Monday, January 17, 2011

Different Kind of Journey - an Attempt to Intercede and a Final Payment

This Story Begins Here

At this show I did something out of character for me. I was so distraught and wanting to fix things and still unable to catch the owner alone, I stopped and had a conversation with the mahogany gelding's significant other. I had met the man before and gotten on quite well with him. He seemed like a reasonable man so I thought he might just listen to me and share with the owner what I'd said.

We had a long talk and I explained what I saw happening and how I thought it would affect the show career of the horse and his future sale value among other things. The owner had paid a lot of money for this horse and she expected a horse she could compete with at the national level. The way this horse was being trained, he wasn't even going to be worth what she'd paid let alone ever working to his potential. It was and is my opinion this horse was not working to his potential because his training had blocked his natural correct way of going and his ability to work his best because of this interference. I asked the man to intercede for the horse since I could not get to owner without having to deal with YW too and he assured me he would.

It didn't take long for me to know this tactic had not been useful. Later the following week I got a letter from the owner. She had been talked to all right and she was not happy, not happy with me.

It was clear from her letter that she didn't see things the same way that I did. She was pleased with YW's training and thought her horse was doing just fine. What she was concerned about was my behavior. I got a firm scolding for taking advantage of YW by not paying her a finder's fee ( the fee that had been waived) on the sale of the horse and not appreciating all she had done at my open house and was doing for me by getting my Legs' babies into the ring. She reminded me that had it not been for YW she never would have purchased this horse. I should be grateful. She was most upset that I had not talked to "us" (meaning she and YW) and instead I had chosen to speak to her significant other. Now he was doubting her choices in choosing a trainer and it was all my fault.

While it is unfortunate it turned out this way, it did not surprise me. The horse that this owner had put in training with YW before buying my gelding had had a hard go with the previous trainer. This owner had not realized anything was wrong at the time either. It was only in hindsight based on what she was told by YW and me that she had seen that this mare had been mistreated.

Despite years of horse ownership, the woman didn't know enough about training or riding for that matter to be able to tell the good from the bad. Unfortunately for many horses, she is not alone. There are way more horses out there being ruined with inappropriate training practices than there are horses being trained correctly, if you ask me. Most of those owners believe they are doing the right thing by their horse so it just keeps going on. The horses that are ruined are discarded and new ones sent to the very same trainers who ruined the discarded models in the first place.

Over time nothing improved with either of these geldings. I even heard that the gelding that had been purchased by YW herself was frequently tossing her onto the ground. I can't say that surprised me at all. I'd told YW before she even bought this horse that he was a bit stand offish and really needed to trust to be able to perform. He was and is a horse that needed kindness and patience to learn. Pushing him too fast or beating him up because he didn't do as expected would most certainly ruin this horse and yet both tactics are primary parts of YW's training.

The time came for YW to make her final payment on this horse and she not only claimed I owed her for a fee which she had waived but she billed me for training for Vee. I stood my ground about the fee she now thought she was entitled to receive after I double checked with my daughter and granddaughter to see if they remembered our conversation about the fee.

Both assured me they had been present when YW said she didn't expect a fee on the sale. I knew I had other conversations with YW about my practice of quoting prices and making sure people knew that did not include commission and we'd ever discussed my pricing on this particular horse and that a commission would be added on for any buyer coming with a trainer expecting a fee.. We'd even had YW had stated at that time she thought that was totally reasonable and she could see why I wouldn't even consider taking less for this particular horse.

Since by now I'd had enough experience with YW lying to me and others, I was comfortable she knew full well she was not entitled to a commission. I did not challenge what she wanted to deduct for training Vee however. I wasn't really ready to go down that road yet even though there was plenty of evidence that she did nothing with Vee. I knew from what she originally told me that she hadn't worked Vee, with a witness present, then the timing from then when I took the mare home and the condition the mare was in when I picked her up, it just was not possible that she had worked Vee the number of times she claimed BUT I was worried about my relationship with HM and really wondered if it was worth pushing it so I just let it be.

I am not normally an enabler. I tend to hold people accountable for their bad behavior because I think enabling is not really helpful to anyone. However, I didn't stick to my beliefs in this situation and it came back to bite me later. If I had it to do over, I would have insisted she pay the amount she charged me to train Vee but there's that hindsight again.

It was actually HM who met Dave and delivered the final payment on the horse. They paid what I said must be paid and Dave delivered the papers. Personally it was a sad day as I wondered what would come of this horse now that he did belong to YW. It was the closing of a chapter for this horse and me, but a whole new one was coming for YW and me.

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

Wrapping Up Loose Ends

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  1. The plot thickens. Even though you tried to do the right thing by the horses and people involved no one wanted to listen to reason. I've seen so many bad trainers with horse owners following them around like they were rock stars. Standing up for them whether they're right or wrong. It's sad for these sheep who are being sheared and having the wool pulled over their eyes, but mostly it's a bad situation all around for the poor horses.

  2. What a mess! The owner of the horse is clearly NOT a horsewoman by any measure, or she would have seen at least some of what you told her sig other!As for Vee I totally understand why you swallowed your ire and let that go for the moment, but it tells far more about YW that she would even DARE after letting the mare sit in such squallor ,knowing full well that she did absolutley nothing to follow through on what you asked and then still have the sheer gall to ask for a fee!!!!

  3. aww I feel bad for those two horses that have ended up with her. I do agree though there are many poeple who just dont know the difference in teaching a horse and forcing one. Very sad indeed.

  4. Arlene, this situation is one of the reasons I did an early post called Are You a Good Advocate for Your Horse? I was so frustrated over the fact at least one of these horses could have been protected had the owner just opened her eyes and listened instead of immediately jumping to the defense of the trainer. Even when I posted about what the western trainer did to Legs, his clients were jumping in to protect him instead of trying to see if maybe there was some valid information there. Blind trust is dangerous, if you ask me. It's so sad.

    FV, you're right the owner isn't what you'd call a horsewoman. And I share your feelings about YW as well. The nerve she had to totally disregard the mare's well being, not do the work and still ask for a fee says a lot as to what type of person she is.

    Crystal, I will always regret both of those sales and I'm sure hoping in the future I have better skills to determine if someone really knows what it takes to be a good horse trainer. I really should have seen this ahead of time.

  5. Eek--this is why dealings with friends get so sticky--we don't always write stuff down. There's that saying, fences make good neighbors, locks keep people honest, and I think, written contracts are up there with those two, too. But with friends and family, we often skip that part--this is a lesson to us--we shouldn't. :(

  6. Linda, I'm not sure what you're thinking should have been written down. I did have a written sale on the horse. It didn't make reference to any form of commision. After this experience it sure will in the future.

  7. It sounds like (with YW) everything would have to be written down in order to protect yourself--fees, finder fees, training fees, expectations, boarding--everything, except breathing. But then again, when you're dealing with a dishonest person, it's almost impossible to cover everything. In my situation with a friend--I vouched for her to the trainer (another of my friends)--because she was recommended by me, my trainer friend didn't have her put the 50 % down payment or sign a contract--long story, but it went bad.

  8. Contracts are the worlds best friend. Include everything and anyhing you can think of and cover you a$$. Because that's where it bites you and where most men keep their wallets! lol

    Sucks how things turned out so far. For those who don't know and have been misguided by previous trainers, I think they tend to jump a bit more quickly to defend their recent choice in desperate hopes it has Not happened again. Fool me once, fool me twice...

    For future reference and I'm sure you know this now- I would have just asked the S/O to have the woman call me and set up a time to meet later. Away from the barn, the show, YW and everyone else involved. Have a friendly chat over coffee or something. If she fails to do so- you know where you stand and how to proceed from there. If YW shows up tagging along, things obviously need to be handled differently then...

  9. Linda, yupe, there's that hindsight thing again. Unfortunately as the next story will show, I forgot about this stuff and it came back to bite me again which just goes to show just putting the past behind you is not a good thing. It's important to learn from what's happened. That can't really be done unless you want to deal with what happened instead of just putting it in the past.

    OBP, you are so right and hopefully I have learned my lesson. However, as I've already mentioned I sure didn't learn it after this incident. While I didn't forget what YW did, I never really saw the signs that could have been used to keep me out of this mess in the first place. If I had it to do over, I just would not do business with YW. I thought I had covered in writing those things that counted. Now I know better.

    There are things about the two stories that are different and things the same. As I've gone through this process of writing, I've discovered some of those things. I'm sure as I write the next story more will come to mind. Hopefully, in the long run I will have learned all I need to about such situations so I don't get burned again.

    Still, I must say that urge to trust a friend is hard to ignore.

  10. Gosh I really feel for you in this situation. It must be so frustrating to know the horse is not with an ideal owner as well.