How to Groom your Horse like a Professional

Imagine yourself watching the practice ring at a horse show. Sitting there gazing at all of the trainers, the coaches, the amateurs, and youth practicing diligently before the show, can you tell which of the horses have been groomed by professionals, and which aren’t? I know I can.  Watching the practice ring at a show is one of my favorite things to do as an equestrian, and if you haven’t tried it, I would highly suggest it.

So how do the pro’s horses stand out?

A professional trainer’s horse is spotlessly clean, with the silkiest manes and tails, the shiniest coats, with the whitest legs, and the most impeccable clip jobs; even in the practice pen.  Horse’s groomed solely by amateurs can sometimes achieve the look of a groomed horse comparable to that of a professional, but it is rare.  Horses cared for by amateurs are typically a bit more dull, with not so perfect clip jobs, and white feet and legs that are just not as sparkly white.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with an amatuer grooming their own horse.  In fact I make all of my lesson kids groom their horses at home and at the show.  It creates a bond between horse and rider, and builds character in both youth and adults.  I would love it if everyone groomed their own horses at shows, which is why I like to write these blogs.

So how do these pros get their horses to look so glossy and perfect at horse shows?

I’ll tell you what the professionals do every day at home, what they do before a show, how they get their horse ready in the practice pen, and how their finish their horse for competition.

 

The routine at home

Feed

Paid professionals take much pride in the way their horses are cared for especially when it comes to their grooming and conditioning, and they start with what a pro feeds their horse.  

In my experience, not only do trainers feed the highest quality feeds to ensure an extremely healthy looking horse, they also tend to feed their horses feeds that are high in fats and oils.  Not only does this keep their horses in a good show weight, but it also makes their coats bloom.  A horse who is healthy and shiney (and frankly a little fat) to begin with makes it easier to create a beautifully clean horse at the show.

 

Blanketing

Whether it’s warm or cold, professional equestrians usually keep their horses blanketed. This is because they want to keep their horses as warm as possible, in order to keep their coats as short as possible.  Sometimes they even opt for two blankets if one isn’t enough.  This is because a horse with shorter coat is a more sleek and polished looking than a horse with a long coat.

Blanketing not only keeps a horse’s coat short, it provides multiple other benefits to their coats.  The next most obvious benefit is that it keeps their coats free from dirt and dust.  I always put a sheet over my horse after giving her a bath before a show to keep her nice and clean.  

In addition to preventing the growth of coat hair, it keeps the coat laying flat against the horse’s skin.  Imagine getting the goosebumps when you are cold; the hair on your arms raise to help trap air against your skin to help insulate you.  This process happens to horses as well, and a horse with a puffed up coat tends to look dull and hairy.  A sheet or blanket will help keep the hair pushed down against your horses skin, but like a helmet will give you helmet hair.  This makes the horse’s coat looking sleek lite satin.

Lastly, a trainer will keep their horse blanketed for a long enough period of time that the natural oils of their horse’s coats will accumulate against their skin making their coat almost slippery.  Much like if you do not shower for a long time and your hair becomes sleek and oily.

There are some cons associated with keeping a horse blanketed all of the time, like a horse overheating, and the possibility of hair rubbing completely off in places; but for a professional, the benefits outway the cons.

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Snoozer was less than impressed with his blanket.

Turn out

Depending on the trainer, and the discipline, full time show horses get limited to no turn out.  While some pros prefer to let their horses out to let off some steam, others prefer to leave them in entirely to safeguard them from any injury they may inflict upon themselves outside.

Your average horse owner typically turns their horses out for the whole day, but let’s face it, horses who go outside, get dirty.  Even if they are brushed every day, horses who go outside will always be dirtier than ones who stay inside, and the horse whose mane and tail are exposed to the elements will always be more brittle, and snap off quicker than the horse who stays in.

You may think, “What if I bathe my horse regularly?”  One would think that would help, but when you bathe a dirty horse who came in from turn out, you are washing away any natural oils in your horse’s coat, making him less shiny than the horse who remained inside.

Personally, this factor is one reason that I know my horses will never be as lacquered looking as the rest of the pros.  I like to turn my horses out about eight hours a day, every day.  Keeping a turn out blanket on your horse will help keep him less dirty, and if you are determined  enough to have your horse shine bright like a diamond, you could bathe him, then leave him in for about a week before the show to try to achieve the professional horse coat all of the trainers have.

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Putting black horses outside can be especially harmful to their coats, as the sun will bleach it and turn it brown.

Every Day Grooming

Horses in the care of a professional, are always groomed twice a day; before and after they are worked.  Whether they are just lunged, or ridden, they are always groomed habitually.  When I groomed for trainers they had a specific regimen they followed.  It went as follows:

  • Curry comb the horse’s coat vigorously
  • Spray diluted moisturizing spray over the entire coat, mane, and tail feathers
  • Brush the body with a soft brush, brushing away loose hair, and brushing in the moisturizing spray
  • Carefully comb through/ detangle the mane and tail feathers
  • Pick the feet
  • Clip any long whiskers or a long bridlepath 

This was all done before any tack or protective equipment was put on the horse,  and it was all done again after the horse had been worked and properly cooled off.  If the horse got too hot and sweaty during his workout session he would get rinsed and sponged with a mixture of special oils and liniments.

An important detail to mention is that if you have groomed your horse properly after you have ridden, your horse should look as if he hadn’t been ridden at all.  That’s right, absolutely no saddle marks.  “IMPOSSIBLE!” you say, but it is more common than you think.  The university from which I graduated had 157 horses in their equestrian program, and every single one was always free of saddle marks.  In fact, you would be called back to groom your horse again if he was left with any sweat marks, because this is how a horse should be groomed.

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This is the specific coat moisturizer that the trainers I worked for used on their horses every day.

Monthly grooming

At home, horses in the care of professionals have their tails wrapped up (you can take a look at my article on caring for a show tail), and redone before each show, or about once every two months.  If the horse has a long mane, pros usually keep them braided (you can look at my caring for a long mane article) to prevent any wind knots and tangles.  Lastly, a good equine professional keeps their horses feet trimmed on a regular basis with proper shoeing on their horse’s feet.

Before leaving for the horse show

Usually, a big name trainer will have an assistant, or paid groom to go through a list to ensure every show horse gets the same treatment before the show.  This list usually entails:

  • Clipping legs
  • Clipping the head
  • Clipping the ears and bridle path
  • A full bath including taking down and washing the tail
  • Putting the tail in a tail bag once dry
  • Sanding Hooves

If the show is in the wintertime, most trainers opt to give their horses a full body clip about two weeks before the show.

I’ve written full articles on how to do most of these  so if you have any questions feel free to browse my older works.

 

In the practice ring at the show

Some trainers can have specific pet peeves about how their horses are presented, even in the practice ring.  The trainers I worked for hated when there were any shavings in the tail feathers of the horse they were working, even if they weren’t about to go into the show ring.   Pet peeves for trainers are understandable because the way their horses look while they and their clients ride are a reflection upon how much effort and care is given to each individual horse.  

Not only is the daily grooming ritual repeated before the horse is worked at the show, extra steps are taken to perpetuate a picture of professionalism and cleanliness on the part of the trainer.  These steps include but are not limited to;

  • Brushing all of the shavings out of the tail feathers, and mane
  • Wiping a thin layer of baby oil on the horses face and forelock
  • Wrapping legs in clean, modest colored polos
  • Wiping any extra boogers out of the horse’s nose
  • Dusting off any dusty tack

 

Speaking of tack…

If you haven’t already noticed, the tack a pro uses to practice in is usually very modest.  Normally, you will see matching plain leather bridles, and saddles with little to no embellishments, and modest colored saddle pads and protective equipment.  They save the bright colors and fancy tack for the show ring.

While practicing pro’s tend to go for a more modest look with solid or muted colored saddle pads and protective equipment because they want to be taken seriously.  Most trainers shy away from polos with crazy designs, halters in neon colors, or sparkly bright saddle pads.  Those eccentric or blingy items of tack are seen as a distraction to them, and the fancy colors or patterns tend to be a passing craze that will go out of fashion before the tack has been used to its full potential.

As an amateur, you can indulge in outgoing pieces of tack and equipment if you want, that’s the beauty of caring for your own horse, but if you want to be seen as someone who really knows what their doing, maybe go for a more modest look.

 

The finishing touches

So, you’ve made it this far and you need to get your horse ready for his class.  Assuming he has already been bathed, is free of saddle marks, and has been groomed at home with all of the earlier steps mentioned these are the next steps that need to be done

  1. Curry comb
  2. Coat conditioner
  3. Brush away loose hair
  4. Pick the feet
  5. Spot clean any dirty white spots
  6. Apply hoof black, or transparent hoof polish to hooves (it is important to do this after you have brushed their coat as to not get any loose hairs stuck onto the wet hooves)
  7. Take down clean tail out of its protective tail bag, and carefully comb through it with detangler and shine.  For a straighter tail, dowse it in showsheen to make it damp, then brush through it to take the kinks out.
  8. Apply detangler and shine to mane and comb through it
  9. Spray showsheen, or a aresoll coat highlighter to your horse’s coat, and wipe in in with a clean towel.
  10. Trim any rouge whisker or bridle path hairs you see.
  11. You may apply a thin layer of baby powder to white legs if they seem yellow, be careful though, because too much baby powder can look tacky, (make sure your horse’s hooves are dry before you apply)
  12. Use baby oil, or hair gel to hold together your horse’s forelock, and to lay rouge mane hairs flat.
  13. Saddle up (but do not tightened all of the way, your horse may be sitting around with the saddle on for a while)Apply face highlighter or baby oil to your horse’s eyes and muzzle for a shiny look
  14. Spray a good layer of fly spray on your horse
  15. Bridle, and go warm up for your class.

*Note; I did not mention any part of braiding or banding manes.  If you need to braid or band your horse’s mane and tail you must also take this factor into consideration, and depending on the type or style of braiding you need to do, you can prepare your horse as early as the day before like in the case of button braids, or you may need to braid right before your class in the case of a running braid.

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Horses in their groom stalls, impeccably turned out for their classes, and awaiting their riders.

Right before competition

When you leave for your class, make sure you have someone who can help you, that has a groom bag prepared.  This groom bag should have

  • A clean rag
  • Fly spray
  • A soft body brush
  • Showsheen
  • Mane and Tail brush
  • Small braiding rubber bands
  • Baby oil
  • A hoof pick
  • A bottle of water
  • Safety pins in case your number falls off.
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Your helper should look similar to this picture of me from my time grooming for a very successful Western Pleasure trainer in 2011.

If you’ve made it through this entire article, then you are now armed with the knowledge to groom your horse like a professional horse person does. Take these steps into consideration if you want your horse to look as clean and polished as those pros.   

A perfectly groomed horse will not ensure you win your class, but a well groomed horse completes a beautiful picture for the judges to watch.  A poorly groomed horse is a distraction and an eye soar.

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My Dream Job Turned Nightmare

My Dream Job Turned Nightmare

It’s been about 6 years since I’ve posted anything to this blog, not because I didn’t want to, but because I graduated college and began trying to make a living.  I’m posting today because I have a story that I’ve been meaning to write down for a while about what happened to me right out of school.  

The story below is not complete, unfortunately more than what I’ve written happened, but I feel like it’s important for me to write at least a part of it down to share my experience.  It was the job of my dreams, but ended up being one of the worst experiences of my life.

My hope is that if you’re reading this, and you’re experiencing similar problems as I did, that this story will serve as a warning.  I hope if you are going through a similar situation, that this will help you decide to get out.

 

In the beginning

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Equestrian Studies in the spring of 2013.  After school I had no long term jobs lined up. I had a grooming gig in June, and my next door neighbor had given me permission to use her indoor arena to give lessons to the students I didn’t have.  After working for some successful trainers in the past I knew in my heart that I absolutely did not want to be an assistant trainer like most of my classmates did (which is a whole different story) so I was determined that I would be a self employed, struggling young horse trainer.

Near the end of July word got around to me that a big barn only 15 minutes away was looking to hire a head trainer who could also provide lessons, and I knew I had to figure out a way to interview.  One way or another, I received a phone call from one of the owners, let’s call him Toby.  I talked with Toby for a while and found that we were looking for the same thing.  I was looking for a barn to train and give lessons out of, while he was looking for a trainer to elevate his hobby farm into an all inclusive equine facility with training, lessons, and board.  After some time on the phone we set up a time for me to come over to the place for an interview.

When I found the place, I pulled up to a long gravel drive with large white iron gates, leading to an enormous white farmhouse, and beautiful modern looking barn.  The picture was complete with free range chickens, goats, miniature donkeys, peacocks, and of course, horses. It was a great first impression. I met Toby outside, and he introduced me to his husband, let’s call him Randall.  Toby and  Randall proceeded to show me around.

The barn was insulated and heated with about ten modern wooden stalls, an insulated and heated tack room, feed room, and bathroom.  The indoor arena was connected to the barn, and was absolutely enormous.  It was a bit older that the barn was, but had six stalls of its own, a hay loft, a heating strip, and sprinklers attached to the ceiling to water the arena when it got dry.  There was another heated building they would rent out for events like weddings.  It was heated with the main floor being a conference type room, a loft with a gorgeous wooden ceiling they would host parties in, and the basement was a sterile area they would use to milk their goats.  This was the barn of my dreams.

I talked to them about my aspirations, dreams, and goals, and basically nailed the interview. I got the job.

Three months after graduating college I had gotten my dream job.  Head trainer and coach at a beautiful modern barn, just minutes from my home.  I was on cloud nine.

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Above is one of the miniature donkeys running in the pen

Red Flag #1: Where are the clients?

I began by moving the small amount of lessons students I had over to my new barn, and started to train Toby’s horses, along with some of the horses that were already boarded at the barn.  There were already two stable hands, so I didn’t need to clean a single stall, just train and teach.  Needless to say, I did not have enough clients to have enough work to keep me occupied for a full 48 hour work week, so I began advertising.  I created flyers, a facebook page, made my own website, took out an ad in a local horse magazine, etc; but still after about 4 months of advertising, not a single new boarder, or horse owner even attempted to contact me.

“Why?!,” I thought.  Literally the only time I was contacted for board was a scam (which is another story), and not a single person has contacted me for training.  Sure I was training five horses, but two of them were my mom’s, and the others were either Toby’s or existing border’s horses.  My goal was to get at least 10 total because I could handle that amount on my own, which never happened.

I decided that it must just have been my lack of experience, I was fresh out of college, and people who pay for training, want a trainer who has had decades under their belt.  That’s what I thought.  The entirety of time I worked there I only succeeded to bring in one horse in training, whose family I had given lessons to in the past. Nobody wanted to bring their horses to this place.

Red Flag #2: The Help

When I began working at this farm there were two stable hands who did the chores, while I was the trainer and instructor.  After a couple of months one of the stable hands quit, which I saw as an opportunity.  I quickly jumped in and asked to take her spot, which Toby and Randall had no issues with.  This way I could care for the horses the way I wanted, and get a little extra income as well.  

I loved helping run the barn.  I wanted to maintain an image of cleanliness, and professionalism in the barn to help lure in potential clients, and to keep existing ones around.  

After some time the other stable hand left, and a new one came in, then after a few months, he left and another took his place.  Over the course of the year and a half I was there, there ended up being five different stable hands, including me.

That’s right five. In a year and a half.  That’s an average of 3.6 months of work per person.  The turn over rate was unbelievable.

 

Red Flag #3: A Split

That November I found out that Toby and Randall had a huge argument, and that Randall had moved out.  I was shocked.  I came by the barn to talk to Toby because I was scared for my job.  This was a large facility for only one source of income to keep it afloat, especially because we were struggling to get clients.  

He told me not to worry about my job, he was still going to keep the place, but there was going to be changes.  Randall had been in charge of the goats, so Toby told me that he would pay me a commission if I were to sell the herd of goats, and the three goat milking stands.  He also told me he’d like to sell two miniature horses, a mountain of tack, a miniature driving harness and cart, a large cart and harness, a Fjord horse, a rescue horse, and his show horse (which again is a different story). Basically, he needed to downsize in order to keep afloat.

“Sure! I can sell some things!”  I decided that I needed to work on my salesmanship anyway, and this would make me some good money.

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Above is my personal horse meeting one of the mini horses for the first time

Red Flag #4: The Goats

I first inventoried everything that Toby wanted me to sell, and began to price out the things I was familiar with, which was all of the equine things, but I had no clue how to decide what to price these goats at.  

Luckily for me, me best friend had bred and raised goats her entire life, so I called her up and she agreed to come out to help me price out these goats.

The second she saw this herd of goats she froze.  “What is it?” I asked.

She said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t even want to touch these goats.”  I was confused, they looked like your typical herd of goats to me, but I am not a goat person.  She explained that she could tell immediately that these goats had a disease that was extremely contagious. She didn’t want to go near them for fear that she would infect her own herd.

 

WTF was I supposed to do with a diseased heard of goats?!  Did Toby and Randall know they were using diseased goats to make their goats cheese, and soaps that they were selling to people?!

I asked her what she thought these goats were worth.  She said that I could probably get about $75 per goat, but they were basically mutts, with no conformational correctness, and they had an incurable, highly contagious pathogen.  

Great.

I told Toby what my friend had said and he didn’t seemed phased at all.  He liked the idea of selling them for $75 each, and seemed more excited than concerned. A bit confused, I listed them on Craigslist, and I ended up selling them in batches to a couple of different buyers.  

The day before a buyer was scheduled to come, I noticed that one of the goats was laying down during feeding time when normally, the goats are trying to crawl up the walls to get at their feed.  I went inside the pen to check on her, and she wouldn’t get up. I was pushing her, trying to lift her, kicking her, anything to get her up on her feet.  I called Toby and told him the situation, and he said to give her a shot of penicillin and she should be fine.

Now, I’m not a vet, but I know enough about veterinary medicine to know that giving this goat one shot of penicillin, at this stage of her illness, was not going to do anything significant.

Eventually, the other barn worker came into the barn, and he helped me carry her into the heated side of the barn since she was sick, and it was very cold out. I then skeptically gave her the shot of penicillin I was instructed to give her and went home.

The next day was the day a goat buyer was scheduled to arrive, and I was going through my head all of the things I would have to say if the buyer saw this sickly goat. But when I got to the barn that morning, the goat had already passed.  With no time to grieve or think, I quickly asked the stable hand to help me dispose of this goat, and we threw her body into the dumpster out front.

The buyer came and picked up the last of the goats that day without ever knowing that there was a dead goat in the dumpster out front, and I sold the goats for around $25 each instead of $75.

Looking back on this incident still infuriates me.  Not only did Toby allow this goat to die with no remorse, but I was put in a position that went completely against my morals.  I was selling innocent people sickly goats, that would infect their own herds, while hiding the bodies of dead goats in the dumpster out front.  At the time I desperately wanted this job so I did everything that Toby asked of me, and I knew these goats would be going to better homes than what they were living in at the time.  However, if I were in the same situation again, I would refuse to be a part of it.

There are other facets to the goat story, but this was the main story.  I’ll continue.

 

Red Flag #5: The facility

That year there was a propane shortage making the cost of propane skyrocket.  Unluckily for us, the barn was heated with propane.  So, because I live in Minnesota, the pipes in the barn froze when the propane ran out.  This was a big problem because of the plumbing in the bathroom in the barn, and because all of the water was automatic.  Meaning there was no source of water for the horses.

After scrambling to figure out a way to get the horses water, Toby bought a new heater that used gasoline instead of propane, so the barn could be heated.  The problem was, the heater needed to be turned off when there was no one in the barn.  

I’m sure you know what is coming next.

Because of the constant freezing and thawing of the pipes in the barn, that barn flooded.  It flooded almost three times a week. The other employee at the barn was proficient at fixing the leaks that we found, but the flooding became comically consistent.  The tack room was q pond, the stalls were submerged, the feedroom was a swamp.  I have never in my life spent so much time getting rid of water, I felt like I was on a sinking ship, and only had a little bucket to throw the water overboard.

Despite the barn consistently underwater, the footing in the arena was always bone dry.  The sprinklers on the ceiling seemed like a good idea, but only a fraction of the dirt in the arena got wet, and it took hours before there was any noticable difference in the moisture of the dirt.  I would turn the sprinklers on when I arrived, and only turned them off when I needed to ride. The spots in the arena that were not under the sprinklers were always dry enough to suck the moisture out of your lungs, and of course they didn’t work in the winter

The barn never smelled good.  This is a strange complaint, but as many horse owners know, horse barns usually have a good sweet, horsey smell.  Not this barn.  It didn’t matter how often I would clean, there was always a mixed scent of mold, cat poop, chicken poop, and dust.

The stalls were incredibly hard to clean because the floors of the stalls were soft dirt.  Any experienced stall cleaner will tell you that soft dirt is not an ideal footing to create a clean stall.  The dirt would mix with the wood shavings, and would make the wheelbarrow extremely heavy, you could never get all of the urine out because it would soak into the ground, etc.

Lastly turn out pens were dangerous.  Not only were they full of slippery mud, the fences themselves were a danger to the horses.  At one point the horse I would use for lessons eventually ended up tearing a piece of her shoulder that was about a finger length deep, and around 6×6’ wide.

NONE of these problems were EVER fixed, and trust me, I complained to Toby.  The barn was underwater, the arena was a desert, the whole place stank, the stalls were impossible to clean correctly, and turn out for the horses was simply dangerous, but It was as if none of that seemed to matter to him.

 

Red Flag #6: Black Out

One day, while cleaning stalls suddenly all of the lights went out.  After checking, I found that none of the electricity in the barn was working at all.  I immediately contacted Toby and he assured me calmly that the power would be on in about an hour, and sure enough it was.

I happily continued working when the most recent stable hand Pete (who we’ll talk more about later) walked into the barn and exclaimed, “You’ll never believe what just happened!”

“What?’

“I just got back from the electric company and paid $2,000 on an overdue electricity bill!” Pete explained that the only reason he paid the bill for Toby was because he owed him rent money.

As it turned out Toby owed $7,000 on overdue electricity! To power my two bedroom house costs me about $60 per month, which I know is not comparable to an entire equine facility, but 7 grand is absolutely unreal.  Who doesn’t pay their electricity bill?!  Meanwhile, while he owed this much money, he had bought two new horses, was paying me a lot of money per month in training fees, and had other exorbitant expenses, whilst never paying for his electricity.

Red Flag #7: Dogs held Hostage

Pete was employed at the barn the longest out of any of the others, (except for me).  Pete didn’t know anything about horses, but he was an extra pair of hands.  He always was friendly to me, but I could tell that Pete had a temper.  I would often see him completely red in the face fuming about one thing or another, and he would often make me feel uneasy.

For a long time, I directed most of my frustrations about the facility at Pete, and blamed him for the problems with the barn.  I was not wrong in feeling uneasy about Pete, but I was wrong in thinking he was the problem.

The only thing in life that Pete loved were his two big beautiful black Dobermans. They were incredible dogs to behold, and they were his life.

One day I received a text from Toby that basically read “Do not trust anything Pete will tell you, he’s a convicted felon, and con artist.  He cons people for a living, don’t believe anything he tells you.”

Then I received another text from Pete, with pictures of the front gates closed and police cars out front saying, “Toby is holding my dogs hostage.  Help me get my dogs back , hes blackmailing me into giving him money and he has my dogs!”

Umm What?!

I didn’t go out to the barn that day.  There was no way I was getting involved with what was going down, especially because the police were involved.  As it turns out they were both telling the truth.  Pete’s children had contacted Toby to warn him that he was a convicted con artist, and for some reason, Toby felt it necessary to hold Pete’s dogs hostage.

 

The Last Straw

One day shortly after the hostage situation, I heard it through the grapevine, that Toby had listed his farm for sale.  I was not surprised to learn that it was for sale, but astonished that I had failed to learn from my boss that he was selling the farm in which my livelihood depended.  How could someone be so thoughtless?  What kind of person is so delusional that they thought they could sell their farm, without their barn manager, and head trainer finding out?!

I did not confront Toby.  Instead I continued working, as if everything was normal, and in secret I slowly gathered all of the belongings I had at the barn day by day and brought them home.  I brought my old 4H horse from my parents house, to a barn down the road and told my lesson students that I was moving my lessons to a new barn, without telling Toby.

I continued to train the horses he was paying me for while at the same time quietly slipping away from him.

Finally, one day I received a text from Toby.

He texted me a sob story saying how he was giving up on his childhood dreams, that he was too ill to continue to ride horses, and that he was heartbroken to tell me that he that he didn’t need me to come to the barn to train his horses anymore because he could no longer ride, and that he was selling the barn.

He had texted me to fire me, and he wanted me to give him my condolences at the same time.  I didn’t respond.

He chose to fire me via text, so I chose to ghost him.  

I have never spoken to him since.

He has sent me some vicious words via Facebook Messenger since, but I deleted them without reading them.  I refused to indulge in his delusions anymore.  I had already gotten all of my things out of the barn, and I didn’t want his money anymore.  I had no reason to go back, and I didn’t have anything nice to say to him so I decided to not say anything at all.

I felt free.

 

Looking Back

After  a year and a half of working at this hell hole, I finally came to the realization that it didn’t matter how hard I wanted this place to work, it was just not going to.  I realized that the problems with the facility, the help, the goats, the lack of clients, weren’t because I wasn’t working hard enough.  It had stemmed from Toby.  I had so much faith and hope in him and his place, and had so much ambition, that I was blinded by the fact that Toby was the problem.  I finally came to the understanding that if the owner of the business that I wanted to succeed was the reason that it was failing, it didn’t matter how hard I worked at it, it was destined to fail.

After I left, horse people from all around would approach me to tell me how relieved they were that I wasn’t working for Toby anymore.  People who had worked for him in the past, people who saw what had happened to me in the present, people I did and didn’t know.  It was then I knew had gotten out of a bad situation.

Was ghosting him the way I should have handled it?  Probably not.  But I had no problems burning this bridge.

There are other sad and frustrating stories to be told about this place and my time there, but these seem to be the most important.  I hope that by telling these stories, I can help someone else who is having the same issues in their workplace to gain the courage to quit.

 

Look for these red flags when assessing if your place of employment is right for you.

  • No new clients/ no new business
  • A quick turnover of employees
  • A rift or split between owners of the business
  • An amoral or neglectful business practice
  • A facility that keeps breaking down
  • Failure to pay utility bills
  • Employee/coworker drama.
  • Lack of admitting mistakes on the part of the employer

 

A year and a half doesn’t seem like a long time to stay employed in one place, but I am angry at myself for not leaving sooner.  I wore rose colored glasses for too long, and looking back I wish I had gotten myself out of there.

 

Toby eventually did sell the farm, and thankfully it is now owned by a wonderfully competent couple who train Saddlebreds, and have updated and fixed the place up.

 

I have so many other awful stories from my time working at this barn, that if any of you are interested in hearing them, let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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One of the many cats that were at the barn