Sunday, January 12, 2014

Life as a Non-Pro

Signs I'm truly retired from the horse biz and ready for my life as a non-pro:

I was dinking around in the arena yesterday with Kathy and her daughter Sarah. Two riders came in, new boarders I haven't met before. They were both women, about my age, and have a couple of sturdy, middle aged geldings.

Earlier in the day, I had overheard one talking about a trainer she admired.

"Watching her work a horse is like watching Parelli, or Anderson with a horse," she said.

"You're loving this aren't you," Sarah said.

I shrugged.

"At least she's working with somebody," I answered. I realized I meant it.

The women rode over, introduced themselves and we chatted a bit. They are friendly, want to trail ride and don't have a trailer. We offered to show them some local trails someday and went back to dinking. They are both green -- riding with hiking boots and spurs, nervous clenching hands, lots of sock showing, $20 bits and bright, poly fleece pads.

While I noticed and cataloged this stuff, my only thought was, Cool, somebody to trail ride with. I realized I meant it.

We were still dinking when another boarder came in the arena, leading her horse by the reins in one hand and the other firmly wrapped around another horse's bridle, just above the bit. The "other horse" was packing a very nervous, very green rider. The "other horse" was very green, very stiff and even more worried than her rider. She was lathered, jigging, and jerking her head in the air, trying to get away from the clenched hand holding her bridle.

I realized they had just come from the indoor the same moment I understood the boarder was giving this terrified, potentially explosive pair  a lesson.
The boarder rides pretty well.
Considering she has been riding for three years.
She has never taken a lesson.
She owns one horse, her first horse, a level-headed ranch gelding in his teens.
She did put in a lot of hours before she had her baby.

I noticed and cataloged this stuff too. I had a brief vision of the horse bolting towards ours, or spooking away from ours, or....

"I can't stay for this," I said to Kathy and Sarah.

We quietly left the arena as the boarder was trying to attach a longe line to the shank of the nervous horse's bit. Her client held her reins in a death grip. The horse half reared and twisted.

"Do you think they'll be okay?" Kathy asked.

"I don't know," I said.

It's not my barn, not my client, not my problem, I thought. I realized I meant it.





24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow. This comes across as terribly selfish on your part. So glad that other people or horses getting injured is not your problem anymore.

tailsfromprovence.com said...

Wow. Is that 1st (ANONYMOUS) commenter serious? You're not allowed to retire? You must always step in and offer advice, whether it's asked for or not?

People are strange.

--shakes head and walks away--

Anonymous said...


I hear you, Mugs. I remember the first time I drove past a car accident and didn't stop to offer help. Other people had stopped, cell phones were out, rush hour on a six lane highway....a job for people on the clock.

As for people who think that each time a more experienced person is duty bound to inflict their knowledge on others, they are either: a) judgmental, know it alls themselves who constantly put their noses where not welcome, or b) judgmental and have no experience of their own - otherwise they'd know what an ass-whuppin' one can take when giving unasked for advice.

Glad you are at that peaceful place where you can walk away. Otherwise, it just hurts too much. Amy in Ohio

mugwump said...

Wow anon. What would you do? Seriously. I'm interested.

Allison B said...

First of all, if you were not retired, would any of them pay your for your time? Second, no one asked for your help.
You did the same thing most other, regular boarders would do. Leave the situation so you or your horses don't get hurt and leave them to figure it out and hope they don't get hurt.

MichelleL said...

It has been a deep relief to realize that I am not responsible for the worlds problems on any level. I turned in my Super Mom cape a few years ago and consider myself a recovering "Fixer" - you know someone who is willing to "fix" other peoples problems in order to ignore their own.

I think you getting your flock out of Dodge was a smart move. You don't need to be witness to, or unwilling participant of, a pending train wreck.

Maybe Anon #1's cape is on a bit too tight but that is for her to work out. Some people figure it out quicker then others.

Cindy D. said...

Just because they board at the same barn as you does not make it your responsibility to help them. Especially since they did not come to you and say, "Hey we are having some trouble here, and we know you are very experienced, do you have any suggestions."

I think you did the right thing.

Scamp said...

First, not a trainer, retired or otherwise.

But... if the boarder involved either as the one leading or the one sitting on the green horse were also a friend, I'd probably say "you probably shouldn't do that." or "you really should get off the horse." and if they paid attention, that would be good. If they didn't, well I said my piece and then I'd either get out of the way or just keep an eye on the situation while on the other end of the ring, in an effort to not become part of the potential train wreck.

If they weren't friends or were people I'd only seen around a few times, then like you, I'd hold my tongue and simply get out of the way. Unsolicited opinions or offers of help often end up causing more problems - even or especially if what you said was right.

mugwump said...

Scamp- I am always available to my friends and former clients - for free and if they ask.
But friends don't always want to hear it either.
My responsibility to others was always a tightrope, but hey, there are some good stories that can come out of that, right?

Unknown said...

You're damned if you do and damned if you don't in some peoples eyes.

I'm not a professional but have been in your shoes...seeing a potential train wreck and just shaking my head, knowing that anything I could offer may or may not be taken in the spirit it was given.

I think you learned from that trailer loading experience where the lady got kicked and blamed you.

Jenghis

mugwump said...

jenghis - like!

maryka said...

When you get older you begin to realise that you can't solve the worlds problems & learn to go away & mind your own business . The first post comes across as totally pious & self righteous , Mugs has retired has said so & in English so which part is first poster not understanding ???

Anonymous said...

Yes that first response was out of line. As a life long non interferer, (I went in another direction for my professional life) I have seen to many instances where someone trying to help just got kicked in the rear.

Lana Pugh said...

Sometimes trying to be helpful just ends up in either:
1. Getting told off and go away.
2. They listen to what you say, get hurt anyway, and blame you for interfering.
3. They take your advice and everyone ends up okay.

Most of the time it's usually one or two that happen. I work in insurance and that seems to cloud my judgment most of the time now but unless they specifically ask for help I would steer clear (within reason.) The world we live in is so very quick to blame anyone else but ourselves and horseback riding being what it is I think sometimes it's best to just butt out.

Anonymous said...

Nine times out of 10, someone who "thinks" they are qualified to give a lesson, is not going to listen to anyone else, irregardless of how much MORE qualified the person offering the advice may be. In those cases, it is best to all involved to get out of the way and hope the student/rider/horse owner will figure out for themselves (before they get hurt) that their instructor/trainer isn't helping, and look elsewhere for assistance.

I've learned that most of the time, the owner is going to take the cheapest, easiest, simplest way out and damn whomever suggests otherwise. (Looks like xyz is wrong with her, you probably need to have the vet pull blood / shoot some x-rays / come immediately on Sunday afternoon). Nope, horse either heals or stands around another week until vet's already-scheduled call comes around. Whatever. Not my horse. Training issues, same thing. Feeling bad about the situation is one thing, being able to help is another.

gardenofgoodandevil said...

I support your decision to stay out of their bad decision. If you believe the saying that everyone is a horse trainer (in their own minds of course, and especially when things are going wrong), then how is this terrified newbie to know which horse trainer is right? I suspect she would go with her friend's advice and not that of this well meaning stranger who thrust her opinion on them. The advice, no matter how sound, will most likely not be well received. Besides, as a horse trainer, there's a lot to be said for giving horses and people room to make mistakes.

Terrorized TrailGuide said...

Anon: Who says they got injured? Maybe everything went totally fine and when they know her better they'll ask her for help as well? After all, how many of us learned this way? Or worse?

I learned my 'can't fix everything' lesson with boyfriends and when I was an RA. Contrary to my previous belief, taking care of everybody, all the time, is NOT my job. I do NOT have to make everything perfect and lordy is life simpler now! I was first responder certified so yes, I'm obligated to step in if something is really necessary and someone really needs my help. But I don't have to step in for every scraped knee or bruised bum. Same goes for riding advice- I don't have to take over everything whenever I see something wrong. I don't think I always know best in every situation just because I may have more experience than someone else.

I'm sure if something truly dangerous was going on, something that was an easy fix and due to a lack of knowledge, Mugs probably would have stepped in and said something. Otherwise, an occasional friendly tip or bit of advice may go over better than barging in and dominating the lesson.

Heidi the Hick said...

Eventually THIS is going to happen to me, because I've entered the new world of teaching (very part time) at a boarding stable. So far I've seen decently safe things going on in the arena even I could have suggested improvements. If I'm in the middle of a lesson there's no way I'm taking my attention off my riders to give unasked for advice. But it's already happened that after the lesson I've been asked. So I gave her 2 minutes and went to see how my riders were doing with untacking. I'm only four years into this job. Far from retired. I'm on the clock. I'm working on what I'll say if I run into a situation like the one you walked away from. I'm leaning towards being available if somebody wants my professional opinion but not making it my problem. I got enough problems and I'd prefer to be paid to solve them.

Heidi the Hick said...

Almost forgot what I wanted to say - good for you for enjoying retirement. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

if I ever say anything it starts out with this line. "This is only my humble opinion, but ......" That way if they take it with a grain of salt then its on them. Of course not a trainer but I do have that common sense thing that seems rare these days.

Whywudyabreedit said...

I doubt that the girl that was "giving a lesson" would have been open to any advise that would have prevented serious injury. Walking away in that situation was totally appropriate. In fact attempting to step in may have just made an already terribly volitile situation even worse.

I like your new responses to your horsey surroundings, sounds like you will be opening up your options to enjoy horses as a hobby! Good going =)

Snipe said...

I totally agree with your approach, Mugs. Offering help may have caused the stressed-out parties to get even more stressed, which wouldn't have helped. In any case, it wasn't your responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Last year I decided to leave the horse world after years as a barn manager and assistant trainer. I've spent years dealing with people who lack basic horse sense. Nothing feels better than being able to walk away with no obligations.

I was exhausted and burnt out after working at a barn 6-7 days a week. It wasn't the horses that drove me away(still miss them most days and hope to start riding again someday as an amateur), it was dealing with all the crazy s*** horse people come up with.

Anyway Mugs, I'm an occasional reader and longtime lurker. Had to comment since this post really resonates with how I'm feeling. Enjoy retirement! You've earned it.

Anonymous said...

I am not Anony 1, but I do think it might not have been out of line to ask "Do you need any help?". If they said no, then leave. However, if they said yes, then you may have saved a wreck.

Pro or not, I think we all have some responsibility to help others when we see trouble heading their way. If not for the people, then for the horse.

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