Friday, October 9, 2009

There's more to it than that

I was going to post a photo with this topic, but in delving into the legalities of the one I wished to use, because I choose not to cross any lines I shouldn't- no picture. SooOOoo, again, use your imagination folks.

Here on the blog, while I am addressing all of the grooming techniques and procedures a lot of people go through in preparation to showing their horse(s), there's a bit more to showing than just making the horse 'pretty'. There's more to winning than having the best looking horse in the ring. Boy is there ever more to it all, than just that...

Recently I attended a sport horse inspection across town, where, in the barn before things got started, we were discussing another person and their horse. The oh ever so proud owner, has been going on and on and on, to everyone and anyone who will listen, about how well the horse is (finally) doing. The others I was discussing things with, just knew there HAD to be more to the story, so they asked me to find out what I could and report back.

That was on a Sunday and by Monday afternoon, I had my 'dirt'. Yeah. Like that took any time at all? Oh Puhleeze!

The amazing thing in all of this though, is the great lengths people will go to, to brag about their own or their horses accomplishments---> when ALL of it can be checked out! SOMEWHERE... there are listings of year end standings, class placings, show results, breeding/pedigree verification, certifications, fines, suspensions and just about anything else, good, bad or indifferent, involved with showing. With the Internet- all of this information is easily accessible to anyone caring to look for it.

Taking it a step further- in some cases, people are using their placings, standings and the show results to promote themselves as trainers, their farm as grandiose producers and the results of it all as some pedestal on which they stand while the rest of us should be fawning over them and hailing to them as our leader. Yes, you are all excused for a few moments to go hurl...

What they are doing though, is tooting their own horn, blowing smoke and sunshine up everyone's ass and hoping nobody else reads into it from a realistic perspective and annihilates what they are projecting as 'reality'.

So here's the truth about the horse and owner I was asked to look into and what I found-
An unregistered mare, having been shown twice and winning her two classes with the 'trainer' riding her, not the owner. As the owner is claiming, the horse IS in the running for a year end high point award. Sounds impressive enough right?

Well then, let's take a step back into the real world and take a GOOD look at it all-
*insert drumroll please*
The horse has been in training for 4 years.
They 'won' training level- consisting of walking, trotting and halt.
They are listed as 'qualifiers' for the club high point, but so are 9 others.
The trainer is only listed as a qualifier for high point, with this ONE horse.
Their highest score? 56%

So with the trainer riding the horse, they couldn't do well enough to advance to the next level of dressage? Last I knew, three scores of 58% or better, was required to move up or advance to the next level. They are winning classes but not doing well enough to move on. How sad is that?

They might have won their classes, but with such low scores I have to wonder- Just how BAD were the others in their classes? How many others were IN their classes?

As C3D pointed out to me- the trainer is FEI certified... Doesn't say much for that level of certification either, now, does it? Also please note- this is a Dressage barn. Not a barn focusing on other things, such as jumping or hunters. No, the focus is emphasized solely on dressage.

This 'trainer' is listed as the 'assistant trainer' on their website. So digging further- the 'trainer' in that barn is also a qualifier for high point, but again -One horse. -First level. Again, bragging about scores in the low to mid 60's and a few topping out at 70%.

For comparison sake, I looked at a few of the other dressage barns listed for the state. On their websites, I found a few who did not post scores unless they were damn sure worth bragging about- which mid to high 70's and up certainly are! and found they were also commanding 'Sale Horse' prices of high 5 figures, ($65K, $75K) a couple 6 figures- and getting them. These trainers were also competing on various levels- Training, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and on up, on a number of different horses in each level as well... Now which barns do you think you are getting your money's worth at?

There are a few other 'issues' which are points of contention for me, but seeing as how I have been going on long enough, I'll turn it all over now for the rest of the things you find, which seems to be indicating either the judging is getting extremely tough and not tolerating ANYTHING, or that the level of some trainers is just so craptastic and speyshul- the whole discipline seems to be eroding away because of creatures like them.


  1. **I have to note here, that in my digging, I may have finally found a horse another poster has been searching for, for some time now, and if that is in fact him, he looks good and seems to be in good health and well cared for. HOORAY!

    His owner lives very close by a friend of mine and it hasn't been decided yet whether or not to make contact. HIS photo was the one I wanted to use.**

  2. PEEEEEEEIIIINNNNNGGGGG in my pants. The barn I was kicked out of (because I was an MissKnowitall Drama Queen) was tooting a 5 yr Holsteiner Mare for 35K the sales ad said she'd taken reserve champion in her last show. My knee jerk reaction was.."there must have only been 2 horses in the show" When I looked up the points...I was close. Champion on this H/J show had 45 pts. This mare had 20!!!! Next horse had 10..The mare got 20 pts in a GREEN class with 2 horses..her and another one. The other horse had points of 5! (Think baby explosion!)
    Oh yeah you can market the shit out of something..but look deeper. I just enabled a friend to get ANOTHER horse...(he was free and I love him) Notice..I ENABLED!! He's not coming to me. This friend has a really cute pinto. 16.1h built nice but has been sitting in the pasture for the last 3 yrs. She uses him in the occasionaly lesson. She wants 8K for him b/c he won BN eventing in '06. REFUSES to budge on the price. It's total insanity. I want to shake her b/c even if she'd to down to 5K I could have 3 people look at him..but not for 8K in this what does she do? Let me talk her into this TB and she bought another one this week also!
    It comes down to two things. Either they have money & land and no brains or common sense...or they have the brains and common sense (ME) but no money or land. If I had the funds there would be an awesome Clev.Bay/TB mare on her way to TX and FartyMarty would be on his way down. I miss rehabbing..but I've got to rehab my checking acct.

  3. Oh..Holstein mare...still at the place and all ads pulled b/c BO talked dumbarse teenager to leasing her for booooko bucks.
    Can you hear me banging my head CNJ??

  4. So is that like"My horse jumped out of his pasture ,so he must be a grande prix jumper"Nothing said about whether he can jump safely With a rider . Do the work , spend the time, EARN THE RESULT

  5. CNJ, you gotta tell me who it was, and I hope it wasn't who I'm thinking it was...

    C3D said:

    "It comes down to two things. Either they have money & land and no brains or common sense...or they have the brains and common sense (ME) but no money or land."

    You hit the nail on the head. Most of the rich people I know are completely ignorant when it comes to horses. Some of them learn the hard way after they've spent tons of money on crap and crap training, but most of them don't. And it amazes me how rich people think they can throw money in the faces of those of us who do know better but have no money and think they'll get results.

    I think you're also talking about one other thing here, and that is what I call the Rose Colored Glasses Factor. The RCGF is this: the buyer, who has no common sense nor experience with horses, falls in love with X when really they need Y. So of course they buy X, then spend all their time trying to find the right trainer for them while never progressing with their horse using the information the trainer DID give them. The right trainer, of course, is the one that kisses their ass and tells them what they want to hear, not what they NEED to hear. (Can you tell I just got "fired" from a family that was just like this?)

    Then there is the RCGF where the owner owns Y and needs to sell him, but because he is so amazing and special and I spent Z on him when I bought him, he is definitely worth more than when I bought him. He's older now and has more experience, I mean hey, he's worked with 10 different trainers! I don't ride him much but he's just so special AND he's a spotted palomino with a blanket and roaning, so he must be worth more than Z!

    Then there's the combo of the two. You should see the TWH "farm" out here who is selling off all their stock. They were in a serious car accident about five years ago that has left them both unable to work and on disability. They are trying to sell off their stock and have been for five years, which of course are THE MOST AMAZING TWHS OF ALL TIME - WE SEARCHED ALL OVER TN TO FIND THE PERFECT HORSES AND YOU WILL NEVER FIND ANYTING BETTER. They had a chestnut 16 hand broodmare for sale who had about 30 days of training for trail riding with a non-gaited horse trainer, but because her full sister was a Grand Champion, they priced her at 10K. Needless to say I saw she sold for less than $3500. But they dropped the price because it was such a good home--that's more important than the money they get.


    Okay, frustration out. Back to your regularly scheduled program.

  6. Kat- you know one of the parties taking lessons from the same barn as oh ever so proud owner... Funny thing- they only mention one of her horses.

    I forgot to include another wonderful tidbit into the discussion in the aisle. Another person heard that I live nearby another 'prominent' dressage barn. They asked if I train with them... Uh, no.

    When asked why not? I left them a bit puzzled when I mentioned I know someone who had been paying for training and lessons on their horse for 6 months and they could NOT get the horse to canter. (This one lives up near you.) I know the person who was called in to 'fix it' and in one lesson, he did. The woman had her horse cantering. Lesson two and three- they worked on canter depart transitions and nailed the leads every time. Which results would you rather have?

  7. FV- that would be like me saying my first horse, the crazy Arab gelding, would have made a GREAT barrel horse. He loved to run, he had the speed and turning pissed him off, so he would run faster. By the time you made it around the third barrel he would be just lit and flying.

    Yep, because we allllll want to ride a pissed off, psycho locomotive. Yippee!

  8. BLEAH. I'm not a big fan of clueless rich people!! They have fueled the horrid WP industry, and all manner of hateful training methods, because so many of those people think that because you throw $$$ at a problem, that problem will disappear. FAST.

    I have no problem with people paying trainers well. That's a GOOD thing. The BAD thing - is that FAST RESULTS thing.

    And on the flip side??? well, you hit it on the head. I've seen soooo many not-great trainers bilk nice well-off people, it's pathetic. Often this involves crossing all the professional boundaries, and said "trainer" ends up living in the clients' garage, or some such weirdness.

  9. CP- we have seen multiple sides of those fences you mention.

    Clueless people paying out the wazoo for substandard provisions.

    People sinking tons of borrowed money into purchasing a horse- OP owner.

    Trainers overcharging for their mediocre or missing talent, knowledge and skill.

    Barns catering to trainers, owners and buyers who they think have money...

    And then everyone bragging and exagerating the accomplishments to boost their image in they eyes of others, who most likely, often don't care.

    What we find the most hilarious part of all of this- it can always be checked out and people are repeatedly called out for their bullshit. Does it ever stop them? We all know the answer to that one...

  10. Yeah.... it always cracks me up when non-horsey acquaintances talks about so-and-so that they know, who's SUCH a big deal showing horses....

    And I'm thinking, Oh, THEM. Yeah, I saw them trit-trotting around at the 4H Open Shows....

  11. KP:I had to smile at your last post. Where I grew up riding; my Mom made sure we had the best trainers. Money was an option but we made it work. I babysat for half my lessons but safety and GOOD instruction was the most important. When I was helping a friend leave the barn we were at, I had found an Event trainer, had ridden at 4 star level, still had her 4 star horse from the 80's, taught a gamat of riders from beginners to semi-proffesional. she only charges $75/lesson. My friend was horrified at the cost..I didn't even blink.
    The place we'd left the BO nickle and dimed both of us. My friend had done a ton of free labor when setting up the place and still had a balance w/BO when we were kicked out. Ass trainer..oppps I mean Asst Trainer...had 2 horses and paid $500 month..that was it! I was paying more then that for Board and "Training". Yep...folks are messed up!

  12. And here I was going to start offering beginner lessons @ $20/hour to help support the horse someone is trying to give me.

    Really, that's about the going rate for around here, and I can send 'em on if they are interested in anything more. I just want people to get good basics and not hurt themselves or their horses.

    God, I've worked for Quakers too long. I've become my own mission-based business..... :P

  13. And the ammies who listen to the 'clueless rich' and think that 'clueless's' untrained, vicious, nasty horse is what a horse is supposed to look like are getting the shaft! There's a barn around here that manages to get ridiculous prices for horses, because after all the rich owners must be better judges of horse character than the poorer honest trainers...who just couldn't bring themselves to sink that low!

  14. Kestrel... I've seen that, too.

    It's why we have Fashionable Bloodlines.

    Wow, waaay back in Black Beauty, Anna Sewell got it right when she went off about how "fashion" can ruin a good horse..... and how utterly pointless it is.

    Anyway, it IS silly how grownups can be as easily influenced as middle schoolers when it comes to fads in training, riding, breeding.

  15. Whoa.

    I found this great quote in an article about Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer guy) in the NY Times today. He's talking about how he successfully deals with Hollywood bigwigs:

    "“They get into zones, all these powerful people,” Mr. Millan said. “And they give you 10 minutes to listen to you.” Of course, by this point, he was charging handsomely for his time — $10,000 to $100,000 for a private consultation, which he usually donates to his foundation.

    “What I learned about wealthy, wealthy, wealthy people is money talks. So you charge them a lot of money; you speak their language,” he says. “I don’t mind. I’m very happy with $100,000. Really. They really pay attention.”

    That second paragraph kind of says it all, doesn't it?

    Also, he points out earlier in the article that "humans are the only animals who will follow unstable pack leaders.”

  16. In discussing a few things with one of the 'seekers' over the weekend I thought of another thing involving this topic.

    Ths barn is boasting scores of blah, blah, blah, while the other barn is posting brag worthy scores on the same level of classes. So which shows are these people going to? Schooling shows? Rated shows?

    Which leads to another couple of points, involving another client of ours.

    She was informing me of one of her horses' show records once. A registered, 8 y/o gelding. She was expressing her interest in further adding to it. Easy enough.

    Checking into his show record I found he had been shown on the 'A' rated level as a 3 & 4 y/o, 7-8 shows, placings of 2nd out of 4, 2nd of 3, 3rd of 4 and so on. The horse did indeed have a show record, but not one worth bragging about.

    Now there were several things to be taken into consideration in this case. Not having seen the horse in the ring, knowing who rode the horse in the classes, who trained the horse or which classes he had been shown in, there are a number of variable factors which may explain the placings or lead to more questions about them.

    This person also had taken a few dressage lessons at the neighboring barn, where she was told- "Your legs are too quiet." Not words I would ever expect to hear coming from a dressage barn, would you? That's probably one of the biggest issues a lot of riders may have at some point in their riding- trying to 'quiet' their legs, minimize their movement, add subtleness to the cues.

    As far as the smoke blowing sunshine folks, they prey on the naive. The rest of us who are willing to put the time in to reading up on things, ask questions, wait and see, do a bit of digging and sniff out the 'fishy' smelling folks... well we usually find what we are looking for and have no problem with paying a fair price for their willingness to share years of experience and knowledge. Thank you! to those who possess it and are willing to pass it along to us.

  17. Holy Shit Catty!!! You cracked the code and solved the riddle for me.
    About why they have slowed down the WP horses to the point of ridiculous.
    The mannequins...ooops...I mean rich people would fall off if they went any faster.
    There it was staring me in the face all of this time and it just escaped me.
    And then BAM!!!
    Thank you...

    CnJ I thought SFTS lived in CA?

  18. Dena- Must you go and channel the negativity by mentioning the TT's screen name here? I know, sometimes you must. LMAO!

    Sad to say they are all around. Here, there, everywhere. Too bad they can't all be sent back to their own islands. Sans the horses of course.

  19. But CnJ if they were all on an island somewhere who would supply all of the bullshit necessary to well...all of the bullshit!?!

    Pounds chest and roars I am a trainer!!!
    I do not care what the drawrein and full bridle people with the Breyer collections say damn it!

    Did I is a highly guarded secret so shhhh...I was told that I am a contender for the narcissistic year end highpoint for the fantasy futurities???
    It is very confidential.
    Unfortunately, I do not think I will win.
    Way too much crazy to go around and only one trophy.*sigh*

    Personal pet peeve? Supposedly professional trainers going to dinky club shows.
    Let the ammys have their chance.

    Yes, my winter smartass is coming on early this

  20. Awww Dena, there is one trainer here who takes his horses to the schooling shows, leads, lunges and rides them around, but as soon as classes start- they are all loaded up and leaving! WTF?

  21. Cesar Milan is a Mexican miracle.
    Really. A lot of what he says applies to just about everything, animal training wise. Smart guy. Helped immeasurably with my dogs.
    He's like the Sally Swift of Dog training:):):)
    Which is really people training.

    Oh, hell, I have no opinion on the show world other than to laugh, yeah, that does make sense, Dena.
    Slow 'em down enough, anybody can ride 'em!
    Keep their heads low, so they give up caring where they are going..

    I hadn't thought of that. I wish Dena hadn't thought of that:(

    To Freely Forward Moving Horses.

    CNJ, what have you done with JR? Is he designated twin-herder these days?
    I left a blog on JR's forum, then it confuzled me.
    BIG surprise, huh?

  22. I'm hijacking this blog!!! So we are all horse owner for a LONG time. My big toe nail keeps breaking in the same spot at the same point. It's driving me crazy and a light bulb went off. How many of our horses hooves wear break etc in the same places? "E" would go dead lame if you did NOT trim him to toe out in the back. Trim him to toe out and he's beautimous..trim him to look pretty and he's off in the hind and sore backed.
    Our old 26 yr old will NOT walk on rocks or light colored ground if he doesn't have shoes on the front. Been that way since 3 yr old.
    What does your crazy ponies have as "quirks"

  23. C3D- put the rasp down... How did you know I was thinking to take this down to that level next? I am just waiting for a reply from the Natural Angle about a product I found above one of the many ads you send me.

  24. UGH....great (snicker) minds. UGH....shit I can't bend over to grab a rasp! Plus the farriers (or is it furriers...or ferriers???) take the friggin heel off here! Drives me crazy. I look at these feet and cringe (not my feet smart ass..the horses) I found one good farrier and I'll stick with her

  25. I rode a neurotic horse last week.

    The girls at the barn were all like "we thought you'd be good with him, just don't mess with his mouth."

    He totally reminds me of a coworker I've got: good at what he does, but SO anxious to do the right thing - he needs muchly much external validation and personal affirmation. ; )

    Too bad he was slightly off that day - so we just walked big and small circles, I worked on straight lines, and we conquered the monster in the corner of the arena.

    My dog was a basket case when we first adopted her. She wouldn't go from room to room because the carpet changed color. She won't jump over an Xbox cable 2" off the floor, though she'll gladly pop over 18" on the agility course. Plastic bags are AGENTS OF DEATH.

    I could build her a fence of pencils & dental floss and she'd stay in it....

  26. "there is one trainer here who takes his horses to the schooling shows, leads, lunges and rides them around, but as soon as classes start- they are all loaded up and leaving! WTF?"

    Great way to get them used to the sights & sounds of the show - without taking the ribbons away from the ammies!

    Ruthie, sleepily

  27. LMAO! The barn I left went to a show last weekend. The kids where all FaceBooking about how they got reserve! Ummm...Let's see...there were only 2 ponies in the pony class that you got "Reserve" how effing hard is that? Jumpers...only 3 and one of your barn-mates gets Champion in her hard is it to get Reserve out of 3 horses????
    Just makes me shake my can you even hold your head up and brag about it? It's ADULT LEAD LINE CLASSES!!!

  28. HNDL- I wish that was all there was to it, but sadly, it's not. I don't have a problem with trainers taking green horses to schooling shows and entering maiden horse or novice horse classes, no problems with them entering the open classes either. Anything can happen and it usually does for sure!

    It's a good way to get the horse used to the PA system, being asked for different gaits and transitions, etc. They also get to deal with the other horses being in the ring and just behaving no matter where you are.

    But this guy is not anyone most would worry about competing against. Their horses aren't any better than anyone elses. No, they load and leave to keep from being beaten by others they may view as inferior competition.

  29. Yeah. That sux. Happens in dog shows, too.

    Grumpily, Ruthie