I fear I made a huge mistake, time to find new trainer?

So many possibilities exist about why someone would begin to act squirrelly. But it’s shouldn’t be your responsibility to figure out why the trainer is acting squirrelly. She’s supposed to be a professional whom you employ to help you ride better and, possibly, to help you manage your horses optimally.

None of that involves subjecting you to 30 minute long lectures which sound, from your description, pretty hostile and aggressive. That is not the action of a professional towards a client. Just no. I mean, I could imagine it happening once, but the trainer would then have to apologize to me for it happening, and if it ever happened again, that would be it. I’d be gone.

To me, the real complication is that you seem to have vouched for the trainer to the new barn-owner (?). Is that right? Do you feel responsible for the trainer being on property and thus, potentially, a problem for the barn-owner?

I suspect that a heart-to-heart with the trainer might result in the trainer becoming more hostile towards you. In any case, you should level with the barn-owners that you’re moving because you don’t feel that the relationship with the trainer is productive any more for you. Then I’d move your whole crew.

Good luck.


That’s a very good point and I really hope I have never behaved in any way outright to cause them to feel that way.


I hope I did this right, I’m trying to reply to everyone who specifically advised talking to the BO and this thread.

So taking everyone’s advice and the stress involved in this whole situation I just finished speaking to the BOs. I kept in mind that all this could just be temporary and caused by stress so I approached the conversation by asking the BO’s directly who I report to as a Boarder and when I might need to report to the trainer.

The BO’s assured me that as a boarder I will continue to report to them. There will never be a time that I report to the trainer and since we will be managing horses in separate areas of the property there is no reason, unless I so choose, for the trainer to be involved with my horses. The BO’s want us to start a group text and when they are out of state they will message requests (about their property or horses) to the trainer and I will be able to see and plan my schedule accordingly. For example I can’t ride in the front fields if the trainer is having the fields cut that day, etc. . .

The BO’s have also decided to come visit for the next 3 weeks (starting Monday) and oversee the settling in of their broodmares. They have requested that I sit in on the orientation for the trainer because they have asked that I keep an eye on things from a distance. Aside from that I am not to be involved with their horses unless some horrible emergency occurs.

Hanging up from that phone call was a huge relief!

I super appreciate everyone sharing their thoughts, this situation has been so sudden and stressful even for me that I have just had no clue how to address: stand tall or run. lol.

If anyone has additional advice moving forward I would love to hear it.


Ok it sounds like the trainer is having a legit meltdown. Step away, limit your exposure, limit your contact, quit training with them. Stay aware that trainer could end up bailing on the caretaking job and leave you all in the lurch.

If you are being asked to monitor trainer for the property owners all kinds of conflict is possible including trainer accusing you of spying on them or lying about them when inevitably they are in conflict with the property owners. Tread carefully. You now know trainer is a loose cannon ready to explode.


i completely and totally agree with Scribbler. I’d extricate myself from every single involvement with that trainer that i possibly could. Also, i wouldn’t dwell on the past conversations with said trainer. I’d do what i could to remove those constantly replaying conversations from my mind.

I would also beware of finding another trainer to come in and teach me there, that would not work!..i’d trailer to new trainer’s locale.

I don’t know…it sounds like a real mess and no matter what you say to the property owners, you’ll come out bad. I might just keep my opinion to myself about the trainer. It’s is very possible that the owners like the trainer and will see her as an asset. They don’t need a change of opinion from you after they’ve already made a deal with her.

The other side is just going to need a slow extraction. You aren’t getting along with her, but you’ll be moving your horses in six months. I might just cut back on the lessons over time and explain that your goals have changed. Quit lessons altogether at the end of the month, or whenever your agreement with her expires. By the time you move, she’ll be happy that she isn’t teaching anymore and you’ll be happier because you aren’t getting harassed as much. You can take a break from lessons and just work on the basics. Find a new trainer to come to your farm once you move the horses.

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Too late.
OP has already talked to BOs.
Otherwise I agree with your advice to back away from this probable dumpsterfire.
Doesn’t matter who is the actual Drama Llama in the whole mess.
Ship has sailed, Trainer is moving in.
OP: just stop interacting with Trainer (since you do all the care for your horses) & concentrate on getting your horses moved to your property.


I guess, if I had to stay for any period of time, I’d take this (above) to heart. None of what the trainer says in the tirades is about you. It’s about something else, you don’t need to know or care what that something else is, but you also don’t need to be a target.

If I was cornered for a tirade, I’d let it all go over my head as if they were speaking German, and then ask, when they finally ran down, if souring our relationship was worth it to them as a stress reliever, because using me as a whipping boy is definitely souring the relationship. Then I’d scram and let them think about that. The message being, “This is not an appropriate way to communicate with me. Try again later.” then walk.

I would not assume or spend any time considering whether there were a few pearls of wisdom in the tirade. There may be, but the trainer will have to think of a better way to present their pearls of wisdom. Never EVER let a bully win, never EVER let them advance a fair comment in so horrible a manner. Sometimes you have to (re)teach people how to communicate, or they will keep trying the bad way.

As for moving, I dunno. It sounds awful to deal with, but you also say it’s sudden and has only been a week. It may all die down to normal soon.


I agree with the approach to bullying. I didn’t realize how bad the situation was when I asked if there was truth in any comments.

With the further information, I will say that @aregard is totally right. Toxic narcissists are generally savvy enough to latch onto a kernel of truth which they then spin into a fantasia to attack people. The kernel of truth is that the OP has trail horses that aren’t show ring quality but good at their job. The fantasia is whatever hurtful crap the trainer spins out of this. When people go off like this they are trying to protect their sense of self by destroying whoever is in the room with them. They will say anything that they think will hurt and destroy the other person.

The other thing is that when someone acts like this, it’s not really about you. The first time you see this you take it personally and wonder why your friendship has changed. But inevitably it turns out they treat other people this way, and eventually treat almost everyone in their life that way.

When I was in my 20s I did co-ordinating type work in various volunteer organizations. I was young and fairly brash and several times I was the first person to be on the receiving end of wierdness from a new volunteer. I’d share my concerns and other people would say the person was fine, I was being critical or I was likely the problem. Inevitably after a month or two everyone else would have had similar experiences and the person was a recognized problem, in some cases evrn banned.

As I got older and less brash I got better at spotting problem people, but better at avoiding being the one that attracted first conflict.

So realize that you are merely the current target. Trainer most likely acted like this to previous employers and students and will act like this to the property owners as well. It sounds like the trainers most recent barn is itself a mess, a clash of the crazies. This often happens making it hard as an observer to know who was in the right or wrong.

It’s difficult when someone with whom we are in a submissive relationship like a parent or coach goes toxic like this because we are conditioned to listen respectfully when they speak. We have to change our response from submission to self protection.

If you are going to have to interact with this person to some extent, you need to be aware going forward of the topics you don’t want to discuss and the signs person is starting to go into a rant on any topic. Then don’t stick around for it.

I have a couple of people in my life who get stuck in rants that aren’t directed at me, but I don’t want to be involved in. I deflect, I break off conversations to do chores or errands, and I may even say “I dont want to discuss this.” But if they were attacking me, I wouldn’t be maintaining things at all.

I think you do have to fire this person as a trainer because they have betrayed your trust in their judgement. Once they are no longer your trainer there will be much less room for them to say things about your horses. While they are your trainer, obviously you are paying then for their opinions and they have some freedom to say things. But if their opinions have turned into toxic rants then they are no longer doing a competent trainer job and should be fired. After that you csn just disengage and walk away from any conversation that goes beyond daily chitchat.


I agree with above. I have been on the receiving rant from a bully. At the time I let it go, as I knew they were jealous that I was younger, an accredited instructor and a better rider.

In the end she was fired when my boss had to hose off her own her horse after riding, which was her job and the bully was giving me a lesson, while I was supposed to be riding a horse for a client and she was not an instructor.

I used to just listen to what she was saying, completely doing my own thing, which she could not tell, however I was turning the way she said, so she thought she was in control. She was telling me to seesaw the reins. I was not doing that! Never ever ever.

My boss came to me and asked what I thought of the lesson. In self preservation, instead of replying with my real thoughts. I got overly enthusiastic about what she had said and I couldn’t wait to get on the mare she had sold me and try it on her. Muhahaha. The bully was fired immediately.

The next day was the easiest day I had ever had as a 16 yo was hired and did her fair share of work, rather than me doing everything.

My mare was also moved to a better yard and my instructor was surprised when I asked as the bully had said I wanted her there. Um no. I rattled off 5 reasons for not wanting her where she was.

Now I am older and jaded. I can tell you no one has ranted at me since.

Number 1 as an instructor you are taught to love all horses. It does not matter what type of horse your student brings you. It is the love of their life and you as an instructor should love all horses.

All horses get better with training. The training needs to be at the level for the horse and it is up to the instructor to adapt the lesson to the level of horse and rider.

Whenever you speak it is 2 or hopefully 3 positives to 1 negative. Even if the only thing you can say is your horse has a lovely tail.

So if I was there I would be the one ranting at them for their lack of knowledge as an instructor and the way they are conducting them self.

You have lost respect for this trainer. You are no longer in a submissive relationship. Hold your head high and do not let anyone tell you your horses are no good. They are horses. So many people would love your horses. You be one of them and let anyone you want know it. Advocate for them.

If you want to rug them they get rugged. There is no debate. If you want them medicated. There is no debate. If you want them fed. There is no debate. They get what you as the owner and paying client wants. No debate.

Grumble grumble grumble. Gee I wish I was there to give them a piece of my mind.


Well she could simply be nuts. Or perhaps your trainer is trying to get more business from you either by selling some of your horses or getting you to increase your lessons. Have you ever made any jokes or offhand remarks about having too many horses, a remark which might have given her ideas about her involvement in a sale?

Some people, too many in my opinion, use a belittling or insulting technique to promote a sale. So she insults or demeans you instead of being honest and saying something like, “I have two more appointments I’d like to fill next week, are you interested? I think it would really improve your _____ (fill in the blank).”

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I dunno. It’s a mess, for sure, but I’m with @PeteyPie on this: if you are, at this point, the trainer’s only source of income, I’d be very wary. Instead of taking things personally, I’d look at at the financial angle, and be as chill and detached as you possibly can.

As others have said, it’s not really about you - or about your no-doubt-lovely trail horses, either.


Well, you’re smart. As i got older i became a lightning rod for attacks from as-yet-unknown toxic people. I am always the first.

i don’t think i would take that kind of criticism about any horse of mine to heart. And i’m pretty sure i would not listen to derogatory comments twice…for sure i’d say something like: “I don’t care what you think about my horses.”

I don’t like your trainer. And if i were in your situation ‘she’d be dead to me’. For sure I would not take any more lessons. And i’d avoid all interaction with her.

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You’ve made a really good point here. I don’t want to disclose what happened just yet but you’re onto something, I just need to deal with some paperwork before I disclose anything.

Honestly I really hope the owners see the trainer as an asset and I hope they can all work/live happily after ever together. I don’t wish them any ill will in the long run I just don’t like drama or people taking out their negativity on me.

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I’ve tried really hard to not gender my/the trainer but I feel like I should probably let everyone know by now that my/the trainer is a man, not a woman.


The easiest would be to tell trainer you are going to pause lessons for the winter, and ride for pleasure, giving yourself break. I suspect your trainer will be relieved.


@ShortStrawPony, you mentioned in your first post this trainer was retiring. Are they elderly? Is it possible they had a stroke or some other health issue that has destabilized them?

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No, while they are about 15 years older than me they are not elderly. They are retiring from horses because the facility owners of the facility they were leasing and running their training business out of basically sabotaged every attempt they made to grow their business and are terrors to deal with.

When you talk to the trainer to break up with them, it’s helpful to use the framing that it’s “not a good fit”. Helps to keep the tone neutral and hopefully avoid an emotional who’s right vs wrong debate.

“I’ve considered my riding goals carefully, and I realize that I’m just not a good fit for your program. Rather than try to pound a square peg in a circle, which would probably equally frustrating for both of us, I’m going to take some time off to figure out what I really want to do.”
If he reacts badly, don’t take the bait. “I understand this is disappointing news. I know you’ve got a really strong program and I will be cheering for you and your students this show season.”

If he persists with angry reaction “I can see you’re not taking this news well so I’ll give you some space and get back to my chores. I’ve explained my decision politely and with respect and I am counting on you to treat me with the same courtesy and respect.” And Walk away. No more debate, just walk away.