Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cranky Day

I rode Izzy yesterday, and it was wonderful. She didn't spook, despite the dumb kids playing baseball by the arena. She was forward and soft, and our biggest problem was that she'd prefer to do a nice canter transition instead of a lengthen trot. Not exactly horrible. (Oh, and the jeans are fine.)

Today was not so good. She was cranky and uncooperative. She spooked at stupid things (or nothing). She didn't want to be forward much at all, but I think that's partly because it did rain a bit overnight, and the footing wasn't what it could be. We had a few nice moments, but she was in a mood, and then I got to be in a mood, and then someone else came in to ride, and I decided it was a good time to be done.

I made a decision that it is not a good time to talk about other borders, because I really wouldn't do them a service. When my horse is being irritating is not a good time for me to make personal observations. We did manage to end on a good-ish note. It might be a good time to talk about trainers, though.

In a comment on my last post, Jean made a comment about letting a trainer go too far with her horse. I'm not naming names, but there are several trainers in this area that I might go to for a lesson, but I would absolutely never let them on my horse. Our philosophies on horses are just too divorced for me to ever be comfortable with that, regardless of how good of a "rider" they are. I'm an adult (sort of) and I'm comfortable telling people no. I don't just mindlessly do what I'm told anymore (not that I was ever good at that).

I wonder about kids and less confrontational adults, or even just horse people who aren't as confident in their skills and knowledge. It's easy to second-guess oneself and say, "Well, I wouldn't do that, but s/he knows more than I do". That may be true. It's possible that we our oversensitive about Precious, and she really just needs a good smack once in a while to tell her it's not ok to run all over people, HOWEVER, if you know that, odds are you need to set boundaries, with both the horse and the trainer.

My solution is that even though I'm not currently in a situation in which I need firm boundaries with trainers (since I'm doing the training), I'm already setting them in my head. I know certain people that I will never let on my horse, and I will (and do) advise friends the same way. I watch people work before I take a lesson from them or let them ride my horse. I am willing to step in and take my horse away if I don't like how they're handling it.

Has anyone else set and/or used boundaries with trainers and instructors?


  1. As noted yesterday, I certainly know the boudaries now.

    I do recall several instances where a trainer kept telling me to do something to fix a training issue and I kept telling him/her it wasn't working. They would argue that their was was the only method that would work, so I'd get them in the saddle to show me--under my supervision, of course. It was always rather amusing to see them fail even more than I had. (My horses have always tended to be difficult trains.)

    Finding the right trainer is a difficult task. What I like the best is one who is not stuck in one method or technique but has a lot of alternative exercises/strategies to adapt to each individual horse/rider combination.

  2. Great topic!

    Being a trainers wife, we often suggest to people to come watch a lesson of ours and also to go watch a lesson at other barns they are considering. It is a great way to find out if the trainer they are considering is going to help them improve or be a waste of time and money. It's also a great way to get a 'feel' for the facility as well, other clients, daily operations and a good idea of the chemistry between you and the trainer.

    If it doesn't work out, it costs you no more than gas and an hour or two of your time. Better than trying to repair damage that has been done long after the fact.

  3. I learned the hard way to speak up to trainers. It's a long story that I would rather not get into great detail about, but suffice to say that at the fault of a trainer, and my not speaking up due to my age and thinking she knew what she was doing, my mare flipped over backwards on me. I don't blame the horse at fact, seeing the look in her eye when she went over told me that she'd been so engrossed in everything else that she'd forgotten I was still on her.

    You should always be able to say no, and I believe if you feel uncomfortable saying no, then you should probably walk away.

  4. I'm very picky about who I will clinic and train with and who gets to ride my horse. I know quite a few trainers that I wouldn't give the time of day to, let alone my horse. Just because someone can ride at a certain level does not mean they are a good trainer. I have no qualms about telling a trainer to back off, either. I guess it's just my Mama Bear instinct coupled with my complete lack of social graces. *G*

    Before I will ride with someone I will either audit a clinic by them or request to watch their lessons. Before they are allowed to ride my horse they must pass through a burning ring of fire. Well, maybe not that extreme, but I do make sure that I know and trust them. No one ever rides my horse without me present to supervise. I've seen and heard too many horror stories to accept anything less.

  5. I've had some terrible experiences with some trainers and good experiences with others. Our mare Dawn was pretty seriously mentally harmed by a very bad experience with a trainer (that I witnessed and stopped) - this incident led to us immediately removing our horses from that barn and that trainer. I, unfortunately, didn't do anything about the problems as soon as I should have - the barn was convenient, the showing was good, etc., etc. I will never ride with someone, in a lesson or clinic, unless I've had a good while to watch them working, both with people and horses. I always check out the "vibes" as well as the references - if the horses look unhappy and stressed - in the arena, stalls or barn aisles - they are. But the good thing is the mistakes I made led me to search for a better way to work with horses.

    No one but my daughters and I rides any of our horses, period. If only the trainer can do something with a horse, then they're not giving you what you need to be able to do it yourself, in my opinion.

  6. SUCH an interesting topic...I have had many instances where I wanted to/should have said something but what stops me is my lack of 'experience/knowledge' however I think I dont give myself enough credit and need to speak up. I don't believe in hitting are scaring my animals and many trainers I worked with, did. SO frustrating!! With my boy, Laz, I now speak my mind and really dont care who I piss off. Like you, as an adult, it's time to put my foot down! I still have moments even dealing with what people advise where I board at, that I have to put my foot down. It's something that seems to arise with raising kids and training horses! LOL! They are our babies and therefore, we get the right to question something that doesn't register correctly with us.

  7. So good to set boundaries! And not so easy at times to enforce them! But having them already in your mind is a smart and natural thing to do. I had a riding teacher once who was a great horseperson but was often on her cellphone during my entire lesson! That made me so mad after a while. You'd think for $55 per half hour, you'd get undivided attention. Having her do things like that is one of the factors prompting me to get my own horse. Which I did!

  8. Agreed! I found as a kid I tolerated some crap from a trainer or two that mistreated me and my horse. Now, as an adult (sort of, love that)...I am VERY picky about who gets to "train" my horse. I've had a couple instructors in recent years that while I will take a lesson from them, I never let them "train" my horse. That's not to say that I didnt allow them to hop on once or twice under my supervision to feel her out but as far as training rides are concerned, absolutely not! I think that is wise to be picky. There are far too many trainers out there that use force and fear instead of tact, trust and TIME.


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