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Help Plz. Tact or Education Needed. [a short novel]

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 :confused:. 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 :frowning:

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.

I think you have two choices.

You can politely refuse to write anything; that is certainly your right… but you mentioned that you are new and this is a small town.

You can also send a very vague and somewhat lukewarm note - not electronically, (why make it easy?) but perhaps on a card - saying something like, “thank you for boarding Kade for me while we were busy building our farm, Regards, >>>”

That is the most I would do, under the circumstances, and she’d have to have b*lls of steel to ask you for a re-write.

I’d write a reference that “X” took good care of my horse and would probably be good with unbroke horses, or horses needing to be restarted slowly."

I would never in a million years write a reference for that woman. I might write her an email explaining her in writing that I was not at all happy with the work that she did with the mare and why. Then I would point out that I had fired her and tell her flat out that I would not give her a good reference. Don’t worry abou tbeing new to the area… I’m sure plenty of people there know the woman is a wack job.

Or if I was feeling particularly evil I would tell her I’d be happy to speak to potential training customers if she wanted to give them my number, but I simply don’t have time to put anything in writing. Then if people called I’d tell them the truth.

You live in a small town, how do you really think it will change your life in the town if you just tell the girl the truth, your horse was not done any good at your place and I can not in good mind give you any references.

I am honestly baffeled by her apparent lack of knowledge or common sense!! Jeesh, who recommended her to YOU??? I think I would go have a talk with them!

Oh my! How did you stand it? I would have had to hop on the horse and show the “trainer” what the horse already knew.

In a month my Amish trainer has horses checking trap lines and rounding up cattle- and these are Saddlebreds that are bred to be game.

My regular trainer has a solid w/t/c in a month, much more if the horse comes in green broke or from my Amish trainer.

There’s no way I could give your gal a good reference.

Or use the lack of sarcasm detector to go something like:

Kade was given lots of time to get used to the barn and the workload. The trainer is gentle and kind and works slowly with every horse.

If the place was nicely kept sayt hat.

You arent lying and she will never get it!

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Hmm… No, I wouldn’t be inclined to give a reference right off the bat, but I looked back through your post and am confused by something. Did you clarify with her after each of these instances that your horse is trained? When she was concerned that you didn’t share her excitement did you say ‘that’s because she’s been doing that for some time now’?

If you told her over and over that the horse is trained and she ignored you, nope, no reference. If you think that you may have been unclear about your expectations for training than perhaps she deserves a little slack.

I would just never get around to e-mailing her. Hopefully, she will quit calling. What a fruit loop!

I’m curious as to whether you checked the trainer’s references before you dropped off your mare.

It sounds as though what this trainer is used to is getting horses that people either want started, or else need to have re-started because they’ve had time off or they’ve been traumatized by something (bad riding maybe).

It may be that all owners routinely say, whether it’s true or not, “my horse is going very well but just needs to be tuned up,” and maybe the trainer just tuned you out.

But, it sounds as though the trainer is kind of a one-trick pony. She does one thing (re-starts or starts a horse), and that’s it.

Now, maybe she’s very good at that, but that’s not what your horse really needed.

To me, the situation just sounds like a poor fit. I would write a bland but nice note, something along the lines that JohnDeere suggested above. “The facilities are beautiful, the care for the horses is first-rate, and the trainer advocates a slow, easy-going method that won’t frighten unstarted horses.”

[QUOTE=thumbsontop;3323939]Hmm… No, I wouldn’t be inclined to give a reference right off the bat, but I looked back through your post and am confused by something. Did you clarify with her after each of these instances that your horse is trained? When she was concerned that you didn’t share her excitement did you say ‘that’s because she’s been doing that for some time now’?

If you told her over and over that the horse is trained and she ignored you, nope, no reference. If you think that you may have been unclear about your expectations for training than perhaps she deserves a little slack.[/QUOTE]

I was kind of thinking the same thing… you sound like a very nice person, and as is quite common in us “very nice” womenfolk, you sound rather non-confrontational.

At any point did you sit down and have a really direct, really blunt, real “come to Jebus” type meeting? Did you say, “What you are doing is useless and unacceptable. My horse is very well trained under saddle already - here, let me show you. ::you jump on, do a few things:: Now either you will work with her with cattle or I will take her home”?

It sounds like in the interest of being nice and polite, you maybe hinted at your displeasure with sarcasm and pointed comments instead of being brutally honest and potentially offensive. It’s quite possible that this trainer is simply not socially gifted and unable to listen well and had no idea what you really wanted from her. You wouldn’t expect a horse to perform without giving explicitly clear aids, right? Maybe that’s what this woman needed, too. :wink:

After all, many people bring horses to a trainer if the horse is having a lot of problems, right? That’s probably what she’s used to. Also, many people overestimate their own equestrian skills, so I’m sure she’s had clients that claimed their horses were “well trained” only to have them buck, bolt, whatever.

I think what others recommended with a very bland endorsement - “The facility was safe and Trainer X was gentle and slow” or something - would be the best bet, considering you’re new to the area. If someone asks you in person, however, you can go all-out. :winkgrin:

If you were extremely direct with her - no possibility you could have been any more blunt - then sure, write her a terse explanation of why you won’t recommend her. But otherwise… chalk it up to lesson learned, IMO. :stuck_out_tongue:

I wouldn’t give her a reference. Why would you attach your name to something that you had a problem with? You are just suckering in the next person, who could be somebody that ISN’T out there watching and has no idea they are being taken. Don’t pussyfoot around it, you have no reason to. Frankly I think it’s incredibly rude and unprofessional for her to continually badger you for a recommendation. There is nothing wrong with telling her straight up, “I wasn’t happy with the work you did with my mare and therefore cannot recommend you”.

I could understand her going a little slow with the mare at first but all that is ridiculous. If you are hired to TRAIN the horse, you TRAIN the horse. Even if you hadnt been all that clear on your objectives with the mare, or if the trainer had been fooled before into thinking a horse was “broke”, if she was a real trainer, it should have been quite obvious to her.

I too have seen trainers like this. A lady had sent out her green Paso Fino for 90 days training. She wasn’t a very experienced horseperon, hence why she sent the horse out. The lady was so upset because the trainer said the horse was just a mess, bucked and did this and that and blah blah blah. She showed me the video of the “trainer” working the horse in the round pen…with a rope tied around it’s FLANKS. She would jerk on the rope and obviously the horse would react…but usually it was barely a crowhop. You could hear her saying on the video, “See! See how he bucks!?”.

The lady asked me for help, even though I am by no means a professional trainer. The horse wouldn’t pick up his feet, didn’t know how to cross tie, was head shy, and terrified of fly spray. After 90 days!! I used a little common sense and patience and in one lesson had the horse fine with all these things. Eventually started riding him…not a single buck.

For all the good trainers out there, it seems that there are 20 idiots who THINK they are horse trainers.

After I typed the novel yesterday, I did a few things around the house, then went back outside to clean out the trailer and do the chores.

Trainer lady (TL) stopped in around 7pm “to see the new farm”. I neglected to mention in yesterday’s novel that our new farm is very close to hers. I also neglected to mention that I have three youngsters. Apparently TL figured she could get me to send them her to start.

So, awkward was the theme yesterday evening and it ended badly. Hubby and I were polite for the first half hour, then he went into the house as soon as TL started going on about her plans (which were ridiculous) for my three youngsters. This morning he asked me if I’d buried her somewhere on the farm. Neither one of us has ever met someone so full of themselves.

She doesn’t know who I am, not that I’m anyone of great importance mind you. But where we used to live, I was a well respected trainer with a very good reputation. So, I started by explaining (again, for the umteenth time) Kade’s training level and what I had expected from the training time. I asked why she chose to move at such a glacial pace with such a well broke mare and also why she ignored all my concerns about Kade’s training progress and her methods. I actually went into the house and brought out the original email and training agreement where it clearly stated the mare’s current level of training and what she had done and I outright asked about all the trotting in circles and why the german martingale and the bit change.

TL went on about how she was a member of this and that and had a degree in horsemanship and how a novice (like me) would have trouble understanding the complexity of her training methods. She spoke to me like I needed detailed instruction to find the buttered side of a piece of bread. Somehow, I managed not to drown her in my water trough until she said to me “If you’d been trained by the same school I had been, you’d understand. Besides, I’m not here to train you, just your horses”, that I simply snapped.

I asked her if Sally Struthers was the spokes person for this “school” she obtained her degree from (she didn’t get that).

I explained that I didn’t feel that the training situation worked out well and why in detail. And that based on her complete failure to even acknowledge my objections or concerns that I couldn’t provide a reference that would benefit her.

I declined her offer to start my three youngsters. (TL had already told me that they’d each need at least six months work before she could start them and had been going on about how we’d have to walk them down to her farm. I actually choked on my mouthful of water. For starters they ALL trailer and trailer well. Call me selfish, but I HATE tough loaders and nervous shippers, so I work on getting my youngsters used to traveling. The 3 yr. old filly is already w/t/c and been on trails. The other filly is a little bit behind, we’re still in the sand ring working on basics under tack and the gelding is big and just turned 2, no one is getting on that gangly boy until next year).

I also suggested that if she had any further to say that she speak to me like an adult and not a drugged up lobotomy patient.

She didn’t like any of that and said that maybe she’d best be going and suggested that when I break my neck trying to start my own youngsters to give her a call. As she hopped into her little car she stuck her head out the window and sang “green on green will make you black and blue”. I almost peed laughing and I WAS trying not to get to her level. As I mentioned, I’m no one of any importance, but I’m not a greenie nor did I just fall off the turnip truck. This lady is a fruit cake.

I’m getting the impression that she’s done well in the show ring on her made horse and hasn’t a clue aside her “degree” in horsemanship. Whatever the deal is, she doesn’t listen and she seems to think that every horse owner is a blithering idiot except her. I’m sure she’ll go far.

She is new to being a “trainer” and she’s got a lot to learn about customer relations … like maybe listening to the client would be a good place to start. I was among the first couple of clients she was training for, so she didn’t have references. I did check the farm and I did come to watch her do a few training sessions, which I found out later were with her professionally trained show horse.

My farrier recommended this person to me. And yeah, I had a nice chat with him earlier this morning.


You know this trainer sounds like the novice to me.

I would be as nice as possible as you live so close but then just drop all ties. I had a neighbor like that. She was new to the area and thought she knew everything. While I didn’t ask her to train our horses, she was immediately condescending to me when she met me. I just stayed clear of her and now 10 years later, she is the joke of the county.

I didn’t have to do anything, except just stand back and watch her implode.


At any point did you sit down and have a really direct, really blunt, real “come to Jebus” type meeting? Did you say, “What you are doing is useless and unacceptable. My horse is very well trained under saddle already - here, let me show you. ::you jump on, do a few things:: Now either you will work with her with cattle or I will take her home”?[/QUOTE]

Just to answer, because I think it’s been asked twice. I did sit down and speak clearly and very frankly with her three times telling her that I wasn’t happy with where the training was going (or not going as it were). I didn’t just make mention in passing or make sarcastic remarks.

I did say I would get on the mare and show her, but was told that her insurance would not allow for owners to ride. While I wanted to ask how that would work given that she is also trying to start a lesson program, I didn’t push the issue … much. I did a little as I have my own liability insurance which does cover me for when I would train off site. She said she’d have to clear it with her insurance company. After 2 weeks of asking her about it I gave up and just decided that best thing was to get my mare out of there and be done with her.

I didn’t outright give her an ultimatum to get my mare back onto working cattle because it wouldn’t have had any teeth. I had no other place to bring my mare and the farm wasn’t ready until the day before I went to pick Kade up. I suppose I could have hunted around for another boarding spot, but again, I’m new to the area and I didn’t want to be “that person” that yanks a horse out of training and scrambles to find another spot. It was a few weeks so I sucked it up.

None of it matters now. Despite wanting and trying to just move on and not get into a confrontational situation with Ms. Oblivious, that’s where I am.

And I will just be sitting back and watching her “implode”. :cool:

Hubby is suggesting that I get back into training here at the new farm just to stir the pot, he’s such a little biddy sometimes.

On the other hand, she’s probably building a nice client base for me :yes:

Tell the truth

As a person who has delt with people in the past that call themselves trainers but are not please be honest with people if they ask you about TL. We were sold a paint horse for my daughter ( by her trainer/instructor at the time ) that had so many issues at the time that we were not made aware of. Mental issues, spooking issues. God bless him he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body but he was dangerous. And to top it all off my daughter had only been riding for a year. Her first horse I bought her was a 24 yr old quarter horse…dead broke mind you. I did that on purpose, felt she was safer that way. Everybody thought I was crazy for buying such an old horse. Anyway we had this “trainer” put 60 days on the paint. Ask her directly to work on his spooking issues. At the end of 60 days we had a paint horse with all the same problems as 60 days before. OK there goes 1000.00 out the window and we still had a horse that my daughter was afraid to ride. Being the kind of people we were we could not give up on him. I didn’t know alot about training but I knew the look of fear in his eye all the time. And I knew we had to help him mentally overcome some of these issues or he would never be good for anything other than a pasture ornament. Bad thing was my daughter wanted to show him locally. Off to the second trainer 50 miles away-one way once a week. Jerry did natural horsemanship with them on the ground. He didn’t just work the horse, he worked the horse and my daughter togeather so she would know how to handle him when he was scared and how to work him through it. It worked wonderfully. Gave her the skill to help him. And during this process he learned she would not get him killed or eaten. So that 1000.00 was worth it. Now looking for a “show” trainer. To make a long story short 8 months later the horse still could not lope properly for the show arena. 2800.00 later the horse still wasn’t show ready. On to the next trainer. This guy is the best in our area unfortunately back at the beginning he was so booked up for so long we couldn’t get in. He put 60 days on the paint and my daughter started winning classes with him. So please help people that are spending thier hard earned money on trainers find a real trainer. Alot of people say they are trainers but alot of them are not.

Okay. Ignore my previous post. The “trainer” sounds like a blithering idiot.

Just be glad that what she did was pretty innocuous.:yes:

But isn’t an initial evaluation part of every training program? If a person tells you a horse is going well, is well broke, etc.- wouldn’t you be able to (if you’re a good trainer) figure out in the first week whether that’s true or not?

wow, that woman sounds like a total moron. I am so glad she came over and you could talk with her–though it seems like she lacks listening and comprehension skills.

Egad…the green on green comment was a doozy. Personally, be done with this woman. I would smack my farrier upside the head and ask him what he was thinking…and then I give some serious consideration to your husband’s thought.

It sounds like if this is all that’s out there in your little town, then there is a need for what skills you have—smart, down to earth breaking of horses so they have exposure and manners and a good foundation. Being the snarky ass that I am, nothing says Up Yours better than some good revenge. She needs a good dope slap, and you stepping up would wipe that bitchy smile off her face.