Sunday, April 5, 2015

To Spook or Not to Spook, That is the Question 2

When she pulled in the following week I was at the far end of the arena, visiting with K while I aired up a barely broke youngster.

"Well, check it out," I said, "not only did she show up, but she's an hour early."

"Maybe she's a keeper," K said.

"She's gonna need to dig deep this is one hot mess." I walked the tired baby in a slow zig-zag back to the tie rail. I held my rein high and wide until I felt him step under my hand, then released and moved to the other rein.

I hollered a hello and got a cheerful wave from my student. I kept half an eye while I saddled my next horse. The student went through pretty much the same routine as the week before. Her horse was every bit as skittery. I got another one loped while she played show and tell with her gelding, petting him and talking softly every time he spooked. The paint was in a great mood, he pulled her here and there, grabbed at grass, snorted and raced around her at the end of his rope, tail flagged and head in the air.

By the time she headed to the round pen I was able to saddle something a little more broke than the last few. I rode through the indoor and slid the back door open. My student stood two fences over, in the middle of the pen, clutching her longe whip while her horse trotted around her. The paint spooked at the sound of the arena door and cut kitty corner, almost stomped my student and then swapped ends with a fart and a buck.

He slid to a stop, got his head over the top rail and nickered at my horse while I worked my way through the gates. Student put her game face on, hit the whip on the ground and got him going again, but now he wanted to visit. He'd trot off for half a loop, then cut across, each time close enough to make her step back. Then he stood at the fence and sweet-talked my horse some more.

"He was doing better before you scared him," Student said.

"With the door or my horse?" I asked.

She didn't have an answer, so I assumed it was both.

"Can I show you something?" I  tried again.

"Sure." Student looked relieved.

I dismounted and motioned her out of the pen. She came out and took my horse's rein.
"Go ahead and sit on her."

Student flashed the whites  of her eyes at me, but stepped up onto the horse. She picked up the reins in nervous hands and the mare started to back. A look of horror crossed her face and she began to try to reel in the eight foot reins by the handful.

The mare was backing in a circle now, in response to a cranked left rein, and began snapping her tail. Student turned purple trying not to scream.

"Let loose of the horse," I said.

Student looked at me glassy eyed as the mare bumped into the fence and began backing her way into the cow pen.

"Let your reins loose," I said.

Student grabbed up some of the slack in the right rein.

The mare sighed and stopped, her head yanked to the side, snaffle run through her mouth and all. She rolled an eye at me.

"Let go of your reins," That mare was a saint.

"She'll bolt again."

"Um, well, she didn't bolt, she thought she was doing what you wanted."

"I didn't do anything!"

"...and as soon as she sorted that out, she stopped, now let go of her head."

Student finally released the mare. I stepped to her head, got her bit straight, loosened up her reins, crossed them over nice and flat and handed them back to Student.The mare dropped her head and cocked a hip.

"Leave her reins alone, she won't go anywhere or do anything. It would be better for you to let them lay on her neck and cross your arms than fidget with them. Can I get in with your horse now, will you be all right?"

"Yes, I'll be fine, why do you people use these long reins?"

Since I had lost the habit of answering any question that began with "you people," I went ahead and climbed the fence into the pen. I grabbed a halter and lead off the fence, walked to the middle and threw the whip over the fence. The gelding spooked and started to run around me.

I spent a few minutes making him stop and turn by holding onto the lead rope and chucking the halter at his shoulder.

"Now watch me, look where I'm throwing the halter."

The gelding came off the fence and veered towards me. As he passed I hit him with the halter and lead rope as hard as I could. Student screamed, gelding got his ass back on the rail.

I let the gelding rest. At first he watched me, then, he started looking around.

"He's looking for trouble," I said.

"He's not doing anything," Student answered.

"He's quit wondering what I'm going to do and is looking for something more interesting. So I'm going to get his attention back."

I raised my hand with the halter and he trotted off two solid strides and then cut loose with a buck and a jump. I tossed the halter again and whapped him on the rear, sending him out at a run.

I chased him around a few times, stopped and turned him and then stopped again.

"I didn't intend to spend the day roundpenning your horse. Come in here and practice what I was doing. Yes, you can use your whip, but be aware of where that tip is pointed. I've got to switch horses, when I get back I'll show you what we needed to get done today.


  1. Pity this didn't happen on day 1 of the lesson. Was there some purpose in leaving this to day 2?

  2. Snarky comments not appreciated, nor needed here by anyone, author or readers. Ask questions politely, or read along as it is written, and you'll learn a lot. Tis good to mull each installment over in your head along the way. This blog teaches a whole heck of a lot about horses, dogs, and 2 legged animals.
    Personally I get excited everytime I see a new posting!

  3. Anon, it sounds like you need to go for a long walk. Better yet, take a hike.

  4. I meant 1st anon, the 2nd hadn't been posted yet. I agree with you #2.

  5. Big rescue needed for this story -- suggest something like ---- student becomes famous rider -- sends MUGS a letter thanking her for being able to sense so quickly that she was in need of a swift kick in the butt, rather than gentle help.

  6. Some people (and horses) need to realize that what they are doing doesn't work before they are open to the idea of doing something else. It is my hunch that this is what Mugs was getting after on Day 1. Getting to the lesson is step one, but until someone asks for help anything you offer is likely to be received as unwelcome.

    I've also seen situations where the owner calls the trainer up with "oh, I'd like to work on our lope departs" or something and neglects to mention her horse is a hot mess, and there is a lot more to work on.

  7. Why of why do we have so many anons?

  8. Im an Anon because I always forget my stupid passwords. This is the first time posting, but I'm a daily lurker.

    I am very confident with horses on the ground. My personal girls (Arabs) have excellent manners one is a 20yr old ex lesson and show horse (ive had her 15yrs) the other is a 10yr old spoiled future show horse ( ive had her 2 yrs she had to gain some weight and then a highly recommend local trainer was just taking my money and letting her sit, she's now with my good friend who's a national quality arab rider. Unfortunately this friend is having a rotator cuff issue )

    Anyways I have no issues on the ground or driving, and have been training carriage horses for 10yrs. I would've done something very similar to what Mugs did in the round pen.

    BUT.... I am that girl on the horse. I would've been in the fetal position freaking out. I used to be so eager to ride anything. Now that I'm older I am so afraid of getting hurt and not being able to work and pay bills. I'm only confident on my older mare. Recently I expressed this to my trainer friend and she asked why I still wanted to be in horses.

    So how do you regain or gain confidence riding?

    Non-Anon Hannah

  9. I also keep forgetting my password and just get to lazy so post anon.

    This was the first blog post I ever read on Mugwump Chronicles. It was way back in 2008.

    That particular post and others that followed just stole my heart. What an amazingly kind trainer who cares for and understands horses and is also such an amazing instructor .

    I hung on to every well thought out blog post and wished I too had a chance to take a real life lesson from Mugs.

    This blog was also a refreshing contrast to the sarcastic fugly blog.

    Times have sadly sure changed. I never thought I would hear Mugs call a poster a "hater" or describe a lesson like the one in the previous post. Nor that there would no longer be an openness to other points of view.

    I seriously thought the previous blog post was really an April Fools joke (similar to the one years ago about a mechanical horse outside KMart). I assumed this couldn't be a real post describing a real lesson given by anyone.

    But I guess it is.

    I'm going back to read the old posts. I'm just missing the old days :(

  10. I think it's important to read the actual post, and not what people are saying about the post. The last one took me by surprise, too, until I went back and reread it. I did find myself disagreeing with the direction some of the comments seemed to be heading, which is why I spoke up.

    There seems to be a point in this series about how Mugs didn't step in immediately - from a writer's perspective, that actually seems to be the focus of the story more so than the rider's fear or the ill behavior of the horse. I could be wrong, though. I'm going to reserve judgement until I finish the series.

  11. Loving this! I agree with Pishkeen, one step/lesson at a time. Good to see that you have found some time and energy to write about teaching days =)


  12. Anon. When Peg brought her mare to me, she started with a gentle admonishment.
    "I've worked really hard with Uma. We're developing a bond."
    "Afraid I'm going to screw her up?"
    "It's just that we've progressed really far. We're building a lot of trust."
    "She'll be fine."
    Peg looked anxious.
    I looked crabby.
    Peg went home. - July 2 2008
    The next thing I noticed is that every single one of these places had a NH trainer running it.
    Is a fru fru name a certification requirement?
    I truly don't get it.
    I'm not judging, I swear. I'm just saying.
    I don't have a flyer. I've thought about it. I'm more of a "That gal over the hill rides. I like the job she did on my colt." kind of trainer. june 17 -2008
    I know I push myself, and my students pretty hard with my expectations. I lost a potentially very big money client this year. I did it by challenging their motivation for owning a horse at all. Now another trainer has them that is better at making them feel good about what they're doing.
    I could rant about the injustice of them not listening to me, or be angry at the clients for going where they can hear what they want to hear. I could be mad at the other trainer for playing their game.
    Instead I'm evaluating what makes a person a good horse owner. I'm evaluating whether my standards are actually serving the horses, or my ego.May 21 2008 (Do you think I was kind and gentle when I talked to those clients? Mugs)
    And last but not least...Want to get me going?
    Stand there clucking, smooching, and calling a horse by it's name over and over and over, and over yet again while I am trying to get it to accept a halter that it doesn't want.
    Do you not understand that you are not only in the way, but you're agitating the mare and turning what should be a two minute lesson in getting her halter on into a highly stressfull potential train wreck?
    Did I mention you don't need to stick your hands between the rails and wave them around either?
    OK, I'm better.
    I have no problem with ignorance. I understand the knee jerk reflex that makes all of us want to jump up and down and say "I know! I know!" when we are around somebody that knows more than us.
    But if you are a true horse person the first thing you need to learn is to shut the hell up.
    If somebody with more experience than you is working a horse, watch and learn. Ask questions after they're done.
    If you don't agree ask more questions.
    Did I mention shut the hell up? April 16 2008

  13. Mugwump- I really don't know what you are saying or what point you are trying to make with the above post.

    Let's just say you were once my Ray Hunt, my Tom Dorrance, my go-to thoughtful horse trainer.

    Until these past couple days I guess I really didn't know you. Or else you've just changed so much I barely recognize you.

    The weird irony of the whole thing is that I thought so much of you I truly thought this whole thing was an April fools joke. I couldn't believe you would actually treat a student in such obvious trouble who was trying so hard in that harsh way. I was actually expecting a "you got me" or (if the story was true) a "hang on a bit -- things aren't always what they seem - stay tuned" from you.

    But instead you say I'm "hating" (nothing is further from the truth and I think I've made that clear). Like I said you were my modern day horse genius - of the Ray Hunt line, and yippee a woman too!

    Like I said I'll just keep re-reading the old stuff you used to write and the old comments you used to make in the blog ages ago, when you were a less defensive, more thoughtful version of yourself.

    You seem to have a big Chip on your shoulder. You are seeing hate & other bad things where they don't exist.

    Sadly I don't really care either how this particular story ends.


  14. Last time I go here anon...
    I showed you quotes from my earliest posts, proving--easily-- that I'm not patient,and I have little tolerance for fools, at least the human kind.
    I do have endless patience with horses.
    I also skimmed through those early posts, I rarely wrote about my clients. I wrote about what I did with their horses and how I dealt with the problems they came in with. That's all. I am not a female Ray Hunt, never ever wanted to promote myself that way. I will, however, cop to one similarity. Ray could be an impatient, irritable, cranky man. I saw a woman who began a clinic with hero-worship in her eyes and left, by Ray's extremely pointed suggestion, in tears. I watched him shame a young cowboy for talking to him like he was already a trainer. He went through everything that was wrong with the kid, from his hands, to his seat, to his saddle, and the way he wore his pants. Both of these situations were discussed in front of the clinic and observers, over a microphone. It wasn't pretty.
    Even I haven't gone that far. Our communication is done. But Ray could, because, well, he was Ray.I'm paying way too much attention to you, when I need to be be visiting with the people who are actually reading and thinking. We are done.

  15. Whatever - like I said - I no longer care

  16. Rocks, I'm throwing rocks, tra-la-la.

  17. If you saw this woman come into a doctor's office for an appointment and she had a badly behaved toddler that she coaxed and cajoled and otherwise pandered to, and they missed their appointment because the woman couldn't get her shit together, even when the nurses made helpful queries to move them in the right direction, no one would be outraged that this woman missed her appointment, because everyone agrees that professionals don't have time for that shit.

    Mugs is clearly a professional, and there's no way on earth I would expect an instructor to put up with me and my shit if I ate up all my lesson time faffing about with my horse and I wouldn't accept help to speed things along.

  18. Just to break the tension...I've been leaning against the tack room wall and watching all this.
    I was wondering if any of you counted how many horses were being ridden during my interaction with Student.
    These horses had to be ridden whether I was on the ground helping someone or not.
    The first day, she put me behind one ride because I had to sit and observe her with her horse.
    This meant I went home an hour later than usual.Won't tell you what time usual was because then I would be whining.
    At that point in my career I could only take students who knew how it was at our place.
    Our outdoor arena was easily the sie of a football field. At any given time there could be any or all of the three trainers working horses. Clients, spouses and kids might be in there too. It was not an environment for the faint of heart. We weren't shy about what it was like at our place, but there was no hand holding. Well, not much.

  19. Redhorse, you make me wish for a like button.

  20. "Whatever. Like I said, I don't care."

    I kind of want to cross stitch this on something.

  21. And probably a crown cross stitched above it.

    If she really didn't care, she wouldn't be checking comments any longer, let alone continuing to comment.

  22. Fight! Fight! Fight!

    OMG I love this :D

    I haven't had so many great laughs since the Fugly Horse of the Day blog.

    I always thought you shouldn't have quit that blog. But then I know you had such personal ethical issues with it....after all

    "My life training horses has changed me on every level. I became kinder, more thoughtful, more open to all aspects of life. I'm nice to dogs, kids and people with different perspectives. "

    Uh , well maybe not so much anymore.....

    Seriously though I think you may want to stick to dogs.

    Whatever talent you may have had relating to horses and people might just be a thing of the past. Ooops!

    OMG!! Did I just say something cranky & mean?

    There I go channeling Ray Hunt again!

    This must mean I'm a true horseman.

    I love this blog :D


  23. Oh wait -- just so its clear - I'm anonymous by put I'm Not THAT anon
    I love a good snark :)

  24. Isn't it funny how life works? You get back exactly what you give out. Treat people badly and you lose friends, admirers, and get all the grief you so freely and proudly gave out.

  25. I'm another anonymous because Google and I can't seem to work things out.

    Anyway, I can't seem to figure out what is getting all these Anon's undies in a bunch. I've been reading you from the beginning and there has been no sudden personality change or drastic departure. Quite frankly, one of my favorite things about you is your consistency. I think any time you find yourself hero worshipping anyone, you really need to look at yourself to figure out why you need that. People are people are people, just like dogs are dogs and horses are horses. There are some real good ones out there but nobody deserves much of a pedestal.

    Public Service Announcement: No one is forcing you to read this blog. If they are, Call. The. Police. If you're going to comment only to whine, complain, snivel or snark in a rude manner, GO AWAY. Sheesh.


  26. Mugs, these posts sound just like who you are. Your clients didn't come to you for hand holding; if they did they left holding their own. I appreciate where you are telling this story from, seriously and humorously. Thanks, for reminding us all that OTHER people's time is valuable too.

    Oh I did count how many you rode and wondered if you rode training horses during all of your lessons. :)

    And you don't need a password to type your name(/URL).

  27. I agree Lara - Would all those using the anonymous tag please use their name so at least we can know who we are speaking with/to?

    Re the anonymous who once liked Mugs and thought she was a big time trainer: Clearly she still cares, she told Mugs she was the trainer she admired most and Mugs trashed her. I guess she will surely be cross stitching " Whatever I don't care" for quite some time. Obviously she does care.

    To that same anonymous cross stitching person who once thought Mugs was great : I personally think it was a mistake to tell Mugs you admired & learned from her. Just like she hates hugs I think she hates compliments. She will just bite you if you get too much admiration happening. That's just the way she is.

    Also you have to learn that while she likes to trash people and treat them roughly and be proud to be irritable and "cranky" and say & do whatever she feels like regardless of the impact it may have on others, she herself is very "sensitive" and cannot handle any differences of opinion, no matter how politely expressed. She will not suffer human fools and doesn't mind calling you one, but if you even so much as disagree it is too much for her and she bites.

    So Anon , you see your trouble was twofold.
    1) you told Mugs that you liked and respected her a lot as a horse trainer to the point of doting on her, which she doesn't like,and
    2) you expressed a difference of opinion on something she did -- she doesn't like differences of opinion.

    I think I have a mare like that.

    But unlike you Anon, I don't let that mare kick or bite me.

  28. JFC, Mugs, I don't know where all the trolls are coming from, but I'm enjoying the series! It's got a lot chew on, both from a horse perspective and from a student perspective.

  29. I imagine part of the reason of leaving this particular lesson to day 2 was because the woman didn't know what she didn't know. it also gave her the opportunity to watch and see how the other horses went and see how they were encouraged to do so.
    It also gave her a reason to potentially came back. Some people get butthurt if you go flying in and get on their horse's case for being ill-mannered, because you can't hurt Fluffy. The unfortunate thing is they don't realize they're the reason why Fluffy is now getting the business end of a halter, because if they'd instilled good manners in the first place, the horse would have had an opportunity to behave himself.

  30. "I've been reading you from the beginning and there has been no sudden personality change or drastic departure. Quite frankly, one of my favorite things about you is your consistency"

    Amen, Jen-Anon. I'm right there with you.

  31. Mugs, I'm glad you showed up and said what you said. I was beginning to think she might be my sister.

    I never even questioned why the first lesson went the way it went. When my horse has his head up, nostrils flared, tail over his back, I don't try to ask him for anything. The same goes for my dogs. It's pretty basic. I have to have their attention first. I absolutely think you did the best thing by putting her on your horse at the 2nd lesson, and then made her leave the horse alone. That's also the best thing you can do to regain confidence, it's almost impossible to get your confidence back on a horse that hurt you or terrified you.

    Becky, you need to start an Etsy account. I'll take 2 of those cross stitched things.

  32. I notice no difference in these posts than any of your previous ones. They are written just as beautifully and I can't wait to see what happens next!

  33. really like that that woman came back for a second lesson. and the fact that during the first lesson she kept trying to work it out herself impressed me. I'm looking forward to her getting some idea of what she needs to know as this story unfolds. And I really appreciate the fact that you didn't jump in in the first lesson mugs. I am one of those people that wants to hold too many hands too soon. It was a really good lesson for me.

  34. This is Getting RidiculousApril 6, 2015 at 8:39 AM

    Mugs & Anon -
    You need to both "Go Throw Rocks"
    Anyone remember that code phrase?

  35. I guess I don't understand this girl. I get her relationship with her horse, I get what is going on, but what was her motivation in coming to you? If I was paying someone to help me with my horse, I wouldn't have disappeared into a round pen for 45 minutes. I would have unloaded, however long it took, then gone and found the person I am paying to ask what they want to do first. Thank God you whomped on that horse, I was wanting to the whole first post. :)

  36. Mugs asked why so many anons? Perhaps it is due the fact that when anyone disagrees, her minions begin appearing and slap them down. Or perhaps it is because Mugs herself screeches "I am done with you!" rather than discuss things.

    What good instructors do is *help* their students. Students are there because they don't know what they don't know. It is especially important, if a situation is developing where the student or the horse could be injured, that is when the more experienced instructor should step up, not go ride another horse and hope the student isn't screaming because she was trampled or knocked down and injured.

    There have been times in my life when I was afraid of the horse I owned. I have been forever grateful to those who showed me kindness and support. Mugs wouldn't have had a second chance to help me.

  37. Count me in with all of the Anons who were put off by the tone of these last two pieces. I get tough love, but you came off as a jerk. Getting defensive about having your time wasted isn't really helping your case. You are a great rider and an ok writer, but you are too dang hard headed to admit when you've written yourself into a corner. I'm eagerly looking forward to installment three to see if you can pull your image out of the toilet.

  38. I am part of a group at a boarding stable who regularly read this blog & have discussion groups (like a book club might) about many of the blog posts written here on this blog.

    I normally find there is a great deal of interesting and helpful information.

    But this time , most of us are horrified about this latest story. Not just the way you treated the student, but the way you are treating commenters on the blog.

    Oh and Jane Doe and other Anons -- I'm with you!

    Another Anon

  39. These are The Mugwump Chronicles. Words have meanings associated with them-look it up.

    I'm thinking this woman is getting good value for her money-she's learned to not use lesson time getting ready. And I'm wondering how much I'm contributing to my horses "issues" by tiptoeing around. Sigh.

  40. Good grief people...if you don't like the story, or don't agree with how Mugs is treating her students, don't read the blog. It's not like any of you are or were taking lessons from her, or are paying to read the blog.

    Waiting anxiously for the next installment..
    Just to see if this young lady can get it figured out and get a handle on her horse.

  41. I've known enough people who basically ask to get hurt by NOT listening to the professional they are paying and/or allow their horses to walk all over them without learning by example of those around them to be both interested and totally unoffended by these posts. Carry on!

  42. No Other Opinions Allowed?April 6, 2015 at 11:31 AM

    To Veronica & others who say "if you don't like what's being said go away"

    The point of a blog is NORMALLY to publish interesting information, and a blog is NORMALLY open to comments for the purpose of opinion exchange, further learning and presentation of additional perspectives.

    If the purpose of the comments section of this blog is only for praise for Mugs, or for comments in total agreement with the opinion expressed in the post -- it SHOULD SAY SO. Why? Because that is different from what people come to a blog expecting.

    Or make it a private blog open only to those who promise not to express differing opinions from the blog writer.

    I am hearing Veronica and others say - go away if you disagree with any of the content posted here. Mugs needs to clarify if that is in fact true.

    If no disagreements - no "problematic " comments.
    Way less learning will take place though for sure!

    No Other Opinions Allowed?

  43. No Other Opinions AllowedApril 6, 2015 at 11:39 AM

    You may also want to remove statements on the side of this blog that declare:

    "Don't be afraid, we play nice on Mugwump Chronicles. "

    This seems a little misleading, given the actual environment of this blog and the pleasure exhibited by the blog writer in putting down her fans.

    No Other Opinions Allowed?

  44. No other opinions...I am not taking issue with people questioning the content of the posts, but rather the attack mentality of "mean old mugs..she didn't make nice with her student, therefore she is a horrible person/ instructor/writer". If there are questions, ask them. Do not start a war saying "why didn't you do that the first time". None of us were there, none of us saw the interaction between student and horse.

    I did use a similar tactic on a young lady who could not be on time for lessons. The first time, she showed up late, I ran a full lesson. The next time, she got a 10 minute lesson. She was never late after that.

  45. No Other Opinions AllowedApril 6, 2015 at 12:36 PM

    Veronica- I think the issue being expressed by most was the apparent lack of concern for the safety and interests of the student that Mugs seemed to exhibit in part 1 of the story.

    Watching her new student struggle - never offering help until long after she watches the horse knock the student down, never going to check on how this student is doing in spite of hearing several screams. And then exacting payment for the "lesson". Not sure how Mugs actually contributed anything at all to this "lesson". Comments she makes like " I settled back to enjoy the show" do come across as uncaring and unprofessional.

    I believe those are the things people were expressing concern about, not by saying "mean Mugs" but by wondering about the effectiveness and the ethics of the process that was being described by Mugs as she details the "lesson".

    As the blog writer has a reputation for criticizing and lashing out at any blog followers that venture to express another opinion , even respectfully - it should not be surprising that she may be opening herself up to getting a taste of her own medicine in the blog comments occassionally.

    Judging by her responses to the comments is say Mugs is very comfortable with responding to posts she doesn't like, and doesn't really need the support of others.
    No Other Opinions Allowed?

  46. She didn't exact payment, she accepted the payment that was offered.

  47. No Other;

    I think you are anon, and don't want to admit that you do still care. In fact, you've turned this into a big argument that you are determined to win. I suspect you are doing this because you see yourself in that student or her horse. You might be wrong about that because the story hasn't been finished, so you don't know how it turns out. You don't really care if the rest of us want to read the end of the story.

    Anyway, I also believe you are anon because you throw a tantrum just like she does.

  48. RedHorse,

    I'm not Anon but I am also not clear on would be so wrong if Anon did identify with either the student or the horse or both?

    Or if she actually does care about this blog?

    Please help me understand where I have exhibited a "tantrum"?

    With regard to the continuation of the story, I believe we are all interested in hearing about the next episode.

    As for myself, I will wait until the next episode is released before submitting more comments, but welcome reading others.

  49. redhorse, I do not think No Other is being argumentative, I think No Other is pointing out the parts of the post that s/he formed this perspective from. It's called a discussion.

    Veronica: I don't think anyone is starting a war, I think "why didn't you do that the first time" is a legit question. Precisely because we were not there, is a good reason to ask that very question.

  50. One thing to put this in perspective...if you go to a psychologist/psychiatrist, they are going to give you your allotted time. Running late, having a bad day, etc is not going to get you additional time, and you will be charged for the full hour.

  51. Interesting comment thread. I wonder if all the outrage would have been expressed if Mugs had written this about a training session that K was running? No one expects warm fuzzies from him.
    Double standard?

  52. MaryDVM, not a double standard. Mugs is a far more accomplished rider than her student. I would expect more of Mugs

  53. i'm really curious to know how this story goes!! i've always considered myself decent on the ground with horses - but it SHOCKED me when someone pointed out that i moved away every time my pushy mare invaded my space. i literally had never even thought about it before, and that one single comment completely opened my eyes to how i interacted with horses through body language.

    here's hoping that this story ends with some similar kind of breakthrough for this student - since it sounds like she needs one!

  54. RedHorse - I had all sorts of good intentions about cross stitching things for people for Christmas.... and then I just got distracted and ran out of time.

    I don't see that changing any time soon - thank heavens there are Etsy accounts for lazy people like me.

  55. Wow, what a lot of emo-crybabies!
    Umm Mugs asked her if she had trailered her horse before - check. This confirms she has done this before and hasn't gotten killed. If the lady had asked for help, she would have gotten it, but instead, she did everything like she had been doing it, which showed Mugs exactly where she (the student) and the horse were, and the student realized her way of handling the horse wasn't working. That WAS the first lesson. When you get a new student/horse combo, you watch first, to see what they do, you have the student work the horse, so you can see what level they both are, and then you can start to help them. The student got it, because next time she was early, so her lesson wasn't taken up by basics (unload, lead, tie, etc). Of course those basics will be attended to by the work Mugs will be doing anyway.
    The second lesson was two fold, put the human student on a well trained horse, and see what that horse tells you about her. (I do that too, the horse never lies) Then go show how to put some manners on the bratty horse student. Mugs should get double money for these lessons.

  56. Totally agree with Shadow Rider - your whole comment is well said.

    Listen, the instructor has to get paid. If the student is late, she can't expect that the instructor can still do the full hour. If you're late or it takes you a half hour to get your horse ready, you still have to pay me for my hour. This is not me being mean. This is me making a living. Being "nice" is not going to feed my horses or pay for my kid's wisdom teeth surgery. And trust me, I am way nice. I had to learn this the hard way and I learned pretty quick.

    Let's not forget that the title here is "To Spook or Not to Spook." I think that horse is going to spook at everything because somehow he's learned that it's what he does.

    Nobody is a villain here. We're all learning. I look forward to hearing the next part of the story.


  57. I don't think anyone here has been questioning Mugs knowledge, skill or talent with regard to horse training. She clearly knows more than everyone here on that topic. The negative feedback seems to confined to the treatment of the student and the attitude of the instructor towards her student's safety and learning.

    I realize Mugs is no longer training horses or giving lessons. But there may be aspiring horse trainers who would also be giving lessons in the future reading this blog.

    Horses don't exist in a vacuum. So even if a trainer feels they are primarily concerned only with the welfare of the horse, that horse is still owned and cared for by a person.

    There are many talented horse people who understand horses inside & out but are severely limited in their careers by their lack of understanding of what makes people tick. People like to feel appreciated, respected, and just like a horse they don't learn much when they are frightened or intimidated.

    Not being able to get through to the human owner can perpetuate the dangerous situation portrayed in the story of a spoilt dangerous horse with its well meaning but frightened owner.

    Most people would not have returned for the second lesson. This woman did. Good for her. Better people skills on the part of the instructor would have ensured that most people would have come back for lesson number 2, instead of going away in discouragement and damaging their horse further.

    Mugs you may find that you are the authority on horses here, but there is a wealth of information within your readers on ways to improve the ability of the people who own those horses to learn or become motivated to learn.

    You may not like people as much as horses but its very difficult to help horses without going through their people.

  58. I agree with Shadow Rider as well. The woman did not present as a rank beginner, despite her horse acting like a puke. She arrived with a trailer, something to pull it with, and the horse loaded, not something you'd expect to see with someone going to her first lesson.

    I'm sure she even knew the impression she was making. I can't know why she didn't ask for help, though I'm sure if she had, Mugs would have. But as Mugs has posted before, when it isn't asked for, it isn't often welcome, so she sat back and watched.

    Good for her for coming back. Too bad it took until lesson three before progress with her horse was made, but in the long run, that probably made the progress all the more noteworthy, and more likely to stick.

  59. There are a lot of types of trainers and instructors out there. It is up to each of us to choose the trainer/instructor that is appropriate for us and our horse. It is our responsibility as horse owners to protect the well being of our horses and ourselves. We get to choose. If we do not like a trainer, we are free to move on at any time. In my case, I will check them out BEFORE I ride with them OR allow them to handle my horse.

    Up and coming trainers will see a wide variety of role models. They are responsible for thinking critically about what they see, and deciding what kind of trainer they wish to become.

    There are many riders and horses that need and flourish under trainers/instructors like Mugs. Those who don't would be foolish to remain with her when there are so many other options.

    We each make our own choices for ourselves and our horses. If we fail to we are doing ourselves and our horses a disservice.


  60. "I hollered a hello and got a cheerful wave from my student"
    Hmm... somehow I don't think the student thought Mugs was as horrible as some of the commenters.

  61. I, personally, like to have someone kick my ass a little bit in training. I am a chef by trade, and I have learned that a hard-earned smile or nod of encouragement from a mentor/trainer feels a WHOLE lot better than constant empty "atta boys" from a "nice" trainer who doesn't teach anything.

    Mugs watched her unload, made sure she had done so by herself before, and asked if she wanted help. Student said no, so Mugs didn't help. Obviously, this student has survived this long with this horse, one hour more is not going to kill her. This is the MOST important part- the student LEARNED something! She arrived early for her next lesson, in order to be prepared to work when she was supposed to be taking a lesson.

    Sometimes the WORST thing you can do with a fearful person (and horse! and dog, for that matter) is to coddle and coo and make exceptions. Just the way that Mugs was so calm and steady would have made me trust her more myself. She was not hateful, or disrespectful, or patronizing to the student. She let her figure things out on her own terms.

    Do you notice the student asks QUESTIONS in the second/third lesson, and takes direction much better? She is reaching out for help, which in itself is admitting that what she is doing currently is not working. I admire the hell out of the student, for getting knocked down, but being stubborn enough to come back and work. She has the grit to become something good, because she shut the hell up and learned something.

  62. Guys, it's a metaphor. Mugs set a boundary for the human. She modeled appropriate boundary setting so that Student would have an idea what it looked like and could translate that to Paint.

  63. I personally feel like there's a whole bunch of jumping the gun here... I'm just going to sit back and see where this story is going.

    But for the record, I would probably do a similar thing if I were in Mug's shoes. There's no point trying to teach someone who doesn't want to learn and this client sure isn't showing many signs that she's ready to change or to even have her horse worked on for that matter.

    bonita of A Riding Habit