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Thursday, 1 June 2017

Blank Space


It has taken me a long time to be ready to write this post, I was super upset when it all happened and am still very upset as I write it now (and have taken a fairly large amount of pain medication for my crippled body) … I apologize for the non-linear rambling.  I hope that it sort of makes sense. :)



I mentioned here my objectives for Apollo’s 30 day visit with RK.  I was so hopeful that this time with RK would be a stepping stone into riding with my husband.  And at the very least I hoped that I’d come away with more tools and insights for Apollo in the future.  I sold Apollo’s saddle to help pay for this training, with plans to buy a more husband/trail friendly saddle once training was complete. 
In June 2017 Apollo and I celebrate 10 years together.  I was also quietly planning to have some photos taken at RK’s beautiful property to commemorate this huge milestone. 


And instead there is nothing.  There is blank space.
None of the things I’d hoped for have happened.  I would actually venture that things are worse than when I dropped Apollo off. 

May was a very busy month for me.  My husband and I have spent some time acreage shopping (as I shared yesterday) and also prepping our house for sale.  I really trusted RK to put trail miles on Apollo and keep him busy while I worried about house buying/selling and kept my remaining herd members in work.  And unfortunately that trust was misplaced.




I’ve had four visits with Apollo in May, and I don’t plan on going back.  I will be sending a trailer to pick him up and I will meet it on the other side.

Anyway, those are all my feels about what has happened.  Let me break down those four visits and elaborate a bit on what has gone wrong.



  1. Visit One (a day or two after we dropped him off)
    Very quick visit, just stopped in to make sure he was settling in OK.  I discussed my hopes about Apollo being a husband horse.  That was pretty much it. 
  2. Visit Two (about a week after he arrived)
    RK told me that Apollo was not suitable as a horse for a novice.  Without a ton of elaboration.  He mostly just focused on how Apollo is a very difficult and dominant horse.  I had mixed feelings about this, part of me felt validated that I’d had a hard time with his training…. The other part of me was like “Don’t talk shit about my horse!!”.  I have never read Apollo as a dominant horse, at all.  I’ve actually read him as the opposite, he isn’t confident so gets overwhelmed easily and resorts to speed when unsure what to do.  Sidepass? Uhhhh… GO FAST!  RK showed me some groundwork stuff he’d been doing and Apollo couldn’t handle jumping the tiny blue barrels but went into the river, because he’s random like that.
  3. Visit Three (about a week and half after he arrived)
    I rode Apollo this visit bareback and did a little W/T/C around.  He was polite at the mounting block and quiet under saddle, about as good as when I had ridden him last.  RK told me that Apollo can be very good but also spends a lot of time coming up with ideas on how to be bad.  For example he ran through a lot of his groundwork/preflight check stuff and one day Apollo would do everything perfectly.  The next day he wouldn’t do any of it.  Blah blah blah RK thinks Apollo is a jerk.  He said he thinks Apollo needs more time in the arena before he’s a good trail horse.  I said, ok fair enough.  He mentions that they will start with some trail work shortly.
  4. Visit Four (about three weeks after he arrived)
    This was my final visit and it occurred on the May long weekend (specifically on May 21st).  I had asked RK if my friend C (who owns the place where Mystic lives) could trailer over and we could do a ride with Apollo just down the road and back, nothing major.  He said that would be fine.  I ended up having to change the date, which is my bad.  I was supposed to take Henry out schooling xc on Monday (which didn’t happen after all) so I had asked to reschedule to the Sunday.  I suggested 10 to RK and he came back with noon, I asked if 11 was ok as I was meeting my grandma on the other side of town at 2 and I didn’t want to have to rush.  I didn’t hear back from him so I asked C to haul over closer to 11:30 so we’d be closer to his requested 12 time. 
    I was a little early and so was C.  RK was pretty upset with me.  He had been planning to ride with us but had a lesson booked at 11 so couldn’t go until 12.  I apologized and said we would wait.  Then he told me that I couldn’t ride Apollo, that he would ride him.  I was a bit surprised by that but said OK.  Then he decided that he wouldn’t ride Apollo either.  He spent some time telling me how bad and dangerous my horse was, peppering that with a story about another a lady who put her horse down because it had mental issues. 
    Ok then… So when I had my quick ride in the arena… I was legit terrified.  Was I too much of a numpty to realize over these past years that my horse was dangerous??  I was using a barrel to mount up and my legs were shaking so hard I was thought the barrel was going to tip over.  I rode Apollo and he was hot, and it felt like no one had been riding him.  But he was fine, it was a short ride before I put him back and grabbed the other random horse I was riding. 
    RK barely spoke to me for the ride or for the rest of the time we were there.  He talked to C a lot and helped her cross the river and the bridge with her horse.  Which is super nice.  But C is not paying him for training…so..?  The horse he gave me to ride was a bit sketchy but he told me it was his best horse.  I ride green baby peanuts like erryday, that horse did not feel more trained than either of my two young horses. 
    I was upset on so many levels…
    Is he not riding my horse?
    I paid for and asked for trail miles… has Apollo even left the arena?  He had been there for 3 weeks at this point.
    Who the fuck tells me that I can’t ride my own horse?  I don’t want to screw up his training program or anything but I feel like if it wasn’t ok for C and I to ride together he could have told me that before I showed up excited to ride my horse.
    Why was he so grumpy at me?  Yeah maybe I screwed up the scheduling a bit, but a) it was not intentional 2) I apologized  3) I am the customer, the customer who is paying a lot of money for training that is not happening
    I was also super embarrassed to have that happen in front of my friend (she said she felt really bad for me and was really confused by RK’s behavior while we were there)
    So I almost borrowed a trailer the next day to pick up Apollo and bring him home.  Then I decided to leave him for the rest of the month and pay a hauler to get him.  At least RK will feed him his supplements every day and I can carry on with my ST lessons like this crap never happened.   When my husband called me later to ask how my day was…. I ugly cried so hard.  I am so disappointed with how this turned out. 

    I spoke with ST about this (as Apollo and I have had some lessons with her).  She said she never felt like Apollo was dangerous at all.  She thinks he can be a bit rude and cheeky but he just lacks training.  I told her how this all had really rattled me.  This was the lesson where Henry bucked me off (perhaps my emotional state contributed to this?  I’ll never know but it didn’t help to start my lesson off by almost crying about the Apollo drama). 
    *Deep breath.*  This was a really hard post for me to write because I'm still incredibly upset.  I want to do the grown up thing and have a conversation with RK, but I don't think I can do that without bursting into tears.  I'm not sure why I'm so emotional about it.  It was really hard for me to trust someone else with Apollo and I'm really angry at myself for doing that.  Thank you for reading this far into my random rambling upset post <3

36 comments:

  1. Good gracious! This RK does not sound like an ethical trainer to me at all. Granted, I understand it can be difficult to hear "bad" things about our horses, but it doesn't sound like he's put in enough time and simply jumped to a conclusion that isn't necessarily correct. I am sorry to hear this happened to you! :-(

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    1. Thanks, yeah it's been pretty rough. Apollo comes home on Thursday and I'm looking forward to it all being over :)

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  2. Sounds like RK was just taking your money, probably wanted you to sell Apollo through him and then buy a horse from him, I hate when 'trainers' do that shit.

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    1. I did sort of get that vibe too! Pretty disappointing :(

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  3. This sounds like a very awful experience with a poor trainer. Hopefully you get Apollo home ASAP so you can both move on from this 😔

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    1. He comes home on Thursday! I'm excited to put this behind us and get back to work with ST.

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  4. What a crappy experience. If it were me I'd go get the horse and get the money back from the time left in the agreement.

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    1. Unfortunately for me arranging the truck and trailer is quite an ordeal, if I had my own rig set-up and ready to go he'd be home already haha! I have booked a hauler for Thursday :)

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  5. I'm with Emma. Go get him and demand the rest of your money back. You're the customer and you aren't getting the service you expected from a 'professional'. Get a teleporter and I've got a really wonderful trainer down here who will take him! ;-) He's fair and has a soft, quiet manner with even the worst of horses (you know, those who actually deserve the titles "mean", "bad", and "dangerous"). This will all be in the rearview mirror soon! <3

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    1. I can't wait until it's in the rearview! There will definitely be a money chat but I honestly don't think I'll be able to get anything back (I paid up front). I just want it to be over :(

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  6. Aw man I'm so sorry this has happened to you guys. I hate it when professionals don't deliver on what you agreed. I can understand people and horses not helping but then man up and admit there is an issue and suggest other options for you guys

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    1. Thanks, yeah it was not great. I was quite surprised considering he did a really nice job with Henry.

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  7. Wait, isn't this the same guy who worked well with Henry? What a complete 180! It smells pretty fishy to me like maybe he can't seem to figure Apollo out with his standard methods so rather than try something new, or admit he's not equipped to train him and lose the business he's just throwing the blame on Apollo. You don't have to take that crap or believe that crap. I'm with the others, I would ask for a good portion of the money back. I'm so sorry this happened to you.

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    1. This is what I'm thinking too. I've had a similar experience and I think the coach/trainer was just in over her head and blamed the horse. (Horse in question is Ginger, of course, who is doing super well with my current coach) I'm so sorry this happened to you.

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    2. I was pretty shocked after he did such a nice job with Henry, very disappointing. Apollo can certainly be tough, I think maybe he was intimidated or their styles just didn't line up well.

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  8. It doesn't sound like RK listened to you at all. He just told you about how terrible your horse was without really ever giving a solution. If he wasn't riding your horse on the trail, and neither of you were, there was no reason for him to even be there. Granted there are always two sides, blah blah understanding. But trust your gut stick up for your horse, and hugs to you.

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    1. Yeah I don't really see the point of talking negatively about a horse without a plan in place, like okay if he's rude... what is the solution. I am pretty disappointed about the whole thing :( But my big pony is home on Thursday yayay!

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  9. Holy moley! Did RK seriously say that Apollo was thinking up ways of how to misbehave?! Does he not understand how horses' brains work at all?!
    I'm really sorry this happened to you, I'd be super upset too. I agree with the others, get your lovely horse away from that man...

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    1. Right?! Horses are not that evil/smart from my understanding... to be plotting ways to be bad. Oh well... Apollo is home on Thursday :)

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  10. I am thinking that this guy has no idea how to train a horse. YOu have had Apollo for 10 years. If he was dangerous you would know. What an ass. Go get your horse.

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    1. Yeah I held out hope that things would turn around after visit 2 & 3 (when I had inklings that things weren't right)... but no. He's home on Thursday :)

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  11. I'm sorry to hear this and I think this trainer doesn't sound like what Apollo needed. From what I've seen on the blog I don't think he's dangerous but he might be slightly opinionated. I'm not a trainer but for what it's worth maybe you should start a training program with him as if he were a green horse and didn't know anything. Why don't you start with some lunging and ground work and move on to walking while you're in the saddle. From the walk you can teach him to bend and listen to your rein and leg cues. Then when he is totally comfortable with that move on to a trot and walk combination. Maybe he and you just need confidence in each other. When you achieve complete trust in each other move along to other exercises. Work him for short periods and if he gets something wrong go back to what he knows and then quit on a good note. It might take a long time but it will be worth it in the end. Then again you might think this is all nonsense and that's okay too. It's how I trained Dusty and she wasn't easy. Good luck.

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    1. I like your idea! I think we will definitely be back at square one and re-installing some basics when he gets home :)

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  12. I'm sorry it went so poorly. Maybe he's only good with baby green horses. A lot of times they can be easier than older horses with training issues because the slate is blank. But I'd be annoyed too if you paid for trail riding training and he didn't do that. If he wasn't comfortable taking him on trails, he should have just told you that after the first week and you could have taken him back and found another trainer.

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    1. That's kind of what I was thinking. He's great at starting horses but not good at finishing horses.

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  13. How disappointing! Obviously I have no idea about this trainer, but I have seen opinionated horses who are just fine for their people get completely unhinged with a trainer. The reason being most owners/dominant horses build a routine and history that works for them, but when a trainer steps in with much more pressure and higher phases with an increased expectation of the horse's reponse to questions, it can lead to a blow up. Usually a good trainer would know this though, and understand the horse is just saying "woah, no one asked me that much before, go @#$* yourself, sir", and then continue working through that initial reaction to a better place. Regardless, he's kind of sounding like a total jerk and you should go get your horse and your money back. :(

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    1. Yeah I wonder if that's what happened. I noticed that the more confident I got and the higher the expectations were - the more trouble I had with Apollo. He comes home on Thursday and I am very happy about that :)

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  14. That is so disappointing! And awkward! Recently I attended a clinic, and didn't like it. I don't like conflict, but spoke with the clinition and she was very understanding. Hopefully he will surprise you and be professional!

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    1. That's great that you did that! Very brave :) I think I will have a further chat with him before Apollo leaves on Thursday, hopefully.

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  15. Ugh, that's the worst. Had a similar experience where I ended up just going to get my horse because I couldn't trust the person I had left him with. I'm glad you're going to get him- it's so disappointing when a pro turns out to be anything but!

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    1. I'm quite disappointed but am happy to report my big pony is home now :)

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  16. This doesn't sound like the RK we met back when Henry was getting broke! I wonder if something is going on with him personally.
    I'm sorry you've had this experience. From what you've shared with us, Apollo doesn't sound dangerous. Maybe your regular trainer can help you out with him some instead? She's done so well for and with you with Henry, I'm sure she could be helpful with Apollo too.

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    1. I know right?! Who is this guy?? Apollo just came home today so we will go from here :)

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  17. "... and was really confused by RK’s behavior while we were there."
    Listen to her. She's an outside observer. People are weird. Horse people even more so.

    As for confronting him &/or asking for money back, one needs to balance a desire for justice with the emotional toll. If you can, move on. Ride your horse. Grind that dude's face in your ultimate success.

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    1. Horse people are the weirdest! I decided not to make a big fight about the money, I'm not rich or anything (I could use it back for sure!) but I didn't think I'd actually get it back and I am too tired to fight at the moment. I did have a chat with RK though about some of the things that were bothering me.

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