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Teen student abusing her horse - WTD?

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  • #61
    From a teen girl's POV... hormones can make you do some bat-$h!t crazy stuff that the 'real you' actually didn't want to do, ESPECIALLY when combined with rocky situations elsewhere. I have come very close to taking my anger (from a bad ride, a bad grade, etc) out on a horse but I had to remove myself from the horse, go spray myself in the face with a hose or something and then come back resulting in another hormone swing that made me cling to the horse crying.

    I can also say from (most) teen's POV that we perceive a bad ride or a bad grade, or even slight passive aggressiveness from parents, as "you are a bad person." I got a 76 on a geometry test yesterday and almost got an anxiety attack wondering what my parents would do if they found out. I also have pretty low self esteem which I suppose could factor in... but 90% of the time, when I am punished for something, I have already punished myself tenfold the punishment on the inside.

    Can you take this teen on a trail ride, maybe on a different horse or something, and just talk to her? Maybe she'll want to start talking about any issues at home.
    Proud member of the COTH Junior (and Junior-at-Heart!) clique!


    • #62
      I can't believe how many of you are making excuses for he behaviour. There is no need to tolerate it. I have been there with the people making excuses and I am sorry but this is the time to set boundries at YOUR facility.
      I do the same thing with kids who are mouthy to the instructor or others in the barn...it's just not going to happen in my barn.
      Like others have said, I am not a therapist, nor am I going to get involved in their personal lives.
      You would be amazed at the respect you get when you take this approach...RESPECT of the horse and the people around you is much more important than being their "friend". That is most likely what is missing in her life.
      Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. –Sebastian Junger


      • #63
        Originally posted by Lauralyn View Post
        This is very true of this girl - I have never worked with a kid who takes failure as hard as she does. I have had to reassure her so many times that it is okay to make mistakes - I constantly remind all my students that we are not performing brain surgery - no one is going to die if they don't get the lead change, transition, collection, etc. I find a lot of kids are very conscious of failure - I don't know if this is this generation or not because I can only compare my students to myself at their age - and I fell off my horses every day (every day!) as a kid and I don't remember ever being embarrassed or worried about it. I think the only failure I was actually ever truly embarrassed by is when my horse ran over the judge - but even that we got a good laugh over.

        But this girl takes criticism very hard - always deflecting it to the horse - I feel like I am always treading softly when I give critique. No matter how much praise I give - one "needs improvement" critique and I loose her. I have talked with her many times about how there is always going to be critique in riding because you can always do better - it doesn't mean you are not already doing well. I have a running joke with the kids that if I asked them to turn straw to gold and they eventually figured it out I would then expect them to make jewelry out of it. ;-)

        I do not put any performance pressure on any of my students. Good sportsmanship is the cornerstone of my program. I place having fun and being respectful to your horse, coach, fellow competitors and themselves over their actual performance in the show ring. I expect them to try their best and if that results in a ribbon so be it. But I am far more proud of a student who excepts failure gracefully than one who wins, but is a poor sport. And I know the parents could care less how she does at shows so long as she is safe. So all the pressure the girl feels has to be coming from herself (or some other outside source).

        I do have every intention of talking with the parents - I was just needing some advise on how to handle it (which you have all done a wonderful job of providing).
        Can you just get out on the trail? No pressure, no lessons, just enjoying her time with you and the horse, bonding with a friendly adult. I too was an angry kid and am still in touch with (over 30 years later) with the woman who just hung out with me and my horse and was a mentor for me - she wasn't a riding specialist, but a very, very kind woman with an ear and a shoulder - she listened to me and it had a huge impact on me.


        • #64
          i am not sure if the "making excuses" comment was aimed at my and similar posts - as i see it these posts are not making excuses - they are giving the OP valuable insight as to WHY the behavior is happening.

          also remember that we live in a society that will NOT tolerate any kind of perceived "abuse" to kids..... so if you yell, threaten, touch or in any way physically threaten a kid you will set yourself up for huge liability.

          Also remember that it is not your horse. It is her horse. To do as she pleases, so you will have to be very careful in how you protect the horse.

          believe me - the number one thing we learn when working any kind of events with teens etc is NEVER touch them, do not engage them in any kind of heated dialog etc.

          to the OP - suggest again to find a local professional that can help you.

          good luck.


          • #65
            Originally posted by mbm View Post
            i would be VERY VERY careful that you don't touch the kid and that you don't use force (even verbal force) - the kid is a minor and you are an adult - that opens you up to huge potential litigation and criminal prosecution.
            can i just ask - why are folks giving me thumbs down for this and other similar posts here? i dont get it??


            • #66
              No one is saying tolerate it right? No one said, "Hey! Leave the kid alone because we all have bad days and its just a horse, right?"

              But people are trying to make sure that the OP qualify the reaction by making sure nothing deeper and even worse is going on.

              Some of these "angry" teens are being raised poorly (spoiled), and some of them are dealing with something much worse themselves sadly.
              ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


              • #67
                Originally posted by mbm View Post
                can i just ask - why are folks giving me thumbs down for this and other similar posts here? i dont get it??
                I don't, either ... This may sound snarky (and I do not intend it to convey anything other than a guess at an answer), but they may be among the folks who think that the world has gone "too PC" and everyone could do with a hefty dose of "old school."

                I neither agree nor disagree and certainly appreciate that you pointed out a legal issue that many of us well-meaning non-professionals may not think of.

                I got angry at someone who walked away from me at work. I scooted around and stood in front of him to block his way. He was about 2x my size and still threatened to report me for "harassment." It got worked out with our managers because I didn't touch him with my hands. Admittedly NOT my finest hour.

                This sh*t is REAL.


                • #68
                  mbm, I didn't give you a thumbs down, but I did think that extending the "don't use physical force" to "not even verbal force" is excessive.

                  Really? I get not cussing a child out. But a horse trainer hired to train the kid and horse can't use "verbal force"? WTF?
                  The armchair saddler
                  Politically Pro-Cat


                  • #69
                    hey, i am just giving a warning to anyone dealing with minors.... we live in a society that may see "verbal force" aka yelling, demanding, threatening, etc as abusive and depending on who the parents are - it may get the OP (or anyone else for that matter) into trouble.

                    i also think that the OP has no right to take away the horse or pull a rider off the horse - the horse is not the OPs, and pulling someone off a horse could be seen as physical abuse.

                    and fwiw, i am not saying i agree with any of the above - i am just pointing out this is the reality we live in - and better forewarned IMO.

                    oh, and one thing we really get drilled into our heads never EVER touch someone - so if i am working an event i can use all the power of my personality - i can use body movement etc -but no touching - ever.

                    it is interesting to see what we come up with to get folks to comply -


                    • #70
                      also think that the OP has no right to take away the horse or pull a rider off the horse - the horse is not the OPs, and pulling someone off a horse could be seen as physical abuse
                      I guess you are again referring to my post here. I thought it was clear that I did not mean literally pull the rider off the horse since I added

                      "And the trainer/coach hauls an abusive rider off a horse immediately when the rough stuff happens aka -sorry that's not OK- lesson over now" Perhaps should have use IOW rather than AKA .

                      But I disagree with your opinion that a trainer should not ever dare shout at little poopsie when she is abusing her horse for fear of criminal prosecution. Really? No.

                      If a horse is in my barn, yes I can say that behavior won't be tolerated because the other option is to tell you to leave.
                      Last edited by Crockpot; Nov. 12, 2012, 07:13 AM.


                      • #71
                        Originally posted by mbm View Post
                        i am not sure if the "making excuses" comment was aimed at my and similar posts - as i see it these posts are not making excuses - they are giving the OP valuable insight as to WHY the behavior is happening.

                        also remember that we live in a society that will NOT tolerate any kind of perceived "abuse" to kids..... so if you yell, threaten, touch or in any way physically threaten a kid you will set yourself up for huge liability.

                        Also remember that it is not your horse. It is her horse. To do as she pleases, so you will have to be very careful in how you protect the horse.

                        believe me - the number one thing we learn when working any kind of events with teens etc is NEVER touch them, do not engage them in any kind of heated dialog etc.

                        to the OP - suggest again to find a local professional that can help you.

                        good luck.
                        You set your standard by what is acceptable in society today you are already toast and will do no one any good. It does take some finesse but you do not tolerate abuse to anyone, human or animal in any civilized society. She absolutely is not free to do whatever she wants to this horse. This comment is if you pardon my bluntness, insane.
                        "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


                        • #72
                          Originally posted by MyssMyst View Post
                          While I never got to the point of outright beating my horses, I WAS the angry kid lashing out at anything and everything. My parents were divorcing (an ugly divorce that involved accusations of adultery and screaming matches had been leading up to the divorce for YEARS). I was the smart kid in school with no social skills, and you get mercilessly picked on in that area. Horses were the one thing in my life I felt like I had any control over. When something didn't go right, it reduced me to a mindless panic and left me feeling helpless. I'd ride harder out of a desperate need to get that control back, because not being in control of at least one area of my life was terrifying to me. Probably didn't help that I had a trainer very similar to this girl's last trainer (compounded by the fact that my trainer was my mom). Getting ripped apart in the warm-up ring was pretty standard practice, and I don't think I had one show from 11 to 17 (when I stopped showing) that went without a complete and utter meltdown at some point during the show.

                          I had a younger horse I was warming up for a trail class at a show, and we were having MASSIVE issues at the gate. I was getting frustrated, angry, panicky... The horse was reacting, and it was getting ugly. I will be forever grateful to the trainer who quietly stepped in without judging me and asked if I'd like some help with the gate. She walked me through how the element was properly ridden, and how to properly handle my horse through the obstacle. When we completed the obstacle successfully several times, she worked with me through every other obstacle on the warm-up course, showing me how to handle them, and how to subtly and effectively correct my horse without losing my temper. She also gave us a 30 minute lesson on riding off of leg, and had me doing schooling figures without reins. That ride, more than anything else, changed my entire life. I learned more about myself in that hour and a half, how to handle anger appropriately, how to ride... I will be forever grateful to that trainer. In the class, I forgot the pattern (something I had never done to that point) but it was the best pattern I'd ever ridden. That class meant everything to me at that show, and the fact that the trainer had even come by to watch me go... It will always be one of my favorite show memories.

                          I would approach the girl without the parents, because IF something is happening at home, she's NOT going to talk about it with them there. I know I didn't. Without my parents present, it was a lot easier to talk about the things that were really upsetting me. How can you tell someone that your mom cussing your dad out in the warmup ring is why you're so upset when your mom is right there? I don't think I would have even been brave enough at first to talk to my mom about it even with help.
                          I really appreciate your input on this but you have to start somewhere, any insightful person who is willing to face the ugly truth about some situations, can figure out if there are issues that cause the home environment to create this kind of frustration but the young girl has to first know that her treatment of the animal is intolerable. Then proceed with some kind of discussion with the family, and, one hopes, if things do not improve or the child does not feel free to open up that will be able to be followed up. It is really a big step to get involved in people's private lives especially in these very unstable and dangerous times, but if the OP only got involved because this was such a nice horse, which is what was said, that is a little on the cockimammy side, in this setting it seemed that the child was of secondary concern which is what I was trying to get at. When you teach, and you teach well, all of this comes as a whole part of the "job", which really touches on the general love for your fellow human beings and creatures, warts and all. I really hope this can be sorted out.
                          Last edited by Calamber; Nov. 11, 2012, 10:14 PM.
                          "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK


                          • #73
                            It sounds like this kid does need some help- it sounds like she gets very frustrated and literally can't control how she expresses it. She needs to learn appropriate techniques for controlling this frustration. As an early teen I had trouble with frustration, and I literally wouldn't even know how to handle it. I was also dealing with a semi-hostile home environment involving an alcoholic parent and another parent in denial, and both seemed to feel my best was very good enough. On the outside- people thought my family was perfect though. So it's totally possible that this poor kid has more going on than you know, and she should see someone about it. Some high schools do have mental health counselors and other counselors (besides just guidance counselors) available.


                            • #74
                              Mbm, when people say to rip someone off a horse it is typically their instructor and it is telling them to get off. An arm grab usually would only happen if they said "no." At least that's what I would call the current way of ripping someone off a horse.

                              Sounds more like the worst is after the lesson. I still like the videotaping and letting her be ashamed of herself. Anger is never pretty, even when justified.

                              Oh, and can I just officially vote for the end of political correctness?
                              "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"


                              • #75
                                I am really surprised at how many people are basically giving this teenager a pass here. A teenager is old enough to know better than to repeatedly hit a horse in the face, and the scene the OP described, a trembling horse laying it's beaten head in her arms, is heart breaking. Where is the outrage we saw on the Alisija (sp?) thread, when an adult was whipping a horse so badly that it ran into a tree and died as a result of its head injuries? This girl sounds like Alisija in the making. A teenager is just as culpable for this sort of behavior as an adult - we are not dealing with a small child that does not know right from wrong yet.

                                Animal abuse is a sign of severe psychological problems, and has an extraordinarily high correlation to becoming violent towards people. This is way more than teenage angst. As someone else pointed out, if you had caught her whipping another kid in the tack room, people would not be so willing to give this girl a pass.

                                Call this teenager's parents and tell them to get their daughter some serious psychological help. And tell them that as long as she is at your barn, she is not allowed to be alone with the horse, and then follow through. Never, never let her be alone with that poor animal.

                                Honestly, there is a part of me that wishes that poor mare had fought back, and inflicted some damage of her own on her abuser.
                                Last edited by TarheelJD; Nov. 12, 2012, 08:24 AM. Reason: Spelling
                                Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion.... ~ Emerson


                                • #76
                                  She probably WANTS to whip on another kid in the task room is the problem, but redirects to the horse, because the horse won't tell and/or she won't get in the same kind of trouble. Too smart, a little Aspie, shy, who knows.

                                  Yes, she needs to get into trouble, but part of riding instruction (I would HOPE) is to teach how to ride well and use every tool at your command, including not allowing yourself to be so frustrated that you lose control of yourself or lose track of the situation. We've all seen the horse that won't load at the show getting a CTJ, but when is the truly appropriate time for that CTJ?

                                  I had a mentor, unfortunately I had two - one adult and one teen with serious issues of her own that included telling me that my horse was taking advantage of me and I needed to show it who was boss, and giving it a beating for me. In retrospect I should have cut her from my life immediately but I didn't. That adult couldn't be with me every day to un-do what that teen was telling me, and furthermore that adult probably wouldn't have believed that my teen friend would DO such a thing. My teen friend was far more confident than I, and knew how to avoid being caught at many things.

                                  I can't begin to tell you the spiral of loathing and self doubt that it inspired. I was still able to ride a nice quiet horse that didn't require that I be able to give it the confidence that I lacked, thank god. Taking up saddleseat, with ASB's and using "bumping" of the mouth, getting after them, at the lower levels, has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done. But it took literally years and a whole lot of other experiences.

                                  No, OP can't give this girl a pass. I don't think that anybody is saying OP should ignore the cruelty, but I love that in two previous posts Brannaman and an unnamed trainer went to the trouble of helping someone change their ways by showing them a better way. It's better for the people and better for the horses.

                                  Honestly, I could be PM'ing all this to the OP and she'd use the info as she saw fit, and I'd avoid censure (and some of you will think badly of me, forever) and just be "cooler online", but I made mistakes and it's no good to make a mistake if you can't learn from it and pass along what you've learned.
                                  Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                                  Incredible Invisible


                                  • #77
                                    you guys can give me all the thumbs down you want

                                    i am not telling you how i feel about it - i am telling you how the parents and cops/courts will view it.

                                    it is not the OPs horse.

                                    If she doesn't like what is happening she needs to call the parents. if the parents don't act as she desires then she has two (or maybe 3) choices: call the ASCPA, talk to the kid and hope for the best, or ask them to leave.

                                    if folks think i am over reacting - i suggest talking to an attorney in your state to get an idea of what is ok re: minors - or ask a teacher


                                    • #78
                                      Originally posted by Calamber View Post
                                      You set your standard by what is acceptable in society today you are already toast and will do no one any good. It does take some finesse but you do not tolerate abuse to anyone, human or animal in any civilized society. She absolutely is not free to do whatever she wants to this horse. This comment is if you pardon my bluntness, insane.
                                      fwiw, i did not say anyone should tolerate abuse to animals. what i did say is that we live in a society that is hyper protective of its children. so anyone who works with kids needs to be aware or understand the laws in their state....


                                      • #79
                                        I teach theraputic riding, and I have hauled riders off their horse. I have done it for safety reasons, but also concern for the horse. If a rider student of mine starts bouncing or kicking - off they come.

                                        I remember one mom of a severly autistic boy yelling at me as I was hauling him off a pony. "Drop him!, dont hurt your back"

                                        No matter how disabled, I will not allow behaviors that put the horse or the rider at risk. I stop the ride first and communicate to the rider, I will try this as many times as I am comfortable but will end the ride by hauling the rider off the horse if I feel I need to. This has only happened twice.

                                        If my standards for severly disabled kids allows this why should an able bodied rider get away with more?


                                        • #80
                                          I dont think people here are understanding the amount of adults even that condone this type of outrage at their horses.

                                          Has this teen always been with you OP?

                                          I just had a conversation with a trainer who's student left and went with another trainer I worked for. I shook my head and my comments was, "She is not very nice to her horses." Which is the understatement of the year.

                                          The trainer I was speaking with said, I figured that when my student was telling one of my other students, "If he doesnt turn rip his teeth out." Aka yank him around.

                                          This lady is a grown up teen and sadly until you work for them some of it doesnt show.

                                          I quit these people pretty fast because they are using their animals as therapy and not in a good way.

                                          My point is she probably has at some point seen this or been somehow given a sign that this is acceptable behavior. A good talking point would be where did she learn this>? What places as has she seen it or thought it was acceptable?

                                          When it was still new and she was not used to seeing it was it ugly to her? How did it go from completely not normal to normal in her own thinking?

                                          Walk her through it.

                                          If she comes from left field with abuse to me that speaks volumes, but if she comes from a place like some of the places I have been she will have been introduced to it and she needs to be thinking clearly about which way is better for her and her horse and why.

                                          Its funny how people scream on here about abuse but when I am at a horse show and a trainer is giving a horse its ass in a stall everyone looks around nervously and does nothing.

                                          I will admit I see MUCH less of it at dressage shows but H/J and breed shows make my eyes bleed many times I visit.

                                          Truth be told I did not notice it as much when I was a teen as I do as an adult. I wish someone would have stood up then as an example and said how terrible it all was and how immature many trainers/riders really are.
                                          ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~