Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Life........and Its Lessons........A Little About Work

Part 1

This would probably be a good place to begin the experiences I had either working for others in this industry or others working for me. Those situations have been laden with lessons.

Way back when I began this blog I posted how this dream of mine began. I mentioned I had worked as a groom but really didn't get into the details of how that came about or what our working arrangements were.

I worked for free up until the time I bought Scandalous on a contract. Grooms came and went, new ones were hired but I was never asked if I wanted the paying job even though I seemed to be the only reliable "employee" they had.

From the first day I arrived I worked six days a week and usually a minimum of 9 hours a day just because I wanted the experience. I showed up even when the roads were closed because of snow. I did the job even when the trainers were not there. I was reliable, willing and a fast learner. Before long I was as competent as most grooms who came and went.

I even worked a big sale they had just because they needed me. They didn't really ask me if I would work, they just assumed. It involved lots of extra hours and I did it without complaint. I was the only unpaid person involved and there were lots of people brought in and paid to help.

Yet, the daughter of the facility owner complained to a trainer about me because I hadn't dropped what I was doing to do her bidding . I got my *ss chewed by one of the trainers. When I explained that I was completing another task I had been assigned first that involved a hot sweaty horse and that I had come back to do the second job once I was done with the first, the trainer backed down. But I remember thinking at the time my efforts nor my loyalty were being appreciated much.

When I did buy Scandalous, I asked them if I could work off her board. The problems getting that worked out are here Despite all of the unpaid and unrecognized extra hours each day after that, not to mention, all the times I stayed at the facility to care for the horses when the trainers were gone to shows, you would think I might have earned some loyalty from them. That was not the case.

I remember at one point the trainers bought farm jackets for the paid employees. I was not included in that gesture. I told the trainer I felt like "FF's b*astard child." She sputtered as she tried to defend herself.........but her discomfort seemed to be more because I had said something than because she had forgotten about me.

It was another of those "ah ha" moments. There was no loyalty towards me at all, yet that certainly was not how I treated them. Granted we had no agreement that I would ever get paid but the fact they got more than double if not triple sometimes the amount of work out of me they were due, I guess I expected a little bit of something..........a thank you might have been nice......or that farm jacket.

You might think I would have learned from these things when it came to that contract on the third horse. I didn't however. I blindly went into it expecting the owner of the facility would do right by me.......yet she never really did.

She did, however, give me two aged ponies for my kids when we moved to our new farm. Both ponies had foundered so many times the owners couldn't even remember. Those ponies had lots of issues. Their feet were bad and the one probably had Cushings.........his hair grew continually. I had to body clip him several times a year so he wasn't miserable sweating underneath all that hair........even in the winter in the beginning.

I appreciated those ponies as did my kids but looking back I wonder if this gesture wasn't just about money too. With me taking over those high risk ponies, she no longer had to worry about them, nor pay for their illnesses.

The ponies did not live long once I got them.........but they did not founder either. Both died from colic. My vet figured it was from the years they lived on a sand lot so the owners didn't have to worry about them foundering.

My vet thought those ponies had the best years they had had in a long time living at my farm. They got to graze in pastures and were feed a proper diet.........not feed nothing but local grass because it was an easy way to keep them from foundering. Their feet got to be healthy again and their coats and teeth improved immensely.

Still both the job and the ponies were a situation of my making. I tolerated being "slave labor" so that I could learn. I took the ponies despite their issues because I knew my kids would love them. I probably would do it all again both for the lessons I learned about horses and the lessons I learned about some horse people.

To be continued......................

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  1. I'm just now getting caught up on your posts and I have to say that I am so lucky that the woman I'm buying my mare from is someone with integrity. She's been absolutely wonderful. She knew that it would be a stretch for me to be able to afford my mare and has been great about allowing me to pay at my own pace, which means that some months she gets a "big" check and some months she gets a "little" check. She told me that the only reason she even sold me my mare is that she knows I love her as much as she does and that she felt that she "owed" her a good home where she can live out the rest of her days (my mare's only 19, so she's got a good many years left).

  2. Rotten lesson to learn! Funny how with some people the more you give the more they take ,and when you say something ...thay are totally astounded!

  3. It must have felt awful to be treated that way....and how sad they never appreciated the hard worker they had!! Especially when so many young grooms come and go....because they are afraid of the hard work. I know the stable my sister grooms for continually tell her what a great job she is doing (she is paid.) Looking back, would you do it all again? For the experience and lessons learned, despite the poor treatment and lack of a paycheck?

  4. GunDiva, you are fortunate your contract is working for you. I think that's great.

    fernvalley01, yes, you're right about that. One of the quirks of human nature.

    Pony Girl, yes I would certainly go back and do it all over again. If I hadn't learned those lessons there, I probably would have to learn them someplace else. I just hope to learn from them so I can avoid future pitfalls. Unfortunately there were lessons here I missed the first time around.

  5. That stable sound inexcusably bad. Even if you were working for experience, the fact you were doing a good job should have made them treat you better. I worked weekends for minimum wage at a stable for the same reason - to learn and ride at least 4 hours a day. Besides the problem of other employees not showing up and then having to do everything myself, I was treated pretty well and loved that job. I hope there's a happy ending coming.

  6. Same thing happened to me, no respect, long days and hours, no extra pay at shows after it was promised, and no loyalty back - and it totally turned me off from the Arabian Industry - despite the fact I still have a special place in my heart for them.

    Loyalty concerning horses and horse facilities is not appreciated. I can't believe this because often we are dealing with expensive horses, and why would you not appreciate the person who keeps you from getting anxious every time you have to leave...yet this is the case with those who care more about the worth of the animal, rather than the animal itself.

  7. Maery Rose, I don't know what to say about a happy ending since the purpose of these posts is really about some of the lessons I have learned, or maybe should have learned about dealing with some people. I can say I sure wish I'd gotten the opportunity to ride along with that job. As it was I only got a few lessons over the entire time.

    Danielle Michelle, from what I can tell that's pretty much the life of a groom, although getting paid is usually part of the picture. I don't think it's much different in other breeds either. I think it all depends on the individuals involved whether they take care of their grooms well or not and I've met grooms who have worked in facilities both big and small where they have been appreciated and paid pretty well too.

  8. Gosh, it sounds like the people were awful shallow using you like that and not even thanking you for your time and loyalty. I would be very bitter too. Did they offer to pay you ever?

  9. Fantastyk Voyager, no there was never any offer of payment but I do not feel bitter. I only mention it because I should have learned from this experience. The facility owner was only interested in her bottom line. I could not count on her to look out for my welfare. When I got into the situation of a contract with her on the purchase of that third horse it was predictable she would behave as she did without stipulations in the contract to prevent such behavior. That's the lesson that I missed and it could have cost me dearly. It's not a mistake I'd want to make again.