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Should I say something?

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  • Should I say something?

    I recently attended a clinic with a former trainer. I was there as her guest, helping and mostly videoing her and her students. This is someone who I used to respect, and one of the few people I trusted unconditionally with my horse. I have ridden with her, and watched her in a clinic many many years ago. However, during this recent clinic, her behavior was completely unexpected. We had lost touch for many years, but when I needed to send my new horse somewhere for a couple months while I was recovering from an injury, I sent him there based on past experience.

    I understand that some people get flustered and do weird things in front of a BNT, but her behavior was such that I was embarrassed to be there as her guest. She had two horses at the clinic, and rode them both three days in a row. She was nervous, and flustered, and took her frustration out on her horses. I won’t go into too much detail, but the BNT had to tell her that she shouldn’t be mean and punish her horse for what was not their fault.

    If it had just been day one, I would have though maybe it was just nerves and she didn’t realize her behavior. But she watched the videos of the rides from day one, and it got worse on days two and three. I want to distance myself from this person. I am wondering if I should say something to her about her behavior at the clinic? We don’t have regular contact anymore, but I know our paths will cross at future clinics, and I may be asked to help again.

    The saddest part is she claims to follow classic principles. I love this quote from de Kunffy, “ The difference between civilized and barbaric behavior is in the difference between compassion, a combination of empathy, forgiveness, and compulsion. Classical horsemanship is compassionate; classical horsemanship is civilized.” She was neither. Should I say something, or should I just move on?

  • #2
    If you want to say something, you could ask her if she is under a lot of stress, because she seems to be on edge, and this is a change from the person you remember.

    It might be a kindness to open a door.

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    • #3
      If the bnt said something and she didn’t change her behavior, I doubt she’ll listen to you, but if it makes you feel better, say something.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Wicky View Post
        If you want to say something, you could ask her if she is under a lot of stress, because she seems to be on edge, and this is a change from the person you remember.

        It might be a kindness to open a door.
        What a kind way to approach the situation -- offering to help. Not putting them down. Kudos.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Wicky View Post
          If you want to say something, you could ask her if she is under a lot of stress, because she seems to be on edge, and this is a change from the person you remember.

          It might be a kindness to open a door.
          Applause. This is a wonderful response.
          Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique

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          • #6
            People's personality can change due to TBI, chronic pain, stress and worry, or substance use. Indeed, in horse people these things often converge.

            I've seen this happen in much milder form in folks I have long term working relationships with, and I agree about being both embarrassed for them and worried.

            It can be very hard for such folks to recognize their behaviour has changed and they may get very defensive if you ask.

            Asking if they've been under stress is a good starting point but be prepared for a long litany of how awful everyone is being to them etcetera. In other words you are probably not going to be able to change their behaviour or save them just by what you say. Unfortunately.

            I think you are justified in distancing yourself but not making a big deal out of it and checking back in a year.

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            • #7
              I suspect any queries will be resented. As suggested I would distance myself, and my horses.
              Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

              Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                I suspect any queries will be resented. As suggested I would distance myself, and my horses.
                But in the end, distancing will happen if the OP's concern is resented so why not risk the benefit of caring enough to show concern?

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                • #9
                  If it could help the horse in the future, I would definitely say something. Horse welfare is more important than an acquantance in my eyes.
                  Boss Mare Eventing Blog

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jealoushe View Post
                    If it could help the horse in the future, I would definitely say something. Horse welfare is more important than an acquantance in my eyes.
                    If this were effective, yes.

                    But when someone is spiralling into emotional collapse, they have a tendency to see their reactions as totally justified response to how awful the world is.

                    Given this is an equestrian, I would bet money there has been a head injury in the last year. All of this is typical long term TBI post concussion stuff. The irritability and the lack of impulse control. And I bet short term memory loss is in the mix. Thing about TBI is people with it lack self awareness. They blame all their reaction on the rest of the world.

                    If this was someone in a sedentary job I'd guess substance use, but in horses most likely TBI.

                    Anyhow I doubt there is anything OP can say that will fix things.

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      TBI is an interesting theory. It may have explained the overreacting to non- spooks, If there was a fear of falling. That was another odd thing. She reacted as if her horse had spooked at something, and then scolded it. I know she has always had a fear of injury, but never been one to jump at shadows either. BNT told her the horse only flinched because she did.

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                      • #12
                        Ah, that totally makes sense. Sounds like she is riding with fear now, which is never great.

                        But also look up TBI in the context of what happens to old football and hockey players. They have serious problems with anger management, impulse control, irritability.

                        I think TBI when it lowers impulse control allows the hidden emotions to come out.

                        I had one male friend years ago who really did not have an angry or aggressive bone in his body, and his TBI just made him spacier and more disorganized than ever. He was however self aware enough to fix up a personal plan of relearning time management and kept a rigorous Filofax datebook to keep track of every appointment. This was before cell phones, even before Blackberry!! Filofax was the New Thing. He was eventually able to return to a professional level job.

                        More recently I've had a couple of equestrian friends, women, get TBI from riding accidents. They both became very irritable towards people and horses for months, one of them for at least a year, and they absolutely could not recognize this at the moment, only long afterwards. I would say they were both assertive people normally, and when the TBI lowered their impulse control, they got straight out bitchy with people, and short tempered with horses too. Of course when you act like this, people get crabbier to you and horses get much harder to handle, and things spiral downwards quickly. And then the short term memory problems of TBI can cause money and business problems too.

                        If your trainer was always a bit nervous of falling off, then she had a TBI in a fall, that would also remove the impulse control that let her dampen her fear and ride. So she will be unable to handle her fear.

                        My trainer honestly has no fear of anything, so when she had a TBI she actually became more of a risk taker. This has also been documented in ex-athletes. They were probably always fearless, and now they have lost the ability to control their impulses, and they do stupid things and get hurt again.

                        So in removing impulse control, TBI lets whatever was being controlled by the person, loose in unmanageable ways.


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                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                          Ah, that totally makes sense. Sounds like she is riding with fear now, which is never great.

                          But also look up TBI in the context of what happens to old football and hockey players. They have serious problems with anger management, impulse control, irritability.

                          I think TBI when it lowers impulse control allows the hidden emotions to come out.

                          So in removing impulse control, TBI lets whatever was being controlled by the person, loose in unmanageable ways.

                          This is making a lot more sense. She always did talk to her horses while riding, voicing frustrations out loud. If it is TBI, it could be emotions manifesting in a physical way. My hope is that maybe her students that came might have said something, they all had a long ride home together in the truck.
                          Wicky I love your suggestion on how to bring it up. If our paths cross again and I this behavior is repeater, I will ask her if she is feeling ok and start the conversation that way.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Wicky View Post
                            If you want to say something, you could ask her if she is under a lot of stress, because she seems to be on edge, and this is a change from the person you remember.

                            It might be a kindness to open a door.
                            So true. Maybe her mother has dementia. Maybe she's in trouble financially. Maybe she has a crazy ass boarder who has gotten under her skin. Maybe maybe maybe.

                            Kind, quiet concern and support is a loving approach.

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