I trained H/J for over ten years and I’ve been riding for well over twenty years. I don’t train anymore, haven’t for the last two years and now I don’t have the space. However when I did train, I sure didn’t take every horse that came in right back to square one and treat it like it was a wet stick of dynamite. Yet, I’ve now gone through not one, but TWO trainers that have done this. I’ll spare you trainer #1. Although it was a different horse, it was pretty much the same drill. This is trainer #2.
Having just moved into new place and having to redo a bunch of fences, I decided to send my little 7 y/o paint mare off to a professional for some training rather than just let her sit at a boarding stable doing nothing for next two months. My little gal neck reins, leg yields, has been extensively trail ridden, is road safe, load and trailers w/o breaking a sweat, leads w/ halter or just a hand under her jaw, ground ties, cross ties, baths and sprays on ground tie, has roped (heads and heels), been penning, used for sorting etc., etc. I thought some more formal training on her, specifically cutting, as my mare is very cowy (she cuts them out all by herself and you just have to hang on), would be a good investment.
I am not a western trainer. I did break and train my mare, but I certainly will not claim to know the “ins and outs” of cutting or reining training. So if anyone thinks I was expecting too much, or can clue me in after reading this. By all means, feel free.
So off Kade went (Kade is the mare). It took the trainer an entire blessed week just to actually get on her and I have no clue why . Day 1: Leading; Day 2: Leading; Day 3: Tacking up then untacking; Day 4: Tacking up, lunging five minutes, untacking; Day 5: Same as day 4; Day 6: Tacking up, half mounts for about five minutes and untacking; Day 7: Same as day 6; Day 8: She actually sat on the mare! Then she got right off
Did I mention this horse is already broke? Not only is she broke, but she’s got no buck, no bolt. She’s husband horse broke, in fact my non horsey husband has ridden Kade many times over the years. She’s just a sweet heart under saddle, if anything she’s a little lazy unless there’s cattle to chase. I barely made it through the week watching this. Adding to Day 8, the trainer spent the next day on “spraying” because “my mare was nervous”. Well I was there for that display of “nervousness” on Day 8; the trainer walked up to my mare, stood 4’ away, extended an arm and sprayed. My mare just flinched a bit despite the fact she had no idea it was coming. If I hadn’t been in the middle of rebuilding fence-lines here, I would have removed her after Day 8, it was that bad and it didn’t get any better.
So carrying on; she proceeded to walk for a week; then she trotted for a week. The following week, she loped about five times and continued trotting. All in a 50’ round pen. I would go watch every couple days each week and would very politely (with extreme tact) bring up what this mare had already done, WHY I had her in training and WHAT I was expecting again. AGAIN … because I’d done all that before I agreed to bring her in the first place.
Nearing the end of four weeks, the trainer exclaims to me on day that “oh, we walked outside the round pen today!” and was “concerned” when I didn’t share in the trainers’ exuberance over it. Good grief, what’s to get excited about? This mare was ridden down the side of a busy highway numerous times. Before I moved, I was to goto girl for the neighboring farmers to help them move/sort cattle using this mare. I would often ride Kade bareback w/ a halter and lead in an open forty acre field when the little vixen would make me walk all the way back there to catch her. About the only thing that was exciting me was paying this person $700 p/mo to watch her play my little pony with my dead broke mare.
Needless to say I pulled the plug a week ago and picked up my mare saying that I could now bring her home (by the end of Day 8 I was really motivated to get a paddock and a shelter finished asap) … gas prices were getting too high for me to keep driving out there … but I just couldn’t take watching it anymore and I sure wasn’t going to keep paying this person. Kade was starting to get round pen soured and was starting to object to being asked to trot endlessly and with out purpose around a 50’ round pen with her head jacked into a german martingale. I should also mention that her “under-saddle” time was about 10 - 15 mins per ride, if that, which I guess under the circumstances was a blessing. The trainer changed my mare’s bit to a snaffle for, who knows what reason (my mare rode in a shanked bit and off cues with little, to no contact), and started riding her two handed with contact. I was baffled at what I was seeing and the trainer wouldn’t answer me as to what she was trying to do because “I wouldn’t understand”. So I guess my dullwitted self can only guess as to why a mare trained to ride totally off leg and light bit cues would be brought back into a snaffle and ridden w/ full contact.
So my first question is: Is this what trainers “do” now? Take a perfectly well broke horse back to square one? If so; why? If you’re not trying to correct a problem or an issue, isn’t that just wasting your client’s time and money? Kade got absolutely nothing out of her month of “professional” training. Not a single thing, well actually, I have spent the last week correcting my mare’s new behind the bit issue (precisely WHY I don’t use german martingales or draw reins willy nilly).
Now I can understand taking the first week to get to know the horse and assess its existing level of training. But man oh man, not an entire week to simply get ON the horse and not almost a month before loping. And never leaving the round pen? … on an already well broke horse with a fair amount of miles? Please explain. If I’m being a dork and missing something, I’d like to know it. Right now I’m feeling like this trainer was just trying to sucker me into endless months of training.
Second question: This trainer thinks they did a “super, bang up job” and wants to use me as a reference. The trainer has called me three times now. This afternoon I actually answered because I happened to be ON MY MARE and MOVING CATTLE around a 300+ acre farm (something my mare loves, has done a lot of and is very good at and something I’d already told the trainer [about ten times] that I did a lot of last year on this mare) so I took the opportunity to mention this fact again as a hint that maybe I wasn’t the best reference and the trainer fired back; "See, I bet you wished you kept her here another month or two. Look at the amazing progress I made with her … ". :eek: I actually did reply very dryly with, “Yeah. All in a 50’ round pen w/ no cattle and at a trot. Amazing stuff”. She still wasn’t catching the hint and said something along the lines of “Great. So if you can just send me a nice email and a photo of Kadie that I could put on my website …”. That response left me at a loss for words, apparently her sarcasm button is stuck in the off position. I said the cattle were starting to scatter and that I had better go and I hung up.
How in the he// do I dodge this bullet? It’s a small town, that I am new to and I was happy to just pick up my horse, shake hands and leave with my fake smile. I’m sure as heck not giving her a reference, well not a good one. I’m trying to craft a carefully worded email that politely says “No” and am having a tough time.
I sort of want to send the really cool picture of me on Kadie from last year sorting calves and then the picture I snapped this year of the trainer on her walking around the round pen w/ a caption that reads “If your goal is to go from cattle sorting in an open field to walking around in circles in a round pen, give me a call” … but since I’m new where I am, I likely won’t. Besides, I’m wondering if she’ll even get it. She talks as if SHE broke the mare and did all this training over the last four years. I don’t know how to deal with her tactfully or even politely at this point.