How can I tell a customer I think her horse is too much for her?
Chris and I have been working with a 9 yr old AQHA mare that belongs to a one-horse family about 1 1/2 hrs from here. They brought her to us, with the statement, "She is too wild for me to ride, and I want my kids to show her in the fall."
Yesterday I went out to the corral to catch her. She walked right up to the gate and politely stood at a good distance, and had great manners. I proceeded to put on the halter, which she tipped her nose in toward me. (I LOOOOOVE that! Means less work for me! ; ) ) As soon as the halter was on, I turned to walk away, and the fit started.
I have decided that whoever had her before just hooped and hollered and beat her to go. "Just GO! Wherever you're going, do it in a hurry!"
This mare has no idea what it means to just "Walk." It took me 15mins to get her to stand and flex to the right without moving her feet. Then, another 10 mins to get her to stand and flex to the left. She worked herself into a sweat, and I walked her around the arena for 10 mins to clear her mind. I would whoa her up, and she would assume that meant we were going to BURST out of the stop. She has been used on barrels, and we can't stand near an open gate. Well, take that back, we can't STAND, period.
So yesterday, I started to reward her in the biggest way when she stopped. I would get her to actually stop, count to 5, then climb down. I would count to 10, re-mount, and after quite a while, again, I would get her to stop, and repeat the process. She gets soooo excited, and it just takes so much to get her settled down to where she can actually start to "Learn."
So here is the family. This is their first horse, they bought her from a guy off craigslist that said she was quiet, easy to get along with, perfect first horse... I have half a mind to think he may have aced her to sell her. She is everything BUT. My husband and I like her, but then again, we are experienced. But at the same time, I would NEVER allow my child near her on the ground, let alone on her back. She is not a kids horse at all.
I need help telling this family that I would be really uncomfortable with her children riding her, due to their lack of experience. I don't want to feel responsible if someone gets hurt, and according to her, they cannot afford lessons. If I offered them to her, it would be up to me to get to her house to teach the little girl, and they are 1 1/2 hours from my house.
I'm in no way implying that the mare cannot be managed, but she is just no beginner's horse, and would take more than 30 days training to slow her down to a level the 12 yr old and 14 yr old could manage.
Well Westonsma - have you ever thought of showing the owners of the horse, a copy of the post you have just made?
If that is the scene, and I am sure it is, then it could not have been better put.
In a way, if you don't show her and they come a cropper - as well they might - you might be criticised because you could see it coming.
With horses, if you care and the people are genuine and they come to you for advice then it is important you state your mind.
Barry has a good idea but however you do it, you need to do it. I'm of the mind that part of the job of a trainer is to give a fair, honest assessment of not only the horse but how you feel the owner will work with him.
If you fail to do that and someone gets hurt, how will you feel? An unscrupulous trainer takes their money, tell them what they want to hear then says goodbye. A good trainer gives them an unbiased writeup on their client's horse and how they feel that they will mesh with the horse. If that assessment means that it's a bad fit, so be it. Better that they tell you that you don't know what you are talking about then someone gets hurt.
My first horse was sold to me as a "perfect beginner's horse" I had a big S stamped on my forehead for sure. The trainer I sent her to, after reality set in, told me after 3 weeks that she could not in good conscience take my money and the horse would never be safe for me to ride. I think she was a bit leery telling me the bad news but I was so appreciative of her honesty and think the world of her still. So, I say go for the brutal honest approach.
I'd say just be honest and tell them in gentle way what you think. Especially pointing to the fact the kids may be hurt.
But frankly I don't hold my breath. While some people are reasonable and listen to the advice (and honest about own abilities and experience), some never do. Hopefully this family is the 1st type.
Thank you all for your help!
I think you have been given great advice. However, I would leave out the bit about the Ace. You have no proof and it is only going to open a huge can of worms and what is done is done. These people bought a horse that is too much for them, you are going to tell them this honestly, hopefully they can sell her and have you help them find the right match. End of story.
I Think honesty is the way to go. There are a lot of good horses out there. A good match can take some time to find. WEll worth it though. If they choose to keep the horse, some one may get hurt. If these people are new to horses this could be a nightmare for all. If a person doesn't have a good experience with a first horse, that horse may be forgotten. Who wants a horse you can't ride?? They already know the horse is not what they were looking for. They wouldn't have brought it to you if there wasn't a problem. Perhaps they don't know how much work is envolved to get that child safe horse. Perhaps it is money. I would spend more money on a kid safe horse than sending one to a trainer. I would definetly tell them the truth and risk them being mad at me than risking a child's life. Buying a horse because he is 'pretty' or it was a good price, isn't a good idea to me. I have had experiences with 'buying pretty' the outcome has never been positive. In the long run a "cheap' horse can cost more. Vet bills or hospital bills can add up quick!!
How can I tell a customer I think her horse is too much for her?
*Susan*, this is too much horse for your children. It's going to take *6 months* of retraining, imo, for her to be a safe and reliable mount. I'm sorry I don't have better news for you, but that's my professional opinion.
Make sure you understand that she might talk crap behind your back and spread unwanted rumors. People always do that and always twist your words.
The best thing to do is tell her.
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