I have a really hard time believing that someone would board an upper level horse at a trainers with the expectation that the horse move up a level and then be ok with three rides per month? No dressage horse on the face of this earth will move up a level in this kind of program so it is very, very hard to believe that this is the intended plan.
Trainers like this should be put out of business because it sours people towards our sport and gives professionals a bad name. And it happens WAY too frequently.
I would for sure say something too if (and ONLY if) I knew 110 percent that this was the case!
There was a trainer who did this at my barn. Wonder if it is the same one? I decided not to say anything to the owners. However when the trainer, who was responsible to give horse his grain and supplements, was so lazy that they threw them in the trash rather than give them to the horse, I did say something about that. You see, one of the supplements was actually a rather expensive medication for a condition the horse had. Not a happy situation.
As an owner who sent a horse to Fla with a trainer I thought a lot of, but after the fact found out that things were not right, I wished that I had known at the time so I could have dealt with the problem.
And a friend is in the same position: Her horse went to WEF and just got home looking terrible. Skin fungus all over and dull coat -- not the shiny, healthy horse she sent down 4 months ago. Trainer NOW admits that the horse hadn't shown in 4 weeks because of the skin condition -- but kept the horse down there at full day care and training without telling the owner. She is boiling mad and has brought the horse back to her own barn. She is now looking for a new trainer.
Bet your booties I would want to know, even if the person telling me was not aware of the understanding I had with the trainer. If that person was incorrect, then fine. I would still appreciate that someone was watching out for my horse and my money.
I have also been in your position and not said anything. I was in Fla with my trainer and his barn. One customer's horse barely left its stall. One day I heard the trainer tell the groom not to bother getting it ready for the ring because the class was going to run late and he had a dinner date. --- I did not say anything; I did not know the owner personally. But in retrospect, I wish I had.
I think I would only say something if I had seen the actually agreement in writing or heard directly from the owner what the expectations were. Other than that, I would just mind my own business, owners can pick up on stuff that just ain't right--I've seen it from experience in a very similar (practically identical) situation. I know it's tough because you want to do the right thing, but what if you are wrong? Would there be repercussions then?
This happened at a barn I boarded at in college. Not a dressage barn, but a lying/cheating BO/trainer who took full advantage of people if given the chance. Hindsight is 20/20. A woman rescued a very green Paint (who had never, ever been around horses and was obese and unable to ride) and placed him at the barn, paying for full training. The horse got worked once a week, tops, and by work I mean got tied up, brushed, lunged, then put away. This went on for months. The owner didn't have a clue and was never around. When I heard the BO tell her he was going to let the equestrian team start jumping him soon (a bald face lie...the horses wasn't even broke to ride), I regrettably didn't speak up.
Bottom line is, having a MYOB attitude is why people get screwed and why shitty and dishonest trainers still make a living. You bet your ass I would want a heads up, even if for some very strange reason that WAS our agreement. Knowing horse people often look out for one another is one reason why I love our "community".
If you don't know the owner I think I would not say anything. You don't know if trainer is riding when you are not there. I had a trainer that did this to us, we figured it out soon enough. Sticky situation.
I'm somewhere between saying something and MYOB. I like the suggestion that someone had to say something like "your horse is looking really good on the longe, he's such a nice mover (or whatever). I'm looking forward to seeing him develop u/s". Play naive and see what they do.
If the longing really is part of the plan then the owner won't be offended. If it's not part of the plan, the OP will have helped alert them to a bad situation.
Years ago, I was walking by large compound surrounded by a high wooden fence. From behind the fence I could hear people loudly chanting "18, 18, 18!" over and over. But I couldn't see beyond the fence to figure out what all the commotion was about. Rumor was that this place was a mental institution and curiosity got the better of me. I found a gap in the fence and leaned in to get a peek only to be immediately poked in the eye with a sharp stick. The chanting changed to "19, 19, 19!".
If we ever meet in person, please don't comment on my eye patch. I'm rather sensitive about it.
I've seen a very well known local jumper trainer and a dressage trainer that do this.
I came out to the barn to ride and saw jumper trainer walking a tacked horse back to the barn. When I brought my horse in, I noticed she had just taken the tack off and put it back in the stall. There was no brushing, washing, cooling out, anything. I thought that was strange. Turns out it wasn't needed because the horse was barely warmed up to begin with.
She brought in a second horse, threw tack on and walked him out. I saw her sit on the horse at a halt while she carried on a conversation with her friend. She went over two jumps and put the horse back in its stall. She did this two more times over the course of 45 minutes. These were client horses, not her personal horses. Even without knowing these boarders well, there is no way in hell anyone would pay a professional trainer to go over two jumps and put their horse back after 15 minutes. Her pricing was based on an hour of training.
I really wanted to say something but I would have started a huge **** storm with the barn owners and gotten my own dressage trainer dragged in to it and possibly kicked out of the barn (only because they are my trainer, not because they actually had anything to do with jumper trainer). It's one of the reasons why I don't board my horse there now even though they have very nice facilities, reasonably priced and close to my house. I don't like watching people get poor instruction and get screwed over by professionals. A lot of other people know about it (it's pretty damn obvious if you're there at the right times) but don't say anything for the same reasons.
I would only say something if I thought it would make a difference, I was VERY certain of what was happening, and I wouldn't harm myself or others close to me in the process.