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Are there NO mentally healthy professionals in the horse world?

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  • Are there NO mentally healthy professionals in the horse world?

    There are many reasons why people go pro in the horse industry, but I think one of the main ones is that there is so little accountability. If you are owner of a dry cleaner, but instead are losing your customer's clothes, hiding/mis-stating damage you did with using the wrong cleaner, not opening at the stated hours, you would be out of business, right?

    But, somehow, with the horse industry, being rude to customers with cutting comments; drugging horses so that they don't do anything the overhorsed, unprepared client couldn't manage; forgetting lessons; late to lessons; and an obvious bs'er to clients who are straight-up individuals who are (legitimately) successful in their own spheres... how IS IT these people manage to stay in business?

    I am teaching at a medium-sized barn that is down to just barely a handful of boarders and maybe a lessee and offer a medium-sized lesson program. Money is in the area, so it isn't that. And the co-owner managed to get back in to running the business after a few years taking a break. And that person is all of the above, plus having students fall off every week, making mismatches in terms of horse and rider b/c of the need to get that person to buy or lease... even when these experiences only weaken that customer's interest and parents are looking askance. But, the barn is still in business.

    Where is the justice?

  • #2
    If you're teaching at the barn, it sounds like you are a professional in the horse world, so...

    As in all professions, there are some people who suck at their jobs and some that don't. The ones that suck don't hold on to clients very well and tend to flounder. The ones that don't suck tend to eventually be more successful than those that do.

    It all evens out in the end.

    Although I have no idea what mental health has to do with it... You don't have to have mental health issues to be bad at your job.
    "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
    -George Morris


    • #3
      I agree that generally speaking, "professionals" in the horse industry get away with behavior that wouldn't be tolerated in other industries. There are some very well qualified and professional trainers in the business, you just have to find them. My trainer is extremely professional and successful and consequently some of her clients have been riding with her 20 plus years.

      In looking for a trainer, constant turnover in clients would be a big red flag, IMO.


      • #4
        I think the same question could be asked with equal validity of M.D.s (especially psychiatrists), lawyers, plumbers, movie makers..... As a friend highly respected as a both a lawyer and a literary critic once put it, "80% of everything is junk." I happen to agree with Jonathan Swift (who left his estate to a mental hospital), that as a species, we are far from accurately characterized as rational. That's why it might be a good idea for everyone to spend as much time as possible talking to his/her horses-- and be very careful about who is chosen to handle their care and training. I also agree that it might be a good idea to seek out trainers with clients who've been with them for a long time -- and still feel and behave as you'd like to see yourself and your horse/s-- although this could cause one to miss out on a promising young person with a lot of energy and ambition to do a great job.

        Good luck in your search for the right place and people to meet your needs. Being selective is not easy, but, IMO, worth the trouble in the long run.
        Last edited by fish; Jun. 18, 2013, 12:37 PM.


        • #5
          I concur, while it seems sometimes that the horse world is special...look at the service industry (or ANY other profession) for every awesome waitress that serves you, there are eight or nine who are complete crap, and have a litany of justifications for why it's ok to suck at their jobs.

          100% agree on MDs, and will add Nurses...for every compassionate, caring individual out there, that makes a huge difference in their patients' lives, there are 6 cranky, whining grumps sitting out in the common area making life miserable for sick people. Some of them barely seem to realize their own destructive potential.

          Teachers are another...look back at your education...unless you went to an elite private school, you probably had a few duds in there.

          If competence and quality of service are important to you, then ensure that those values permeate everything you do professionally. You will help to inspire others to work harder. OTOH, if you "hate" your job, then take a good hard look at yourself and figure out if you're in the 80%, or the 20%.
          Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


          • #6
            Agreed. Drycleaner isn't really a good comparison because it's
            1. easy to see if they screwed up your clothes (ie you don';t need to know anything about the business, all you have to know is "hey that stain is still there"); and
            2. easy enough to switch. You generally don't built "relationships" with drycleaners, like you might with a trainer (or health provider, teacher, etc).

            I think a lot of it is clients too. If my dry cleaner shrunk my suit, I'd post a negative review, criticize them by name, etc. While with horse pros a lot of the complaints are "I won't name names but".
            Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia


            • #7
              Don't even get me started.

              Some times I wonder to myself, so, given the list of things that have already occurred, what would ACTUALLY HAVE TO HAPPEN to make people think that maybe this isn't all so copacetic?

              At this point I think a horse could actually go for a flip on top of its rider and people would still be like, "Well, you know, it does happen sometimes."

              Oh ok. Well I'll just add it to the list.
              The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
              Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
              The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


              • #8
                I think one of the big problems is, a horse trainer/barn manager tend to be viewed by people using their services as more akin to a personal relationship than that of a service provider. Sure, they are providing services, but they are people you are expecting to take care of a loved on, help you out when you're emotionally fragile, coach you through rough spots and be a support system. It's like any bad romantic relationship - they usually start off great, until one day, it's not. But it is usually still hard to make that break no matter how bad it is, and people are usually WANTING to leave well before they actually do.

                We all WANT to give the relationship a chance until something happens that's the last straw. That's how it usually is with me anyway! I'm way too forgiving both in the horsey world and other aspects of my personal life. But not at work, for some reason. Horsey stuff is too heart-felt for some of us to think rationally sometimes. Sigh.
                Blog chronicling our new eventing adventures: Riding With Scissors


                • Original Poster

                  To continue my rant....

                  Well, if you go by boarder count, they are way down... Numbers above (ok, it's 3 boarders and a leased pony). Used to have WAY more.

                  "mental illness"... I say this b/c, IMO, lying and misleading your clients as a routine practice (sp), year in year out, is a mental illness and really the behavior I'm emphasizing here in the OP. Mediocre -- bad waitressing, dull treaching -- is not mental illness, it's just either low intelligence, laziness, etc.

                  and there seems to be a real preponderance of it in the horse world.

                  I'd agree that clients can hang around long after the relationship should been terminated...


                  • #10
                    I don't think it's fair to say people to pro versus other jobs because they don't want to be held accountable. I think it's a VERY hard job to hold, that involves a lot of hours, sweat, and putting up with really horrible people you wouldn't otherwise be remotely friendly with IRL. Most of the pros I've encountered originally got into it for the love of the sport and horses and I think dealing with clients and client demands have some what twisted them. I often tell my trainer I don't know how she does it-not only would my body have given up long ago, but I wouldn't be able to handle it mentally. She's a riding coach, but people also put a lot of their personal burdens on her. She's essentially a therapist along with everything else they demand of her.

                    Not to say there aren't naturally bad apples out there because there are. But you just have to weed through them and find the good ones, because they are out there.


                    • #11
                      Maybe, just maybe, it's because this is one of he only job that you can do without any kind of diploma or certifications? Cause honestly, some riders just wake up one day and decide that they will do "trainer" for a living.... whether they're legit or not. Granted, the really bad ones don't make it very far, and it shows in the OP's post: Most customers are gone pretty much.

                      Again I'm going to be flamed for what's coming, but in Europe it takes so much effort and hard work to get your degrees and diploma to be a horse trainer, that many of the losers or crazies that are doing it in the US just would never pass the exam on the other side of the ocean.... yes, I said it... And no I'm not talking about any of my customers or trainers, cause those are genius by definition since they chose to work with me... LOL.... yes I said that too.



                      • #12
                        It is a strange business and it seems to attract the unbalanced.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by stolen virtue View Post
                          It is a strange business and it seems to attract the unbalanced.
                          It's an industry as a whole that seems to do that! Lol. Professionals and clients.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by stolen virtue View Post
                            It is a strange business and it seems to attract the unbalanced.
                            Originally posted by KateKat View Post
                            It's an industry as a whole that seems to do that! Lol. Professionals and clients.
                            Isn't that the friggin truth??? I'd hanker a guess that we are all a bubble off center as soon as we purchase our first horse!
                            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


                            • #15
                              Eh, I look at my trainer and I see someone juggling SO many plates it's no wonder she says one thing one day and another the next. One simple thing goes wrong that needs a trip to the farm store and she is scrambling and behind for the rest of the day.

                              I think it's a case of it being too easy to become an equine professional. Hang a sign and you are one. So a great dream runs into the multitude of tasks that encompass horse care and facility management and rider development, and goes *splat*. Some people are just much better at the song and dance and making excuses than sitting down and doing business planning - sort of a bit like Rugbygirl said.
                              Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                              Incredible Invisible


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by stolen virtue View Post
                                It is a strange business and it seems to attract the unbalanced.
                                Interestingly, having shown AQHA, NRHA, NCHA and dabbled a bit with the APHA, my experience was that most of those trainers were fairly normal. I agree, the H/J crowd, has its share of whack jobs. A lot of the dressage group that I've observed while playing groom for a friend are a bit "touched" as well. I just can't figure out why.

                                Maybe people are all crunched up from riding day in and day out in the itty bitty saddles. A good excuse as any, I guess.


                                • #17
                                  in Europe it takes so much effort and hard work to get your degrees and diploma to be a horse trainer, that many of the losers or crazies that are doing it in the US just would never pass the exam on the other side of the
                                  This too. You get some totally awesome trainers here, and what I've discovered is that all of the really, really good horse professionals I've encountered...got an education. Sometimes it was a series of apprenticeships as working students, sometimes it included college, sometimes formal training/certification, but in ALL cases, you have a person who put a premium on learning the business principles required to run a barn/training stable/client service operation AS WELL AS learning the horse stuff. Some of the Pros I know educated themselves JUST to the point of figuring out that they had no interest in the business side, so they allied themselves with partners who took care of that. Because there is no real certification in the industry though, it totally depends on the individual. Some people get more out of one night school course in bookkeeping than others glean from a 4-year Business degree. In most trades and professions, besides getting a standard education, you have to prove competence against some standard...not so in the horse industry.

                                  Because this isn't required, and I think because a lot of the potential client base is made up of parents who are not familiar with horses...you can actually feed yourself as a really, really crappy horse trainer.

                                  Your situation is not unique to the horse world though, OP. There are mentally ill teachers out there too, and sadistic mental health workers...and I've personally dealt with more than a few mentally ill engineers. Mental illness is NOT endemic to the horse world...although you're probably not aware of how prevalent mental illness is in the general population. Tons of people out there working who are not quite bad enough to force onto medical leave, but bad enough that NOTHING they work on ever leaves the office without being triple checked. I think that some professions are a little better at dealing with their mentally ill members...crummy horse trainers usually don't pay for health insurance or extended disability benefits, so if they want to keep eating, they have to work. In professions and workplaces where there are extended benefits, it can be a lot easier to intervene with someone and give them the time and support they need to get everything together.

                                  Also, don't be too quick to confuse dishonesty with mental illness. It's really not. Some people are just driven by a completely different set of values than you are, and that doesn't necessarily make them ILL. Sometimes it just makes them jerks. There's one trainer locally like that. I'd love to be able to explain her behavior as "mental illness"...it would at least explain it...but she's not sick. She's just ignorant, greedy, has terrible horsemanship and is kind of stupid. She talks a GREAT game with parents and works out of a nice facility. Most people are fully aware of her "quirks." She has a revolving door of clients. Has for years. She has some longer-term clients that she uses to justify her behavior...and even they are fully aware that 3/4 of what comes out of her mouth is a lie. They just don't care...for them there is some net benefit. No skin off my nose, I guess. I certainly vote with my dollars elsewhere.
                                  Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by stolen virtue View Post
                                    It is a strange business and it seems to attract the unbalanced.
                                    And unfortunately most seem to be women.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Rugby girl... Oh, yes, I am very aware of how much mental illness there is out there. Don't make assumptions, b/c mostly it isn't respectful. but, I do consider chronic lying as a mental illness. It takes incredible self-absorption to lie as a routine way of communication. That's my opinion. It may not be in the manual, but it's my considered opinion.

                                      This thread is just a rhetorical thread, and just b/c someone is pointing out a deficit doesn't mean they haven't already long comprehended the root causes of it. I know why customers won't budge, either to stay or to leave. I'm just lamenting that the crappy ones in the biZ seem to have unbelievable staying power, compared to the ones who do an ethical, knowledgeable Jacob.

                                      The horse biz does has little accountability, which I think is a real reason on behind its problem, and also that parents don't know good from mediocre, or what to do about it should it not go be going well for their child. Also, I think good horse people don't by definition do well with the b.s. and bad customers, so they dial back their involvement in an industry that really does need them.

                                      On a personal note, Much of my frustration also comes from how much more current and how much more educated I am than the barn owners, who are not utd at all, and, as expected, get angry whenever another po approach is mentioned,however obliquely.


                                      • #20
                                        And this applies to north of the border also.
                                        With my present BO I put it mainly on lack of long term planning and lack of social skills... she does do right by the horses even if the ccare could be called basic more so to her own ( much too many horse doing nothing hurts the business) I know why most people leave as we are only 4 owner riders presently... when stressed or in front of others ( parents, students, other owners) she will trash you on a totaly random issue why ? Really because I do my own thing, I do not take lessons from her as we do flat work and her idea of flat work is so different than mine and that I have witnessed to many of her lessons I cannot take that kind of abuse and badgering.
                                        Have all the barns I worked in been like that? to a certain degree yes. Some less some more. Does it cross over to most disciplines? Not so much in eventing I would say but I have herd things in dressage barns that did make the hair on my back stand up. What about just saying to the client you are overhorsed rather then making beleive that this supplement will really help him ( supplement????).
                                        When your area where boarder barns are few and far between and therefore those who have the infrastructures a Horse owner needs you stick around and try to make a difference in slow subtle ways.
                                        Do I miss a barn where I could take lessons with a decent professional? Yes. Do my mare and I need the help? yes. Am I sometimes less than motivated because we are not resolving the issues as quickly as we could? yes.
                                        Also the visible lack of business savy is really strange... as the Bo has been wanting to give me lessons I have said to her that I would not mind when I found myself a cc saddle to seek her help with some over fence trainning, every time she ask when I am starting, I say I have not found a saddle yet... Does she offer one of own ( she has a few nice ones) to rent or to borrow? No not peep. Does she offer to help to find one for me? No. One has to smile and carry on.

                                        Hope is a thing with hooves....