Blowing the Whistle

Last week things got a little exciting on the internet when a thread was posted on COTH about an individual’s personal experiences with a particular trainer. Threads like that aren’t too uncommon, but usually they’re vague and don’t name the trainer or give a lot of details about their supposed transgressions. This one, however, did just that, and provided a veritable laundry list of complaints and bad experiences. The poster even said she had evidence to back it up and had consulted an attorney.

I’d already seen the beginnings of this situation unfolding on facebook, since I’m friends with some of the other people involved. Knowing both the accuser and the accused (not well, but I’ve seen them both at shows), I didn’t find a lot of it too hard to believe. But of course I kind of gave it the ol’ “Well, it’s probably half true” eyeball, because that’s usually the case. Of course, even if only half of it was true, it was pretty mind-boggling.

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What I thought was really interesting though, complaints and situation aside, was the initial knee-jerk public response to the thread. A lot of people blamed the poster for putting her horses in that situation, or for not getting them out sooner, or called her a pot-stirrer. At one point someone even posted personal information about the poster’s occupation, which has absolutely zero bearing on the matter at hand. Initially, it sure looked a lot like bullying and victim-blaming instead of people trying to get genuine clarification on the situation.

This isn’t the first time that’s happened, and won’t be the last. For some reason that seems to be the MO of the internet in general, which seems to make a lot of people hesitant to say anything. When it comes to a client calling out a professional, the automatic assumption is pretty much always that the client is wrong… yet usually if you just ask the right questions, it’s pretty easy to get the gist of what really happened and where the fault my lie. While I certainly think that it’s 100% correct to meet stories like this with healthy skepticism and to do your own research before you cast judgment, it makes you think… is this why more people don’t speak out against well-known professionals?

9thbday3

Because the more that the thread went on, the more people came out of the woodwork with stories about this trainer (both on COTH and on the poster’s personal facebook page). At one point it was just nuts to see how many people had similar experiences but had been reluctant to speak up publicly. And of course, that was the point at which the tide began to turn in the COTH thread and people started to support to the poster, rather than attack her or point the finger (and the point at which several of the rudest comments from the first few pages magically went *poof*).

It was so interesting to watch this unfold, from a social and psychological aspect. On one hand, when you go so far as to publicly call out a professional, you have to be prepared for a lot of questions and some criticism, and rightly so. On the other hand, there was some downright bullying behavior from people who suddenly changed their tune later. A few people still criticized though, saying that they didn’t think making such a public display of their grievances was helpful.

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I absolutely do see the potential harm if someone is hurling false allegations, but I was really glad to see this poster be brave enough (and it’s sad that it DOES require bravery) to speak out and be unafraid to name names in the process. While I had already seen enough of the trainer’s methods at shows to never give her my business, this person’s experience plus the experiences of everyone else that subsequently came forward and shared similar stories really sealed the deal on staying as far away as possible. And now that all of it is out there for everyone to see and discuss, there’s no burying it. Will it actually have any impact on her business? Well… probably not really. I mean, people like Paul Valliere still do just fine (which is a whole ‘nother subject entirely – wtf, horse world?). But at least the information is out there now for anyone who may Google her name.

What are your thoughts on public “whistle blowing” like this against trainers and industry professionals? Do you think all of it should be kept behind closed doors, or do you think it’s important for the public to hear about these things? And, maybe more importantly – why do you think there tends to be such a mob mentality type of reaction with bullying and victim-shaming, rather than intelligent questions or concerns?

54 thoughts on “Blowing the Whistle

  1. While I was not in a situation where my horse was in any immediate danger, and was extremely well taken care of at the time- I too had a sort of whistle blower moment of my own. An outside trainer was coming to our barn that does not have its own trainer. Initially we all loved her- however as time progressed all of the boarders realized we were being taken advantage of. She was billing us for training rides that she wasn’t doing, and when she was confronted she wasn’t apoligetic at all. She actually thought that everything she was doing was right- and we were in the wrong for “asking too much of her”, when in reality all we wanted was our horses ridden one time a week. She left us all passive aggressive Christmas cards saying that we should get more compassion, and hopes that we become better people in the new year.

    I cant speak for any of the other boarders, however I know that I suspected things for a little too long, and I wish I had said something to her sooner. I brought the issue to the attention of the barn owner, and she was asked to leave. While my horse was in excellent care, the feeling of being taken advantage of weighed very heavily on me. It was super embarrassing to be taken to the cleaner , and I know how hard it can be to stand up for your self in situations like this.

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    1. This ^^^ it’s amazing to me how often trainers think it’s totally fine to bill for stuff they aren’t doing. Dishonest and honestly dangerous. For the people that have horses that might really need those rides or need to be in a more strict program it isn’t safe to lie about riding the horse. Ask me why I feel so strongly about this…

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      1. Had a similar experience – asked trainer to start putting a weekly ride on my horse at a time when he was getting increasingly resistant with me. Caught up with her between lessons on the first day she was supposed to ride him to ask how he had been. “Great – as usual, slow to get going but good once we got past that.” Asked her how she liked the saddle I had in on trial. ‘Oh, I rode in the dressage saddle instead.” Went to put something away and realized dressage saddle had no stirrups or leathers on it and realized I had just been lied to.

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    2. LOL, those Christmas cards! My husband tells everyone who will listen that all horse people are completely crazy, some more or less so than others. I can’t say that I disagree with him based on 25 years of riding. I just hope I fall on the less crazy side 😉

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  2. Wow, that’s pretty intense. I base a lot of the professionals I use (horse and non-horse related) off of reviews, so I am always thankful when people give their honest experiences. Especially in cases involving a horse’s safety, I can’t imagine keeping all of that hidden. I realize it takes a lot of guts to stand up and share your ugly experiences, but she could potentially be saving lives and that I think that’s absolutely worth it.

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  3. Well. That hour of comment-reading sure passed quickly.

    There are very few barns where I live and very few horsepeople. If people didn’t speak out on public forums, no one would know anything about questionable people/facilities. It’s hard to build up the networks to rely on word-of-mouth when there are so few mouths. I’ve had friends route strangers to me to ask questions about facilities because I’ve worked so hard to make those connections. So yeah, shout it from the rooftops.

    I think the most relevant comment I was the one stating “this is why it’s so hard for people to report rape.” Not the same, but culture has changed to protect the accused and blame the victim.

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  4. The most important thing to me is protecting my pony, so I’m glad that kind of information is out there. I try very hard not to put him in unsafe situations. Not just physically, but mentally. I am very picky about the trainers I work with with him. No matter how well a trainer works for me, if they don’t work for him, they have to go. So I love being able to do research beforehand so I can at least have an idea of what to expect before I take the pony to a trainer.

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  5. In the case of people actually being wronged, I see no problem with public whistle blowing, especially if some sort of abuse (to a person or an animal) is happening. Read it critically, sure, but for those who don’t know, it can help them avoid a whole lot of trouble. On the flip side, I’d heard some pretty nasty things about my trainer before I started riding under her, but I took it critically and found that none of it could be supported, plus there was plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise. As one moves up in the ranks, it becomes harder and harder to call them out, even when evidence is in plain sight.

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    1. I agree. There are some things that no one will ever agree on (especially teaching methods) that aren’t as big of a deal, versus something like negligence or abuse. Some allegations carry more weight than others.

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  6. To be honest, I don’t consider it whistle blowing. The professional runs a business. All businesses are open to reviews. We see this kind of stuff happen all the time with restaurants, bakeries, tech stores, etc…why not with professional barns? I had a trainer absolutely ruin my horse for two and a half years. When I finally got out of that mess, I spoke up about it to people I knew/newly met outside of the barn and they were all like: “Oh yeah. It’s a shitty place to be.” Imagine the grief I could have been spared if there were reliable reviews (not saying all reviews are reliable, but SOME would be nice – and finding reviews on trainers/barns is exceedingly difficult for some reason) on this professional in the first place? Instead, I went in ignorantly, with only the professional’s reassurances.

    Now, I absolutely abhor mob mentality on the internet (and in the relatively emotional horse world, it is bound to happen), so I haven’t publicly named this person or the barn, since the care of the horses was pretty decent (though the fact that my horse instantly destressed the moment he got out of there also said something imo), but if anyone asks me about the facility/training, I give my complete and honest review. It’s not bravery. It’s stepping up to make sure people don’t end up in the same situation I am in now – fixing a broken horse terrified of the bridle.

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    1. Well, “whistle blowing” is defined as “A whistleblower (also whistle-blower or whistle blower) is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within an organization that is either private or public.” So in that definition, then yes, publicly airing grievances is absolutely that. And IMO that’s a good thing… it’s a positive term, not a negative one at all. I agree that giving an opinion on a professional or a barn is much like a review. But I also think that, if we’re talking in terms of bravery, there is a big difference between only giving someone an opinion (usually in private) when asked, and coming forward to state it very publicly and open yourself up for all kinds of criticism. Exactly because of the mob mentality culture that you mentioned, especially on the internet.

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  7. We live in a world of victim blaming, and it is really sad. Just look at pretty much every rape case ever. There is a whole lot of victim blaming in each one. She was wearing a short skirt. She had been flirting earlier in the night. She drank too much. Why would any women want to report a rape when they are going to find themselves thrown under the bus?
    In this particular case I was pretty shocked to see so many people who at first called the OP a troll, didn’t believe her, and then accused her of not getting out sooner. She had five horses, and a couple that sounded special needs. Finding a boarding barn for one horse, especially this time of year, can be a struggle, let alone five or any with special needs. I know that from personal experience.
    I was also shocked that this professional’s attitude was well known in the area, and that she was actually bared from several facilities. The continued skepticism even after that was disclosed was a bit mind boggling.

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  8. Someone on the COTH post made the comment that there should be a version of Yelp for equestrians and I completely agree. Not every trainer is a fit for every rider, you must do your homework to find the right fit. The internet can really be a wonderful thing, but all humans are subject to falling into groupthink or mob mentality even when they aren’t actually in a room together. Plus the internet can give a sense of anonymity which some people are prone to exploiting. Caring for 1 horse or 30 horses is a big job. When one becomes a horse trainer or barn owner, you know you are subjecting yourself to hard work and oftentimes scrutiny from people who think they can do things better than you, but consistency with good care, honesty and kindness will outlast false rumors. The opposite will also eventually find it’s way to the vernacular. I know of a few horse trainers who have moved to different regions of the country trying to “escape” their (honestly earned) terrible reputations for bilking owners, killing horses for insurance money and other awful transgressions.

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    1. There is Rate My Horse PRO, but it’s only as good as the people who are willing to come forward (and to some extent – can prove it). So many just aren’t willing, because they’re scared of the backlash. It’s a shame really.

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    2. I mean, you can YELP (Yelp? yelp? I don’t even know) a horse trainer and/or their facility. I have read the yelp reviews on a local in my area who people I know personally have had good experiences with, but her yelp reviews do NOT reflect that. There is also the well-known (in psychology) fact that dissatisfied customers (and nutbags) are more likely to review you than satisfied customers, so everyone tends to look a little “bad” on these things.

      That being said, I think public reviews are incredibly useful. When I read through someone’s yelp reviews I can usually identify dissatisfied customers, crazies, and people with reasonable complaints. At my discretion I can then try the service or product. Then I didn’t go in blind, and I also don’t have anyone to blame but myself for not being “educated” enough before I decided something. (Though in my experience, most people tend to just blame others/the internet/anyone but themselves even when a bad decision was their fault.)

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  9. so this isn’t specific to ‘whistle blowing’ per se, but it’s in the same vein. i find it very interesting (and that’s not sarcasm or anything, it’s genuinely interesting to me) that many bloggers are careful to protect the privacy and anonymity of their trainers online. with caveats like ‘they didn’t ask to get publicized’ or ‘don’t judge them’ or whatever.

    my thoughts are…. they are a professional. they earn their living based on their credibility as a rider and trainer. by choosing to hang their shingle as such, they’re relinquishing their right to privacy as a rider and trainer. their actions as such are by definition more public bc that’s the ‘product’ they’re selling. it shouldn’t be a black box, or a mystery.

    whereas we amateur riders may be within our rights to ask for privacy or protections from the judgement of others, since we’re making no claims (financially speaking) about our skills or abilities.

    the connection to your story above is that, for some reason, we’re all fairly conditioned to protect the professional at the expense of the amateur. and i’m honestly not sure why that’s the case. we’re very quick to say, ‘well i don’t want to hurt their brand or their livelihood’ or whatever… but doesn’t their business exist bc we are customers? idk… i think the balance of responsibility is all wrong, personally.

    (*it’s worth noting that, yes i hide the identity of my regular trainers and their farms… but that has to do with protecting my own self so that it’s not immediately obvious where *i* might be on any given day of the week).

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  10. I was so glad she did that. I already knew that trainer was kicked out/evicted from multiple area barns, and banned from competing at many venues. But it was all word of mouth and if you didn’t know who to ask in DFW (as that OP didn’t, being new to Texas) you wouldn’t find that out. I hope that post gives many people pause before training with her.

    That trainer put out a call for “testamonials” to put on her webpage and I laughed, thinking “plenty of testamonials on COTH for your page… Oh wait, you want something positive?”

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  11. I’ve kept half an eye on the proceedings–I know nothing about the Texas or national professional event rider scene and I don’t have a dog in the fight in terms of my horse being at risk with this person.

    I live in a small community and I place a HIGH value on knowing a lot about the trainers within that community. I do my best to get along with everyone and I don’t spread rumors. HOWEVER, I definitely hold my own opinions on a lot of things and if I am asked for it, I will tactfully express it. I’m not going to launch a smear campaign and I don’t give specifics unless they are quantifiable, fact-based, and pretty egregious.

    If a certain trainer doesn’t work for myself or my horse, that’s not necessarily a mark against the trainer. If I trainer treats me or my horse poorly or a boarding facility crosses a line, that’s something else entirely.

    As for Emma’s comment on the anonymity of trainers used by other bloggers, I have mixed opinions on that. I keep mine quiet because A) I don’t want to give out my location via easily searchable internet posts 2) I trust this particular trainer for the issues I am addressing and I don’t need internet weirdos second guessing and attacking me (it’s… happened) and 3) just because this trainer works for me doesn’t mean this trainer works for everyone. I refuse to provide a space for trainer bashing.

    Ultimately, while I’m happy to share experiences in a personal conversation, I hesitate to attach my name to online complaints that get cataloged for posterity.

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    1. I don’t blame you for that… wouldn’t blame ANYONE for that. It’s not fun to get shat upon by a bunch of people online when you’re just trying to share an honest opinion. I think care issues are a little bit easier, because they’re pretty black or white. Training issues are tougher, because you’re right – what works for one might not work at all for another. That’s more subjective.

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  12. Admittedly, I had a similar knee jerk as many of the responders, questioning why on earth she stayed for so long with so many grievances piling up, some of which were pretty bad no matter how you look at it. But if you develop a relationship with a trainer over time feelings of loyalty can be difficult to overcome (as can ignorance, unfortunately). In this case, I think the OP had her fears confirmed once people started coming out of the woodwork to share equally horrifying stories about this trainer, but not every case is so one-sided, I guess? Maybe she thought after a complaint here and there, things would be addressed or corrected, maybe she was told one thing even though something different happened?

    Anyone coming out publicly against a trainer like this has balls, because typically the trainers have the advantage in this industry and speaking out against trainer seems really, really rare. I feel like I am more likely to hear stories about nightmare clients than nightmare trainers, honestly.

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    1. I had a lot of similar thoughts at first, until I started realizing some of the details of the situation and seeing that it may have not been so clear cut. Plus I know enough about the people involved to already have a pretty good idea of character. 😉 As for your last sentence, now that you’ve said that, I think you’re right. I can think of a lot more stories about nightmare clients than nightmare trainers. Maybe because there are just more of them, but also probably because people aren’t as afraid to speak out against an “average joe” versus a professional.

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  13. Holy crap… that thread was harrowing. As someone who has worked in the equine industry (as a poop shoveller mostly) and someone who has boarded a lot so much rings true about that post. I admire the OPs bravery and hope it will prevent some pain for other horses.

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    1. I’ve been on both sides of the industry as well and am totally with you on that! Some of the things that were offered as “defenses” to the allegations of care issues were jaw dropping. Once I saw that, it kind of sealed the deal on which side I was more likely to believe.

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  14. Oh my word I had NO clue about that trainer. In fact I rather liked her…holy….

    Anyways, I found some of the previous comments quite relatable and I can agree with aspects of almost all of them. Emma made a good point that if you’re a pro, you knowingly are putting yourself in the spotlight and should act accordingly. But I can also agree with Aimee, in keeping things hush hush on the blog. I ADORE my trainer, but my blog is mine and she didn’t ask to be on such a personal space. I curse, I can be crass….she doesn’t need her name attached to me for that reason. Though, I have made a point to give her and her farm positive reviews where it matters! But she stays off my blog because thats not her platform.

    What I can’t stand is when pros expect and demand people to only say good things about them and victimize the person who speaks out against shady or ill behavior. What are they, in high school? Stand up for your actions and make it right. Act like an ass, get portrayed as one.

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    1. It’s so hard to get a good gauge on a trainer, especially from afar. That’s kinda why I think stuff like this has a lot of value. Someone coming into the area would have no way of knowing who to avoid if we all kept mum.

      As far as the talking about current trainers on our blogs… I’m always on the fence on that one. I can see it both ways, for sure, and understand why people choose to stay silent, or not. Definitely a personal choice.

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  15. It’s freaking amazing what people will tolerate when it benefits them. I have seen subpar horsemanship frequently, but people either don’t know better, don’t want to know better, or look the other way because of what they get out of it. It baffles me. You can lay it all out and explain what a someone is doing wrong, legitimately ethically wrong, but it is just sour grapes to some people in the end. I think it boils down to horses matter to some people in our sport(the minority) , and they don’t matter to others. The horses just don’t come first.

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  16. I have had enough trainers treat me poorly that I will no longer keep quiet about it. If I have first had experience with someone and they take advantage of me, abuse their power, and then make me seem like the bad guy for having the guts to say something I’m not going to quietly walk away.

    That said I don’t usually post about specific people on my blog because I don’t want the crazies of the internet to misconstrue what I say and then berate me.

    I have had trainers that lied about training rides, had other people ride my horse, billed for other services they didn’t provide, and then various abuse. Which I confronted people about and was told that I was the crazy one. Please explain that to me…

    This is a really interesting topic and I hope that amateurs like us will speak up when appropriate about things. (Appropriate being when they are true/fact based)

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  17. I know out here we have fb pages set up to call out had trainer/ sellers/ breeders. It makes for some entertaining reading as some seems founded and some seems petty and vindictive. I’ve seen some Meth heads caught taking free horses and selling them for slaughter by the site. I’ve seen trainers caught roughing up horses in some pretty harsh ways. Even in our barn, I sure treasure my friends willing to tell me of my trainer let’s someone else ride my horse without asking, and I always do the same. We are supposed t be a group of people that have support each other and the animals we love, not protect a bad status quo.

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    1. Oh lord, I can only imagine the kind of characters a group like that could have lol. Totally agree that we should support each other and the horses, not protect someone who has continuously done wrong.

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  18. After losing an hour of my life reading through that thread last week, I was left with the impression that the OP’s intention was to (hopefully) save other horse owners from going through the hell she experienced. What better way to spread the word than the COTH, but jesus – the equestrogen on that forum…

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  19. That was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I agree with you on the points in your post. One thing I’ve never understood is why people who are so terrible to horses are in the horse industry? Is it really all about power and ego? I get why people who are terrible with people work with horses. I think a lot of us who are really into horses are not so great with people (cause or consequence, you decide!). But to make your living taking care of large animals that you…don’t actually care about? Especially in a sport like eventing, which has such stringent care and training requirements? That baffles me.

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  20. Having not yet dived into the thread, my initial thoughts are like what someone else mentioned about Yelp for horse stuff.

    Just like I’m not afraid to post a review stating that I got food poisoning and poor service at a restaurant, I think it’s totally fair to be open about care that is just plain negligent or dangerous, and even to some extent training practices that are unethical (Though that line can be blurry. I’m thinking specifically like wins derbies by drugging type of unethical I guess.). If we’re talking about providing a comprehensive and fair review, I think it’s even fair to mention particular training practices and the like that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, with the assumption that those are presented as facts, not as being particularly good or bad, simply because if there’s a particular method I know won’t work for my horse, I’d like to be aware of that before I waste everyone’s time if I were hunting for a trainer.

    But I do think that we have to be careful with what we say about trainers online and in person. The horse community is a strangely small one, and a bad reputation can stick with a trainer/rider for a long time, whether or not it is deserved. If the reputation is deserved that’s one thing, and hopefully could be reason enough for someone to changes their ways. I have also seen good trainers struggle because of one poor relationship with a client that spread rumors or shared a one off situation.

    So I guess the short version is I think it’s 100% fair to be honest about experiences and that there should be a good place for that. But the key word is honest.

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    1. I guess technically there are some sites with review features, but they’re so poorly utilized (seriously the horse world is the worst at the internet) that they really don’t serve their purpose well.

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  21. I read through about four pages of posts and got a pretty good picture of the situation. Maybe because I read it after the rudest posts had gone *poof* I didn’t think it was all that outrageous. My main issue here is that people hiding behind screen names on the internet feel free to say the nastiest things they would never say to a person face to face. A regional private FB group which calls out bad trainers, facilities, boarders, etc in my area is completely rabid in comparison to the COTH thread. So I think the more one comes in contact with these sorts of posts the more jaded one gets, and the situation just multiplies upon itself. I worked in the news industry for many years and have developed a degree of BS detection so I always read these she said/she said things looking for typical giveaways that one side or the other has gone off in the weeds. Unfortunately, internet threads being pursued by emotional folks who tend to take every piece of information as God’s honest truth–or, on the flip side, take it all as lies–are not very willing to investigate the gray areas in a sane, logical manner.

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    1. Yeah, unless you were following along pretty closely those first couple of days, you missed the worst of it. And the supporters from the other side of the fence don’t come in until later on in the thread. (Honestly, the testimony from the barn manager was what really did me in! YIKES)

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    1. Totally agree. However, to me, it’s not so much psychological control or victim shaming as it is legal ramifications. I have been extremely intrigued by all of this because I went through the exact same thing 3 years ago and this post is the first time I have said a word about it. I didn’t record or take pictures (unfortunately. Now I know better). I have a few vet bills that don’t prove much. I have witnesses (some who were hurt MUCH more than me) that will also not speak out. Individuals who will do these things to helpless animals will do much more and stop at nothing with a person that is fighting back.

      We need a way to speak out without backfire. But I also can’t think of a way to make that happen without also letting lies flourish if a situation was really just a personal discrepancy. Except get your phone out and take a picture!!
      I know I’m getting kinda tired of the horse world. So so sad.

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  22. I think we do need posts like this (or better-yet a big review site that us in the equestrian world actually utilize). When I got my current horse I had both moved states and I had never boarded before (always kept the horses at home). It is really hard to tell from a couple hours of talking with someone whether they seem legitimate or they’re just painting a pretty picture for you. It’s really hard when you don’t know a lot of equestrians in the area to get the “hush-hush” opinions.

    I ended up boarding at a place that seemed really nice on the surface but after six months I had moved (to a place that I really love!). I understand completely what took the OP so long to move as well. There was a long list of what I would consider fixable problems (like not listening to my care/handling instructions) at my barn that I was willing to work on with the BM. There was only one large injury (but horses are horses right?). Overtime I learned that the BM just wasn’t interested in anyone’s opinions but her own. I have only told immediate friends all of the reasons that I left because there were no “abusive” or “neglect” reasons. I don’t want to publicly drag her name down, but at the same time if someone asks for my opinion of her barn and management I will be honest (while still being tactful).

    Saddest part is that our horses suffer when people don’t speak up. Maybe I should? Maybe I shouldn’t? I sure as heck don’t want to be dragged down nor do I want to drag down someone’s livelihood (again especially since it wasn’t neglect or abuse–that’s a totally different story).

    I think the OP did the right thing in this case. Clearly people needed a place to put their grievances in a public place so that at least when people try to research they can.

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  23. Def Agree 100% that Trainers/Boarding Facilities could use a rating website. Mistakes happen of course, but the willingness to fix & come clean should be foremost, but ongoing issues it would def be helpful to know what you are getting into. It does seem like most equestrians keep their trainer/boarding issues to themselves. It’s sometimes hard to speak out, when you think maybe you are being high maintenance or when it does not seem like others are having the same problems. You are also putting that trainers/barn owners livelihood at stake when airing grievances, but something should be done to keep them accountable for their actions/lack thereof.

    While I can certainly sympathize with barn owners and trainers – I can only imagine how many high maintenance clients are out there – they are in the industry and know what expectations most regular horse owners require. I’ve found an amazing barn with reasonable board & fantastic amenities & have not had a problem in the year & half I’ve been there – so it’s def possible to find good barns.

    It’s alarming how many people posted about similar experiences. My old trainer would use peoples horse trailers without permission, use boarders horses for lessons/parades, take off property etc without the owners knowledge or permission, use boarders equipment without permission, hay would run out & she’d lie about it even when faced with pictures of empty hay barn & feed room, would lie about round bales being put out during winter months, would use beginner students to put in “training” rides on horses she told owners she was riding & charging them rides for, misrepresented sale horses, etc. Not to mention many other issues going on with other boarders, etc. Within the year almost 3/4 of that barn turned over & continues to have the same issues. It took 6 months on a wait list for me to leave & have found a great barn home. But there will always be new people to riding & town, parents who want cheap lessons, etc and that is how she stays in business. When I speak to people now, almost everyone has a comment about her reputation, but all say they feel it’s not their place to speak out. It’s a shame. I reviewed her business on Google but she gave the business a “glowing” review and had a few of her faithful “koolaid” drinkers also do the same. But at least is someone is doing their homework, they’ll see my review and be warned even if they still proceed to use her.

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  24. This poor woman. I would have flipped out if my horse drowned. I can’t believe the horrid responses. Obviously these people know very little about boarding horses. In my area we have few facilities. I moved my horse 4 times out of desperation (3 times in 8 months, twice in 1.5 months). Well each time it bit me in the ass. I was so desperate to move him from situation I just put him in another bad situation. Finding facilities that were decent meant I had to go on long wait lists. It got to the point that my parents were looking for property for me to put my horse on. Well, this is California. That’s a no go cause crappie land costs over $500,000. Mind you you still have to drill a well, build shelters, and run electricity. So we were looking out of state. I was getting so desperate I started looking into keeping him in Contra Costa or Oakland at Skyline (board is outrageous in both areas plus the drive and the $5 toll bridge😣). But my horse wasn’t getting fed until 11/noonish so I had to get up and feed him yet they didn’t deduct it from my board. My horse almost broke his leg when a hole swallowed it while I was lunging him in the round pen😨. I was having issues with my trainer flaking (2 lessons in 3 months). So while looking for a trainer to trailer to, I found a facility. Way out of my price range with the training. So I went home and figured out how many more hours I needed to work to make this happen. Moved him 2 weeks later cause luckily she had a few stalls left (they had just bought and remodeled the place so was able to get in, now she’s full). I haven’t been happier. I was able to take my first vacation in 3 years because I knew my horse would be taken care of. It is not easy finding a place for 1 horse in areas that are limited in horse facilities. It took me months to find a place and get my horse out. During those months, I was stressed, sick, tired because I knew he wasn’t safe but had little to no options. Luckily I didn’t lose him. He just became almost emaciated from the crappie hay (if they fed him). I couldn’t imagine having to move 7 horses. I can’t go out and see my boy everyday anymore because I have to work 10-12 hour days 3x a week to afford his home. But I don’t have to because he is safe.

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  25. My heart goes out to the people and horses’ tragedy that brought about the outing of this trainer. A freak accident and so so sad… In reading the threads, I stand beside so many of your comments as life lessons learned from both sides of the fence. And I am not perfect. still learning those danged lessons from the other side of the fence, too,

    Let’s talk about crazies – As a horse trainer, I have had to deal with my fair share of crazies… including recently calling out a client for lying on a dreamhorse ad… I did so privately and nicely, or so I thought – the fact that she is a wealthy individual should make no difference. BUT she tried to run roughshod over me and I didn’t take it. All because she left to go to a “high falluting” facility with a “high falluting” attitude. Clearly, my mistake in thinking her heart was right or could be taught “right” about the horses… it wasn’t… it was about her junior leaguer attitude. This all being said… do not cast every trainer into the bucket of poop this trainer deserves to be in…

    I DO WISH… MORE THAN ANYTHING FOR THE HORSE WORLD… parents had a way to vet a potential trainer/facility before allowing their CHILD to be put into harm’s way. As adults, we have to take some measure of responsibility. And should do our homework. But there is glamour and charisma and horses… and the horses… and our hearts. BUT as a PARENT, it is even more important to VET the trainer/facility. It is, however, all too easy for a “new” barn to crop up under a “new” name and attract unsuspecting parents with starry-eyed children and pocketbooks ready to be picked… Names changes through marriage seem to work – this individual who was suspended with USEF was allowed to rejoin under her new married name until resuspended. If you want to cheat, there is a way, hmmm? Two years ago, I contacted Groupon to report this horse trainer for fraud with lots of complaints on their “business” Fb page and they basically flipped me off. This same particular trainer also has a felony record… has lots of people in the business that won’t do business with them, yet somehow manages to recruit new and unsuspecting targets (through a very large church organization, too – IMO I think God is found daily and all previous day’s sins are cast out daily by this person finding God every morning.). Once the latest court action takes place, Rate My Horse Pro will once again “out” this person… Problem is that the danged court date keeps getting reset… so people are still being defrauded…And not my court case… btw

    So, as a horse trainer, trying to have that integrity… we DO need a way to take down or at least publicly out a trainer/facility or at least VET them – for the sake of our children, clients, horses, dogs… Rate My Horse Pro is a step in the right direction… just not enough…

    And how do you get the word out that parents need to do background checks on the people they will be leaving their children with!!!????!!!! EVERY PARENT does this!!! The barn is the best place to be for teaching social interaction, animal communication, responsibility, safety, etc. Social media still leaving a gap here… business opportunity in there somewhere? Me… I just want to go play with my ponies…

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