Thursday, February 18, 2010

Life........and Its Lessons........Wrapping Up

After the post, The Final Straw, there's been some discussion on the facebook page where that post showed up. People have stepped forward to say their experiences with this trainer has been different than mine.

I have no problem seeing that and I'm glad for them that their experiences were successful. There were people at the barn getting along famously with this WT while I was there. He seems to have a full barn most of the time now so he must do ok with some people and their horses. Still that does not change my experience. It was as I posted. I can still hear those words in my head as clearly as the day he yelled them at me.

I was basically called a liar in one of those comments because of the afore mentioned words. That person's experience with this trainer was different than mine and she's sure the trainer would "never" use that word. All that means is she really has never heard him use the word. To her that meant I must be a liar It does not, however, make her assumptions true.

I would never accuse someone of being a liar because their experience was different than mine. I accept that people are very different and their relationships and experiences can be different as well. Just because some of the things I wrote were not the experiences of others does not mean they are a lie. Maybe it just means they've never seen the man as angry as he was at me that day.

I am not a liar. Believe me sometimes I think life might be simpler if I were. I'm not going to tell you that I was never a liar. The first thirty years of my life I was darn good at it. Therapy changed all of that for me. Now I no longer have to keep track of what I said so it doesn't come back to hit me in the face. The truth is just so much easier in that respect. Others might give it a try sometimes.

There are other comments on FB I have not addressed. I see no point in addressing them other than in this way. It's clear the mind of the commenter is closed to anything but her version of things. I have listened to what she has to say and even tried to open up a dialogue to resolve our conflict but there is no interest in that. I think that speaks for itself.

I repeat the point of the posts in this series including the one on my experience with this trainer were not intended to target anyone. If I had intended to do that people would not have been wondering who the trainer was. The post was about my experience and what I should have learned from it.

As for those lessons, I'm not going to tell you I did learn something at the time. Quite honestly it escaped me. All I could think of was how miserable an experience it was. Looking back now it's much easier to "get" what I could have done differently.

If I had it to do over, I would not have stayed when it was clear there were communication issues between him and my horse AND between him and me. Thinking I could hang in there and it would all work out was naive. We were not a good fit for whatever reason. It would have been better for all concerned if I had left early on. I get that....... but hind sight is always 20/20.

Also I really should have learned about writing things down. A written contract on what was expected, what things would cost, all those things. That's one I'm still struggling with today. That "friend" word can still get in there and common sense flies out the door. I really need to get over that.

Telling this story was about those pieces that made the whole, the things that happened that built up to the ugliness at the end. There was plenty of information there in those pieces of information telling this was not the right place for me if I had only paid attention to it but I didn't. I discounted my feelings and tolerated things that were not right for me. As a result the situation escalated.

At some time there will be others out there caught in the same trap. They'll be thinking if they just do whatever well enough it will work when it probably never will. Sometimes people just don't gel with other people. Sometimes trainers, farrier or vets don't gel with certain horses. That's just part of life. What's important is that we recognize when we find ourselves confronted by such situations and do what is best for ourselves and the horse.

The bottom line is all of this is really about the horses. As owners we are responsible for seeing our horses are in safe situations. No one starts out with enough knowledge to do that and some won't have that kind of knowledge or experience in their entire lives. Yet horses must rely on us to care and advocate for them whether we have those skills or not.

We have to be willing to look at the pitfalls in the industry and to examine our mistakes for the horses sake. Trusting a horse to a trainer, a farrier, a vet does not necessarily mean a horse is safe. There are lots of those people out there that don't have the horse's best interest at heart. They are in it for their own agenda.

We will never be able to compile a list of who is and isn't reputable or right for us besides that information is all subjective. What works for one will never work for another. But we can share our experiences so we can spot those warning signs and get ourselves and our horses out before real harm is done.

I can't tell you how many times a person has told me about something they knew that might have helped me. They kept it to themselves when I was wading in over my head. Only after I've drowned did they share what they knew. Yet maybe if I'd had that information ahead of time, I would have made a different decision and not made such a mistake.

This behavior of sharing after the fact is common every where in life, not just in the horse industry. We could save ourselves a lot of grief if we'd only share our experiences so others don't have to make the same mistakes. That why they teach history in we can learn from it and move on. Yet there can be no history to learn in the horse industry if we don't share our experiences good and bad. Currently that rarely happens and frankly it's one of my pet peeves.

My mare, Scandalous, might be alive to this day if I'd only been told why we didn't turn geldings out with mares when I first worked as a groom. Yet, it was only after my daughter's gelding killed my mare that I heard the trainer's story of such a happening in her youth. Even the vet that came that fateful day had seen the same thing happen numbers of times he said. Yet he admitted it wasn't something he shared with his clients. Why is that?

A friend of mine had experience with this WT before he began to train Arabians. He didn't tell me his experience until after I had mine even though he knew I was taking my horse there. Had he shared his opinions with me first, I doubt I would have ever been in that situation. I have a lot of respect for this man's opinion and we share the same beliefs about how a horse should be trained. Yet I was not given the benefit of his input.

Nobody talked about the vet who mistakenly used alcohol when he was supposed to be oiling horses for the trip to US Nationals. The vet realized his mistake yet hid it from the owners and trainer. Those people watched in horror as their horses died an agonizing death still being treated by a vet who KNEW the horses could not be saved.

Those horses should have been euthanized immediately but they were treated for countless hours because the vet was trying to save his own *ss. Even when one of the owners discovered the truth, others in the community were not warned. Would you want to have this vet work on your horse? Fortunately he is no longer in the area but he was around for years after this incident. He was even at my farm a time or two. He sure would not have been had I known this story. Luckily he did no damage here.

I have a friend who stayed in a boarding facility for three years where she was miserable. Her belief system was that you look for a place that will take good care of your horse and everything will be fine. It wasn't fine for her. She stayed because she thought there was something wrong with her. It never occurred to her that it was it just was not a good fit and it was ok for her to move on. Doing so didn't make her a bad person or a bad horse woman. It just was not the right place for her and her horse. It happens to people sometimes but she didn't know that. No one shared their similar stories with her until after she moved and I hadn't learned my lesson about "fit" yet.

The woman down the road from me bought a horse from a well known breeder at the time. The horse was wonderful at the breeders. Two days later it nearly killed my friend at her farm. She was told after the experience this breeder was known for drugging horses before showing them to prospective buyers. The information came from a former employee of the breeder who was a friend of hers and knew she was going there looking for a horse.

I have heard stories of people who have left the horse industry because of their bad experiences. Instead of learning from the things that didn't work well and moving on to those that did, they gave up and left. Sure it was an accumulation of things over time before many left but others left after one incident with one buyer or seller, one trainer or boarding barn, one show season without success.

These people believed they couldn't trust the industry, it would scr*w them every time. Maybe in a way it would. Many of the things that happened to these people might have been avoided had others they came in contact with shared their stories. As I've said before it is this "don't tell" practice in the industry that sets people up. I'll bet many of you have your own stories about how this practice set you or your horse up.

A final note, yes, this series of posts is all about negative things that have happened in the industry. However, I have over 1000 posts here. A very small percentage of them are about the negatives. There have been plenty of posts about good things that have happened in the industry and people I have met with integrity and honor. Nearly all of these posts are about my experiences and what they were like for me and about my love of the Arabian horse. It is my web log after all.

Visit Blog Village and vote daily for this blog Here They are now measuring the rankings by the number of votes out, so if you find my blog on the site, please click that link too to improve my rankings. TY


  1. Fit is just such a hard thing. It is hard to be in a situation where everything is fine but you are still not happy. And as for the secrets of the horse industry...clearly your area is way more closed off then mine. If I ask about anyone someone out there is likely to tell me a negative story about them first! Which is why I am ALWAYS careful about my actions. Luckily after almost a dozen years of riding in the same area there are still no bad stories about me that anyone I know has heard. The odd thing is, I feel like the blogging community is very closed. I know of a fellow blogger who lives about an hour from me. This person has to bring their horse to one of the local equine hospitals where I have friends working. They all said that not only was this woman rude, she was very arrogant and argumentative. She does not come off that way at all on her blog so I didn't believe them at first. When I went out to lunch with a friend in her area I was told about a new boarder who fit all her descriptions to a tee and who was again accused of being "holier than thou" and also not knowing what she talked about most of the time. I have never shared that information with anyone and never would even though this person is considered a very popular equine blogger and constantly gives advice etc.

  2. Well put , the simple fact is people and horses are individuals and we don't all fit .The naysayers about your experiences didn't live them .If they had good experiences with WT great,you didn't it is as simple as that. As for the "say nothing " attitude that frustrates me as well Knowledge is meant to be shared ! If you know of a dangerous situation I would say we are duty bound to warn others. yes do it carefully as with the litigious society this has become it can be risky, even a word of caution gently put out there ("maybe you should check this guy/situation out a bit more")can be enough to give someone else a heads up

  3. It's so interesting, too, that folks are willing to dismiss your tales of your experiences (re: "he would never!) and yet any tale that person would tell is taken as gospel. I think it's just the way we are as humans - if you trust, then you trust all the way, until there's overwhelming evidence. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies with our self-doubts and our need to tough it out.

    I'm very glad you posted this series, because I absolutely agree with you. I've ridden many places, ridden with many different instructors, ridden many horses, and one skill we begin to develop over the years, if we're paying attention, is the skill of knowing where we fit, and where we don't, and choosing the positive, the good fit, over the not-so-good. We begin to accept that we just aren't good with everyone and everything. We have our boundaries, recognize and respect them, and respect others' as well.

    Then we can really set our roots, grow, and flower.

  4. I applaud you Mikael, for this Life Lesson blog. If you can save one person and their horse from this trainer it is worth it all. It is all about our horses. I have also been bewildered by the fact that no one ever says anything. There were many, (other trainers, my farrier, and friends) who didn't alert me about this WT. Myself, I have a hard time not saying anything. I guess these people all need to work together so they can't jeopardize their businesses but if it means putting our horses in harms way we need to speak up. The change may be slow but it hopefully will come.

  5. Thank you for having the courage to continue this series. It has helped me, and I am sure others. There will always be the "not my precious..." out there. Nothing is ever or always anything. As you said, these were (and are) your experiences. Please continue to share!

  6. When you've had a bad experience with a vet, trainer, farrier, boarding barn, groom or whatever/whoever it is important that you TELL OTHERS about that experience. Being honest about your personal experience isn't a bad thing and doesn't make you a mean person.