Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Who hides behind anonymity?

I started this blog when I went to Denny's as a way for my interested friends and family to know what I was up to.  I kept it up when I came home, partially because I was flattered at the request of my readers and partially because I enjoyed it.  This is *my* blog.  It's not my work blog -- that one's on the GRS website.  It's mine.  And because of that I feel free to venture into puppy adventures, riding stories, fiction, and anything else I like.  But I always keep it positive - when I attend a clinic I dislike, I don't post negative stories, I either find a positive or keep silent.  So I was a little startled and, tbh, hurt when I received a particularly nasty comment from somebody.  Now this particular person appears to know me as it was a personal attack, but chose to hide between a cowardly "anonymous" handle.  Handy though, as any posts by Anonymous get automatically spam filtered since the vast majority of them are, in fact, spam.  I usually check once a week or so to see if anything legit got deleted.

I thought about ignoring it entirely because really - anybody who won't stand behind their statement really doesn't deserve a response, but there were two points that she made that sort of amused me so I thought I'd address them.  And I'm guessing it's a woman here -- not necessarily of course, but a - the vast majority of my students are female and b - most of the men I know address issues directly.  I could, of course, be very wrong.   So we'll get there in a second...

One thing I found interesting -- this comment ranting about how horrible I am, was posted within the last week, on a blog post I wrote in 2010.  Really???  It amazes me that somebody who so dislikes me would be reading my blog back that far.  I was still freelancing then - didn't even own any schoolies!  So Anonymous -- thank you for your interest; I love that people actually read this!  And might I respectfully suggest that the next time you're unhappy with a service -- any type of service -- that you speak to the provider about your concerns.   The issues you raise in your post simply demonstrate that GRS was not a good fit for you, but if you'd spoken to me about it perhaps you'd be less angry now "several years" later (according to your post).

Another interesting thing was the comment, which might've fit in one of my TIR posts or posts about why students stop riding, was on a post that had absolutely nothing to do with the challenges of keeping riders or rider dissatisfaction.  But sobeit (hahaha more on "sobeit" in a moment - different post, but more fun).

So, this writer starts out saying "It is interesting to me that you assume people decline riding with you based on their flaws rather than considering that perhaps they are declining based on your own."  This just made me laugh at the ridiculousness of it.  I'm very careful not to assume anything -- most of the time I *know* why somebody left and if I don't know, I follow up and ask.  People leave for all sorts of reason - financial, location, change in circumstances, want a new horse, scheduling issues, and yes sometimes just not happy.  But the simple fact is that people who leave because they don't like me, or my teaching style or my horses are not worth discussing.  The blog is for things that interest *me*.  Leaving for an unusual reason is interesting -- at a friend's request I'm even keeping a list of the more interesting ones, maybe for our five-year anniversary *g*   Or somebody who leaves that I'm sad to lose might also warrant a note (I'm still sad one of my favourite students moved all the way to the middle of nowhere).

I freely acknowledge that my coaching style isn't for everybody.  That's a huge reason why I have assessment lessons.  Compared to many in the area I'm a *tough* coach.  Compared to those in Europe, I'm super easy going *g*  Regardless, I don't offer hugs or hold a rider's hand or tell them they're wonderful when they're not.  I don't believe in participation awards.  My shows offer ribbons to third and if you didn't earn one, I'm sorry.  Sometimes it's just not your day.  And sometimes you need to go home, practice, consider what you can do better, and earn one next time.  I give *lots* of corrections and challenges.  But that being said, my students improve rapidly, they're very successful on the competitive circuit  and they absolutely know that when I tell them it's good, they've earned it (some are even starting to believe it!).  I am exceptionally loyal to my students -- will go well above and beyond to help them succeed, and - I believe - most of them appreciate it and are equally loyal to me.  I'm not perfect, I have bad days and I push too hard.  But for the most part I try my hardest to help my students and I expect the same from them.  The end result is, my style works for me, it works for my students, and because it doesn't work for everybody it filters out the people who wouldn't fit in here.  I have a few non-competitive classes, mostly adults, for students who want to learn from me and like the environment, but prefer a less intense environment.  Most of these are professionals with high-intensity jobs who want to come ride to relax.  And I get that and teach accordingly :)   The trick is to make sure everybody's in the right stream!  For riders who find it's not a good fit, if they speak to me about it, I'll help them find an equally qualified coach who will be more to their style.  I know most of the coaches in the area and really want people to enjoy riding -- and for that reason will help them relocate to a situation where they'll still be safe but will be happier.  I do the same for potential boarders if I don't feel they'll be a good fit for us.

Ok so end of that rebuttal.  The second thing she said that amused me was a complaint that I micromanage and nitpick everything - apparently not just in the ring, "it was grooming, tack cleaning, even how tack was carried" -- ummm that's my *job*.  I have awesome horses and expensive tack and I expect them both to be well cared for, in a specific manner.  My sandbox, my rules.  I learned that at Denny's and I came to appreciate it.   There were all sorts of things there that were to be done a *very* specific way.  And when I asked why, they'd explain it to me.  And I'll tell ya - I learned a lot from it and adopted several things from their practices (tack cleaning and blanket folding amongst them).  The ones I didn't like I didn't implement when I came home -- but while there, I did it all exactly as they said to.  Their farm, their rules.  End of story.  And if I comment on how somebody's *carrying* tack -- that means they're probably having trouble and I'm genuinely trying to help them out.  There's a knack to coordinating everything at once and new riders usually find it quite awkward.  In fact, how to get gear from point A to point B is often part of intro lessons.  But here's what amused me -- this was inserted very much to be insulting and demonstrating how horrid I am, but I actually consider it selling feature.  Attention to detail is important.  A clean, safe, organized, well run barn is important.  The details matter.  And yes, I know I drive some of my working students crazy *g*  But they get it.  And for usual students, most just roll their eyes and go along with it - much as I did at Denny's :)  But for those who really need a more relaxed atmosphere, there are lots of them out there.  Ask me and I'll help you find one.

But after three years it's the first negative comment, so suppose that ratio is not half-bad.  I know it's certainly not the first person who's left because they've disliked my style, but I always figure after people leave they move on with their lives -- sticking around reading my blog leaves me a little stunned.  Ah well.  Now on to better things :)


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