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Discussing training expectations without ruining relationship with trainer?

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  • Discussing training expectations without ruining relationship with trainer?

    Situation a friend (who is not a COTH-er, or much of a computer person at all) is in right now, and I really didn't know what to tell her. When I've been in a situation like this before, it was far worse, and thus far easier to make a decision.....which was to leave!

    Hers is more complicated. She's got a nice enough horse who seems to like the work she's in, and seems to like the trainer she's with. The care is great - no concerns whatsoever there. That's where I'm stuck with advice. (In my previous crappy situations, one trainer was downright abusive and the next one was withholding meds. Not exactly grey areas!) So this horse is happy, bright and well cared for. My friend's problem is that she's fairly sure that the horse isn't getting worked as often as she's supposed to be getting worked, per the training agreement. She's told me that she's potentially missing 2 days per week that she's supposed to be in work and is not being worked.....so that instead of working 5-6 days per week, she is only working 3-4 days per week.

    So the grey area is this - the care is excellent, the instruction is great, horsie is happy BUT perhaps not progressing and muscling as she could be. Horsie could easily (and IMO and in her opinion SHOULD be) working those other days. This is not a training decision being made by the trainer, either. The trainer just keeps getting "busy"...I don't really know all the details as this isn't my trainer or my horse. This is coming through my friend, and obviously she's concerned, so the "whys" of why this is going on I haven't pressed her for all the details of what the trainer is telling her. She's busy with family issues right now and had no qualms or concerns about the trainer before. Now, it seems, she's busier and she feels as though the trainer is taking advantage of her lessened focus on the horse's progress.

    I don't know what to tell her. I've had my own bad experiences but they were black and white issues. I'm in good places now, one horse in one barn and two in another, where I know my horses are in good hands and have good training. Unfortunately she doesn't live near either of those facilities

    So my question is this - does anyone have any suggestions about how to bring up her question about why her horse isn't getting worked as frequently as she should be/why her horse has been put on the back burner, when she's still paying full training? She can't figure out a way to ask this in a manner that won't damage what she feels has always been a good relationship up to this point. I'm at a loss to help her here. Any COTH advice would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Sure. Straight up ask in a calm, polite, and friendly manner. The relationship won't be harmed by a honest, straightforward question.
    Nudging "Almost Heaven" a little closer still...
    http://www.wvhorsetrainer.com

    Comment


    • #3
      How does she know this? If your friend isn't there to watch, how does she know? Has trainer said, "hey, sorry I got busy and didn't get to your horse today"?

      If this has happened more than once, your friend has every right to ask how the time will be made up, or whether a lower training fee (for fewer days) is more appropriate for the trainer right now. Or even, "hey, if this isn't a good time for you to work with horsie, perhaps I should bring her home and bring her back at another time? I really like what you've done so far, and horsie seems quite happy to work with you, but I can't afford to pay you for 5 days when she's only getting worked consistently for 4. How would you like to work this out?"

      Comment


      • #4
        What stryder said. How trainer responds will really help your friend determine her course of action. I had a trainer who could not handle any questioning of her practices at all without getting extremely defensive and upset. It made for a very tense professional relationship and one that I ended up terminating.

        Honestly though, if friend has proof that trainer is not working her horse per the training agreement they had, and trainer has not offered a reason for it ("Susie and Dobbin are working on X and I offered to do a few extra sessions with her this month; I'll make them up/credit your bill accordingly."), I'd already be a bit on my guard. That's not very professional on trainer's part.

        So be sure friend knows this is in fact what's happening. She should have a plan in place in case things go south quickly. Hopefully it's just an oversight and trainer has been too busy to communicate to your friend about what has been happening with her horse or why she's missed a few sessions and what she's planning to do about it. It could be something as simple as friend's horse needing (for whatever reason) a little less work ... could be a mental fitness/maturity issue. But she won't know till she asks.
        Full-time bargain hunter.

        Comment


        • #5
          Just figure out an exercise program that IS workable for the busy trainer and pay for that. Sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day to ride everything 6 times a week, especially in Spring. Don't make a problem where there isn't one - have her talk to trainer and discuss whether a 3-4 times a week schedule would be more realistic.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by stryder View Post
            How does she know this? If your friend isn't there to watch, how does she know? Has trainer said, "hey, sorry I got busy and didn't get to your horse today"?

            If this has happened more than once, your friend has every right to ask how the time will be made up, or whether a lower training fee (for fewer days) is more appropriate for the trainer right now. Or even, "hey, if this isn't a good time for you to work with horsie, perhaps I should bring her home and bring her back at another time? I really like what you've done so far, and horsie seems quite happy to work with you, but I can't afford to pay you for 5 days when she's only getting worked consistently for 4. How would you like to work this out?"
            Oddly enough, yes. It's been a lot of that...she's told me there have been a lot of vague communications where the trainer has said she didn't work her horse. But why? I don't get it and my friend doesn't either. My issue with it is that it seems (seems....obviously I'm not interacting with the trainer, so I could be way off base) that the trainer is really kind of blah about it when she mentions it to my friend. Like "oh, I got busy, and I was doing xxxxx in town and it took longer and I didn't work Horsie. And oh, see you Thursday for your lesson." I think it's weird.

            Then she might cancel my friend's lesson with little notice. That really bothers me, and my friend, because as an example - her lesson last time was at the end of the day. Remember I mentioned family issues? She's dealing with those and had a lesson scheduled at the end of the day. An hour prior, the trainer texts her and cancels. Because she "got busy". WTF? And not the first time. So, you can easily deduce that the horse didn't get worked, because the day is over for the trainer, and the lesson got canceled. And my friend was told in some blah weird way earlier in the week that the horse wasn't worked some other day for some other reason.

            I guess I just feel bad. She's got a LOT on her plate right now, and worrying about a trainer wasn't one of the things on her plate before. Now it's getting added and it just sucks

            Comment


            • #7
              Just a quick note during my lunch break (will try to write more thoughtful one later), but do you think it would work if owner were to present it as a health-related issue? For example, if horsey tends to be IR/easy-keeperish it actually could be. If not, could just be presented as a 'I need to know in case I want to ride that day'.

              Basically, if she could get trainer to commit to keeping a log for her of what type and length of exercise horse has, per day for a week's time, that might be a way to get more info. If she is concerned that trainer may be lying - it may be a good thing trainer is admitting horse did not get worked - then it may be time either to move horse or stop the training expense by having someone she trusts to free-lease the critter to be sure it gets exercised.
              Jeanie
              RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.

              Comment


              • #8
                If it were me, I would sit down with the trainer - "Hey, trainer. Horsie is so happy and shiny and healthy, we really like being with you. I'd really like to see Horsie muscling up a little more, though, and I know you don't always have time to ride him - do you know of anyone else who might help us out a few times a week with exercise rides? I know you have so many things on your plate as a trainer person, I hate for Horsie to be an extra burden, but I really would like to see him worked more. What do you think?"

                Comment


                • #9
                  What's the payment arrangement? When I take a horse in for training, the owner receives a log with the date of training, the trainer name and what was worked on. (I have several trainers working for me.) The owner is billed for the actual work done.

                  If an owner wants something that we don't do or wants more training time than we have available, I just say so. It beats having a disappointed owner.
                  Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule
                  http://www.ironwood-farm.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by asb_own_me View Post
                    Oddly enough, yes. It's been a lot of that...she's told me there have been a lot of vague communications where the trainer has said she didn't work her horse. But why? I don't get it and my friend doesn't either. My issue with it is that it seems (seems....obviously I'm not interacting with the trainer, so I could be way off base) that the trainer is really kind of blah about it when she mentions it to my friend. Like "oh, I got busy, and I was doing xxxxx in town and it took longer and I didn't work Horsie. And oh, see you Thursday for your lesson." I think it's weird.

                    Then she might cancel my friend's lesson with little notice. That really bothers me, and my friend, because as an example - her lesson last time was at the end of the day. Remember I mentioned family issues? She's dealing with those and had a lesson scheduled at the end of the day. An hour prior, the trainer texts her and cancels. Because she "got busy". WTF? And not the first time. So, you can easily deduce that the horse didn't get worked, because the day is over for the trainer, and the lesson got canceled. And my friend was told in some blah weird way earlier in the week that the horse wasn't worked some other day for some other reason.

                    I guess I just feel bad. She's got a LOT on her plate right now, and worrying about a trainer wasn't one of the things on her plate before. Now it's getting added and it just sucks
                    Well then. Trainer isn't very professional. There should never be a concern that horse isn't getting worked. So owner needs to be a bit more proactive, as in, "hey, I understand that you're busy and all, and so am I. I'm concerned that our business relationship doesn't seem to be as important to you as I'd hoped, and that I believe I am paying for. So ..... these are the options before me: I can pay less and get what I'm getting now, I can continue to pay what I've been paying and get what I'm actually paying for (plus a credit) .... Or I can move horse until things ease up for you. But I can't continue what we're doing now, because I'm becoming resentful and feel I'm being taken advantage of. Which of these will work best for you? Or do you have another option for me to consider?"

                    But get ready to move the horse.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This kind of sounds like the trainer is doing this on the side and not as a full time trainer. Does your friend have a contract that says how often they will ride the horse for how much money per month?

                      I have a horse heading to training in a week and the contract says that I am paying a set amount for them to ride him 5-6 times a week. If they don't then I expect a discount.
                      RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
                      May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
                      RIP San Lena Peppy
                      May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        What Stryder said. Your friend has to deal with this directly, its not a health issue or anything else. It is a professional who is not providing the services that she is being paid to provide. I've been in this situation before. I tried a number of solutions, but in the end the horses were moved somewhere else.

                        If she cannot talk to the trainer directly about the problem without it ruining the relationship, then it seems like it wasn't much of a relationship anyway.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Yes, it's a $xxx amount for board/training with a contract that spells out x number of training rides plus one lesson per week. Those parameters are not being met. And regardless of my friend's personal obligations, she's paying her board/training on time (prior to the beginning of the month) for services expected to be rendered. She shouldn't have to check up to make sure these things are done. Just like we pay for our garbage to be picked up weekly, or our newspaper to be delivered daily, and it IS.

                          I'd like to send her a link to this thread. Can non-members read COTH threads without joining?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think that your friend needs to have a talk with the trainer then. It is clear that the horse is not getting ridden according to the contract and she has every leg to stand on.
                            RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
                            May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
                            RIP San Lena Peppy
                            May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by asb_own_me View Post
                              Yes, it's a $xxx amount for board/training with a contract that spells out x number of training rides plus one lesson per week. Those parameters are not being met. And regardless of my friend's personal obligations, she's paying her board/training on time (prior to the beginning of the month) for services expected to be rendered. She shouldn't have to check up to make sure these things are done. Just like we pay for our garbage to be picked up weekly, or our newspaper to be delivered daily, and it IS.

                              I'd like to send her a link to this thread. Can non-members read COTH threads without joining?
                              Well, actually my paper delivery person seems to think coming to my house is optional, LOL.

                              It's impossible to tell what is going on with the trainer or how the trainer will react so her best bet is to have a sit down with the knowledge that her best possible outcome may be to move the horses. But if she has a contract with a specified number of training rides and lessons and she is not getting even lip service regarding make-up lessons then the trainer is in default and they need to renegotiate or terminate.

                              Any non-member can view a thread, they must join to post comments. I'm sorry your friend is in this position, I've been in similar myself and it can be very confusing trying to match up your expectation with the reality of what is going on with the business.
                              Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                              Incredible Invisible

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Cita View Post
                                If it were me, I would sit down with the trainer - "Hey, trainer. Horsie is so happy and shiny and healthy, we really like being with you. I'd really like to see Horsie muscling up a little more, though, and I know you don't always have time to ride him - do you know of anyone else who might help us out a few times a week with exercise rides? I know you have so many things on your plate as a trainer person, I hate for Horsie to be an extra burden, but I really would like to see him worked more. What do you think?"
                                This!
                                Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                                Witherun Farm
                                http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
                                  Well, actually my paper delivery person seems to think coming to my house is optional, LOL.

                                  It's impossible to tell what is going on with the trainer or how the trainer will react so her best bet is to have a sit down with the knowledge that her best possible outcome may be to move the horses. But if she has a contract with a specified number of training rides and lessons and she is not getting even lip service regarding make-up lessons then the trainer is in default and they need to renegotiate or terminate.

                                  Any non-member can view a thread, they must join to post comments. I'm sorry your friend is in this position, I've been in similar myself and it can be very confusing trying to match up your expectation with the reality of what is going on with the business.
                                  LOL - I don't get a paper anymore. Wonder why

                                  I just didn't want to jump into "confrontation mode" because this situation is so unlike my previous situations. Mine have been that my horses were being harmed in one way or another. This one, her horse is WELL cared for, and it shows. I'd hate for the boat to be rocked unnecessarily, especially while she has so much to deal with already. I'd usually be very straightforward about this - "Hey Trainer, what's up?" Looking at being in her shoes, right now, I'm not so sure about that approach, and I don't know what to say to her. She also doesn't have great options for moving the horse right now, not to mention the added stress on her. She does NOT need this.

                                  I really appreciate all of the constructive advice. Sure didn't need any poop-flinging over this. I just want to hug her and I can't even do that

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    If moving horse right now really isn't an option, AND if owner thinks her situation will improve in the next month or so, then perhaps she should just wait it out. Horse isn't being mistreated, is getting some training. Sure it's a waste of the owner's money, and it isn't fair to her, but perhaps doing nothing is the best option for right now. The extra cost may be worth the peace of mind she's getting, especially since there don't seem to be other options at present.

                                    Bummer.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Sorry, but a trainer who says "oops, got too busy to ride your horse today" and doesn't schedule a different time and still takes the check . . . we'll, they're taking your friend for a ride IMHO.

                                      A few approaches:

                                      the sit down and let's chat about goals approach. I would like horse to be doing xyz by Month/Date. What do we need to do to get there? Oh, BTW, you seem quite busy. Is there another way we can do this, like have a working student ride him once a week? (BTW, something else to discuss is whether or not the trainer is avoiding your horse because she doesn't like riding him or her skills are not up to par for what he needs or whatever.)

                                      the less direct approach. Next time trainer says she didn't have time, pull out calendar and say, OK, no problem, when are you going to ride him them to make up that ride? Keep doing that and keeping track of those that are missed -- in a really nice, friendly way. At the end of the month, ask trainer -- by my calendar, we're behind xx rides. Do you want to make them up next month or do you want me to subtract them from the usual board. That will give her the message that you're watching . . .

                                      Or -- avoid the whole thing and get a half-leaser or free leaser who is very skilled and can accomplish what the trainer could if she ever put her butt on your horse.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Cita View Post
                                        If it were me, I would sit down with the trainer - "Hey, trainer. Horsie is so happy and shiny and healthy, we really like being with you. I'd really like to see Horsie muscling up a little more, though, and I know you don't always have time to ride him - do you know of anyone else who might help us out a few times a week with exercise rides? I know you have so many things on your plate as a trainer person, I hate for Horsie to be an extra burden, but I really would like to see him worked more. What do you think?"
                                        Brilliant!
                                        Jeanie
                                        RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.

                                        Comment

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