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Toxic trainers- A Field Guide

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  • Toxic trainers- A Field Guide

    First of all , kudos to all the decent, good trainers out there. You are fabulous, worth your weight in gold and the saviors of our sport. How to spot the other? A few tips based on my own experiences.
    1) Plays favorites. A surefire way to make some students feel like superstars and the rest? Well, too bad.
    2) Blame the student. Sure, there are a lot of no-talent clumsy oafs trying to learn to ride. I know a thing or two about education. A trainer who is incapable of adjusting a learning program or too proud to say "Look, I just don't know how to help you, but here's my friend Trixie, call her and maybe she can help." is to be avoided. After all, she/he can still charge you for all those lessons you're too thick to comprehend
    3.) Doesn't teach like she/he rides. May be a very talented rider but likes to keep how she does it and all those helpful "tips" to her/himself.
    4). Doesn't ever seem to have outside clinicians or encourage her/his students to seek them out. Why should they? If they can't appreciate his/her talent and riding then they are somehow disloyal! And then? See # 1
    5). Good riders and people who have been there a fairly short time seem to "move on" if they can. The few upper level riders ( I'm talking prelim) that there have been see the wheels fly off at this level because basic intruction at the lower levels (draw reins, etc) has been incorrect.
    So how does this not so rare bird stay in business? A revolving door of newbies who are absolutely smitten with the sport and people who, because of geography or economics, have absolutely no other place to go.
    The ants are my friends. And they're blowin' in the wind.

  • #2
    6) As soon as you start taking lessons you become his/her best friend, and when they talk of past students they all betrayed them. None of them just moved on, or out grew them. There is always a dramatic story as to why they left.

    Comment


    • #3
      Wow. It sounds like you are both describing the place I left a few months ago, to a T. I am so happy at my new place, with my trainer who is just amazing. But my last place was awful. And yet, they are still in business, mainly because we are in a college town, which has a never-ending supply of new riders, via the university.

      7) You can never get anything in writing from them at the time you reach an agreement. They only provide something in writing days (or weeks!) later, and the document they provide does not resemble the agreement you made with them previously.

      8) They go through workers as quickly as they go through students- average length of employment is 1-2 months, max.

      9) They say something one minute, and something totally different the next (i.e. "We work your horse 5-6 times a week" and then a few days later "Look at how good he is going- and we haven't even ridden him in weeks!")

      Comment


      • #4
        10) Tells you that you should never jump on your own, not for liability reasons, but because you will screw up yourself or your horse (even though you have been competing for over 10 years) Not a really helpful attitude for an eventing trainer whose students will have to go out on XC by themselves.

        11) Tells you that you are a wimp and not a real eventer if you want to scratch due to bad footing, but then goes and scratches their horse who did not like the footing that day.

        Comment


        • #5
          And the converse--how I know I'm lucky enough to work with an excellent trainer:

          --has several amateur students who take talented but not necessarily hyper-expensive horses to Intermediate, successfully--
          --BUT refuses to let her students move up just because they legally can.
          --never expects her students to do more than she does (which would be difficult, anyhow)
          --always expects her students to give their best, but understands that "best" has different meanings for different people at different times
          --is 100% honest, but never vindicitive.

          Comment


          • #6
            Me too, Gully. I read the Field Guide thinking, my trainer is the exact opposite of all of those points, and that is the reason I am eager to work with her as often as I can afford it.
            Her professionalism and deep well of knowledge is the reason I am going to move heaven and earth to try and get to Aiken this winter for training for at least a long weekend, Lord willing and the crick don't rise....
            Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
            Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

            Comment


            • #7
              OMG, it's the barn I left a month ago!!! To a T. Fortunately, I was not taking lessons from said trainer.
              Life doesn't have perfect footing.

              Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
              We Are Flying Solo

              Comment


              • #8
                Been There

                The description here is exactly like the trainer I left 4 years ago. I also would like to add two more points:

                Trainer likes to gossip about clients with other clients, and never has anything positive to say about anyone.

                The barn rules change constantly, and some boarders/clients have different rules than others. (see #1 again).

                Thank goodness I have a trainer and barn now where none of these things are true, and I am so much happier to be in a positive place. For anyone who recognizes their trainer from this thread, find another trainer. You'll be glad you did.

                Comment


                • #9
                  When most of the people coming to the barn ask if trainer is in a good mood before they walk in the door. If the answer is no, and they turn around and go home, there may be a toxic trainer on the premesis.
                  "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                  My CANTER blog.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Can I ask a question about trainers and how they feel about you taking clinics?

                    On one hand, I understand that they want me to have a consistent, good grounding, and there are clinicians whose teachings DO fly in the face of what I've been taught...but....

                    I've published enough in my professional career to (I hope!) get full professor (I'll find out this spring), and at least half of those publications have been collaborations. I LIKE having different voices to work with; it helps me to think critically about what I think.

                    So I try to do a lot of clinics...but I do get flak about it from the person I'm working with (who I love, btw; I wish she were closer, but I live in BFE...she's three hours away) when I do clinics. Some people are "OK"--like Karen O'Connor and Mary D'Arcy--but she heartily disapproves of clinics I've taken with some of the other folks I've taken clinics with, and she makes no bones about it.

                    My Question: How do your trainers handle it when you want to do a clinic or ride with another trainer in a clinic-type setting?
                    --Becky in TX
                    Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
                    She who throws dirt is losing ground.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My trainer wants me to take whatever lessons from whatever qualified people I can get my hands on. I do usually ask her before working with someone I don't know much about--because she'll tell me if she thinks the person is not a good instructor. But it's her honest opinion, not her trying to keep me from learning from someone else.

                      I should say I don't get regular lessons with my trainer, either, because I live 5 hours from her. I get as much as I can from her, and as much as I can from other people who are qualified. I've given up working with bad trainers--honestly, I screw myself up less on my own.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by gully's pilot View Post
                        My trainer wants me to take whatever lessons from whatever qualified people I can get my hands on. I do usually ask her before working with someone I don't know much about--because she'll tell me if she thinks the person is not a good instructor. But it's her honest opinion, not her trying to keep me from learning from someone else.

                        I should say I don't get regular lessons with my trainer, either, because I live 5 hours from her. I get as much as I can from her, and as much as I can from other people who are qualified. I've given up working with bad trainers--honestly, I screw myself up less on my own.
                        who do you train with? - PM is fine!
                        ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by smokescreen View Post
                          6) As soon as you start taking lessons you become his/her best friend, and when they talk of past students they all betrayed them. None of them just moved on, or out grew them. There is always a dramatic story as to why they left.
                          LOVE IT

                          Oh and #4 feels awfully familiar also...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Kairoshorses View Post
                            My Question: How do your trainers handle it when you want to do a clinic or ride with another trainer in a clinic-type setting?

                            Our trainer says what time ya riding, comes and audits to see what she can learn, encourages us to "never stop learning". what a gem!!!
                            "They spend 11 months stuggling to live, and 25 years trying to die" my farrier

                            "They are dangerous on both ends and crafty in the middle"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Very good to hear about the really classy trainers out there. Our current trainer is also just the best. But in the past I remember saying to myself "... and I'm PAYING for this??"

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Never has anything positive to say about you or your horse

                                Yup, even when I got a photo of our first event after a long college hiatus. Great front shot and I was grinning from ear to ear. Trainer says 'Well, his ears are forward and he doesn't look that enthused' WTF???
                                Even duct tape can't fix stupid

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  ah yes, i wasted quite a bit of time with a toxic trainer. i just finished reading the sociopath next door in which the author says that 1 in 4 people are sociopathic. the number 1 job for a sociopath is teaching....number 2 is a police officer. wish i had read the book a while back.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by 3horsemom View Post
                                    ah yes, i wasted quite a bit of time with a toxic trainer. i just finished reading the sociopath next door in which the author says that 1 in 4 people are sociopathic. the number 1 job for a sociopath is teaching....number 2 is a police officer. wish i had read the book a while back.
                                    Ok, you piqued my interest based on the title of the book, but be careful of your stats--it's four percent, or one in twenty-five. AND that number is totally a guess, a hypothesis based on her own practice. The NY Times review didn't like the book, mostly because the author based it on her own experiences in counseling, rather than large scale research. So while I'm sure she has some salient, intriguing points, I'm not sure I'm going to buy it.

                                    Does that make me a sociopath?

                                    (NYT Review: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/06/bo...w/006PAUL.html)
                                    --Becky in TX
                                    Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
                                    She who throws dirt is losing ground.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by 3horsemom View Post
                                      ah yes, i wasted quite a bit of time with a toxic trainer. i just finished reading the sociopath next door in which the author says that 1 in 4 people are sociopathic. the number 1 job for a sociopath is teaching....number 2 is a police officer. wish i had read the book a while back.


                                      This is truly disturbing. Not that I necessarily believe it (the 1 in 4 thing), but as for the teacher and cop thing, I can see this. Lots of "desire for power and control" that these professions tend to satisfy in the wrong people, sometimes.

                                      I see a lot of trainers out there who are clearly in it for ego gratification, the paycheck only, the need to feel that people look up to them, etc. (not all of them, of course, thank goodness), but these are always the wrongest possible reasons to teach and train. Done well and properly (and for the *right* reasons!), it is always a selfless act, a labor of love, and an attempt to give back, mentor, and inspire (and continue to learn and better *yourself*, in the process!) This is why I do it, anyway...In this sport, the learning never stops (as someone else pointed out), and THIS is the lesson we should be teaching, as trainers, coaches, AND mentors.

                                      Too bad there isn't more "self-policing" in this sport, especially among the trainers of the lower levels--but the problem is that the horse people who are newbies and inexperienced often listen to the people who blow their own horns the loudest (and who are the most insecure, because they are afraid that someone will discover that "The Emporer Has No Clothes"), so as a result, they are the most controlling and the least flexible when it comes to their students.



                                      Good thread, and I just hope it reaches a few people who it *needs* to reach!
                                      "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

                                      "It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by 3horsemom View Post
                                        ah yes, i wasted quite a bit of time with a toxic trainer. i just finished reading the sociopath next door in which the author says that 1 in 4 people are sociopathic. the number 1 job for a sociopath is teaching....number 2 is a police officer. wish i had read the book a while back.
                                        Yes, that's it! That's the word I was thinking of, sociopath! You summed up my entire post in one word. Light bulb moment.
                                        The ants are my friends. And they're blowin' in the wind.

                                        Comment

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