Observing Horses Opinions about Trainers or Owners - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 02-20-2020, 05:51 AM Thread Starter
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Observing Horses Opinions about Trainers or Owners

Ever watch a horse's facial expressions do a 180 when they hear a certain persons voice or see a certain person's car drive up to the barn? At my barn (where I am a long time barn manager) the owner has regular lessons with a dressage instructor lady. And she's not my cup of tea, nor some of the horses apparently either. One morning while they were having an early lesson and the instructor was bullying, err, I mean instructing, the rider yelling at the top of her lungs I watched something very interesting.

The covered arena is attached to a shed row of stalls and I was going through my routine of turning the horses out after their breakfast. The owners main riding mare, a sensitive TB, was waiting her turn, her head hanging over the gate non nonchalantly. As soon as the dressage queen bee, I mean dressage instructor, starts speaking, upon hearing her voice, this mare literally had an anxiety attack. The mare started squinting her eyes, drawing her lips back, clinched her jaw, put her ears flat back and started pushing on the gate. I very clearly got the message to let her out of that barn NOW.

Opened the gate and the mare took off like a barrel horse out of the chute, ran out of the barn out to the hay bunks and proceeded to chase and bite at any of the other poor horses unlucky enough to be in her path.

I later told the horse's owner what I saw and he at first didn't know what to say. Then he just blew it off saying well that's how she is (the mare's personality) totally dismissing the connection. What can you do, you know? (it's a whole 'nother story how this instructor has him bewitched and he just keeps taking her abuse, I mean dressage teaching)

And another thing, the day after they (the owner and one boarder) have their lessons with this instructor, the horses don't want to be locked in the barn in the mornings, sometimes refusing to come in. Or if they do come in, they want to leave asap.

Who says horses don't get PTSD? Lol
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post #2 of 21 Old 02-20-2020, 07:48 AM
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Not surprising at all.
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Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #3 of 21 Old 02-20-2020, 01:23 PM
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I agree with you over things like this.

I had two horses I was riding and competing dressage. They were closely related being by the same stud and out of two full sisters.

One was a brash strong horse and the other frightened of his own shadow.

I had a chance to take lessons with a top U.K. Dresssage rider, he knew his stuff and worked us hard. The nervy horse he was more patient with but the other he was exceedingly demanding.

After a few lessons (twice weekly) the brash horse was getting more uptight, not just during lessons but also at home. He was then refusing to load.

I was fairly fast to realise the cause and stopped lessons with that trainer. Soon brash horse was back to himself.

I have said many times that horses do speak, we just have to learn their language.
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post #4 of 21 Old 02-20-2020, 09:21 PM
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All I can say is if you value your job, be careful of what you say, where.
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post #5 of 21 Old 02-21-2020, 05:54 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your responses everyone! Foxhunter, thank goodness you stopped using that trainer. Putting your horses through that kind of stress mentally just isn't worth it is it? No matter who the "guru" is.

Tinyliny, thanks for the words of wisdom. But not to worry, the barn owner is fully aware of my honesty regarding his dressage trainer LOL. I am too old and been around the block to many times. My job is to take care of the horses and at times that means having the hutspa to speak up for them, even if it means risking irritating the owners off sometimes. And when that instructor is here at the barn, I keep my mouth shut and keep to my own business.

I have thought about wearing noise cancelling earphones so I don't have to hear her rhetoric during the lessons while I am working in the barn at the same time. :)

Last edited by farmpony84; 02-21-2020 at 02:08 PM. Reason: removed unauthorized language (word censor)
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post #6 of 21 Old 02-21-2020, 06:38 AM
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You are very astute. Itís too bad you have to be so politically correct in your work environment, so as not to jeopardize your job:(

I know of a well mannered, quiet horse who had to be moved to a training barn, while his owner found something more suitable. The horse was a nut case the entire time it was in that training barn. Once it was taken out of their and put in a much more peaceful environment, the horse went back to being its quiet, well mannered self.

Years ago, I had to board for awhile. The owners were great. The kid who did the morning feedings was not - I got him fired when I caught him abusing my horse. I soon found out he was the son of someone I worked with. When I told his mom what he had done, she was shocked and was not happy with him but he was over 18, therefore had little control over him. Sadly, he went on to get himself into some serious trouble and ended up having his life cut short.

Abusive people have other, more serious issues. They will target whatever or whomever they can get away with that abuse, no matter how subtle or in-your-face that abuse might be. ďThe beatings will continue until the morale improvesĒ is not the way to teach.

When it comes to the mental well-being of the horses, I have issues with being quiet for the sake of your job. Aside from keeping your paycheck, the only other benefit is that you are the advocate for the horses, and thatís only a benefit if you manage to get the BO to listen once in awhile.

I wish you well and hope the day doesnít come where youíve had it up to your eyeballs with miss-legend-in-her-own-mind-dressage-trainer and pop her, lollol

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #7 of 21 Old 02-21-2020, 10:36 AM
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It's also unfortunate I think, with horses and any other thing a person can pursue in life, when you're seeking instruction or advice from a professional only to find they may not be right for you, may in fact be very bad for what you're trying to improve at. But it's hard to admit that when you've invested a lot of time and money and... after all, they're supposed to be the professional right? It's easy to doubt your own judgment in the face of a professional instructor.

There was a short time frame in which my mare decided she was fearful of one of the barn owners (a husband and wife pair, she got iffy about the husband.) I couldn't figure it out, I had seen him work with horses, he seemed firm but fair, maybe a bit boisterous at times but joyful in his work, and all their horses seemed well-adjusted, happy with their jobs, and would follow him anywhere. He did a lot of work with her because I'm a novice, and she came from a situation where she apparently had previous training but hadn't been really asked to do anything in probably 2 years. It was a mystery journey of, what was her training before? What does she respond to? And dealing with some on the ground behavioral issues because she had learned she could throw her weight around and ignore a human on a lead line, and also didn't want her feet picked up. But he always seemed thrilled with her, commenting about how pretty she was, how smart she was, how we were making progress, how good she was at her new job as a "trail horse." I've never heard less than a positive word from him about that horse... Still, she went through a phase where she'd get wide eyes if she was tied and he walked into the barn, swing her butt away from him FAST if he walked around her or at her hip. She'd get hyped up and nervous if he was getting ready to ride her, etc.

I started paying attention to what was going on while I was at the barn. I am the kind of person who is generally concerned if one of my animals takes a disliking to someone and I was really hoping nothing was amiss because I really loved this barn and wanted things to go right. But I never saw anything that led me to believe she'd have a reason to mistrust him. Then it just slowly went away... she's still her sassy self, but she's relaxed around him again and, like every other horse on the property, would follow him anywhere. They take confidence from his confidence.

I think it took her a while to figure out that just because he had to correct her A LOT in the beginning, that didn't mean that he had any ill intent for her or that he was going to hurt her, and that she was being rewarded for her tries and for doing the things she was being asked to do. I think it was also an adjustment for her to realize that we weren't necessarily asking her to ride the same way owners in the past might have.

"I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable I am an original. Iím not falling behind or running late. Iím not standing still I am lying in wait." - Wait For It
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post #8 of 21 Old 02-21-2020, 11:23 AM
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The girl who was working with me had the chance to take on a retired steeplechaser, Robbie. This horse (trained just down the road from us) was notorious for being difficult.

He came to us race fit. He was wound up in the stable and hyper to ride. Bad tempered to do anything with I wondered if Anna was going to be over horses. Robbie was difficult in the arena, it was very frustrating to watch and even more so to teach!

Anna was great, patient, listened, ignored bad behaviour, just sat it out - in the arena and out on rides.

In the first month Robbie began to relax, he no longer jumped to hos feet if he was lying down and you entered the barn, he had a nicer personality, he began to relax on rides first and then in the arena.

We never asked to much of him, then one day he suddenly clicked as to what he was being asked, he came on the bit, brought his hind leg under him and enjoyed it. He began to try to please.

Anna Fox Hunted him and had such fun. I had left the Hunt early to get work done and Anna stayed out. I get a call to say that she was on her way home, had gone to jump a tiger trap over a ditch, Robbie had slipped and was pinned under the fence. She wasn't fat away so I threw some tools, including the chain saw, into the back of the ATV and headed or where they were.

By the time I got there the horse must have been stuck for at least 40 minutes. He was laying quietly, frightened but trusting Anna and keeping still.

The only way for him to get out was to cut the rails, I did this with the chain saw first those near his quarters and then those by his head. I was literally sawing inches from his face.

That horse never moved a muscle until we lifted the last rail away.

I thought it was an extreme showing of total trust in both Anna and myself.

I am sure that had we tried to force him to be obedient there would not have been the trust and he could have done himself serious damage.

It is a matter of understanding what the horse is saying and going with them rather than running them into a brick wall.
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post #9 of 21 Old 02-21-2020, 01:23 PM
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I've also seen the converse; a horse that by his behavior tells you how much he loves a particular handler/trainer. Makes me envious.
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post #10 of 21 Old 02-21-2020, 02:12 PM
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I have one horse that really really doesn't like my equine vet. The other horses could care less about the vet but my one horse the minute he hears the vet's voice he starts showing white around the eyes, gets snorty and jumpy etc. Definitely lets me know he doesn't want the vet poking around him. The vet is fantastic and I really like him, unfortunately the first time this horse ever met him, was right after I bought him and he needed to be sedated to have some work done on his teeth. He has disliked the vet ever since and it doesn't help that other than feed plan evaluation the vet is only ever up here to work on my horses for yearly stuff and or problems. I am surprised my other horses haven't picked up on that yet, but it is just the one that recognizes him and goes into overdrive when he hears the vet.
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barn drama , dressage queen , horse anxiety , instructor problems , observation

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