My name is Jane and a friend of mind shared this thread with me since she knows I have been using Liz Graves as a trainer for a number of years now. Wow!! I just had to respond to this thread because I remember this horse very well, though I never actually met his owner even though my horse was there the whole time her horse was. I do not believe that what has been posted here is the truth in this matter. Since my horse was in training both times Michael was in training with Liz, I felt compelled to tell what I know of the time he was there. Many of us knew this horse and his situation; he was a very troubled horse who came with a lot of baggage.
The first time I saw this horse was the winter of 2007. He came in for 30 days to help him be, well, more like a horse! When Michael arrived he was afraid of everything: afraid to walk on a wet spot, sounds, visuals, a sunbeam on the ground, white snow verses dirty snow and back again, he was afraid of himself and other horses. He was also very head shy; and everyone wondered what had happened to this horse to make him so fearful of everything. Liz often has people at her ranch apprenticing with her, so I was not the only one who saw Michael there at that time.
I was there when a couple of phone calls with Michaels owner were going on and Liz was trying to find out what had happened to this horse to create his fears, she had no help from the owner in getting any information much to her frustration. Of course this isn’t uncommon, in the years I’ve had my horse at her place I’ve seen it happen before.
Michael was a pretty horse but was not mature enough physically to be ridden, he was long, narrow, fine boned and no muscle development. Liz did 30 days of ground work to teach basics and help him overcome his fears. I remember one afternoon she put every saddle pad and blanket on the ground in her arena and helped him to walk on them. That was a red letter day for Liz and she told me it felt so good to see him progress to that. I had been interested in Michael as he was so different from any horse I’d ever worked with, he had NO curiosity! It seemed like his curiosity had been replaced with fear, so I always asked how Michael was doing when I came to visit my horse. After 30 days he was sent home to wait to start his riding work later, giving him time to mature. In my opinion he left a much more whole horse than when he came.
Now everyone that takes a horse to Liz for training has to sign a contract and present a Coggins and fill out a general health certificate and information form. One of the things on Liz’s form says when you bring a horse in you are making a commitment to come and work with her and your horse. This is also stated on her web site (although in the years that I’ve worked with her owners not showing up is commonplace. And, of course, everyone has their “good” excuses!)
I work a job and own a ranch where we have several head of horses, all needing daily attention. I have a family and yet I was there almost every weekend, to work with my horse (even though he was not being ridden yet). As I mentioned, I never heard that Michael’s owner ever came to do this or even to visit him. Some days when I drove down all I did was go into my horses stall and brush him and tell him I missed him as it was really too cold to work. And I know if Liz missed a day working with him, she always added it on to the time he was there, so I ended up getting several “free” days after my 60 days were up as there had been days too cold to work him. Now, I live 2 hours from Liz, I checked and Michael’s owner lives not 4 hours, but 2 and ¾ hours (not pulling a trailer) from Liz and I’m driving from the north, where as she would drive from the south.
I have had my horse in training with Liz off and on for over 3 years, and I know that fees are paid one month at a time, and never whole amounts up front. Michael’s fee was the same that as I was paying which was $600.00 a month.
Michael came back the next winter for 2 months. I know this as my horse was there again for continued training. This was 2007-2008 not 2009. My horse was there until the end of March. This also does not equal 4 months but 3 months in 2 separate training visits. Again Michael’s owner never once came to see her horse nor work with him and Liz. The fees were the same that year too, so how can she say she paid 2600.00 dollars when she paid 1800.00 in training fees?
I’m sure Liz has receipts and records, plus phone calls and e-mail correspondence to confirm this, she’s a very organized lady!
I know Liz was in touch with Michael’s owner often (I was present for some of these calls) and I would ask about him when I came, concerned for him and where he was at, as he was still a very fearful horse but he did get his saddling, riding and training done plus more of his fear issues worked. He was still a troubled horse and I remember Liz telling the owner on the phone that there was no room for errors with Michael and would still take several years for him to overcome all his fears with the right continued work. Liz also had a trainer with a mounted police department there then doing a trainer’s internship and she rode and worked with Michael as well.
I was there the day Michael’s owner picked him up as I had been asked to come at noon for my appointment instead of my usual morning time because Liz had blocked the entire morning off for Michael’s owner to come and work with him and Liz. She wanted to show her how he was used to being worked (I think I mentioned she hadn’t been there once in the two months he’d been there to work with him). Michael’s owner showed up late, on my time, and was there when I got there. Why didn’t Liz ride the horse? She’d been waiting ALL morning to show the owner how the horse rode, but now the time was up. I have schedules, Liz has schedules. Wonder why? So people can PLAN things. Liz wasn’t able to give the time to Michael’s owner, she’d waited all morning to do that! I wonder if Liz knew this was going to happen as this has been the case with other owners. Even though they make the commitment to work with the horse they don’t show up. Maybe the don’t really want Liz to see how they are going to interact with their horse. I don’t know, it only makes sense to me to work with your trainer and learn the “language” they are teaching your horse!
I later asked Liz about Michael and learned of 2 things the owner did to Michael the first week he went home that probably undid most of what Liz and the other trainer had worked so hard on. I was there when the e-mail came in. It really upset Liz and the other trainer, after what Liz had told her about being very careful with Michael when he got home, and then here comes the owner asking for help over what she had done. (and I'd bet Liz still has the email on this as well as raves of how good Michael was when he got home)
I also know Liz has only done 1 clinic in Texas and that was 2009 because it was an event that was her first clinic in the same state her Mother lives in.
I have worked with Liz for over 4 years now, and her integrity as a horse trainer AND a person never fails to amaze me. I have seen her work many, many horses and she ALWAYS has the horse’s best interest at heart. Perhaps this is why she is seen as a threat to some?
I do have to say, nothing adds up here, I was there at that time, and the situation described is very different from the situation I observed. Perhaps rather than continue to bash Liz, you should ask her yourself. Her email is on her web site www.lizgraves.org .