Losing lessons due to BO's practices?
I'm an independent instructor. I use horses owned by a woman who also teaches lessons, trains, does trail rides, etc. She gets half the lesson fee for letting me use her horses.
I'm slowly seeing more and more areas where she and I don't exactly see eye to eye.
1: No helmets. I both require and provide helmets for my beginner students. I feel it's my responsibility as the professional. She says "I tell the parents that if they want their kid to wear a helmet, they can get one"
2: No insurance. When I asked if I could be added on to her insurance policy, I found out she didn't have one... So I bought my own.
3: Spurs on beginners. She regularly puts spurs on very beginner students. Kids and adults alike.
4: Rough with the horses. I have seen some awful horsemanship. Beating a horse with a piece of wood someone broke off out of the barn. Kicking in the ribs from the ground for spooking. Just some bad stuff. The more I talk to people in the horse community, the more I find that she is notorious for how rough she is with her horses.
5: Collection. Her idea of collection is holding a horses head in position with a pretty severe curb bit, with a see-saw hand motion.
6: Language. There have been many times when I've been in the middle of a lesson and she's cussing like a sailor, or talking about crude stuff. She cusses while teaching lessons- to 5 year olds. Or loud, vulgar music playing at the barn.
7: Treatment of her help. She is so, incredibly rude to her 'volunteers', who do all the feeding, cleaning, and even tack up all the horses she rides or teaches lessons on. She will call them useless even though they care for all of her horses and work really hard for her.
I don't have any horses right now. I also have students who have bought multiple lessons- one will be taking lessons with me until May. My hands are kind of tied. I don't know what to do.
I will say, I feel she's been very generous in allowing me to teach lessons with her horses. She also lets me ride her horses as much as I want. She's always saying how thankful she is that her horses are being ridden by an experienced rider. I do go out and help clean stalls as much as I possibly can. I have made her about $1000 in lessons in the last 4 months.
However... I fear I have actually lost clients because of the reasons listed above. I think I have even lost clients when they find out I work with her. I also have several students who took lessons with her in the past and started taking lessons with me recently, not knowing I work with her. One of my students took 1 lesson with her a while back and she had her lope on the first lesson. This same student took 10 lessons with me before I felt I had prepared her with enough trotting and position work to lope.
So, thanks for reading my novel. Am I out of line? What are my options? Do I just keep my mouth shut and continue until I can afford my own horse? Should I stop taking new lessons until I can switch barns?
Well it definitely doesnt sound like you aew out of line. She sounds a bit... Snipy. But I honestly think yiu might be better of just sticking around with her for a littlewhile. Dont be afraid to take anybody's service while you are there. Any boost in reputation will help you. In the meantime, id hang in there until you were able to afford things on your own.
I think that if your name is associated with her name that could damage your reputation. While you're not her, I think its often considered that people who board and/or work somewhere (even independently) subscribe to the methods and beliefs of that place. In my experience people who board at certain places generally take lessons there, ride in a similar style to the instructor/owner/trainer and also use their training methods - if they disagreed with them or believed differently they probably wouldn't be there. It's not everywhere, there are places around that isn't like that, but a lot of places, especially those that give lessons, are. Whether its just from students moving to owning horses or just peer pressure, or even people moving places to be near friends or similar trainers - I don't know but it often seems to be the case.
While you may not agree with her, if someone hears your name and the name of where you are, for many people they'll immediately link you with these practices. I think that in this life all you have is your reputation and word in the end and when you lose that its very difficult to get back. You seem to have a good thing going here so obviously i'd think about it. If you're making considerable money it might be worth you buying a horse or two for use in lessons, especially if you have own insurance, and find a boarding place that will let you hire an arena or something. Or try to talk to other places to get a similar arrangement.
Is there anywhere else you can go, use someone else's horses for lessons? I agree, if people associate you with her you also might get a bad name.....she doesn't sound like someone I would take a child to for lessons let alone me.....
id find another location as quickly as I could, move your existing clients with you. If new location isnt good for them offer a refund. Or just finnish out the contract at old barn, but dont take on any new clients there.
Thanks everyone. That's the conclusion I am coming to as well. My husband absolutely thinks I should move on and 'break up' with her. There's a woman I just met at a facility that I absolutely love that has a 2 1/2 year old that needs her training finished, but this woman recently suffered an injury and thus can't ride or even lunge. We had a long talk and her ideals and practices match up with mine, but she has 30 years of experience teaching and has been a very successful equestrian. I may be riding her green horse in return for her knowledge. I think that's my next step on the journey. My next obstacle after that will be finding suitable lesson horses to lease or buy. Thanks for the advice everyone.
I would be careful if you leave and students follow you. By the sound of this BO you'll be in store of a very unpleasant experience if that ends up being the case. I would prepare yourself for an attack on your reputation.
You're right wetrain. Right now, I have one student in particular that has about 18 lessons left. They paid for them up front and the BO and I split it then. So it's either ask for the remainder of that money back, or continue with the lessons. She is absolutely the type of person that will be nasty at the drop of a hat. There was a time when I called her, she thought she missed my call but the phone was connected, and she said some pretty rude stuff about me.
I'm going to have to be very careful about this.
I hate rude people with bad manners....
Can you start training at the new location and slowly move your customers to it a little over time?
This is a tough one, but if I were a volunteer and treated that way I don't think I'd be back.
Why do you suppose they put up with it?
go ahead and finnish out the 18 lessons at the old place. But only take on new students at the new place. And when the 18 lesson person comes time to renew let them know you have changed barns after the 18th lesson. You could also move the student and eat the cost. The old BO already got her cut for the 18 lessons so even if you do move she cant say much.
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