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Can This Trainer Relationship Be Saved?

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  • I have a horse here with a medical/soundness concern. vet wants it ridden a certain way to help it get stronger and sounder. This condition can make the horse unpredicable sometimes that makes it unsuitable right now for owner, and owner is unable to ride that horse the way it needs to be ridden, so I ride it for the most part. She might ride it for 20-30 minutes after I warm it up, but she does not ride it on her own.

    Am I taking owner for a ride? Or did owner make a mistake buying this horse? Or did horse develope an issue that means it needs a more experienced rider for a while?

    I am sure friends of my owner are likely also wondering why she pays for a horse she pretty much can't ride, but that is her choice. If she decided she wanted to take on the riding 100% I am not sure what my reaction would be as that would likely set back the rehab of the horse, and put the owner in higher risk position...fortunately she is well aware of horse horse can be on an off day. (not saying that is what the OP wants).

    OP, does your trainer have another horse that you could ride once or twice a week to develope your fitness and skills to be ready for your horse?
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      OK, for those who have been critical of my decision not to (a) sell my horse and (b) dump this trainer in favor of continuing to be a compliant doormat, I just want to say that I am trying to do what’s best for the horse as I am responsible for her condition. That means I have to try to work with this guy in as constructive a fashion as I can muster because if I don’t, the man can tell me to take my horse and get lost. If I knew of someone else in my area who is as good as he is, but is more willing to involve me in the process, I would move in a flash. Unfortunately, that option is not available and I don’t have the skill necessary to rehab the horse myself. Could I sell the horse now? Maybe, but how ethical would that be to either the horse or the new owner?

      Despite those who may think otherwise, I do not enjoy writing out large checks every month just to be ignored unless I have time scheduled with this trainer. Short of pinning him in a corner and yelling at him, I have done everything I can think of to let him know my concerns – he knows what they are and he doesn’t care. I’m sure some of you can relate to the fact that there are few outlets for such a frustrating situation – you can’t bitch about it at the barn because it’ll get back to the trainer, your non-horsey husband, family and friends find the whole subject boring and if you mention it to other friends in the local horse community, you run the risk of being labeled a malcontent/slanderer or worse. I desperately needed an outlet, so I posted here. I appreciate very much the advice and encouragement that’s been offered. Since I’m new on this site, I don’t know if there’s a way to close a thread, so please let me know if there is – thank you.

      Comment


      • OP, you asked if the relationship could be fixed. If he won't communicate with you and doesn't respect your wishes, then no.

        I know you want the horse fixed. Does she HAVE to be in dressage training to get "fixed?" It doesn't sound like she has a physical problem that requires dressage training. Are there other disciplines where you are that she could train in for a while then bring her back to dressage.

        Think of it like a person that trains for a discipline. Sometimes the harder you train at something, the worse you get because you need a break from it, both mentally and physically.

        Comment


        • OP, I have read most of the thread and I applaud you for having tried so hard to find a situation which is right for your mare. I understand exactly why you do not consider selling her an option, so the issue that remains is: what IS right for her (and me).

          You are now in a position where your horse is sore, even though she is being ridden by a good trainer who is teaching her well. -- Does it sound like she is trying to tell you something? Like, maybe what she needs is to stop with the dressage training at least for a while, if not for good.

          You have mentioned that you want to have fun and enjoy her. To me, that means that the horse must enjoy being ridden and want to please. If she lives in a constant state of pain, she cannot do that, no matter who is riding or how well she is trained.

          My advice is to move her -- not because of what this trainer is or is not doing, but because she is talking to you (screaming, really) that the situation does not suit her. You cannot fit a square peg into a round hole. If she is not suited (either talent wise, emotionaly or physically) for dressage, then your job as her mother is to ask her what she wants to do.

          I have the t-shirt in this situation. 9 years ago I bought a fancy weanling. I wanted him to be a AA level amateur owner hunter. Whoops! Seems that life in the hunter ring was not in his contract. (He was too big boned and jumped the top of the standards. He just cantered over lower fences.) So I turned him over to a jumper trainer to see if that was his forte. He was really good, but the pro said he would never be a GP horse, and, since he was such a lovely mover, why not see if he would excel in dressage.

          So, off we went to a dressage trainer. Who loved him. Thought he could go far. But I know my horse and I could see his attitude and demeanor start to change for the worse. He did not like life as a dressage horse.

          So, we moved to an Eventing barn and I think he has finally found his calling. Variation in his schedule, a sport that tops out at 1.30m jumping (easy for him), Intermediare dressage (easy for him) and cross country jumping (like desert for him)

          I am too old (63) to start a new discipline so I have turned into his groom, feeder of peppermints and chief clapper at ringside. -- Not what I thought would happen when I bought him, but I have a happy horse who has a chance to become very successful. He is happy so I am happy.

          Buying a weanling entails a lot of luck that the horse will turn out to be happy and good at what you want to do. Remember the maxim: You can never go wrong if you do right by the horse . And, it sounds like "doing right by her" means finding out what she is good at, what makes her happy and what her body can cope with safely. When you have found that out, see if it also makes you happy. If not, then you will have a pain free horse who has some training in another discipline and who (if you want to) will be saleable.
          "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

          Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump

          Comment


          • Good advice from Lord Helpus.

            OP- (((HUGS)))
            Unrepentant carb eater

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Lord Helpus View Post
              Remember the maxim: You can never go wrong if you do right by the horse
              Of course.

              But one should not forget himself in the process.

              The OP is not happy.

              OP, your obligation toward your horse is to do what's best for it. What if the best solution would be to sell the horse to a good family who would take the best care this horse could wish for and meet the new owner's dream#goal#needs?

              Do you think you are the only owner who could take good care of that horse?
              Yo could sell this horse with full disclosure to a good family who will be happy to train and pay for this horse.
              ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

              Originally posted by LauraKY
              I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
              HORSING mobile training app

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Judysmom View Post
                Good advice from Lord Helpus.

                OP- (((HUGS)))
                Yes...except the whole thing about not doing dressage. EVERY horse can do lower level dressage and they should not be in pain while doing it.
                So, the question is, is this trainer doing GOOD dressage?

                Comment


                • Basie-

                  I applaud you for doing right by your horse. It sounds like you have been through some tricky things with her, and I really appreciate that you feel responsible for her well being. I really feel like this is an investment in a wonderful future you will have with your mare. If it makes you feel any better, your trainer is most certainly not the first male of our species who doesn't exactly excel in communication.

                  Since you asked for videos, here are some of my favorites:

                  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1762791A4F0D7018

                  This is the ESDCTA New Test Clinic (the enitre thing) from 2007. The specific test info isn't relevant anymore, but it's really full of great training by Steffen Peters and judging/test riding advice from Janet Foy. If you watched the Stephen Colbert dressage lesson this summer, keep your eyes peeled for Conchita in the GP section (spoiler alert: Steffen rides her...and she looks amazing!)



                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuIAodN4qrE

                  I also really admire Edward Gal. He has a beautiful position and a reall knack for training difficult horses to be soft and responsive. The mare he rides in this masterclass is obviously quite sensitive and a little concerned about being in the big arena, but you can tell that with his soft, consistent riding, she settles in and gives him some really beautiful work. Watch his position and how he stays so nicely balanced with his body in perfect alignment.

                  You also may want to consider some Pilates or Alexander Technique lessons while your horse is working with your trainer. These will improve your balance and body control and hopefully make riding much more enjoyable! You don't necessarily have to be in the saddle to become a better rider.

                  I'm at my day job right now (and by that I mean watching dressage videos on youtube and posting on coth), so if I run into any other good ones, I'll be sure to post!

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Basie View Post
                    If I knew of someone else in my area who is as good as he is, but is more willing to involve me in the process, I would move in a flash. Unfortunately, that option is not available and I don’t have the skill necessary to rehab the horse myself.
                    I've been in a similar boat as you. I bought a horse and kept it at a breed barn with intentions of showing at breed sanctioned shows. The horse and I just couldn't get along, the horse had soreness issues, the trainers wanted to restrict my riding so they could "get the horse right for me." All the while I'm writing checks and not doing much riding, growing or progressing. Just hemoraging funds. At some point you apply the tourniquet.

                    There's nothing wrong with taking this mare to a boarding facility that will just turn her out and let her be a horse for a while. If her back and hocks are sore, that may be the best thing you could do for her. Let her have some time off, and in the meantime, use the money you've been spending on her training to either buy lessons or lease a horse you can ride now, and while you're doing that maybe the answer will come to you as far as what to do. Could be the best thing for both of you. Good luck!

                    Comment


                    • This thread is making me very sad. OP, you originally said you didn't have any upper level goals. To me that says it all. If you and/or your horse don't have the potential or "want" to reach the upper levels then this is all nonsense. You bought a horse to ENJOY! Go do it! My horse and I may never even enter a show ring - I don't care. We "do" dressage to improve both of us. And it has. I still think I'm the world's worst rider but I'm way, way better than I was 7 years ago.

                      I don't know you or your horse but I feel badly for both of you. You're missing out on the best part of owning a horse - earning its trust and establishing a relationship.

                      Please find another barn - one where you can take lessons and just go outside and trail ride. There's more to horses than dressage.

                      Good luck!

                      Comment


                      • This thread is making me very sad. OP, you originally said you didn't have any upper level goals. To me that says it all. If you and/or your horse don't have the potential or "want" to reach the upper levels then this is all nonsense. You bought a horse to ENJOY! Go do it! My horse and I may never even enter a show ring - I don't care. We "do" dressage to improve both of us. And it has. I still think I'm the world's worst rider but I'm way, way better than I was 7 years ago.

                        I don't know you or your horse but I feel badly for both of you. You're missing out on the best part of owning a horse - earning its trust and establishing a relationship.

                        Please find another barn - one where you can take lessons and just go outside and trail ride. There's more to horses than dressage.

                        Good luck!

                        Comment


                        • OP, I just also wanted to add that if you take your mare out of training and just field board her somewhere, you can easily do that without burning any bridges with this trainer. I know many are telling you to run from this guy like your pants are on fire, but I also understand how it is living in a rural area with limited choices. I've found sevral trainers who don't "fit the bill" perfectly, but there is usually something I can take/learn from them, so I'm careful not to leave on poor terms. You never know if/when you might need to call them for something or go back for a lesson or whatever. Just thank the trainer for his time and efforts, and let him know that you are taking some time to let your horse relax and hopefully recover from the soreness and that you're going to use the time to work on yourself as a rider. He might even have a suggestion as far as a lease or a lesson plan for you. Good luck!

                          Comment


                          • ^this is very good advice. IME this is simply not the black/white issue people are making it out to be. And quite frankly, I applaud the OP for at least seriously taking into account this horses well being in her decision making. Because no... You dont have " the right " to ride a horse just because you own it. Well, you do, legally. You can do anything you want to livestock, for the most part. But ethically if you are doing the horse more harm than good, you should not. And I think that is the question the OP is trying to answer for herself, and it takes a lot of examination from many directions to get to that next level of thinking. So good on her, for taking the time and effort to look at it from all perspectives instead of it just being about what she wants. That is only one factor - an important one, yes, but only one.
                            "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                            ---
                            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

                            Comment


                            • It's sad to me, but I think a lot of trainers have this attitude. In fact, I thought for several days that the OP was written about my trainer!

                              I've actually known him to require a person to set up and pay for a "lesson" just to talk about, for instance, showing goals. For a client horse that the TRAINER HIMSELF shows! Most of us get our questions/concerns addressed during our lesson time; but rarely does anyone get a "chat" session with him off the clock.

                              At least in my case, I'm pretty sure it's due to a few different things:
                              1) the trainer not really having good personal-communication skills
                              2) the trainer believing HE is really THAT busy (he's not)
                              3) the trainer having a bit of an attitude that "these people aren't worth my time."
                              4) Oh, and the biggest contributor, he has literally no competition around here: if you want someone who's a decent dressage rider, trainer, and/or teacher, he's your only option within 100 miles. And honestly, we have no eventing or h/j scene here either, so he's pretty much it. And he's VERY good! But not good at the customer-service side of the business.

                              I think it says a LOT more about the treatment that we as customers will allow, especially when we KNOW there's nobody "better" to go to.

                              I took my horse home and pasture-boarded him; I do miss lessoning and having "goals," but honestly I'm a lot happier not being treated like a cog in someone else's wheel.

                              I've also seen my trainers give another client the run-around: your horse is dangerous, you're not a good enough rider yet, the horse isn't "ready," etc. Usually, in their case, it's code for "we'd like you to buy something else so that you fit better in our program."

                              The one time I knew my trainer to tell a client that her horse was dangerous; well, it just wasn't true. The horse is fine, but frankly neither client nor horse "fit" into his program. They're happier now, doing their own thing at a boarding barn, and taking occasional lessons.
                              Last edited by Kadenz; Dec. 12, 2012, 11:34 AM. Reason: typos

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Lord Helpus View Post
                                I have the t-shirt in this situation. 9 years ago I bought a fancy weanling. I wanted him to be a AA level amateur owner hunter. Whoops! Seems that life in the hunter ring was not in his contract. (He was too big boned and jumped the top of the standards. He just cantered over lower fences.) So I turned him over to a jumper trainer to see if that was his forte. He was really good, but the pro said he would never be a GP horse, and, since he was such a lovely mover, why not see if he would excel in dressage.

                                So, off we went to a dressage trainer. Who loved him. Thought he could go far. But I know my horse and I could see his attitude and demeanor start to change for the worse. He did not like life as a dressage horse.

                                So, we moved to an Eventing barn and I think he has finally found his calling. Variation in his schedule, a sport that tops out at 1.30m jumping (easy for him), Intermediare dressage (easy for him) and cross country jumping (like desert for him)

                                I am too old (63) to start a new discipline so I have turned into his groom, feeder of peppermints and chief clapper at ringside. -- Not what I thought would happen when I bought him, but I have a happy horse who has a chance to become very successful. He is happy so I am happy.

                                THIS!

                                OP, I applaud you to do the best by your horse. To many people dump the horse and buy another because their goal is the discipline, not the horse.

                                You love your horse, you want to do right by her. Her calling maybe isn't the focused routine of dressage. She may want to jump, or drive, or heaven-forbid - trail ride.

                                Pull her out, find a place where you have more hands-on work with her, and get to know her. I think you'll find that you are a far better horseman than you think you are when you let youself listen to her, and not to an intermediary.

                                Horses are remarkably agreeable, and definately want to talk if you will listen. Go slow, and don't be unsafe, but both of you need to catch your breath and heave a deep sigh.

                                There are many, many riding disciplines out there, and frankly, all of them have something good to offer. Don't think dressage is the only game in town.
                                The truth is always in the middle.

                                Comment

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