If the trainer is bad, what about the students? Experiences w/ bad trainers - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 06-20-2013, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
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If the trainer is bad, what about the students? Experiences w/ bad trainers


I'll never understand just how a trainer, running the whole list of abuse and shoddy work toward both students and horses, can rake in so much money as to look appealing to curious competing riders. I have a few trainers in my area that even have solid places on boards as judges, and I know from personal experience myself and from other people, they're far from respectable. Scandal upon scandal happens with these guys, and still, new riders buy into the scam. The trainers I'm talking about are the ones that put on their own shows on property, and the students who win are the ones who paid the most. The business greed is appalling. Even more confusing is how some of the trainers were good about their job in the beginning, or at some points of their career, but overall it's cow chips.

It just makes me wonder, though, that even when these trainers are using shortcuts out the whazoo and doing anything to look good and have a lot of money, sometimes their students place well in a few competitions outside of the trainer's controlled bracket. Not to say most of those students of these trainers don't fall flat on their face when they compete in other regions that their trainer has no influence on--- that makes me angry the most, that they're building up these kids on false, material gains, and then when they compete anywhere else, they find out that they are horribly outmatched. I think that most "salesman" type of trainers can get a rider somewhere, and maybe the more adept of the students are able to improvise and do most of the work themselves. In other words, I think most students and horses are good, because they're good... the trainer doesn't do much other than provide them a place to ride and every now and then an honest remark (gasp!) about what they or the horse looks like. It's nothing the pair couldn't have done by themselves with a friend or video camera.

I started thinking about this because I've been training mostly by myself for the past 3 years. I had some help, along with plenty of trouble, from said businessy trainers, and fellow horse-people. Locally I had the choice between beginner-level trainers, and cutthroat business trainers. One taste of the latter left me puking, so I stuck with the beginners who helped a bit with basics, but essentially helped by giving me input and being a pair of eyes on the ground. I had been on a riding hiatus 2 years ago off an on, so I did need help covering the basics and reminding myself. But, it didn't take long to outgrow them. Then I was just stuck and frustrated.

I loved my first riding stable, so much so that when I had to leave I bought my primary lesson horse. It was a very professional, tidy, welcoming Show Jumper place. When I left 4 years ago, I was a level 5 ranked out of 9 levels--- I could go all gaits but still had some issues with cantering smoothly. I would say I'm a 7, at least, now. I settled and started making contacts in the riding world--- SUCH a fresh breath of air to talk with good, FEI/Grand Prix trainers again, and I decided to set up a plan to start taking lessons from them, specifically my old trainer :)

Can't help but feel some pity for the riders I pass by every day, there are some good riders in there, and some hearts waiting to be broken... Haha, I won't be surprised if I end up being a trainer some years from now Just because the area needs one who isn't a beginner and isn't obsessed with cash and quick fixes.
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post #2 of 27 Old 06-23-2013, 10:52 AM
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If they talk a good game, they make money. Think of Parelli :)

I work out of a facility that has one suck trainer. She is completely clueless, her students don't place well at shows (Mine beat them easily and regularly :) ) and she keeps a pretty full schedule.

She talks a good game, uses fancy equipment and has grooms that do all the grooming, saddling etc.

Just like Parelli, real horse people don't like her either.
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post #3 of 27 Old 06-23-2013, 12:31 PM
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I've had experience with good and bad instructors.
I, thankfully, had tons of experience with a good trainer before getting a bad one. Instead of me becoming really bad, I just didn't improve much. I knew what I was supposed to be doing and how it should look, so I pretty much took control of my own lesson. I trusted my own education more than the trainer's. However, this was the trainer that taught me how to jump. I learned the incorrect way, and now I'm STILL trying to correct that teaching that has now become my instinct when I jump. I have to catch myself and remind myself of the correct way of jumping or else I'll do it the wrong way that the instructor taught me.

I think it depends on how far into training the student is. A beginner will be more damaged than an intermediate rider. Typically the further your training level is, the easier it will be to judge whether your instructor is good and worth listening to. A beginner doesn't know any better whether or not they are being taught in the right direction.

It's where I learned about working hard
And having a little was just enough
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post #4 of 27 Old 06-23-2013, 12:35 PM
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Although I couldn't care less about showing, my students like it which is cool, I don't mind coaching a show. How you compete against other riders is an indication of your education. It is a way of knowing if you're learning correctly....assuming it's a well officiated show.

As I said, I couldn't care less about ribbons, I train and teach because I like to train and teach. But if you're consistently on the bottom of the heap that's supposed to be at your level, there may be a problem.
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post #5 of 27 Old 06-23-2013, 12:38 PM
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Unfortunately, there are a lot of these people out there. My first trainer was a load of bull, and I stuck with her for 7 years not knowing any better! I was fortunate enough to have a natural seat, but when many other students from that barn ended up with my second trainer, they couldn't ride to save their lives. It was one of those, "just hold on and go!" sort of situations. On the upside, she trained fearless riders that almost never came off!

On the downside, we were pretty much all wasting money to become okay riders at best, and I now realize that a lot of the things she did were shortcuts or not particularly nice to the animals. Not that they were abused, but certainly not as well loved and fairly treated as the horses at my next barn. I felt bad for the people still training under her, (well, aside from the three or four students who had their own talented horses that she ACTUALLY trained) since they weren't learning much in the way of actually riding. I think she really just had the corner on the market, though, since no other trainers in the area were wanting to train something as risky as gymkhana.
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post #6 of 27 Old 06-23-2013, 02:41 PM
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There a big market out there whereby the expectation is Now, regardless of how it is achieved. That is the market these trainers cater to.
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post #7 of 27 Old 06-23-2013, 02:43 PM
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This doesn't just go on with local trainers of small scale...how could anyone utilize Shirley Roth, or CA for that matter, or Cleve Wells, or any of the others in differing breeds?

Well known in the WP world for being abusive to her horses, Shirley had no shortage of clients...who won big time too. And she was mean as hell.

And people didn't speak up because of who she knows, and their fears that if they raised sand...they would not place themselves at shows.

Just sad.

Horses make me a better person.
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post #8 of 27 Old 06-23-2013, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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Ah, yes, Palo... I forgot there are some famous trainers with short cuts too x) I don't know about how much money he gets, but RG seems to have a vast fan base. He's a macho cowboy who yet claims not... to be... a macho cowboy...

Yeah, I still haven't done much about the real nasty trainers nearby. They're influences in their niches, and I already get the cold shoulder constantly from them and their students. It does make me smile to see the handful of girls who don't care what the trainers say, and simply are polite and greet me anyway.

I also don't back up the services they use, either--- there are veterinarians and farriers, that I have or come close to using, that make blanket fixes for them and don't care about the horse. I've turned my back on those "show farriers" or "show vets" and use the older, traditional residents who have served the town for decades, they know the best professionals to work with.

It's funny that my first trainer, a Brazilian guy, said he was taught to ride as a kid basically by going in a group session and being yelled at. He's such a natural, slow to anger man, I wouldn't have guessed! I can remember doing a number of foolish things along with other riders and I'm surprised he could resist snapping at us. He would only get very stern and serious for the dangerously dumb things we did, like letting the horses get too close, cantering with no contact on the reins, hanging on the horse's mouth, or, my dumbest act, yanking the reins. Stuff like gripping too much or kicking too much were easily corrected by the horse... if you got frustrated, the school horse dumped you in the sand. I remember having such a problem cantering, that he restricted me to the far end of the arena, made me ride the bumpiest horse, and told me seriously that I was going to be stuck with that for every lesson until I could canter... because he knew I could do it, I knew I could do it, I just kept stiffening up and wanted to canter without thinking about it. All he had to do was tell me that once, and the next lesson I could do it.

My neighboring trainer now would simply chase the horse with a whip so that it would canter to the crappy cue the rider was giving, and voila! rider doesn't learn a darn thing and the horse learns to canter when someone leans forward and flaps their legs.
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post #9 of 27 Old 06-23-2013, 10:33 PM
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I'm kind of on the verge of being done with riding lessons at this point. I started off not that great but I was relaxed. Now I'm okayish but REALLY tense through my back, which of course nothing then is communicated to the horse.

Folks lemme tell you. Better to have few lessons with a good trainer than lots of lessons with bad trainers.
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"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #10 of 27 Old 06-23-2013, 11:49 PM
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Amen to that.
I am a good trainer :) and it's much easier to teach someone that doesn't know than to re-teach someone that learned wrong.
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