Thursday, March 25, 2010

So what happens when a Big Name Trainer CAN'T train a horse?

So what happens when a Big Name Trainer CAN'T train a horse?

This question in and of itself is very interesting. See BNT's are supposed to be able to train any horse. Thats why they are a BNT. 

The BNT I am currently referring to is Mr. 2009 Unanimous National Champion Half Arabian Western Pleasure Open. *Whew* Thats a mouthful.  I'll shorten that very long name to simply BNT. (His name is Joe Reiser, btw, for those of you in the arabian/half arabian western pleasure circles.) His website is full of anecdotes about how when he was a boy, he'd dream about being like the riders that got the big wins. Thats just wonderful... I wanna know your training philosophy. (Note to Joe... You don't have the words "Natural Horsemanship" anywhere on your site, nor do you have anything up for sale aside from some shirts, jackets, and hats (amongst other apparel items) that have your barn logo. You get brownie points for that from me. If there were anything remotely resembling a carrot stick you would immediately have gotten thrown to the wolves here. Show me pictures of horses in training. Show me more pictures of your barn, stables, and pastures than just this one.)

(OT again, but my word, does that barn just scream out BNT or what?)

Now, really I'm not here to rag on our BNT today, 'cept for maybe a little bit. He's not so much the focus, though he does play a very major role in todays ad. I know very little about this guy, and from his website, though some of its not finished, it looks ok. At least there aren't any pegasus' or bible quotations on it. Its pretty strait forward and professionally done. It just needs to be finished. I wanna see on their horses for sale page what they say about their horses!

The reason he made it to this blog is because of this ad. 


Now, he's not the one behind the ad. The owner of the horse offered wrote the ad up. 

Lets see what it says; "Registered Half Arabian. Registered Name: LOTTA MOMENTUM (barn name "Oprah"). Her sire is black arabian stallion Momentum NA (Nationally accredited western pleasure), Dam was AQHA LottaChocolate Power, who has amazing western and halter bloodlines. She has been in training with Joe Reser of Setting Sun Training Center in Wakarusa, IN since Dec.2009 and has been under saddle approx. 60 days. She has a sweet personality, great size (15.1 and growing) and bone density. She is destined to be notch western horse, possibly even halter. She is SWEEPSTAKES NOMINATED."

Ok, that all sounds fine. Horse is decently bred, has a great show career ahead of her, everything is going well looks like.


Lets see what it says next; "Price has been reduced from $9500 from $1500 for a quick sale due to the following reasons: Oprah has amazing potential, HOWEVER ... her training isn't going as smoothly as we'd like."

Oh boy! The fun begins! First... thats one HELL of a major drop in the price. 

Second... "Her training isn't going as smoothly as we'd like." That just begs to ask the obvious questions. Why not? What happened? Is this a case of the owner being told 'off' by the trainer because they got too annoying? Is there something wrong with the horse? Inquiring minds want to know here!


We find out in the ads next lines; "She hates to be clipped. Her confidence is lacking, I would not describe her as a brave horse. Recently she has taught herself to throw herself over backwards to get out of working (I know ... lovely). She needs a patient, firm, experienced rider/trainer to take her further. Up for the challenge?! She'll be a good horse someday just not under my ownership.:) "


So, BNT can't get this mare, which HE started, to stop flipping over, which is a habit she developed while in training with him. What the hell was this guy, or most likely his assistants, doing to this mare during 'training' that she decided to flip over to escape working? Why couldn't the BNT or his assistants, once they saw the problem starting, immediately take steps to correct it? And whats with the confidence comment? A MAJOR part of groundwork training is instilling confidence in the horse. That didn't happen here? Why Not? The clipping comment... eh, thats the only one I'll let slide. Plenty of horses dislike clippers, and never get over it. Its not a deal breaker for me.

But the flipping? Thats one heck of a serious training issue. Its not a behavior issue, because she learned it during her training with the BNT. They allowed it to happen.

HMMMMMM. Brings me back to my original question.

So what happens when a Big Name Trainer CAN'T train a horse?

Now, to play devils advocate for a minute, the best of trainers will get horses that simply cannot be 'fixed'. They are too scared, too traumatized, too set in their ways, whatever the reason is... and once the trainer has given it his/her best shot, the only thing left to do is go back to the owner and admit they simply can't do anything else for the horse.

Whether or not BNT has or will done this I will never know. I'm just going off of what this ad reads, and it sure sounds like owner is more than a bit unhappy that her "Black Beauty" can't be ridden. Instead of her dream horse she gets a mare that has figured out "I don't get rode if I rear and throw myself to the ground." NO wonder she sounds a bit unhappy in her ad!

BUT>>>>THIS is now where I start having even more problems with this ad than the seller admitting the horse flips after just 60 days of training. 

She goes on to state; "Please don't ask to ride her, I don't want to pay anyone's medical bills."

*Sigh*. So you will market her as a decent future show mount, yet you won't let anyone try her out because she flips. Ok, I get that you don't want anyone to get hurt, that makes sense to me, but... 

I'm of two minds here on this one. I showcased this ad because of the flipping after less than 60 days of training at a BNT barn. Yet... if the seller didn't disclose it in the ad publicly, she'd get flamed for it by those saying she's not disclosing all the information on the horse.

On the other hand, BY disclosing the information, you can't very well in the same ad claim that the horse might be a great mount for someone "someday"!  YOU DON"T KNOW that the person you sell her too will A) know what to do to correct the flipping issue, or B) have the money and brains to send her to someone that would know what to do. If BNT can't correct the problem... well then there's a serious problem here isn't there. There are some really, REALLY good problem horse trainers that can and do deal with this type of vice. There are 3 times as many whackjobs that claim to do the same thing, and screw the horse up worse than it was to start with. How does one tell the difference? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is a whole 'nother blog topic. 

So what does the seller do? I actually think she was right to list the flipping in the ad. It will hopefully scare off the ones that wouldn't be equipped to deal with it, and she just might be savvy enough to weed through the ones that think they are, but aren't. By telling people they can't ride her in the test... if the BNT wants to take a commission on the sale of the horse (No idea if he is or not, just throwing it out there for the topic's sake), he will certainly make sure one of his assistants will be present during the showing of the horse, and if necessary, they should ride, or at least work the horse on the ground.

The horse should be sold with the flipping very prominent in the sales contract, so the buyer knows exactly what he/she is purchasing. That way, when the new owner does take possession of the horse, the seller is covered if / when the new owners get hurt. Beyond that, there really ISN'T much more the seller can do. So, while on the surface this might seem like a 'worst of', it really is the best the seller could do with the situation she was handed. 

(I still would like to know the back story on how the mare became a flipper...)

I was discussing this very ad with the friend of mine that sent it to me and she was telling me about a horse she once knew that was also a flipper. If the gelding wasn't ridden every day, and thats 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, the very next time you went to get on him, without fail, he'd go over. They never figured out why he did it, nor ever got rid of the vice. Its a dangerous habit, and this horse will never, ever, be 100% safe to ride. 

As an interesting side note, I just discovered another ad by the same seller, so maybe its not just this situation that is driving her decision to sell the black mare. Shes got another Half-Arabian Buckskin Pinto Mare up as well. 

Who knows... maybe she saw something, heard something, or was so pissed off that they caused her mare to become a flipper that she decided to get out of horses entirely.


  1. I hope the black mare doesn't end up dumped at a kill pen. I don't know what I would do if my horse (a coming-4-year-old greenie) suddenly started flipping and I didn't know why. I can't afford the cost of a BNT, but I'd almost rather keep him as a pasture ornament than risk him hurting someone or ending up at a slaughter house.

    It's a tough situation, and it's hard to judge the owner for selling the mare. I'm glad she disclosed the flipping, but I worry about who would buy a horse knowing it flips. Hopefully since it's only been 60 days of training, she has a chance of being fixed. Or maybe she's broodmare quality?

  2. With a price drop like that you gotta wonder if that might be the last chance for this mare in the back of the owners mind. Its really hard to judge in this particular case though. The questions that keep running through my head are 1) Why did the mare start flipping to begin with; 2)Why didn't whomever was working her immediately take steps to correct the problem... and if they DID, why didn't it work; 3)Was the owner already going to sell this mare or was the flipping the decision maker; 4)Is the owner getting rid of both of her horses because she is so disgusted that she no longer wants to be a part of the Arabian horse world, or is she just a person that breeds one or two high quality foals a year to sell?

    I'd say the BNT has a HUGE responsibility in this particular training fail for sure.

  3. I am half tempted to contact the owner and offer to take in the horse. I know my hubby can effectively read a horse and would be one of the few on earth who could put an end to the flipping as well as a lot of other issues the horse may have by now. If the problem can be solved.

    If not, well then I would say she could be a fabulous broodie and in hand horse as a way of life. Maybe try starting her in harness instead.

    Problem is, with the girls and a family to be concerned about, he doesn't take on problem horses anymore.

    Not letting the wannabe a big name, trainer off the hook, but some horses just do some wacky shit with no ryhme or reason behind it. You may never know what sets them off, triggers the response or sends the crossed wire signals to them to go off.

  4. Hmmm. Since no one other than those who have been working with this mare on a daily basis actually know what her story is, aside from what an exasperated and apparently money-desperate owner says in a Craigslist ad (and we all should know by now CL is not the place serious sellers who want serious money for their horses advertise), kind of tough to judge. There is no word on whether or not the mare's issue might be pain related either, in fact there are just no clues at all.

    But calling Joe Reser a "wannabe a big name" is nothing short of laughable. Joe and his wife Michele are both very skilled horsemen and Joe is very effective at his job ~ both of their Nationals show records and the dozens of satisfied customers speak volumes. Setting Sun's reputation in the industry is stellar. Methinks there may just be a twinge of jealousy here. Just saying.

  5. I don't know the official approved way to stop a horse from flipping over, but when I was a teenager I got an abused and panicky Thoroughbred mare who would rear up and then go over backwards. Whenever she would start that when I was on her, I'd just bail, let her go on over backwards, then get back on her when she got up as if nothing had happened. She quickly realized that she got nothing out of the rearing and going over, and stopped on her own. I think that if I'd made a big deal out of it - yelling, hitting, whatever - that it would have further scared her and reinforced the behavior (like, OMG, things really ARE terrible!). But by keeping everything calm, it allowed her to focus on HER, not being scared of me. If the horse is doing this out of aggressiveness, that would be different, but this particular horse was just terrified due to some rough handling and prone to panic.

  6. Does anyone know what happened to this mare before BNT got her? Was she already flipping? Had someone else had a crack at training her and it didn't work out so then her owner sent her to be "fixed" by a BNT and after 60 days he said 'nope I can't/don't want to fix what was broken by someone else". All we know is that her owner is only claiming one BNT trainer and not all of her trainers.

  7. Don't know Joe, so won't comment on that. But

    His website is full of antidotes about how when he was a boy, he'd dream about being like the riders that got the big wins.

    His website isn't full of antidotes, I hope. It does appear to be full of ANECDOTES.

  8. CNJ, if you seriously want her, I'd be more than willing to go get her and stick her in my pasture until you could get her to wherever you are. She's only a couple hours from me.

    I'd love to take her on, but I just don't have space/time for another horse. Idiots doing stupid things to Arabs makes me sad!

  9. Has the mare been vet checked? A trainer that I worked for has a mare that would launch herself up and over backwards every time she was saddled and ridden. I don't know the exact name for it, but the mare ended up having a severe vertebret problem, along with a pinched nerve dead center in the middle of her back. It took a lot of "off" time to get her right.

    However, there are those horses who cannot be fixed. Some owners are too stupid to realize that their "farm born and raised" hoofed kid is not going to be their next superstar.

  10. Very true ^ that. Not to mention what some owners want is beyond the horse's capability, and in those cases both owner and trainer share the responsibility for pushing too hard, too fast or going beyond what the horse can physically (and/or mentally) handle.

  11. to and too and two are not interchangeable.

    Please master some basic grammar.

  12. I don't get the propensity for naming black animals after black people. I get a bad taste in my mouth when I encounter it.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Aside from my TWO grammatical errors, (which I apologize for) I agree with the comments.

    Or most of them anyways.

    No jealousy here truth be told. I have never had any desire to become a BNT or just a trainer myself. Yes I've heard of Joe, watched him show during the last two Scottsdale Arabian Shows. He's a very good horseman so far as I could tell in the arena. I did not go find his barn to look through it however.

    My biggest point was this: this is a barn that does and can produce some awesome show horses. These guys obviously know what they are doing, and do it well.

    So to have this caliber of mare be on CL, with this type of history with this particular trainer makes me raise a few eyebrows.

    There are any number of reasons this mare started flipping... pain, aggression, the training was too much for her, or it could simply just be her personality.

    Why didn't the trainer look into the pain issue? If he/they DID, why wasn't it mentioned in the ad? Ill fitting tack? An aggressive mare?

    These are all issues that as amateur and non-pro level horse owners, we PAY the BNT to handle. This trainer, in this one instance, did not.

    That was my point.

    As I've mentioned before, I have no back story on these horses. I have attempted to email the owners directly before using the ads here on a few of the ads featured on this blog, and at least in this particular case, did not ever receive a response.

  15. My mentioning of jealousy had nothing to do with you, CL Ad Queen. :) That comment was in reference to CnJ's referring to Joe as a "wannabe". He most certainly is not.

    There will sometimes be horses who come along that we, as trainers (no matter how skilled we are...or think we are) are at a loss as how to correct or cure the problem, or who will baffle us and who we will need to seek outside help to deal with. ANY trainer who claims otherwise is a liar and a fraud. Not being afraid to admit you are in over your head is part of being a professional trainer.

    That said, as I mentioned earlier, none of us really knows the whole truth of the matter concerning this horse. Probably the best thing to do is to pick up the phone and call Joe, asking him about the horse and casually mentioning the ad and your concerns. It's what I would do under the circumstances.

  16. Ah, well I wondered, but thought I would mention it anyways.

    Happy Easter Everyone.

  17. Joe Reser is one of the better trainers of western horses in the Arabian breed. I was perusing the AHA ads to find this particular horse for sale, and found two others for sale by the same owner.

    This particular ad mentions price reduction due to a divorce.

    The whole ad for the black mare just SCREAMS to me that someone is just being an ass, and the divorce might explain that.

  18. I don't look at ads on other sites, so I never would have seen that. Again, my only info is off of what the ad on CL says. Though, that does explain the sell off of more than one horse.

    Still does not explain the mare's behavior.

  19. Sorry guys. This horse needs a ride to Canada or Mexico, whichever is closer. Too many available horses with good minds that will not kill someone. If the flipping was a one-time event, different ending.

    I had a horse I was breaking fall backwards on me, breaking my pelvis in several places--might have killed me; I was able to get almost out of the saddle and ended with her laying across my groin on her back. When I was able to walk again, I finished breaking her with absolutely no more incidents, put her with a finish trainer, and went on to win many ribbons with her in WP, Trail, Halter.

    If the subject horse is repeatedly flipping over, it should be permanently removed from the riding/breeding community. Put it down or meat it out.

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