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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Chris and I have been working with a 9 yr old AQHA mare that belongs to a one-horse family about 1 1/2 hrs from here. They brought her to us, with the statement, "She is too wild for me to ride, and I want my kids to show her in the fall."

Yesterday I went out to the corral to catch her. She walked right up to the gate and politely stood at a good distance, and had great manners. I proceeded to put on the halter, which she tipped her nose in toward me. (I LOOOOOVE that! Means less work for me! ; ) ) As soon as the halter was on, I turned to walk away, and the fit started.

I have decided that whoever had her before just hooped and hollered and beat her to go. "Just GO! Wherever you're going, do it in a hurry!"

This mare has no idea what it means to just "Walk." It took me 15mins to get her to stand and flex to the right without moving her feet. Then, another 10 mins to get her to stand and flex to the left. She worked herself into a sweat, and I walked her around the arena for 10 mins to clear her mind. I would whoa her up, and she would assume that meant we were going to BURST out of the stop. She has been used on barrels, and we can't stand near an open gate. Well, take that back, we can't STAND, period.

So yesterday, I started to reward her in the biggest way when she stopped. I would get her to actually stop, count to 5, then climb down. I would count to 10, re-mount, and after quite a while, again, I would get her to stop, and repeat the process. She gets soooo excited, and it just takes so much to get her settled down to where she can actually start to "Learn."

So here is the family. This is their first horse, they bought her from a guy off craigslist that said she was quiet, easy to get along with, perfect first horse... I have half a mind to think he may have aced her to sell her. She is everything BUT. My husband and I like her, but then again, we are experienced. But at the same time, I would NEVER allow my child near her on the ground, let alone on her back. She is not a kids horse at all.

I need help telling this family that I would be really uncomfortable with her children riding her, due to their lack of experience. I don't want to feel responsible if someone gets hurt, and according to her, they cannot afford lessons. If I offered them to her, it would be up to me to get to her house to teach the little girl, and they are 1 1/2 hours from my house.

I'm in no way implying that the mare cannot be managed, but she is just no beginner's horse, and would take more than 30 days training to slow her down to a level the 12 yr old and 14 yr old could manage.
 

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Well Westonsma - have you ever thought of showing the owners of the horse, a copy of the post you have just made?
If that is the scene, and I am sure it is, then it could not have been better put.

In a way, if you don't show her and they come a cropper - as well they might - you might be criticised because you could see it coming.

With horses, if you care and the people are genuine and they come to you for advice then it is important you state your mind.
 

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Barry has a good idea but however you do it, you need to do it. I'm of the mind that part of the job of a trainer is to give a fair, honest assessment of not only the horse but how you feel the owner will work with him.

If you fail to do that and someone gets hurt, how will you feel? An unscrupulous trainer takes their money, tell them what they want to hear then says goodbye. A good trainer gives them an unbiased writeup on their client's horse and how they feel that they will mesh with the horse. If that assessment means that it's a bad fit, so be it. Better that they tell you that you don't know what you are talking about then someone gets hurt.
 

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My first horse was sold to me as a "perfect beginner's horse" I had a big S stamped on my forehead for sure. The trainer I sent her to, after reality set in, told me after 3 weeks that she could not in good conscience take my money and the horse would never be safe for me to ride. I think she was a bit leery telling me the bad news but I was so appreciative of her honesty and think the world of her still. So, I say go for the brutal honest approach.
 

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I'd say just be honest and tell them in gentle way what you think. Especially pointing to the fact the kids may be hurt.

But frankly I don't hold my breath. While some people are reasonable and listen to the advice (and honest about own abilities and experience), some never do. Hopefully this family is the 1st type.
 

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I think you have been given great advice. However, I would leave out the bit about the Ace. You have no proof and it is only going to open a huge can of worms and what is done is done. These people bought a horse that is too much for them, you are going to tell them this honestly, hopefully they can sell her and have you help them find the right match. End of story.
 

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I Think honesty is the way to go. There are a lot of good horses out there. A good match can take some time to find. WEll worth it though. If they choose to keep the horse, some one may get hurt. If these people are new to horses this could be a nightmare for all. If a person doesn't have a good experience with a first horse, that horse may be forgotten. Who wants a horse you can't ride?? They already know the horse is not what they were looking for. They wouldn't have brought it to you if there wasn't a problem. Perhaps they don't know how much work is envolved to get that child safe horse. Perhaps it is money. I would spend more money on a kid safe horse than sending one to a trainer. I would definetly tell them the truth and risk them being mad at me than risking a child's life. Buying a horse because he is 'pretty' or it was a good price, isn't a good idea to me. I have had experiences with 'buying pretty' the outcome has never been positive. In the long run a "cheap' horse can cost more. Vet bills or hospital bills can add up quick!!
 

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How can I tell a customer I think her horse is too much for her?

*Susan*, this is too much horse for your children. It's going to take *6 months* of retraining, imo, for her to be a safe and reliable mount. I'm sorry I don't have better news for you, but that's my professional opinion.


 

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Good advice above.. you said it in your own post very well. Plain talk is easily understood, and people prefer honesty even if it's not what they want to hear.

I'm sure they'd much rather you be straight up with them now, as opposed to not saying anything and their child becomming seriously hurt or worse by this horse
 

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I've seen my trainer do this, she tells them point blank. "This is too much horse for you."

I've seen her husband do it even plainer: "It's not a matter of IF the horse is going to hurt you, but a matter of WHEN."

Then you offer to sell the horse for them and you could even offer to help find them one that is a better fit.

Of course, sometimes people don't listen but if they don't, then it's not your fault.
 

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Differnt people have different values. The seller on Craigs list may think this horse is great. And he very well may let his kids ride this horse. I have a friend who puts his kids and grand kids on horses all the time. He scares me to death to think what could happen. I personally am much more concerned about what horse my daughter get on. So I'm not going to acuse the selling of lying, Because his kids may ride that horse.

I have a friend that bought a mare. Decided he couldn't teach her and sent her off to a trainer. The trainer called him up 3 days later and said come get this horse. don't ride it, Sell it for dog food. Well my friend got soft in the heart and decided he would keep her as a brood mare. One day he needed an extra horse and took her for a trail ride. They went off a cliff together, It broke his back in 5 places. He has spent the last 3 year in a living hell trying to recover and dealing with the pain. This became a Life Alterning event for him.

If in your eyes as the trainer, this horse is more horse than they can safely handle. You owe it to them to explain that. Don't acuse the selling of cheating them. You were not part of those conversations or transactions. You can tell them, That I enjoy this type of a challenge, but I don't recommend it for somebody new to horses. You might explain this horse might be great for your kids 5 years and 1000 hours of saddle time from now, but not today.
 

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I bought a mare once out of an auction that was not what I was told she was but the reason that I had bought her was to take the place of a horse that I was going to put in a catalog sale but came up lame. I rode this horse 8 times in 7 days and I was scared the first 5 times I rode her. This mare was not nice and she had some bad habits but once you got her past them she wasn't too bad. I took her to the sale and rode her around for some people and told them she was not a gentle kids horse and needed an experienced hand and steady work. I overheard the people that bought her earlier in the day say they didn't know anything about horses they just wanted something to ride for the deer hunt. Needless to say they had alot of trouble with her and sent her to a trainer and told him how they had been mislead and I'm sure they decided that the horse had been abused.

My point with this saga is that the story the trainer gets is not always what really happened.
 

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I've seen her husband do it even plainer: "It's not a matter of IF the horse is going to hurt you, but a matter of WHEN."
This was exactly what I was told, word for word, when I finally decided to sell the horse I had that was too much for me. She was a friesian/TWH cross, and she'd get lathered just pacing while I cleaned her stall. I was told what is mentioned above by the third trainer I had in to work with her. The first two had quit on her, just citing she was too much horse for them.

Saying something straight out and honest is usually the best way to get through. I respected the third trainer so much more for playing it straight with me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Kevin --- I totally understand where you are coming from. And I know you're probably right.

So I finally squeezed out of the lady that she bought her 3 years ago?? Which wasn't the story I got from her the first time... She said due to a divorce, she had to keep her in a pasture at a facility, where she had free-roam for the last 3 years. A little bit of handling on the ground, and hand-fed... that's about all she's ever had since the owner's had her.

The owner did tell me that she's had a horse since she was 12, and has always ridden, but was one of those "I've been taught by my neighbor who thinks she knows EVERYTHING about horses..." blah blah. So the things she learned were not correct. She did tell me she is not afraid of the mare, and wants to rise to the mare's level, but she needs some help learning the correct way to cue and release of pressure.

I told her I was concerned with her children getting on her at this point, and she said she understood, but continued to reference that her kids will be showing her this fall... (maybe she'll be able to get her up to par... but only with a lot of help if she plans to do it herself...) and I know I have no say in what she does. She told me her 14 yr old sticks to one like glue... but there again, what happens if she gets herself into a goofy situation and doesn't know how to handle it? I don't care how sticky she is, she could still get hurt, right?

But anyway, she did ask me if I was interested in riding with her on the weekends... she's in nursing school, but would like something to do on the weekend that would help her ride. I am confident I can offer her the help she needs to ride her mare, and since she asked me for help, I'm not sure how long I should offer to help before I feel like an "instructor" and it becomes more of a job... I just want to get her to a level she can manage her horse, but I also don't want to end up being the "free instructor" you know? How will I know when to draw the line?
 

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Just do yourself a favor and put your critique in writing the have the owner sign off on it - should be done in any case so that there is no misunderstanding latter. She sounds like she is going to go ahead with her plans and put her kids on the horse. You just need to cover your bases.
 

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I wouldn't ride with her at all. The closer you are to this horse the worse off you will be when the horse doesn't perform like the owner dreams she will. Stay far away and when the feces hit the air circulator you won't get hit with as much.
 

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I wouldn't ride with her at all. The closer you are to this horse the worse off you will be when the horse doesn't perform like the owner dreams she will. Stay far away and when the feces hit the air circulator you won't get hit with as much.
I second that. If you start now you will be free instructor sooner or later and if you'll try to draw the line then it'll be much harder on you (with drama and possible nasty rumor going on).

I was in similar situation - was asked to feed 3 horses for free for one owner in barn. Now feeding in that barn meant you have to walk through the mud up to the knee to the back end of 70 acres property and bring 3 horses one by one through the gate with the other attacking horses. Not fun in first place, but I agreed. Then they asked me to take care of them because they are going on vacation, then don't have time, but when I was asked to feed all their horses on Xmas - New Year week because they were going to Hawaii (of course for free) I sent them far away. End result? Owner was ****ed off, stopped talking to me, and who knows what he was saying to other people.
 
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