Questionable trainer behavior....help! - Page 6 - The Horse Forum
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post #51 of 118 Old 04-14-2016, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Whinnie View Post
I hope you can reconcile your feelings of guilt as I believe that will inhibit your ability to ride. It can affect you being able to recognize bad behavior and correct or to even give necessary aides/cues if you feel sorry for the horse being ridden and used. I trained dogs for many years, giving classes to adults and children. Most adults I worked with were not very successful as they were so afraid of upsetting their dogs by using proper training techniques that they were very ineffective trainers/handlers. The kids were by far more satisfying to work with.

I hope you engage in conversations with good horse people who will help you over this mental hurdle. If you ever saw the conditions feral horses live in, you would recognize that the trade off for well kept horses is their great health and the care they receive at the hands of humans.
I am worried about it affecting my riding as well. I need confidence and a clear head. That probably won't be possible for a while with the stress I'm enduring from outside stuff, but I hate to wait any longer. I've wanted this since I was 6 or 7. I get so nervous and I'm not even sure why. I'm brave and adventurous so this is not at all like me, but I'll take animals over people any day! :) Swimming with sharks doesn't even bother me. I'm a tomboy. I'll pick up any creature--okay, maybe not a spider. I think guilt and acceptance play a big part in it...worrying about my teacher losing her patience or the horse not liking me. Most things people are saying to me have gone through my mind. Thank you for your kind thoughts. About the feral horses--is that so? Hmm. Yes. I think that would be a good idea. I feel its going to take eons to really get a good understanding of it all. I have tried to do research on horses. Training, behavior and etcetera and I've watched nearly every video I can find.
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post #52 of 118 Old 04-15-2016, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by greentree View Post
As far as feeling badly for the horse.....remember that horses are nothing if not psychic. That horse will NEVER go in the arena for you if he feels that you do not feel it.
This pattern will repeat itself....have you ever wondered why people say "horses don't LIKE me.....I am so scared of them because they don't like me" ? Horses KNOW. They know when YOU feel unsure, and that makes them unsure.
Thanks. Yes, those are my thoughts and fears, exactly! I know they'll sense it. Maybe I just need exposure? Oh, if I had the time...I'd be around there all the time helping out and soaking it all in like a sponge. Just as soon as I warmed up to my lesson horse, he was sold and now I've started over with a new one. Bleh. And this horse is doing the same thing my last one was right before he was sold. We'll be walking along and he goes into a trot, unprompted. With this new one, it's incessant. We went on a trail ride. My teacher was in lead and it was a narrow path. My horse had nowhere to go except her horses butt! That didn't stop him from speeding up every few minutes. Is this something all new riders experience with their horse? They also think they're at a buffet every time I ride--which, technically I guess you could say is true ;) , but I end up having to pull their head up so they won't pull me down with them. They always seem so hungry and I feel like I'm interrupting their grub time. Once, the barn guy actually said he hadn't fed the horse yet and apologized. I was thinking, "Hmm...that can't make for a good ride, can it? Hungry, distracted horse?" I even considered asking for a later lesson time.
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post #53 of 118 Old 04-15-2016, 12:34 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ShirtHotTeez View Post
my 2cents

IMO group lessons can work with a good instructor when you are just starting out. Not having instructors total attention on you for an hour can give you a bit of breathing space to figure things out. You will know when you need one-on-one when you feel like you haven't learnt anything new for a while.

I also would be looking for a better instructor. I can't imagine that seasoned school horses have behaved badly enough to get kicked in the guts or slapped over the head. Certainly a disgraceful example to students.

A male horse will 'hang out' when he is relaxed. Both geldings and stallions will do it. There is no need to slap them around for it, sometimes just waking them up a making them move is enough to make them retract. I am mainly talking school horses here, I will leave the discussion of stallions at shows out of it.

The seven year old you saw hit the pony. I think we can't turn a blind eye these days especially if you were the only one to see. Even to just say (something like) "that is not necessary, there is no need to be cruel to your pony". She may not like it, and if bad mannered may be rude to you but she will remember being called cruel, and she may start to think about her treatment of her pony, especially if she hears it from others as well. She will also see that other people will not accept bad horse handling.

Not sure if I understood right about grooming/ tacking up, is that part of your lesson time? Maybe it is different for you, and my riding school days are a long time behind me. We could turn up a few minutes before the lesson, ride the due time, tie up and leave. I think we did that exactly twice, then we were early and stayed late, and learned everything we could. In a very short time we were there every spare minute. Sometimes we even 'earned' extra 'free' rides.

As for the guilt thing. There are very few wild herds world-wide. So most horses now either are in domestic 'servitude' or dead, dogfood. Learn well, teach well, and be the voice of an animal that needs it, and these horses will have nothing for you to feel guilty for.

For a smile:


[iurl="https://www.horseforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=784489&d=1460629375"][/iurl]
Yes. I can totally agree with having some time and space to work things out, I just hope that's what it is as she is always spending her time doing something else, like riding another horse in the opposite direction of me. :/

As for your second paragraph, I agree there, too! Even if it was necessary, how many students are seeing this, and being turned off then quitting and thinking this is just how it's done? Ick. I felt it was wrong, but I needed to know if I was right for feeling that. It certainly made me feel bad for the remainder of the lesson and it impacted my concentration.

The 7 year old? Yep. It was wrong of her. Next time I'll be better prepared. I was shocked and my head was a mess. It might be my ticket to break into conversation with my instructor (Hey, these kids are imitating you. I don't think they have a full understanding of when it is or isn't appropriate--which SHOULD tell her that she might want to consider that and be careful, without causing her to feel defensive. Does that make sense?

Grooming/tacking: yes! You understood correctly. The majority of folks who've responded say this is normal. I don't have a problem with it, except it cuts into my lesson time and I'm only able to afford one lesson per week right now. Earning extra free rides? Man. That is great! And I will do my best! Thanks! No guilt sounds good. :) PS--yes, I'm separating my responses into proper (sort of) paragraphs for you all! Must fight laziness....
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post #54 of 118 Old 04-15-2016, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
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As an update, I really appreciate all the varying opinions and information!!! It's aided me in seeing things from all angles. If anyone has any links to videos (documentaries, training videos or otherwise) or good information for beginners, I will absolutely use it! Just try to think back to what you would have suggested for yourself in your early days. ;)
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post #55 of 118 Old 04-15-2016, 06:17 AM
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That sounds like a great approach.

My riding school days were a very long time ago and I am in a different country to you. But to my mind your riding lesson should not include brushing and saddling up. That is something you should be shown if you turn up early enough. I guess my instructor looked at it as free help saddling and grooming. She would show us and when happy we could do it she would just tell us which ponies she wanted. In the early days she would check the gear before the ponies went out. In a very short time we were free labour. Catch ponies/horses help feeding, saddling, grooming, mucking out, cleaning tack, set up jumps/make jumping courses, help stack bales of hay and any other random job she came up with. And we were willing slaves!!

The point being we got our full lesson and learned the rest by doing, watching, asking. But we were just kids so time was different! Some days we weren't allowed (by mum) to go to the riding school till our rooms were tidy. You have never seen two girls clean up their room so fast.

Look for how to enjoy the riding time. Learn to speak up when you feel you need to, an awful lot of stress goes with sucking things up all the time.

I remember back in pony club days one girl got a really nice pony, and totally ruined it with her temper. Got to the stage a bunch of us ganged up on her and challenged her about it. I think she mostly dropped out of the riding scene for quite some time, not only because of that, she had issues at home, but it wasn't fair on the pony. Where I was going with that was that I took a long time to be able to speak up, and it is very stressful when you don't agree with what is going on. That time was one of the first I remember, and I was with others.
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post #56 of 118 Old 04-15-2016, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Scubasmitten View Post
I'm going with inappropriate being that I had just led him to the arena and he decided 'Nope! Not going any further.' when she kicked him, slapped him in the face and yelled 'move your GD a$$!" I will give it one more lesson and see how it goes.

I can understand she may have wanted me to adjust and try posting on my own (second posting lesson), but I do still wish she'd have informed me earlier, giving me time to end the lesson on a good note and/or an opportunity to correct it.

I feel my comment sharing my concerns/feelings on horses is healthier than bottling them up and letting them fester...and it allows people to give me an alternate perspective. I realize it is probably considered by some to be silly or ignorant, but it can't be terribly uncommon with beginners? I know. I'm a worry wart! Thank you and best wishes.

#1. I agree, that sounds inappropriate. If I saw her treat my horse that way, we'd have had some words. I promise you, I'd have verbally belly kicked her and verbally given her a face slap and let her know that I'd better never see or hear her treating my horse like that again.

I get that you don't want the horse balking about going into an arena or through a gate or just refusing to move, but there are better methods for actually correcting the undesired behavior. You might end up giving the horse a crack on the butt with a crop or lunge whip if he's really stubborn, but I reserve the stronger methods for a really aggressive horse. I bet she talks to her kids that way too, not good.

#2 Her communication skills seem to be lacking. Not surprising, most of us communicate better with horses than we do other people. If you're going to be a trainer or instructor you need to work on it though.

Now that you've had that lesson and found it not to your liking and that you want more feedback earlier, you need to tell her what you want/need from her to help you. The communication thing is a 2 way street.

#3. Honestly? I don't know if it's all that common with beginners, I haven't really dealt with people new to the whole horse thing in quite a while. I do know that just about every horse person has heard something similar from a PETA or AR person right before the verbal attacks and character assassinations begin just because we own horses. So it's become kind of a 'knee jerk' reaction when someone says something about feeling guilty. Kind of, "Oh GREAT, here we go again. Next I'm going to get told just owning them, putting them in a barn overnight is cruel and I'm a horrible person and how dare I get after Pookie for kicking me because after all, he's just a delicate little petunia.........". So forgive us for that, since that's not where you were going.

Feral horses, running free, on unlimited range land, being fat, sassy and healthy, is a lovely dream and someday it would be nice if it could be true. The reality is, they mostly don't live all that long. An injury that we can fix and the horse go on to be healthy and sound, will kill them in the wild. It's eat or be eaten, run or be run down.

Our horses live on managed pastures, get round bales or square bales when the drought comes to ruin their grazing, get shelter from really bad weather and generally have hot & cold running servants, US.

My horses come to the back gate of the barn when the weather turns ugly. They absolutely don't want to be out on the "prairie" and get pelted on the butt with hail stones. The first crack of thunder sends them running for the barn.

When a human goes out in to their pastures, the horses all come up for social time and a scratch. They like, trust us and pretty much live a life without fear. I don't think they'd volunteer to trade places. In return for all this care and work, we ask them to give us a ride 2 or 3 times a week, for a couple of hours at a time. I wish I could get someone to take care of me for that little work! LOL!

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post #57 of 118 Old 04-15-2016, 09:19 AM
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I will say four things regarding the way the horses were treated:

1) Sometimes a horse does need to be disciplined, on occasion it does need to be big and bold.

2) At least at the barns I have ridden, it is the responsibility of a barn’s trainer to recognize and then retrain the little quirks they develop especially being ridden by beginning students every day worked out BEFORE the little problems become big ones that routinely require such radical “fixes” as kicking the animal.

3) Horses do often ride differently for different riders and will take advantage especially of a beginner, first with little tests and then bigger ones. A perceptive instructor should be able to pick up on those little things, know which horses are most likely to do that, point the behaviors out to the rider and teach them how to correct it. This becomes more difficult in a group riding situation.

4) If there are a lot of big problems requiring frequent, large corrections with the lesson horses at a barn generally (as in not just one or two problem horses), then that reflects to the overall ineffectiveness of the trainer/instructors either in selecting proper lesson mounts for students, maintenance of the horses' training or techniques that are used and I would probably seek to learn somewhere else.

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer


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post #58 of 118 Old 04-15-2016, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Scubasmitten View Post
They also think they're at a buffet every time I ride--which, technically I guess you could say is true ;) , but I end up having to pull their head up so they won't pull me down with them. They always seem so hungry and I feel like I'm interrupting their grub time. Once, the barn guy actually said he hadn't fed the horse yet and apologized. I was thinking, "Hmm...that can't make for a good ride, can it? Hungry, distracted horse?" I even considered asking for a later lesson time.
When you are working with a horse, either on the ground or in the saddle, he is AT WORK. You are the boss. He doesn't get to eat when he wants and go where he wants at the pace he wants. He has a job. You need to tell him what it is. Maybe if you can think of it in those terms, you won't feel so guilty or sorry for the horse you are riding. Horses will see what limits there are. Most will test those limits at least occasionally. If they find no limit and are allowed to do whatever, it is bad for you. If they can call the shots, they will. It takes timing and practice, but you can learn how to not let them put the head down to eat before they do it.

I hope you have good experiences with horses and you will, if you can change some of your beliefs about horse/human relationship. It will be hard, but it will be worth the effort.
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post #59 of 118 Old 04-15-2016, 01:12 PM
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Thanks! I'm going to give it some time before I make a decision. I'm really not sure if it's a common problem for the horse, but I CAN say he started doing it the last 3 lessons. As soon as I was nearing putting the saddle and pad on, I was seeing him do things that led me to believe he was like "Oh sh*t. Not this girl again." LOL I'm sure it's something I'm doing making him dread me riding him. :( I've tried strengthening my thighs and ankles, but then I end up sore for class and the lesson is a waste. Things were going great until we started trying to post the trot. She would always tell me how impressed she was with my progression. She tells some folks that they make her want to quit her job. I don't want to be one of those people. The horse is impatient during grooming. He would walk forward and back and paw. I wish I knew the names of the sounds they make! She said they were happy sounds. Do you think she would have issue with me arriving early (I'm the first student of the day) to tack up and groom to maximize my saddle time? I'm hesitant to ask. She's so irritable. You don't know how lucky you are, regarding Utila! Those guys are AWESOME and so many dive sites there! How was it?? I am so jealous. I watched their videos when rehearsing for my instructor exam! We went on a cruise just to see Roatan and the ship did not dock the port!!! It was weather related. It was my first cruise and at dinner the first night, they came over intercom to announce they just helped rescue a coast guard ship. I was like wtf!!! Nooo. Oh...great...look at those white caps. And guess what--they refunded me a total of $13 for missing the one port I paid to see on a 7 day cruise. Ugh.
Honestly, your instructor sounds more and more like a naughty word--I am not fond of trainers who have what I call a George Morris attitude. (In other words, they think that ripping people apart is the way to get results. Yes, I know it's practically a crime not to be a super fan of George, but I am personally just not a fan of his teaching methods.) As a child and teenager I trained with people who would say things like "If you're afraid to jump it, then get the heck out of my barn!" or "I don't know what that is, but it's not riding!" It's made it so that I am now the sort of horseback rider who never, EVER tells my trainer I've had enough or chickens out or tries to get out of doing exhausting exercises--I just grit my teeth and do what I'm told--but as someone who has now been a teacher, I really don't think this football coach mentality is the healthiest way to teach people things. The fact that she tells some of her riders that they make her want to quit her job remind me of my old trainers. It was pretty emotionally draining, and I usually encourage people to find more supportive trainers now. (Though I am also the person who cringes when people cut their lessons short because they are tired or don't want to do an exercise because it's too tough.) That right there is enough for me to encourage people to find someone else, though I guess some people like that sort of attitude.

That really sucks about your Roatan trip! Utila is way better than Roatan, so if you ever get the chance you should totally spend the time there! Roatan is gorgeous and has some really cool dive sites (I did a great shark dive there), but it is super touristy. The second you get off the boat you are bombarded by natives trying to sell you stuff, and you spend all your time being choked by tourists. Utila is a backpacker community, so you get treated like a local when you're staying there. It's also a lot cheaper--I stayed in a really nice apartment with air conditioning and a kitchenette for a couple hundred bucks a month. And you can get certified dirt cheap. I was supposed to get my Instructor Cert as well, but I ended up getting dengue fever and had to leave a month early. But it was seriously a BLAST. You should definitely go, and if you have a chance stay for a month or so because the plane ticket is really the biggest cost. Housing is dirt cheap and food is the same price as in America. It's worth it to stay for a longer period of time since cost of living is so low.
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post #60 of 118 Old 04-15-2016, 02:39 PM
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About the whole guilt thing - yes, our horses are born into domestication/society, but aren't people born into it as well? I don't know about you, but I don't dream about running off into the wild and hunting/gathering to survive. I live in a house, I work to benefit society, and I accept the way things are. The same goes for domesticated horses, if you think about it. They aren't wishing they could run free in the wild because life on the farm is all they know; it's their whole world. And these horses, if treated respectfully, are happy. It is not hard to tell if a horse is happy - if he looks healthy and socializes well with both humans and other horses, then he is a happy being.

Does he have to work? Yes. But so do we. And honestly, I feel like a working horse is much happier than a 'pasture puff', or a horse who sits around day in and day out. A job keeps their minds active and gives them purpose. Just like how unemployed people get depressed, I think it works both ways.

I can totally understand your empathy towards animals because I have always felt the same way, but sometimes it's good to think rationally rather than emotionally.

As for your instructor. I only read the first two pages, but from what I gather she is a dominant type who is heavy-handed with the horses. I generally don't agree with these sort of horse people. I ONLY slap a horse if he has or is about to harm me in any way. I do not agree with slapping horses to 'get them moving' or 'get their attention'. I have had my mare for 11 years and I have only slapped her ONCE in her entire life, and that was when she was a two year old and she lunged at me with teeth bared in the pasture. That one slap was all it took, and nine years later she hasn't so much as pinned an ear at me. Your safety is most important...so yeah, a slap or whack to the chest with a lead rope may be in order if a horse is threatening to bite or kick you. And if you think about it, horses bite and kick each other all the time in the pasture, so a measly slap with your hand isn't going to traumatize him. However, it's when people resort to hitting/slapping all the time that I don't agree with. At that point, they become a bully to the horse, and when horses themselves act like bullies in the pasture, it turns the other horses off from them, and sometimes they get an ****-kicking when another horse gets fed up with it.

I know you're inexperienced, but don't deny your gut feeling if you feel that your instructor and the people at your barn are too aggressive with the horses. Riding horses should be enjoyable, not a moral dilemma every time you go out to the barn! I would suggest finding a new instructor. Good luck!
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