Friday, May 9, 2008

Still Processing - Integrity & Horse Trainers

I can't help but think that this new predicament with the Arabian horse could have been avoided somehow. I wonder what signs I missed about my dealings with this trainer that might have told me he couldnt be trusted. I also wonder how come I didn't see this aspect of the problem when other small breeders tried to tell me that it was impossible to get a great horse out there without name or money.

I asked my ex-trainer friend, Jean, how I could have missed this. Her answer was she didn't know. Things like this have been going on all around me right under my nose from the beginning. That really disturbs me the most because I know to conquer this mountain and make it as a breeder, I must see all of the obstacles.

For so long I thought that if I could only get one great horse into the barn of a big name trainer (BNT) I would be set. I assummed they'd be so glad to get a great horse they would do right by it. It just hadn't occurred to me that that wasn't enough.

My friend, Jean, tells me it must be the right fit. Different trainers get along with different horses. I knew that.....some can't stand Desperado V training while others prefer it. (not to pick on Desperado V.......I just know this info first hand). I've also known for a while that if a trainer has a horse he/she doesn't particularly care for that horse will stand and not get worked. It just didn't occur to me that a great horse could get stuck in the back of the barn because it was better than the horse of a client with more money.

Granted I don't know this for a fact........but it's awfully suspicious to me that the trainer liked the horse enough at a clinic last year to talk to others about it several times, then in Sept he told the owners the horse had the talent to do it all and now the horse is suddenly confirmationally flawed and not capable. How do you trust a trainer who tells you all conflicting things about the same horse?

It's also suspicious to me that this decision the horse is no good came about after the other client got a look at the owner and the horse together for the first time. "How am I supposed to beat that." uttered from the lips of a wealthy client and the whole world began to change. Coincidence?

But honestly, things were deteriorating right from the start. It was clear from the way the owner was treated working for the trainer there was no respect for her from the BNT. It was the promise of respect from the assistant trainer(AS) that even got this horse into that barn. The the AS dropped the ball big time.

A relationship that was supposed to have been built on friendship, trust and understanding was not genuine afterall. All long as this owner was on the farm, it looked sincere but at the first public opportunity, he took the safe road right along with the BNT. That's the part that's most disappointing.

The owner thought she could trust this AS and he let her down bigtime. But he let himself down too. A great horse like this could have made this AS a name for himself. Then he wouldn't have to deal with the abuse by the BNT.

Obvioiusly he didn't trust himself (or the horse) enough to believe he could make it without the BNT so when he was told not to show this horse but to make other horses his priority, he did exactly that. Selling himself and the horse and owner out. Unfortunately for the AS horses like this don't come along often. He may never get another chance.

Strange how this all works out best for the BNT though. If the AS never gets to show this great horse, the BNT doesn't loose his lackey. Since the AS is the one doing most of the work, that's got to be comforting to the BNT. He can go on looking like the big shot. Spending his time in self promotion and only working a handful of horses. Not bad if you don't mind taking advantage of people.

The BNT doesn't have to worry about great horses as long as he hangs onto those clients with money. Unlimited resources give him access to horses all kinds of horses. He doesn't have to worry about messing up one here and there. He's the only one in this scenario that ever wins. That's really unfortunate.

What about that mass exodus of small clients each year? The one's whose horses didn't do what they expected them to. Well, there'll always be plenty more of them to take their place. Those niave little people chasing a dream are a dime a dozen...lining up waiting for their chance to get into the BNT's barn, totally unaware of the process that got them there.

So who can you trust in the horse industry? That's a really good question. I look at this situation and think it's time for some reevaluation on my part. There's not way I can met my goals not seeing things like this right under my nose. I have to be able to be open to all of the possibilities.

And how do you find a trainer who is the "right fit" for you and your horse? Tracking down old clients who have moved on could tell one a lot but is probably easier said than done. In this case, the owner had access to some of those disgruntled clents who took their horses home.

I guess it's easy to think that somehow things will be different for us. That's one of those things I will need to watch more closely as well. Ignoring the obvious signs and thinking somehow one can avoid the pitfalls can end up being very costly.

Getting caught up in the belief that this BNT is the only one who could do the job puts the owner at a disadvantage. Sure, the BNT may be more accessible than others and being part of that barn might seem cool but the end result is what is most important. Dreams can be accomplished without BNTs. It really does happen. It might take longer but the struggle in achieving the dream can only add value to the dream.

Again Please: I would ask that in the comments you please not name names. I think it's appropriate that this post remain "generic" in that regard. If you have something you must say with names, please email me.......risingrainbow at

As much as I would like to fix this problem, it is out of my hands. I will be here if the owners need me. I hope they can see that I am not part of the problem. Tomorrow I will go back to posting about Lucy's new filly.

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  1. "Who can you trust...?"

    Well, I'm cynical and have been burnt a time or two so... My answer is always.

    Yourself. Your horse. Maybe a friend or two.

    I never take one person's word for anything in this industry. I trust my gut first and then go out and get LOTS of opinions, ask lots of questions, and go from there. I always have a back up plan.

    You can go places without your horse being in a BNT's barn. Yes, it will take longer, but it's well worth the effort.

    I hope the owners realize that and don't give up on a great horse because someone else dropped the ball. They did all that they could and all they thought was good. It's not thier fault nor the horse's fault that 'politics' and greed got in the way. I hope they keep on going with this horse, find another trainer close to home so they can be aware of just how much and what type of training the horse is or is not getting.

    I hope they don't let a BNT's greed to crumble thier dreams.

  2. Okay, maybe greed isn't completely the right word, how about arrogance or the self- interest...

  3. MiKael, just remember- Everything Happens For A Reason. Everything. It may be that this happened so you could learn too, and you will remember this the next time you interview a trainer. It may have happened so that this horse and rider combo can move on and become SMASH hits in the show ring- beyond what this BNT was capable of. It may be that the owner in question here may go on herself, in time, to set the show world on its ear with HER ability to produce National-winning horses.

    I can't say for sure, but I bet that there are great things in store for this pair, and for you. The quality of the horses you produce, the training that you personally provide- it can not help but corner you a special market. Maybe not quite the one you are thinking of now, but its out there. You too, may be on a journey to create a whole new niche.

    Chin up amazing lady- we all have faith in you, your horses, and your ability. We all have faith and believe in the magnificent horse and his talented rider/ Mom too.

    Time heals all wounds, and we all learn from past experiences. ;)

  4. Mikael,
    I just gor caught up in with your posts. SHAME on BNT and SHAME on AS. You are correct there should be a clearing house or something so potential clients can get an idea of really who a trainer is. I am still so new in the realm of having a trainer that I dint have much knowledge. I do know that I did have a very "evil" trainer before that was all about the $$$. I make no claims that my horse is talented enough to do anything, I know my horse is not a confirmation dream. I know my horse is an amazing athlete and one smart cooky. My evil trainer was only willing to work with the clients that she knew she could bully and keep under her thumb. She only rode the horses of the clients that they paid her to show and never let the client show. She recently popped up at a new barn locally a very well known barn. This trainer has never made it a year at a barn. I sent the owner an email (very professional) and offered to talk with her about my experience. I received and note back saying that Evil Trainer had told her to be prepared for such calls and they were just disgruntled clients that did not have good horses. The moral of this long story being (sorry)tell the terrific two to keep the dream ALIVE. Its the small people that can ignite the Dream in someone else. Its something we all get to feel good about. Maybe a BNT is not the answer, maybe a LT with a true love of the animal and the sport are the ones to take the Terrific Two to the top. I was lucky and found just that in a LT. Please send them my love and my support, no one should lose the dream and the passion based on descision of a BNT. Sorry mu Soap Box got so long..I just believe that we only get so many chances so grab it while you can.

  5. "It's not their fault nor the horse's fault that 'politics' and greed got in the way.... "
    "Okay, maybe greed isn't completely the right word, how about arrogance or the self- interest"
    Actually, LOC, GREED is completely the RIGHT word. As well as arrogance & self-interest.
    "Politics" is an amorphous word that encompasses all of the above plus. It is a word used by many disgruntled people who don't win when they think they should; sometimes it applies to the situation and sometimes it doesn't. But the other three terms are much more specific and descriptive, and correct in this instance.

    Yes, there are lots of trainers out there, many of them excellent. Certainly if they think the horse is good enough, they'll make the way easier for the owners.

    I have a nice CEP colt whose in a good barn right now with a trainer that absolutely loves him. I'm not one of the most affluent clients, far from it. But the trainer is making sure that my horse gets trained well, and that I can show him myself if I want. Now this is not totally altruistic on the trainer's part. The trainer believes whole-heartedly that this horse is good enough to 'make a name' for himself and the trainer at the nationals level. Not for a single year but for several years.

    I personally believe that the horse in question is the kind that will do that for a trainer, himself and his owners. They just need to stop thinking like victims and find a trainer worthy of their gorgeous and talented horse.

  6. I hope they find a trainer they can trust ... and the horse can trust.

    The owners should hang on to every ounce of "control" regarding their horse and decisions made.

    I've seen too many trainers romancing the people with the bucks regardless of the potential of the horse, while the great horses stand around.

    Or ... if you have a fantastic horse, they want to sell it. Something about their percentage...

    I had my dream horse sold against my judgment. I knew he had a great future ahead of him. He'd already proven that. But I was talked into selling him because he might not make it, that he wasn't as good as I thought he was!

    Well, he did go on to become a Champion. I wish I could have enjoyed that. Still grieve over not having him. Sweet, great horse!

    Can't believe I let that trainer control my mind into doubting my own horse!

    So, now I've become a control freak for good reason. Difficult to deal with sometimes, but I'm calling the shots from now on. I've dumped plenty of trainers.

    They know I can take my horses and money somewhere else. So far, so good.

    I hope this story has a happy ending. Don't let the rif-raf get in the way of their goals!

  7. How to find the right trainer? Here is my advice, for what it's worth after being in the Arabian industry for 25 years.

    First, get the horse out of there and take him home. A good horse can stand for a few months while the best situation is found. Better that than have bad training that leaves scars too deep to heal.

    Second, spend some time at horse shows and watch trainers. Watch them not only in classes, but during breaks and while training. Watch them school horses as well as clients, and watch how they treat their staff. Show up early and stay late and see who is sneaking to the arena to beat up horses while nobody is around. Watch how they treat their clients. Go to the stalls and talk to them, and then see if you can corner some clients who don't look like they have "the big bucks". Don't be blinded by ribbons, as every horse, rider, trainer, and barn have bad shows and bad classes. The way the horse and owner are treated are much more important than one ribbon.

    Third, arrange a visit to the farm. Get the full tour and ask to stay and watch training sessions or lessons. Get the idea of the routine and ask if you could pop by again if you are in the area. Then, do just that, unannounced, and see how that's handled. If they have something to hide, it will be evident. If not, you'll be welcomed again to watch.

    Yes, you must do your homework and it will take some time. But for the right horse being in the right situation it's well worth it.

    Best of luck to the parties involved.

  8. How disappointing! The story you tell is one that I can see happening and I believe your version of events. I can also see everyone else getting hoodwinked.

    How does it happen? Has this person lost whatever integrity he/she has because of how difficult it is to survive in this business and market? Or is this how this person has engineered his/her rise to the top, or near the top?

    Probably some of both. All these hidden agendas and conflicts of interest. How very sad for you, your owners and the industry.

    You are a wise woman. I know you will see a way to make this a positive experience.

  9. Aaaah a lot of our conversation last night becomes clearer now. I am sorry but I had not read this post when we were chatting online so explains why I sounded so dense. It was late before I got onto my computer then I got waylaid nearly immediately by another cyber friend so didn't get anything done.

    All I can say is Wow, I hope that these people read this and come to their senses. I know they do frequent your blog and I think it is perfectly clear that there is a big problem and it isnt coming from you.

    I really hope that they do get in contact with you and that they will let you help them to resolve this problem.

    There is nothing more that I can say MiKael but I know how this must be tearing you up. In the short time that I have known you, I have discovered that you are a strong, well educated on arabian horses, passionate about them and have only their best interests at heart and above all are one of the most honest forthcoming people I have met.

    Again I really hope these people contact you, they need to before their dream is shattered, which is all unnecessary, and a good horse is ruined in the process.

    The outpouring of support that you have had over the last few posts has been wonderful. I really hope that we will be able to meet in person soon.

    Praying for a positive outcome and that they come to their senses quick. ((((Hugs))))


  10. Mikael,

    I've just spent the last couple of weeks reading the last year's worth of your blog. I feel like I've gotten to know you and your incredible horses.

    I'm very sorry to hear this- I was so hoping for a better report. I know nothing about Arabians or breed showing. I started riding as an adult and, except for the first 9 months of hunter lessons, I've been riding dressage all that time. But, I've worked at some of the larger dressage shows and I've seen many unethical things happen, so it's the same in every segment of the horse world.

    I would tell your client to first, ask BNT exactly WHAT is wrong with their horse's conformation that will limit his ability to get to Nationals. Don't let him be vague, ask for specifics. If he's evasive or changes his tune and starts talking about attitude or something else, then you'll know he's scamming you. If he gives you specifics, research it. You're the owner, you should be able to look at your horse and compare his conformation with that of other horses. Get books and magazines and judge for yourself. This is YOUR horse. You owe it to him and to yourself not to be led blindly down the path to nowhere with a trainer who does not care a whit about your or your horse. He only cares about the monthly training fees you pay him. His behavior at the show should be evidence enough for you.

    If you sell this horse and get another one, what will be different? Do you really expect BNT to treat you differently because you get another horse? Again, ask him specifically. Away from the show, at home, have a meeting in his office. Explain to him that you were very disappointed in the lack of guidance you got at the show. Ask him what can be done to remedy that at future shows? You'll need to judge his reactions yourself, but a true, ethical professional should be willing to sit down with you and correct mistakes.

    DressageMom had some excellent advise on how to find a good trainer. Again, you owe it to yourself and your horse to give this a real try. You haven't even had him a year and, if I understand what's taken place, you haven't even been with him all that time. He's been in a different state. You haven't formed a real bond and partnership, yet. You need to bring him home and find someone close to you that can help YOU train your own horse.

    I hope the owner of the horse reads all these comments and can sit back and make an objective decision. Sadly, the horse is the one that stands to lose the most. Although, if he is sold, I hope he goes to someone who has the vision and the commitment to see him through to his full potential.