Impatient Owners - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 09-15-2012, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Massachusetts
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Impatient Owners

How do you deal with impatient owners when youíre training a horse? Iím working with a 3 year old that was doing an amazing job with what Iíve asked of her until she was saddle broke. The problem is her owner. When the horse doesnít instantly do what is asked the owner flips and freaks out on the horse. Iíve tried showing her how to do things and coaching her when she does them but Iíve only been working with this horse for 2 months and sheís expecting a completely push button bombproof horse. Training this horse had gotten more difficult because sheís afraid Iíll punish her for not understanding or not instantly acting. Iím pretty much at a loss for what to do. When the owner butts into my training I add a lesson onto the bill for the training, which she wasnít happy hearing but it hasnít stopped her either. Iíve told the owner that it would be best if she didnít work with the horse until Iíd finished with her but I canít control what she does when Iím not there. This horse has tons of potential and Iím worried about what another trainer would do so I donít want to give up, really I just want to beat the owner with a crop or tie her in the loft so sheíll let me do my job.
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Show me a horseman who hasn't fallen and I'll show you a man who has never truly ridden.

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post #2 of 17 Old 09-15-2012, 10:48 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: South Range, WI
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This is exactly why I stopped training outside horses.

In the past I have terminated a training relationship early with clients due to their unrealistic expectations.
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post #3 of 17 Old 09-15-2012, 10:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Palmyra, Wisconsin
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If you don't give up or set some gound rules the owner will blame the poor results on you~when she does take the horse to another trainer.
I would tell her that she is making my job harder & that needs to take her horse elsewhere.
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post #4 of 17 Old 09-15-2012, 11:22 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Stafford, Va
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Keep your business hat on and don't get emotionally involved. I know that's hard, because we develop a relationship with the horse that tends to be a stronger bond than with the owner and we hate to see our good work undone.

I once saw a sign in a garage that said something like:

Labor: $60 per hour
If you watch: $75 per hour
If you help: $125 per hour

While that was tongue-in-cheek, it gets the point across.

Keep charging the extra money and smile all the way to the bank. Though it may ****** the horse's training a little, or even significantly, the horse knows the difference between you and the owner. If the horse does what it should when you're on it, but not when the owner is on it, the owner should be able to recognize that it's not the horse's fault or yours.

Also, how often are your training sessions with the horse? Once per week on Saturday morning isn't enough. I recommend at least three times per week for an hour or two per session. Good luck.
thenrie is offline  
post #5 of 17 Old 09-15-2012, 01:39 PM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: NE Ohio
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I agree with natisha. You need to lay some ground rules.

E-mail her weekly with a progress report detailing what the horse has accomplished, and what you are still working on. Also give her an estimate of how much time it might take to make her horse into a push-botton bomb-proof horse. That should help with keeping her expectations realistic. Having it all in writing will avoid future problems.

Tell the owner you cannot obtain the desired results under the current conditions, i.e., her working with the horse when you are not around, until such a time as you deem it appropriate. The inconsistency is interfering with the horse's progress. Either she can stop working with the horse, or she can accept that the horse's progress will be much slower than your estimate. Maybe even have her sign something stating that she is aware of the consequences of her decision.

I think it is great that you are charging her for an additional lesson when when "butts in" but I hope by butting in you mean she talks to you when you are working with the horse, and not actually interacting with the horse when you are working with it. The horse can't concentrate on both of you at once.

You can't worry about what another trainer would do. It's not your horse. And if this owner is as big a flake as it sounds like, she will bash you when the training is not up to par, and it won't be up to par under these conditions. So in order to protect your reputation (and sanity) you have to either get her to allow you to train the horse the way you know it needs to be done, or you need to fire her.
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post #6 of 17 Old 09-15-2012, 02:11 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Mid Northern TN
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Your post lays out clearly the problem with working with animals professionally: they (nearly) always have a human or two attached that you have to work with as well. The four footed animals are the easy ones, it's the two-footers who will make you want to pull your hair out and pound your head against the wall.

Decide what you're willing to put up with, lay those ground rules out clearly, and terminate the relationship if the owners won't abide by them. Charge them a PITA fee too if appropriate.
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post #7 of 17 Old 09-15-2012, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Massachusetts
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thenrie- I work with her four times a week for 2 hours. Then she get's a half hour-hour lesson once a week to catch her up on the progress.

Now that the horse is ride-able she's "got to" ride every day. I've told her that she's detrimental to the progress of her horse but she doesn't seem to care. I've been stuck on teaching her yields and bending for almost 3 weeks now because the owner keeps messing things up. I've tried telling her that on the days I work the horse she shouldn't do anything because we do a lot of work that works her mentally and physically so she's tired. When we do the weekly lesson she's good with her horse for the most part but always tries to push the horse to do things I haven't trained yet.

I don't let her in the ring with me when I'm training and I try not to even allow her around either but she'll show up about half way through my session and pull me away from her horse. I've tried ignoring her or asking her to wait but then she'll try to come in with me and talk my ear off. Now that I'm riding the horse I've got to get off and leave the ring because I know I won't be doing any more work with the horse. So while she still pays me for the full 2 hours of work I only end up doing at most an hour. If she actually comes in and insists on riding I charge her for the training day and an extra lesson.
I have a basic contract that states what I'll be training a horse for, my prices, what can be expected when I'm done, and clears me from all blame of problems happening with the horse after I've left or finished training. I've been toying with the idea of writing up a more strict contract and walk away if she doesn't follow it.

Show me a horseman who hasn't fallen and I'll show you a man who has never truly ridden.

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post #8 of 17 Old 09-15-2012, 05:48 PM
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Sometimes when you are in the business of training you have to weigh whether an owner like this will actually harm your business. I can't make that judgment for you.

If, as others have suggested, you think this person will mess the horse up once you get it going well and will blame you, you may want to have a conversation.
I generally say something bland like, "I don't think I can meet your needs as far as what your priorities for this horse are." One of those "it's not you, it's me" kind of breakups.

If they are at all bright, they may figure out that they are getting fired and either get belligerent, or beg you to continue training. If you have decided that you need to get this client out of your barn, don't weaken.

If you think they are simply ignorant and there is hope for them with their horse, have a completely different conversation.

I've only had to do this two times, so that's a plus. And both times the people blabbed about how I couldn't train their horse, but others came up and offered support for my decision. Which doesn't really matter, but I felt a little bad that I wasn't able to work with the people.
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post #9 of 17 Old 09-15-2012, 06:01 PM
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Without reading all the other post... First off I would say, It's people you are training that's difficult, not the horse! Of course, I think you are seeing the light here.
Second, I wouldn't go the extra mile, for someone going in the opposite direction. You are just spinning your wheels. Tell the customer, thanks, but no thanks. Let her find someone else. It's a sad situation, especially for the horse, but sometimes, you just can't help people. I've known customers who ask me a question about training, and it turns out to be, not about the question at all...Good Luck!
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post #10 of 17 Old 09-15-2012, 06:02 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Connecticut
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Wow, that's too bad this woman is so thick. Two hours with a 3 year is certainly a lot to ask. For her to want even more is ridiculous. I guess, if nothing else, she's job security. She'll keep messing up her horse, you come in, fix it and hand her the bill.
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You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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