When our Morab mare was given to us last year at the age of 8, she had not
been handled, never
shod nor ridden. She had lived in a backyard with her Mom and an old pony.
saddle broke her using the John Lyons' method in the round pen. After 6-7
months of my
riding her in the hills, we decided she needed to be in the hands of a
professional for a
month or two. We had never trained a horse from scratch before and felt we
had reached the
limit of our knowledge. April, never having had to work could be attitudinal
After checking with fellow riders, we selected Deb Cooper of Aptos, CA. She
recommended and claims to be one of five Pat Parelli's certified trainers in
the U.S. After a
couple of phone conversations with her assistant, we were invited to go down
to Aptos, 50
miles away and watch a clinic starting the following Sunday, so we went.
approximately 20 horses in the arena and Deb proceeded to teach the "games".
At one time, she hit a horse on the head with her "carrot stick" (a stiff
fiberglass bat) and one could hear
a loud inhalation from the crowd - the same sound of shock that you would
hear at a
baseball park when a batter gets beened and drops to the ground. Deb then said
matter-of-factly how she had personally witnessed Pat Parelli taking a
horse's eye out that
way. You could feel everyone's horror. In indsight, that should have sent us
home and we
were fools for continuing.
After the clinic, we had a short conversation with Deb who made clear the
training with her get ridden five days per week by her only. She asked if we
could bring our mare down right away so that she could be ready to
participate in the clinic the following
Sunday. The next day, my husband trailered her down, her second ever trailer
arrival, he presented the shipping boots and head bumper and requested that
they be used
and was told "we have everything and people like to steal things like that
so don't leave it here". Someone put a Parelli halter on April and took her
away. There was no check-in paperwork presented, no questions about her
diet, who to call in case of emergency, where we lived, who our vet
was, etc. April did well the following Sunday during the public clinic. The
bottom fell out
yesterday, Saturday. We arrived to the horror of finding huge gouges on both
her hind legs,
one portion was scraped to the bone and there was nothing on the wounds but
flies. While I held April, my husband confronted Deb who was avoiding us and
the following exchange took place:
David: "I am pissed off about this injury, I guess you didn't use shipping
Deb: "Hey man, shit happens, OK? and I haven't got time to use all that
crap. If you want
that stuff to be used, you better take her out of here right now and go to a
fancy barn" She
then stomps out and David follows her.
David: "I am your customer, don't talk to me that way. You were
irresponsible and your
attitude is unacceptable. I find it outrageous that you are unwilling to use
as I requested and that is available. All your customers are paying you good
money to take
Deb: "What do you want me to do? put rubber bumpers everywhere around here
your horse against injury? Shit happens with horses and she just has some
hair missing, that's all"
David: "Of course, shit happens with horses, we are talking about negligence
in not using
proper safety equipment when trailer loading"
Deb: "Hey man, I almost killed my own horse today, (!!) I don't give a shit
horse, f* your horse, get it out of here" Deb was screaming no more than six
from David's face.
This conversation took place in front of witnesses standing around in shock.
In addition, April was not ridden 5 days per week as stated, only 3 the
first week and 4 this
week according to the board in the barn and not always by Deb. Today, we
took her back home and the vet is coming in the morning.
How do you find out all this ahead of time? Deb came highly recommended.
lesson here? Should we put all our requirements in writing and have the
trainer sign it?
Sorry about the length and the foul language, I wanted to be factual in my
Thank you for your feedback. Again this is not about whether or not people
should use shipping boots.
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