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When trainers compare students

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  • When trainers compare students

    I'm posting under an alternate userID to protect peoples' privacy and so it won't be obvious which trainer I'm talking about since I post here rather frequently...


    Has anyone been in a position where a trainer compared you to someone else in a negative way for no apparent reason? If so, how did you handle it?

    Over the last few weeks, my trainer has started comparing me to someone else in the barn and injecting negativity into my lesson for no apparent reason. I'm an adult rider who always shows up on time, horse and tack are always spotless. I always dress well also. I'm organized and always start off lessons discussing what I worked on during my hacks, going over what went well and what I would like to practice in greater depth. As such, I can't think of any reason why my trainer would start being negative. As in things like:

    1) "You are not good enough yet for X, Y, and Z". This happens on a regular basis and comes out of the blue. It's not like I've asked about X, Y, and Z or that it even related to anything we are doing. This is often followed by a detailed discussion about "Student Q is able to do A, B and C". I'm not paying close to $100/hour to have my lesson time spent on this kind of unproductive comment.

    2) I make comments like "even though horse so-and-so has his quirks, I find it easier to do X and Y with it". I think have to hear about how the same student Q has a very easy time doing X and Y with this horse, how wonderful Q is at riding this horse, how this student is "so meticulous and precise, etc," (I recently stopped leasing this horse and went back to another one)

    3) I try to be positive and talk about what we've gone over in the lessons that have helped me ride horse W better. I think have to hear about how student Q (same one as before), "really makes this horse work hard. Really gets him going and does great things with him"


    I'm all for constructive criticism which I do get along with some praise when I do things correctly. However, I'm wondering about some of the comparisons listed above. How many trainers out there are doing this kind of stuff? I've tried to ignore it for the most part and focus on the positive, but it;s getting old. It use to happen infrequently at first, but picked up when I recently decided to go back to invidual lessons and give 30 day notice on the lease I was doing with one of my trainer's horses.

    Is this the kind of thing you basically have to suck up and deal with? Or is there a way I can get it to stop? I really love the lessons, but these other things are making me somewhat dread going to the barn. Is it time to find a new trainer?

  • #2
    I would find a new trainer...

    But then, you seem awfully tolerant with what you put up. As soon as it got to the point where I noticed it, I would have said something or been gone. I lessoned with someone ONE TIME, and in that one time she went on a tirade about a certain breed and how she'd never allow a student to buy one, when I had just finished telling her that I had grown up with that breed and had a retired one at home...stupid. Never went back.

    If you want to tolerate that kind of behavior, then stay.
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

    Comment


    • #3
      Well, I don't post over here in H/J land much any more but I still take lessons, and although my trainer has done the comparison thing before it usually isn't of the "Well, student Q can get *horse* to do x,y and z" - from reading the whole post and (in between the lines) I'd say that you stopped leasing and your trainer is now on the defensive about the quality of the horse you stopped leasing, and a little bit on the offensive regarding some other things - possibly she feels that you are now pooh-poohing her suggestions/judgement (even if you aren't).

      Unfortunately I don't know whether ending the lease was done abruptly and has resulted in some talk about *horse* and his willingness, ability, mindset such that she can't get him leased again and is blaming you indirectly by questioning you, and validating her horse by talking up rider Q.

      It's been my opinion, based on the smaller barns I've been in with pretty tight profit margins, that trainers and BO's can get almost irrational and are the first ones to start drama, as sort of a pre-emptive strike. You may have to leave but she may continue to question your ability for a long time, or until rider Q leases *horse* and does brilliantly, in which case if she's stupid she'll be rubbing your nose in it rather than working to find a better match for you.

      I can't explain this well - but trainers' livings often are predicated on their reputation for turning out a winning team and she may be scrambling to create both the reputation and the winning team, just like college athletic coaches. Trainers don't generally get paid like schooteachers with a contract with the district and a consistent check regardless of wins or losses.

      And I don't think you can really fix this at this point, either ignore it or move on.
      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
      Incredible Invisible

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        ^^ Interesting points. I gave a 30-day notice on the lease and emphasized a lot of things that I liked about the horse, but wanted to focus on things that the trainer's schoolmaster was better for. Trainer even admitted as much, so I was merely echoing what they said.

        "You may have to leave but she may continue to question your ability for a long time, or until rider Q leases *horse* and does brilliantly, in which case if she's stupid she'll be rubbing your nose in it rather than working to find a better match for you."

        this really hit the nail on the head. This is exactly how I feel. Trainer told me originally that we could go month to month on the 1/2 lease and that if I didn't like the horse they would find something else. However, what I've actually experienced is the polar opposite. Trainer has done close to nothing to help me find something else to lease or buy. Says they will do x, y and z but then nothing happens. After another month I gave a 30 day notice and so here we are (I did a total of 4 months). Now what I seem to get are negative comments interspersed in my lessons.

        It's strange because this trainer is almost what I'd call semi-retired. Spends more time judging and has a much smaller client base than they used to. I would have thought they would be less concerned about ability and reputation, but who knows. It's all so weird.

        Comment


        • #5
          I don't know...I've never been in a situation where I've been compared to other students (at least not to my face, I'm sure its been done) but I have been in situations where it just feels like the trainer has lost interest in me. Which is what might be happening to you. Some trainers, like all people, are fickle. One second they can seem like your best friend, the next day they've moved onto another.

          Personally, I would look for another trainer. Doesn't sound like they're too interested in your business, so I think it might be time to move on.

          Comment


          • #6
            Does the person you are being compared with spend more money riding?

            I have seen that in barns...where the trainer wants the rider so start committing more to riding financially, so compares them negatively with riders who spend more.

            For that to make sense though, I would think that your trainer should be working to find you a lease...

            Could also be that they have hit a wall where they can't fix something you are doing, and are comparing you with someone else as their way of saying "its not me, its you".

            Either way it seems harsh, uncalled for, and would really eat away at my confidence/enjoyment.

            The only time I compare riders is so they can learn by watching each other, so I point out similar things they need to work on.
            Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

            Comment


            • #7
              Why is the first reaction always "find a new trainer?"

              Tell the trainer it bothers you. You can do that one of two ways: tell her directly or do it passive aggressively.

              If you go the direct route, the next time you're talking to trainer, ask her. Something like 'you have brought up Student Q and her successes with horse a few times now. While I'm happy that they are doing so well, I was hoping we could focus on how I can improve my riding,' or some such.

              Or passive aggressively, the next time she brings up Student Q, just happily say 'gosh, that's great for her and horse, but I'm not Student Q and how boring it would be for you to have to only one type of student to teach. Aren't you happy I have different strengths and weaknesses?'

              That's probably going overboard, but something along those lines will usually make them sit up and think about what they are saying and how it's coming across.

              I will ask you...what is your relationship with Student Q? Is there any resentment or competition between the two of you?
              Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
              Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                As far as $$ go, I am spending more than the student Q. In fact, student Q's parents have gone on record saying they can't afford to buy Q a horse or even lease one. On the other hand, I'm doing a 1/2 lease plus lessons and am out looking to buy in the low-mid 5 fig's. I tried to have several conversations with the trainer about discussing commission structure, who is going to do what etc. regarding buying a horse but this person hasn't even taken the time to discuss it.

                As for what I'm doing, I've made a lot of progress the last few months. In lessons when we do work on things, I usually pick things up quickly, so I don't think I've hit a wall yet. Maybe I'm not progressing fast enough? The only major difference I can think of is that Q is very young, shy and timid and doesn't speak much. I'm analytical and ask questions, but I thought that was a good thing. Either that or one time trainer tried to bill me for things outside the scope of the agreement and I said that we agreed on X and I would like to stick with that...the result was several weeks of intermittant "barbs".


                This isn't normal adult behavior is it???

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by HJalter123 View Post
                  I'm analytical and ask questions, but I thought that was a good thing.
                  Actually, this depends on the trainer. I know MANY who prefer to teach child or quiet adults. In one of GM's videos, he talks about how it's sooooo much easier to teach children/teens than it is to teach adults. They are way less emotionally draining. The analytical type are usually a bit of a PITA.

                  Not saying that's you...but I kind of laughed when in your first post with the whole rundown of what you've been working on and what you would like to work on, etc. If this is someone you ride with on a regular basis, I doubt all that is needed (and could be resented). That's the conversation you have with an intermittent trainer. Most trainers have general ideas, but teach what is in front of them. You may want to work on X, but if you can't do the precurssors to X well enough, then you aren't ready for X. Who knows. There are a lot of reasons.

                  If this trainer has been snippy and petty with you in the past? Well, it could be that they don't like you...in which case it is time to move on.

                  As for normal adult behavior? The more time I spend with people, the more I realize normal adult behavior is just one small notch above normal teenager behavior. There really isn't that much difference for a large majority of people.
                  Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                  Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    "Not saying that's you...but I kind of laughed when in your first post with the whole rundown of what you've been working on and what you would like to work on, etc. If this is someone you ride with on a regular basis, I doubt all that is needed (and could be resented). That's the conversation you have with an intermittent trainer. Most trainers have general ideas, but teach what is in front of them."

                    Well usually I have a lesson 1x/week and hack 2-3x/week. If there are things I worked on during hacks that I thought could have gone better, then I mention it at the beginning of the lesson. Maybe this trainer doesn't like that? Perhaps they prefer a student who keeps their mouth shut and says nothing...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by HJalter123 View Post
                      Well usually I have a lesson 1x/week and hack 2-3x/week. If there are things I worked on during hacks that I thought could have gone better, then I mention it at the beginning of the lesson. Maybe this trainer doesn't like that? Perhaps they prefer a student who keeps their mouth shut and says nothing...
                      Most trainers worth almost $100/hour can see what needs to be worked on or what isn't going well without being told. :shrug:

                      But based on your "keeps their mouth shut" comment, I'm guessing you resent this trainer already so my new advice is to echo everyone else and "find a new trainer."
                      Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                      Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        She's not that into you. This is her way of letting you know.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by HJalter123 View Post
                          Maybe this trainer doesn't like that? Perhaps they prefer a student who keeps their mouth shut and says nothing...
                          Possibly. I have a friend who talks and asks questions constantly during her lessons to the point where she's not listening. (Just her personality....I get it, but I think her old trainer found it very annoying).

                          Another story - when I switched trainers years ago, I felt it necessary to sort of explain my mistakes and shortcomings in detail (despite the fact that I think the trainer could see them without any trouble). I think I was nervous and self-conscious, and wanted her to like me. After maybe 2-3 lessons (and being conscious of my babbling), I decided to just keep my mouth shut for an entire lesson.

                          The trainer said "you rode much better today" and I confessed that I was deliberately trying to focus on just listening and doing, instead of explaining and rationalizing. And it helped - both my riding and our relationship.

                          Maybe this isn't you, but you might try an experiment and see what happens.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I agree with the others that say, "she's just not that into you." I got that same vibe from your initial post. In a subtle way, you're taking over and directing the lesson. That would be very off-putting to me. It's not the normal trainer/riding student dynamic for YOU to begin the lesson by doing such and such. Sounds like the trainer is very experienced and really doesn't need for you to run the lesson that way.

                            The time for you to speak up is when the trainer says, "did you feel the difference?" or "do you have any questions?" And then you give a BRIEF reply, not a dissertation on what you think and feel. Perhaps in your job, you lead meetings or manage people. Trainer probably doesn't appreciate that.

                            If you want to try and make it work, why don't you try to be a better student. Well dressed, on-time (yay, you!), but also in a less-in-control-of-the-situation way. If she still makes you uncomfortable with the comparisons, try a gentle communication about that when it happens.

                            If all else fails, try a different trainer with a style that better suits. I'm with George, adults can be hard.
                            http://patchworkfarmga.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RugBug View Post
                              Actually, this depends on the trainer. I know MANY who prefer to teach child or quiet adults. In one of GM's videos, he talks about how it's sooooo much easier to teach children/teens than it is to teach adults. They are way less emotionally draining. The analytical type are usually a bit of a PITA.

                              Not saying that's you...but I kind of laughed when in your first post with the whole rundown of what you've been working on and what you would like to work on, etc. If this is someone you ride with on a regular basis, I doubt all that is needed (and could be resented). That's the conversation you have with an intermittent trainer. Most trainers have general ideas, but teach what is in front of them. You may want to work on X, but if you can't do the precurssors to X well enough, then you aren't ready for X. Who knows. There are a lot of reasons.

                              If this trainer has been snippy and petty with you in the past? Well, it could be that they don't like you...in which case it is time to move on.

                              As for normal adult behavior? The more time I spend with people, the more I realize normal adult behavior is just one small notch above normal teenager behavior. There really isn't that much difference for a large majority of people.
                              Bit of a tangent, but I think that's very true, RugBug. My trainer, who is very supportive of and values her adult customers, nonetheless finds it pretty draining sometimes. It is easy to get in your own way as a an adult when your instinct is to analyze the heck out of everything (after all that is what we do in other areas - our jobs, etc.). It can be helpful sometimes, but it's not like analyzing your riding is as effective as, say, analyzing your golf swing. There are so many more factors coming into play that change every time, not the least of which is the horse! 2+2 does not always equal 4 in the same way every time. I guess I can consider myself a recent "re-rider" and have to catch myself to keep from getting bogged down in analysis and just keep feeling/doing in the moment. If this was all brand-new to me and I didn't ride extensively as a junior it would be really hard to do that, I think!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Just to play a bit of devil's advocate (not that I disagree with everyone here, but just want to offer a slightly different perspective just in case you see any of this fitting into your situation...

                                There have been times when I have used other students in comparison to make points to other students, but I try to do this in a constructive manner. Say to student A, who is having trouble with X, "Have you seen student B do X recently? She's particularly good at that, maybe come watch her lesson next week and it will be a good visual for you".

                                Or with your #1 scenerio, where trainer has said you're not good enough yet for X,Y,Z, but you haven't brought up X,Y,Z... Maybe YOU haven't brought it up, but maybe trainer feels like you are approaching the brink of being ready for it and is thinking about it themselves. For example, if I have a student doing the level 0 and under jumpers on a large pony, and in her lesson I am saying, "I don't think your quite ready yet to be able to do that tight rollback on a big, sensitive horse", or "if you rode that jump that poorly at 3'6", you'd get jumped right off the top", student may think it seems negative and random, but maybe she doesn't know that I'm considering letting her move onto the very successful made A/A jumper in the barn to start learning the bigger stuff and I'm trying to push her to work harder to get ready for the next level.

                                My barn is FULL of teenage girls. It ranges from not having their own horse at all, to having a brand new green OTTB, to having a green up-and-coming 3' horse, to having a old, made, winning 3' horse. I deal with jealousy and comparisons all the time. Sometimes you need to use other horses/riders for comparison to make a point, but I ALWAYS try to be factual, diplomatic, and positive about such things. The kids compare themselves anyway, I don't need to make it worse.

                                I feel bad for anyone who doesn't feel like their trainer is on their side. I hope things get better for you soon, whether you stay at your current barn or decide to move.
                                ...for there are wings on these hooves, the speed and power of foam-capped waves...
                                *~v~*~v~*~v~*~v~*~v~*~v~*~v~*
                                Proud member of the artists clique

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Or, gently ask her to please not do that to you. Tell her it makes you feel not o.k. and is discouraging. See where it goes from there. She may not realize that she is doing it or that it is bothering youu.

                                  I'm sure you are great, HJ alter. Big hugs to you !

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    My trainer's have definitely done this with me fairly frequently. At first I choose to take it very negatively and was hurt/offended. Then over time knowing my trainer better etc. I realize that they really do care for me and so any negativity I'm *feeling* is generally of my own creation and not intentional on their part. So I made a conscious decision not to be offended and to try and look for the helpful/positive in what they are saying instead.

                                    So for example, I am an adult re-rider that has only been back to riding now for ~1 year after 16 years off. So initially when trainer would compare me unfavorably to the juniors or other adults who have ridden/owned their whole lives I would get bummed out/feel like trainer doesn't comprehend how hard I'm working just to be where I'm at. Let alone to get where they're [the more experienced students] at! But, after i thought about it awhile I chucked my ego at the door and thought whatever - i should just work as hard as I can and *try* my best to be as good as the others and I think that is all my trainer wanted. She just wants me to get better and that's what I want too.

                                    I think having an ego may be incompatible with life at a hunter/jumper barn.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      This is not in direct response to OP, but a general observation. I did a series of group lessons with an over-analytical thinker (I"m one myself) who talked the entire lesson rebutting or offering excuses for everything the trainer asked her to do, but was unable to do properly. A couple of those and I realized that I was paying to be taught, not to have a conversation. So, fast forward to individual lessons and no conversation - only to provide an honest answer to "Did you feel that!". If I want to analyze, I do it off the horse and after the lesson - and not with the trainer. Amazing what I was able to learn when I kept my mouth shut.
                                      pace, path, balance, impulsion and ??

                                      Don't panic! Ralph Leroy Hill

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by HJalter123 View Post
                                        ^^ Interesting points. I gave a 30-day notice on the lease and emphasized a lot of things that I liked about the horse, but wanted to focus on things that the trainer's schoolmaster was better for. Trainer even admitted as much, so I was merely echoing what they said.

                                        "You may have to leave but she may continue to question your ability for a long time, or until rider Q leases *horse* and does brilliantly, in which case if she's stupid she'll be rubbing your nose in it rather than working to find a better match for you."

                                        this really hit the nail on the head. This is exactly how I feel. Trainer told me originally that we could go month to month on the 1/2 lease and that if I didn't like the horse they would find something else. However, what I've actually experienced is the polar opposite. Trainer has done close to nothing to help me find something else to lease or buy. Says they will do x, y and z but then nothing happens. After another month I gave a 30 day notice and so here we are (I did a total of 4 months). Now what I seem to get are negative comments interspersed in my lessons.

                                        It's strange because this trainer is almost what I'd call semi-retired. Spends more time judging and has a much smaller client base than they used to. I would have thought they would be less concerned about ability and reputation, but who knows. It's all so weird.

                                        As an adult re-rider I would find repeated negative comments very hard to take. I would never pay $100 an hour for someone to make deliberately nasty comments. That is just ridiculous.

                                        It sounds to me like your trainer is punishing you for giving notice on that lease. I bet they also don't like that you are sticking up for yourself, and enforcing agreements. As you can see from the varied responses so far, there are a lot of professionals that openly prefer customers who shut up and pay up.
                                        Last edited by Alternapony1; Feb. 20, 2011, 10:30 AM.

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