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A vent on some past work experience

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  • A vent on some past work experience

    Last edited by Violette98; Nov. 26, 2019, 11:59 PM. Reason: Thanks to the few people who did try to encourage me. Clearly, this was a mistake and I'll be avoiding this website from now on.

  • #2
    In case you'd forgotten, you posted about this experience on here before:


    • #3
      Originally posted by Violette98 View Post
      I'm not sure this is the right place, but I need to post somewhere where people might understand me. I will probably delete this in the coming days as, although I am not sharing names or anything to personal, it would be easy to figure out who I am to the people involved in this. Thus, the deletion will be a protective measure.

      This is going to be a very long post, with a lot of small, important details. I am writing because I need to vent.
      I live in North America. I go to a university that offers lessons and I began actually riding about 2 years ago. I have covered a lot of ground since that time and learned very quickly. Last summer, I found a horse brokering business I wanted to intern for and applied. My school offers a program where they will pay you to do an internship, assuming the internship itself doesn’t pay. The business I found was in Europe in a country where I speak the language. This was my first ever horse-related job.

      This business had two owners. I will call them Yasmine and Jade. Yasmine is also in North America. She was the one I contacted and spoke to. Yasmine and I came to the following agreement:

      - My work days would be about 6-7 hours
      - I would stay for 3 months in this foreign country, living with Jade.
      - My work would consist of basic horse care, but nothing too crazy
      - While they wouldn’t pay me, I would get free horse lessons, etc.

      This sounded like a dream come true! I was so excited. When I was initially applying and speaking with Yasmine, I told her I wasn’t very experienced (only 2 years or so). I was almost brutally honest about this to the point of ruining this opportunity for myself. However, she brushed it off and reassured me. Eventually, I arrive in the foreign country and go to Jade’s house. The first surprise is she lives with a boyfriend who I will call Phil and they have a barn of about 16 horses. To make an extremely long story shorter, here is what happened.

      - About two weeks in, I’m eating dinner with Jade and Phil. Jade looks and me and gently asks “OP, when are you going home…? How long do you plan on staying?” I’m floored. Yasmine and I had discussed this. I tell Jade “Three months… Yasmine told me that she spoke with you and this was ok.” Jade looked upset and said “We could only keep you for one month… We had two other girls we promised your room to and planned to have you each for one month… Yasmine never told me this…” It became clear they didn’t speak at all.

      - I informed my family of all this and they had to rearrange their entire schedules. I ended up staying one month, which was good. But it was absolute HELL.

      - Yasmine began contacting me saying she wanted me to write their business plan. For their business. She also wanted me to start running all their social media accounts, make videos, design instagram layouts, analyze the most popular hashtags, and put together a presentation on places/shows where they could advertise and sell various products.

      - However, Jade wanted me in the barn. I got up at 7am and was in the barn until 8pm. I was then still expected to do the work Yasmine wanted. Most nights I went to bed after midnight. In other words, I worked something like 14 hour days with no pay from them and no days off.

      - Phil began abusing me behind Jade’s back. Phil would undo his pants and piss in the stalls I’d be cleaning, right in front of me. He made fun of me in front of others when he thought I couldn’t understand (in his native tongue). He criticized me when I got pole heights wrong or didn’t understand what he was saying in my language because his mastery was poor. It came to a head when I had Phil’s favorite stallion in cross-ties and was untacking him. To be fair, what I did was dangerous and stupid, but Phil finally snapped. He began screaming at the top of his lungs that I didn’t care about the horses, that I worked too slow, that I didn’t care about this job, that I should do more, that he had been trying to teach me but I was impossible. All I did was, seriously, live at that man’s beck and call because… honestly, he scared me even prior to this.

      - Some examples: 1. Horse lost its shoe before a show. They spent hundreds of dollars on the entry fee. He tells me to go look for it in the paddock. I eventually find it just in time, allowing them to fix the issue and jump the horse for the show. Never got so much as a thanks or smile. 2. Phil liked having a halter by the cross-ties at all times. At one point, things were hectic because of a show at our barn and Jade grabbed the halter while we where putting separate horses back. Phil had just finished jumping and comes in, still mounted. Dismounts, looks for the halter… and Jade had taken it. He roars into anger, screaming in the foreign language he still thinks I don’t understand saying it’s my fault. Jade says nothing in my defense. We both literally sprint to find him a halter while he just stands there, demanding and yelling at the top of his lungs. When we bring it, he says nothing and is still fuming.

      - Because of my work schedule, I never got to leave the premises of the house or barn in the entire month I stayed there, and I had to eat what they had in the house. Only, they’d sometimes eat all the food before I could have any. One night, I remember being excited because I secretly found raisins in a pantry and stole them. That was my dinner.

      - Yasmine because emailing in anger because I wasn’t able to do all her work AND Jade’s. Jade said, “OP, the horses are more important, so I’ll take care of Yasmine”. Nothing changed. Yasmine still sent emails demanding more and more. In these messages she became increasingly cruel. At one point, my parents tried to get involved. She told them that I wasn't what they thought I'd be (even though I was BEYOND honest with her in our initial phone calls).

      - Jade and Phil would go out and have vacation days or attend events while leaving me all alone with the horses and all the work. They would go to the beach, visit family, go out to dinner, and leave me behind.

      - Phil would CONSTANTLY remind me every day how much each individual horse costed ($30,000-50,000). He would remind me how much his new tack costed ($500). He said I better not mess up. He would tell me how if I did, if I set a pole height even slightly wrong, I’d ruin his horse. He would say over and over “you’re going to ruin that horse” or similar things when… nothing would really happen. In public, he’d make jokes in front of people saying how his horse jumped better in the competition because I set the pole height wrong in practice, causing the horse to nick it, and thus scaring it into jumping higher the future. Phil would never give a compliment and was always pretty cruel or negative to me. Every day, he’d find something to complain about and tell me what I did wrong with minimal explanation. He would also tell me to "stop treating the horses like a machine". I was slow because I was being gentle, careful and thorough; he wanted me to slap the saddles on. I was quiet because I was taught that body language around a horse was more important.

      - One day they were cleaning all the stalls out with some machinery, and it was a big ordeal. I have severe lung issues, and there was mold, mushrooms/fungus, etc in the air. I had been coughing up blood lately, and got scared this would make my condition even worse. I asked to leave for the day as a result. They said yes, but the next day gave me even more work while Jade just milled about the house (which... she often did)

      - Never had a single lesson

      - Ended up caring for all 16 horses independently. That includes: hay 2x a day, grooming each before and after paddock/training, putting them all in sand or grass paddocks, showering them after, pellets 3x a day, putting hay in all stalls, sweeping, cleaning all tack, greasing hooves, putting them each on the treadmill for 30mins, putting them all on the walker for 30 mins, helping tack them up for training/shows, trying (but failing) to braid their hair, giving water when one's fountain broke, helping set up jumps and poles, cleaning up after all horses in the ring. There were no other employees helping. And after all that, I'd do all the social media/business work at night.

      And here are the final things I want to say to have some peace of mind.

      - I couldn’t leave until my parents came, for various reasons. However, they made me stay so I could meet the school’s requirements and get the money. They told me the experience was needed, that I needed to toughen up. If I’m honest, the ordeal was so bad I have ptsd I think. I am now very afraid around horses and have no confidence. I feel betrayed by them.

      - Phil was a horse abuser. His favorite stallion would snake his head when you would go to feed him. Phil took this as a sign of aggression/dominance (which I did at first too, although I never hit him of course; I also realized it was his weird/goofy way of being playful). Phil, when he thought no one was looking, would beat the horse when it did that. The horse would then shy from him for the next week, only to gather the courage again in time and the process would repeat.

      - Phil was a liar. He had a horse he wanted to sell that had nerve damage, through no fault of his own. The horse should have sold for nothing. When a customer approached him about the horse, he said it was fine and hiked up the price three times the amount. She then bought the horse and found out about the issue. He said too bad, you should have gotten another veterinarian evaluation. I still think it was a slimy move and he said all this in the foreign language, bragging to a friend, when he thought I was too stupid to understand.

      - Another horse of Jade and Phil’s was also injured. They sold it somewhere in Africa, where they knew it was going to probably be abused working for some tour company.

      - I am tempted to say that Phil would drug his horses with what I believe was a drug actually deemed illegal. I say this because although my memory is fuzzy surrounding this, he said that he shouldn’t really have that drug in his possession or something to that extent. There were always a LOT of used syringes laying around which he would administer himself. On one occasion, Jade was about to ride his horse, which often got extremely nervous at shows. Phil administered a drug he told me would calm the horse, but outright told me he wasn't supposed to be using it.

      - Yasmine is clueless as to how to take care of horses and the work it entails. Jade is afraid of Yasmine since she has all the money for the operation essentially.

      There are so, SO many other things that happened that I could speak about. But I just wanted to get this off my chest.
      Yes I remembered this story too. You posted it in 2018 so actually it didn't happen last summer, that is now summer 2019.

      I am sorry it is still troubling you so much that you feel the need to repost a year later.

      Anyhow if the story is true and not just a plot proposal for a spinoff of Heartland I am very surprising that things were not specified more clearly in the contract between your employer and the university. I find it hard to believe they didn't know on advance you were there for a 3 month stay


      • #4
        So why post the whole thing in June 2019, get advice, remove post and out it up again in November 2019? That's just wierd. Of course we all remember it. If you are still upset or traumatized over this you might want to seek some counseling.


        • #5
          Um wait a minute. Your June 2019 post linked above describes a different bad working student experience. But I know I also read the Stranded in Europe boyfriend peeing in the stalls
          saga before somewhere on here. Must have been under a different user name.

          The June 2019 post was about a working student position that went sideways because you couldn't do the digital end of things?

          No, I don't believe one beginner rider had two bad working student internships in the same summer.


          • #6
            Well, I never read it before, but it sounds like you dodged a bullet by only being there a month, OP. I would have come home and reported this Yasmine to anyone who would listen too. I would still report it now. This is not an internship, this is abuse and slavery. You may save someone else some even more serious harm.

            It's pretty low that with so many people on this forum getting up on the "SafeSport" high-horse all the time, the first thing that anyone thinks to do here is bring up a previous similar post, as if that's somehow the problem.


            • #7

              DD went for a study abroad class where she had four weeks of homestay and four weeks of dorm life. She'd previously done a summer exchange/homestay for three weeks. I went online seeking information about the country and the experiences of others, and OMG. One young lady on a student exchange/homestay had a curfew and missed it, got locked out on a cold and miserable night and had to turn herself in at the police station for shelter. Thank heaven DD's experience was a good one.

              I think you were advised to report this to the provost of your school in the linked thread posted June 2019 and strongly suggest that be done. What concerns me is that you were to have been housed for three months and instead discovered that the program parameters weren't 240 hours in three months but more like 280 in one month.

              You are likely not a minor but I've been a past participant in student exchanges and there has always been a representative of the school or exchange agency to appeal to and provide assistance with host family conflicts up to cutting off the stay. As I recall it round trip airfare was part of the arrangements.

              I'm going to accept you at your word, though the working conditions don't actually surprise me. Even a successful show barn hasn't got a high profit margin and everybody gets to work like Hebrew slaves at some point. The most common complaint is that promises are made to teach and mentor the student and instead they become disposable, overworked whipping boys. No, what really bothers me is that the school should be acting in loco parentis and you should have been able to contact someone and make arrangements to go home within a week if not immediately.
              Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
              Incredible Invisible


              • #8
                Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                Um wait a minute. Your June 2019 post linked above describes a different bad working student experience. But I know I also read the Stranded in Europe boyfriend peeing in the stalls
                saga before somewhere on here. Must have been under a different user name.

                The June 2019 post was about a working student position that went sideways because you couldn't do the digital end of things?

                No, I don't believe one beginner rider had two bad working student internships in the same summer.
                It was the same exact story, just with fewer details. (For example, it did not mention the guy peeing in the same stall where she was working, just that he peed in stalls in general.) If you read down that thread you can see where we discussed that topic.


                • #9
                  Why post it in 2018 and then again in 2019? Are you sure this isn't just a new Heartland episode?

                  However, if this truly did happen, and you feel the need to repost over a year later, I would suggest some counseling. You say you have PTSD from the experience, counseling would go a long way in helping you work through this and on yourself.


                  • Original Poster

                    I posted this thread because I just wanted support, and then got accused of basically script-writing a show I've never seen in my life. I thought maybe it would be better a second time posting, and that people would be understanding especially in light of SafeSport. Nope. Serves me right, and I just hope this entire post and the last gets pulled. I wish Scribbler would delete the quote because I don't want to get hit with a lawsuit, but guess there's no promise of that happening, even though I originally posted it saying my intent and reasons for wanting to delete this post eventually. I don't plan on coming back here any time soon, I don't need to explain myself to anyone anymore, and I'm off to get some treatment/help/support from people who can actually help me. Thanks.


                    • #11
                      Anything you post on the internet is public. Once it is there, it's there. If it is something you don't want OUT there, then I would highly suggest not posting publicly on an internet bulletin board.

                      If this happened to you I am sorry you had to endure such conditions and treatment and that is absolutely deplorable. However, I do think you reaching out for some help and counseling would be a great idea, that's why I suggested it in the first place. PTSD is very real (I have it, a lot of people do. Although mine is from an alcoholic abusive ex, but it doesn't make the PTSD anymore real or worse, just a different scenario), and getting the right team of counselors/doctors/and support people is highly important to healing.


                      • #12
                        Yes the total absence of the school in this scenario is what puzzles me. And the absence of parents too. Universities monitor work placements fairly closely for a number of reasons, they don't want their students coming to harm and they don't want their students scamming a holiday junket either. I want to know what the outcome was. Did you go home early? Did you report this to your university? What response did they have? Did you tell your parents? What was their response? Have you had counseling?

                        It's just odd to have the same story repeated in media res with no conclusion 8 months later.


                        • #13
                          Your believability factor is nil. School liability, parent involvement?


                          • #14
                            No posting it here twice is not better. I can understand how distressing and confusing such things might have been for you but venting in that manner is best done privately, through counseling.
                            Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                            Incredible Invisible


                            • #15
                              Did OP tell the school? Her parents, who she said had to come pick her up (at age 20). They, maybe, could actually do something. Like being sure it doesn’t happen to anybody else. We can’t do a thing about it.

                              We did advise OP, just about unanimously, to get out and call the school. Don’t know why she reposted the same story, added more details, , got the same advice and reacted the same way.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                              • #16
                                Flame suit on - I believe you. I have groomed / assisted in some of the best barns in NA, and what I'm sure are the worst. The absolute worst gig? Cameras EVERYWHERE in the groom's house. 3 20 year old girls, 3 bedroom house, 12+ cameras. What the f. Boss would use camera footage to know when you woke up, when you went to bed, if you went to Carl's Jr at midnight with the munchies.

                                They completely abused the fact that they knew you couldn't leave. They sound like they run their business terribly and probably cannot keep regular help, which is why they have helped themselves to so much free labor via interns.

                                Perhaps you're sharing your story again because you want to feel heard. That's understandable after trauma, and if your story is true, you have every reason to have felt traumatized by that situation. You were trapped and far from home.

                                Therapists are AWESOME. You can dump all of this shit on them, and they can't tell anyone. I've been guilty of dumping via internet forum in the past, and while briefly cathartic, it tends to cause more trouble than comfort. Hang in there!


                                • #17
                                  OP, I’m sorry you had a bad experience. I agree that seeking counseling would be wise. Not just so that you can work through this with someone in person, but also so that you can work on a plan to get yourself out if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. Unfortunately, there are lots of bad jobs in the horse industry. Learning to identify this early on and having a way to get out quickly is an important tool for the future.

                                  I’m not saying this to blame you; I’m saying this because I have been there, too, and I won’t let it happen again. I felt stuck in a job where I was overworked and underpaid, verbally abused by a boss, and stressed to the point where the sound of my phone ringing induced panic. I won’t allow myself to be treated like that every again, and that knowledge does a lot to aid in the process of moving on.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Equisis View Post

                                    I’m not saying this to blame you; I’m saying this because I have been there, too, and I won’t let it happen again. I felt stuck in a job where I was overworked and underpaid, verbally abused by a boss, and stressed to the point where the sound of my phone ringing induced panic. I won’t allow myself to be treated like that every again, and that knowledge does a lot to aid in the process of moving on.
                                    Yes! It is not unlike being in an abusive relationship (which I have been, and can confidently say the level of mindf*&k is similar.)


                                    • #19
                                      Thank you for posting your experience and how traumatic it was for you so that others (who may think it'll never happen to them) may be able to recognize what is happening sooner if something similar was happening to them. The more who can be made aware of how something like this can happen, the better.

                                      There's also the option to just accept that you were taken advantage of and there's likely nothing that can be done about it now, and chalk it up to crap happens, now you know, and now it'll never happen to you again.


                                      • #20
                                        I believe OP and have had similar experiences with Equine employers.

                                        What bugs me is this nonsense that OP should “keep it private.” That’s crap. The time for pressuring vulnerable people to keep their bad experienced hidden is OVER. This sport will not survive with this secretive culture of abuse. And WHY do folks want it to? What are you knuckle heads afraid of? Some abusive jerks will get called out? Well Boo Hoo for the bullies who screech at the daylight.

                                        Good for OP for speaking up.

                                        And you victim blamers suck. I hope your calls for support go ignored when you are confused, stressed, and don’t know what to do.
                                        "Friend" me !