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Had to fire my trainer today

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  • Had to fire my trainer today

    So, I had to fire the trainer I hired to start my 3 year old mustang mare. I suppose this is mostly a vent.

    Pixel had already been gentled and sat on before coming out to Hawaii, so starting her should have been relatively easy. Having heard horror stories here on COTH I tried to vet the guy ahead of time. He has been starting horses for 20 years. He came highly recommended from multiple sources and I took the time to watch him work other horses before hiring him. He seemed to have the right balance of firm but fair that I was looking for.

    The first week I watched him work her it seemed to be going well. Second week I didn't get to see him work her, but I did get out after she had been worked only to find her sitting in her paddock soaked in sweat. She's only been partially clipped, and it is 75-80ish degrees here, but the mare had sweat running down her legs, it was just excessive. It was obvious no attempt had been made to even rinse her off. I spoke with him later and he explained that she had gotten stubborn and he hadn't wanted to end the ride on a bad note. This was a huge red flag for me but I didn't want to jump the gun.

    Week three was the breaking point. I again came to the ranch to again find the horse soaked in sweat. This time there were raw wounds on the corners of her mouth. I spoke with some of the other folks at the barn and got the story that he'd ridden her for 2 1/2 hours that day and fought with her the entire time. I couldn't get a hold of him so I went back the next day and waited for him to show up to ride. I listened to his side of the story, that my mare is spoiled and stubborn and she needed to be pushed through her refusal to go forward, and the raw marks were made by a nathe mullen mouth. How harsh do your hands have to be to leave marks with a nathe?

    I told him I didn't think she was a good fit for his program and I wouldn't need his services anymore. In hindsight I should have ended it when I found my mare soaked in sweat. I've already got another person lined up, a young woman I have worked with extensively in the past few years. She didn't want to do the initial starting because she didn't think she would have enough time to work with my mare and starting isn't her focus, but she agreed to work with me after this dismal event.

    The guy was upset when I told him it wouldn't work, and I do feel bad, as he turned down other jobs to take mine. I also feel bad that I let my horse down by pairing her with a trainer that was all wrong for her. I'm stressed that this might leave mental scars that will stick around and sour my sweet mare to the whole riding thing.
    For the horse color genetics junky

  • #2
    Sorry It sounds like you did the right thing. Not every horse is right for every trainer and I wish more of them would realize when they've exposed an area in their understanding, experience, or style that could use more development. Most doctors are quick to call in colleagues for consultation. Horse trainers don't always have this collegiality and it's a shame.

    I believe the words "lazy" and "stubborn" and so on should never be seriously used in the context of training horses. I think they aren't just inaccurate but detrimental to solving the problems that come up in training.

    I've noticed there are a lot of trainers out there who feel very comfortable working with QHs or others TBs and that when those trainers are faced with stereotypical members of other breeds (drafty WBs, Arabs, Appys, etc) suddenly there's a lot of drama and denigrating the horse. Mustangs have their own thing going on and are often smart and "energy conservative." And there aren't a lot of them in Hawaii. Might have been a factor here. Personally, I think one of the most important things to "get" with training and especially starting horses is when to go ahead and leave things on a bad note and walk away.

    It does sound like a bad fit, but not the worst thing ever. I'm sure your horse will be fine and hard part of deciding to sever this training relationship is behind you.
    An auto-save saved my post.

    I might be a cylon

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    • #3
      Okay, I'm going to be the devils' advocate here. I'm assuming she is a western horse? From an older time western trainer (me) who's style isn't in style these days, I'm going to say how I see it. Not to defend him, as I don't know him, but from decades of starting many, many colts.

      You say she had been gentled and sat on. For me, that would have been a red flag to me as a training starter. Even that little bit is training and if done wrong or too 'touchy-feely', you do get a colt who is more of a PITA than one who is basically a blank slate. People tend to over-handle their young'uns nowadays and it can backfire badly.

      I've had colts sweat and I like them too. It depends on the colt, not every colt which came down the pike. He should have rinsed her off, I think. But her sweating won't do damage once in a while like that. To me, most colts start to listen when the triangle in the neck start to sweat. Some rides are 10 minutes and some are 30 minutes but 2 1/2 hours is way too long, but then again I wasn't there. Neither were you and going by what the others in the barn said, but, why would they lie?

      I've not put any raspberries on a horses' mouth but have seen them on other's horses and I don't like that. I'm not sure why he's riding with a mullen mouth (of all things) on a basically unbroke horse. There's a hole in the training right there.

      I'm looking for someone to start my Sammy as my age and physical condition won't allow me to start any more colts and I was told of a girl whom everyone has raved about. Then I started really listening and I won't use her. She roundpens everything for a good 30 days before getting on. Nope, not on my horse. There's some other things she does which everyone just loffs but, in my experience, not with my horse. I think I have someone else who is closer to my way of doing things. So, the upshot is, just because everyone recc's someone, really listen and watch.

      Your filly isn't ruined by any stretch of the imagination. If you treat her like she has a hole in her, she'll act like she has a hole in her. I know people say horses never forget but I take issue with that. Unless she's been absolutely terrorized for years on end, beaten over the head with a bat and shocked with electric wires, the little you have written, she'll be finer than frog hair. She's not gone in the head over this.

      *If I come off a little too strong, cut me some slack, I can't sleep due to all the meds I'm taking for an injury which is in week six, so far. So, I 'could' be a little too tough but hopefully my intent is coming through*
      GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        She's a mustang, so she was untouched by humans until she was 9 months old, at which point the only handling she had was to run her into a squeeze shoot to do her feet and vaccinate her twice a year. Overhandled is one thing she most definately is not. By gentled I mean domesticated. Hard thing to do without being a little touchy feely. The folks who did the gentling bred and started my gelding, and they put a lovely foundation on him. My biggest regret is not leaving her with them over the winter.

        The folks I spoke to didn't have a reason to lie. One of them is an older gentleman, he started horses back when he bounced and is more than a little old school. He didn't like what he was seeing, said there was no patience. It was all push and no give.

        I get what you are saying though. This is my first "baby" and I'm nervous about doing wrong by her. I'm sure you're right and she'll be fine.
        For the horse color genetics junky

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        • #5
          I agree that the word "stubborn" should not be a part of a trainer's vocabulary. "Spoiled" yes.

          Leaving a horse standing around in a sweat is not ending on a good note. When it comes to horses your gut feelings are usually right. You made the right choice.
          Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

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          • #6
            I am glad you have found a new trainer that you like.


            I personally do not see sweating as a red flag. Hairy horses on hot days can very easily have sweat running down their legs. It is not abuse or cruel or anything.
            I also do not see wanting to end on a good note as a red flag. I actually see it as a smart way to train.

            Not sticking up for anything this trainer did or did not do, just pointing out that these two items are not red flags to something horrible.

            Comment


            • #7
              I live in Florida and 75-80ish is not enough for a horse to be in a "sweat running down the legs" state as the OP said. The horse should have been cooled out and given access to shade.
              Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

              Comment


              • #8
                How long has the horse been on the islands? We never started any extensive training with horses we brought in from other parts of the country until they have had time to adjust to/accept the transition.. times ranged from a few months to almost a year for one... well expect for the the POA pony he took five years to accept the fact that he was at our place, then we were able to get something done with him.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by CFFarm View Post
                  I live in Florida and 75-80ish is not enough for a horse to be in a "sweat running down the legs" state as the OP said. The horse should have been cooled out and given access to shade.
                  It is if the horse is out of shape and hairy. The OP says her horse is only partially clipped so could still have quite a bit of winter coat on it.
                  And just because there is dried sweat does not mean it was not cooled out. It just means it was not rinsed yet. Sweat marks do not magically go away when a horse is cooled out.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    What island are you on, OP? I might have some names for you if you are on Oahu.

                    I think that everybody has an opinion on how their horse should be started. Like kids, they are all totally different and each needs a slighty different approach. Sometimes they need to sweat, sometimes (like my mare) you push them the wrong way and they become sour. You know your horse best.

                    OP, if you don't feel comfortable with how this man started your horse, than you have every right not to spend more money on him. It maybe nothing against him as a person, just that your ideals aren't the same. There is nothing wrong with that.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      When my horse was sent to the trainer this year, the trainer referred to him as too gentle, and that he acted like (and expected to be treated like) a pet dog. What he meant was I had interacted with him so much that he took touching as reassuring, instead of maybe paying attention because it might be a "cue" to do something. Could a trainer see that as stubbornness? Possible. Did mine? Nope.

                      But I DID spoil him. Because similar to the OP's horse, he was unhandled until he was 2.5. Sure he knew what people were, but he was not halter broken, had to be run from the pasture to the paddock to the stall and then three people cornered him with a feed bucket to get a halter on. The barn was just trying to play the hand they were dealt and at least cared enough to get his feet done every few months when the owner refused, and then eventually dumped him.

                      I don't think I was wrong with what I did with him, like I mentioned in another thread, we have done a LOT in a year and he's been exposed to a lot. But along the way, he got spoiled. While the trainer used methods *I* don't use or would use, it worked; whereas my program wasn't working. But I'm a get a horse, groom a horse, tack and work a horse, hose or groom, and put away. He gets a string of horses, ties 'em up, grooms 'em, and then basically goes down the line with his tack; ride one, tie it up and untack, tack up the next one. So do the horses stand there sweaty? Sure they do. Do ALL his horses stand at arenas quietly for hours at rodeos, clinics, whatever? Yep, not a twitch, not even with calves running by, dogs barking, people swinging ropes. I was amazed when I saw it, and now I know how it happens. Did it "break" my horse to stand there with no entertainment or interaction from people? Nah. He still entertains himself with his rope, because like I've said before, the world is his lollipop. Did I get a little twitchy when we went down to watch, and the horse stood there sweaty? Sure...but the horse was clearly not dying. A hairy horse in 70* is going to sweat, from nerves or work or other. I had a pony who, in shape and with a summer coat, does this from nerves, and in shape and with a winter coat and a strip clip and only WALKING, does this from nerves.
                      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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        RE trainers

                        You have a PM.
                        Taking it day by day!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I would have fired him too!

                          I have to agree with the OP. Sweaty, OK! But, no excuse not to hose a horse down before turning out in a paddock.

                          Riding "training" for two and a half hours? Unacceptable. Their brains leave after 20 min of training.

                          Raw bloody lip corners? Unacceptable!!
                          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm not defending the trainer, but I don't think a sweaty horse and rub lips are as awful as some people on here are saying. These obviously had other problems with him too, so I"m in no way saying you should have stayed.

                            Some horses just sweat... a lot. The horse I just sold could work for two hours and barely be damp under the saddle, but if he got slightly worked up/nervous/stressed/pissy, he would be dripping wet within 15 minutes. One of my horses right now has to get a full body clip because he gets drenched even with a light ride in cold weather. Usually I hose, but if I have another horse to ride, it's cold, there's a line at the washstall, etc. I toss them in their stall w/ a cooler if it's cold or back outside naked if it's warm, and brush them after they dry off. They survive just fine

                            As for the bit, it doesn't take harsh hands to get rubs. A bit that's a little small or big, or the wrong shape can cause rubs very quickly, even if it looks like it fits. If he really was riding her in a nathe, especially if it's a loose ring, that's probably where the rubs came from
                            .

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              No baby in its third week under saddle should be working until it's soaked in sweat, period. I'd have fired him too. What three year old doesn't go through the feet-planted, not going forward phase? You don't then beat it up for two hours, you get one good forward movement, praise it, and put it away. It might be one step, it might be to pick up a trot, it might be to leave the barn, but you take what you can get and get a little more every day. Just MHO.

                              If it was my horse I'd just turn her out until spring and re-start. If you do go straight back into training I'd enforce a 15 minute limit per day on riding, or some such small increment that you feel is appropriate for her baby brain. But then I like mine to last for a couple of decades, so I don't feel the need to have a three year old doing a whole lot.
                              \"Non-violence never solved anything.\" C. Montgomery Burns

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Honestly – and this isn’t a jab at any one – but I could never “send my horse off to the trainer”. Especially the crash course “30 days training” type. I am just too particular about how I want my horse handled, too concerned about saving their mouth, keeping things positive etc.

                                I take great care regarding these things. I don’t want a horse with a spoiled mouth, or closet full of bad experiences. This means no short cuts, no deadlines, but slow methodical training, with the understanding, that the rewards of a proper start last a life time.

                                A hired trainer gets to hand the horse back to you, the owner. You will be the one left with dealing with the horse on the long term, and any holes or bad experiences a “30 day training” crash course caused. The trainer has some set goals to achieve within a set time – to get their paycheck.

                                I am blessed in that I was able to ride with great trainers growing up, and they installed the skills that I need to start youngsters myself.

                                Sorry your trainer appeared to not have the horse’s best interest (and yours!) during his training sessions. I start youngsters with a very slow process, one that would never lend itself to a 30, 60 or 90 day program – the results just aren’t that fast, but the horse is not stressed, and only moves on once it understands what I am asking.

                                I can tell you my now 5 year old is a dream, bomb proof, ride anywhere, totally trust worthy type – and yet, we NEVER had a training session that left her dripping with sweat nor have I ever had a training session last anywhere near two hours. There was never any need to push things so far, no deadlines to make, no paychecks in the balance.
                                APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Horse has had all the hair rmoved from her neck, stomach and the lower half of her hindquarters. She basically has a fuzzy patch under the saddle area that extends over the top of her hindquarters. When I say soaked I'm not exagerating, the only spot on her that was dry was a small section between her eyes. Not sure how long she was in the paddock before I got there, but she was still actively dripping and he was not around.

                                  She has been on the Island (Oahu) for about three months. I didn't have any issues starting my boy as soon as he got here, didn't think she would need too much time off.

                                  I was specific when I hired him that I didn't want her pushed too hard too fast. I didn't care if it took 30 days or 300 to get her comfortable undersaddle. I still don't. (Oh, and I ride english, nothing againt western, those saddles are just too heavy.)
                                  For the horse color genetics junky

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Eh. This wouldn't bother me much.

                                    Three year old horses just starting absolutely should work longer than 15 minutes. How are you ever going to get anywhere 15 minutes at a time?? The horses I start go for hour long trail rides within two weeks of sitting on them. Their minds do not float off 20 minutes in. They will if you nag or argue with them for 2 minutes, but by treating the fairly, you can keep their minds fresh in the work longer than some people give them credit for.

                                    Wet and sweaty? Big deal - especially if this was a mustang. You don't think she ran around and got sweaty in the "wild"? This is horse with hearty genes - not a precious pocket pet. Give her a little credit for surviving until you got her!

                                    There are lots of reasons I might not rinse a sweaty young horse. Maybe she had already started drying and the wind picked up? I'd rather have a horse with sweat marks than get her all wet again and stand in a wind chill. Maybe it would be best after a long stand off to have some 'down time' before the next stand off about a water hose.

                                    I don't agree with using a mullen on a baby, but, tender lip skin rubs so much easier than skin that is conditioned to bit 'wrinkles'. This happens to a lot of young horses - a little vaseline in the corners of the mouth and problem solved.

                                    There is no reason to even take a break with this one. Put a nice eggbutt snaffle in her and take her out. She'll be fine!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Another thing I don't totally get about horse training, in addition to the lack of communication and consultation between trainers, is the lack of willingness, or maybe just opportunity, to be influenced by the client. In the end, the trainer needs to be able to stand up and say "This is my approach. I believe in it and it's what I'm going to do with your horse." They need to be willing to lead. But if an otherwise good horsewoman does more roundpenning than the client wants, why can't they have a conversation about that? I could imagine saying to a client with that concern, "Here are 5 reasons why I really like roundpenning the way and amount I do. I've had good success with it and have good references. But, these things are not black and white. I see your point as well and am willing to adjust my style a bit for you and let's see how it goes." There are many ways to achieve the same result and no single training method is right for every horse. Again, using the analogy of medicine, I would expect that kind of relationship with my doctor and she actually has a clear cut Standard of Care to follow. Egos really have no place in horse training.

                                      There is a big difference between an hour long trail ride and 2 1/2 hrs of arguing in an arena. Sometimes barns are dominated by ill-meaning gossipy teenagers, but more often in the horse world if someone tells you there is a problem, it's understated. But even if the reports are grossly exaggerated and things were only half as bad as described, that's still over an hour of arguing with a barely broke horse. I'm not sure this horse has a stubbornness problem, but for sure the trainer did on that day Doesn't mean he's a bad person, or even a bad trainer, but I don't find it debatable that he handled things well on the day in question. Personally I think putting a horse away dripping wet is unprofessional at the least. If it has to be done, that warrants a text message.
                                      An auto-save saved my post.

                                      I might be a cylon

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by goneriding24 View Post

                                        You say she had been gentled and sat on. For me, that would have been a red flag to me as a training starter. Even that little bit is training and if done wrong or too 'touchy-feely', you do get a colt who is more of a PITA than one who is basically a blank slate. People tend to over-handle their young'uns nowadays and it can backfire badly.
                                        "Gentled" is a term often use when referring to Mustangs to indicate that they have been used to human touch and usually halter trained and in general taught to be a "civilized" horse and no longer wild and untouched.
                                        It has nothing to do with going googoogaga over babykins (I believe that is the proper terminology?)
                                        "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."

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