Monday, April 12, 2010

The Lesson from Hell....

Last Thursday I managed to outrun the rain. Under ominous skies, my 45 minute drive from work ended at the lesson barn. The barn was one of those pre-manufactured barns. It was very clean and organized. The instructor was a very pretty young woman (around 30ish).

She greeted me mildly and showed me where I could sit my saddle. The she had me fill out a three page waiver. The first page was your standard waiver, the second asked for all of my health insurance info in addition to doctor's phone number and address. The third page asked for my date of birth, height, weight, if owned a horse, if so, for how long, how long I have been riding, my highest level of competition, and it felt like every other question in the world. It was a little extensive. I tacked up the 22 year old pony (ok, he may have been 15 hands) who was shedding like a demon (obviously) and the trainer promptly told me where I could find a broom to sweep up his hair.

Once I tacked him up, we headed to the arena. From there I spent the next 45 minutes feeling like a small child attempting to coerce her pony into moving forward. This entire time the only advice the trainer offered was... "more impulsion". Honey, if I could get this poor pony to move any faster, I would! We managed to pop over a few jumps (a monkey could have gotten this school master to jump, it was literally idiot proof... if you could keep him moving). I felt like a moron that I couldn't get this poor horse to move. Perhaps she hated me, or truly thought I was horrible, because I do not exaggerate when I tell you that I was offered ZERO feed back. It was the most expensive pony ride I have ever had! I wanted to cry, and in fact after I pulled out of the driveway, I did.

But my story is not quite over. After finishing our lesson (I assume it was done bc the instructor said "I guess thats enough" then walked out of the arena leaving me to walk the pony out), I went back in as was shown to the wash rack. I untacked and rinsed the pony off then asked which stall was his. I was then told to go ahead and hand graze him for a while before putting him up. Como Whaaat? Yep, I hand grazed the horse in the drizzling rain --that had started while I untacked-- for about 15 minutes before putting him back up. Then I was given a bottle of murphy's soap and a sponge to clean the bridle.

When I was done, I handed her a check and RAN to the nearest exit. After crying on my way out, I spent about 3.5 minutes contemplating my future with horses. I really left feeling that I was not worth this woman's time and that is why she offered no feedback or instruction. Then I called my best friend, Eva, and she helped me to realize that sometimes you don't jive with everyone. She mentioned that I am not in the best geographic region to find a trainer I love, and that perhaps I don't need a coach until Granite and I begin jumping. Granite has a trainer and yes, I will take lessons with her on how she is training Granite and how I can continue to bring him along, but I really hoped to find a coach that I could turn to for advice about my own abilities (or lack thereof).

As an aside about the lesson from hell, turns out the "pony" belongs to my beloved farrier. His daughter is also an instructor at that farm! And three days later, I learned that I am distantly related to this trainer by marriage. Haha-- what are the odds?

So, I am taking a moment to step back from the trainer search and re-group. I will get back at it later into the summer. Perhaps it just isnt for me right now...


  1. Things that make me go YAY!

    1. your my best friend/soulmate/other half (clarification- we are both very much straight. in case you ever read this eddie).

    2. no matter your setback, you find a way to make things work out in a way that is best for YOU

    3. you read/accumulate more knowledge about stuff than anyone I have ever met

    4. you are an amazing and very talented rider, no matter what you try and tell yourself

    5. you have a kick butt horse that could not be more perfect for you if you tried.

    breathe, relax, enjoy saving some money, and don't worry about a trainer. Good things will come to those who wait :)

  2. ^This my friends is why she is my bestest. Try finding a better friend. Actually, don't-- you'd only be wasting your time ;)

    <3 you E

  3. That does sound like a total DISASTER! What place doesn't have a horse ready to go for a first lesson, and what kind of lesson is repeating the same line over and over again. You live in the same town as my best friend and when I went to visit there was a dressage show somewhere near by the looked legit. Not only that, but you are in the same USDF region as me so I know that there are good trainers in NC because they come up and show and are amazing.
    See if any of these names ring a bell...
    okay so I know it is dressage. I don't want to get all DQ on you. I don't! The USDF has super high standards for people getting certified so I know that while they might not be the best, they at least know what they are talking about. Granite needs you to teach him and having a great trainer around to help you is only going to help him. I don't know what I would do without the support of my trainer. I think if nothing else it is work checking out.

  4. Wow, that is ridiculous! I can't believe she had you hand graze that Pony. It sounds like she (the trainer) is more accustomed to beginner riders, especially since she offered little to no feedback (take that as a compliment).

    I know exactly how that feels though. It is very hard as an experienced rider to find a trainer who can accomadate. Especially when you're riding school horses. I have had similar experiences and don't expect much in my upcoming foray into Dressage either (fingers are crossed).

    Hang in there though, once you start riding Granite, I'm sure a whole new world of trainers and training will open before you (the joys of riding your OWN horse, right?).

  5. First, it's wonderful that you have such a good friend! Eva is your sanity check and that's what you need at times like this.

    I think Eva has a point. Perhaps you don't need a coach until you and Granite learn to work together; really get to know each other and then start your search for the perfect instructor.

    It is really unfortunate that you had such a bad experience with this trainer (I had one that made me cry, too). How can someone call themselves an instructor when they offered no feedback?? Idiot. Don't let one insensitive person ruin it for you. Erase it from your memory banks!!

  6. Yay Eva!!

    The lesson is awful. I think I would have react the same way, and I'm not really a crier. Just remember, it's not you, it's her. It won't work and don't go back to her.

    Sheesh. I may live far away from any civilized English-type shows, but at least we have a passel of decent instructors.