I have written about this trainer before but not in any context that would suggest what she pulled here. She is the trainer who gave lessons to Rachel for a while and it was under her care, that Rachel didn't do right by the horse but Crystal took no responsibility for it even though she was supposed to be teaching her about horsemanship not just riding.
She claimed to have worked as a groom at Feature Farm during the time I was there. I had no memory of her but do recall everyone I worked with at the time. The inconsistency had always bothered me but evidently not enough. I have recently discovered this claim is very exaggerated but then it would have to be for me not to have known here at that time. I pratically lived at that place for nearly three years.
I knew this woman did not have the skills to train competitive horses for the Arabian circuit and I had told her so. She had given me plenty of stories of horses she had rescued from malicious training practices by other Arab trainers. According to her she had reversed severe damage but I had not seen the befores so didn't know what to think of the afters except to know they were not round enough.
She had asked my help in determining a good big name trainer she could spend some time visiting to update her skills so she might be successful on the Arab circuit. This had been before I learned she doesn't even work her horses so I had no may to know this was nothing but a ruse. I recommended Jody Strand and she claimed to have spent an entire month working under him. She also claims he was so impressed by her that he was planning on referring clients to her. When I saw the two of them together at a clinic it was clear to me the relationship was not what she claimed. Not to long ago I learned why. She had spent two days at most with Strand not an entire month. Had I known this I would have had a major clue in understanding what drives her and maybe I could have saved myself some heartache.
I knew she feigned friendship with people she didn't like and she didn't work her training horses often and yes that included the horse of Cathy Atkinson from FUGLY blog. The woman was not prejudicial about whose horses she chose not to work. All I know is whenever Cathy was around I kept my distance......oh and this trainer had told me once that people did not want to buy horses from me become they feared ending up the subject of a blog post but she had no compunction about having the most notorious of all bloggers in her barn. Seemed to me there was a double standard of some kind there but I sure didn't know what to do with it. if her fear was about ending up blog fodder she should have thought about her behavior. If she hadn't taken advantage, I wouldn't have anything bad to say. She has earned every word.
This trainer also sells horses just to sell them sometimes leaving people and particularly kids with horses way beyond their skills. When I confronted her about this practice she blamed it on her mother but the horse she sold Rachel was Crystal's doing and she did it behind my back knowing full well I would not approve. That mare was dangerous and when Rachel didn't make payments on time, Crystal implied she had only made this deal because Rachel was my Granddaughter. It had not dawned on me the woman had flipped her position like a fish out of water, twisting her words to suit her needs.
Unfortunately those kinds of things can be said about a lot of people in this industry. I guess that clouded my objectivity when looking for someone I could trust in this vulnerable situation.
Then I was also influenced by a couple of relationships we have in common. One is a lovely woman I have known for twenty years. She is as honest as the day is long and one of the most sincere women I have ever known. I value her friendship and she will always hold a special place in my heart.
My friend had known this woman since the trainer was a child where she and her family were next door neighbors. The mother was breeding spotted horses so my friend introduced them to half Arabians. Mostly she had always shown pinto circuit except when she showed 4H with no other than Angie Miller of Richard Galarza and Opus Arabians fame.... And yes I a being facetious but I can't deny the irony that two such manipulative women have been competing for their entire lives. Both are bad news for the industry because they feed on the most vulnerable..
The other frienshio we have in common is my farrier. He had done her horses for years and she had given he and his wife lessons that long. He is a great farrier and one of the good guys in the industry. He has not taken new clients as long as I have been on this farm.
He became my farrier because Rachel had Dandy at this trainer's barn, then Hope and Dare. He had agreed to do those horses because they were connected to Crystal. Their good manners had opened the door so when my regular farrier cancelled right before my event, this man volunteered to help me out. The manners of my horses caused him to volunteer should I need his services again.....neither of us has looked back. He is my full time farrier and a faithful friend.
My respect for him and both parties long standing relationship gave this trainer credibility with me. I had no way of knowing that the farrier and his wife were victims of hers because they hadn't discovered it yet themselves and my woman friend had stories too. I had assumed instead of asking questions.
I had shown horses to a couple of her clients the year before I got sick. Neither client had come to me through her but each had the horse shown at her facility. Nothing came of either showing. I was given explanations but I thought nothing of their legitimacy at the time.
This trainer had come to the hospital to visit once. Later I learned the person conveying the information about my illness had instructed her to come so it was not a gesture of friendship but more about appearances. Another piece of the puzzle not learned until afterwards.
More recently she had been to my farm just a couple weeks earlier in fact. The purpose of the visit was for a client to see two young stallions. The trainer insisted the timing of the visit could not be more conducive to my health so I had pushed beyond my limits to get it done despite the fact I was still under home care.
The trainer had also pressured me into dropping the price on those horses to accommodate this woman shopping for a national caliber western junior horse prospect on a grade horse budget. The trainer acted like this sale was a done deal. The woman just needed to choose which horse she preferred and timing was important so the woman could have the horse in the ring the following spring.
Nothing had come of this viewing but something about it was off to me. I couldn't put my finger on it so had no reason to think that visit was anything more than what the trainer had claimed. It was only much later when I would come to understand the subterfuge there.
Regardless of the red flags about this woman's character, I had not the forest for the trees. She had offered help so when this incident with Kelly Panowicz came up, I called Crystal Hornbuckle Baker asking if she would look at my horses.
Little did I know she would use this situation to further her own agenda. Her visits to my farm caused more harm and we were already reeling. In telling the dark story of this past two years, I would be amiss to skip over her part in it.
To be continued.....