Am I Being too Sensitive? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 04-17-2020, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Am I Being too Sensitive?

First off, let me just say I’m new to this website so I’m not completely confident that I’m using it right haha. I’m looking for advice or to hear about others experiences mainly. So, I am a working student at a small, family owned and run Hunter/Jumper barn. I own a green OTTB gelding named Reily that I bought in January, I started my working student position at the beginning of March. I clean stalls, water, and feed, those are my jobs. There is only one trainer at my barn and it isn’t like a lesson based and ran facility with boarders, all of the horses are in training and there are only about 12 horses.

I feel like I should also note that I’m 18 and a senior in high school. I have never had a working student position or have ever had to clean stalls or do any of the “labor” that comes with horses because up until 2 years ago, my parents supported me in this hobby/sport. When my parents refused to pay for me to lease or lesson, I decided to try and fund my own horsey endeavors because I work a part-time job where I get really good hours. Anyway, fast forward and I bought Reily mainly because the woman I bought him from gave me a great deal and him and I just clicked. He was originally at someone’s house so I would work with him there, but there wasn’t an arena and he was pretty green so I wasn’t able to work with him the way I wanted. So I decided I needed to move him, I originally was going to move him to a boarding barn where I would just be left alone to work with him on my own, but since I only work a part-time job I figured I would have to get another job unfortunately. That’s when the working student position was offered to me and I took it. I figured it would be a great learning experience for me and it would save me lots.

My boss at first, was really nice and sociable. She showed me how everything should be done and I did it, I struggled with time management for the first week but I have it down pat now. But now I can’t help but feel like she doesn’t like me? I’ll make small mistakes on things I don’t know how to do, but nothing major. I’m pretty shy and timid around new people and I don’t ever want to do things to make someone upset so I try to do everything the careful and right way, so I think I am coming across like I am not confident and like I’m scared of horses. When I first started I was unsure just because I didn’t know the horses and didn’t want to overstep any boundaries.

My trainer doesn’t yell at me for things I do wrong or incorrectly, but she gets rather short and almost exasperated. Basically, anytime I do anything that has to do with my handling my horse and she’s watching it’s, “why are you doing that?” “What are you doing?” Or “That isn’t the right way.” I am trying to get used to the fact that everything I have learned from previous trainers is wrong I guess, per her. She is very knowledgeable and she is a great trainer, she just seems very annoyed with me at all times and now I am starting to feel like I suck at not just riding but doing anything horse related. I used to lease a dutch warmblood that was “finished” you could say and I would easily jump 2’9 courses and place well in local shows.
With my new horse, and to my trainer, I don’t even know how to steer or walk on a lunge line.

I guess I’m just really frustrated. I even thought about selling my horse and just being done with riding as a whole because I feel like I am just not cut out for it. I am also very intimidated but my trainer/boss as she can be really blunt and crass. I just want to be good at what I do and not disappoint her because I know how valuable her time is, any advice would be great!
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post #2 of 17 Old 04-17-2020, 04:47 PM
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Talk to both your Boss and your Trainer.

Explain to them how you've been feeling and how their behavior has had an adverse effect on you.

Your Boss and Trainer are not gods. They are not inherently "better" or "more important" then you. Your feelings matter and taking the time to discuss them with those who have hurt them is important.

You are not wasting their time by doing so. Your emotional and mental health is invaluable and if either of them are halfway decent people, they will understand that and make efforts to help you feel more comfortable in the future.
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post #3 of 17 Old 04-17-2020, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your words of encouragement! I also should’ve noted that my boss and trainer are the same person , I just used them interchangeably so that’s bound to cause confusion.
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post #4 of 17 Old 04-17-2020, 05:02 PM
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If you learned things one way before, and are now being told to do them differently, you should feel free to ask for an explanation as to why the old way is wrong. Don't feel defensive, just ask .


This may be a tough situation that will make you a tougher person. Don't give up.
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post #5 of 17 Old 04-17-2020, 05:47 PM
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So the big difference I see is you are not "paying" what you did in the past when you showed, took more lessons and leased a horse...the money pit has dried up some when you bought your own horse.
The other thing is with a green horse you are both learning and no longer is the instructor crowing her accolades of look what I taught to do cause you no longer are sitting on a made machine but teaching a horse what and how to do...it takes time and patience to accomplish those things.
You are learning tons of new information and skills but you have the right to ask and should ask questions when you not understand why the old way you were taught is "wrong" or is it just different from what they like.

I use to work in barns. Every employer wanted things done their way.
It wasn't mine was wrong, but different, so as they paid my salary I learned a new approach to use on their horses, but when mine...I rode and handled my horse as I saw fit and was comfortable.
No one should be short with you, that is unacceptable and rude.
You need to stand firm and tell them to please explain but not belittle or criticize you for things you were taught differently.
Teach me, explain to me and give me a new way to do...but do so with respect.

You might have a trainer who suddenly realizes you know a lot more than they realized and can go distances solo not needing her so much and to spend so much $$ anymore...the money-pit is drying up.
It is also common that working student positions change dynamics of trainer/boss when you are not so "in-awe" of them anymore. You have enough knowledge now to question methods and approach they want used.

In actuality bet you could move on to another facility commanding a job.
I bet you know more than you realize and are astute enough to realize their way is not always the only or best..
...
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The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #6 of 17 Old 04-17-2020, 07:05 PM
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Could it be possible you told your skills or sold yourself differently than you're coming off? It sounds to me, as someone who employees people on farms, that would be hard for me to realize that I hired someone who said they were capable at certain things and isn't doing them correctly or a way I deem safe and satisfactory to my horses.

What are you doing incorrectly? What are her tips?

12 horses is a lot for one trainer to deal with on a daily basis, and if you're doing things slow it could be hindering her ability to go through her daily activities.

Honestly, I agree that your mental health is very important as is standing up for yourself, but on the other hand working student positions aren't supposed to give you warm fuzzies. They're there for hard work, learning how someone does something, and doing it. Working student positions taught me how to zip my lips and put my head down and really learn.

Ask questions if you're unsure, but show your boss that you're trying hard and want to learn.

Also, you bought an OTTB, who's green, when it doesn't sound like you have any experience with green horses. Of course you're going to have to go back to the very very basics of your riding and training.

It doesn't sound to me that the trainer is being abusive or mean at all, just trying to teach you. Some people will hold your hand along the way, others will be hard on you and push you. It depends on your learning style and what you respond to.
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Last edited by Interstellar; 04-17-2020 at 07:06 PM. Reason: Grammar error
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post #7 of 17 Old 04-17-2020, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interstellar View Post
Could it be possible you told your skills or sold yourself differently than you're coming off? It sounds to me, as someone who employees people on farms, that would be hard for me to realize that I hired someone who said they were capable at certain things and isn't doing them correctly or a way I deem safe and satisfactory to my horses.

What are you doing incorrectly? What are her tips?

12 horses is a lot for one trainer to deal with on a daily basis, and if you're doing things slow it could be hindering her ability to go through her daily activities.

Honestly, I agree that your mental health is very important as is standing up for yourself, but on the other hand working student positions aren't supposed to give you warm fuzzies. They're there for hard work, learning how someone does something, and doing it. Working student positions taught me how to zip my lips and put my head down and really learn.

Ask questions if you're unsure, but show your boss that you're trying hard and want to learn.

Also, you bought an OTTB, who's green, when it doesn't sound like you have any experience with green horses. Of course you're going to have to go back to the very very basics of your riding and training.

It doesn't sound to me that the trainer is being abusive or mean at all, just trying to teach you. Some people will hold your hand along the way, others will be hard on you and push you. It depends on your learning style and what you respond to.

It only takes me a couple of hours to do all of my tasks now, at first it took me a lot longer but I’m much faster now, my mistakes are more with my own horse than my job. It’s more like I’ll do things the way I was taught and they’re wrong so it’s like I’m starting from square one almost which I feel like is frustrating for both my trainer and I, I thought I was a decent rider and on my way to becoming a decent horsewoman, but I’m just really unsure now because it seems everything I have been taught is wrong so it takes a little longer for me to adjust to the new methods. My trainer isn’t mean at all, she is great, she really is, I just feel more like a burden than an asset to her and I just want to be useful and easy to teach. It also doesn’t help that I am shy and a little awkward almost I feel. I have never owned a green horse, I have ridden them with past trainers, but like I said, not correctly. I’m just a bit discouraged and disappointed in myself I think.
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post #8 of 17 Old 04-18-2020, 04:02 AM
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I am not a great rider but one thing I figured out is that every barn and trainer have a different approach to horse management, training and riding. When I used to switch schools I would always spend at least a few lessons asking about how they do things but more importantly, observing the staff. Obviously, the breadth of issues is much more limited for a riding school student than a working student.

As for asking questions, you can ask but only a few top trainers will be able to give you coherent answers. Most trainers work out of instinct built on previous experiences without being able to discern why they chose a particular approach for a particular horse. They might attempt an explanation but I figured out most of them donít really KNOW why something works and doesnít work on a specific horse - it isnít an exact science, after all.

It would help if you gave us examples of what it is that you are getting ďwrongĒ but from what you have written I get a feeling that you are doing fine, just keep it up and in a few months you will be on top of it.

I personally wouldnít approach the trainer about how you are feeling. From what I gather, it has more to do with your own self confidence than anything the trainer is doing. You are the only person that can fix your own self confidence. If you burden the trainer with those feelings, she might retreat and shy away from giving you criticism and that is the last thing you want. Just remember, in the grand scheme of things, you are giving her labor and she is giving you knowledge. If you are unhappy with the knowledge you are getting, find a different solution. But you arenít there for emotional support and she isnít obliged to provide it. (Unless I misunderstood and she is abusing you - than stand up for yourself or leave)
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post #9 of 17 Old 04-18-2020, 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KylieandReily1 View Post
It only takes me a couple of hours to do all of my tasks now, at first it took me a lot longer but Iím much faster now, my mistakes are more with my own horse than my job. Itís more like Iíll do things the way I was taught and theyíre wrong so itís like Iím starting from square one almost which I feel like is frustrating for both my trainer and I, I thought I was a decent rider and on my way to becoming a decent horsewoman, but Iím just really unsure now because it seems everything I have been taught is wrong so it takes a little longer for me to adjust to the new methods. My trainer isnít mean at all, she is great, she really is, I just feel more like a burden than an asset to her and I just want to be useful and easy to teach. It also doesnít help that I am shy and a little awkward almost I feel. I have never owned a green horse, I have ridden them with past trainers, but like I said, not correctly. Iím just a bit discouraged and disappointed in myself I think.
You came from a lesson program riding already trained horses. You're young and don't have experience. To think you'll be able to retrain a horse and do everything well your first time around the block is completely unobtainable. You don't have the knowledge, experience, or skills necessary. You don't seem open to learning, because instead of putting your head down and working through the issues presented, you internalize them.
A trainer correcting you on what you're doing incorrectly is how training works. Just because it's your own horse doesn't change that or that something you're doing is incorrect. You cannot ride a fresh off the track horse like you would a school pony.
I think you need to look at the top riders and trainers in any sport and realize they're all well over 40. This isn't a sport where decent or good happens quickly. You have to earn your stripes through years and years of work and training.
If you're having issues adjusting to new methods, work through it yourself.
Any job in any field you'll have this time period of adjustment, and you'll get criticism for doing something incorrectly and you have to be able to nod, say okay, and change the problem.
All of this has nothing to do with horses, and everything to do with becoming an adult. If you have a job, you have to be adaptable, flexible, and ready to work and fix mistakes.
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post #10 of 17 Old 04-18-2020, 11:55 AM
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@Interstellar hit the issue on the nose. You are young and have never started/re-trained a green horse. Don't take your trainer's comments as being personally directed at your ability. Listen to what she's saying and, if appropriate, ask her to clarify what she's said. I've started many horses, taken in horses with issues that needed re-starting to get rid of bad behaviors, and taught others to ride and train. I won't call myself a professional trainer as I don't do it for a living; I just love horses and riding.

I sometimes say things that make perfect sense to me, but are totally misunderstood by the person I'm talking to. It is up to them to ask me what I meant. I can't read minds. I'm sometimes curt, because I think something is obvious. But that doesn't take into consideration the other person's past experience. It's perfectly fine to say you don't understand and request clarification.

Show your trainer you want to learn and are curious and willing to absorb - and apply - what she can teach you. Be confident enough to ask questions, and accept that it may be different than what you have previously learned.

One of the greatest challenges in life is to learn that there are many ways to do anything. The people who become sponges willing to learn and understand as many approaches as possible to do something become the best at succeeding. You are lucky that you are in a position to learn from her. Take advantage of this opportunity.
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Courage is taking just one more step...
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