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Dealing with "stage parents" (HR)

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  • Dealing with "stage parents" (HR)

    A few months ago I had posted for advice on dealing with a neighbor/friend who had become quite pushy. I had allowed her DD (11) to ride my horse whenever she wanted, and while the DD didn¡¦t seem to be as "horse crazy" as the mom had let on (only coming out when there was nothing else to do, etc.), the mom ("Judy") had given me quite an attitude when I allowed another child to ride my horse one day (after her DD had said she wasn't coming that day!).

    Judy just got worse from there.

    Horse went lame, and I had the vet out and did every test imaginable. It turned out to be a degenerative problem and the horse would be retired. After talking to the vet, I let Judy know the situation and told her that the horse would no longer be able to be ridden but that she was welcome to visit him, etc. Judy responded by saying that

    1. I should be having more tests done, and even suggested a few things that she "had looked up on the internet". (Of course, Judy did not offer a cent towards the $1,000 that she knew I had spent on the vet care - she just wanted to make the decisions.)
    2. I should be having other vets look at the horse.
    3. Her DD would be "so upset" that she couldn't ride the horse anymore. And
    4. DD (age 11) should be the one - rather than I - to talk to the vet and make any decisions about the horse (and then send me the bill ). After all, "she thinks of the horse as her own." (NOTE: I own the horse and pay all bills and do all of the daily care. I was allowing her to ride him for free as what I thought was a good deed -- sigh.)

    She made a very stressful situation much, much worse.

    I ended up having to end the relationship, as I tried talking to Judy to no avail. (Of course, she stopped talking to me after there was no horse to ride.) It is sad, as I was trying to do something nice for the kid, but I really think it is the mom who wants her DD to have a horse - the DD does not seem to be a typical horse-crazy kid (which is fine).

    Any advice on dealing with these types of parents in the future? I know now that I should have set boundaries (e;g;, you can ride on Mondays, and for that you will have to clean the stalls that day), live and learn. I don't want to stop being nice, but feel really burned!

  • #2
    All I can say is your neighbor has quite a 'pair' to make those 'suggestions'. . . .have the 11 year old make the medical decisions for your horse indeed. . .

    I have similiar experiences, not with my own horses (because I really didn't let others ride my horses at all, with very rare exceptions) but with cake. . .. people who straight up take you for granted. . . people you thought were your friends and if you decide not to offer (whatever it is) for free anymore, they no longer have the time of day for you.

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    • #3
      God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.

      The only thing I can say is you can't unring a bell. So don't offer so much as you did this time, only to find yourself having to rein it all in. Instead maybe you start small, with just small concessions of your time, such as Monday's only riding, or stuff like that. Or point them to a lesson barn and wash your hands of it altogether. I extended myself this Spring in a charity type situation and ended up wishing I'd never answered the phone. I too had to end the deal, it was not worth the angst and anguish. With folks that self consumed, they are best met with someone else just as self-consumed. They'll repel each other like magnets

      I'm sorry you feel burned but honestly it could be sooo much worse, and it's OVER. At least now you have Judy out of your barn and your face. She can go find someone else to drive insane Your time is up LOL

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      • #4
        Originally posted by katarine View Post
        Or point them to a lesson barn and wash your hands of it altogether.
        This

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        • #5
          wow, no good deed goes unpunished, eh?

          Because you asked for advice on how to deal with this in the future, here's my 2 cents (and I think you are already thinking along these lines):

          If someone approaches you with the same type of "proposition", and you genuinely want to help the kid out, I would say that you are happy to help mentor a young horseman, but horsemanship is far more than riding -- it includes barn chores, horse care, grooming, etc. Riding is something that happens if a horse is sound and fit, but all horsemen learn to suck it up when their horse is unable to be ridden -- and the welfare of the horse always comes first. To paraphrase that old song, "Riding comes and goes, but picking stalls is forever". If the kid still wants to be part of all that, then they truly are horse-crazy and maybe you can work out something satisfactory for all of you. If not, I'd suggest some local lesson barns.

          jingles for your poor horse!
          I don't mind if you call me a snowflake, 'cause baby, I know a blizzard is coming.

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          • #6
            Boundaries! tell prospective parents and kids that the kids can spend time with the horses only when directly supervised by you. Then, come up with a few days/times each week when you tend to be at the barn doing other things and provide those as options. The kids need to tell you that they're coming a day or two in advance - they can't just show up because you might pick that day to go to the grocery store instead of the barn if you don't know they're coming! And it doesn't hurt to expect some amount of "chore time" to be returned in exchange for riding time. You'll either scare them away with too much structure, or you'll attract the kinds of families who like to have the deal spelled out in advance. This is pretty similar to what my 4H leader did, back in the dark ages, for the kids in the club who didn't have horses but wanted to spend time with hers. I remember my mom making me call and ask "Mrs R, may I come out on Thursday after school to help clean stalls and groom the horses?" then I'd take the school bus to their house with her kids and my dad would pick me up on his way home from work.

            Sorry, that doesn't really answer your question about the crazy parents...

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            • #7
              Just when you think you've heard it all, you discover you haven't.

              I would have been laughing so hard during this conversation that I probably would have peed my pants. Then I would have asked Judy if she was off her medication.

              Seriously, sorry about your horse, though.
              Surgeon General warns: "drinking every time Trump lies during the debate could result in acute alcohol poisoning."

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              • #8
                No way, no how

                First off, I'm sorry your horse has a degenerative problem. That stinks!

                Now for "Judy"...she is a special kind of crazy.

                I do believe you need to establish boundaries right up front, or you run serious risk of things progressing in a downward spiral.

                Judy's boundaries should start at the gate, as in OUTSIDE of the gate and off your property.
                Oppositional-Defiant and Troll Starvation Expert.

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                • #9
                  hate those parents, sorry but I really do.

                  Do a hand wash with Judy... if anything Judy should thank you for letting the kid ride for free.

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                  • #10


                    Don't give up on people but maybe screen them more thoroughly by making them work for it. When I was 15 yrs old I approached a woman who owned the only 2 horses in my town and asked if I could help with the horses.

                    Her response: "I can't pay you"
                    Me: "Thats okay"
                    Her: "You can't ride them"
                    Me: "Thats okay, I just like being around them"
                    Her: "You can only be here when I am here"
                    Me: "Ok"

                    Six months later I was taking care of her horses by myself 5 days a week after school and riding both of them (with permission).

                    But yeah, it started off as real strict and I wasn't expecting anything except to be around the horses. The woman and I were very close for YEARS and we are still friends, though I have moved states away.
                    2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com

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                    • #11
                      Many people mistake kindness for weakness. Many people are also crazy. You hit the jackpot with Judy, since she combined both qualities in one body. Yay.

                      As VCT said, don't stop being nice; just be a whole lot more choosy as to who you gift with your time and access to your horse(s). My dear sweet dad, who passed away in May, told me, when I'd been through not one but two similar experiences, "Listen, before you offer; not just to what people say, but for what they don't say."

                      Sorry if you've mentioned this already, but did the kid ever ask to ride, or to be around the horses, or was it all Judy? IME, unless the kid is the one begging for horsey time, they're not the ones with the real interest. If Mumsy is the one doing the pushing and the asking, point them towards the local lesson barn and make the quickest escape you can, gracefully. Then run, and don't look back.
                      In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
                      A life lived by example, done too soon.
                      www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/

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                      • #12
                        People act so entitled these days, don't they? I can't believe how rude, and self-centered people are either (not all, but enough to be irritating).
                        You are lucky you dodged a bullet here, since if anything had happened to the daughter the mom was so wrapped up in the image of her daughter the future olympian that you would have been toast-financially, legally and emotionally. People like the mother never accept reality, and are the first to sue your butt off at the least little thing. In today's legal climate I would be very nervous about allowing anyone to ride my horse or even be around them. Actually, my insurance agent said that it is in my best interest to never allow anyone on the property involving work unless they are licensed, insured and hopefully not suing me. And my agent said that I shouldn't even allow the wandering child, or other fairly harmless things, and make a legal paper trail about such incidents. The legal situation now has virtually eliminated the neighborhood lawn mowing by non-professionals, and is definitely the end of 'neighborly' gestures that people used to make. It's really quite sad isn't it?
                        You can't fix stupid-Ron White

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ESG View Post
                          Many people mistake kindness for weakness. Many people are also crazy. You hit the jackpot with Judy, since she combined both qualities in one body. Yay.

                          As VCT said, don't stop being nice; just be a whole lot more choosy as to who you gift with your time and access to your horse(s). My dear sweet dad, who passed away in May, told me, when I'd been through not one but two similar experiences, "Listen, before you offer; not just to what people say, but for what they don't say."

                          Sorry if you've mentioned this already, but did the kid ever ask to ride, or to be around the horses, or was it all Judy? IME, unless the kid is the one begging for horsey time, they're not the ones with the real interest. If Mumsy is the one doing the pushing and the asking, point them towards the local lesson barn and make the quickest escape you can, gracefully. Then run, and don't look back.
                          I have had similar experiences too and your dads advice is absolutly perfect! Wow! Thanks for posting!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Advice on dealing with this type of parent? Don't. Give them an inch.......

                            If they are interested in riding, refer them to a lesson/camp/academy program. This arrangement is better suited to dealing with this type since payment, insurance and contracts are involved.

                            Plenty of families out there pay $$ to have their kids ride.

                            I'd love to see this woman finagle soccer/figure skating/violin/dance, et al for her daughter for free.

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