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Can This Trainer Relationship Be Saved?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by horsefaerie View Post
    As a trainer let me say this.

    BECAUSE everyone puts so much faith in a trainer if they win and have something to "show" it can cause them to be very protective of their success stories. As clients you MAKE whacky trainers. Most of us can't afford the best horses and have to rely on those that show up on our door.
    While some clients may not mind funding their trainer's personal climb to glory, I personally expect that when I pay a trainer for their services that they focus on helping me achieve MY goals.

    It is unethical to take a client's money and then use their horse to further your own interests instead of helping them achieve their stated goals. If a client's goals don't mesh with your program or "make you whacky" you are free to turn them away.


    • #22
      My experience with trainers (both in the dressage and h/j worlds) is that if you are in a program, meaning boarding and paying to be in full training, then they expect you to commit to THEIR program. I've found that each trainer has his/her way of doing things and to question that is not what they want from clients. The expectation is that you follow the program - and if you don't like the program and don't want to follow it, then find someone whose program you do like.

      You've been given lots of good advice on examining the suitability of your horse and finding a trainer whose program meets your needs. IMHO, don't expect this trainer to change his program to suit you - it sounds like he doesn't have much flexibility there and you won't get what you want.
      "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


      • #23
        "I've found that each trainer has his/her way of doing things and to question that is not what they want from clients. The expectation is that you follow the program - and if you don't like the program and don't want to follow it, then find someone whose program you do like."

        What PocketPony said.

        If it feels like pulling teeth to talk with a trainer about your concerns, then it is time to move on. Either they are (a) too busy or (b) the answer to your question is "no" but they don't want to come out and say so directly.

        Horse riding is supposed to be fun. Unless you are a professional, I don't see a reason to put up with stuff that makes you unhappy. Just be sure that you are being realistic about your goals and have a mount that isn't unsafe etc.


        • #24
          Originally posted by BeeHoney View Post
          While some clients may not mind funding their trainer's personal climb to glory, I personally expect that when I pay a trainer for their services that they focus on helping me achieve MY goals.

          It is unethical to take a client's money and then use their horse to further your own interests instead of helping them achieve their stated goals. If a client's goals don't mesh with your program or "make you whacky" you are free to turn them away.
          The client is not a prisoner. They can leave whenever they want to. McDonald's isn't going to tell you to leave their store because the 'food' they sell is bad for you. In the modern world, it's your job to leave. Not the business owner's job to tell you to get out.
          "Friend" me !



          • #25
            The statement that turned me off is that the trainer is not interested in talking with you off the clock. You are already investing in this trainer so discussions about you and your horse should be included, for goodness sake.
            Proud to have two Takaupa Gold line POAs!
            Takaupas Top Gold
            Gifts Black Gold Knight


            • Original Poster

              I want to thank you all once again for responding -- you have definitely given me some things to think about!

              I tried not to get bogged down in too much detail in my original post, but given that several people had questions about my horse's temperament/suitability and my riding ability, I want to provide a little more info in case that does make a difference regarding the advice offered.

              My horse is a WB, but not one specifically bred to do dressage. Everyone who's worked with her has praised her great mind and athletic ability. She has no dangerous habits under saddle (apart from the occasional spook expected from a young horse) and is most definitely an amateur rather than a professional ride. She was started at 3 by trainers that used a combination of natural horsemanship/French dressage methods and was in continous training for 2 years. In the 2nd year, she started pulling and rushing and was found to be very sore in her back, hocks and SI. Despite injections, rest and rehab work, her physical condition didn't improve and the trainers refused to consider working her differently. After doing some research, I became convinced that my horse had never learned to relax under saddle and that the soreness was the cumulative result of her working in tension. I found another trainer that seemed to be more receptive to helping us with this, but she couldn't help my horse relax either. My current trainer was recommended to me by a veterinary osteopath and he has been successful in teaching her to finally relax.

              As for me, I'm a re-rider who just turned 50. I've been told that I have a good seat/balance, but I'm largely self-taught and need help to improve. I don't have fear issues about horses or riding, but I'm not the most assertive person when it comes to questioning professionals. Some of you have suggested that I should ask the trainer if he thinks I don't have the skill level necessary to ride my own horse. He evaluated my riding about 3 months after he started working with her. All he had to say afterwards was that he thought my seat was good and that he didn't see anything that concerned him. I also asked if he thought I should get a different horse and he told me that it would be very difficult to find a better horse for me.

              Lastly, the trainer's attitude is not unique to me -- he treats all his clients like this. However, I don’t know of any other trainers in my area who are as concerned about the well-being of the horse. I want my horse to be healthy and content in her work, but I need to ride because I can’t get better if I don’t and time is not my friend. So, I’m at the point where I have to decide whether I’m willing to follow his program or sell my horse and get out of the sport entirely because my experiences so far have either resulted in pain for my horse or continual frustration for me -- if this makes me a “whacky” client, I guess that’s what I am …


              • #27
                The trainer is being paid for a service. In every other industry it is status quo to be offered service that you would benifit from more quickly to some degree or otherwise you would choose another provider.

                In some cases this is the only trainer in the area so I would base my decision off of that, however most usually you can find someone else or purchase another more suitable horse for immediate use and I would advise one or the other.
                ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                • #28
                  Isn't 3 young in a WB?

                  I'm wondering if the original trainers did too much. I've always understood that WBs are late to mature so at 3 they are very likely growing and not ready for say, lots of lunging. I don't think any of us creatures can relax when we are sore. Then you set up the expectation of pain. Must you do dressage? Hacking out on a long rein would help her relax and get stronger, and it's very relaxing for humans, too.

                  I completely understand wanting to walk away, but it really sounds like the horse is ok, just "over-faced" as we say in the H/J world. Look at your state associations website and go to the schooling shows. See who is kind and showing up with horses of all breeds. They are usually more sensitive to working with clients toward the client's goals. Current trainer have something you can ride for free while he "makes up" your horse?


                  • #29
                    I don't think y'all understood what I typed.

                    I am not saying it is your job to provide a trainer with horses. I personally do not wish to ride clients horses anymore. Never really did. I certainly have and have brought even green partners along.

                    THat is NOT what gets you good press and puts food on the table. Y'all have chosen to worship people who do ride other peoples horses and SHOW them. That type of trainer tends to want to keep the horse and client under control. It isn't about education. It is about winning and keeping clients regardless because that is what pays the bills.

                    So when it does bite some folks in the butt, perhaps you might start looking at trainers differently.
                    “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
                    ? Albert Einstein


                    • #30
                      Basie, your horse is still quite young. Why not search out some other options, like barns where you don't have to be in a full training program where you can cross train your mare a little--get her out on trails, work on fitness, maybe even do some little cavaletti with a jumping instructor to give her something fresh to think about. Step back and work on searching for a new instructor and see if you can't do a couple of lessons before you commit. Try and think outside the box a little, surely there is a place out there where you and your horse could have fun and learn together!

                      FYI, Sometimes young horses necessarily need to plateau at certain stages while they develop mentally or physically. There certainly are people who put young horses in training at 3 or 4, but I prefer to balance out discipline specific training with a lot of "regular" work. You know, trotting around the fields, riding with a group, just learning to be a pleasant, normal, well behaved horse. Perhaps a little time working on these basics would help your horse relax naturally?

                      Isabeau, you are right that clients have to educate themselves and be their own advocate. Nonetheless, I feel that trainers still have some responsibility to look out for their clients' interests. Just because a client is a beginner or not yet savvy to the horse world does not give a trainer the right to take advantage.


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by ToN Farm View Post
                        My answer is "NO", the relationship can't be saved because....

                        If this horse needs a couple years in order for you to be able to comfortably be the sole rider (and that IS a possible situation), then selling this horse and getting one more suitable for your level might be a better option that keeping it in training.
                        Agree 1000%.
                        I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo


                        • #32
                          This horse is your horse. You say your horse isn't dangerous under saddle. You say your horse is not an upper level candidate. You also say your horse became sore when ridden by two other trainers. You say your horse's current regime is 4 lunges a week and 4 rides a week.

                          If I were in your shoes I'd take back control of the situation, tell the trainer to sling his hook and find a nice, non-pressured yard to keep your horse where no one rides the horse but you.

                          Its your horse. You want to ride your horse. Who cares if they get scores in the mid 60s or high 60s at 2nd level? But you care, very much, if your horse is happy and sound and whether you are getting to enjoy riding your horse as many times a week as you want. The only way to achieve this is to throw away your reliance on a trainer and consider your horse to be YOUR horse.

                          Once he's in non-training livery you'll have plenty of spare cash to spend on lessons for both of you.

                          Your current trainer needs to remember that he is riding YOUR horse. You need to remember that you own a horse in order to enjoy them. Now you've simply got to change the situation so you are in charge of what is happening and you accept that it's OK to make mistakes on your horse. Its OK to learn together.

                          Never forget owning and riding a horse is supposed to be fun.


                          • #33
                            I would talk to the trainer and be firm that I wanted to ride more. If he resists I'm sure there are people on this board who can suggest alternative trainers in your region. I have a difficult horse and we have made lots of progress (relatively speaking ) with only one training ride and one lesson a week. And I was starting from ground zero as far as any dressage experience.


                            • #34
                              If it were me, I'd tell the trainer that I planned on riding the horse several times a week, by myself, and not in a lesson situation. I would tell the trainer that I appreciated his training, and would hope he would continue. However, I would also tell him that I was tired of footing the bills without the pleasure of being able to ride, and that I could not afford to pay him for more lessons.

                              Now, that puts the ball in his court. He will either continue to take your money, or he will ask you to move. If he continues to take your money, he might not do as diligent a job as he has been doing to date. Frankly, as long as he has been riding your horse, and as uncomplicated as you seem to think your horse is, you should easily be able to ride occasionally without setting the horse back in the training...provided that he continues to do his job.

                              Any one that is riding, cannot expect a push-button horse...because most riders do not know where the buttons are. That is what training is all about. So a rider, in order to really progress, needs to learn how to train...where the training has been, and where it needs to go. Most riders are not taught this. My guess is that when he supervises your one session per week, he is not really explaining to you what needs to be happening and how to achieve it. Seldom will you get the ability of a trainer to be both a good horse trainer and a good rider trainer.

                              However, at age 50, YOU should be able to express what you want to him. Trainers do not walk on water...well, except for deKunffy, who for me, does.


                              • #35
                                Of course we trainers walk on water! :-) Nah....none of us do, not really, we are human! ;-) He who writes the check has the ultimate power. Young horses and amateur riders don't always go hand in hand....but under tight supervision, it can work, trainer rides horse while owner watches, then owner gets in the saddle. I have several owners who are more mature, like me. They want to ride. Therefore it is my job to make that happen! I do. Unless horse is dangerous, then they get my opinion and take it from there. I cannot control what people do or don't do with their horses. Just me and my own and those I am permitted to have control of. Good luck! Enjoy your horse at whatever level you choose, no horse I have is supposed to further my career, I hope it does and I hope they make me look good....I am way too ethical and transparent...doesn't bode well sometimes! ;-) My heart is in this, not my brain! lol!!! Do I have a brain? I wonder sometimes! lol!!!! ;-)
                                Bethe Mounce
                                Head Trainer, AmeriCan Romance Equestrian
                                Brentwood CA


                                • #36
                                  This was me. I desperately wanted the horse and agreed to sit it out for 2 years while she got a good start.

                                  Looking back, yes, of course I bought a horse that wasn't suitable for an amateur of my skill. I blame no one but myself because I fought for that horse, I wanted that horse. She was going to be the last horse I ever bought and that was that.

                                  I rode her from time to time in a lesson situation and was content to wait until she was ready and take lessons on the trainer's retired show horse, who I also adored. And yes, I was willing to finance the trainer's show career with the horse, as well. I loved them both very much.

                                  I moved out of state and left the horse with the trainer.

                                  Two years later, when it became apparent that I wasn't going to move back and I found a local trainer I trusted, I brought my horse to the east coast.

                                  I cannot write this without crying. She arrived in nice shape, skinny from the long trip, as expected. The new trainer told me that while my horse was not suitable for an amateur to ride/train independently, she didn't see any reason why I couldn't ride as part of a regular training program. But as she went into training, she just couldn't stay sound. Injecting this joint and that joint wasn't getting us very far. After an MRI we tried stem cell therapy and she was on pasture rest/hand walking for most of the spring. Early summer we moved to a boarding barn and started just noodling around. I had a blast, but by then I'd decided I wanted to ride my horse more than I wanted to "do dressage." She had matured quite a lot and was very reasonable, but we both seemed to need the focus of a discipline. So ... we got in shape together and I scheduled a lesson full of hope. That was Friday. Tuesday she broke her leg coming out of anesthesia after colic surgery.

                                  Life is short.

                                  If you want to ride your own horse, make it happen.

                                  There *ARE* trainers out there who care deeply about the horse's comfort and can work with you to be the rider your horse needs.


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by angel View Post
                                    If it were me, I'd tell the trainer that I planned on riding the horse several times a week, by myself, and not in a lesson situation. I would tell the trainer that I appreciated his training, and would hope he would continue. However, I would also tell him that I was tired of footing the bills without the pleasure of being able to ride, and that I could not afford to pay him for more lessons.
                                    Ha, I'd like to see that! I say that because I've been in the OP's shoes, and while I would love to have been able to say all the things you wrote above, the truth of the matter is that the trainer has His Program(tm) and His Program does not include the OP riding her horse like she wants to. I was in a training program (h/j) that had a very strict schedule for the horses and owners. Owners were not allowed to ride on Sundays (the one day that horses didn't have a training ride or lesson) and weren't allowed at the barn on Mondays. Oh how I wanted to hack around on Sundays!!!! But it just wasn't done. I did have a talk with trainer about wanting to be more involved with my horse (like grooming and tacking up for a lesson, for example - the grooms did it) and I got a "no" response. That relationship didn't work out for too much longer and I went to one other h/j trainer before moving to a dressage barn.

                                    So while in theory I love the idea of telling the trainer how you want the program to go, each trainer has his/her own program and you either fit into it or you don't.

                                    I wish you the best of luck, OP!!!
                                    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


                                    • #38

                                      I am so sorry for your loss.


                                      Please heed AllWeatherGal's story. Life is too short. If you want to ride YOUR horse, then make it happen. If you have to practice your speech that you want the trainer to hear, then stand in front of your mirror and practice. Practice with the words and expressions that will help your trainer hear you. If he does not hear you, then find a new place. Please go enjoy your horse?
                                      When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!


                                      • #39
                                        If I was paying all that money for a horse I could not even ride...I would NOT be happy. Trust me, and everyone else, when we say there ARE programmes out there with trainers who care about your horses well being and YOUR plans and goals to RIDE YOUR HORSE.

                                        Allweathergal, I cannot even imagine the pain of going through something like that and hope you are taking the time to grieve. I'm so sorry.

                                        OP - Horses will be horses, and stuff like allweathergal described happens ALL THE TIME no matter what precautions we take. Go ride and enjoy your horse. If you feel you cannot address this with the trainer, have your SO or a family member/close friend step in. But really, at the age of 50, you should be able to sit down and have an adult conversation with trainer. If he cannot adhere to your plans, find a new program.
                                        "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                                        "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey


                                        • #40
                                          OP, it sounds like your horse has only had one year of "productive riding", which happened under the current trainer, and in that one year, he has had to undo the damages created by the first trainer first, so essentially this is a horse that has been under saddle for probably six to nine months.

                                          I understand your frustration because I had to go through the same headache too. Essentially I sunk more than 20K, two years, for an non-fancy horse to finally bring him to the stage where he can somehow walk, trot, and canter, all because of his first trainer who utilized French Methods completely ruined him.

                                          That is a long story so I won't bore you here. All I can say is, it is very difficult to ride a young horse. Your horse might look balanced under this trainer, but he is still so incredibly green (as far as productive saddle time is concerned), that it may be dangerous or confidence damaging for you to ride him. I'm speaking from personal experience here, and I have been told by more than one top dressage judges/trainers that my seat is better than many trainers'. Still when I climbed on board this horse that was still learning to balance under the weight of a rider, I was incredibly nervous. Mind you, this is a horse that tries his little heart out, and never does anything bad - when he spooks, it is only tiny spooks, and even that happens rarely. Really it IS difficult to ride a young horse. People who haven't ridden young horses can't tell you how difficult a proposition it is, and how balanced the rider needs to be in order not to scare each other.

                                          I don't have any good advice for you, only that if you don't want to sink more money into this horse, I think you should cut your cost and find yourself one that is more seasoned. There are many nice horses out there you can have more fun with now with a fraction of cost of a warm blood. I went ahead to spend that kind of the money, that I will never be able to recoup because of the emotional attachment I had for him (my first baby - we've been through some serious, life threatening injury), and because I had other horses to ride.
                                          Last edited by Gloria; Nov. 12, 2012, 12:33 PM.