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Trainer's Worst Nightmare....

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  • Trainer's Worst Nightmare....

    Student: Nice little kid. Been riding a couple years, here since Fall, decent position, has to be reminded to keep reins short, heels down, etc. Just starting to event--done a couple events at Maiden on PACKERS, about to do BN. Wants a horse. Parents are willing to buy a horse. Lovely, right?

    Wrong. Dad has been doing "research" on the internet and thinks that there are "tons of horses" that people are practically "giving away", and today tried to tell me that the bombproof, saintly 6yo Novice packer pony one of my other clients is selling is therefore only worth $XXXX amt. Because he found a horse for $2500 whose "dressage looked okay on the video" (this from someone who two weeks ago learned that in dressage, it is good if the horse's head is down, and a month ago asked if a canter was faster than a trot) and its owner said it would jump 3'. I just said I didn't think the packer's owner would come down 60% on the asking price, but that I would pass it along. And to bring the video by and I would be happy to take a look at it if that is a horse they think they would be interested in (5yo OTTB for an 11 yo beginner).

    I have already done the "green and green = black and blue", "the greener the rider, the more experienced the horse", etc. etc. but from remarks he made I can tell he's thinking she can train her own (she's 11). I also pointed out that if she is going to get a green horse it might be a year (or more!) before it was ready to event, and might take a while to become reliable, because he is a "win win win" type, and it went in one ear and out the other. Maybe if they actually go and RIDE some of these "bargain" horses they will get why I'm telling them a good, child-safe event horse is going to cost more than a couple grand?

    Third Charm Event Team

  • #2
    I feel for you thirdcharm! I'm not a trainer but have witnessed what you describe a few times. Green riders & green horses & know it alls are a dangerous mixture. Good luck to you.

    Sadly anyone with a checkbook can buy a horse.

    Could you suggest they go and ride these bargain horses? then they'll have a comparison?


    • #3
      Oh I love those!!! NOT!!!! I am on the other end of that now. I have a cute green horse that is not terribly cheap, but keep letting people know he is green and the rider will need to have some knowledge and work with a trainer full time to make it work. They sound great on the phone and out pops a 14 year old that has ridden for 6 months with a trainer, but they don't really have a trainer they work with all the time. But remember she schooled one of the trainers horses, so should be fine on my 6 month under saddle hony. Puleeze people. Quit freakin wasting my time, and confusing the living crap out of my horse.

      Anyways off my little rant........is the mom any more logical then the father? If the mom has any say here, which she may or may not, play up the safety factor. You will be hard pressed to find a mom that doesn't put safety first regardless of the $$$$.


      • #4
        Maybe suggest a lease? It would be cheaper and your student could still get a safe horse.


        • #5
          If you think he won't listen to you, are there other riders at the same level who are doing what you want him to do (riding sensible older experienced horses) who you can point to as successes?

          I started riding at about the same time as a woman where I used to ride, let's call her 'Susan'. (we are both adult beginners, started in our late 30s, etc.)

          I have leased mostly beginner friendly horses for four years, and have competed at elementary a few times, ridden in clinics and CTs, and had some modest success (where success is defined as not falling off, sometimes getting a ribbon, and mostly having a positive experience). My mounts have included 3 OTTBs (10, 11, & 6), a 22 yr. old Morgan, a 11 yr. old QH, and similar grownup, quiet, trained horses.

          Meanwhile, 'Susan' bought a 4 yr. old OTTB gelding with the assistance and ADVICE of her trainer (let's not go there right now). He's now coming 7, I think. She has taken a bunch of lessons on him, and fallen off about 20 times, and her trainer has showed the horse for her, but I don't think she has ever shown him herself.

          Which rider do I want to be? Which rider does the Dad want his daughter to be?

          Do you know any young riders who gave up riding after lots of frustrations and falls riding an inappropriately green horse?

          Maybe you can recruit a sensible parent to talk to him, someone who he won't think is in it for $$. ????
          I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
          I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


          • #6
            Yep I have a student like that, but she already HAS the horse.

            Horse isn't awful, but is young (4), green and too timid w/ this green rider. Rider rode my deadheads in lessons a couple years ago. They didn't ask for my opinion, just went and bought one then asked for lessons again.
            I seriously was hoping they'd buy a horse 4x as old as the one she got (not that age = bombproof, but many have been exposed to "life" already)

            I told them last week, that after 5mo, they are both getting more timid, girl doesn't want to ride, she won't even go handle horse w/o me there, is scared to go more than 5ft from me on the longe line (yet wants to show her one day) etc. = time to sell her or trade her to someone in your 4H w/ an old BTDT horse.

            We will see. I have a feeling that the 4H instructor that moved into their barn will try to help them, so maybe she'll get stuck with this no-win situation. ...amazing how much this mismatch stresses ME out.


            • #7
              perhaps the best solution would be to plop mr.internet know it all's butt in the saddle and let him have a go at it. peoplewho do not ride have no idea how hard it is to do well. even on a schoolie i bet mr IKIA might change his mind when he finds out how hard it is to ride well even on a well trained horse. anyone who wants to put there 11 y.o. on a green horse is beyond the pale imho.


              • #8
                Having survived the path of green + OTTB with questionable resulting mental illnesses for both me and the horse , I sympathize with all parties involved.

                We all start out naked and uneducated in the beginning, and you can't blame The Dad for what's probably the reality of the situation--he only has a couple grand to spend, really wants to buy the horse for the little girl, and is hopeful at finding Wonder-Poopsie at a deal.

                Be very specific in what you want them to buy. Heck, write down a list of criteria: look for X size, X breeds, avoid these breeds, find horse/pony with certain range of experience, specify that the horse is presently being ridden by a child the same age as his daughter. Present it to them as "I know you are going to be looking at a lot of horses, let me help you narrow and speed up your search."

                I'd even go as far as finding potentially suitable horses, and taking them to see the horse.

                And if they show you the fire breathing wonder pony and they are intent to buy, be up front that you refuse to teach the girl on the horse due to its unsuitability.


                • #9
                  The only advice I have is not to let it consume you.
                  Things may work out, and you have to (and want to) try, but you are not in control, give it your best shot and let go.

                  You have my sympathy and a mantra for the day:
                  "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain."
                  Nina's Story
                  Epona Comm on FB


                  • #10
                    Eventing is a dangerous sport. You can tell dad-know-it-all that you must maintain your professional credentials, which means doing everything possible to reduce the risk to your students -- including his daughter. You cannot teach a student on a horse that would be dangerous to her. You care about her too much to endanger her by helping her find a horse that is inappropriate. Maybe Dad will get a clue . . .


                    • #11
                      Feel both sides . . .

                      I agree a kid safe eventer is going to cost more than that.

                      As a trainer you don't have to work with any client you think is going to make your life impossible, of course, but having been that kid 10+ yrs ago I'm a little sympathetic too.

                      But as a kid who grew up in a similar situation (non-horsey, non-rich parents, horses in the backyard on the cheap), I understand that no amount of pleading with the parents (by either kid or trainer!) will make their 1K budget grow to 10K. If they don't have it, they don't have it. And analyzing their spending on other things doesn't work for either kid or trainer (trust me--I tried! who needs new rug, a new lawnmower, to go visit the grandparents, etc. when there are horses to be bought).

                      So, having had the 1K budget for our early horses, up to 2K as we got older, I can attest that you still can ride, event, have fun, but with a lot of compromise. Before we were ready for OTTBs, we horse shopped way off the beaten path, mostly trail or backyard/pleasure horses. If they are young, decently conformed and have a good attitude they can often become decent pony club/low level event types.

                      That is not a fun situation for kid or trainer, as kids with more money and better mounts will progress more quickly, but hopefully if the kid loves eventing enough and the dad doesn't make you completely crazy you can find a "compromise" horse to satisfy all.


                      • #12
                        Maybe you could suggest a dead broke QH trail horse. They don't cost much, and are usually safe. My friends and I all started on such horses. We had to teach them to jump, but it wasn't really an issue because our coach kept things low for us too. By the time we were ready to try harder jumps so were the horses. And no one had to worry about unpredictable behavior from the horse. We weren't competitive mind you, but such a horse could tool around schooling shows just fine.


                        • #13
                          Use my story!!!

                          I was 12. I bought a 3 [almost 4] year old Hungarian TB. She was so sweet, so cute... would be great, huh? WRONG! I was simply NOT EXPERIENCED enough at the time to train her right, and we had a nutty trainer. I had year 4? 5? years. She totally had ruined my confidence, I was scared to even show because of that horse. She wouldn't go in the show ring, wouldn't go XC [would stop and rear and spin] and spooked at EVERYTHING. Finally I got a better trainer and learned to ride and we ended up doing decently and I sold her as a hunter [never would go XC...] but it was a horrible experience. I fell off her a few times a month, she flipped on me, etc. It ended OK but took YEARS to get her even sane, and then she was very nice but was just not an eventer. Now I have an experienced jumper who I love more than life itself...


                          • #14
                            Some times it does work...

                            I agree.. MOST of the time it doesn't work, ends up in lots of tears..

                            BUT.. I was on a budget.. dad was a penny pincher... and despite no horse experience, went out and bought a 5 year old green Appy.

                            I was 10, didn't know how to canter yet.. just getting posting trot down.

                            With the help of Pony Club, dedication, and a VERY KIND trainer who took me under her wing, the match worked out great. Years later I was showing that same $500 horse prelim level.

                            It wasn't the fast track to the upper levels,but we stuck to the basics, slowly moved our way up, and made it there. Sure, I got bucked off a lot, but that onery Appy taught me so much!
                            APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                            • #15
                              Be rude. Be blunt. Tell them you will only teach her on a horse that you approve. Life is too short.


                              • #16
                                oh no not again

                                Too bad you’re in this position. It sounds remarkably like one that started at our barn a few years ago. I think the kid was a bit older, though. In our case, the kid was leading the way into stupidland and the Dad thought everything his kid said was as good as gold. Everyone else was wrong, or didn’t appreciate what his kid could do. The good news is, the kid is still alive. It was pretty close a couple of times. The family has gone from barn to barn and trainer to trainer several times in the last couple of years. If the kid in your case seems to show some sense, you may have a chance. On the other hand, if the father is set on running things his way and ignoring all advice, from what I have seen you have really no recourse but to tell them to find another trainer and say a Hail Mary for them. When things go right they will take the credit, and if things don’t work so well you will be blamed. The Dad is an adult. If he was ever going to learn to take advice he would have done it by now. If you tell them in no uncertain terms that you think what they plan to do is unwise and unsafe and you want no part of it, you can be sure that they will tell people you were mean and tried to interfere with the kid’s development as a rider. They’ll probably add that you were a typical horse professional who couldn’t stomach hearing the truth from an outsider. Sure as night follows day.


                                • #17
                                  It's sad. But if they don't have the money, they just don't have it.

                                  It will be slow with a greenie, but it could work. My parents never forked out the big bucks for a packer type when I needed it the most, and yeah, my confidence took some knocks. My trainer despaired, told me to sell him, to get anything else, told me over and over again that I wasn't learning a damn thing on that horse, but I just couldn't afford a new one. Now my cheap 4 year old is 10 and ready to begin his Advanced career and we've finally hit our stride. It was because my trainer never really pressured me to get rid of him (there was no..."I won't teach you," "leave the barn," "how could you buy a horse without my advice," none of that, even though he told me repeatedly that the horse was rank (we both knew it!!)...) that we got this far!

                                  Of course, I wasn't 12...but falling off for years because your horse has a wicked buck doesn't make it any easier at 18!


                                  • #18
                                    Do yourself a favor and fire him.

                                    You will lose the kid, too, but it is worth it. This is the kind of parent who cannot be educated, the kid will get hurt or scared off horses forever and then it will be your fault - according to him, and the large mouth he will use to tell everyone.

                                    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                                    • #19
                                      why don't you tell Daddy, if he wants to kill his daughter, it is easier and cheaper to throw her of a bridge, garantied result
                                      That I have no use for them, does not mean, that I don't know them and don't know how to use them.
                                      Caveman extraordinair


                                      • #20
                                        it's not the money, really

                                        NomdePlume, I understand about money. That's not the thing that alarms me. People have to make choices about expenses all the time. The problem I see here is that the Dad believes that he knows what a good horse is and won't listen to anyone. We are not sure from the information that they don't have the money. They might, they might not. All he really has the expertise to determine is how much they can afford to pay. He doesn't have the knowledge to determine which horse is the best they can afford--but it doesn't sound like this is going to stop him from doing it. It's this attitude that has the potential to make an ongoing relationship unbearable. Under the right circumstances, with the right family, sheparding a student through tough times with a project horse might be as challenging/rewarding as anything a trainer gets to do. I'm guessing this isn't one of those cases.