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previous instructors and the "cold shoulder".

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  • previous instructors and the "cold shoulder".

    I'm going to try to keep this as brief as possiable...
    My 10 yr old was taking lessons at a barn close to our house. The instructor seemed knowledgeable and claims to have had students who have been to indoors & Devon and lots of "A" shows. He wasn't the most personable of people, but was very enthusiastic about teaching my timid kid and kid was coming around nicely.
    The pony was always tacked & untacked by the groom and this trainer was trying to get his business going. I started getting nervous when my kid moved from taking lessons in the small ring to the big jump field, which was surrounded by only a hot wire fence. 3 different times that I was there in a 6 month span, people fell and the horses came galloping down a long rocky lane to the barn. All the paddock are also hot wire and the pony is great for W/T type lessons, but basically retired from jumping because she is a dirty stopper.
    So, I decided to find another barn and told the instructor of my plan-He was not a happy camper and told me I was disloyal after all the hard work he had put into my kid.
    I find a great barn that is about 30 mins away. The facility is beautiful, the instructor is awesome and the school ponies are perfect. The only con is-the lessons are $15 more and it's a high end show barn, which will be out of my budget for future boarding.
    About 3 months into the new lesson program I found on my own-one of those perfect first ponies that are so hard to find. So, I bought her and made arrangements to keep her at her current home until I could find a closer boarding facility.
    The people had an instructor that would free lance and come to their home-so I had her give the kid some lessons and I told the previous instructor that this was just a temporary situation until I could move pony closer and would trailer to her facility. I even had trainer #2 train us at a local show and she seemed to like the pony. Trainer #3 knows that we take lessons with trainer #2 and that all this is just a temporary situation.
    After about 2 months we stopped taking lessons with #2-because it started getting very inconvenient (out of the way & more money, plus not on our own pony). I emailed #2 and thanked her for everything, and told her that when we moved our pony I would call her again and hopefully we could work something out. She really is a great instructor and my kids liked her.
    So, we have now moved and #2 will not return my calls or emails.
    So, I guess this is just a vent, was I really in the wrong? I was always on time for lessons, paid cash, and we left after lessons-so I didn't even get to talk much with the other boarders. #1 & #2 knew we would be getting a pony someday in the future and would be horse showing.
    We absolutely LOVE our pony and in 4 months my 7 year old learned her diagonals, learned to steer and is now cantering on this saint of a pony. So, I know 100% I made the right choice by buying her. We found a perfect boarding facility and are happy, but I'm still sad that #1 and #2 are giving me the cold shoulder. We will be showing soon with a new instructor.

  • #2
    Horse people are poor communicators. At least that's what I find.


    • #3
      It's a tough business, most likely their feelings are hurt and feel that they worked hard to get your daughter where she is now. that being said-they know this happens and should plan for it. Students/trainers come and go, if you and your daughter are happy-that's all that really matters, send another e-mail letting them know that if you hurt their feelings that wasn't your intent, and hope that you all can be friends, that way you left it on a positive note from your end, and it's up to them whether or not they want to be adult and professional about it or childish and petty.
      Equine Massage Therapy Classes and Rehab for Horses


      • #4
        I agree. I think you did the right thing. It's not like you skipped out and left a bunch of unpaid lesson fees or bad mouthed them all over the shop.

        Chalk it up to lessons learned and continue on the path you're on. It sounds like the right one!


        • #5
          I'm a little confused about all the pros involved and who did what wrong.

          But can you see what this represents to them? It's a huge loss of income and a student who might help build their reputation.

          Starting kids out can be a thankless task. The vast majority quit. Another chunk move up as your family did. To the small-time pro who took the time with your kid and offered lessons that didn't make your wallet bleed, it might look like a predictable but unearned kick in the teeth.

          Remember how hard it is to make a living training horses at all. Now know that it's even tougher if you don't have the clientele that takes you to shows where the money is.

          You have to go where you think your kid needs to be. But don't waste time being mad at someone who has a hard row to hoe, made slightly harder by your decision even it you had to make it.
          The armchair saddler
          Politically Pro-Cat


          • #6
            I think a lot of people in the horse world have issues separating business and personal feelings. Now, I can understand this because being in the horse world, for most, is a life style. People who teach, have barns, ect, one has to remember that while it is indeed a business, it is also a huge part of their life, business and personal. I can't say I blame them either. Horses are a very personal thing and emotions get thrown into the mix. (hope that made sense.)

            That said, your trainers put a lot of work into teaching. Is giving you the cold shoulder right, no. I think a lot of the time this is where feelings and egos get hurt. It is a part of life, clients leave. At any rate, don't worry about it. Either they will get over it, or they won't. If they won't, they are not always the kind of trainer you want. (IMO)


            • #7
              Speaking as an instructor, it isannoying when people start and stop and it's $$ starting and stopping abruptly for me....but, it is the nature of teaching. I just grin and bear it and make every attempt to treat everyone well and friendly. I do give my long term loyal students some breaks now and then monetarily and I do offer them opportunities not offered to the casual attendees.

              No, you were not in the wrong. But, horse people are territorial and prissy, so I doubt you'll be hearing from him, unless he's hurting for some dough badly enough to swallow his pride.


              • #8
                wow! cant believe you are in an area with not one but 3 trainers who can give you quality help! Always smile and be gracious when you run into them at shows... no matter what is said. Horse people are bad communicators. Dont sweat it!


                • #9
                  There is no excuse for abusing your customers.
                  ... _. ._ .._. .._


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mvp View Post
                    I'm a little confused about all the pros involved and who did what wrong.

                    But can you see what this represents to them? It's a huge loss of income and a student who might help build their reputation.

                    Starting kids out can be a thankless task. The vast majority quit. Another chunk move up as your family did. To the small-time pro who took the time with your kid and offered lessons that didn't make your wallet bleed, it might look like a predictable but unearned kick in the teeth.

                    Remember how hard it is to make a living training horses at all. Now know that it's even tougher if you don't have the clientele that takes you to shows where the money is.

                    You have to go where you think your kid needs to be. But don't waste time being mad at someone who has a hard row to hoe, made slightly harder by your decision even it you had to make it.

                    In this business it is how it is. It is never easy to lose a client for any reason. And when we feel we have done our best and a client still leaves - well it hurts.

                    I would not change what you are doing or how you treat them. Just understand that we trainers live paycheck to paycheck and that means board check to lesson check to training check to sales check.

                    I have had clients here I have busted butt for all winter that take their horses home after the first spring shows and WIN BIG all season. And their Moms will say "Suzy did this all on her own right from home!" Or how about the clients that hauled to the World show without me One time i was about to have a baby the other time i had just had a baby. They WON - yet who is in the picture as the "trainer" in the journal? - the guy that hauled them - it's enough to bring you to tears. And wonder why i am "frosty???"
                    "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SFrost View Post
                      I think a lot of people in the horse world have issues separating business and personal feelings.
                      Full-time bargain hunter.


                      • #12
                        That's just how it is.

                        I don't get it either. I'm an attorney. If one of my clients wants to change attorneys, I am required, by my rules of professional conduct, to give them an entire copy of their file and facilitate their change to someone else.

                        That's the professional way to do things.

                        But, IME, horse professionals aren't always up with the rest of us on this kind of thing.

                        Excepting my wonderful RI, who does help students find other instructors - frinstance, we have a lady at our barn who loves John Wayne and wants to be a cowboy. RI only teaches huntseat. RI actually found a good western instructor for this lady and helped her book lessons.

                        And you know what? That lady still takes lessons from my RI.
                        I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


                        • #13
                          Seriously? You have to ask about why you're getting the "cold shoulder"?

                          Let's recap - you start with one instructor, and don't like the service. Fair enough - you change to another facility and another trainer. Then, you decide you can't afford to stay with that trainer when you buy your kid a pony, but don't bother to enlighten trainer. Then you go out and buy a pony on your own (not a bad thing, if you know what you're doing, which you seem to), but then you involve yet another trainer, because she's cheap and temporarily available? And you use Trainer 2's services at a show, and still don't tell her that you're not going to be boarding with her?

                          Sorry, but you're a trainer's nightmare. Good luck finding another one who will work with you and your kid. Word gets around in the horse business, and I'm willing to bet that you're going to have merry hell trying to find another trainer that will work with you. You've already demonstrated that you're a trainer-hopper and don't care about quality versus cost, so good fruitbatting luck. It's people like you that make me very, very happy I'm not in the business any more.

                          Also, somewhere down in your conscience, you already know this, or you wouldn't be posting under an alter.
                          In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
                          A life lived by example, done too soon.


                          • #14
                            While I see the point that several of the trainers are making, as long as they have been paid for services rendered (which for trainers #1 and #2 it appears were simply lessons on lesson ponies) then no one has been harmed.
                            I understand that trainers make their living off of lessons (etc) but short of a contract stating that "Suzy will take 2 lessons per week for 6 months" is is unwise to assume that present income will always carry forward. Yes, you work hard to build a rapport and yes you become friendly with clients but in the end the client has to do what is best for themselves.
                            I think it's fair to say that the "lesson student" is in general the "lowest" rung on the client ladder. They show up, ride, pay and are through. They don't lease or part lease. They may show in local or "lesson horse" shows but they are not as connected as say the boarder or the show boarder or the full/training boarder. Trainers must know that while some such clients are the most loyal and consistent, a certain percentage are going to leave, or lose interest.
                            It's not like the OP was in some full high priced training board. It sounds like #2 is miffed that she missed out on commission opportunity because she didn't get to "approve" the purchase. Sure the OP could have (did she? I don't know) mentioned to #2 that she was hoping to buy child a pony. The problem then as that when OP finds pony and buys trainer would have likely expected a commission even if she had nothing to do with finding the pony.
                            Maybe I am just lucky or have dealt with (some) decent people. I have ridden at several barns in my area and am still friendly with people at all of them. They all knew why I left (it was never personal) and I would presume that they would welcome my business again.
                            Rather that pouting and acting hurt, it might be best to take the high road. You never know when that client might find that your operation is better for them.
                            F O.B
                            Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                            Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


                            • #15
                              Linny, it's not "pouting" or refusing to "take the high road" when a client uses one's services and then bails to someone who's cheaper/closer/more convenient; it's getting screwed yet again by someone who wants to show at a certain level, avails themselves of a trainer's expertise at that level, and then cheaps out. Trainers are in the business to make money, not donate their services. If a parent puts their kid in my program, has me coach her kid at a show with a prospect, and then bails and has someone else do the training? Oooohhh-kay. I'll know that they're on the economy plan, and more interested in what they have to pay, than how well the kid does at the shows.

                              In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
                              A life lived by example, done too soon.


                              • #16
                                Stop beating yourself up. You have to do what is right for your daughter and your financial situation. Most trainers are horrible communicators. Sometimes you have to try a few trainers to find one that is the right fit. I have been in your situation and it is never easy to change trainers and start over. Be polite and courteous when you run into these trainers and do not worry if they are unhappy with you. You can't live your life worrying about what other people think of you.


                                • #17
                                  It's a tough business made tougher with certain "professionals" acting like 5 year olds. it sounds as though you kept the trainer pretty well informed of your intentions and now she has lost out on a good client. It's their loss, not yours. Same goes for ex-clients. People need to remember the horse world is small social network... people come in and people leave.. Many recommendations for trainers/ barns come from clients... so just because Susie doesn't ride w/ you any more doesn't mean she won't recommend other people to you..


                                  • #18
                                    For the record: I'm not a pro but a W-2 Ammy.

                                    It does help to think about "how the other half lives" from time to time.

                                    Whatever happens from here, the OP would do well to be pleasant and professional to all the surrounding pros. The horse world is small. You'll see these people at clinics and shows year in, year out. Someday you may even decide that one of the pros not useful now does have a horse or program you need later.

                                    Vent away in private or under the cover of anonymity here but keep it all impersonal and unsquirrelly in real time.
                                    The armchair saddler
                                    Politically Pro-Cat


                                    • #19
                                      It's a difficult business but when you go into business for yourself it's one of the risks. Businesses lose clients every day. I have gone to the same hair salon for years. The owner does my hair and I really like him. That said, I have "cheated" on him many times. Friends have recommended someone for me to try, I've been lured in by coupons and visited fancy places while on vacations etc. All those double process cut/color treatments add up to thousands spent at other salons. But guess what, if I call "my guy" he will always fit me in, ASAP. He's in business and when I walk out of that salon next Tuesday without an appointment for the next time, he knows that he may see me in 6 weeks or 6 months, there is no guarantee.
                                      Using the barn analogy, I'd have been resented after going elsewhere after all those years that Michael made my hair look so nice. All the cuts, all the processing to cover greys all the time and effort-gone. But it's not gone. He was paid a fair rate for those services and has every right to go get new clients.
                                      If you want a guarantee of steady income get a salaried job. If you want to run your own business you cannot feel hurt or insulted if a client opts for a different trainer. They didn't "use" you unless you were not charging a fair price for the services you provided.
                                      F O.B
                                      Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                                      Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


                                      • #20
                                        In the real world, the family dynamic does not revolve around Suzy's lessons. Parents make choices about trainers based on a number of important factors, including finances, convenience, type of program, etc.

                                        Trainer #1 was convenient and knowledgeable, but you had safety concerns. Perfectly reasonable to leave.

                                        Trainer #2 also knowledgeable, less convenient location, more expensive, not financially a long-term solution for your budget.

                                        It seems that the OP is trying to support her daughter in this expensive hobby, and making compromises based on what is best for her family and financial situation. If trainers don't understand that their success is based on their ability to suit all of those factors, then maybe they should get out of the business.

                                        Many have mentioned that the trainers may feel slighted because "they worked hard for her daughter".....isn't that what they were being paid to do? Teach her to be a better rider? I suppose they would have been justified in not working so hard if they knew the relationship was going to be short-lived? I'm hoping in a service industry that that is not the prevailing attitude.
                                        "Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?" Sun Tzu

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