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View Full Version : Toxic trainers- A Field Guide



hamsterpoop
Nov. 22, 2009, 07:01 PM
First of all , kudos to all the decent, good trainers out there. You are fabulous, worth your weight in gold and the saviors of our sport. How to spot the other? A few tips based on my own experiences.
1) Plays favorites. A surefire way to make some students feel like superstars and the rest? Well, too bad.
2) Blame the student. Sure, there are a lot of no-talent clumsy oafs trying to learn to ride. I know a thing or two about education. A trainer who is incapable of adjusting a learning program or too proud to say "Look, I just don't know how to help you, but here's my friend Trixie, call her and maybe she can help." is to be avoided. After all, she/he can still charge you for all those lessons you're too thick to comprehend
3.) Doesn't teach like she/he rides. May be a very talented rider but likes to keep how she does it and all those helpful "tips" to her/himself.
4). Doesn't ever seem to have outside clinicians or encourage her/his students to seek them out. Why should they? If they can't appreciate his/her talent and riding then they are somehow disloyal! And then? See # 1
5). Good riders and people who have been there a fairly short time seem to "move on" if they can. The few upper level riders ( I'm talking prelim) that there have been see the wheels fly off at this level because basic intruction at the lower levels (draw reins, etc) has been incorrect.
So how does this not so rare bird stay in business? A revolving door of newbies who are absolutely smitten with the sport and people who, because of geography or economics, have absolutely no other place to go.

smokescreen
Nov. 22, 2009, 08:05 PM
6) As soon as you start taking lessons you become his/her best friend, and when they talk of past students they all betrayed them. None of them just moved on, or out grew them. There is always a dramatic story as to why they left.

murieics
Nov. 22, 2009, 08:50 PM
Wow. It sounds like you are both describing the place I left a few months ago, to a T. I am so happy at my new place, with my trainer who is just amazing. But my last place was awful. And yet, they are still in business, mainly because we are in a college town, which has a never-ending supply of new riders, via the university.

7) You can never get anything in writing from them at the time you reach an agreement. They only provide something in writing days (or weeks!) later, and the document they provide does not resemble the agreement you made with them previously.

8) They go through workers as quickly as they go through students- average length of employment is 1-2 months, max.

9) They say something one minute, and something totally different the next (i.e. "We work your horse 5-6 times a week" and then a few days later "Look at how good he is going- and we haven't even ridden him in weeks!")

LLeventer
Nov. 23, 2009, 09:32 AM
10) Tells you that you should never jump on your own, not for liability reasons, but because you will screw up yourself or your horse (even though you have been competing for over 10 years) Not a really helpful attitude for an eventing trainer whose students will have to go out on XC by themselves.

11) Tells you that you are a wimp and not a real eventer if you want to scratch due to bad footing, but then goes and scratches their horse who did not like the footing that day.

gully's pilot
Nov. 23, 2009, 10:26 AM
And the converse--how I know I'm lucky enough to work with an excellent trainer:

--has several amateur students who take talented but not necessarily hyper-expensive horses to Intermediate, successfully--
--BUT refuses to let her students move up just because they legally can.
--never expects her students to do more than she does (which would be difficult, anyhow)
--always expects her students to give their best, but understands that "best" has different meanings for different people at different times
--is 100% honest, but never vindicitive.

retreadeventer
Nov. 23, 2009, 10:38 AM
Me too, Gully. I read the Field Guide thinking, my trainer is the exact opposite of all of those points, and that is the reason I am eager to work with her as often as I can afford it.
Her professionalism and deep well of knowledge is the reason I am going to move heaven and earth to try and get to Aiken this winter for training for at least a long weekend, Lord willing and the crick don't rise....

wildlifer
Nov. 23, 2009, 10:50 AM
OMG, it's the barn I left a month ago!!! To a T. Fortunately, I was not taking lessons from said trainer.

Ratherberidin
Nov. 23, 2009, 11:18 AM
The description here is exactly like the trainer I left 4 years ago. I also would like to add two more points:

Trainer likes to gossip about clients with other clients, and never has anything positive to say about anyone.

The barn rules change constantly, and some boarders/clients have different rules than others. (see #1 again).

Thank goodness I have a trainer and barn now where none of these things are true, and I am so much happier to be in a positive place. For anyone who recognizes their trainer from this thread, find another trainer. You'll be glad you did.

caffeinated
Nov. 23, 2009, 11:45 AM
When most of the people coming to the barn ask if trainer is in a good mood before they walk in the door. If the answer is no, and they turn around and go home, there may be a toxic trainer on the premesis.

Kairoshorses
Nov. 23, 2009, 12:17 PM
Can I ask a question about trainers and how they feel about you taking clinics?

On one hand, I understand that they want me to have a consistent, good grounding, and there are clinicians whose teachings DO fly in the face of what I've been taught...but....

I've published enough in my professional career to (I hope!) get full professor (I'll find out this spring), and at least half of those publications have been collaborations. I LIKE having different voices to work with; it helps me to think critically about what I think.

So I try to do a lot of clinics...but I do get flak about it from the person I'm working with (who I love, btw; I wish she were closer, but I live in BFE...she's three hours away) when I do clinics. Some people are "OK"--like Karen O'Connor and Mary D'Arcy--but she heartily disapproves of clinics I've taken with some of the other folks I've taken clinics with, and she makes no bones about it.

My Question: How do your trainers handle it when you want to do a clinic or ride with another trainer in a clinic-type setting?

gully's pilot
Nov. 23, 2009, 12:26 PM
My trainer wants me to take whatever lessons from whatever qualified people I can get my hands on. I do usually ask her before working with someone I don't know much about--because she'll tell me if she thinks the person is not a good instructor. But it's her honest opinion, not her trying to keep me from learning from someone else.

I should say I don't get regular lessons with my trainer, either, because I live 5 hours from her. I get as much as I can from her, and as much as I can from other people who are qualified. I've given up working with bad trainers--honestly, I screw myself up less on my own.

RunForIt
Nov. 23, 2009, 12:29 PM
My trainer wants me to take whatever lessons from whatever qualified people I can get my hands on. I do usually ask her before working with someone I don't know much about--because she'll tell me if she thinks the person is not a good instructor. But it's her honest opinion, not her trying to keep me from learning from someone else.

I should say I don't get regular lessons with my trainer, either, because I live 5 hours from her. I get as much as I can from her, and as much as I can from other people who are qualified. I've given up working with bad trainers--honestly, I screw myself up less on my own.

who do you train with? - PM is fine!

Shrunk "N" Da Wash
Nov. 23, 2009, 12:34 PM
6) As soon as you start taking lessons you become his/her best friend, and when they talk of past students they all betrayed them. None of them just moved on, or out grew them. There is always a dramatic story as to why they left.

LOVE IT :lol:

Oh and #4 feels awfully familiar also...

SPF10
Nov. 23, 2009, 12:56 PM
My Question: How do your trainers handle it when you want to do a clinic or ride with another trainer in a clinic-type setting?


Our trainer says what time ya riding, comes and audits to see what she can learn, encourages us to "never stop learning". what a gem!!!

riderboy
Nov. 23, 2009, 06:51 PM
Very good to hear about the really classy trainers out there. Our current trainer is also just the best. But in the past I remember saying to myself "... and I'm PAYING for this??"

LisaB
Nov. 23, 2009, 07:59 PM
Never has anything positive to say about you or your horse

Yup, even when I got a photo of our first event after a long college hiatus. Great front shot and I was grinning from ear to ear. Trainer says 'Well, his ears are forward and he doesn't look that enthused' WTF???

3horsemom
Nov. 23, 2009, 08:20 PM
ah yes, i wasted quite a bit of time with a toxic trainer. i just finished reading the sociopath next door in which the author says that 1 in 4 people are sociopathic. the number 1 job for a sociopath is teaching....number 2 is a police officer. wish i had read the book a while back.

Kairoshorses
Nov. 23, 2009, 10:36 PM
ah yes, i wasted quite a bit of time with a toxic trainer. i just finished reading the sociopath next door in which the author says that 1 in 4 people are sociopathic. the number 1 job for a sociopath is teaching....number 2 is a police officer. wish i had read the book a while back.

Ok, you piqued my interest based on the title of the book, but be careful of your stats--it's four percent, or one in twenty-five. AND that number is totally a guess, a hypothesis based on her own practice. The NY Times review didn't like the book, mostly because the author based it on her own experiences in counseling, rather than large scale research. So while I'm sure she has some salient, intriguing points, I'm not sure I'm going to buy it.

Does that make me a sociopath?

(NYT Review: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/06/books/review/006PAUL.html)

Dr. Doolittle
Nov. 23, 2009, 10:37 PM
ah yes, i wasted quite a bit of time with a toxic trainer. i just finished reading the sociopath next door in which the author says that 1 in 4 people are sociopathic. the number 1 job for a sociopath is teaching....number 2 is a police officer. wish i had read the book a while back.

:eek:

This is truly disturbing. Not that I necessarily believe it (the 1 in 4 thing), but as for the teacher and cop thing, I can see this. Lots of "desire for power and control" that these professions tend to satisfy in the wrong people, sometimes.

I see a lot of trainers out there who are clearly in it for ego gratification, the paycheck only, the need to feel that people look up to them, etc. (not all of them, of course, thank goodness), but these are always the wrongest possible reasons to teach and train. Done well and properly (and for the *right* reasons!), it is always a selfless act, a labor of love, and an attempt to give back, mentor, and inspire (and continue to learn and better *yourself*, in the process!) This is why I do it, anyway...In this sport, the learning never stops (as someone else pointed out), and THIS is the lesson we should be teaching, as trainers, coaches, AND mentors.

Too bad there isn't more "self-policing" in this sport, especially among the trainers of the lower levels--but the problem is that the horse people who are newbies and inexperienced often listen to the people who blow their own horns the loudest (and who are the most insecure, because they are afraid that someone will discover that "The Emporer Has No Clothes"), so as a result, they are the most controlling and the least flexible when it comes to their students.

:sigh:

Good thread, and I just hope it reaches a few people who it *needs* to reach!

hamsterpoop
Nov. 23, 2009, 10:40 PM
ah yes, i wasted quite a bit of time with a toxic trainer. i just finished reading the sociopath next door in which the author says that 1 in 4 people are sociopathic. the number 1 job for a sociopath is teaching....number 2 is a police officer. wish i had read the book a while back. Yes, that's it! That's the word I was thinking of, sociopath! You summed up my entire post in one word. Light bulb moment.

3horsemom
Nov. 23, 2009, 10:43 PM
Ok, you piqued my interest based on the title of the book, but be careful of your stats--it's four percent, or one in twenty-five. AND that number is totally a guess, a hypothesis based on her own practice. The NY Times review didn't like the book, mostly because the author based it on her own experiences in counseling, rather than large scale research. So while I'm sure she has some salient, intriguing points, I'm not sure I'm going to buy it.

Does that make me a sociopath?

(NYT Review: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/06/books/review/006PAUL.html)

i do not know if you are a sociopath. perhaps you should read the book.

3horsemom
Nov. 23, 2009, 10:46 PM
:eek:

This is truly disturbing. Not that I necessarily believe it (the 1 in 4 thing), but as for the teacher and cop thing, I can see this. Lots of "desire for power and control" that these professions tend to satisfy in the wrong people, sometimes.

I see a lot of trainers out there who are clearly in it for ego gratification, the paycheck only, the need to feel that people look up to them, etc. (not all of them, of course, thank goodness), but these are always the wrongest possible reasons to teach and train. Done well and properly (and for the *right* reasons!), it is always a selfless act, a labor of love, and an attempt to give back, mentor, and inspire (and continue to learn and better *yourself*, in the process!) This is why I do it, anyway...In this sport, the learning never stops (as someone else pointed out), and THIS is the lesson we should be teaching, as trainers, coaches, AND mentors.

Too bad there isn't more "self-policing" in this sport, especially among the trainers of the lower levels--but the problem is that the horse people who are newbies and inexperienced often listen to the people who blow their own horns the loudest (and who are the most insecure, because they are afraid that someone will discover that "The Emporer Has No Clothes"), so as a result, they are the most controlling and the least flexible when it comes to their students.

:sigh:

Good thread, and I just hope it reaches a few people who it *needs* to reach!

thank you. well said.

Kairoshorses
Nov. 23, 2009, 11:20 PM
I'm still not convinced, but then, I'm hard-headed....I guess I don't like the general labeling of people as "sociopathic"

I teach Teaching Assistants in English who'll be teaching First Year Composition. One of the things I try to impress upon them is that loving your discipline--e.g., literature, creative writing, etc.--is NOT enough. You have to actually LIKE students, and believe that they can learn.

George Hillocks did a very rigorous if somewhat small study on teaching style (Ways of Teaching/Ways of Thinking), and you know what the ONE factor was which could predict a student's success?

Whether or not the teacher BELIEVED THE STUDENT COULD LEARN.

I KNOW some of my TAs will be excellent teachers. However, some won't, mainly because they love literature/their discipline, but do NOT like their students (nor do they believe the students can learn). These TAs are cynical and even a little elitist (and in some cases, understandably so--students come to college unable to write/punctuate/spell/etc.). But I'm not sure I'd call these people sociopathic.

I wonder if some trainers aren't the same way.

It's one of the reasons I make the TAs do a video presentation....they're VERY uncomfortable not knowing how to do the video, and they end up feeling like the students they'll be teaching: uneasy, insecure, cautious. It's the ability to embrace that, even when you're an "expert" in something else, that helps make you a good teacher/learner--because you can empathize with those who aren't expert.

But I still don't like the idea of categorizing (esp. a pretty heavy label like "sociopath") people so broadly.

Meredith Clark
Nov. 23, 2009, 11:42 PM
When most of the people coming to the barn ask if trainer is in a good mood before they walk in the door. If the answer is no, and they turn around and go home, there may be a toxic trainer on the premesis.

Been there! Walk into the barn and you get the feeling you're intruding on their space. Like you don't pay $$$$ to be there!

CookiePony
Nov. 24, 2009, 12:24 AM
George Hillocks did a very rigorous if somewhat small study on teaching style (Ways of Teaching/Ways of Thinking), and you know what the ONE factor was which could predict a student's success?

Whether or not the teacher BELIEVED THE STUDENT COULD LEARN.



This is fascinating to me as both a teacher and as student, and makes perfect sense.

I will say that I have been lucky to have more good riding teachers than toxic ones. The toxic one taught me an invaluable lesson: namely that I don't have to pay for someone to berate me for an hour each week.

3horsemom
Nov. 24, 2009, 08:36 AM
This is fascinating to me as both a teacher and as student, and makes perfect sense.

I will say that I have been lucky to have more good riding teachers than toxic ones. The toxic one taught me an invaluable lesson: namely that I don't have to pay for someone to berate me for an hour each week.

no one should be berated. i can can be pushed but not put down. i may not be able to ride as well as my trainer but there are many things that she can not do as well as i do.
some people are bullies. that does not make them sociopaths.
i am not under the impression anyone is branding a paticular person as a sociopath. we are discussing a set of behaviors that may or may not be sociopathic but are definitely toxic.

findeight
Nov. 24, 2009, 09:16 AM
Sociopaths aside here...

Have you ever been with a trainer who never, ever answers the phone or returns your messages? Yet when you take a lesson, is never OFF the cell phone? :confused:

Or who disparages every other trainer or BNR, claims to have worked for everybody and "knows" they are no good? Then you find out they were a mucker and got fired after 2 weeks?

Or who gets nervous if they catch you watching somebody else school at a competition or a friend's lesson at another barn and shoots a critical remark about them at you...lest you watch and learn they suck?

Viva
Nov. 24, 2009, 09:48 AM
In case anyone's interested:

Sociopath (i.e. antisocial personality disorder):
http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/39/1/25.2.full

Some famous ones: Ted Bundy, Bernie Madoff.

Narcissist (narcissistic personality disorder):
http://www.mental-health-today.com/narcissistic/dsm.htm

Famous ones: most of Hollywood, a couple of ULRs who shall remain nameless, and most of the instructors being discussed here.

Sociopaths (which are definitely not 1 in 4, by the way, or we'd all be screwed) are in it only for themselves and don't care about you. Narcissists are in it for themselves, but desperately need the adoration of others, so they spend a lot of time building you up (to win your favor) but then tearing you down if you a) point out their flaws or b) start to show them up in some way with your own abilities or try to seek the help of someone else who is better than they are. They are extremely manipulative and will make you feel terrible about yourself and completely crazy. This makes them much more damaging as trainers. If you recognize your trainer in the narcissism description, run. As far away as possible, as fast as possible.
Speaking both from personal experience and my training as a therapist!

riderboy
Nov. 24, 2009, 09:54 AM
George Hillocks did a very rigorous if somewhat small study on teaching style (Ways of Teaching/Ways of Thinking), and you know what the ONE factor was which could predict a student's success?

Whether or not the teacher BELIEVED THE STUDENT COULD LEARN. I like that. Many excellent trainers are very passionate about what they teach. They may push and cajole, but they do not scream, name call (e.g. "chicken") or otherwise treat students who want to learn and who are paying to learn with disrespect. That's all anyone wants really, is just a little respect. Toxic trainers IMO are not capable of that.





]

missamandarose
Nov. 24, 2009, 11:12 AM
breathing a big sigh of relief...

Heinz 57
Nov. 24, 2009, 02:14 PM
And now that we've identified the qualities of a toxic personality....

How does one rid oneself of such trainer? Or better yet, change said behavior? My old trainer isn't what I would consider traditionally toxic. She actually does have quite competent skills and a wealth of knowledge, and I learned a great deal as a student and working student. However, her insecurity and need for recognition seem to be getting in her own way. I haven't ridden with her in a handful of years, mostly due financial stress on my part. However, she teaches and trains a few horses/riders that board in my barn, and I do run into her when I happen to be there during the daytime (rare, as I work a regular job). The BO and I (BO was also a student of hers, for a time) both have greenies that we've started and been showing together this year, and have had tremendous success for a first season.

Old Trainer seems to want to discount every success we've had with these greenies. She cites various, unfounded reasons (that judge is just generous, competition must've been soft, etc) and does not seem to be able to offer pure, congratulatory thoughts in regards to any successes that we have achieved without her as our trainer.

I like her, very much. She was, at times, more of a parent to me than my own, and I grew up under her tutelage on the backs of her own personal horses, as well as her training horses. She does deserve a lot of credit for creating the horse person I've become, and I don't discount that. I just wish she could be truly HAPPY for me (and the BO, too!) to have achieved so much. Can't she see? I've only been so successful BECAUSE she taught me so well, and gave me SO many opportunities that I wouldn't have found elsewhere.

Sorry for the hijack, but it seemed somewhat related!

gully's pilot
Nov. 24, 2009, 04:10 PM
I don't know how to get away from a toxic trainer, except to fire them, but I'm really amazed by the idea that the best trait a teacher can have is the belief that her students are capable, because this has really been on my mind since Virginia Horse Trials, where I had several large epiphanies on the way to a big E.

I will spare you most of them. :) But the biggest came before xc. It rained hard for 12 hours overnight, and while the grounds crew was putting in really heroic efforts to make the course safe, I walked it convinced that the only possible option for me was to withdraw. I thought of all the times I fail to get Gully forward enough, I thought of his dislike of muddy footing, of him slipping ,me being totally ineffective. I thought of one particular combination that there was no way on earth I could navigate, in my opinion, in less than perfect weather. I sighed, and told my family I was quitting, but before I went to the show office I tracked down my trainer. She told me I couldn't quit until I'd started--that once I got out there, if I really couldn't do it, I could quit, but not before then. Everything in my head was saying, you can't do this, you can't, you can't. I started to whine about my issues and the combinations and even I could hear that I was just whining, and she suggested that I ride my horse the way I was capable of riding him, so I said, "Look, can I do this? Can I really?"

She looked me straight in the eye and said, "YES. Now get out there."

Honestly it was the first time in 20 years (since my first riding instructor, whom I worshipped) that I've had a trainer with that kind of faith in me. It was the most liberating feeling--I was still afraid, but the fear didn't matter anymore.

We went out and had the most glorious xc--sailed through that combination--Gully refused the water 1 fence from home, and I didn't get him over it--combination of tiredness and exhilaration because I never thought we'd get that far.

(I realize I'm sounding like a schmuck. It's actually the first time we've been eliminated xc, only the 3rd time we've had any jump penalties at all. ) But now all I can think of is, wait til next year! Because it turns out I can do better than I thought.

altergether_now
Nov. 24, 2009, 05:07 PM
I've had ups and downs with my quasi-current trainer... but recently the downs have been too great in number. For almost 3 years I've been her student and most of that time I have not had issues. Only in the last 4-6 months have things just spiraled downward in an ugly way.

The things I could add to the field guide are many (from bad mouthing students to other students, to thinking it totally acceptable to arrive 15 minutes before a student's ride time at for that student's first CT)... and thats sad. I thought after so many years of bad instructors I had found a good one. Alas, things change.

So I'm slowly weaning myself away from her, trying to move on without burning a bridge, just in case she comes completely unhinged.

EventingDiva
Nov. 24, 2009, 05:24 PM
It's awful to have to leave a toxic trainer. I recently watched a fellow boarder leave a toxic trainer and the transition has been less then pleasant for her.

This young 12 or 13 year old student was leasing the toxic trainers horse, along with another student. The horse is older and on and off unsound. The student was working and paying to lease this horse and only riding it a few times out of the month due to the maintenance that needed to be done on this horse and never even got to compete. The student wasn't particularly fond or bonded to this horse and kept asking the trainer if their were other options because she really wanted to be consistent with lessons and showing, however the trainer said that the only way to compete was to lease this horse and if the student didn't lease it the trainer wouldn't train her anymore. This went on for another few months as the student was treated like gold when handing over a paycheck and also all of her friends rode with the same trainer. Eventually the students parents were sick of the situation with the leased horse as well as the trainer bad mouthing others to them constantly and setting a bad example for their daughter. The student gave the trainer 30 days notice to end her lease on this particular horse and the trainer was awful. The trainer threatened to sue, talked about this student left and right in front of other students, etc. The student then started leasing another horse in the barn from the barn owner, that was a little green but safe enough. The student was ignored by her friends, as the trainer told them not to talk to her. The parents then paid the trainer to coach the kid at a horse show they were all going to because that was the only trainer available. The trainer asked for a check up front then said they needed to find their own trailering. The family hired a shipping company and long story short they got to the kids first event with the green horse and received no coaching. They received a trainer with the students friends sitting on the side lines saying how ugly the horse was, how awful their dressage test was, etc. This was awful to see happen to a 12/13 year old girl. This trainer was the only thing the family knew as they were not a horse family, this is who was in the barn, and there was bubble created around them.

Luckily now 2 years later this same student went to her first few trainings this season on her then green horse and has found a great group of people and ridden with several clinicians as well as found a supportive local trainer to work with regularly. However this has taken her two years to do, to break out of the toxic cycle.

It's awful to watch and it's a tough situation to get out of.

As a local low-level trainer I see a lot of this. I teach part time because I love to teach kids and their horses. I love watching them progress. I set up clinics and take them on outings all the time. I work a full time job and do not NEED to teach, I just love to teach so I do it. I have a great group of students who all seem happy and are given lots of opportunities to go to camps, clinics, etc. I grew up riding this way and think this is how it should be for all of the kids of the sport.

Viva
Nov. 24, 2009, 07:43 PM
"Old Trainer seems to want to discount every success we've had with these greenies. She...does not seem to be able to offer pure, congratulatory thoughts in regards to any successes that we have achieved without her as our trainer.
I like her, very much."

Heinz, this is exactly the definition of a narcissist. When they smile on you, it's like the sun just came out from behind the clouds. The rest of the time, you wonder what *you* have done wrong. You wonder if you're crazy, and it makes you miserable.
You asked how to change this behavior: you can't. Period. It's deeply ingrained. It is her only way of interacting with the world, and she is completely incapable of seeing her own behavior as a problem. The only way to change things is to extricate yourself from the relationship: stop telling her about what your horse is doing, because she will never do anything besides run you down. Just be courteous when you see her at your barn. Let go of the hope that she will ever approve of you, because she's incapable of doing so. And train with someone who makes you feel like Gully's Pilot felt with her trainer. It will be hard and painful, and when you're free, you'll wonder how the hell you endured as long as you did. I know it's hard...I've been there. Good luck.

izzy
Nov. 24, 2009, 08:34 PM
I've had the misfortune to deal with narcissitic, very dominant, and dishonest all in the same person! This has worsened recently and she has lost clients due to just how difficult she is. If you agree with everything she says, all sunshine and roses. But, try to point out that her reality is altered and bottom line people are paying for a service, then EN GARDE! There will be hell to pay. Unless, like me, being out of the mix of dysfunction is a welcome relief.

3horsemom
Nov. 24, 2009, 09:19 PM
one thing i wish i had copped onto much earlier than i did was the lack of relationships in the toxic trainer's life. no friends from childhood or college even tho she has lived in the same area her entire life should have been a clue.

cheval convert
Nov. 24, 2009, 09:35 PM
And now that we've identified the qualities of a toxic personality....

How does one rid oneself of such trainer? Or better yet, change said behavior? My old trainer isn't what I would consider traditionally toxic. She actually does have quite competent skills and a wealth of knowledge, and I learned a great deal as a student and working student. However, her insecurity and need for recognition seem to be getting in her own way. I haven't ridden with her in a handful of years, mostly due financial stress on my part. However, she teaches and trains a few horses/riders that board in my barn, and I do run into her when I happen to be there during the daytime (rare, as I work a regular job). The BO and I (BO was also a student of hers, for a time) both have greenies that we've started and been showing together this year, and have had tremendous success for a first season.

Old Trainer seems to want to discount every success we've had with these greenies. She cites various, unfounded reasons (that judge is just generous, competition must've been soft, etc) and does not seem to be able to offer pure, congratulatory thoughts in regards to any successes that we have achieved without her as our trainer.

I like her, very much. She was, at times, more of a parent to me than my own, and I grew up under her tutelage on the backs of her own personal horses, as well as her training horses. She does deserve a lot of credit for creating the horse person I've become, and I don't discount that. I just wish she could be truly HAPPY for me (and the BO, too!) to have achieved so much. Can't she see? I've only been so successful BECAUSE she taught me so well, and gave me SO many opportunities that I wouldn't have found elsewhere.

Sorry for the hijack, but it seemed somewhat related!

I think anytime you want to relay to her how well you and your horse have done, you need to couch it in such a way that it is because of all the things the trainer taught you that you have been able to go out and be successful. If put that way, she will have a hard time putting your success down, because then she will be putting her teaching down and she is unlikely to do that.

OT, but I recently emailed a friend and former trainer, thanking her for keeping me safe all the years I rode with her and telling her about my great relationship with my new trainer and new horse. (Old trainer moved to Ireland - it's just too far to go for regular lessons lol) She emailed back that she is very happy that I have found someone else to help me ride and keep me safe. Now that is the antithesis of a toxic trainer and why I will always love her as a trainer and friend!

Blackberry Farm
Nov. 25, 2009, 01:41 AM
**Another sign of toxicity-After a certain period of time you doubt yourself where you never did before. Later, you doubt/second guess even more about your own knowledge and abilities.The trainer is not helping...but dominating. I have worked with and seen trainers, these days ;), make students feel too dependent on them by taking away confidence with little digs here and there.(Many examples listed here.) It leaves us ammy's coming back??? Urrggghhh.I am without a trainer at this moment (escaped toxic nightmare!). I'm really going to try to choose wisely next time.

RunForIt
Nov. 25, 2009, 09:44 AM
Choosing wisely among few choices isn't easy; have found that even the best have something going on that my radar picks up and instantly nagging doubts as to "what have I gotten myself into now" surface...so:

I try in every way possible without being rude to make sure the trainer knows "we aren't now married"; I go to clinics and to lessons with my friends' trainers when its possible or makes sense. Hanging out with buddies is part of the fun for me, especially as I keep my horses at home and the social life aspect of boarding isn't available.
Over the years, I've learned to listen to folks talk about BN trainers' "systems" - how they work...and attempt to put my lessons into a system of riding that I understand and can recall exercises for specific reasons. Not as good as having a trainer on a daily basis, but it helps me understand why I'm doing something and get better. lately, I've found I'd rather work on a couple of things myself, prefer howRasta's going from ME doing the work after a couple of lessons. Then I hit a roadblock and I decide who most likely will help the problem...
most important, when even the most subtle "bashing" starts, I just stay quiet, no response, then move the conversation back to my lesson or another more suitable focus...
I consider sending this thread to every trainer I know. :D :cool:

Connies Rule
Nov. 25, 2009, 10:44 AM
How about the "toxic gossips" that spread untrue and/or distorted stories about SUCCESSFUL trainers!! ESPECIALLY when they tell everyone they are friends with said trainer!!!

Equestryn
Nov. 25, 2009, 10:57 AM
I Love this post!

As a local, lower level NEW trainer, these are the things I need to make sure I don't do. As I read through all your comments, I see certain trainers in my past who carried these traits and I see other trainers who don't. I need to model myself after the good trainers in my past. I have several that I look up to and that I keep in contact with. They are always so proud of the fact that I've started my own facility, have a dozen students and half a dozen lesson horses. They're VERY proud. Those are the ones I keep in touch with. The toxic trainers in my past are the ones I haven't heard from since I left.

I try to model my barn/teaching after the trainers I looked up to. I'll start talking about something and think "What would Robin do?" If it's something she wouldn't talk about, I change the subject.

This post is excellent. I'll be keeping it in the back of my mind as I teach lessons and interact with boarders. I want to be a trainer that helps a student grow and learn. I don't want to be considered a Toxic Trainer. Thanks for all your input so I can make sure I don't fall down that path as many have before me.

AJumpAbove
Nov. 25, 2009, 11:03 AM
I had a somewhat toxic trainer growing up but in the equitation world. I was very young and my parents always tell me how sad it was because the fun and the love of the sport was being taken away from me. I don't remember too much about leaving that barn, I was young & it was my parents decision in my best interest. I think "toxic" trainers are prominent in all disciplines, however having dabbled in eq/hunters and been active in eventing & jumpers I thought I see it less in the eventing world. I may be wrong though as I pretty much keep to myself, ride my own horse, work with any good trainer that I think will work with my program and when ever the opportunity arises. I think you can learn something from everyone in this sport and it's too bad that either from jealousy or money driven point of views try to block these opportunities.

As for people talking about successful trainers and gossiping, well this sport isn't for the light-hearted. Horse people are an interesting diverse bunch that bring out the best and worst in each other. I'm not sure why there is so much gossip in the horse world. I know I've been talked about plenty and I really try to just stick to myself-however instead of stirring the pot or adding fuel to the fire wondering why people are talking about you or a trainer or even firing back, I've found the talk dies down if you just ignore it. Everyone from the OC's to Phillip are talked about, some people just don't get along with them or don't agree with their system or are maybe just jealous, who knows.

I always tell myself that I got into this sport for the horses, not the people or the drama that can be involved in it and life's a lot simpler that way.

EventingDiva
Nov. 25, 2009, 11:13 AM
I Love this post!

As a local, lower level NEW trainer, these are the things I need to make sure I don't do. As I read through all your comments, I see certain trainers in my past who carried these traits and I see other trainers who don't. I need to model myself after the good trainers in my past. I have several that I look up to and that I keep in contact with. They are always so proud of the fact that I've started my own facility, have a dozen students and half a dozen lesson horses. They're VERY proud. Those are the ones I keep in touch with. The toxic trainers in my past are the ones I haven't heard from since I left.

I try to model my barn/teaching after the trainers I looked up to. I'll start talking about something and think "What would Robin do?" If it's something she wouldn't talk about, I change the subject.

This post is excellent. I'll be keeping it in the back of my mind as I teach lessons and interact with boarders. I want to be a trainer that helps a student grow and learn. I don't want to be considered a Toxic Trainer. Thanks for all your input so I can make sure I don't fall down that path as many have before me.

:) I also think this is a great post. I think it will make alot of people step back and make sure they are happy with their situation as well as make several trainers think "oh jeez do I do that?".

Being a low level local trainer is pretty taxing job. It's your responsibility to bring students along safely with a good foundation as well as set good examples for them so the students become an asset to the sport as well. On the other side of signs of a toxic trainer, we should be thinking about what makes a good trainer. Like having you & your students volunteer at events to jump judge, setting up clinicians or auditing sessions for your students, asking the students what their goals and expectations are, helping set up working student opportunities for them, and make sure that that the customer/client comes first.

Good luck with your business, you seem like you have a great outlook on starting up and how you want to run it. I only teach part time, I've thought about doing it full time because I love being outside with the horses and students and seeing smiles on their faces and watching them improve, however I wouldn't want my teaching to have to be money driven for me just to live so to me it's just a side job/more of a hobby right now. Who knows what will happen in the future.

Stuperman
Nov. 25, 2009, 12:06 PM
How about the "toxic gossips" that spread untrue and/or distorted stories about SUCCESSFUL trainers!! ESPECIALLY when they tell everyone they are friends with said trainer!!!

No one said specific names so don't get your panties in a bunch. If you can read between the lines and figure out who it is then maybe, just maybe... its a toxic trainer. :eek:

hamsterpoop
Nov. 25, 2009, 04:21 PM
How about the "toxic gossips" that spread untrue and/or distorted stories about SUCCESSFUL trainers!! ESPECIALLY when they tell everyone they are friends with said trainer!!!
Yup. that's bad too. Funny though, the truth has a way of winning out. I believe it was Socrates who said " Character is fate" ( not 100% sure it was Socrates). How true that is.

AJumpAbove
Nov. 25, 2009, 05:08 PM
Yup. that's bad too. Funny though, the truth has a way of winning out. I believe it was Socrates who said " Character is fate" ( not 100% sure it was Socrates). How true that is.

Agreed. The truth always wins and the lies/rumors become yesterdays news and the cycle continues. Just the way it is. By weeding out the toxic trainers I'm sure a lot of toxic gossipers will be weeded out as well. Maybe some will change by reading this thread, maybe not.

Happy2bhere
Nov. 25, 2009, 05:26 PM
Easiest way to diagnose a toxic trainer......if you are driving to the barn for a lesson and you realize that you are dreading the whole thing and sort of feeling like throwing up. (Hmmmm....this is supposed to be the FUN part of the day!!!?) :confused: I left a barn and a mean spirited, controlling trainer two months ago and now am loving my new trainer (who is firm, encouraging, but flexible in her teaching style) and every moment I spend at the barn. :)

Kairoshorses
Nov. 25, 2009, 06:37 PM
Yup. that's bad too. Funny though, the truth has a way of winning out. I believe it was Socrates who said " Character is fate" ( not 100% sure it was Socrates). How true that is.

That would be Heraclitus, who also said nothing endures but change. Cool dude. :D

OverandOnward
Nov. 25, 2009, 06:48 PM
A few more hints ...

When a trainer sneers at the riding and teaching skills of the O'Connors, Fox-Pitt, Wofford and various other talents with extensive riding/teaching track records, indicating she is far better than they are, although she's never competed at their level and does not have a broad range of experience ...

... has no specific guidance to offer to questions about particular jumps ...

... has no specific criteria for a move-up other than after a certain number of current-level events, regardless of success/elimination, it's time ...

... has run out of training ideas for improving a horse's performance other than calling it belittling names ...

... makes under-the-breath snide remarks about a student during the student's lesson to spectators that are keeping said trainer company in the middle of the ring ...

... I'd say it's probably time to move on. :)


Many blessings on all the trainers who have the insight and knowledge to bring out the best in their students, both human and horse. And who build confidence and happy, rewarding experiences in both. :cool:

OverandOnward
Nov. 25, 2009, 06:52 PM
A friend and I had a long discussion about the difficulty of moving on from a trainer. How even when the student has begun to doubt, it can be difficult not to see the world as the trainer sees it. In many ways a trainer becomes a student's eyes.

But, like the old Paul Simon song "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," really it's not as hard as we make it ... "Just slip out the back, Jack ... "

Pack your stuff, load your horse and drive out the front gate. :yes: :cool: :winkgrin:

AJumpAbove
Nov. 26, 2009, 12:22 AM
Pack your stuff, load your horse and drive out the front gate. :yes: :cool: :winkgrin:

Amen. I love my trainer and the opportunities that have been opened (not closed) because of her. I aim to provide the same thing for my students as well.

RunForIt
Nov. 26, 2009, 10:51 AM
A friend and I had a long discussion about the difficulty of moving on from a trainer. How even when the student has begun to doubt, it can be difficult not to see the world as the trainer sees it. In many ways a trainer becomes a student's eyes.

But, like the old Paul Simon song "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," really it's not as hard as we make it ... "Just slip out the back, Jack ... "

Pack your stuff, load your horse and drive out the front gate. :yes: :cool: :winkgrin:

or, if you don't have a trailer, walk them home - years ago, when I'd had enough of the first trainer, didn't have a trailer, and was desperate to get my horse and me away, my husband and I went over when she was away, loaded all my tack into the car, and I walked my mare home...8 miles through neighborhoods, across a creek (a big deal in those days), and finally home. Where there's a will there's a way. :cool:

vineyridge
Nov. 26, 2009, 11:24 AM
Agree with most of the toxic characteristics but would like to add a couple or repeat a couple.

Trainer/BO is great with horses, but terrible with people. Only reason lessons are given is that they are additional, mandatory charges to boarding. Unless boarders/riders are willing to hang up their own minds at the barn, trainer gets PO'ed. Hates students to read about training and riding or clinic or lesson with other people and then dare to bring ideas from that to lessons. Trainer is very rigid about THE way being the only way. Boarders/students are kept ignorant about most aspects of horse care because only trainer can do it correctly.

Most especially the one where people try and find out what kind of mood the trainer is in before going to the barn. :) And trainer doesn't like boarders to visit their own horses unless a lesson is in the offing.

ACMEeventing
Nov. 26, 2009, 11:59 AM
How about a big "Hats Off" to all the really good trainers out there!

-The ones that provide the right balance of positive feedback and constructive criticism.

-The ones who help provide that inner voice you hear when faced with tough decisions.

- The ones whose words come back out of your own mouth when helping others along.

It's easy to stay in a bad relationship to avoid change, but life is too short to stay in a toxic environment. You just gotta put on your big-boy/big-girl britches and move on!

Today I'm very thankful for the wonderful coaches and trainers that have helped me over the years, and equally thankful for the common sense and support to distance myself from the less-than-productive environments.

sunhawk
Nov. 26, 2009, 01:07 PM
I would add that I'm very adverse to people who toute their training styles over others, and I think there are a lot of NH people in the 'toxic' group.

I had bad experiences with a level 3 coach years ago. She played favorites with her students, was verbally abusive, would deride kids for not knowing things that they came to learn, and I observed young people totally losing their urge to ride. She would run other riders and trainers down very loudly with a doting audience sucking it in, you could spot her students a mile away, with their feet braced on the dashboards see-sawing with their hands, yet she was a beautiful rider, but didn't teach what she rode.

I learned from that, just not what I wanted to learn.

LLeventer
Nov. 27, 2009, 06:51 PM
I have to say that this thread has really helped me, and I want to thank everyone who has posted. Reading this has made me realize that not all Toxic Trainers are malicious. Some really are just narcissistic. That doesn't make them any less toxic to your progression as a rider, but it also doesn't make them evil, just not great trainers.

I also think that is what makes it so hard to leave some of them. They are not bad people, they just are not very good trainers. To be honest, it has helped me come to grips with why the trainer was Toxic for me.

Thanks all!

Viva
Nov. 27, 2009, 08:23 PM
So I don't know if this should be a spinoff thread or not, but I did want to point out that there are plenty of toxic students as well as toxic trainers. Such as the students who...

"yes-but" every instruction you give with some excuse why they can't do it
go on and on about how horrible their last three instructors were, and how you're just *so* amazing (watch out, you're next on the hit list)
are more interested in proving what they know than in learning anything new (corollary to this: more interested in telling you all the BNTs they've ridden with than actually listening to what you have to say)
don't like what you have to say and go on to badmouth you to everyone within a thirty mile radius, or to everyone on their Facebook page
don't bring up concerns or problems because they're afraid you'll get mad at them, but talk to everyone else in the barn about it (and you know it's not you, because other students are fine expressing their concerns to you!)
disregard ring rules, aisle etiquette and basic manners to the point that other boarders try to avoid riding when they'll be around.

Any other trainers want to weigh in on this one???

PhoenixFarm
Nov. 27, 2009, 09:01 PM
So I don't know if this should be a spinoff thread or not, but I did want to point out that there are plenty of toxic students as well as toxic trainers. Such as the students who...

"yes-but" every instruction you give with some excuse why they can't do it
go on and on about how horrible their last three instructors were, and how you're just *so* amazing (watch out, you're next on the hit list)
are more interested in proving what they know than in learning anything new (corollary to this: more interested in telling you all the BNTs they've ridden with than actually listening to what you have to say)
don't like what you have to say and go on to badmouth you to everyone within a thirty mile radius, or to everyone on their Facebook page
don't bring up concerns or problems because they're afraid you'll get mad at them, but talk to everyone else in the barn about it (and you know it's not you, because other students are fine expressing their concerns to you!)
disregard ring rules, aisle etiquette and basic manners to the point that other boarders try to avoid riding when they'll be around.

Any other trainers want to weigh in on this one???

I'll give you an amen on that one, especially bullet point two up there.

I think actually the real issue here is that the world is full of toxic people, who end up wanting to do an animal involved activity because they have such trouble relating with other people. Some of them decided to make it their life's work and become a professional in some capacity (trainer, BO, vet, farrier, etc.) and some of them just become owners of said animals. Either way, the toxicity seems to become magnified, but would be there whether or not you were talking horses, gerbils, Model T cars, stamps, what have you.

But budding pros need to remember that every horse has an owner, and owners need to remember that being a horse pro can be pretty darn thankless, and a "normal" person might not necessarily be drawn to the long hours, crap pay, and physical danger.

I've learned a lot this year about toxic people--professional and amateur varieties. They come in all stripes and guises and can be damaging no matter what. Just remember, whether you are a client leaving a toxic trainer (or being kicked out by one) or a trainer being dumped by or releasing a toxic client, in the long run it's better for everyone.

Shrunk "N" Da Wash
Nov. 27, 2009, 10:16 PM
How about the "toxic gossips" that spread untrue and/or distorted stories about SUCCESSFUL trainers!! ESPECIALLY when they tell everyone they are friends with said trainer!!!

If the shoe fits wear it :lol:

OverandOnward
Nov. 29, 2009, 12:38 AM
I have to say that this thread has really helped me, and I want to thank everyone who has posted. Reading this has made me realize that not all Toxic Trainers are malicious. Some really are just narcissistic. That doesn't make them any less toxic to your progression as a rider, but it also doesn't make them evil, just not great trainers.

I also think that is what makes it so hard to leave some of them. They are not bad people, they just are not very good trainers. To be honest, it has helped me come to grips with why the trainer was Toxic for me.

Thanks all!
Yes, and every trainer is right for some students and wrong for others. That is not being toxic, that is just finding the right match. There are truly toxic trainers & students, but not every un-productive connection is due to that. Just imo. :)

stoicfish
Nov. 29, 2009, 12:27 PM
Interesting thread. I have only hired a few trainers, but I have noticed that the language of the students is interesting. You would think by the way some people talk that they are referring to a spouse or parent, I think sometimes the students also encourage these unhealthy relationships by going into it with a particular attitude, one of submissiveness. I hire a trainer for their knowledge of that particular subject, take what I want and leave the rest, not looking for a "Master" or life guru. It is their job to teach and my job is to learn about riding and horses. People treat you like you allow them to. I understand why it happens, but in an unhealthy relationship there usually is two individuals perpetuating it.

chism
Nov. 29, 2009, 01:21 PM
Agree with most of the toxic characteristics but would like to add a couple or repeat a couple.

Trainer/BO is great with horses, but terrible with people. Only reason lessons are given is that they are additional, mandatory charges to boarding. Unless boarders/riders are willing to hang up their own minds at the barn, trainer gets PO'ed. Hates students to read about training and riding or clinic or lesson with other people and then dare to bring ideas from that to lessons. Trainer is very rigid about THE way being the only way. Boarders/students are kept ignorant about most aspects of horse care because only trainer can do it correctly.

Most especially the one where people try and find out what kind of mood the trainer is in before going to the barn. :) And trainer doesn't like boarders to visit their own horses unless a lesson is in the offing.

This sounds exactly like a barn I used to board/work at when I first started "re-riding". I'm an independent sort..went out and bought my own horse (quiet, sensible steady QH...no hot rods, lol) without having trainer find her for me (though I did let her have the "final approval"), wanted to go out on the trails sometimes instead of only riding in the ring (gasp!), bought my own trailer so I had some autonomy at shows. This was not met with approval. :( I was not allowed to call the vet, farrier or floater about my own horse. I worked hard, took care of all my responsibilities and still felt like I couldn't do enough to make them like me. My husband finally sat me down and insisted that I needed to leave because I was just so miserable each & every day, it spilled over into my personal life. I dreaded going to work, dreaded my lessons...I hadn't learned anything new in a year,. The only thing that kept me there for two years was the fact that my daughter rode there & had made friends at the barn. When it was time to leave, I tried to keep it professional...gave them a written notice detailing our positive experience there and thanked them for giving us a solid foundation. The BO's response was to disallow my daughter to attend her last lesson with her friends because she didn't want her to tell people she was leaving. :(
I have been at my new barn for about 6 years and there isn't a single day that I don't look forward to going there. There are no egos, just great teachers and friends & quality horsemanship.

Thames Pirate
Nov. 29, 2009, 01:52 PM
For me a sign of a toxic trainer is one who, in addition to those things mentioned, takes the student to see myriad horses outside his/her price range and tells the student that if he/she can't afford those horses they won't get very far--while looking for a N/T/maybe Prelim packer! That happened to me, and I got VERY frustrated looking at horse after horse that was too expensive (and not knowing it until after I'd ridden the horse) or looking at less fancy horses on my own and being told they weren't good enough to do what I wanted. The trainer told me (a young adult) to just ask my parents for money for a horse. What sane person who is out of the house and has siblings in college asks their parents for 10K just like that? And what business is it of the trainer's how much money the client's FAMILY does or doesn't have when the client is the one paying the bills?

Yep, found a horse and moved on.

cranky
Nov. 29, 2009, 06:47 PM
I had an instructor one summer when I was about 13 who told me in my first lesson with her, "I don't know who ever told you that you can ride, but they were full of it." She then proceeded to spend the entire Summer doing everything she could to bring me down and break my confidence. My parents had leased a horse for my sister & I for the Summer, but we were only allowed to ride in lessons (which we had back-to-back everyday). To make matters worse, there was a barn girl (about my age) there who used to bad-mouth me to my sister, and my sister to me whenever she got either of us alone (usually while one or the other of us was in our lesson). It was a pretty miserable situation all around and I remember feeling pretty low about myself and my riding by the end of the Summer. What should have been a great Summer that should have advanced me considerably (the woman was a supposed well-respected dressage trainer from Germany) ended up killing my confidence and completely setting me back. In some ways I don't think I ever really recovered from the experience. Of course I was too young to realize that I perhaps had a choice and maybe a voice in the matter, and my parents didn't really know what was going on (and were non-horsey besides). This thread has brought flashbacks from that time, I still can clearly feel how wretched I felt then, even though it was over 30 years ago. I'll tell you though, it does make me appreciate being in a good situation now.

Creaghgal
Nov. 29, 2009, 07:21 PM
Yep, found a horse and moved on.

I wish this read like:

Yep, moved on and found a horse.

:)

Thames Pirate
Nov. 30, 2009, 01:53 AM
Oh, I was the one that found the horse--not him. I was already thinking about moving on and was already applying to graduate schools in other parts of the country. I didn't burn the bridge with the trainer (who is fairly big name), so I parted on good terms (as far as he is concerned), moved on with my life, and found better instruction.

OverandOnward
Nov. 30, 2009, 02:43 PM
Interesting thread. I have only hired a few trainers, but I have noticed that the language of the students is interesting. You would think by the way some people talk that they are referring to a spouse or parent, I think sometimes the students also encourage these unhealthy relationships by going into it with a particular attitude, one of submissiveness. I hire a trainer for their knowledge of that particular subject, take what I want and leave the rest, not looking for a "Master" or life guru. It is their job to teach and my job is to learn about riding and horses. People treat you like you allow them to. I understand why it happens, but in an unhealthy relationship there usually is two individuals perpetuating it.
You make fascinating points. A friend and I have discussed this ... the relationship between student & trainer, when the trainer is the guru on a daily/frequent basis, is intense and imo one of the most unique in life relationships. Especially when the rider's success is of central importance to one or both. I think often the parties don't realize how intensely the two minds become connected, for good or bad. Riders hear trainer's words even when the trainer isn't there. The trainer watches a ride hoping the rider remembers.

The trainer often becomes the lens through which the rider sees all riding, their own and others. That has good and bad aspects, depending on the rider and the trainer.

Sometimes the fates and futures of riders-trainers can start to become intertwined. From my pov that's a very delicate balancing point - but I wonder if riders and trainers reaching that point always realize or think about it.

Just imo. :)

stoicfish
Nov. 30, 2009, 11:18 PM
Sometimes the fates and futures of riders-trainers can start to become intertwined. From my pov that's a very delicate balancing point - but I wonder if riders and trainers reaching that point always realize or think about it.


Exactly. I think that is why people take things so personally or cross boundaries that are usually inappropriate.
Funny, I was at a large show and a very well known rider was coaching one of her girls, it was the weirdest conversation. I really doubt either of them was even aware how odd it was, and it wasn’t even about riding at that point. My friend sitting beside me, elbowed me and whispered “OMG, that lady is really worked up!” She didn’t believe me when I told her, good thing the stable name was on the jacket.

tle
Dec. 1, 2009, 10:11 AM
Haven't read all the replies, but will be. The initial list and several of the subsequent additions reminds me of the "trainer" I started eventing with. (note the quotations marks). Here are a couple additions I'd make to the list of things to watch out for:
* always commenting how she went to school to be a riding instructor (yes, she went, but she never finished!)
* relies on enthusiastic students to know/read the rulebook instead of knowing it herself.
* when you do start learning from others and comment on it, she always has some reason -- from the "oh you've been doing that all along!" to "you're just jealous and want to hold (other students) back!"

The hardest part of spotting one of these really is to know what to look for! That's the ONLY reason I stayed with this "trainer" for so long -- and she fits 90% of the points noted so far!

LLDM
Dec. 1, 2009, 11:21 AM
One thing most of us are bad at in this business (at here in the states - don't know about elsewhere) is knowing when it is time to move on. No trainer is perfect and we tend to outgrow them on some level or another after a while.

That doesn't mean we know everything they know. But it usually means we've gotten what we can out of them for the time being. They have taught us what they can in the context of where we are at the time. Unfortunately this tends to breed bad blood. Unfortunate for everyone really.

I worry that we will never catch up to countries with better systems in place than we have. Since we have very little in the realm of structured educational systems for students or for teachers, we tend to produce both with huge gaps in their education and programs. And we find those gaps the hard way.

I really wish we had a system like the BHS here. But there is such incredible resistance to it. I would think people would have eventually come to understand the benefits and importance of instructors, trainers and students knowing where they fit on the knowledge scale without having to rely on such a poor indicator as competition results. Plus the horse care aspect is expected to keep pace with riding ability and vice-versa.

I always seem to get the impression that we, as a nation, are very paranoid and defensive about our skill sets. Which is not surprising given that there is no official context with which to compare it. No, such programs are not a panacea. They do not guarantee quality in every participant. But they do allow for like to like comparisons - just like published standards do.

Oops, there I go again. But really this no standards, bunch of different discipline ICP programs (with no significant husbandry portions), free-for-all hang out a shingle culture simply doesn't move the horse industry forward at all in this country. And I have NEVER understood why our professional horsemen don't organize and do something about it. *sigh*. I *really* think it would be worth their while to do. Think wages, insurance, differentiation from wanna-be's.

Then we could fix the Amateur rules as well.

SCFarm

vineyridge
Dec. 1, 2009, 11:51 AM
LLDM, we could talk about toxic pony clubs also. :)

In a lot of ways, I think the relationship between trainer and student takes on some of the aspects of the relationship between counselors/psychiatric professionals and their clients. Along the way, transference does take place, and the guru/worshiper/lover from a distance context comes into being. This is part of the reason it's so hard to leave trainers, even when one is unhappy. IMO

LittleblackMorgan
Dec. 1, 2009, 12:41 PM
You know, I have wondered about my own trainer. This thread made me pause.

I recently posted the "how to tell the trainer you are training with someone else" post...which I since have, and I am regretting it slightly.

I had to switch trainers due to the availability of a horse to ride with my current trainer. My horse is off for a few months, I hate the only available one my trainer has and he cant teach me squat (except how to NOT pull my hair out).

So I leased a horse some place else with new trainer. I took my eval last week. She's tough. Very tough.

And I LIKE it.

My other trainer...well, spent 80% of my lessons talking to other people during a private lesson, or teaching someone else who, er, hijacked my private lesson by asking "how is this/that? Can you advise/watch?" Trainer never asserted she was teaching ME and my horse, and it was all on MY dime.

Since I told the trainer I was working with someone else, she has gone onto new trainer's (NT) website, shredded her pics, thrown questions at me, insisted I train with her friend (who is VERY well known and VERY unaffordable for me, and there is no horse to ride there, and its far away).
She has been questioning my choice, etc etc.

Its all just pissing me off at this point. I told OTwhen I DO start training with my horse again, could she PLEASE make a point to pay attention to ME not other people.

Its a problem. It really is. OT has a lot to offer, but OT needs to either be aggressive with my training and keep others AWAY/ quiet during my lesson. And stop dancing on the "trashing" line with NT. It just makes me lose respect for OT, and question our future together as student/trainer.

stoicfish
Dec. 1, 2009, 09:08 PM
You know, I have wondered about my own trainer. This thread made me pause.

I recently posted the "how to tell the trainer you are training with someone else" post...which I since have, and I am regretting it slightly.

I had to switch trainers due to the availability of a horse to ride with my current trainer. My horse is off for a few months, I hate the only available one my trainer has and he cant teach me squat (except how to NOT pull my hair out).

So I leased a horse some place else with new trainer. I took my eval last week. She's tough. Very tough.

And I LIKE it.

My other trainer...well, spent 80% of my lessons talking to other people during a private lesson, or teaching someone else who, er, hijacked my private lesson by asking "how is this/that? Can you advise/watch?" Trainer never asserted she was teaching ME and my horse, and it was all on MY dime.

Since I told the trainer I was working with someone else, she has gone onto new trainer's (NT) website, shredded her pics, thrown questions at me, insisted I train with her friend (who is VERY well known and VERY unaffordable for me, and there is no horse to ride there, and its far away).
She has been questioning my choice, etc etc.

Its all just pissing me off at this point. I told OTwhen I DO start training with my horse again, could she PLEASE make a point to pay attention to ME not other people.

Its a problem. It really is. OT has a lot to offer, but OT needs to either be aggressive with my training and keep others AWAY/ quiet during my lesson. And stop dancing on the "trashing" line with NT. It just makes me lose respect for OT, and question our future together as student/trainer.

It sounds more like a bad mariage then someone you pay to teach you how to ride.

Not picking on you as this seems to be more the norm than the exception.

LittleblackMorgan
Dec. 1, 2009, 11:54 PM
Stoic, agreed. I genuinely like the OT as a person, we have great rapport. OUT of the ring. We have the running joke of me teaching her how to say NO, LOL, since she cant tell another boarder to bounce when I'm learning. But, alas, you cannot change other people. You can only change yourself. I usually get the "Whhhyyy are you paying to lease XX for $xxx a month and pay XXX for lessons when you can ride XXX HERE for FREE...!" weekly.

Its a "we've become very close friends over the past 2 years and I need someone to kick my ass and I know you can't/wont do it, so I am training elsewhere" situation. I am of the mind that when you pay for a service you have expectations. If said expectations are not met, you complain or go elsewhere, or STFU and deal. This opportunity came to me for a reason. The lease horse is a peach, he can teach me tons, and I dont have to
'fix' any issues he has. Unlike free horse XX.



The trainer often becomes the lens through which the rider sees all riding, their own and others. That has good and bad aspects, depending on the rider and the trainer

YES! YES! I broke that lens for MY greater good.

sunnycher
Dec. 2, 2009, 12:10 AM
My friend and I used to gauge the atmosphere in the barn and say SGB - she's gonna blow - and sometimes when partner was around and it was bad, TBGB - they're both gonna blow.
It was just a bad time in relationships though, because we loved our trainer, she was awesome!!! She was never threatened by other people, let us ride by ourselves, with other clinicians and just trusted we would find our way. Mostly we always came back, and it is nice to have more than 1 person help you. Sometimes other people see you without prejudice.

riderboy
Dec. 2, 2009, 06:07 PM
In my past, my poor horse paid the price for my incompetence. I took lessons, tried hard and am not a complete idiot but when given no tools to work with I took it out on my horse. It must be HIS fault and it was ugly. I cringe to this day when I recall how I rode him. He seems to have weathered it just fine, God bless his sweet soul, but I finally bailed on that trainer and haven't looked back. With my new trainerI love really learning and becoming a partner with my horse and it's FUN! I don't mind her being tough because she's passionate and fair.And you know, with my old trainer I was good client, loved the sport and really wanted to learn. Unfortunately, unless you know something about horses and riding ( I knew nothing) it's easy to be suckered in.