Move on or say something?

I left my last trainer recently. I should have left long ago, but there are not many places to board around here that I believe can withstand the weather. Safety for my horse comes first. A new place just opened, so we moved.

After having left previous trainer, I learned that she had used my very nice, trained horse for lessons at least a couple of times, and had someone ride my horse for “training” at least four times. (I learned this directly from the rider). I was clear to the trainer that no one was to ride my horse other than her or me. This trainer has ridden at the upper levels several times, and there is no one at the old barn that has ever ridden past third level. I do not know if she let others ride my horse when I was away.

She allowed this to happen more than two years ago when I was physically unable to come to the barn at all due to an injury from a non-horse-related accident.

This is just one example of her less-than-professional behavior.

My DH wants me to tell her either directly or via text that I learned this and that I think it is unprofessional. Another friend said to let it go & move on.

Oh, and I paid her for those rides where she wasn’t riding.

Would you just move on or would you say something to the ex-trainer?

Move on. The horse-world is too small, you don’t want to burn bridges even if you’d prefer to never have to cross them again.

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Move on. It’s done and you can’t have the rider(s) un-ride those rides. I’m sure the trainer knows…

Susan

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As frustrating as it is, I say move on. I don’t think there is anything to gain at this point since you’ve already moved barns and are no longer working with the trainer.

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This!

I would not lie if this trainer asks you specifically.
But I would not go looking to discuss it with them.

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Agreed with above. Move on, but don’t ever forget…

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This.

Anything you say is likely to get twisted and used to portray you poorly as a proactive defense.

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This is wise advice.

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I’m not afraid to burn a bridge or piss people off in the horse world, no matter how small. However, I would think about what door this opens for you with this type of person. More than likely, they won’t be civil and it will only create drama in your life. Unnecessary drama at this point. So while I wouldn’t open the line of communication back up with this trainer, I’d lend your experience of this trainer should anyone ask you about them. I think that’s fair and probably more productive.

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I’ve been in this exact situation. When directly asked why I left I say “I was paying for the trainer to ride my horse but found out that wasn’t happening.”

There was no point in bringing it up with the trainer directly as eventually they did tell me that they weren’t going to be riding anymore which gave me an out from the boarding contact requirement for a month’s notice to leave. I just wrote an email pointing out our agreement that only they would ride and while I wished them a speedy recovery, I would have to leave so release me from the notice requirement. What could they say? I was out of there in a week.

That you found out over 2 years after the fact sucks, but hey, now you know who you were dealing with.

I’m with the “move on” but don’t forget camp.

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I would not bother talking to the ex trainer. It’s just making drama. You won’t ever do business with her again, and you won’t recommend anyone to her again. And honestly you have more clout doing that when she isn’t fore-warned to go around badmouthing you to everyone as a hostile client. It isn’t necessary to confront anyone on things in the past. It rarely provides “closure,” just more drama.

You are ahead by keeping a civil relationship with her, because you never know when you will need to borrow a flake of hay from her at a show or something, but just been quietly clear to yourself that you are never doing business with her again.

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One option would be, if asked about the trainer, say simply “I can’t recommend her.” Refuse to give details, saying everyone’s experience is different. Then smile and change the subject.

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Ok I’m going to present another view. I had a horse ‘in training’ with a local hunter/jumper trainer. It was my understanding that she would take my then green bean 3 year old and ride and train it herself because that is how she presented the situation. I learned 6 months later that she was having her working student ride my mare (explicitly had stated no one else ride). While I was paying full training board, she then leased my mare to another student as a full time ride/show lease. When I found out I went to my father (I was in college at the time). There was another ‘less than smart move’ this trainer had made with another client. She ended up doing jail time. Did it hurt my endeavors with riding? Well, not so much. I was already done with the hunter/jumper world. I was a ‘c’ rated player at best. Did I stay with horses? You betcha your sweet ass I did. I rode, competed, have earned national awards in another discipline, have bred and produce winning stock and had a successful career outside of horses. Most importantly, I have never known life without a horse and have been successful in the business. It really depends on how ‘illegal’ the business practices are/were and your ethics. If you have the wherewithal anyone who tells you that you’ll be blackballed out of the industry is wrong. Yes, you may have to look to another aspect of the equine industry but wrong is wrong and having a blind eye to it doesn’t make it right. In full transparency, I am a veterinarian. I started out as an equine veterinarian and for personal reasons transitioned to small animal. I continued to own, train, compete and enjoy to this day my horses. You can and maybe should take the ‘high road’ but if someone is clearly breaking the law, well, don’t back down. In my case the trainer was charged with fraud, money laundering and bad checks. Enough said, I got my horse out of there, got through school and learned some valuable lessons. I don’t think your husband is wrong but only YOU can decide what you can live with in terms of consequences. The equine world is small but if you can walk the talk, bad business practices don’t have to define you too.

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If no harm was done move on. Log what you were told in a journal so you don’t forget the specifics. Just in case something wonky happened and rider X fell off your horse and 3 years later their back still hurts. Keep it under your hat. Don’t recommend trainer if asked.

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As far as reporting things to authorities it really depends what the unethical or bad business practices are. There’s a whole range of stuff that’s unethical but not illegal, or bad business practice that hurts the trainer more than the client. Then there is a whole range of stuff that’s essentially a civil dispute, like disputes over payments for services, or damages and loss, that can only be pursued in small claims court or a civil suit by the client affected.

And then there are things that are actually criminal acts and the trainer could be prosecuted, for theft or fraud or animal cruelty or neglect, or child abuse or sexual assault, or negligence causing death etc. These could be reported by anyone but the bar is quite high for proof.

Obviously if it’s a case where you have real grounds for small claims court or a police report, that’s somethung to consider. But if it’s just unethical and somewhat in the past and you are already out of there, I wouldn’t confront the trainer just for the sake of drama. The trainer is likely just going to lie and say they never did it.

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I am surprised last how many of you say move on…like any other business why can’t you tell the trainer the reason you are leaving? It’s a business and there should be some accountability right? It doesn’t have to be in a nasty way. I think it’s worse when I see the rants on social media knowing the trainer/barn did not have a chance to an open discussion. Maybe things would change in the horse world and people wouldn’t be so afraid to confront issues if this was a regular practice.

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The way I read the OP, they have already left. Telling the trainer their reason for leaving would require the OP to go back and be confrontational.

I am 100% in favor of adulting and having conversations at the time things happen. Going back just to points fingers is not adulting.

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It has been a couple of months since I left, and I have had no interaction with ex-trainer. Thank you all for responding. I don’t intend to say anything to her and will always act professionally toward her in the future.

This is not the first time a trainer has double-dipped by taking the horse-owner’s money for “training” and using the horse to take money from a student to give lessons. I had another so-called trainer do this previously. Sheesh.

BTW, I did not leave because of this action–I didn’t know about that until after I left. I left because she pushed the cost of grooms to her clients (it’s a full service barn) to the tune of $500 per month. She was not paying any portion of it (I know this), even though she has several sales horses for which she needs the grooms. Nope.

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I wouldn’t take it up with the trainer, because I’m sure she won’t change, but she may talk shit about you behind your back, which is grief you don’t need.

However, if I were looking at barns, I’d appreciate someone telling me this as a friend, so I knew NOT to use that trainer. And not only would I have my back up about your old trainer, but I’d be much more cagey about anyone who was closely associated with her in the community.

Quite often, in the horse world, I’ve had conversations where I say, “oh, I’ve heard good things about this person/barn,” and someone will respond, “I haven’t, stay away,” and refuse to say anything else. If you offer specifics, it’s much more persuasive than the usual vague-booking that people do and has much more credibility.

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Hmmmmm, since it was years ago, I think you’ve gotten the best advice.

For ME, I’d have a really hard time not saying anything, though. Yes, she is a trainer and the horse world is small. But that is a double-edged sword. Trainers depend on clients and it is very unethical for her to make additional money off of her clients’ horses without telling them. If she did this with you, she likely does it with others.

For ME, I’d consider (which is dumb) sending a text something like “Hey, XXX, I met someone who used to take lessons on my horse with you. She told me really enjoyed riding my horse.” To ME, that isn’t starting anything with your former trainer, but it is letting her know that the horse world is indeed small, and the people she gave lessons to recognize your horse and in this case, told you she took lessons on your horse. It lets her know that you know. Ex-trainer would know the word is out and she has no idea what the conversation you had with this student was about. I don’t know what it was, either, but you could have said “I paid that trainer to ride my horse and told her no one else could ride. Now you’re telling me that you took lessons on my horse? I wonder how many others were, too!” And that woman could then go tell her friends that this trainer was making money off of horses in exclusive training with her against the owner’s wishes, etc. That could damage the reputation of that trainer. That last part was hypothetical but as we know, the horse world is small and this could come back to bite her in the buns.

It’s probably best to move on and ignore what I said above. But I’d be pretty pissed if a trainer was giving lessons on my horse for $$$ while I was paying for full-time training OR said “no one else rides”. I get your inquiry!

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