I board at a PonyClub farm though I am well above the age of most of the riders, it's a great place (people wise) and it's nice to have others to go to competitions with. I am wondering if it's time to leave before my experience becomes an issue.
The situation is, I've ridden here for 4 years. Though new to eventing, I have ridden/trained for 20 yrs. Though not the most advanced rider, I have a lot of experience under my belt and we have a TON of inexperienced riders and horses on the farm. The owner/trainer is not able to ride so relies on her more experienced riders to help the kids if they're are having problems with their horses that they can't be coached through. It's been fun being able to get on another horse here and there to fix an issue. Though I'm dedicated to my green horse, the break is nice. However, my training philosophy is that the rider needs to be able to work their horse, and understand how to fix the problem not just me getting on when it rears it's ugly head again.
Originally the owner/trainer was ok with me coaching them once the issue was under control. It's not like I was charging or taking place of a lesson. In fact I generally encouraged the rider to take lessons on the lesson horses to fix a problem they may have to better help their horse. The barn owner and I had something of a verbal agreement that I was the assistant coach, she helped with riding, I helped with horse training issues. This became more evident as her "daughter" left for college and wasn't able to hop on horses during lessons to aid in their schooling.
A particular rider was encouraged to purchase a young, green horse, though she herself was just starting to canter and is mentally unprepared for training a horse. He was supposed to be very quiet... to make up for his greenness. However, he's turned out to be a sensitive soul who doesn't like inconsistency, so he bucks if she hits him in the mouth and if she over cues for the canter he takes off. But he didn't come knowing leads or what poles or jumps where for... *sighs* Is my frustration evident? This rider was the start of the strained relationship between the owner and I. We never verbally argued, but the horse's owner asked me to help even though the barn owner asked another rider (younger, less experienced, but a good sticker-on) to work him. I have continued to try and help the rider by just having her ride when I ride, so that I can help her with issues and she can gain confidence by riding my horse.
I may have encouraged loyalty or something from some of the other riders. A lot of the kids want to ride with me. Because I am an adult (by barn rules) they are allowed to jump or ride out with me. Often they are left in my care (which I've enjoyed) and riding has turned into mini lessons... though I have always made sure to get clearance from the owner/trainer before doing something. I generally know what they are working on in lessons because I'm always there and am the coach for the rallies. I also have a horse here and there to work (and get paid for or have made other arrangements like shipping to events for free). Currently I am working a mare of a boarders that no one else wants to ride because she needs a sensitive and consistent hand... she's also the only Hunter trained horse in a barn of dressage/event riders. She is also for sale so I am representing her since the owners want nothing to do with her.
I don't know when things became so hostile, as she's sweet to my face or ignores me. But I walked in (well heard from outside the barn) a conversation she was having with another student... how that "dressage clinic" ( I put quotes because she said it with such venom in her voice) was such a joke and how can I be crediting it with my horse's sudden break through in the canter (Primo is finally accepting the bit and relaxing his jaw at the canter... YAY!). That trainer doesn't even ride at my level or hers and is a joke, it's just because I've actually bothered to work my own horse for once... I stopped listening and went inside, changed my horse's blanket and left. Until then I didn't realize she was so resentful of me going to a clinic (which she always encourages other riders to do) or working other horses. It hurt, I've considered her a mentor and a friend... she's helped me grow as a trainer, offering me t coach the D's and low C riders at rallies, asking me to coach when she's away and (originally) asking me to work horses of her students or lesson horses when they're needing schooling.
Hind sight is always 20-20 they say. I now realize that she has been avoiding me and making rules to make it more difficult for me to work other horses, like charging me to use the arena if I'm working a horse. I have not gotten a lesson in a while, though still pay her to coach me at events. I need specific dressage help and that is not her forte (she's great o/f and with beginner riders). She pointed me towards trainers that I'd have to ship to (no trailer) and were really expensive. Currently the issues we're having are so basic that anyone at 1st level can help me. If her background were not Hunters as well, I would have turned to her.
I don't want to cause discord at her home/barn... I can't just not help a rider who is riding while I am, I've tried... it tears me apart, especially when the kid's parent approaches me asking for help, opinions, etc. I feel it's time to bow out and find a new home for my horse. It will mean turning to a rival farm that has less amenities, like an indoor, but I'd still be able to bum a ride to events and have people to ride with.
I hurts to part from so many people I love riding with and I'd love to somehow keep this relationship between the owner and I civil, but I'm not sure if that's possible. I don't know if it's possible as someone who has trained, is more advanced in riding... to step back and just say no to those who need help and stay. Or is it wiser to just say goodbye?
I know... a lot of venting. I am torn because she has been my mentor in one way or another, and I view this farm as my second home. I have always tried to respect the farm as "her" farm, not brought in an outside trainer or encouraged the kids to do so (even if it was in their best interest) or encouraged the kids beyond what they were lessoning on. Has anyone here ever dealt with this? Or advice on how to handle it?
I have tried asking if there is something wrong or if she doesn't want me helping the kids with anything... She says that they need someone more advanced to ride with, she can't give them a lesson all the time. So...??