Questionable trainer behavior....help! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 118 Old 04-13-2016, 05:35 AM Thread Starter
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Questionable trainer behavior....help!

Greetings! New horseback student here and this is my first-ever forum, too. At 32 years old, I'm a very late starter at getting formal lessons. I waited so long that I pushed my desire aside and focused on other things....like obtaining a scuba instructor certification...another dream hobby I set aside for many years. It should probably be noted that I have some health problems, including an anxiety disorder. I weighed the benefits and love learning new things (exercise, posture correction, confidence & stress relief to name a few). It's been very relaxing up until the last few lessons. My instructor taught me how to lunge, tack up, groom, mount/dismount, basic commands, basic form and rein handling (english). As soon as we started on posting the trot, she stopped paying attention to me and instead worked with other students, so I found out at the very end of the lesson I was doing it all wrong. We're talking 80% of lesson, completely on my own. She's the dominant, aggressive type that would surely have a problem with me questioning anything. My lesson horse became quite stubborn and she said "she might take your crap, but I won't", cursed him out, yanked his rein, slapped him in the face and kicked him in the belly. I started seeing more and more concerning behavior...kicking some horses in the chest (I'm not even sure what the horse did wrong), slapping them, and when she and her staff groom an un-fixed (sorry--I don't know much terminology!!) male and he begins to unsheathe, they literally slap his privates and yell "put it away!" I can't afford much at the time. My lessons are only $35 each (one hour) and it seems like a really well-kept facility. I feel guilt, as part of the human race, for removing them from their natural setting to be given only the choice of labor or death. I don't think inflicting fear and pain is the best approach, but I'm totally green at this so I don't know! I have no problems with her pushing me to succeed. A challenge is healthy. But she can be harsh towards some people...screaming at the top of her lungs and making somewhat insulting comments. If it IS highly inappropriate, another concern is that she is breeding new riders that do the same. I'd like for the lessons to remain constructive and not stress-inducing. I have a lot on my plate right now and my life is a mess, so she gave me the option of a trail ride last session. I'd like to avoid any unpleasant interaction. Pertanent advice would be appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to read this and happy trails to you all!
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post #2 of 118 Old 04-13-2016, 07:12 AM
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Hi Scuba
You had my sympathy until you made this statement "I feel guilt, as part of the human race, for removing them from their natural setting to be given only the choice of labor or death." You need to understand that a horse is a prey animal, ours are domesticated and that their only true motivation is the instinct for food and safety. A good horse owner/handler provides both for them. Being a domesticated horse is not normally a miserable existence and if you use statements like the quote, 99% of horse people will be turned off and discount anything further that you have to say.

That being said, yes this does sound like a situation that is abusive and uncomfortable. Excessive punishment and losing one's temper with an animal is never acceptable and it's even less acceptable when teaching others. A quick correction once is expected and necessary but when it goes on and on for the sake of a temper tantrum it's counter productive. A trainer like this leaves a legacy of abuse letting students think that it's how to handle horses, in fact virtually all of the angry, abusive trainers I know learned this from a relative or previous trainer. This trainer sounds burned out and probably picked the wrong career from the start.

I will also say that I don't believe that group lessons are worth a penny for beginners who actually want to advance their skills. Group is more suited for established riders who need a tune up, not the intensive, one-on-one attention that beginners need. For your situation, being mostly ignored and then yelled at is pretty much throwing your money away even if it's only $35.

Thanks to the internet, it's a lot easier these days to go exploring and switch barns. Listen to your instincts-this is not a good situation and you need to vote with your feet walking right out the door.
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post #3 of 118 Old 04-13-2016, 07:34 AM
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I would be looking for a new place for lessons. That behavior is not something I would want any part of.
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post #4 of 118 Old 04-13-2016, 08:57 AM
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Take private lessons where ever you go and be honest why you are leaving. her behavior won't change unless she sees it is costing her money. She is setting a bad example for other students that will act like her because they think it is ok.
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post #5 of 118 Old 04-13-2016, 09:18 AM
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I'd agree with the others; get out of there and get a new teacher.

This one sounds unsuitable for a novice and like she's not got the best of temperaments with horses either. She's setting you up to fail by ignoring you for the greater part of the lesson that you are paying for and then blaming you for not doing something correctly that she's not taught you properly in the first place.

The rough treatment of horses sounds heavy handed and out of order as well; though there are times when one might well need to be more physical with a horse that a novice might not pick up on every time; however from what you describe there is a potentially excessive amount going on at this stables


I would leave and find a new teacher and, as said, try to get as much one to one as you can. Group sessions in anything are never really ideal because the teacher can only focus on one student at a time and even the most conciousness can end up focusing on one or two more than the others. You can also find that varied skill levels within the group mean that more "advanced" students get ignored or made to repeat basic lessons; whilst more basic are focused upon. Of course that can lead to problems if the teacher assumes a student is more advanced than they really are when left to their own devices.



New site - better teacher - private lessons = having more fun and learning faster and better .
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post #6 of 118 Old 04-13-2016, 10:39 AM
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I agree completely with the others. It is time to find another instructor and facility. Thirty five dollars for an hour of instruction is a bargain, but only if you are actually getting instruction for that hour. Her treatment of the horses is totally uncalled for. Lesson horses certainly can get stubborn and can need correcting at times, but what she is doing is not appropriate correction and not something that should be instilled in the students. Lastly, there is no place in a riding lesson for insulting comments. Unfortunately, this is not a situation that can be changed by dialog. She sounds like the type of person that would quickly inform you that she has experience and you are a beginner and have no right to question her.

As for group versus private lessons . . . I agree with the others, although a small group with the right instructor can work well too. Right now I think it is more important to change instructors. The choice is entirely up for you to decide what works the best for you at this point. I have ridden under several instructors in my time, both in group and private lessons and have also changed disciplines. Some of the instruction was better than others but I learned from all of it. You have plenty of options ahead of you if you continue riding. Good luck and enjoy.
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post #7 of 118 Old 04-13-2016, 11:01 AM
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YOU NEED TO FIND A NEW INSTRUCTOR!! I pay $10 more per lesson and am being trained by a very good instructor who gets on my butt when I am wrong but also tells me when I am doing something right. This lady sounds like a nightmare and that is not the right way to correct a horse. I am no expert but I know enough to say what she is doing is abuse! Plus, the exact thing you pay for is an hour (or 45 minutes or whatever) of undivided attention which you are not getting!
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post #8 of 118 Old 04-13-2016, 11:05 AM
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Agree with the others, I would find someone else and not talk to her about why. It will not change her mind or methods and I for one am always reluctant to burn bridges unless I have no choice.

Find someone else whose methods you're more comfortable with. They do exist (I've got one, myself).
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post #9 of 118 Old 04-13-2016, 11:49 AM
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I will slap a horse in a heartbeat if they are deserving of it but they have to be being pretty ornery or disrespectful to get a slap. A male horse will drop a little sometimes when relaxing and that is not deserving of a slap, that's just being mean.
I just started taking private lessons once a week. kind of expensive, but worth it. It hasn't happened but I think if I was yanking on the horses mouth, I would get yelled at. What she did with that horse during your lesson was just stupid, that horse had no idea why he was being attacked. No disrespect on you, but chances are good that you were doing something to irritate him because you are new to riding. A good trainer will tell you how to correct a horse right in the moment and tell you how to praise him as soon as he's moving correctly.

Find another trainer, find another place so you can enjoy the learning process.

As far as the idea of horses being doomed to a life of labor, I don't really agree. I've found that when horses are well cared for and treated fairly, they actually enjoy the company of humans.

Last edited by LoriF; 04-13-2016 at 11:54 AM.
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post #10 of 118 Old 04-13-2016, 12:10 PM
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OP-get over the guilt because we give them a job. Many of them LOVE having a job....and it sure is better than the "wild life" where they have to constantly wonder if they are next on the predators list, watching their herd mates get chased and eaten. I would venture to say that most are pretty spoiled.

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