Advice to give this gal..(working for lessons) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 07-01-2020, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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Hi all,

A few weeks ago, I made a post asking about the level of manure in paddocks. This was at a boarding/lesson barn in my area, where the manure was so thick that I would consider it ankle deep.

I decided against going to that barn, but I later ran into someone associated with the barn who is in a very weird predicament. She worked there in exchange for lessons, and she says that quality of care has gone downhill though there are plans in motion to fix the issues. I thought I'd ask here for advice I can give her, because she seems like an extremely nice gal who just wants to be around horses and learning as much as possible.

We chatted for a while and she explained that she's been there for the past several years, and when she started the trainer/property owner really worked hard at upkeep. The deal they made was 1 day of work is equal to 1 lesson. Things were going well. The trainer at this barn is actually highly sought out and very knowledgable. Then, a few years ago, he suffered a really bad accident where he broke his back, and was unable to teach for a while. The gal said she continued working because the accident was very traumatic and she knew this trainer needed help. They agreed to get caught up once he was feeling better.

Which is where things got weird. She said that now, years after the accident, they are still behind in lessons! She struggles with some things in riding that frustrate her and the trainer.

She no longer works there, having quit because of the number of lessons he owed her. She wants the lessons she's earned. I guess this trainer is very busy and hard to reach these days. When she does get lessons, she says they're 50/50. Either really good and instructive. Or, half-hearted.

I told her about another barn in the area, the one I'm looking at going to for lessons, and she seemed very upset. She wants to go but is worried that she won't get the lessons she's already earned or that she'll upset the trainer. Which I guess I can understand, she's worked hard for those lessons.

So, my question is, what should I tell her?

Would it be wrong for her to pursue lessons at an other establishment while waiting for the lessons she's earned to be caught up?

She's nervous about the trainer finding out, so should she tell him? Or would it be better to keep things quiet?

We've started chatting more and we're really starting to become good friends. She has a lot of dreams I don't think this trainer will help her achieve. I just don't know enough about barn etiquette to offer her sound advice.

At this time my opinion is that she should start lessons elsewhere, and continue with this trainer until they're caught up.

Last edited by CountingCrew; 07-01-2020 at 02:07 PM.
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post #2 of 14 Old 07-01-2020, 02:58 PM
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My opinion is that she should cut her connection with the first trainer and move on. Obviously, the accident changed this man and his ability to keep up on his obligations. He may be really still physically struggling, and financially drowning. I bet he is mentally under a lot of stress. Such a traumatic experience doesn't just dry up and go away and leave nothing behind.


She may be 'owed' some lessons, but if she wants to get good quality instruction and move out of the rut that appears to have developed, she must cut the ties with the first trainer. Wish him well, with NO animosity, thank him for what she did receive, and get going on the next stage of growing in horsemanship, and in the human experience of growing up.
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post #3 of 14 Old 07-01-2020, 03:15 PM
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I am a great believer in straight talking.

She needs to go to the trainer and tell him how she is feeling and the lack of his trying to catch up with what is owed.

Be straight and say that she is thinking of leaving to learn somewhere else and if that is the case she would want monetary compensation for lack of tuition,

As a child at the riding school I learnt at, I was always the rider taking on the remedial ponies. This I loved but it didn't give me a chance to seriously compete (Once I had ironed out the pony's faults it was handed to someone else to compete on and I was on the next naughty one!)

I felt I was missing out and said that if I wasn't allowed to try formthe Pony Club teams on the naughty pony I was riding at the time, then I wouldmgo rode elsewhere.

I did ride that pony whose was an experienced jumper but exceedingly strong, both because of my threat and the fact that no one Seles could hold him!

Worked well until a jump off in which I was last to go. We cut corners and moved along fast. The last fence was a triple bar. As he jumped he gave a sort of grunt, on landing he collapsed but the speed we were going carried us past the finish line and timer. He was dead. He had an aneurism in his aorta.
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post #4 of 14 Old 07-01-2020, 03:25 PM
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I think your friend should have a frank discussion with the current trainer first, explaining how she is feeling and putting forth exactly how many lessons she is owed. See how the trainer responds. Maybe he just didn't realize what was happening and he will make a plan to get your friend what she is owed. However, chances are nothing will change and your friend should then go to the other barn.
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post #5 of 14 Old 07-03-2020, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you folks for your advice! I brought these ideas to her last night and found out a little more info. She truly is in a rut.

Prior to quitting, she put an excel sheet together, calculating all of her totals. She also included monetary calculations based on the current trainer's lesson fee - which is by no means cheap.

According to her, they discussed doing at least 1 a week to get caught up. But, the trainer has been even harder for her to get ahold of, and constantly uses excuses on her not to work with her. Things like weather (when they have an indoor arena), too busy of a schedule and other various things. She received a text from another patron of the barn that her excel sheet had been thrown away..

She has never mentioned another lesson barn to this trainer and is nervous to do so, because she really likes him (when he's actually working with her.) And he frequently travels to other barns,so she wants to avoid that conflict. He also will sometimes do 3-4 lessons in a week. But typically, it's 1 or none. She actually just went 2 weeks without a single lesson.

Last edited by CountingCrew; 07-03-2020 at 12:34 PM.
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post #6 of 14 Old 07-03-2020, 12:44 PM
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It’s a tough place to be in as she doesn’t want to lose what she worked hard for. However if she keep going at it the way she is now, nothing will change.
She shouldn’t be afraid of upsetting the coach. He will probably appreciate her standing up for herself and saying this is what we agreed on And making a plan to make it happen. Sometimes things can get away for awhile, especially when someone is trying to recover from the injury and it’s easy to let things slide between the cracks. Squeaky wheel....
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post #7 of 14 Old 07-03-2020, 01:38 PM
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Once last talk, speaking honestly and putting it all on the table...
She was made a promise when she started at this place.
Because of injury to the trainer she was denied his end of the agreement, yet she continued to work on when was told "we will catch up"...
So, she has approached the trainer and basically been nose thumbed a response...
So notice has been officially made that since the trainer is not finding the time to uphold his end of the bargain, then at this point instead of being paid in lessons and instruction, being paid now must be in cash so she can go elsewhere to learn as was the barter agreement... work for instruction.
Small claims court might be where she needs to go and seriously consider for compensation.
Knowing that this is where this person is headed that trainer is going to have to do something...
He either constructively gives lessons and enough to make the backlog be not ridiculous or he will be in court in front of a judge explaining why he bartered for services and has not compensated in instruction....
The judge has the right to put a dollar figure for each unfulfilled lesson not taught...
Since your friend has the records she kept, no idea if the trainer has anything it will be a he said/she said and here is my record keeping log book...

For now, she is being used...
She wants to learn, she moves on...
To me, no way is she going to recoup what she has already invested in this place...she might force in court a $ compensation.
The world of adults and being paid is not always nice...time to learn that.
In future, you collect a paycheck weekly if not daily so you pay for your lessons but are paid for the sweat equity job you did too. Cash, no more bartering.
She is going to see this guy around, get a stiff back and deal with it.
Be polite but no one said you had to invite him to your dinner table anymore.
He took advantage and still is...the sooner she stops being taken advantage of the sooner she can start the next step of her life and horse education.
...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #8 of 14 Old 07-08-2020, 10:07 AM Thread Starter
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Quick update, is unfortunately not much to share. The trainer was out of town all last week and she still hasn't been able to talk to him. He snubbed her last text, too. She had gone out there to meet with a friend on Sunday, and he talked to her for about 5 seconds. Just long enough to say that he saw the text and had no idea if he would have time. (Cue the eye roll. Why not simply text her back to say this?) But to ask him later this week.

So, I'm waiting for a response from her and still very much think she should try taking a lesson elsewhere!
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post #9 of 14 Old 07-13-2020, 02:19 AM Thread Starter
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So they had a conversation, and gauging by her reaction, she's coming away with mixed feelings. The trainer explained that he's been very busy but will try to be better about a 1 a week commitment. In the same lesson, his frustration with her riding skill was blatantly obvious. He spent most of his time trying to get her to perform a walking pivot, but she was struggling with it and it resulted in about an hour of him yelling the same instruction repeatedly.

After my thread in the New to Horses forum, I told her it might be better to consider riding elsewhere to fill in the gaps. This trainer just doesn't seem to change the plan as he goes, and you can hear in her tone how discouraged she is getting. I think most of this struggle stems from the ridiculous lack of consistency in riding, and after a long chat she was starting to agree.

So, for now, she is tentatively considering lessons elsewhere while taking the trainer up on the 1 a week deal. Not sure if she mentioned this to him or not though.
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post #10 of 14 Old 07-13-2020, 09:08 AM
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Some people are very good at telling people what they want to hear. These people may even -- at least partially -- mean what they say at the time they say it. But patterns in the actually actions of the person are a better gauge for consideration.

If your friend continues as is, she is putting herself completely under the control of this trainer. She is under no obligation to tell this trainer what she is doing outside of their own interaction. If she can get instruction elsewhere, she should seek it. If the trainer in question finds out and gets upset, she can tell him her reasoning at that time. If the trainer refuses to fulfill his commitment to her, this will be an indication of his true character. More likely, he will continue to do what he has been doing for some time.

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