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Training (of the rider) problems.....WWYD?

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  • #21
    The mom sounds like a piece of work . I can't add anything new, I suppose my inclination would be to try to have a conversation with the mom...ask if they are happy there, what their training plans are, etc. Say you are concerned about the misunderstand the other day, and wanted to clarify some things. If mom acts hostile/crazy, then cut meeting short, and give them a 30 day notice the next day.

    If she is amenable to talking, then discuss what happened, and say that as it is your barn, you have a few rules and one of them is no tie downs...that they can be unsafe and are incompatible with your training methods. Then see where the conversation goes.

    You might want to have a professional sign made of barn rules that you can hang up...such as helmets must be worn, no bareback, no tie downs ,etc ( whatever your main rules are, a short list of them) hung in the barn aisle so it is plain to see and directed at everyone and not personal)


    • #22
      The trainer/manager at my barn (She leases it, doesn't own it but same thing), has a sign in her office that says, "My barn, My rules". She is nice but firm, it has to be a difficult job working with boarders and lesson students etc.


      • #23
        Isn't there a saying that "the one who speaks first loses"? Not saying it is win/lose but if you speak to her you are tipping your hand and saying you care more about her staying than your own boundaries. You might cross that bridge if she comes to YOU.
        “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
        ? Albert Einstein


        • #24
          Some good posts...there is no 100% wrong or right advice....you have to do what suits you and feels comfortable and right for you. Look out for your best interests, which include emotional well being as well as financial. Life is too short for drama and tension. If you don't need their $ to survive, it puts you in a much better position.


          • #25
            It would be helpful if your "spectator clause" contains a rule that prohibits parents from interrupting a lesson. They should be seen and not heard and if they cannot be quiet then they should not attend the lesson, period.

            Discussion can take place at a different time. A suggestion that they have a notebook with them to keep track of their questions may help them from blurting out questions or opinions on the spot because they are afraid of forgetting them later.

            Of course, rudeness is a condition that is difficult to "legislate" against. If you do want to give a second chance you should have a private conversation with Mom and lay down the law in no uncertain terms.


            • #26
              I like what others say here. Your teens have BNT-itis. And they're teens they know it all anyway. Now that they rode with a BNT for a summer they're gonna go grand prix next week. Have a private talk with the mother using some logic about why a tie down isn't a good idea and why it screws up the training. Sounds like mom had an earful from the kids and doesn't know any better. Tell mom why these shortcuts are bad, exactly how it sets back training and confidence of horse and rider, and why you don't like it. I'd end it with I don't train with these methods and if you and your girls want to train with gagets and short cuts you will need to find another trainer. I'm sorry for you to go but I can't agree with your new approach. Be nice and professional. You never know when they'll come back to you later with screwed up horses and sad daughters. Wouldn't be the first time and won't be the last.


              • #27
                Do you want to keep her business? that is the first Q to answer.

                If Y: call. Ask if it's a good time to chat. Recount FACTUALLY what happened that day, and what conclusions you've drawn thus far. BE BRIEF. Then ASK: Could you help me understand why you raised your voice to me?
                (if she says I DIDN'T!!!) ....say , Could you help me understand why you said _______to me?

                The point is:
                Stay FACTUAL
                Stay non emotional
                Be open to learning from what she has to say....maybe she's feeling out of sorts about SOMETHING...and your grace and patience will find it, deal with it, heal it, or, in fact, determine that you have no future together, but in a peaceable way.

                It can be done.


                • #28
                  You are at an impasse; you train without gadgets, and now they are married to gadgets. How can you give a lesson if the horse is in restrictive equipment?
                  I would have a talk and explain that you can't teach them in that manner, and if they'd like to use those methods, you can't help them and they need to go elsewhere.
                  As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.


                  • #29
                    Slightly off topic, but maybe a good line to use in the future:

                    I've never used draw-reins, never even held a pair. But I've ridden with trainers that used them. As a working student I was regularly riding the absolute stiffest creature to ever grace the earth. Nothing softened this horse. I thought he might indeed be the one horse on earth that actually needed draw reins. You know, just to "break through" his stiffness so to speak??? When I presented my idea to the Olympic trainer I worked for, I was shot down with one glorious line. "He doesn't need draw reins, he needs better riding." My face must have been priceless. For the 10+ years since, every single time I hear or see draw reins I remember that moment. Three days later she took him away from me and the other working students and started riding him herself five days a week. It took three weeks before he softened. I shudder to think how long I would of been at it!


                    • Original Poster

                      First off, I want to thank everyone for urging me to stick to my guns, training wise. I have used tools in the past. I have seen other trainers use tools quite successfully. However, I do not want people driving by to look into my arena and come to the conclusion that my horses ho the way they do because I tie their noses to their chests.
                      Its a small town/region. Word spreads fast.

                      On the flip side, I realize that Mother Dearest may have a few things to say about me. Loudly and to anyone who will listen. The thought of BNT bad mouthing me makes me giggle since I am literally No one from No Where. It would be like an NFL player tough talking the towel boy.... the towel boy isn't the one who looks stupid.

                      Now, since I know any discussion with MD is going to result in yelling, a method of communication I already know does not work with me, would it be inappropriate of me to contact the father/her husband? He is rarely at Lessons but always At shows and events. Plis , he likely knows how MD is....


                      • #31
                        Imo, inappropriate to contact her husband.

                        If you fear yelling confrontation, how about sending her an email instead? Be honest and say that sometimes it is easier for people to express themselves that way and the purpose of the email is just to clear the air.


                        • #32
                          Tell her at the beginning of the conversation that yelling will not be tolerated as part of the conversation. If she starts to yell hand her the 30 day notice and walk away.
                          You need to calmly state up front that you will not tolerate being yelled at and spoken to loudly or aggresively.
                          Try to have the meeting sitting down. When two people are standing up the agressive person is much more likely to get into the other person's personal space. Much harder to do in chairs. If she stands up you stand up, quickly and state to her to sit down or this meeting is done. If she does not sit down and either yells or gets in your personal space hand her the 30 day notice. Do not let her stand over you while you are seated.

                          If all else fails wack her with a carrot stick.
                          Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


                          • #33
                            Email or phone (which you can hang up if she starts yelling); I agree that it's inappropriate to contact the husband, especially if the discussion is going to involve the wife's behavior at your barn. She's not his child to correct, she's a grown woman and your client.
                            Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia


                            • #34

                              Dear MD: I really enjoy teaching your lovely daughters. You clearly have raised them to be thinking, inquisitive, kind learners who care so much about their horses and work hard to constantly improve! Seems like those traits are pretty hard to come by these days! Mary is growing up so quickly and with her skill and interest in training she should look into the xxxx clinic in xxxxxx next year! Allison is also an amazing rider and the bond she has with her horse shows just how much she enjoys animals!

                              I am concerned about a few things and wanted to discuss them with you and ask for your help. First, I saw Mary using a tie down the other day. I do realize that your daughters train with BNT during the summers and they obviously learn so much. As you know, there is more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. While I respect the philosophies of BNT, my own training philosophy doesn't support the use of tie downs. I also don't use x, y, or z, so I won't use them on my farm. I also won't allow the use of them by any of my boarders or students for liability purposes. However, I so understand Mary's wanting to train Dobbin to go with a more (fill in the blank; I have no clue what a tie down is or what it might accomplish ), and the way my training philosophies work, we can do x, y, and z in our next lessons and I would like Allison to observe Mary's lesson so that we can further discuss how x, y, and z can really help Dobbin, then Mary can help Allison when they are riding outside of lessons. (I forget exactly how this scenario went bit the gist is here).

                              I also usually ask parents/others to watch lessons and discuss any questions with me afterwards, in privacy if the situation dictates. Kids are so impressionable, and in order to train your girls properly, we need to all be on the same team and present a united front! I realize that I may have said some things that you don't agree with, so I'm open to hearing your thoughts. I think this would best be accomplished over coffee or a Gatorade, but it is a conversation that we should have when your daughters are not present. It must be confusing for all of you to have two sets of training philosophies but I assure you that this situation isn't that uncommon in the horse world, and I am confident that we can work it out.

                              Going forward, I will ask that any confrontation is avoided and we instead talk privately about any issues. This is my place of business and my home, and I work hard to keep a peaceful environment.

                              I'm excited about coaching Allison (?) at regionals and I can't wait to celebrate afterwards with her! Those girls work so hard and you all should be incredibly proud!


                              Gotta run. Good luck. That's the email I would send. In my business world, there are twelve opinions and each "client" has looked them all up on the Internet and knows everything. Diplomacy works better than in your face "look, you're paying me for my expertise so go elsewhere if you don't agree." (And im not suggesting that uou would ever say that.). It's simply BECAUSE they are not experts (and you ARE in this situation so don't sell yourself short) that they question and try other gimmicks. Human nature.

                              Give her every opportunity to save face. She made a fool out of herself and although you are PERFECTLY within your rights to bring this up, if she is at all self aware she will realize the opportunity you are giving her to act like a grown up this time around and she will thank you for it. However, repeated displays of behavior warrant immediate action.

                              Take the high road-never know what her situation is, what financial/other issues she is struggling with, and how long it will take her to realize the gift you are giving by training and being a positive role model for the girls. They need to see this handled like a pro and an adult. Plus if she pulls them out, the lesson to the kids is don't work hard to solve problems first, just move and start over.

                              You can always fire them later if she continues. But at least you have fair warning. And you may need to be more specific during the coffee conversation.
                              Keep us updated!!
                              LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...


                              • #35
                                I wouldn't involve DH; he wasn't there, and she will likely get steamed that you are doing an end run around her.

                                My DH would be utterly confused why BM was contacting him - most likely, he would think I fell off again and was dead, because that's pretty much the only scenario in which BM would talk to him instead of me directly

                                I've had pretty good luck with letting screamers or overtalkers just get it all out, then going back and addressing the points one by one. Plus, loud overtalkers are USED to people trying to talk over them or getting annoyed that they can't get a word in edgewise; when you let them just keep going and going, eventually they wind down in confusion, and then you can respond calmly & professionally.

                                It also helps that I pull the "southern dumb blonde" off really well, all sunshine and pleasantness. So when I do get quiet and silent and stern, it tends to make people very nervous . . .

                                I had one investigation that I ended up having to call the owner three times before I could coordinate a time to come out & see her horse. The first time, she hung up on me; I wrote up our conversation in my report, and mailed her a copy with a note that said "So sorry we got disconnected, darn cell phones!" . The second time, she was en route somewhere and couldn't commit to a date. The third time, we agreed on a date but then she started with "Don't be trying to sneak in one of those cell phone cameras!".

                                I had had just about enough. "Ms. X, I have been nothing but professional and courteous in all of our conversations. I WILL be bringing my cell phone in with me, as we have had investigators threatened with dogs and firearms in the past. Now we can accomplish my visit pleasantly, in 10 minutes, or I can have the sheriff accompany me out, and sit in your driveway (on a very busy, public road) for the safety of my partner and I - your choice."

                                When my partner and I arrived, Ms. X walked up to me and said "You know what? You handled this tough old b!tch really well" and shook my hand. Whew! I've heard from several people in the horse world that she continues to speak very nicely of me, even years later. (And the horse in question was fine, older than dirt, but getting all the food & feed he could handle and under a vet's care.)
                                "Let's face it -- Beezie Madden is NOT looking over her shoulder for me anytime
                                soon . . . or ever, even in her worst nightmares."

                                Member, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by hAlterTagLoser View Post
                                  Now, since I know any discussion with MD is going to result in yelling, a method of communication I already know does not work with me, would it be inappropriate of me to contact the father/her husband? He is rarely at Lessons but always At shows and events. Plis , he likely knows how MD is....
                                  Yes, that's inappropriate. You are an adult and a professional. You must do business (even ending it) with the person who has paid you. And one of the gifts of feminism (besides women being able to make a living at things previously closed to them) is that women aren't second to their husbands in terms of doing business. In short, then, no, you can't go around PITA Mom.

                                  Bottom line. Do you want this family out of your barn and lesson program or not?

                                  If you don't:

                                  1. In your mind, allow Mom one bad day.
                                  2. Have a steely-eyed and private discussion with her in which you tell her that you won't do that yelling thing again and that if she does, she can leave, pronto.

                                  Heck, she may decide to leave for you.

                                  If you do want them to leave, the adult thing to do is to give them 30 days notice in person with the same information in writing. Tell them you are sorry things won't work out and wish them the best in finding the other trainer.

                                  I think your beef is (or ought to be) the Mom ripping you a new one. That she was ripping you a new one about the methods of a BNT or those not being classical. IMO, that's you being indignant with us. Whatever.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by hAlterTagLoser View Post
                                    Mother Dearest stood up and yelled at me, saying that they knew what they were doing and what I was teaching obviously wasn't working and her younger daughter doesn't want to ride.
                                    This is really the crux of things isn't it.....MD has spent big bucks for her younger daughter's horse from BNT...Daughter doesn't want to ride it....MD is most likely feeling like she made a huge outlay for nothing...I imagine sending 2 girls off for a summer was not cheap and expects that for that kind of money, BNT knows her stuff....

                                    However, she is no longer at BNT...She is back with you....You have a philosophy you believe in and it sounds like a lot of patience...You mention that she is normally loud...Well she has just shown you how loud and ugly she can be....From what you have stated, you are in this as a secondary business, for the love of the horse and the sport....You have a wait list....

                                    If you allow them to stay without at least addressing her outburst, it sets a tone that will cause you agita every time you see this woman and it allows her to think she can speak to you in that manner...That is not how I would want to enter the barn on a daily basis....

                                    If she really thinks "they know what they are doing", then you will be fighting an uphill battle with her....IDK, life is too short to butt heads when you don't have to...

                                    I would be prepared to let them go....I think I would perhaps talk to the girls and let them know that you have enjoyed their time with you, but the time has come to go your separate ways...Tell them what you feel is fair for them to know as to why...Said with kindness, they will come to respect you being honest with them...They will see that it is their mother's behavior and not them that has caused a problem....

                                    Good luck to you....
                                    Crayola Posse: Mulberry


                                    • Original Poster

                                      First off, sorry about all of the typos in my morning post. As it would turn out, I am not quite as proficient at typing on my phone, even if the barn during breakfast is a soothing place to be.

                                      Anyway, just a quick reply while I am on my lunch break.

                                      MVP, I am not trying to be indignant with anyone. I honestly appreciate the feedback from so many uninvolved parties. The beauty of CoTH is that I can get feedback from people who do not know all about - or have a history with- the parties involved. I am attempting to sort out what to say and just how to say it without coming off wrong, confrontational or being a doormat. It's a learning process for me as well.

                                      As I sit now, with two days of thought and many helpful replies, I really have two points to address with Mother Dearest and family. One: Yelling is an inappropriate form of communication. Period. Two: I will not be changing how I teach to accommodate the added equipment for a shorter time frame to 'success'. If they feel that is unacceptable, then they should move on.

                                      I am planning an email today to lay out my thoughts and set up a meeting with MD tomorrow, and I very much hope that she will have reflected on her behavior and we can let bygones be bygones. I very much enjoy teaching her daughters; both are polite and try very hard and seem to truly enjoy their time with the horses. Both are progressing well... I think that sometimes people forget that this is not an overnight, or one month or even one year sport. This is a long term project.


                                      • #39
                                        One tip, bring perhaps a snack and soda or take out coffee to the meeting...it gives people something to do, sets a friendly tone, makes people sit instead of stand etc.


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by Countrywood View Post
                                          One tip, bring perhaps a snack and soda or take out coffee to the meeting...it gives people something to do, sets a friendly tone, makes people sit instead of stand etc.
                                          And you can always throw it in MD's face if she yells at you again