it is almost always trainers who are on the decline who do this. But sometimes that is hard to distinguish until you're a little deeper into the fray. Trainers on their way up and who STILL ride themselves don't seem to do this to their students.

magnolia73
Jul. 3, 2009, 09:21 AM
Out of curiosity- would trainers rather deal with an unrealistic pony mom with no experience who wants DD to win championships..... or a very experienced adult who is realistic about competition results, but expects you to balance your program within their budget and with an eye to providing the MOST longevity for their horse?

Like most horses at my barn go in aluminium shoes- a great advantage for the hack, and a big up charge. I can't afford aluminum plus clips plus equipack. So I do steel and equipack. I'd rather pay for something to help soundness long term than a boost in a hack. And if I get 6th/6th in the hack, I'm going to laugh about eggbeater.

I do bring a good bit of knowledge to the table and am at the point where I realize- often more than one way with horses. And I have seen horses damaged /ruined by blind adherence to a program and an unwillingness to change the program to accomodate the horse.

It probably does get old to have a client question your program- but if the questions are valid, and founded in quality knowledge.... how do you feel about that? Yeah- the parent who wants Suzie to win the hack questioning the shoeing fees needs to suck it up and stick with the program. But is it just too hard to make accomodations for those for whom veering from the program might be easier on a tight budget or work better for their horse?

findeight
Jul. 3, 2009, 09:36 AM
Many trainers do tailor their programs towards the client and their needs, you have to shop around.

Far as the free lance client thing, many will also do haul ins or meet at shows BUT...from their prospective, all they have to sell themselves is the quality of their students. They would expect a certain amount of competence from you as one of their students. It also would not do you as much good as you may think to constantly switch trainers-everybody has their own little system and vocabulary. You'd end up confused and not progress that much.

KC and the Sunshine Band
Jul. 3, 2009, 09:57 AM
I'd hope by the time you get to a certain point in your riding career you and the trainers are all using the same vocabulary. For children yes, I can understand your point, but for upper level adults.... I would HOPE the education they've received thus far allow them to follow direction well from ANY upper level trainer.

Unless of course that trainer is using their pilates, or whatever exercise class, as a basis for their teaching, then the vocabulary might be hard to follow! HA HA Ha

theblondejumper
Jul. 3, 2009, 10:03 AM
I've seen a lot of what you are describing Bridal especially in teens (of course not all). Girls whose parents can afford and are willing to pay lots and lots of money for their daughter to ride with someone and not learn the skills. I've seen girls refuse to by a perfectly appropriate horse for them just because their trainer wants them to spend more (i.e. more commission) on something else. Or other restrictions on their riding just because trainer said so.

I'm saddened that a lot of riders aren't more picky with who thy train with and that they don't sit back and take a good look at what they are doing and why--if it's their own choice and not the mandate of the trainer. There's a time and place for trainer's to be a stickler for what they will and won't tolerate--and that should come through patient teaching and building of a horseperson. Then the "break up" period wouldn't be an issue! It certainly wasn't for me when I left my first barn armed with good skills and knowledge. Sure there are some barns it's harder to leave than others but if you know that it's not for you then you have to make that decision. And I think that a LOT of impressionable young girls aren't capable of making that distinction anymore because they simply don't know how.

findeight
Jul. 3, 2009, 10:10 AM
Some of that is the fault of the parents. Kids cannot transport themselves or sign any checks, they are stuck with whoever the parent picks. Then they get dumped on the driveway.

dags
Jul. 3, 2009, 10:46 AM
If fifteen pecent of your students wanted to be real horsemen - I think thats a pretty good ratio. Sounds like your daughter will be a fabulous vet!


LOL, I always say my "kids" though I'm actually referring to my students. No chilluns here. Thanks though! She's amazing, put in all the hard work, bought the cheapo horse, and it will all pay off.

Wasn't talking about investment horses, talking about the majority of the clientele, and what their mentality is. When I began my service it was fully DIY, but since I could only rely on 15% of my clients to properly care for their animals it slowly morphed into more care handled/oversaw/maintained by me. You can call it whatever you want but if you're going to leave the beast to me for 90% of its life, and blame me when its not perfect, then I'm probably going to dictate what the heck you do with it when you're with him that 10% of the time.

Those that wanted to learn, like kid mentioned above, LEARNED. She can care for her horse nose to tail, hoof to wither. The handful of kids that wanted to learn kept me inspired as much as they could, but they were so few and far between, 1 or 2 in the program at any given time. I did not offer groom service, period. But then it became that I'm getting the horse back out to dry him off after kid leaves because he's a breeding ground for scratches. I look and notice he's got 3" of pastern hair and clearly no ones thought to take a pair of clippers to him in the middle of the hot, dry summer . . . when issue is brought up to kid and parent I'm told they simply don't have the time.

Rather than morph my entire training philosophy into a Full Service operation, I shut down.

There are a crap-load of bad trainers out there, looks like Kristie ran into the corner on that market. But for every bad trainer there are a dozen young kids, inexperienced parents, and time-stricken amateurs. And they all want to win (we are talking show barns here, yes the goal is to produce winners). Whatever there reasons are for not putting the proper care into their animal - legitimate or pathetic - it was the horse that was suffering. For these reasons I understand the existence of a full care program.




Actually, I have no idea what was originally being discussed :D Sounded like a giant rant of blanket statements, but has actually turned into a very interesting discussion.

dags
Jul. 3, 2009, 10:58 AM
This has been a very interesting thread to read, and as I'm waiting for the sprinklers to finish before I ride, I thought I would add my take on the subject.

IMHO, there are different types of trainers, and I'm not talking the seperation b/w BNT, LNT, NNT, etc. Some are solely focused on the rider, and work out of lesson mills (though some of these trainers are less than adequate). These places usually drop the ball on the horse care at both ends, as the more lessons get taught, the more money the place makes, and the horses are the ones that suffer.

Then there are trainers who teach both riding and basic horsemanship so that the clients are expected to do it all. This is where I grew up riding, a very old school operation in Northern Virginia. The pro/con there is that yes, I knew how to do everything, but at a young age and as a beginner, not everything very well. While my horse was under supervision and nothing got too bad, I know a lot of horses who were left to the eye of their adult amatuer riders and in retrospect, lots went missed.

Then there are trainers who consider themselves as responsible for trainer not only the rider, but also the horse. This is where some of the stockholm thing can come into play. The trainer takes both under their wing, and therefor, sees the need to have control over the horse's program. Just as an elite athlete places their well being in the hands of the trainer, since the HORSE is the main athlete part, the trainer naturally steps in. While there are many adults who are capable of acting in their horses best interests in terms of a care regimen, I think that trainers who operate this way have very set "programs" that they believe in. So if you LIKE to have a say in what supplements/training rides/etc your horse gets, simply don't choose a trainer who has this viewpoint.

I also know that there are lots of controlling trainers who like to have dependent clients, and they are at all levels, but you can usually tell very quickly if they are the trainer above (very interested/hands on in the horse care) or whether they like to distract with lots of fancy perks and can't calmly explain their care regimen when questioned by a potential client. ANY trainer should be able to explain why they like XYZ done at their stables, why it's good for the horses. If they can't, or they get defensive, chances are they themselves are clueless about what goes on.

There are all kinds in any industry, this one included. If you're the type of person who likes to be controlled, then you will more than likely feel comfortable with a controlling trainer. If not, then no. Whatever floats your boat.

Fantastic post. Like everything else you encounter in the world, you must decide what works for you. There's likely a program out there just right for you.


and magnolia, i'll take the ammie. I'll take 6 of them, please. Keep the crazy pony mom out of here! I don't care how many $$$ are trailing out the door . . .

mvp
Jul. 3, 2009, 11:49 AM
A while back, I said I understood the plight of the trainer who was held responsible by the client for making a sows ear into a silk purse-- the client who doesn't want to put in the horsecare time but does want the ribbons. This as an understandable cause of the domineering trainer.

More recently another poster hinted at another problem: The small-time trainer who is "stuck." And they are. No huge commission checks of show fees, many more clients who take a casual approach to riding and showing, and no opportunity to learn better horsemen while staying home and running the business. Plus, they may not have much to offer the client who does want to move up.

A good, old school ammy who has made her own horse, I have "gotten to the bottom" of more than one local H/J trainer. How can they hang on to me except by trying to undermine my confidence in my own abilities? Really, I haven't run into anyone quite that dastardly, but I suppose it happens. I go to a trainer to add to what I know and to get a second opinion on what strategies I might try to polish some rough edge on my horse or riding. If they can't accept equality in our relationship, it won't last long. But when they do better than I can, I'm lavish with credit.

When many trainers can help you get around a little course on a modest horse at a local show, why stay with one in particular? The temptation to control clients must be enormous for these guys. They are working very hard for what they get.

jumperlover101
Jul. 3, 2009, 12:29 PM
I must say, I'm glad I read this. It's made me realize what a good trainer I'm riding with. After my first summer show season with her, a horse I used, which was hers, got severly sick and almost had to be put down. He had to be sold because he couldn't do his job anymore without getting nervous and colicing. She knew I loved the horse and what I had done with it because it was a different discipline that what I had done the previous year. She then refered me to another barn if I had wanted to continue with the discipline. I ended up staying with her, and have improved in these two years so much, that if i had stayed with the barn I was at before I moved to her, I would be exactly where I was two years ago, not improving.

I have seen this dependence with other barns at shows. The riders are afraid to even think about riding with or moving to another trainer because the one they are with now puts them on easy horses that are groomed and tacked for them and makes them think, this is the best you're gonna get. All they have to do is come, ride, pay, and leave. No care for the horse at all. It just makes me mentally sick to see this.

And the problem with riders leaving trainers and going to other barns and being afraid to talk to the riders that are still riding with the trainer, has deffinitly happened to me. After my move about 3 years back, the riders trashed me. Not one good word remained where I had come from, even though I had easily been the best rider there at the time besides the trainer herself. When both our barns are at shows, the tension is visible. I don't care at all, and if they do, they need to get over it and just ride. Isn't riding supposed to be about having a good time and enjoying it? Where has that gone? I know I have found it where I am, and so will not be leaving my trainer for at least another year or two.

sp56
Jul. 3, 2009, 01:02 PM
It is the job of the trainer to help the rider determine his or her goals and help that rider achieve his or her goals. Sounds simple, right?

We learn as riders that we need to adapt to the horse - learn how to work WITH the horse instead of jamming him into OUR program. Some need a turnout every day, some need to be schooled twice a day, some need a trail ride twice a week, some are content standing in the stall eating hay and doing nothing else. We find tack that works with the horse and his anatomy. We find what the horse likes to do and give him a career in that discipline.

Same goes for our students. Some are the independent type that like trailering in for lessons once a week (and hey! They pay the individual lesson fee, not the package deal so your time is actually paid at a higher rate). Some people want to ride twice a week and go to shows on the weekend. Some people want to be at the barn, training every day. It's the trainer's job to tailor their program to the needs of the student and horse. Yes, there will always be difficult clients who want to win but don't want to put in the time. And yes, it will stress you out. Trainers often are forced to act as shrinks because so many personal issues come out on horseback. But it's the trainer's job to be patient and find new ways to help their student learn. That's called teaching and that's what trainers signed up to do.

My grandfather taught Air Conditioning and Refrigeration at a well known college. When a majority of students missed a question on a test, he didn't assume the students didn't study well enough. He assumed that he hadn't TAUGHT it well enough. He went back to his students and revisited the material so that they would be able to better understand it.

There are many sides to this argument and I've sat on both sides of the fence. I have been the student in 'the program', the student who trailered in, the student who rode with the trainer every day, and the trainer who has had students of various types.

The best advice I can offer to trainers is to charge fairly for what you know so you can avoid being resentful. Set up the rules ahead of time and don't budge. Be on time for your lessons, show your students some respect, and expect respect in return. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TAKE EVERY CLIENT! You can send people who take too much of your time and don't pay away. Respect yourself and expect others to respect you. I'm not saying you should be arrogant, just don't be a doormat. You provide a service and that service is to train horses and teach people. Remember that.

And clients, you should also expect your trainer to be encouraging and helpful. Be mindful that you are NOT their only client. If you have five horses in the barn, that does not make you a priority over someone who has one horse and do not throw that weight around. You are there because you respect the trainer's opinion, not so you can have someone to boss around. Clients can expect their trainers to be on time, be respectful, and teach them something new. Clients cannot expect trainers to be their best friend or their life coach or expect miracles overnight. Progress happens slowly and steadily and the turtle always wins. ;)

People come and go for various reasons. When you throw your heart into your business, it hurts when clients leave and I think that's why some are so bitter when clients jump ship. Just know that you have something valuable to offer and will help whomever is around you. If you let your clients leave gracefully, then they will refer people back to you in the long run. In the end, everyone only looks out for themselves - you cannot expect anyone to look out for you.

I know this is long but PS. To the trainer who doesn't want to lose the $10 to clip a horse...WHO CARES!? You teach someone to do that and that frees you up to take more clients, or do your accounting, or ride one more horse. Unless you're marketing yourself as a groom, applaud the initiative. Set up 'grooming days' where instead of training people on their horses, you teach them how to clip, wrap, bathe, etc. Get an older kid to run the program to teach the younger ones. That will give you more time, the older kid some teaching experience, and the younger ones a chance to learn. BE CREATIVE and use the resources you have around you. Set up your barn rules and stick by them.

PSS I just read this over and wanted to add one more thing. Trainers don't have to be cold to protect themselves from clients. Trainers can be warm and encouraging and insightful, but maintain a strong boundary line. Trainers can be forgiving but should not bend over backwards to accommodate their 20 clients. Clients shouldn't expect back breaking forgiveness from their trainers either.

mroades
Jul. 3, 2009, 01:36 PM
It is the job of the trainer to help the rider determine his or her goals and help that rider achieve his or her goals. Sounds simple, right?

We learn as riders that we need to adapt to the horse - learn how to work WITH the horse instead of jamming him into OUR program. Some need a turnout every day, some need to be schooled twice a day, some need a trail ride twice a week, some are content standing in the stall eating hay and doing nothing else. We find tack that works with the horse and his anatomy. We find what the horse likes to do and give him a career in that discipline.

Same goes for our students. Some are the independent type that like trailering in for lessons once a week (and hey! They pay the individual lesson fee, not the package deal so your time is actually paid at a higher rate). Some people want to ride twice a week and go to shows on the weekend. Some people want to be at the barn, training every day. It's the trainer's job to tailor their program to the needs of the student and horse. Yes, there will always be difficult clients who want to win but don't want to put in the time. And yes, it will stress you out. Trainers often are forced to act as shrinks because so many personal issues come out on horseback. But it's the trainer's job to be patient and find new ways to help their student learn. That's called teaching and that's what trainers signed up to do.

My grandfather taught Air Conditioning and Refrigeration at a well known college. When a majority of students missed a question on a test, he didn't assume the students didn't study well enough. He assumed that he hadn't TAUGHT it well enough. He went back to his students and revisited the material so that they would be able to better understand it.

There are many sides to this argument and I've sat on both sides of the fence. I have been the student in 'the program', the student who trailered in, the student who rode with the trainer every day, and the trainer who has had students of various types.

The best advice I can offer to trainers is to charge fairly for what you know so you can avoid being resentful. Set up the rules ahead of time and don't budge. Be on time for your lessons, show your students some respect, and expect respect in return. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TAKE EVERY CLIENT! You can send people who take too much of your time and don't pay away. Respect yourself and expect others to respect you. I'm not saying you should be arrogant, just don't be a doormat. You provide a service and that service is to train horses and teach people. Remember that.

And clients, you should also expect your trainer to be encouraging and helpful. Be mindful that you are NOT their only client. If you have five horses in the barn, that does not make you a priority over someone who has one horse and do not throw that weight around. You are there because you respect the trainer's opinion, not so you can have someone to boss around. Clients can expect their trainers to be on time, be respectful, and teach them something new. Clients cannot expect trainers to be their best friend or their life coach or expect miracles overnight. Progress happens slowly and steadily and the turtle always wins. ;)

People come and go for various reasons. When you throw your heart into your business, it hurts when clients leave and I think that's why some are so bitter when clients jump ship. Just know that you have something valuable to offer and will help whomever is around you. If you let your clients leave gracefully, then they will refer people back to you in the long run. In the end, everyone only looks out for themselves - you cannot expect anyone to look out for you.

I know this is long but PS. To the trainer who doesn't want to lose the $10 to clip a horse...WHO CARES!? You teach someone to do that and that frees you up to take more clients, or do your accounting, or ride one more horse. Unless you're marketing yourself as a groom, applaud the initiative. Set up 'grooming days' where instead of training people on their horses, you teach them how to clip, wrap, bathe, etc. Get an older kid to run the program to teach the younger ones. That will give you more time, the older kid some teaching experience, and the younger ones a chance to learn. BE CREATIVE and use the resources you have around you. Set up your barn rules and stick by them.

PSS I just read this over and wanted to add one more thing. Trainers don't have to be cold to protect themselves from clients. Trainers can be warm and encouraging and insightful, but maintain a strong boundary line. Trainers can be forgiving but should not bend over backwards to accommodate their 20 clients. Clients shouldn't expect back breaking forgiveness from their trainers either.


That was me WHO CARES about losing that ten dollars! That ten dolars might buy a fence post or two....thats why I care. And if you had read for comprehension, my kids all DO know how to clip, etc. Just making the observation about where the money goes.

sp56
Jul. 3, 2009, 01:44 PM
That was me WHO CARES about losing that ten dollars! That ten dolars might buy a fence post or two....thats why I care. And if you had read for comprehension, my kids all DO know how to clip, etc. Just making the observation about where the money goes.

Then charge your clients $10 more per month for boarding to make sure you can cover costs. I'm used to having my board go up about $25/year for such things. Horses are expensive. You shouldn't have to sacrifice and scrape by. I know money is tight right now for everyone and every thing. I'm glad that you are thoughtful and care about your facility. I just have a problem with the logic of keeping people dependent so that you can make a dollar and I've seen it a lot. I don't think I understood the intent of your statement. I'm sorry.

NJRider
Jul. 3, 2009, 01:55 PM
This is a great discussion. Again, makes me glad I learned from an old school barn where we were expected to do everything! I have carried my education (from the 70's-80's) with me into adulthood as I have had to make decisions for my horses and education. I ONLY work with trainers who teach you to be an effective rider and the trainer of your own horse. I ride dressage, I have seen the influence of trainers I would call frankly Evil who have such an influence over their students, seemingly intelligent adults all of whom are like cult members.
One in particular has been banned from clinics, has not been on a horse in two decades, students and horses do awful (it is sad) and her followers NEVER question the results or methods.

mroades
Jul. 3, 2009, 01:55 PM
I guess I didnt explain well. I am not a trainer who keeps her students dependant, but I was rationalizing a bit for those who do.

Back to the original question, it is sad to see folks "stockholm" their trainer(s), but it looks like we are not all that way...this is good!

sp56
Jul. 3, 2009, 02:04 PM
I wonder if we could get anyone to speak up who isn't happy with their trainer/situation but is still in the barn and their reasons for staying. This thread is dominated by the people who 'made it out' so to speak. Or is it that you just don't know the difference until you've made it out?

SprinklerBandit
Jul. 3, 2009, 02:52 PM
I'll start off by saying I love my barn--trainer knows her stuff, is always willing to teach, and expects us to take care of our own horses. She doesn't charge to warm us up at shows she's already going to because she knows she can't give us equal attention and (here's the kicker) she also knows that she's trained us to ride, so we ought to be able to understand our own horses.

I love that about her. I can't stand going to jumper shows where riders refuse to go in the ring because they're waiting for their trainer to warm them up. Seriously, if you're riding in a 3'6" jumper class, I expect you to be able to feel what your horse is doing and correct him on your own. If you can't do that, why are you showing? I suppose it's different if you're riding the 2's and it's your first show, but if it's not, I think you ought to know how to ride well enough to function (gasp) without a trainer for 10 minutes or so.

mvp
Jul. 3, 2009, 03:52 PM
I don't know if you will be able to get the "Stockholmed victim" to articulate their reasons for staying captive... the erasure of that critical distance is part of the phenomenon, right?

Whenever I look at a new barn, I do try to scope out their natural way of doing things, to imagine how well or poorly my horse will fit in, and to assess their willingness to do otherwise if asked and it has benefits for the horse. And all that must be factored in with cost, distance and facilities. It's tough to find all-- especially a good indoor with maintained footing-- in a facility that isn't built to support the pro's lesson/training program since boarding doesn't pay. So many of us stay or even choose Stockholm for the facility or standard of care we can't get anywhere else.

horselesswonder
Jul. 3, 2009, 05:27 PM
KristieBee, that was a great post.



Great Post!!! Trainers often feel like they own clients. What about a 'free-lance" client? That would be cool. Ride with different barns. Go to what ever show you want. Use whatever trainer you want at that show. No one can "claim" you as theirs. Wonder how that would work... with an advanced rider of course

I can tell you how this works: just ok. The problem is that you, as a "freelance client," aren't a priority for anyone. And in fairness, that makes sense. You are not there day in and day out with a trainer spending on board, pro rides, lessons and shows. The trainers, after all, do need to make a living, so their attention is focused on those who are there spending the money and going to the shows. This can be especially difficult when you need to sell a horse (buying is easy - everyone wants to show you horses and make a commission, but selling is more work, so the motivation seems to be a bit less...). On the flip side, if you feel like taking a summer off from showing to pursue outside interests or you want to attend a show that Trainer A is not going to attend, you aren't going to catch a bunch of flak for that. And it is nice to be able to pick and choose which shows you are going to attend based on your schedule and your footing/location/class preferences. All in all it is doable but it's not going to be for everyone. You have less support, less attention and less guidance, and you have to be comfortable with that.

"A"HunterGal
Jul. 3, 2009, 06:04 PM
KristieBee, that was a great post.



I can tell you how this works: just ok. The problem is that you, as a "freelance client," aren't a priority for anyone. And in fairness, that makes sense. You are not there day in and day out with a trainer spending on board, pro rides, lessons and shows. The trainers, after all, do need to make a living, so their attention is focused on those who are there spending the money and going to the shows. This can be especially difficult when you need to sell a horse (buying is easy - everyone wants to show you horses and make a commission, but selling is more work, so the motivation seems to be a bit less...). On the flip side, if you feel like taking a summer off from showing to pursue outside interests or you want to attend a show that Trainer A is not going to attend, you aren't going to catch a bunch of flak for that. And it is nice to be able to pick and choose which shows you are going to attend based on your schedule and your footing/location/class preferences. All in all it is doable but it's not going to be for everyone. You have less support, less attention and less guidance, and you have to be comfortable with that.

I agree with all of the above, and I'll go one step further.

I don't know if it was this thread or the other one, but somebody made the comment along the lines of "as long as the trainer knows that we're both on an equal playing field, it's fine."

The problem is that you HAVE to give up some control and place trust in your trainer. That's what you PAY them for. You're NOT on an equal playing field. Yes, you may pay the bills, but that doesn't place you in control of your own program. The only thing that can do that is to ride by yourself. You pay for the critical eye and the feedback and yes, you pay to give up some control of the direction of your riding. It's because you trust the trainer to guide you.

Now, that being said, it's critically important to find the right guide! You don't want the blind leading the partially sighted. But to consider yourself on a level playing field with your trainer doesn't set yourself up for success. And "freelancing" from place to place doesn't give you focus or direction. Everyone needs a center point. I've never heard of a successful athlete in any other sport who jumps around from week to week, in fact, at the top levels, athletes who do this musical trainer thing are usually the ones who are in trouble!

Plumcreek
Jul. 3, 2009, 10:13 PM
Clients have changed from the 50s and 60s. My friends and I grew up riding our first horses all over the hills bareback like hooligans, kept them in our backyards and did our own rudimentary care. Some of us moved up to being good horsemen and showing and further up to good horses and good shows. We were/are the clients of yesteryear.

Todays kids and adults start riding in lessons, quickly are introduced to shows, and quickly get ribbon fever, then grow fangs for the blue ribbons/big shows. No time to learn all the horse care background knowledge , 3 other sports that demand time for the kids. It is just different than it was, and will never go back.

mvp
Jul. 3, 2009, 11:33 PM
I have enjoyed the "freelancing rider" thing when I have done it. So I'm interested in hearing others' experiences. The point about not being a priority is well-taken. It's also something I can live with.

I was also the person who wanted that "equal footing" relationship with a trainer. This is because I

1) Made the horse myself... which the pro finds she likes to ride.

2) I have kept him sound longer than your average show bear (knock on wood!).

3) I will pay his bills, if and when someone else makes a mistake and injures him.

4) (I'm writing this from a relatively small, unsophisticated part of the world), there have been just too many times that I have gotten bad suggestions from a pro.

E.g.: "The horse doesn't need to be 'on the bit' because he's showing in the hunters not the dressage."

If this horse were not ridden "like a dressage horse" with impulsion from behind and his head position being a comparative afterthought, he wouldn't *be* the sound, broke, easy to ride horse the pro liked in the first place.

How do you Stockholm it up and turn your horse over to that? I'm not even suggesting this pro didn't have *something* to offer me. I am saying that her long-term plan is more likely to fail than mine has so far. So my point was that more than one opinion might end up benefitting the horse.

sp56
Jul. 4, 2009, 12:29 AM
Talking about flat work for hunters...A friend of mine had a fairly nice AA hunter at a fairly well known show barn. He would ask me to come hack the horse once in a while. One day I took the horse to another arena and schooled him on the flat for an hour. The owner had been having trouble with the horse being heavy and unresponsive so we worked on being light, round and responsive. The next day the trainer got on and after about fifteen minutes, asked me in astonishment as to what I had done the day before. She couldn't believe how much better behaved and easy to ride the horse was. The horse jumped better, moved better, and acted better.

I went to the shows with this trainer and would almost always beat her students on a horse that she had pretty much written off as not being easy enough to do the eq on. I rode with her because she was a good eq trainer and I did learn quite a bit about riding the eq from her. Oddly enough, after seeing what I could do with several different horses, she still to this day doesn't understand my motives for heavy and solid flatwork and we cannot see eye to eye on training regiments. Her program has worked for her for years, why change now? I respect that, but it's definitely not for me.

It's a complete aside but mvp's post reminded me of that story. :)

delznnord
Jul. 4, 2009, 12:59 AM
Thank you. I have recently gone through something like this myself, and the gossip is just unbelievable.

fordtraktor
Jul. 4, 2009, 07:59 AM
I went to the shows with this trainer and would almost always beat her students on a horse that she had pretty much written off as not being easy enough to do the eq on. I rode with her because she was a good eq trainer and I did learn quite a bit about riding the eq from her. Oddly enough, after seeing what I could do with several different horses, she still to this day doesn't understand my motives for heavy and solid flatwork and we cannot see eye to eye on training regiments. Her program has worked for her for years, why change now? I respect that, but it's definitely not for me.

It's a complete aside but mvp's post reminded me of that story. :)

I can sort of understand the trainer's approach on this. I have a lot of dressage background and like my horses finely tuned -- when I squeeze I want an instantaneous response, when I slide my leg back I want canter, horse should be on the bit and light, etc.

I had to back off on this when I started training horses for your typical amateur, because it is like taking a Ferrari to driver's ed. Most amateurs don't have a completely solid leg, and end up giving the horse a lot of cues they don't mean, which confuses everybody. Most amateurs like horses that are lazy and straightforward. They are easier to ride and less scary. Just my experience. I'm not saying it is ideal, but I saw my job as a trainer to be making a horse my client wants to ride, not just something that is classically correct.

sp56
Jul. 4, 2009, 09:34 AM
Most amateurs don't have a completely solid leg, and end up giving the horse a lot of cues they don't mean, which confuses everybody. Most amateurs like horses that are lazy and straightforward. They are easier to ride and less scary. Just my experience. I'm not saying it is ideal, but I saw my job as a trainer to be making a horse my client wants to ride, not just something that is classically correct.

Problem was that the ammy was getting really frustrated with the horse because he couldn't get him to do what he wanted. He was so on the forehand and pulled so hard that the ammy constantly chipped fences because he couldn't get him balanced in the corner. He was actually ready to get rid of him because of the heaviness problem. I know what it's like to train horses for ammys and kids - they need to be somewhat responsive for that last minute 'oh my god! i see a distance i see a distance! kick kick' but not overly responsive when the rider's leg slips back and gouges them with the spur.

Flatwork does wonders for horse and rider. :)

And now - back to the topic.

BridalBridle
Jul. 4, 2009, 05:57 PM
Reading between the lines it appears that the people who want to relinquish responsibility for the horse and their skills have done so. The ones who are participants stay hands on in the process.
For those of you who have walked in and handed all power over to the trainer....then shame on you for complaining.

Whisper
Jul. 5, 2009, 11:29 AM
Dags, I agree that a junior or adult ammy isn't likely to learn as *much* as the trainer, due to time constraints and years of experience. You can pass a lot on, but not necessarily *everything*. I love learning about horsemanship, and was even willing to pay for unmounted lessons when it was raining/etc., but couldn't persuade any of my instructors until a couple of years ago to teach me things like how to do shipping boots, standing bandages, poultice, take temperature, etc.

Findeight, I actually made *better* progress in the periods when I worked with multiple trainers than when I was only working with one person! There've been a couple of times when I was confused about something, but very rarely, and no more so than if I had switched from being with just one trainer to being with a new person. I only worked with a second person who the first one knew and specifically approved of, unless I was cross-training in a completely different discipline. Usually the reason why I took lessons with multiple people was that the first one didn't have enough lesson spots at a time when I could take them, on days when I couldn't be at the other barn either for my lesson or for a part-lease.

The instructors I've worked with more recently take lessons from someone else, or organize/participate in clinics regularly, and encourage their students to take part if they are at a high enough level to benefit from it, and audit if not.

sp56, overall, I still feel like a "turtle" sometimes, but up until about 3 years ago, I had some really serious problems that kept me from making just about any progress at all. I had two trainers get very frustrated with me - one told me I still wasn't ready to show W/T after 3 years with her, even though we were doing very advanced stuff at home, and the other said that I learned more slowly than any student she'd had in over 20 years, including ones with severe disabilities. :eek: Both are pretty well-respected trainers/instructors, and have had other students do very well, but their respective approaches just weren't getting through, in spite of our best efforts. The next person I went to after the second comment really helped me get breakthroughs all the time. We'd specifically focus on one or two problems, and after 3-4 weeks, I no longer had that bad habit, or it was significantly lessened from what it had been. There were so *many* things to work on that I wasn't able to objectively progress to a different level very quickly, but I was able to really address things my previous instructors had pointed out a few times, then given up on. I had to switch trainers due to a job move, and the two new instructors (I did longe lessons with one, jumping lessons and part-leased with the other) both said that they felt I was learning more quickly than any of their other adult students - each time we worked on something, I was able to address the problem, and retain it the next week with only a couple of reminders. We were frequently able to focus on 3-4 areas, rather than just one. I'm still not a great rider, but I've had lots of people from outside my barn tell me how much I've improved! So, students should be careful if they *are* making progress if you feel like a turtle - not "am I jumping higher than last month?" but "am I continually making noticable improvements?"

mvp
Jul. 5, 2009, 07:58 PM
I am a teacher in one part of my professional life and I have to say that when I find a student not making progress, I have to look hard at what I'm doing.

When the student has unrealistic expectations, or seems to want advancement without putting in the work, we can talk about her part in it. When I find myself saying the same thing over and over without change in my student, I look at my part.

Sometimes the most talented riders do not make the most talented teachers because the feel, timing body awareness and control came so easily to them. Sometimes a good dressage trainer can make changes in riding that a good h/j trainer can't make or doesn't want to take the time to teach.

When it isn't working, a postive, tactful but candid summit meeting is definitely in order.

Whisper
Jul. 5, 2009, 09:22 PM
I think that's a really good point, mvp! In my particular case, I think both of them were good riders, and they generally were good teachers, but perhaps weren't as familiar with fixing adult re-rider types? I think that teaching brand new riders, or people who already have a good foundation, takes some different skills and a lot more patience than fixing bad habits on people who don't have a lot of body awareness and control.

The trainer who was able to help me a lot, who I mentioned, used a lot of different tools to get the point across when I had trouble figuring out what to do (physically moving me into position, getting onto that horse or a different horse and showing me, thinking up different analogies or ways of phrasing the same thing). Once I figured out where I needed to be, it felt weird, so I had to accept that, memorize that odd feeling, and work on duplicating it until it started to feel correct and get into muscle memory. The poor lady sometimes had to practically chant the same correction over and over like a mantra the first time we addressed a new problem, catching me each time I did it, since I literally *couldn't* feel myself doing it! As the lesson progressed (say 15 minutes or so), it went down to a correction every 5-10 minutes on that issue, and usually, the next few rides also required a correction every 5-15 minutes. Once I got better at feeling what my body was doing, I was able to make those corrections a lot faster with a lot fewer repetitions/feedback from her, and we could start working on other things as well. I wasn't ignoring her, or not listening, but had to start feeling what my body was doing, and what the horse was doing, and that took a while.

If the two instructors in question had mentioned sooner that they felt it wasn't working, instead of telling me, "You're doing better than last time" and letting things slide after mentioning it a few times, I would have been a lot better off. I also just felt I was untalented, and assumed that nobody else would be able to help me, either. :sigh:

meupatdoes
Jul. 6, 2009, 10:36 AM
It is unfortunate that most trainers will start to belittle the rider when the rider's level is higher than the trainers and that trainer no longer knows how to help the rider. Belittling them/ emotional abuse keeps the rider second guessing themselves

While I do not feel that "most" trainers do this, I have experienced this too.
One lesson he would be hollering that I should sit deeper and use my seat to get my lazy horse forward, the next he would be saying that sitting deep would only slow the horse down more. When questioned politely how to reconcile contradictory directives he would go ballistic.

I also listened to a lot of, "The horse doesn't steer," and "Well, he could have been a nice project," and "the horse needs more pro rides," and, and, and.

EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I showed up for the weekly lesson, and EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. after he did his weekly pro ride, I would have to listen to how he was "a little disappointed" in the horse that day, he thought the horse would have made more progress over the course of the week.

Of course when he rode the then 3yo horse he would CRUCIFY it for committing the egregious error of striking off on the wrong lead.

Finally the horse had enough and threw his sorry @$$ out the side of the ring. He would have landed on the concrete by the bleachers were it not for the polo net.

I personally feel that my horse has excellent judgment in regards to not only distances on course but also character of people, so I took that little episode as a statement just about as clear as he could make it, trusted his opinion, and we moved barns shortly thereafter.


And NOT. ONE. TRAINER. has explained to me that I "needed to do more pro rides" or "that horse isn't coming along as well as it should" since.

It took a while to get my confidence back after those couple of months but various trainers letting me ride their green horses and sale horses, and supporting me in the training of my own horses got everything back on track again.

Meanwhile my grey horse has seen roughly 20 pro rides in the intervening four years since we left that jackdonkey, most of them immediately after departing that barn because he had me so convinced I was ruining my own horse, and he is doing just fine too and hasn't felt the need to violently plant anyone since.

But hey, while I don't think I will let myself get wrapped up in a bad situation again, it is great to know that if worse comes to worst I have a sensible horse who will make himself clear in short order. :lol:

sp56
Jul. 6, 2009, 01:45 PM
sp56, overall, I still feel like a "turtle" sometimes, but up until about 3 years ago, I had some really serious problems that kept me from making just about any progress at all. I had two trainers get very frustrated with me - one told me I still wasn't ready to show W/T after 3 years with her, even though we were doing very advanced stuff at home, and the other said that I learned more slowly than any student she'd had in over 20 years, including ones with severe disabilities. :eek: Both are pretty well-respected trainers/instructors, and have had other students do very well, but their respective approaches just weren't getting through, in spite of our best efforts. The next person I went to after the second comment really helped me get breakthroughs all the time. We'd specifically focus on one or two problems, and after 3-4 weeks, I no longer had that bad habit, or it was significantly lessened from what it had been. There were so *many* things to work on that I wasn't able to objectively progress to a different level very quickly, but I was able to really address things my previous instructors had pointed out a few times, then given up on. I had to switch trainers due to a job move, and the two new instructors (I did longe lessons with one, jumping lessons and part-leased with the other) both said that they felt I was learning more quickly than any of their other adult students - each time we worked on something, I was able to address the problem, and retain it the next week with only a couple of reminders. We were frequently able to focus on 3-4 areas, rather than just one. I'm still not a great rider, but I've had lots of people from outside my barn tell me how much I've improved! So, students should be careful if they *are* making progress if you feel like a turtle - not "am I jumping higher than last month?" but "am I continually making noticable improvements?"

Congratulations! So great to hear. :D I'll keep that approach in mind when I come across someone who seems slower to learn.

KristieBee
Jul. 6, 2009, 02:21 PM
KristieBee, your post rocked. I'm like you. I have paid my dues and learned a great deal about keeping horses. I'd really like to find a good trainer who can help me go further. But it can be tough to find someone who is that good and doesn't have the factory business-model you describe. It really seems to either be "the way" or "the way to actually make a living at professional horse training."

As you point out, it's not good for most horses. But the bigger problem is that the big barn factory is not for a small number of owners who know better and will stick up for their animals.

You put something like bona fide "time vampires" and thorough, caring horse owners in separate categories. But as your own experience suggests, one person's vampire is another person's better lameness diagnostician.

In any case, I really needed to read your post just now as I'm moving to a new state and looking for barns in a more high-end area than I'm used to. I just needed the kick in the a$$ that says 1) I do know my own horse well; and 2) I can't lie about that and what I know is right for him. I'll politely stick to my guns.


good luck mvp, you are someone who's posts i've always enjoyed on here. own what you know, stick to your guns, and don't let them intimidate you out of that.

we - the knowledgeable, interested and involved owners - are our horse's own best advocates. it's our relationship, our sport, our passion...and *our* vet bills. after all - when a trainer makes a mistake, and a horse gets hurt - ie my horse's overtranqued fall incident - it's funny how they never pick up the check.

Rye
Jul. 6, 2009, 02:38 PM
Stockholm syndrome is the perfect analogy. LOVE IT!!

Being the in business world, I have never understood how or why certain "trainers" can treat their clients like crap and the clients dote on their every word and follow them like lemmings off a cliff.

One poster had a very good point about some insecurities of the client leading them to try and fill a void in their life with a trainer.

I liked someones suggestion of becoming a "free lance" client. Gosh, I'd love to do that someday (I need my own truck and trailer)

Personally, I don't want my trainer to be my friend, it's a service relationship. I pay them to train me and my horse, if you add "friendship" into the equation, it often leads to problems.

Trevelyan96
Jul. 6, 2009, 11:00 PM
I DO know better than my clients how to take care of the horses, and they had better let me do it, or I cannot be responible for the results..

That may or may not be so. But more often than not, the real trainwreck is the combination of the clueless owner/rider with the and the controlling trainer who's figured out that its financially advantageous for them to keep the owner clueless.

FWIW, mroades, in some cases you may know more than your client, but I'd never deal with a trainer who would say something like that and not make an effort to teach their clients how to take care of their horses.

YankeeLawyer
Jul. 6, 2009, 11:09 PM
That may or may not be so. But more often than not, the real trainwreck is the combination of the clueless owner/rider with the and the controlling trainer who's figured out that its financially advantageous for them to keep the owner clueless.

FWIW, mroades, in some cases you may know more than your client, but I'd never deal with a trainer who would say something like that and not make an effort to teach their clients how to take care of their horses.

Ditto. I am very fortunate to have had a (very well known) trainer who made it a priority to teach her riders to be good horsemen and horsewomen first and foremost. And thanks to her efforts, when I ultimately got my own farm and became primarily responsible for selecting my own horses, the transition was a whole lot smoother than I would have imagined (though of course you never cease to learn in this sport!).

I have not read the whole thread but did notice a couple of comments indicating that "Stockholm Syndrome" is a more recent phenomenon. I can assure those people it is not. I competed on the A circuit very actively in the 80s and early 90s, and I distinctly recall witnessing this phenomenon throughout that time, in particular at a couple of very well known barns (note though, it seemed that trainers targeted particular clients for the most extreme treatment, not necessarily all of their clients).

mvp
Jul. 6, 2009, 11:30 PM
I have the same one as Trevelyan96:

Why do people competent enough to make the dough required by the Stockholmy barn get all "deer in the headlights" stoopid and helpless in this one little section of life?

And the real estate agent whose commissions are formally regulated submitting to all kinds of undisclosed crap as part of a horse sale. Whaddupwiththat?

Really? C'mon those of you holding the wallet-- Things will change if you seek a different kind of product. Promise.

Dirty Little Secret
Jul. 6, 2009, 11:35 PM
original post was absolutely true (didn't bother to read the other 3 pages).

Whisper
Jul. 7, 2009, 10:53 AM
Thanks, sp56! Best of luck to you and your students, you sound like the kind of trainer/instructor who is able to think outside the box and come up with solutions for your riders and horses. :D

Midge
Jul. 7, 2009, 01:36 PM
Many trainers do tailor their programs towards the client and their needs, you have to shop around.

Far as the free lance client thing, many will also do haul ins or meet at shows BUT...from their prospective, all they have to sell themselves is the quality of their students. They would expect a certain amount of competence from you as one of their students. It also would not do you as much good as you may think to constantly switch trainers-everybody has their own little system and vocabulary. You'd end up confused and not progress that much.

I had a bunch of catch trainers one year and I generally found it took us a couple days to get together. If I arrived on Friday to practice, then show Sat and Sun, usually by Sun, it was all good. The steepness of our mutual learning curve was reflected in the color of my ribbons the first day. I ultimately liked having catch trainers, except I would have preferred to get some practice in with them before I rode with them at a show. We would have synced up our language and methods somewhere other than the schooling area at a horse show.

My regular trainer would ask what we did that worked and what didn't. I liked that he was willing to take in new information about me from other trainers and wasn't 'threatened'. One thing I did learn is that just about every trainer has a niche or a focus and that can be both good and bad. I rode with someone who made me feel so good, I thought I could be the winner every time. The training itself was actually mediocre but the confidence I had almost made up for that. Conversely, I rode with someone who's knowledge of horse training is so deep to be almost bottomless, but because I could do so little of what they wanted, my confidence was shot.

Midge
Jul. 7, 2009, 01:48 PM
I wonder if we could get anyone to speak up who isn't happy with their trainer/situation but is still in the barn and their reasons for staying. This thread is dominated by the people who 'made it out' so to speak. Or is it that you just don't know the difference until you've made it out?

I am not a 'Stockholmer' and am very happy with my trainer but he likes very specific things that I don't necessarily. It is all minor things, since big things would be a dealbreaker. For example, I do not like a standing martingale if I don't need it. He thinks horses look undressed without it, so I ride in a standing martingale. It is a minor thing and I think it is wrong to go board and ride at a training barn then pick and choose what you are going to take from that program.

I am there because he has such a very good young horse program and is home more than away. He wants me to do most of the riding because I need to know how to ride my greenie, not just have him cart me around after a couple training rides. However, when I am working out of town, he or another one of the ammys at my barn keep my horse going in a program and might iron out something that has caused me difficulties. It is a good fit for me.

Omaha
Jul. 8, 2009, 12:39 AM
I wonder if we could get anyone to speak up who isn't happy with their trainer/situation but is still in the barn and their reasons for staying. This thread is dominated by the people who 'made it out' so to speak. Or is it that you just don't know the difference until you've made it out?

Sad to say, I'm totally guilty of this, though I wouldn't call it Stockholm syndrome because the trainer isn't necessarily a captor or evil person. Oh crap, did I just reiterate the classic definition of the syndrome???

I've been riding with the same trainer for 17 years, but as a teen and young adult, I never had the $ to own my own horse or afford monthly board. Got a job at 14 and paid for my own lessons, part-leases, and equipment. The trainer would give me discounted lease rates on the mild-to-moderately damaged horses in the barn whose owners, though they were still paying board, never came out and rode.

Time passes, and now that I'm 30+ and can afford board, training, and lessons, the trainer still thinks of me as the 15-year old working at the retail shop, still only sends the damaged horses my way, still spends 3/4ths my lessons chatting with the railbirds, and still is ok with the fact that I've never learned several basic riding skills. She refuses to help me find a normal horse to buy, saying that my current damaged one (26 yrs old, ringbone) is perfectly fine, and insists that I shouldn't want to go to shows with the rest of the barn, because they're "more trouble than they're worth."

It's very difficult for me, because I do owe a lot to her for accommodating me when I was young & poor, BUT... I am the same crappy rider today that I was when I was 20, only now I have an extra 500 lbs of baggage from too many crazy horses.

At the same time, the care she provides for the horses and the ways she accommodates the horse owners is amazing - she owns the barn and is also the trainer, but she is also the one that calls the farrier when a shoe goes missing, stays with the colicky horse, poultices their legs, makes the diaper-shoe for the abscessed hoof, monitors EVERYTHING and treats each horse like her own. The barn is spotless, there are fans in the arena for the summer and heat in the stalls in the winter; the barn cats are all fixed and regularly dosed with Frontline. She is frugal with our money, does not covet equipment brands or labels, and has not raised board in years.

The care items are almost enough to keep me around, but not quite - given the opportunity, I would still walk away from the situation, except that I cannot for the life of me get other potential trainers to give me the time of day. I do not currently own a "normal" horse, am a mediocre rider at best, and therefore am not exactly a hot commodity. There was another thread about how flaky trainers are - and I wholeheartedly agree. Maybe someday one of these trainers will return my calls or emails, and heck, maybe they'll even show up when I make an appointment to meet them - at that point, I suppose I'll have to make the decision to leave the barn, but until then, consider me Patty Hearst.

Silver Snaffles
Jul. 8, 2009, 02:34 AM
You know, the very first time I came across COTH I was shocked.

I'm a naive Australian who has never heard of having a trainer, boarding horses, keeping horses stabled 24-7, or even 12 hours a day, of barns with more than 50+ horses of having grooms take care of your horse, of horses costing more than the average house price here in Australia.

It blew my mind that adults let someone by the name of "Trainer" dictate to them everything from what horse to buy, when to sell, what tack to use and of people not going in the show ring without their trainer.

In Australia it's a very different attitude. Most people have 5 acres and keep their horses at home, or they agist at centres where it is mostly DIY, and there is the owner and possibly one helper. Most horses live out 24/7, show horses come in at night during the show season only, and you have an instructor who you travel to, or who travels to you, you have a lesson and thats it until the next lesson.

You have no one but yourself at competitions, other than your friends or family, instructors are normally too busy showing their own horse to do anything other than say hello.

Honestly, if you came over here, and expected to have a full care facility, with indoors, and stables with fans and heating, and needed someone to tell you how to do everything in the way of a trainer, you would be laughed out of here.

Don't get me started on the "commissions" of the trainers. I will never forget reading a thread where trainer A, sold horse belonging to student B to student C, and both B and C paid the trainer a commission and most people thought this was normal and a courtesy to the trainer!

Here, you look at a horse, perhaps with a friend, you pay the seller the money, take the horse home and off you go, there is no paying someone to ride the horse for you, to give it the once over.

I find it very interesting that in the US you are so dependant on your trainer, I have never come across it before.

What would happen if you took control of your horse, your riding and found some independence? Would you get forced out the in crowd?

NJRider
Jul. 8, 2009, 07:49 AM
What would happen if you took control of your horse, your riding and found some independence? Would you get forced out the in crowd?

Ha ha- Actually, yes. People who don't fit the mold or go with the clique (like in high school) are generally shunned. So shunned and all, I am happy to soundly beat them in the show ring and have horses that are sane and happy :0

snaffle2
Jul. 9, 2009, 11:04 PM
it is just interesting to think about how viewpoints vary so much in the horse world with coaching/training

it makes me think about what the purpose and benefit is of having a trainer/coach -

when you think about it, most sports have coaches that are there with the competitors during competition - all team sports (basketball, soccer, etc.), some individual sports like gymnastics and ice skating, even golfers seek the advice of their caddies for club selection - i am sure there are many others...but they are there for their expertise and guidance to help make the competitor the best they can be -

I think trainers should teach their students to be independent and feel confident to make decisions and they should instill good horsemanship - a good trainer should not be afraid that their students become knowledgeable - but i also think just like any profession, they are the experts in the field and should be respected for their knowledge as a teacher/trainer - there are some things that we may never be as good at doing just b/c we don't do it as often as they do.

- just like someone wouldn't perform surgery on their own dog or cat - you would take it to a vet, or you choose to send your kids to school instead of homeschooling them yourself, or you take your car to the auto mechanic if it isn't working correctly instead of repairing it yourself - yes, we may have some knowledge about these things, but these people spend their days studying, working and being the expert in their profession - a good horse trainer should be spending their time studying and thinking about how to help their riders/horses be the best they can be - but then it is up to the client to "come on board" with the program or not - if you don't "come on board" then you probably will not fully benefit from the program - you have to buy into the program and believe in the philosophy of your trainer - most professionals have teaching philosophies - just like schools and teachers and other professionals have philosophies that outline their program - that might be a good thing to find out about when looking for a trainer.



I am sure some trainers take advantage just like some other professionals can take advantage of their clients - and you have to be aware - but i think if they have the best interest of the horse and rider combination in mind and know your goals then they are going to do what they need to to help you reach those goals - of course as the client we have the final say b/c it is our horse in the end but we also have the choice of which trainer to choose to help us.

findeight
Jul. 10, 2009, 11:09 AM
Ya' know, can't speak for everybody but...this is not Australia.

Don't let things you read on the internet form your opinion of the entire US horse industry and the many large and very competitive show circuits we have running year round for all types of horse.

Don't form your opinion of that industry without considering some on here do show at high levels. Many show Hunters, judged completely on style and being perfect-something no other country really focuses on.

Don't forget you are in a vast country where many own land enough to keep horse at home. Here, not so much. The majority board out because their jobs are in big cities and there is no land available. Those barns typically have, or are run by, trainers.

Don't forget posters who are unhappy with a trainer are...unhappy with the trainer. Not all are and there are many honest and caring Pros out there not out to screw anybody.

Don't forget your International riders work with coaches/trainers for International level competitions-many year round. If you show where you must be close to perfect, you need eyes on the ground-hence, a trainer.

Finally, we Yanks have had the reputation of the Ugly American because of looking down on any other country that is not exactly like ours based on what we read or hear and our predjudices, not on any facts or first hand knowledge. You are doing the same thing.