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Trainer/rider....Stockholm syndrome??????

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  • Trainer/rider....Stockholm syndrome??????

    When and how did the atmosphere of the trainer has ownership of the rider/ horse/parent get so out of control? It's like Stockholm syndrome. Where the warden becomes, in the mind of the prisoner, the safe keeper? Why is it a nightmare to change trainers? Why is it such a huge "scandal" when someone does? The barn members feel uncomfortable at the shows and won't even speak to the one who "escaped". Many times the trainer has horrible things to say about that person. It just reinforces the "fear" of those left behind to even think about leaving.
    Why can't people take lessons, use many trainers and feel free to use who they want when it comes time to show, buy or take lessons??? I have heard trainers get angry when one of their students take a "clinic" from a famous trainer. And GOD forbid they look at a horse to buy or even sell their own horse without the trainer having total control. It really wasn't this way until the 80's is when I think it started....or was it?
    When I went to college I didn't have one professor. Why do I have to have to have one trainer? I understand that seeking other advice is healthy. I understand that long term work within a "system" of one trainer is healthy. But at some point there may be a time when it's time to move on or learn a new system....and this can happen at the same time. The client is not a walking wallet. The client is to LEARN and to achieve SKILL from the trainer. And the trainer is responsible for a "long term" riding skill NOT JUST THE RIBBON NEXT WEEKEND. Sometime the trainer is responsible for telling the client the painful truth. Like the horse they have is NOT a good match for them. Maybe the rider is not skilled enough and needs to change divisions. And when the time comes, maybe the trainer needs to tell them they need to go and move up to another trainer. When all that matters is the ribbons, a part of your soul gets lost.
    I had an old trainer who is respected and now semi retired, tell me....that it never bothered him when someone left. He knew that if he didn't make a fuss and let it go gracefully that they would be back and even refer people to him. He had a very loyal AND NOT HELD HOSTAGE following. He had it right. Do the right thing. Be honest about the "match" of horse and rider. Let the client have input and actually listen. And when they leave, know that good "break ups" can still lead to long term relationships. Let them have freedom and give them good service. He made mistakes as we all do but he wanted the right thing for his client. He knew who paid the bills. Where did this work ethic go?????
    I have seen trainers NOT teach their customers how to even tack up a horse. Or put wraps on. Or lunge. Or basic horsemanship in order for them to feel that they are incapable of taking care of their horse. It makes them dependent on purpose. I had one trainer say to me...."oh I forgot you can tack up a horse" when it was time for my lesson. SINCE THE OTHER 15 COULDN'T DO IT. She let the groom go to the others who couldn't do it.
    How did we get here? There is so much tension with the "paying customer" and the "barn politics" and the trainers that you can cut it with a knife. Ive been showing since the 50's and I'm just overwhelmed by all this. I'm not kicking trainers around if anything I'm shocked by the client who allows themselves to be a victim. WHO IS THE BOSS?????It's the guy who writes the check the last time I checked.
    Maybe I'm the one who is wrong. Maybe it's time to retire to the hunt field. Maybe it's time for the "service" industry of the trainers to provide a real service and that includes respect for the paying "BOSS" client. Maybe it's time for the "paying their hard earned cash customer" to stop being a Stockholm hostage.

  • #2
    How unfortunately true. Here's the nail you hit on the head:

    Originally posted by BridalBridle View Post
    It makes them dependent on purpose.
    Many owners/riders crave the sense of belonging and acceptance from a trainer, so they don't question the trainer. And trainers enjoy the dependence because they make way more money when they can charge clients for absolutely everything, from grooming and tacking up to ordering the clients' tack to replacing the clients' horses.

    Comment


    • #3
      Your candor is refreshing. I'm a child of the 80s who did, indeed, learn to tack up her own, poultice, choose bits, whathaveyou. IME, the really good trainers don't want to make helpless hostages. They're ultimately a PITA.

      How do you separate the deserved BNT from the wannabe BNT? Walk in and say you want to groom your own and watch. I did this one time in the barn of a BNT in Connecticut. I was a little clueless and just wanted a good facility and care for horse, with some good lessons to boot. I had made this horse myself, but was sure we could both improve some more.

      The very nice and accomplished assistant trainer showed me around and introduced me to the head groom before we found the grand poohbah of the whole operation. She tried to show me the "club house" upstairs and I said I wanted to see the stalls and know if it would be a problem for me to use one while the pro grooms were working on other horses. When I was finally introduced to The Man, he also asked if I had seen the really beautiful club house upstairs. The assistant said to him: "This one wants to groom her own." We all looked at each other. There could have been meanness and judgement there, but I walked away feeling like we each knew that we were cut from sections of the same, old-fashioned cloth. Had I had the money to choose that barn, I think we would have gotten along fine.

      I'll give any trainer a chance to teach me something I don't know. But I'll be quick to leave when I hear the "my way or the high way" rigidity that comes from someone who has already hoped to get the job done by being defensive.
      The armchair saddler
      Politically Pro-Cat

      Comment


      • #4
        Maybe its time for COTH to find some new topics of discussion. Show vs. field hunters is going on again down in a (completely unrelated) video thread.

        Again, not all programs are like this, though some may be. Though it sometimes sounds like it on here, there is in fact NOT a giant trainer conspiracy out there with the sole goal of raising a barn full of sheeple.

        Trainers that are easily threatened by the influence of another trainer upon their students typically lack confidence, and in my experience it's for a valid reason. So I would get out of there anyway, but probably because I had recognized what talent was lacking that caused the decreased confidence.

        In other instances it can occur because the client wants the blue ribbon next weekend, NOT the trainer. And in that case we have to get pretty insistent about exactly what is done with the horse, since you've given us 7 days to turn it into the winner. And ensure it gets along with your kid, which may lead some to limit the time horse and kid play together.

        Trust me, it's not always the trainer driving the barn to such Stockholm means (again, it may be in some cases but NOT ALL), often times its that instant gratification, results NOW mentality that seems to think we can magically transform horses into ribbon winning carousel ponies regardless of any circumstances what-so-ever.

        "He's playing in the corners! We just spent $XXXX to come home with a green ribbon???"
        "Did you get him out yesterday, and hack him hard like I told you?"
        "We trotted for 20 minutes and went on a trail ride!"
        "Nevermind. I'll just add him to the micro-manage program. Your next horse show will be better sweetie."

        Sorry, I was inundated with blanket statements last night and still feeling the residuals
        EHJ | FB | #140 | watch | #insta

        Comment


        • #5
          Agree completely, BridalBridle! Great post. Dixon has also found the key point in your post.
          "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

          Comment


          • #6
            I have seen it but lucky to not be in it.

            My current trainer (and friend since we were in Pony Club together) actually encourages us to ride with other people and wants us to be independant. Matter of fact, she hooked me up with another local trainer that does the QH circuits so I would have someone to help me at those shows since my trainer cannot attend many due to conflicts with H/J shows. So now I have two trainers <G>. Plus I ride with different people for my eventing stuff!

            Bobbi
            Bobbi
            ~ Jus Passed My Zipper aka Spanky, 11yo QH gelding.
            ~ Muskogee, 2yo Oldenburg Colt.

            Comment


            • #7
              Trainer/rider . . . .stockholm syndrome?????

              I too am dismayed at the way the horse world is going. I haven't been showing since the 50's (sorry) only since the 60's but I have shown in jumpers on 3 continents so I feel like I've been around. The situation in the US is absurd. Horsemanship is NOT taught. Fees and costs are out of sight. The industry is destorying itself. There is some hope in the opinions coming out of the USHJA and USEF leaders and perhaps the trainer certification program can begin setting out ethical standards in addition to teaching riding and training skills. Of course, as consumers we need to be aware that we are purchasing a service and that trainers are not our mothers/fathers but our employees. Like all services that are based on business but involve a personal service, it's very easy for the lines to be crossed and a feeling of familiarity, friendship and intimacy are present when they are not earned or returned. If consumers would remember that they are the employers of trainers and insist on taking control over the care of their horses and their training, it might change. The consumers (us!) are taking the easy way out by giving over control of every aspect of their horse's care and their own training to a trainer. It is simpler if you just show up, ride and write the checks but there is a price to be paid for that. The price is not only in the pocket book but in horsemanship and the future of the sport. If young riders don't know how to manage and care for their horses, and they are the future trainers, we are facing a huge problem. George Morris with his Horsemaster's program and USEF/USHJA's trainer certification programs are small steps. But I think consumers need to engage in conversations with their trainers about the high fees and "total control" and engage in conversations with show managers about the rising costs of fees and what those things are doing to horses, riders and the sport. For example, I engage in regular conversations with my trainer about show fees and other costs and insist that we consider all options before I sign off on the blank check. I also have contacted local show managers about their costs and would like to see other consumers do the same. It's important to ask why each year stall fees at shows increase and braiders charge more when the economy is failing. For those organizations that are member-owned, take a look at the balance sheet. Ask questions about the profit/loss statements. I try and engage my trainer in regular conversations about cost saving methods. Surpising enough, my trainer not only listens to me but sometimes adopts my suggestions. Taking the easy way out by writing blank check is expensive and harms the horses in the long run. If a horse is merely a commodity, then when it's no longer winning, it's too easy to let it go to a home it's not suitable for or worse. I am encouraged by the recent op-eds in the Chronicle about the problems in the industry but consumers need to engage in conversations with trainers and show managers also and not be put off by the comment "well, it's an expensive sport". It is expensive but it's doesn't have to be this expensive. After all, the skiing industry is expensive if you ski in Vail or Europe but even there the resort works hard at providing a product that is affordable for middle class families not just the weathy.
              kenyagirl

              Comment


              • #8
                Well, you got people of all ages looking for something missing in their own lives thinking they repalce that with a trainer.

                We got parents who dump the kid at the end of the driveway and allow the trainer to be parent. Lots of them.

                If you treat it like a business relationship, it works fine on both sides. But if you are replacing real friends and, face it, more then friends, with somebody you are paying...it creates an unrealistic environment, sort of a pseudo parent/ child thing.

                For some reason, trainers who are very controlling seen to attract this type. But it only happens when you let it.

                Just look at your relationship with your trainer, they may be your friend on one level but you absolutely have to treat it as business first and never lose sight of the fact they work for you and you write the checks.

                On the trainer's side of this, some like it and encourage it. But you usually see this more in the barns run by borderline to outright bad trainers, you know, the verbally abusive type JAWS who specialize in the pointed put downs of their rider. Maybe to compensate for crappy teaching and riding skills on their part?

                Anyway...no this is not new. Back when I started we saw the same kind of things...and would be remiss not to mention the then shrugged off inappropriate advances of older male trainers towards younger female students. That is much less acceptable these days but you know it still happens. That is dark side of the student/coach relationship and cannot be ignored. Young people are emotionally immature and develop crushes easily, a good coach can see this and not let it proceed. bad coaches need it to boost their self esteem-I guess.

                Anyway, I got on well with my trainers and, although uncomfortable, never had trouble leaving. From the trainer-awful time from some of the barn owners though.
                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I just left a situation like this. So I feel your pain.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'll just put this here instead of edit it in above.

                    Stockholm Syndrome is a good analogy. Sort of. It means the captive is so controlled by the captor, they start empathizing with them and their cause. Anybody with any law enforcement or aviation training is well versed in it. It can happen to anybody placed in a hostage situation for an extended period of time where lack of contact with the real world and frequently lack of proper nutrition and living conditions warp the perceptions of the victim. To the point they become terriorists, criminals and end up marrying the guy. But it happens to the men as well.

                    Some of the same things at work in a sick trainer/client relationship. No gun to the head, no lack of contact with the outside world but you certainly see enough of the warped view of what is going on in their extreme defense of what is obviously, to anybody outside, a bad situation.

                    Never could figure that one out-much better trainer right up the road at the same price but they defend the abusive, controlling trainer and never, ever want to see or hear the truth.

                    Hmmm...interesting.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Can I give a perspective from the other side of this coin?
                      "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
                      carolprudm

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dags View Post

                        Again, not all programs are like this, though some may be. Though it sometimes sounds like it on here, there is in fact NOT a giant trainer conspiracy out there with the sole goal of raising a barn full of sheeple.
                        I am with you on this one.

                        There are barns at all extremes of this situation. And most are some where in the middle.

                        People pick a barn that fits what they want. Some people actually like that set up.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          As a trainer, I will say I encourage my girls to go out and find additional instruction if they are so inclined to continue their riding to the next level. But some people just ride for fun, and we're that barn. I have a few serious girls and we work seriously hard.

                          So I'll play the other side of the coin. Well. Kinda. As a trainer nothing pisses me off more than to see a kid just be LAZY. I'm pretty low key. I push people in ways that don't require me to scream and terrorize the kids. But....

                          Some kids just need it. Some kids push you so far or you see them letting a horse repeatedly get away with something and you know they are just doing it for whatever purpose (fear, lazy, etc.) and so it upsets you as a trainer that they act this way. And that's where the screaming and terrorizing comes in. I can think of 2 off the top of my head that I feel waste my time by coming to lessons because they have no desire to better themselves as equestrians and that bothers me. Even if you are riding for fun, be the best you can be. Or at least be bothered to listen to me.

                          So I can see where doing this for a living and having to deal with multitudes of people like this could drive you to being a horrid person to EVERYONE. And there are LOTS of things that happen behind the scenes that cause peoples attitudes to change.

                          But as per usual, FindEight says it best!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by findeight View Post

                            On the trainer's side of this, some like it and encourage it. But you usually see this more in the barns run by borderline to outright bad trainers, you know, the verbally abusive type JAWS who specialize in the pointed put downs of their rider. Maybe to compensate for crappy teaching and riding skills on their part?
                            Yep.... I heard something to the effect of "Do you know the definition of intellegence? It's not making the same mistake over and over again." Instead of giving an actual suggestion on how to change the ride and correct the mistake. That was the last time I wrote a check to that trainer; I believe that decision showed my true intelligence.
                            Last edited by tidy rabbit; Jul. 2, 2009, 01:05 PM.
                            Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Honestly kids today don't have the time anymore, and a lot of them don't have the interest in the REAL work of becoming a well-rounded horseman. Between piano, volleyball, cheerleading, other siblings' schedules, increasingly long commutes to barns, homework and all that other jazz they simply cannot maintain their horses the way their horses SHOULD be maintained.

                              And then they don't get why they don't win. And then they complain. And parents think wrong horse has been bought.

                              Or worse, their lack of attention to their animal results in injury.

                              4-5 hours a day after school, 8+ hours each day of summer. That was my barn life, but that does not happen anymore.

                              Your flip side is the trainer out there from dawn to dusk, turning out, medicating, going over feed regimens, putting him in the bitting rig, making sure boots are soaked, clipping and pulling, holding for farrier and vet, wrapping for shipping . . . it only takes a few times to rely on a client to do something we deem as crucial for whatever reason, and it not happening, before you throw up your hands and say, fine. I'm going to manage the care for all of these horses.

                              I think most professionals would prefer to not have to be such hawks, but we are the professionals for a reason, and often it's because our regard for programs, consistency, fitness and care are elevated beyond that of the average horseman. When we see that vision lackadaisically maintained we can either step in for the benefit of the horse (who I consider to be my true employer), or watch the ensuing trainwreck that we know is coming.

                              It is more frustrating than I think many realize, and it often stems from trying to do what is best for the horse.
                              EHJ | FB | #140 | watch | #insta

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                When I was most active in the 80's, there was a girl at our barn who had her own trainer, rather than using the stable owner/trainer.

                                Trainer controlled nearly EVERYTHING. And the girl's parents let her.
                                A typical exchange (trainer was fond of yelling at/humiliating the rider in front of everyone, which was uncomfortable for US as well as the girl):

                                "XXXXX gets no dessert for the next two weeks, and she goes to bed at 8 or the minute her homework is done. If her lessons improve, or if she has a good show next weekend, I'll let you know if you can lift the punishment early."

                                This really happened. We were all completely slack-jawed, and the poor girl just stood there with her head down as Mom nodded and agreed with trainer.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by dags View Post
                                  Honestly kids today don't have the time anymore, and a lot of them don't have the interest in the REAL work of becoming a well-rounded horseman. Between piano, volleyball, cheerleading, other siblings' schedules, increasingly long commutes to barns, homework and all that other jazz they simply cannot maintain their horses the way their horses SHOULD be maintained.

                                  And then they don't get why they don't win. And then they complain. And parents think wrong horse has been bought.

                                  Or worse, their lack of attention to their animal results in injury.

                                  4-5 hours a day after school, 8+ hours each day of summer. That was my barn life, but that does not happen anymore.

                                  Your flip side is the trainer out there from dawn to dusk, turning out, medicating, going over feed regimens, putting him in the bitting rig, making sure boots are soaked, clipping and pulling, holding for farrier and vet, wrapping for shipping . . . it only takes a few times to rely on a client to do something we deem as crucial for whatever reason, and it not happening, before you throw up your hands and say, fine. I'm going to manage the care for all of these horses.

                                  I think most professionals would prefer to not have to be such hawks, but we are the professionals for a reason, and often it's because our regard for programs, consistency, fitness and care are elevated beyond that of the average horseman. When we see that vision lackadaisically maintained we can either step in for the benefit of the horse (who I consider to be my true employer), or watch the ensuing trainwreck that we know is coming.

                                  It is more frustrating than I think many realize, and it often stems from trying to do what is best for the horse.

                                  This kinda what I was going to say. This business is unique in that you cannot put the horse in a closet like golf clubs or a tennis racquet. I DO know better than my clients how to take care of the horses, and they had better let me do it, or I cannot be responible for the results.

                                  As far as the never letting them ride with other trainers....I never got that, dont subscribe to it, and am not planning on changing that.
                                  "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
                                  carolprudm

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Oh amen Dags on all the stuff parents put their kids into. Keeping them so busy they never get to be KIDS! Trying to do makeup lessons with some of my kids is down right impossible sometimes and I just throw up my hands and tell them they've lost their lesson.

                                    I will say, on the other side of that, that I have been really blessed with a SMALL group of riders (I have around 20 total riders because this is part-time) who are extremely dedicated to their animals and their welfare. And I'm even more blessed to have parents who just let me do my job.

                                    I've found though that my style is completely different than other trainers. I feel a show is just that. A show. I don't scream from the rail *unless I can't help myself change that lead*! I make a plan with my kid before they hit the ring, and let them show what they have LEARNED! I can only get them so far. AT some point it becomes about what they have learned and their relationship with their animal. And we seem to do pretty well with that plan.

                                    Having said that, I've seen AT EVERY SINGLE SHOW parents who scream at their kids to the point that I'm humilated for the child or trainers who scream the entire time they ride. Give them a break and let them ENJOY themselves. We're at back yard shows here. We're not winning Olympic medals here!!! And you know, I've never heard George Morris screaming like a banshee at Beezie Madden to spur Authentic until he has a hole in his side!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by tidy rabbit View Post
                                      Yep.... I heard something to the effect of "Do you know the definition of intellegence? It's not making the same mistake over and over again." Instead of giving an actual suggestion on how to change the ride and correct the mistake. That was the last time I wrote a check to that trainer; I believe that decision showed my true intelligence.
                                      Well, obviously, one of you knew the definition of intellegence.
                                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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                                      • #20
                                        I teach and train. I am NOT a BNT. I run my own smaller barn. My students are NOT "required" to buy certain things/brands etc, that thread made me sick! Soem of my students opt to buy GPA's, some don't, I don't care as long as it is an APPROVED hard hat. My students don't do "hunter hair" and do jsut fine in the shows. I ALMOST NEVER get on my students horses at shows, I am not a trainer that does a division on the students horse so it is tired out, bahving for them. I EXPECT my students to warmup and ride their OWN horse, if the horse needs lunging then THEY do it. They wash their horses, tack their horses, etc. and they clip their horses for shows, unless the horse is VERY difficult or it is a smaller student. I will braid for them at bigger shows as many jsut aren't good at that. I do often pull manes, or wash horses, doctor cuts etc when the owner is not able to get out and do it, or for the younger kids. The hroses care will not be compromised at my barn no matter what. But I also treat the horses like horses! I don't have "rules" about not jumping outside of lessons, any student is free to jump their horse, or do any other activity with their horse AS LONG AS an ault is present (for minors). I don't TELL them what horse to buy, but I do assist them with finding the correct horse. I allow and encourage cross training, most of my students have done at least a few dressage tests, done some cross country jumping, trail riding and even western. I encourage riding/clinicing with other GOOD instructors. I do sometimes get frustrated when the student isn't coming out and riding enough, mostly because they expect a lot out of their horses and the hrose is not fit enough. I will do training rides if requested but don't require them. I also don't "require" them to take a specific number of lessons etc. I thinka ll of these things are absolutely ridiculous, of course maybe that is why I always have to scrape to make ends meet! I absolutely will go without myself in order to have the barn taken care of properly!!
                                        www.shawneeacres.net

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