Wednesday 7 December 2011

Exhibit #3 - Did I mention your horse and your saddle both suck?

And thus began 5 weeks of relentless reminders that... my horse sucked.

(Well, to be honest, it was not quite 5 weeks. I gave in and moved out about 2 weeks early, double parking my horse and paying board on 2 stalls.  LOSER!  Yep, that's me.  A place at a good hunter sales barn came available a bit early , so ...what the hell is another $300!  Sign me up.  I am outta here.

I sometimes wonder what proportion of the average boarding stable's income is made up of unused "30 day notices", where people could just not face another day at the establishment).

Each lesson consisted of 30 to 40 minutes of really good content (again - no complaints on the coaching here.  Except maybe that although Frau Trainerin did school everyone else's horse for them at least a little... she never again climbed aboard the Platypus, which was kind of a rip-off). This was then followed by at least 10 to 15 minutes of "why your horse sucks, and why you should try some of the wonderful beasts I have available, waiting here for you".

Now, surprisingly enough, I myself did not suck.  I had a LOT of potential and natural ability, that would be revealed... as soon as I got a horse... that didn't suck.

Time for the sigh.  Here.

And as she lectured me on the need for a new horse, I stared at her with some sort of expression that I hoped was ...uhhh.. neutral.  Let's say, something other than "The Scream".  Because that is how I felt.

Although her lips were moving, and I could hear some sort of external noise, in my head I was hearing this...."AAAAHHHH! AAAAAHHHH!  I know, I know, I KNOW!"

I KNOW that if I try this wonderful PSG horse, I will feel the difference between the Platypus and a "real" dressage horse built and bred for dressage (or I would fucking hope so at least, or there is something truly amiss here).

I KNOW that Suzie is overhorsed on her georgeous imported mount Wahnsinnige and would love to trade him in for something a little tamer.

I KNOW you know a guy, who has a horse, that has just flown in from Germany....


But I - JUST - DON'T - HAVE - THE - MONEY.  Do you see my horse?  Did you notice my trailer?  

"Vell, how much will you get ven you sell the Platypus?  $15,000?  $20,000?  You can probably negotiate a deal on Wahnsinnige, this will be a good start.."

I don't usually like to laugh directly in people's faces, and of course feared retribution in the form of some piece of heinous and humiliating tack or apparel that I would be forced to wear for the remainder of my stay at her barn, so I just said "uuhh...I don't think it will be quite that much". 

(I would be lucky to get enough to pay for the plane ticket for an import, let alone the horse itself).  

It was like she wanted to grab my ankle, and force me to kick all the tires in the barn.  Usually people don't want you test driving things you have no hope in hell of ever buying.  I can only assume that I am the one who was out to lunch here. That in fact, with enough pressure applied, many middle aged women totally lose their minds and do mortgage their houses and run out and buy ridiculously expensive horses they can't afford.  (If you are one of these women - call me - I have a nice horse to sell you right now!).  

And really, who am I to judge how she runs her business - obviously it is working for her, as she has a barn full of beautiful horses and owners willing to do exactly as she wishes. It has been suggested that I just don't get Germans - could be. I guess really I am the weirdo. 

Looking back, I was at fault for not steering the conversation to where I COULD probably start shopping.  For example, I should have asked what local breeders she knew of who were creating Canadian bred horses with hot Euro genetics - I know we have some good ones out there.  Or asked her what her hourly fee was for horse shopping with me, seeing as I have heard these wild rumours that there are horses for sale in OTHER barns as well.  But after a long day at work, and a long drive to the barn, and the realization that my dressage project was pretty much tanked for the time being, my brain would just shut down when the nagging discussion started.  I didn't feel like having any sort of debate, or hearing about how I was totally insane to buy a 2 year old as a dressage prospect, seeing as I had no clue what I was doing.

Sometimes we do what we do because there are not many better options, not because we think we really have a plan that makes sense.  Having her remind me of how futile my options probably were would have just been too depressing to deal with.

I also should have come back after taking the Platypus to his new barn, and taken that last 2 weeks worth of lessons  on some of the sales horse, just for the hell of it.  I paid for some awesome coaching and I walked away from it, which was stupid on my part.

But at the time, I really, really just wanted to get the hell out.


  1. Oh I can commiserate. I rode with a fantastic H/J coach and I got sick to death of hearing her say "This horse is no good, this horse is no good, your saddle is no good, buy a new one, buy a new one!". So I totally understand!

  2. Ha, ha...Good to hear (wait - should I say depressing to hear?) it is not just in the Dressage world!

  3. no, this is not just in the dressage world, it's everywhere in the crappy trainer that makes big commissions on sales of both new horse you purchase and the horse they help you sell world. It is a very common game in the western pleasure world as well.

  4. If I was in your shoes I would move to an eventing barn. *Most* have someone who can teach decent dressage, some have dressage experts (amazing talented experts) who can do the occasional clinic-style lesson and they don't do the 'breed bias' thing as much as the dressage barns (IME). I *love* my barn (after much bouncing around) and now that we have a dressage coach who competes up to PSG and has the patience/ability to school the non-dressagy dressage horses --> life has been awesome!

    Just a suggestion :-)

  5. A good suggestion. I think the other nice thing about an eventing barn if you want to really take an active part in the learning curve is that the students are bolder riders and so the training is structured accordingly - you are getting the help but doing the work yourself.*some* (generalizing here) hardcore dressage barns cater mainly to more timid "rusty stirrups" - trainer doing most of the riding and they don't have the time or patience for riders who want to learn to do by doing...

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