Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Breakup - Part 10

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9

I got of of my car a the Upper Barn with my heart racing and a ball of bricks in the pit of my stomach. I really wasn't looking forward to telling Paula that I wanted to work with Justine, especially since Paula already knew about it and had the opportunity to stew about it overnight. But like anything unpleasant that you have to do it's best to just get it over with and stop stressing about it, so I forced my feet to walk into the barn.

I found Paula cleaning her horse's stall. I said "Hi Paula." She didn't look up, say anything or stop what she was doing. I said "I need to talk to you." Again, I was completely ignored, like I wasn't even there. So I just went on with it and said "I'm really sorry to have to tell you this, but I think I'm going to work with Justine from now on."

Again, no response whatsoever. Instead of just leaving, I felt really bad and I continued to try and fill the silence with my reasons for changing trainers, apologizing between thoughts, and hoping that she'd at least look at me. Or say something. Anything.

Finally, after a long pause that I hoped she'd fill, I said "Don't you have anything to say to me?"

She stopped, looked at me, and said "I don't know how you could do this to me. I thought we were friends." I said I thought we were too, and that when I asked for her help at the show and she refused that had hurt my feelings, besides being a little unprofessional. She said "You're my best student! You didn't need her help! And I'm not surprised that Justine stole you from me, since her trainer has been stealing students from other trainers for years!"

I replied that I certainly did need some help from a trainer, and what did she expect me to do if she refused to be there? She didn't reply, and went back to her stall cleaning. I thanked her for all the work that she did with Kaswyn and I, and said that I thought she gave us a great foundation of classical dressage to work from. Without looking at me, she said "Well I hope you enjoyed it because I know who Justine's trainer was, and Justine trains just like her. You're going to ruin your horse. I feel really sorry for Kaswyn."

I didn't know how to respond to that. I had only worked with Justine for a weekend, and time would tell if her training methods would jive with my ideas of dressage. But from what I had experienced so far was very good, and wasn't damaging to me or Kaswyn.

Neither of us were talking and it was clear that it was time for me to make my exit. I thanked her again, and apologized for hurting her, and wished her the best with her horse and her business. I was ignored again, so I walked out of the barn.

That was almost eight years ago, and it was the last time that Paula ever spoke to me. I kept Kaswyn at that barn for awhile longer, so I would see Paula all the time. I would still say hi to her, but she not only refused to speak to me but also refused to even look at me. She would see me coming and purposefully turn her head to the side and walk by me, like a child would do if playing a game of "If I can't see you then you don't exist."

I never heard of her saying anything derogatory about me or Kaswyn. And the only thing I have to say negatively about her is how she handled that last show and of course how she handled me switching trainers. I'm pretty sure that she thinks I had planned on leaving her all along, and that Justine had been trying to coax me into training with her. Neither one is true, but I think there is now way for me to ever convince her of that.

The bottom line is if she had just come to the show with me then I never would have worked with Justine, who has become a fantastic, very close friend to me. And I probably would have listened to Paula and sold my beloved horse. Then I never would have been able to show him at Intermediare I, and have three National Championships, three Reserve Championships, many Regional Championships and more blue ribbons than I can keep track of. Besides giving me a really good classical dressage foundation, she also gave me the gift of being able to move on with my training, make a lifelong friend, and discover how much talent my horse really has.

So Paula, if you're reading this - I'm sorry our relationship had to end the way it did. I know I learned something from the whole ordeal, and I hope you did too. And regardless of what you think of me, I still wish the best for you because I did think of you as a friend and not just my dressage trainer.



Anonymous said...

All I can say is that if Paula had been a true friend and even more so a professional, she would have understood why you did what you did and been supportive of your decision. Instead she acted like a child and treated you like one. Your gut told you that you needed to do what was best for you and your horse and you took action on it. Like you said- you and Kaswyn wouldn't have gone on to do any of the wonderful things you did without a different trainer.

I've known you for an awfully long time now and saw you from your first steps in dressage to the FEI rider you are today. You should be very proud of yourself and everything you have done.

If Paula can't look past her own selfishness to see the bigger picture, then good riddance to her. You made every effort to try not to hurt her feelings and she didn't want any part of it. Had she really seen the potential in you both, she would have seen that you were beyond what she was able to teach you and wish you well in your training, not encourage you to sell your horse to someone else.

Thanks for the story. It was great reading!

ponytails said...

Well these things happen along the way, but you made the right decision and it has all come good in the end. I have loved reading your story and would like to wish you and Kaswyn continued success.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and now that this story is over I think that you should share Pennsic stories! (even if they are not pony related) I was crying I was laughing so hard at the last revel. You definitely have a knack for telling a hell of a story. ;)

dressagemom said...

Yeah, I'm not sure I want to share those. Not yet anyway. And I still have horse stories to tell. And other stuff up my sleeve.

Also, if USEF ever gets around to giving me permission to use the rulebook I'll update my Video Glossary of Dressage Movements. I might have to just add to it anyway cause at this point I don't know when they'll get back to me, if ever. I'm sure if they wanted to sue me they'd have been all over me, but since it's just permission to use rules and figures I guess it's not a high priority.

Wiola said...

I have just cought up with all the reading of the Break Up story and can't wait for more stories! :) You seem very generous at prising Paula but I was really glad to read she was no longer coaching you.

I hope the move will go smoothly and that you can make the place work for you and Kaswyn.

Echo said...

So glad to hear how it all worked out! More stories, please - it's like a horsey soap opera, but more interesting because it's real.

Very glad that you found a trainer who had your best interests at heart - that's the most important thing.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm a new follower and just finished this story. I'm so glad things worked out for you with your new trainer and very saddened to hear that your previous trainer was a bust in the end.

I teach riding lessons and I am more than happy to recommend someone to move up to another trainer when I feel like I cannot teach them much more. One of these students has become a great friend (and now my boss outside of horses, lol!) and we discuss training methods, trainers, shows and so much more all the time.

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