Having Problems with Trainers!
So I just moved my horse to a new stable because I was having troubles with trainers and boarding there. Now I have new problems, straight from my first session with the trainer.
Here is my first thread in the Stables section.
About me and my horse: So my horse is a very difficult horse and everyone underestimates him and does not understand him. I'll call him "Lancer" on the forum because I can not share his name. It's not the people on the forum that I don't trust. My horse is small(15.1 HH) and youngish(born in 2003) and he has sort of a pony attitude but not exactly and he didn't start out with it. From all the trainers he's been through, he's learned to fight. With my age(16) people don't think I can do anything with him and my parents also don't think so either because of all the BS they've heard from other people. I pay for most of my horse's costs so it's not like I'm a whiny 16-year-old that gets whatever they want. I've broken horses to ride, ridden tons and tons of greenies, I've ridden more greenies than trained horses. I'm confident on horses. I've ridden bucks, rears, bolts, you name it. I've been trained by dressage riders and colt breakers so I know how to do a LOT of stuff. I know many methods of lunging and other things too. I've never had any problems with my horse until I've got him trained by other people. I'm not experienced enough to train my horse to higher levels which is why I've hired trainers. I hired probably the most expensive trainers in the city with the best credentials but they still sucked...and they've trained a major problem into my horse: fighting. So I can't bring my horse to higher levels, but I sure as hell know how to handle him. I know this horse inside and out.
Now I'm at a new stable. I will never just hire a trainer and let them do whatever they want with my horse again. I will be there and be part of EVERY single session...if I go with this trainer who I will talk about. I think that I need a different stable and trainer but my area has literally none that can help me or my horse. Extremely sport oriented stables don't work with my horse; it's either that or people who don't know what they're doing. The one I'm at seems like what I'm looking for but their knowledge and understanding of horses doesn't seem to fit to what I've heard(I got references on this trainer).
Now for why I am in doubt: I go for a lesson, no other riders at the stable just me and the trainer/BO,his wife and my mom watching(she wants the best for my horse too). When I was putting my bridle on my horse, I through the reins over his neck and then saw that they were twisted so I undid them and let them hang(they weren't touching the ground). I had my lead rope around my horse's neck but not tied. The wife is in there with my and freaks out "You should NEVER let reins drag on the ground!!!" So I just said "okay" and held them. Then she says "They HAVE to be around his neck!" but I was holding him with a lead rope already. To avoid conflict, I just listened to her. I went early for my lesson so I could lunge him because he hadn't been ridden for a while. They are exercising two of their horses before the lesson which I am totally fine with. I meant to bring my rope halter to put over his bridle to lunge but I forgot it. That was fine I just slid the lunge line through one bit, over his poll and attached it to the other side. My horse is used to that because he's been lunged like that a lot before. I had brought sliding reins to use, not for him to go on the bit(I like to only do that with riding, or as a training session), not to force his head low to calm down(that should happen on it's own with no contraptions), but to keep his head straight because my horse can bend his neck one way but be bent on a circle the other way. I do it loosely so his neck stays in the middle of his shoulders. I was going to lunge him to get his mind calmed down, focused and relaxed: snorting, licking his lips, head low, moving freely. Usually I will do it without sliding reins but I needed his neck straight because he was very distracted and it really helps him to stay on a circle on the lunge or else he's all over the place. He's very used to these reins and he is fine with them. So I do his reins and the lunge rope and the wife(who is also one of the trainers) says "you don't need to use that contraption, you should let him get his energy out and go buck around". Not wanting any conflict, I didn't use them which was fine because I've lunged my horse a lot without them; I don't need them, they just help. So I go start lunging, my horse is afraid of one door because it makes noise when the wind shakes it. Whatever...he was calm, he just looked at it when he walked by it. Another thing he did(which happens everywhere in the arena) is that he cut the corner closest to the door and made the circle bigger closer to the exit of the arena. That doesn't bother me! Tons of horses I've trained do that. I let him look around for a few minutes, and cut his corners at walk and trot. Then I made him go closer to the door using body language(my main training "tool"...what other word can I use? haha). I did this at the walk and my horse was doing it fine and was going onto the circle and getting much calmer. I had him walking nicely. He was listening to me and my body language. So...I don't use a whip with this particular horse. I've owned him for years, I've lunged him different ways, I know many methods of lunging and I lunge him the way that is best for him. I don't use a whip and there is slack in the rope. I communicate to him with body language, which is is very in tuned to. I will use a short whip with him but usually a little while into a lunging "session". Whips make him unfocused. He has been abused. When I use whips, ,they are an extension of my arm that are used to convey body language. So my horse was being perfectly fine but the wife who thinks I'm some inexperienced, unknowledgeable teenager attempting to lunge my horse says "you have to lunge with a whip". I say "I don't like to lunge 'Lancer' with a whip because he get's unfocused and out of tune with my body language"(I do use whips too though, it's hard to explain). Then she says "It's dangerous to lunge a horse without a whip". At this point I was really annoyed but again, to avoid conflict I go over to where the whips are. My mom doesn't know anything so she's just going to listen to the older trainers and I want this stable to work for her too. She loves 'Lancer' and all this abuse and problems have been hard on her. When I go over to get whips the trainer I am/might use comes over and jumps off his horse. BTW he is really nice and he won't force anything on me and is very humane with horses. It's more the wife that is annoying me at this point.(Addition, off topic: these people are humane and treat horses respectfully but I think they are letting the horses get away with too much: eg. horses are pushing them around with their heads and pawing at the ground whenever they want...what do you think?). So the trainer, I'll call them "Bob", says to me "My wife is right but I was going to tell you and work with you after you finished lunging him but since my wife has already started we can start with a lunging lesson. You need a whip". So he hand me a whip and tells me to go lunge Lancer. It's a really long lunging whip, which I actually hate to use, especially with my quick thinking and agile horse. It makes me clumsy, I have to change my body language with different horses because all horses are different. I start on a pretty small circle and I'm using the whip in the "lunging triangle". My horse get's unfocused and when I need my body language and ability to keep up with his counterbending and movement I don't have it anymore. Lancer knows when he has the control, and he had it now. At this point, he didn't care what he was doing as was listening to me. Then the heater turned on...his head shot up and I needed to use my body language(i can't explain what I needed to do because you would have had to be there). Then he spins to face me because he was trained by a western trainer before I bought him. So now his head is high(=adrenaline), he's facing me, I can't use my body language because of the stupid whip, and he wants to be at the other end of the arena. I drop the whip so I can do it my own way but too late...he's at the other end of the arena. So Bob goes on to say "so you're having troubles lunging him" which pretty much translates to "you don't know how to lunge a horse". I was pissed...but I let it go because I can't have that "energy" around my horse. So he says "I'll lunge him and you stand beside me so I can show you how to lunge". I didn't want any conflict, but I didn't want to let him do it...but my mom was right there so I let him. He goes on to say that there can't be slack in the lungeline because there must be a connection and the whip is the inside leg. I know this method, I call it a "false connection", false doesn't exactly fit as a word because I don't think this method is bad, it's just not the only correct method of lunging.
Then he sees how my horse is cutting at one end of the circle and proceeds to lunge him with the whip at his shoulder, which I understand, it keeps the horse from moving in because it pushes out the horse's shoulders. My horse has been lunged this way before so he's not freaked out or anything but he's really not going on a circle like I had him. 'Bob' says "when he moves away I'll move with him".-doesn't work with 'Lancer'!! 'Lancer' was running into the wall at one end of the circle every time. He need some support on the lunge! Lancer doesn't understand cantering on the lunge, he is not unbalanced(he can canter 10m circles), he just doesn't understand and with this lunging method he was just straight onto his forehand which doesn't help at all. So 'Bob' asks him to canter, he runs into the wall and slightly away from 'Bob' so 'Bob' pulls him back. 'Lancer' feels restricted and his head shoots up, he sees the whip coming at him, now he's terrified. He just turns and bolts and is at the other end of the arena...again. Then 'Bob' puts on his gloves and does it again. This time he provokes it because he "doesn't want Lancer to get away with it". I knew Lancer had him, everyone underestimates the power of this horse and his ability to contort his body out of anything. I let 'Bob' do it because he had to see it himself. So 'Bob' does it, with gloves, and oh Lancer was again at the other end of the arena. So 'Bob' puts a surcingle on him and ground drives him. No whip, slacked lines, heater off=calm 'Lancer'. Lancer went nicely on the bit and was very happy. He is also used to ground driving and has quite a bit of dressage training. Then 'Bob' gets on Lancer(I really wanted to see the kind of rider 'Bob' was). Heater was off and Lancer was fine. He's usually more calm with a rider anyways because he doesn't usually have as much to fight against unless the rider pulls on his mouth. 'Bob' is a dressage rider so everything went fine.
Sooooooooo...my problem is that i don't think this trainer is going to work! What do you think? I need my skills and my horse's training to improve but I can't seem to find a trainer. Please give me any advice you can and ask me any questions you need.
Thank you thank you thank you if you read the whole thing!!! It's really long...sorry. I needed to explain it fully.
I wouldnt write him off just yet, if your having problems finding a trainer you think is the right fit maybe you just aren't communicating enough with them. I would suggest sitting down with this trainer and just having a talk with him about you, what you've done, how you and your horse have been trained in the past, what you feel works best for your horse and why, what his training methods are, what you hope to get from your lessons, ect.
I'm going to have a few more private sessions hopefully...not group. Every trainer has underestimated my horse but I don't know if I will be able to fully agree with his training methods. It's really his wife that is making me the most angry. The trainer himself is very nice, doesn't force me to do anything and seems open to other methods.
Ok, here it goes with my OPIINION and that is all it is. I say give it a chance. It sounds like the trainer did nothing abusive or mistreated your horse in any way. Horses are one of those things as I'm sure you know there can be multiple ways to acheive one common goal. Also that trainer never met your horse before. He can not be expected to know how your horse is going to react to any given situation. Therre is a period where the trainer is learning your horse and your horse learning the trainer. Some time the trainer has to stop and reevaluate what he is doing and correct it. It is when the trainer does not correct it that it becomes a problem. As long as there is no abuse or mistreatment involved I would say give it a chance to see if it will work. If things progress in a bad direction or not at all then move on. Just my humble opinion.
Here's my advice:Don't use a trainer. You seem to know what you're doing so just work with him the way you think is right. Get DVDs from people you respect and watch and learn from them. What discipline are you interested in? Sorry if you already said but I sort of quickly read your post... it's long :-)
If its mostly the wife that's bothering you then you should talk to her, yes confrontation is uncomfortable but you don't want to miss out on a potentially good experience because of someone who isn't directly involved in the situation. Just let her know that you're here to learn but the manner that she is talking to you is making you feel uncomfortable. Hopefully its just a misunderstanding between the two of you and you'll be able work it out
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The fact that his wife is so involved and the fact that he just reiterates what she says is probably not a good sign.
I would ask to talk to him, and have a BIG talk with him. Tell him all your methods with your horse, how they work. Then show him. Lunge him your way! If he is patient and actually goes through all of this and watches you, I think he might then understand more what you need and be able to help you better. :) No trainer understands your horse, so you might have to tell them a little more about him.
I wish you luck! :)
True it may be a bad sign but sometimes when you work beside someone for so long it just becomes a habit and you may not notice that your behavior is inappropriate. My sister and I started riding together and have always done everything horse related with each other. Its gotten to the point where if someone asks me a question ill respond saying we even when she's not there! if it was me I would definitely talk to them both, seperately I might add, to establish that you are here to work with the instructor and not the wife and see how it goes from there. If things don't improve or you find you truly don't respond well to the instructors methods move on! No harm in trying, particularily if you're running out of options
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