I appologize in advance for my ignorance. I realize that I am NOT capable of handling a serious topic so I will no longer contribute. The moral (and ethical) superiority displayed by the few, have (once again) spoiled it for the many. I also ned to say that the truth sometimes hurts. Whatever I posted, was TRUTH, NOT gossip...even though alot was simply "edited" out. Thank you moderators for saving me from the error of my ways and showing me that topics like hunt coat materials and ear plugs are WAY more substantive than issues that might affect the well being and welfare of our children. Mea Culpa.
Well, I haven't written anything for a long while, at least since the George Morris fiasco in Florida, but I felt that this needed my input because this is something that hits very close to home.
Not only did I have 2 daughters on the circuit in the past who were subjected to "sexual assault" of one kind or another but also a son who was harrassed as well.
Just last year, I had a mother of a student who had gone away to school, call me and ask about a particular trainer for a private high school. I did not know this man, nor anything about him, reputation or otherwise. So I emailed several acquaintances in the area about his reputation. I was told that "he liked the girls" and would woo them into either showing with his barn all year (and I might ad paying quite a price for this) or woo them into buying one of the horses he was trying to sell.
Ironically this young 16-year-old girl was going through a major case of hero-worship and it was necessary for the mother to make sure she could distance her daughter from this man before something disastrous happened.
So many times, we see the stars of the industry as the gods to look up to and with that comes acceptance of whatever they wish us to do, be it sex, horse abuse, or subterfuge.
I definitely feel that if a trainer and/or rider is a public figure and is someone that warrants professional admiration on the part of students, etc. and if they have a penchant for young girls or young boys that unsuspecting parents should be informed.
Formerly Norhtern Jersey, Now on the Eastern Shore of God\'s Country
Like I have said before, there are warning signs. You just need to actually LOOK at them. They may seem like nothing at the time, but they are there. Everyone keeps saying to talk to our kids. One must remember, that they may HEAR us, but when it actually happens to a child that THINKS it will never happen to them, they are MORTIFIED. 9 out of 10 times, they are led to believe that they did something to cause this to happen to them. The trainer might tell them that they aren't doing well enough in the shows, and that they need to do better. On the other hand, they might threaten to sell the horse/pony in they tell ANYONE. They may go as far as bringing in a friend and have someone riding the horse/pony in front of the kid, giving the appearence of someone looking to buy it. It's been know to happen, and be very effective.
Now you tell me, if you were 9,10,11,12, or any age, if someone you have grown to trust does that to you, wouldn't you think that YOU did something wrong? That's why it is so hard to actually get theses people to come forward with the complaint. Most feel comfortable only AFTER someone else gets the ball rolling.
Instead of Save a Horse, Ride a cowboy......Ride a horse, Dump the COwboy.
OK! on the nhja site I'm thinking about doing a "parents page". This could be printed out an circulated if anyone wanted to do it.
I think we could all exchange stories because I think almost every child of whatever sex has been exposed to the problem. We also recognize the position they are put in when they want to excell. AND, it's not just this sport but everywhere that there are children.
SO! my question is can we come up with a page of warning signs for parents? Can we come up with a page that would be able to be given to the child? It needs to tell them them that a "teacher" does not have the option to touch inappropriately.
I remember riding on a subway in New York and a flasher sat next to me. He was doing his thing hiding behind a newspaper and I grabbed his newspaper and ran like hell and got off the subway, to take another train. I always wondered what happened when he was seen sitting exposed to the world.
Can we as intelligent and thinking people make use of this marvelous democratic media to create such a page? Let's explore the idea.
a good resource is your childrens'schools, most if not all school systems have programs they start at a very young age to inform the children of these issues. there are also multiple websites for the kids online and the parents resources. all the parent/children/teacher websites are very informational. even oprahs' site used to have information to connect to these. they might be useful for inclusion on your sites as another resource.
Oxer, that's a really good lead. But, time is of the essence for all of us I suspect. I would appreciate a volunteer who would check out these sites and come back with what was most useful for our page. I think if we divided this up with wonderful volunteers we could be helpful.
The biggest danger with any kind of list is that it can lull people into a false sense of security, "So and So isn't on the list so they are okay". Parents have to be around. Pop in to lessons when you aren't expected. Don't drop off your child "for the day" - stop in, you can come up with a reason if you worry about offending someone (but no one should be offended). Come to the show and see what is going on. Talk to your child. Don't depend on a magic list, there is no such thing.
One of those city that are big towns, real big!,San Antonio TX
A list of sighns for parents to look for in there children por posable problems is a bust and I would love to contribute as much as I can to your isdea snowbird so chuck some stuff my way. but also I feel that the parents and children nead to help bevelope a list of ways to tell if this trainer is good for you type list. A list for parents to take with them when going to the barn to rate the trainers attitude and body language.
Alist like so. (add more to this)
First moment you make actual contact what vibes does this trainer make you feel?
Do you feel comfortable or uncomfortable?
While the trainer is conversing with other students what things and type of body language do they use?
Is there un nessacary touching?
When conversing do you feel the trainer is giveing you there full attention?
Is proper eye contact made? when looking at the eyecontact what how do you feel?
How is the enviorment with in the barn?
Ask the trainer these following qiestions
what are your views on trainer student relationship?
do you feel you are fare twards the way you speek to the students?
what are your views and dislikes that other trainers do within the show atmosphere?
I know these questions are not grate but lets revise them and add to them to make a list to help parents find the trainer they nead fot there children.
\"I\'m going to go see a horse about a man\" - Unknown
If I were sending one of my kids to a new trainer, camp, or whatever, I would be sure to ask for references. Sure, people can always find someone to say nice things about them, but if you listen really hard and keep your eyes open, you'll most likely find out what you need to know. I've done background checks on my own many times for job applicants, adoption applicants for homeless pets (sounds goofy I know but I am neurotic about sending pets into appropriate homes), and trainers for myself - I have always been able to ferret out the information I needed without smearing anyone's name. If I asked a trainer for references and he/she couldn't give me several, I'd be concerned. I'd also ask around to see what other parents with kids that rode thought about different trainers. This can be done in a non gossipy way...ie Susie wants to take riding lessons, I know your daughter rides, what stables can you recommend? I know of several parents who would be a lot better off if they had only taken the time to do a reference check. Sounds simple, but it may be a very telling experience.
Fine I give up, do it your way: heels up, eyes down!!
Snowbird, I think that's a great idea and I just wanted to let you know that I'll help any way I can. I've already done some research and found some good websites. I dont have time right now, but I'll try to put some stuff together for you, e-mail me if you want to try to coordinate.
Well, due to some e-mail I've received, I'm visiting this thread again to delete my posts. They are now out of context, as the posts to which I was referring were deleted. This thread reads very differently now as opposed to how it read on the 18th, and I'm glad. I know this is just my opinion, but naming names here is not constructive to the cause. If something like an "offender" list is to be successfully presented to the AHSA or the NHJC, it must be done collectively and without naming names. I think people within these organizations will listen more intently if it is presented as a cause. They will tend to not listen if names are mentioned right off the bat. The names can be mentioned under the law once a law is established. Right or wrong, when something can be measured in terms of the law, it has more credibility.
I am all for such legislation. I am not hiding behind a shroud of anonymity on this BB as someone suggested, and my e-mail is available on my profile (and some have used it - great, I welcome interaction).
I also did not come in the spirit of antagonism as the same person suggested. As I said, naming names at this point is not helping this cause as a whole.
We need to support those who feel they cannot report these abuses b/c of the fear of blackmail. This is definitely a widespread issue and affects all of us in some way. Perhaps a group within the AHSA could be established to receive abuse complaints, and somehow provide a counseling network, perhaps with the red cross. Ultimately, these horrible incidents need to be reported, though. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
I am glad people are getting together on this. I had been worried and dismayed that names were mentioned early on, and having been involved in rape issues in the past, I know that's not the way to accomplish what needs to be accomplished here. Unfortunately, this is bigger than a certain name, this appears to be prevalent everywhere, so let's present this as a big problem that can potentially affect all of us, not just a few people.
I like what I see happening here, e-mail me if I can help. Thank you.
[This message has been edited by Sirtalis (edited 05-22-2000).]
[This message has been edited by Sirtalis (edited 05-22-2000).]
I just re-read Janedoe's comment on one of the Drugs&Alcohol threads and realized that this topic should not die. I am re-posting it here where it belongs:
"Well, I have not posted in awhile but I would like to share a story with you that deals directly with the horse world and this topic.
Now, as I am closer to my mid-twenties I look back and realize why I feel so much older than that. As a kid I always rode locally and had a great time with my friends and family. As I started to improve my parents and I decided that I could go to a 'better trainer.' So, in order to go to the person that was referred to me by my friends I had to move about two hours away. So, off I went with my two horses and moved to an apartment by myself. I was very excited because I felt like I would really improve. Well my riding did but that's about it. My trainer at the time, who was in his fifties decided to prey on all of the girls there. I was 18 at the time but I came from a rather small town and really hadn't ever done much partying or drinking or anything else. Well, my trainer got so bad that I was afraid to ever be alone with him because I was so frightened. Of course he would mess with us mentally but telling us how much better we could be, how many great horses he would let me ride, etc. Well, he talked my parents into buying a few horses and also into he and I taking a trip across country to try some. It just so happened to be on a weekend that my mother couldn't go with me. I was petrified but I was too embarrassed or afraid to tell anyone. So, I ended up going to Chicago and the first night we were there he raped me in my hotel room. I was scared out of my mind but I was mostly afraid of him. He told me I couldn't tell anyone, he told me that I really wanted to do it, etc. Well, I didn't know how to get out of the situation but I just kept it to myself. I stayed there and he approached me daily, he would drive to my apartment, corner me in the tack room or follow me in my car. After my parents eventually found out that he had ripped them off for a lot of money I decided to leave. I went away with my horses but still never told a soul. I just figured he was right and that no one else would believe me. After that I dated the biggest losers and really lost all self-esteem that I had. I moved to another male trainer and he was very forceful and flirty and filthy. I eventually got away from it but it took me awhile to realize that it wasn't my fault. Just recently I finally told a girl who rode there too and she said he tried to do the same to her. She had always wondered why I just kind of left and why I despise him so much. I know this is disturbing and it is awkward to write about over the computer but I really hope this helps just one person realize that they're not alone. I definitely don't want to have a pity party here but I feel obligated to share this with you. I think this happens in the horse world more than we can even imagine. So many of the male trainers, married or single,prey on young girls. Both trainers I had knew just which buttons to push and to use the love of my life (horses)- to accomplish their sick and demented goals. Both trainers are alcoholics who have always cheated on their girlfriends, or wives. They continue to dominate other women and feel that it is their right to do so. I still compete very heavily but I keep my distance from most others at the show. I watch it, I see girls who are anorexic, I see others with their fake IDs, partying with their trainers at night clubs. I know plenty who mess with serious drugs and alcohol. I know so many young girls who are quite sexually active and the straight men at the shows use their naivity to their benefit. They try to find the most innocent girl and they corrupt them. Then, by the time they are 30 you'd think they were 50. It is so sad but I happens so much, especially on the big 'circuit.' I just with there were other ways of letting these kids know what's out there and how dangerous this is. Just like convicted child molesters working at the shows. I think it's crazy how most trainers and riders make a big deal about someone using tack-boots or medicating their horses but they don't bat an eye when a 45 year old man is dating a 20year old. People didn't seem to care when a 27 year old rider was dating a 17 year old, isn't it illegal to have sex with a minor? This happens all of the time. There are so many corrupt individuals, not only professionally but morally as well. I am sorry to ramble on but this subject just really gets to me. Thank you for your time."
Thank you for yours, Janedoe.
[This message has been edited by Weatherford (edited 06-02-2000).]
co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!
Weatherford, I agree with you because even before the horses is the care of the children. Celebrity has with it responsibilities as well as the bonus things. We have I am sure all known of "children" that were awed by a "VIP" and therefore were willing to do things otherwise unacceptable, and that many are in denial because they don't want to believe that an idol has clay feet.
Isn't this also the problem faced by parents today with the rock stars and athletes from lots of other sports who believe they are entitled to any reward for their celebrity status.
I do hope that this will result in a paper that all barns will include in their packets to parents and juniors.
I agree wholeheartedly as both a concerned adult and as an attorney. This is not my area of expertise so I cannot offer any legal analysis or "advice" on the issue. I would, however, caution anyone contemplating the idea of publicly disclosing the identity of an alleged or suspected offender. The laws of libel and slander are alive and well in this country, and for good reason.
If you are seriously thinking about identifying individuals who have been accused or suspected of abuse, PLEASE SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY BEFORE DOING SO. Do not compromise your own financial and emotional well-being by acting - however justified you feel - without being fully informed of all of the potential consequences of your actions. Do not allow your emotional response to a situation cause you to act contrary to your own best interests.
Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.