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

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

    Alright, sorry for the obvious alter, but I really don't know who reads this.... and we all know the CoTH community, though wise and resourceful, can also be petty and mean. Horse people are crazy, right?

    Anyway, I am a very small, no name trainer who has done well with several of my own young horses. I do have a separate profession, but was pressed into training riders because I am, and I mean this modestly, the only dressage trainer in the area and one of the best riders/ trainers in the area. Sad but true.

    I have a pair of sisters who take lessons from me. The teenager had a young, green less than athletic horse. That horse is now capable of mid to high 70's at recognized shows. No problem there. The preteen has a trained young horse purchased for $$$ from a BNT. Here is my issue.

    The girls summered with BNT, returning to my area just in time for school. Since then I have noticed a marked difference in our training philosophies. I do not consider myself 'classical', but I was taught by talented,competent and kind trainers to create happy healthy athletes with very limited application of auxiliary tools (draw reins, side reins, martingales or tie downs). Judging by what I am seeing, BNT had other ideas.

    All of this is simply background. I'm open to new training ideas, even if I never plan to implement them. Different strokes for different folks.

    I went out after my 'real' job to teach, and the older girls was riding the younger girls horse with a tie down. Horse has a tendency to get a short tense neck when faking the 'round'. I asked the to explain what the tied own was doing for her and the horse and 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.

    Now, I have to admit a personal shortcoming here. When someone acts aggressively towards me in word or body language, I go all stone faced and emotionless (a tactic that used to irritate my dad, perfected in the way back when I too was a teenager). MD then yelled, while aggressively leaning into me, how I was supposed to teach her younger daughter and what she thinks I should teach her daughter. I did my best to remain cool... the teenager WAS in the ring with us, and I feel that adults should act in a calm professional manner in front of teens and horses.

    MD then called me rude (I think she would have rather called me a bitch) and stormed off. I gave the teenager the lesson MD asked for and left without seeing MD again.

    So, what would you do? On one hand, people have bad days and I'm tempted to sweep this episode under the rug. On the other hand, I strenuously object to being treated like that on my own property.

    There's the biggest issue. This woman and her daughters keep her horses on my farm.

    So, great wisdom of CoTH, what would you do if you were me? Stop teaching the youngest this close to the regional championships? Hand MD her 30 days notice? Apologize and truss up the poor have horse in side reins and gadgets?
    I need help before I see MD again.

  • #2
    You teach them your way or they go somewhere else. I have no idea what MD signifies in this context.
    McDowell Racing Stables

    Home Away From Home


    • #3
      MD= Mother Dearest

      Cut them loose. It is a losing battle
      "Listen to your mind. It has a whole lot more brain cells than your heart does." - SillyHorse


      • #4
        agree with Laurie - You teach in your manner and they can stay or go - their choice.

        However, I would be inclined to have a discussion with Mommie Dearest and explain to her in a professional manner what you expect from your clients (adult behavior etc) and that you train in a certain manner and that if they are interested in training in a different manner they are welcome to go elsewhere.

        I would allow them to go without a 30 day notice if I were you because i sure would not want that drama in my barn.
        If they want to stay you need to have some ground rules.

        Good luck.


        • #5
          Tough one. Everyone can have a bad day, if the relationship has been good in the past. I would wait for a calm moment and have a private conversation with MD. The way I would approach is "there are lots of training philosophies, I am happy to have a reasonable discussion with you but I can't have yelling and drama." See where it goes from there, be prepared to either accept an apology or give them notice.

          Honestly it depends on whether you feel you can help them, if you need the income and what you are willing to tolerate. I would have all that sorted out in my head prior to the conversation so that you can calmly reply to whatever direction she heads off in.


          • #6
            Now, I have to admit a personal shortcoming here. When someone acts aggressively towards me in word or body language, I go all stone faced and emotionless (a tactic that used to irritate my dad, perfected in the way back when I too was a teenager). MD then yelled, while aggressively leaning into me, how I was supposed to teach her younger daughter and what she thinks I should teach her daughter. I did my best to remain cool... the teenager WAS in the ring with us, and I feel that adults should act in a calm professional manner in front of teens and horses.
            Not seeing this as a shortcoming; getting right back in her face at the same level of hostility would be a shortcoming.

            ETA: I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt at least once. Perhaps MD was having an off day, or stressed about her best friend's cancer diagnosis, or the dog ate a bag of chocolate chips off the counter. A reasonable conversation the next time you see her should tell you if this is a one-time occurrence, or how she intends to act moving forward (and you may already know if she's a wench and just too mannerly to tell us ).

            Continue on with your lessons as you have been, with the same tack (or lack thereof) that you have been.

            If MD doesn't like it, she can haul whichever DD + horse back to BNT to train.

            And frankly, if PreTeen is anything like my own 13yoDD, she will change her mind 1,000 times about liking/not liking horses. It has nothing to do with you.
            Last edited by 2horseygirls; Sep. 10, 2013, 12:53 PM.
            "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


            • #7
              Provided you won't go broke doing so, I'd give them their 30-days notice and cease providing lessons immediately. Training-philosophy differences aside, I would not put up with being treated that disrespectfully by any one, at any time, no matter how bad of a day they are having. If you need the money then you might have to suck it up, but it sounds like the horse stuff is an auxiliary to your main job and it sounds like you're doing it out of a sense of duty to the dressage community in your area. We all have limited time and energy. Why waste it on people like that?


              • #8
                They chose you as a trainer, your methods have not changed. MD needs to either respect that or find another trainer.

                Though I will use a chambon on occasion, I agree that most training (if not all) should be done without gadgets.
                My herd for life:
                King: 21 year old Foxtrotter gelding
                Ruais: 8 year old Friesian/Arabian mare


                • #9
                  I am older than dirt. I know what I am doing. I do not allow tie downs, draw reins and other gimmicks on my farm. I consider them dangerous, especially in the hands of children. Now I may one day eat those words but for now I stand my ground.

                  I would not tolerate being yelled at by anyone. You said you have another job? We should never take abuse for money. If we do it should be for a great deal of money! Life is too short and for me, teaching and horses are almost a truly spiritual experience not to be sullied by blind ambition.

                  THAT said, I am loud by nature. I know people think I am sometimes yelling when I am not hearing it. Could be from years of teaching? Is this woman normally loud? As a kid we had neighbors that were loud and some that were church mice. Now it isn't PC to be loud. Good, buy me a sound system. I may get used to it and talk much more quietly. I may not. In all fairness I was born mousy and vocally challenged and made to speak much louder when I truly wanted to be invisible. Sigh. You can't please everybody.

                  If she was trying to control you, which is what it sounds like, smile and say you don't have any assistant trainers positions open. Tell her sweetly you do believe that she and her daughters would be happier elsewhere. Bless their hearts.

                  It isn't going to get better.
                  “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
                  ? Albert Einstein


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by hAlterTagLoser View Post
                    So, great wisdom of CoTH, what would you do if you were me? Stop teaching the youngest this close to the regional championships? Hand MD her 30 days notice? Apologize and truss up the poor have horse in side reins and gadgets?
                    I need help before I see MD again.
                    Consider 1st if you are OK with losing the income presented by this family - & also realize that if you send them on down the road there will be some fallout (from MD), BUT this is going to happen anyway at whatever time so just consider how best to manage this.

                    Assuming you are not dependent on the income, arrange a meeting with all involved & explain your philosophy of training & why you don't manage horses in this way - give them a chance to explain why they are managing their horse this way: perhaps you will work out a compromise re gradually getting horse free of gadgets ... if this is not forthcoming, then calmly let them know that they need to find another situation for their horses, that you will continue to train etc until they leave, that they are free to trailer out to the BNT for lessons if they choose, but you have a closed barn so no other trainers at your facility etc, etc ...

                    Based upon your description of events, things will be rather messy but remain calm, make sure everything is backed up in writing, let them know that there are cameras on the property to provide security for the horses etc (assuming you don't have a day person at the barn).

                    Sometimes it's best to just lie to get out of things as lightly as possible, e.g., horse is just beyond your teaching & they really should return to the BNT & go with a recommended trainer from that program etc, etc - likely you do not want to deal with the fallout from having MD or the BNT go off on you publicly at show venues, tack shops etc, so try to end the relationship with as little antagonism as possible.

                    Re a 30 day notice, go with whatever is in your contract, or just move them to a daily rate with the understanding that Date X is the "removal" day ...

                    OTOH everything may also resolve with a bit of patience on your part, if they are generally good people & you like the kids & the horses, I'd give it some time, e.g., no confrontations on your side until Sept 30.


                    • #11
                      First: Let me congratulate you on not returning equal fire. It took me many years to realize that you can't reason with unreasonable people.

                      Some times trainers look to produce maximum "visible" effect in a minimal amount of time, and many have no patience teaching the basics. As long a MD and senior daughter are enthralled with BNT and her methods, you are wasting your breath.

                      You have two choices, either give them their walking papers, or take their board, ignore their arena activity, and wait until things, as they will, fall apart on them.
                      Then you can decide if you want to teach them again.
                      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

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


                      • #12
                        First, when MD started yelling at me, when she stopped the first time I would have quietly and calmly told her that I was more than willing to discuss this with her as adults. However, if she continued to yell at me, I was going to ignore her until she could regain control of herself.

                        Under no circumstances would I ever let someone chew me out like that, certainly not on my own place. If the MD has a problem with treating you like an adult and with the respect you deserve, tell her she's welcome to move on down the road and see if someone else likes to put up with that kind of abuse.


                        • #13
                          I think being exposed to other training methods might have whetted their appetite for a quick fix kind of training style. Personally, I feel once someone attacks like that it is a sign of lost respect, rightly or wrongly. I don't know if this can be salvaged and I wonder if the mom and kids might be packing to leave as we speak. I think you need to have a discussion about "barn decorum" and the behaviors you are willing to have at your barn. You're not asking for much which is what is so alarming to me. You want civility, and you want to have your advice as a trainer considered and respected. If they can't be adhere to these two foundations of any trainer/client relationship, it's better to cut them loose. If they stay they will create an atmosphere of disrespect and dissatisfaction that could impact your other clients. I think that you need to channel Nurse Ratchet from One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest when you have this conversation. Any antics will be spread around your local community.
                          Dressage, riding, sport horse blog
                          Unique browbands for dressage and hunter riders


                          • #14
                            Gimmiks! We love those.

                            I'm currently helping a friend of mine with her jumping. I assisted her for the whole regional show season and she ended up qualifying for the final.
                            The counter part is that she also take lessons from a dresssge trainer who have her ride with draw reins... My friend thinks draw reins are Amazing! While I don't.
                            I told her my opinion and when she wants to warm up before our jumping sessions, I just don't 'coach' her until she takes them off and she is ready to jump. I told her I just don't see what I could say to help her riding when she has draw reins as the horse doesn't need them at all.

                            So maybe a compromise is in order but if I were you, I would not allow gimmicks in your lessons. You are not there to teach bad habits!

                            As for the MD, you'll need to have a private discussion and I would be incline to give them their 30 days notice as well...
                            ~ 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


                            • #15
                              I think this falls under the 'your barn your rules' category. How you want to deal with that is up to you but it is very fair to say that you will not put up with a parent yelling at you during a lesson or at your facility. It is also fair to say that while in a lesson you will teach the way you teach and if they do not like that method they are free to go somewhere else.


                              • #16
                                Wow. Definitely seems uncalled for and I would be tempted to just give her the boot, but as a business owner it probably warrants a sit down and discussion. However, if the woman can't see eye to eye with you, then I think its time to hand them their notice.


                                • #17
                                  Hard to read but, I wonder if she has just realized that they wasted a lot of money with the BNT and is frustrated? No reason to take it out on you of course but could explain her blow up. Although I'm not a professional horse person, I do deal with parent's all the time. We sometimes see angry parents who are really frustrated with their children but can't say that to us. I would have a chat with her about your expectations and reasons you don't use gadgets. If you need to, you can couch it in safety terms, both the objection to gadgets and the yelling.
                                  Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Ok, sorry if I miss something... I couldn't get that darn multi-quote thing to work.

                                    First point: I am not dependent on my horse 'income'. I started teaching because I had several young ladies who approached me and begged for dressage lessons. I discovered that I enjoy the process of developing riders nearly as much as I enjoy developing my own horses, so I got my insurance in order and offered lessons. I currently have more students asking for lessons than my limited schedule will allow. Which may be why I resent the set down, when I could have been offering my time to others who are more appreciative (or at least less adversarial).

                                    Holly Jeanne,
                                    I think you may have hit the nail on the head. Horses are expensive and Mother Dearest is friends with another student's family, who is pursuing their dressage goals on a more limited budget. Dance moms, Dressage edition?

                                    I am not loud by nature, though teaching has definitely taught me to project. OTOH, Mother Dearest is loud by nature; the type who is not afraid to make a scene. I knew this about her, and have seen her in action. Come to find out, it's much less pleasant when she's making a scene directed at me! If she was simply loud, but relaxed then I wouldn't take offense.

                                    Ironically, I do make all of my students (predominately teenaged girls) sign a behavior clause in their lesson agreement. I even make the parent's sign a 'spectator clause' to prevent parent coaching over me (happens rarely now). If the Daughter had talked to me in the tone that her mother used, she would have been off that horse and out of the arena! I'll admit I was shocked and speechless at the time of Mother Dearest's outburst and in hindsight, wish I had acted differently.

                                    Thanks for the CoTH wisdom. I guess I'm not imagining things and overreacting to imagined slights if the Powers at CoTH agree.
                                    Unfortunately, now I have to go draft a Dear John letter, trainer style. I feel bad for the kids, but I suppose they are used to their Mother's style by now.


                                    • #19
                                      Perhaps just reminding her about the spectator clause, if this is the first SERIOUS blowup. Loud is just loud; I have a dear friend who will never meet my father because her natural volume + his tinnitus = don't-even-want-to-think-about-it!

                                      Feel free to post around the barn

                                      "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


                                      • #20
                                        I wouldn't cut ties so quickly...but I am not in your position. What do the girls think? If their mom is a total PITA over everything they do...and they behave with you normally...why not just talk to MD/PITA and set down the rules with another chance given? Or kick her butt out of the barn when you train? Set down your rules about gimmicks too.

                                        I'm all for boundaries, believe me, but if there aren't other trainers they can easily go to, and if you have enjoyed the other time with them, I say give them a chance and have a talk with MD. It can't hurt except prolong your agony for another two weeks if she doesn't stop.

                                        I'm very well-behaved typically, but I've had bad days too. I just saw a video from Sunday where I argued with my trainer several times (with a sense of humor), and I pretty much never argue with trainer. Ever. There isn't a need. But there was a tactic used (deservedly so) that I whined about. Even though it wasnt bad at all and trainer was laughing for the most part, I look and sound like a total whiny PITA. (All captured on video thanks to netg ) If that had been our first lesson I don't think trainer would have agreed to train me. Luckily my history shows that this was a bad day that pushed my comfort level necessarily (and it was not even a big deal). But I was shocked at my voice and behavior and apologized to trainer who didn't think it was a big deal at all.

                                        Everyone has a bad day. If she thinks she's going to be running lessons, kick her butt out if the barn when you train her kids if they are good kids who are trying their best and trying to emulate what they have seen. If they behave badly, different story.

                                        I have a teen daughter. I can't believe I have any sanity left.
                                        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...