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What would your reaction be?

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  • What would your reaction be?

    How would you feel if you were auditing a lesson/showing program and heard the following from a barn manager/trainer:

    "When you take up, this horse will need two fleece saddle pads as well as a gel pad because it's back is a bit sore"

    I did notice that the horse seemed very sensitive in the barrel and back area while I was brushing it. In fact, the horse would not stand still when I was brushing those areas. It fidgeted very noticeably, but was fine as soon as I stopped.

    I'm coming back to riding after a short hiatus (1 year or so) but I have owned horses in the past. As such, I have very specific thoughts about what was said, but would like to hear how others feel about the above before divulging my own feelings on the matter.

  • #2
    A backsore horse isnt' going to make me stop riding it -- necessarily.

    Is he being ridden therapeutically, with limits set on how 'hard' he's being ridden? Is he receiving medication?

    If you're new to this facility, I might diplomatically ask these questions.

    As you know, there's a multitude of reasons he can be backsore. If it's the saddle, then I'd not ride the horse in a poorly fitting saddle. If it's because he tweaked himself a few days before hand partying in the paddock, and is receiving methocarb & banamine, and being exercised cautiously, then I'd ride.

    If they were simply telling me to use a horse knowing full well he's backsore, with no thought to further damage.. i'd take my business elsewhere and tell them why.

    Need more info.


    • #3
      I would be pleased to know the BM knew the horses issues and what helps him.
      "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


      • #4
        I wouldn't like it however I think I would keep an open mind until I learned what they were otherwise doing about the sore back in the mean time (ie. MT/body worker/chiro/liniment/stretches??) and what was being asked of him. Some horses (such as one of my OTTB's) have quite sensitive backs that are easily sored. While it is important to resolve the root issue (poor saddle fit, poor riding, etc), I would think sometimes keeping a horse in light work, whilst working at the root of the problem, will actually help a horse rather than hinder it (just as exercise and working out helps me rehab even when I am sore). I would expect it be given a rest break and properly rehabbed though if the issue was a severe one (and your description indicates that possibility) - and that a vet or MT's advice and professional opinion be heeded.
        ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
        ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


        • Original Poster

          Now that a few people have commented, I'll divulge what the barn manager said after my inquiry. The response was: "His back is sore because he works really hard in our lesson program".

          Apparently he had already been used for several lessons that day.

          I'm not too happy about it because if the horse needs that much padding and has already been used for several lessons AND is sore on top of it, why would they put him through another 1 hour session? Furthermore, this was my first lesson at this place, so why wouldn't they try to put together a more favorable match (ie a horse who wasn't sore and tired) for a potential new client???

          I don't think this computes - unless people think I should be looking at it differently...
          Last edited by SnicklefritzG; Oct. 2, 2010, 12:23 AM.


          • #6
            How do they know that? I would expect them to have had a vet or body worker or other evaluate him and then act appropriately. If they simply chalked it up to his working too hard and did not look into the root of the issue, I would be worried. If it is because he is being worked above his current fitness level, then he deserves a break and note should be taken to not overwork him in the future. However if he was only to be used lightly for the next lesson then given a couple days' break...maaaybe it would be ok. It would be borderline though and possibly not a good use of your lesson money and time.

            I grew up on a ranch where, some days, our horses worked all day every day, and hard. Hard work should not necessarily equate to soreness and if the horse is sore due to being overloaded with work, then it should be given a rest break, even if just a day or two and special note taken to build the horse up more slowly. Being in a few lessons already that day is not necessarily so terrible - it depends on what is being asked of the horse, its current fitness level, etc.
            ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
            ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


            • Original Poster

              I agree with you that multiple lessons per day isn't necessarily bad. I've gone on trips where I've been in the mountains all day which certainly equates to more work than the 2-3 lessons this horse had.

              Nevertheless, I would still be concerned about them brushing it off as "he's sore because he worked really hard today". With as many horses as they have, one would think that they could have put together a more favorable situation to create a good impression for a new client. In fact, I'm appalled they they set me up with a horse that they knew was sore instead of trying to find one that was more fresh and up to the task. Even worse were the constant interruptions during the lesson.

              In addition to the horse issue, is it just me or is it too much to expect an instructor to (a) start on time, not 20 minutes late (b) give me their undivided attention during the lesson and NOT take phone calls? A 1 minute emergency call is one thing, but 5+ minutes? plus (c) interrupting a lesson to chat with a client instead of focusing on a new client? What were they thinking!!! As a note, they didn't even apologize for the lengthly phone call. If that would have been me and it were a major phone call I had to take, I would have apologized and given the person more lesson time to make up for it...

              Maybe I just need to rant, but I'm actually really disgusted.


              • #8
                Haha well those all sound like pretty irking issues and simply brushing the soreness off rubs me the wrong way. That instructor had better be preeetty good for me to not find a new one!
                ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


                • #9
                  If you're new at a barn and already need to rant...you need to leave. Whatever their program is, good or bad, it's apparent that it is not the program for you.
                  Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                  Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RugBug View Post
                    If you're new at a barn and already need to rant...you need to leave. Whatever their program is, good or bad, it's apparent that it is not the program for you.
                    Listen to RugBug. I'd find another barn.
                    ~ Citizens for a Kinder, Gentler COTH...our mantra: Be nice. ~


                    • Original Poster

                      ^^^ Good point.

                      I appreciate everyone's comments, suggesting various ways to look at the situation. Fortunately there are plenty of choices in my area...


                      • #12
                        I agree it sounds like it's not a match. (this barn) If you were less horsey educated then I could understand the reason to put up with this... however, it sounds like you know what's up.

                        Taking calls, being late are unprofessional.

                        Keep looking.
                        Live in the sunshine.
                        Swim in the sea.
                        Drink the wild air.


                        • Original Poster

                          ^^^ Tell me about it.

                          It just makes no sense. It's not like a show up looking like a slob or completely uneducated person. I arrive early and am dressed cleanly and neatly to present a nice and serious picture, with all the proper gear.

                          On the bright side, these experiences are helping me narrow down the field considerably.

                          I took a lesson with another instructor who was a student of a very big BNT back in the day (someone everyone knows who it is). The person starts the lesson on time. I have their undivided attention and there are NO interruptions whatsoever. We even have the ring to ourselves. There is also plenty of time for question and answer between exercises during the lesson which helps solidify the points. I really felt like a got a lot out of it. Maybe it takes experiencing the unpleasant to truly appreciate the good.


                          • #14
                            Snicklefritz, if you could check your PM's I would appreciate it
                            The best sports bras for riders are Anita 5527 and Panache! Size UP in Anita, down in Panache (UK sizing)


                            • #15
                              You may want to find a new barn, but don't be surprised if over time you see or hear the same things.
                              Most of the time a barn operator/trainer wouldn't say such things out loud in front of a newbie, but most lesson horses are expected to work alot harder than "privately owned" horses.
                              Where I ride, the lesson horses are used pretty much every day, sometimes more than once, though the rule is only 1 jumping lesson a day and if one lesson is especially challenging (advanced flat or jumping) the other should be pretty easy, like carting around a beginner or small kid. Many of the better jumping schoolies jump 4 or 5 times a week (usually over very small stuff, 2' or 2'3) while boarders have 1 jumping lesson a week.
                              A good barn manager makes sure that the horses get appropriate padding for saddles and tack that fits them and does what they can to ease the burden. Those of us used to coddled horses may see it as very harsh but schoolies (God bless their precious servant's hearts) have to work to keep the lights on. I don't know any lesson barn operators that are driving around in Mercedes'.
                              F O.B
                              Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                              Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


                              • Original Poster

                                ^^^I have no problem with a horse being used multiple times per day, but only if it is fit enough to do so. The horse I rode in the lesson I described in the original post was one that I personally thought was too sore to have been used for my lesson. If it flinched as much as it did while being brushed and was described as "tired", then it should have been given a rest from further lessons that day. Furthermore, my rant is 50% about being put into that situation for my first lesson there. If I were a barn owner/manager and a new client came in who stated that they were interested in a leasing/show program and knew they wanted to ride 3x/week at least, I would have tried to find something that would have made a good impression on them so they'd want to come back.


                                • #17
                                  I agree, it was not the smartest thing for them to say to you as a first impression sticks. I certainly wouldn't expect to hear it said (even if it was thought) on my first visit to a farm.

                                  I would keep looking.
                                  F O.B
                                  Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                                  Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


                                  • #18
                                    for a walking lead around, sure. as long as this horse had a regularly visiting chiro that gave the ok-go.
                                    for anything else? i think that horse is a little bit more than 'sore' and it's time to call the ASPCA/find a new barn asap.