Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Can't see the forrest for the trees.

There is SO much that I need to write about but I just have not had the time to sit down and do it.  I have a few posts started but only time will tell when I can get to them all.  The order is going to be completely out of whack at this point but I am going to write out of chronological order not that it really matters.  Though I am sure some may be interested in hearing the story of me getting bucked off by Steady last week but for now it will have to wait.  Since this topic is circling around in my brain and I can't seem to shake it so I need to get it out.  I will divide the situation into parts.
This post is a doozy but it is kind of interesting.

The Opportunity:
I was introduced to a very nice woman last Saturday.  I knew very little about her except that she had horses and that she started giving my friends daughter riding lessons.  My friend wanted me to meet her so I decided to head over during her daughters lesson.  It was intersting because while I was there I met a nice mother and daughter  that the daughter had previously been in pony club.  The recently moved to the area and are very interested in joining Pony Club again.  So I gained a PC member.  Then through conversation the lady that owned the barn said that she would LOVE for me to come help her with her farm and in return I could use her indoor arena.  It would be nice to have a place to ride indoors.  Though the arena is very small.  Maybe 20x40 meters, so small.  We could do some light flat work in there.  Which if I had on my property would be awesome but to trailer to a few days a week I don't know how often I would utilize.  It is only about a 15 minute drive it has more to do with the amount of time and work it would be to load up my tack, hook up the trailer, load, drive, unload, ride, reload, drive, unload, unhook trailer and put my tack back away.  Would I really do that a few times a week to ride 20 meter circles?  I just don't know.  She also said I am welcome to give lessons at her place but as of right now I have no lesson kids.  So it is a nice opportunity and has potential to offer some benefits for me.  Only time will tell how much benefit though.

The Obstacles:
In return for using her facility she wants me to help her with her horses.  I have a had a few conversations with this very nice lady to try to gather what her experience with horses is and what her goals are with her farm/horses.  Here is my assesment.  She has 8 horses.  1 lesson/safe horse, 1 ooold pature pet, 1 green broke gelding(30 days saddle training), 1 said to be previously broke trail horse but has only been riding once in the last at least 3 years(most likely more) and that was a bad experience with said farm owner getting off in fear and never getting back on her, 1 untouched broodmare age 15+, a 1 yr old, a 2 yr old and a 3 yr old all unbroke.  And 3 of these horses are possibly in foal.  Nice lady, NL(what we will call her) purchased this farm along with many of these horses 2 1/2 years ago.  She came from a subdivision and having owned and boarded her own horse for a few years.  NL had a dream of having a farm and breeding, breaking and selling horses.  NL went to 2-3 Clinton Anderson clinics and felt she was ready to set on this dream of hers.  2 1/2 years in she has 8 horses none of whom she has been able to saddle train herself and is continuing to breed her mares.  I asked her what her goals were, if she wanted to sell any of these horses and her answer was, "well if someone that I knew and trusted wanted to buy one, though it would be very hard for me I would probably sell one".  In my mind that was a no she did not intend to sell any horses.  Her husband is fed up with it because he thought some of these horses would have moved along by now.  He even attended a Clinton Anderson clinic so that he could help out with this "training" thing to help move some horses.  I asked her what she wanted from me.  She said she wanted me to work with her horses and teach her along the way.  In return I am aloud to use her very small arena in any way I would like.

She is a very nice lady and I would love to be able to help out of the goodness of my heart but I just cannot for the life of me find a way that I am even breaking even in this deal.  So I am risking my neck working with young and old untrained horses alike in order to use this small indoor arena.  She is SO excited for me to come along side her and help her and I am quite sure that is because she is completely overwhelmed and wants for the life of her to make this all work.   If I was single with no need for a job sure that sound like it might work.  But I have 3 kids, work part time and my family expects me to feed them and keep the house so they can at least walk through it.  I have a full farm of my own and a horse that I keep in full time work and compete and a green haflinger of my own that I need to put more hours on for my kids.  I have 3 daughters that need regular lessons from me.  I am the leader of Pony Club and a 4-h club I mean the list goes on.  I don't pretend to be any more busy than anyone else in the world, all I am saying is MY PLATE IS FULL.

I can't help but feel there is some opportunity in there somewhere hidden under all the overwhelming mess that this NL has created.  Am I missing something?  I want to help her and intend to sit down with her and her husband and have a conversation about how their dreams are going to be lost of they don't focus their efforts and make some hard choices.  They can take it or leave it but I do feel I should at least offer my advice because she has made it very clear she so desperately wants my help.  I cannot help someone who is not willing to help themself.

The horses are all well cared for and well fed.  These folks are quite well off though the equine accumulation is starting to take it's toll on them.  They are well educated and very intellegent people.  I think they got just enough education on horses to be dangerous.

Yesterday I spent about 40 minutes with the "former trail horse" I was just working with her on the ground.  I wanted to get to know her a bit and see what she knew.  I have never been to a Clinton Anderson clinic but I have heard and seen many similar trainers and their methods.  There is a loooong list of names, everyone has their favorites.  But I don't have to know anything about Clinton Anderson to know what he teaches at his clinics that she attended just by working with this horse.  I think it is a safe guess that he shows you how to "round pen" a horse.  i.e. drive them in a circle using pressure then step in front of their half line and they turn to lock onto you then reverse and repeat.  Then he must instruct them to move the horses hind quarters.  Making sure the horse is always focused on you and as you move they must move their hindquarters away from you.  And then the clinic ends because time ran out.  Not because training was done and the horse is complete but because you can only teach so much at one time.  So I will let you guess the ONLY thing I could get this horse to do.  I mean 40 minutes using as many ways as I could to help this horse understand I wanted her to move her front feet I could NOT get anything except the hindquarters to spin.  She pivoted perfectly on her front foot but that is the only thing this horse knew how to do on the ground.  So in the 2 1/2 years NL has had to work with this horse that is all she has done with this horse.  I don't know Clinton but I would have to guess that he has many many steps beyond getting a horse to move it's hindquarters.  This mare was sweet and though she could not for the life of her figure out why I was not happy with her, she kept trying over and over but it was the only thing she knew how to do.  It had been so ingrained in her it is going to take a LOT to help her past it.  And this one of 8! and the one with the most experience.  How would I ever find time to even get through one of them but 8!  It is overwhelming for me I can't imagine how NL feels.  So give me your thoughts.  Any Clinton Anderson enthusiasts out there?  We need Clinton rehab over here.  Nothing against him I am sure it is great what he does but for someone to get a false sense of ability by attending a clinic is so sad.  Now there is this mess and she wants my help.  My help, yet no pay just use of her arena.  Did I mention it was small?


  1. I dunno. I don't really like the sounds of that situation. If you do have the time and desire, I would maybe pick ONE horse to concentrate on. They sound like sweet people, but over their head.

  2. My $0.02... ask her how much she would charge you to use her arena (per horse per ride). Tell her how much you are going to charge her to work with her horses (per hour or session). If you really want to use the arena, use it and pay her for using it. If she really wants your help with her horses, she can pay you as a professional for your knowledge and expertise. That way there's no feeling of "I've done more for her than she has for me" or whatever going on... it's just business.

  3. Aye no advice but good luck...

  4. If you don't even have enough time to sit down and write a few blog posts then I honestly don't think you can afford to spend time training other people's horses. I get "offers" like this quite frequently from trimming clients and their friends but I do not have the time, as much as I would like to help. Sounds like each of these horses requires at LEAST 5 hours per week work - I don't think you even have 2 hours spare a week, huh? That is my take on the situation.

    On the other hand, last winter I was taking Allie to the local indoor about 2-3 times a week to get her worked, plus paying $30 per ride! It is a full size arena though so was almost worth it. I just left all my tack in the car which was left hooked up to the float but you probably use your daily drive to tow.

  5. Run. Run far away.

    I'm not joking. But if you want to do this, I would have to agree with jenj. Best of luck!!

  6. Ya, just pay to use the arena. My god this is a nightmare situation, because number 1) Do you have liability insurance that will cover you training these horses? And 2) If you get hurt, and you probably will (not because of anything you do but I bet these horses are not safe thus her needing help so bad) you will be really bummed and possibly injured.

    It seems risky...I would just rent an arena somewhere if you can!

  7. I'm in the boat of 'the risk isn't worth it'. You seem to use the winter to rest and recharge. You certainly don't need to get hurt riding some dingbat broodie owned by an incompetent nutter for a few minutes of saddle time. :-/ Nice offer, but no.

  8. Good luck, I have to say I agree with the above comments. Pick one horse and work with that, or talk to her about what Jenj has said.

  9. Wow. I agree with all the cautionary comments! If you didn't have kids and a job it could be a good charity effort. Since that is not the case, it's probably someone else's charity effort.

    My heart goes out to those horses...they deserve a chance, but yeah, the risks here are huge. The *least* she could do is purchase a video series or book to absolutley follow through on the *whole* series with each of her horses in turn.

    I think that a tactful but honest conversation with her about needing to invest in a horse trainer who can work there several days a week rather than investing in another stud fee could be really helpful. I betcha hubby would go for that as a business plan.

  10. Oh my! Amy - you have a kind heart but it sounds like the risks way outnumber the benefits in that situation.

    Looking forward to seeing you and your daughter at Edinburgh in April!

  11. Sounds like a rough situation. Not sure I would take that opportunity and I do have the time since I'm currently only working part time and don't have a kid to take care of.

    As far as CA goes, I use a lot of his methods in my training but I really don't think it's something you can learn from one clinic. That's what I don't like about all of these natural horsemanship packages, including CA. They sell this idea that if you go to one clinic or read one book you can magically train your horse. That's not the case. *sigh* I feel bad when people get caught in this track because a lot of the methods are really helpful. Not all of them. And not all will work for all horses but I have had a lot of success. Anyway... that's my soapbox, I'll step down now. :)

  12. I would just pay to use the arena too... this lady should probably just get rid of her horses. :/

  13. Don't do it! After three years I finally just about had a nervous break and sold my horse after having a very similiar situation to you; kids, husband, pets, horse club leadership thrown on me, helping others in exchange for horse stuff. I couldn't do it anymore, I began resenting my horse, resenting everyone asking for my help. I hate the discipline I ride in two months after my hubby bought me a $2,000 saddle. I couldn't do it anymore. I even called a therapeutic riding center to donate my horse because I didn't want to deal prospective buyers. I'm realizing I was having a near nervouse breakdown and haven't gotten rid of my horse yet, I did move her where there is less drama, stopped helping everyone and have more time to focus on my family, but just take it from a very similar mom, don't do it!

  14. I don't think you even have 2 hours spare a week, huh? That is my take on the situation. Sell Rolex


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