Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tempest in a teapot

A small storm erupted over the weekend on the busiest local Yahoo! group. As it happens, I inadvertently caused the uprorar by linking to another local persons' webpage. That page included some text which would lead reasonable people to conclude that yet another local person was somehow at fault for a horse having issues under saddle-and that the current owner rescued him from someone who turned out to be a local "trainer".

Follow that? I was mostly just surprised that the webpage made any mention of anyone else, even by business name. This is not ordinarily done up here, to place blame so clearly. The author of the webpage is a somewhat well respected local, very big on "everyone is welcome in the horse community" but who really means: Everyone is welcome who is my friend ;) She's been known to let fly at people (myself included) over imagined slights and misunderstandings, and is not above picking public fights with individuals, businesses, and even the state Quarter Horse organization.

We won't go there on her unproven (in the real show world) stallions of average lineage, or her untiring self promotion to the exclusion of anyone who does not jump on her bandwagon. But I do credit her with bringing to light, albeit incidentally, the qualifications of the trainer cited.

I was quite surprised to discover that this trainer has just four years of horse ownership. She charges $50 an hour for a lesson on her own horse, and $40 with your own. Oh my. Pretty steep for the quality of experience, judgement, and education you would be getting.

I have met this person myself three times. Once she bought hay from me. Although difficult to get in touch with, she did eventually show up-and told me about some of her rescue horses. I had no idea who she was, so I made a mental note that someone else up here was actively rescuing-you just never know when another resource may be needed, right? Next time I met up with her was this last fall, at a local tack swap. We chatted idly but she was not especially a friendly type, even though I was generous with my compliments on her items (truly, she is a crafty type, and I stand in complete awe of those folks who can do that stuff, lol) I listened as she chatted with another well known trainer and that is when I learned she was giving lessons at a local facility. She left the impression she has a full schedule and was the main trainer there.

Which leads me to the third time I met her. As it happens I have no name at this facility. I was there visiting and was checking the indoor for occupancy. I found her there, giving a lesson (or two, not sure-she had one person snaking a loead rope at a horse to get it to back up??) and so I watched. Without a welcome or an acknowledgement, she went on. I am pretty sure I asked about lessons as I am thinking of getting some for my own son.

After being ignored, I left.....and that's the extent of my interactions. Not much, and not enough to form a conclusion about training or instruction ability, really. When her name came up on the local group, I discovered her level of experience. To say I was surprised is putting it mildly.

She got very upset over the weekend when her qualifications were called into question, and uploaded a lengthy, emotional page about the subject horse. She then took down the entire website at some point. Ah well, it's too bad because giving the impression you are hiding your actions and activies does not leave a good impression with the locals. She had long since left the group, so of course only learned of this through members who funneled her emails. She had ample opportunity to rejoin, and defend herself, but chose not to. She also got other friends to come to her defense (which is fine!) but all in all, it was not handled in a mature, professional way.

Funny thing is, this little tempest in a teapot served as a great example of how *not* to react when questions are raised. I am pretty sure she will be reading this, as I did link my blog to the group the two mentions of trainers. Hopefully she will heed the points I have made, and move forward in a positive way-continuing to be active within the community.


blondetherapy said...

To correct 2 points:
1) I am a friend who posted in her support, and it was not requested by her in any way. I had not even discussed the topic with her prior to my post.

2)Her experience is longer than 4 years, she had a life with horses prior to moving to Alaska.

Have a good one!

suvalley said...

blondtherapy, you were not the only one to come to this persons' defense-and rightly so.

As far as her experience, I cannot say, and can only base any conclusion on what another poster said about the experience. Unfortunately, she did not rejoin HIN and clear the matter up herself. This is the first mention I have seen anywhere of more extensive experience-which is GREAT!

I have heard that the folks who are taking lessons are very happy with their progress. It's the word of mouth that will serve her quite well, I am sure.

Now if she could only work just a tad bit on how she comes across to people, lolol (meant in light heartedeness, ok?)