Testosterone Poisoning Victim Mars Clinic Experience

I recently attended a horse event in a very, very nice area of Phoenix at a very, very high-dollar facility and experienced some very, very appalling behavior by an alleged professional adult person who is a trainer there. Even weeks later, I’m still stunned by the way this “man” behaved.

It all started off well. The place was beautiful and full of high-quality horses. The accommodations for our horses were quite good and the barn staff was friendly and extremely helpful. The boarders in the barn where our horses were housed were welcoming, initiating conversation and generally being super nice. Great. And then came the downside.

Although we were told we would have “half” the arena to ride in, we kept being warned that “the reiners have the right of way.” Clearly that was the party line on the property; I asked one of the boarders who was also riding in the clinic why that point was made so many times. “Surely they wouldn’t ride right through a clinic or deliberately get in someone’s way, right?” The answer was a wry smile and a repeat of the mantra: “the reiners have the right of way.”  Hmmm.

Well, our “half’ of the arena turned out to be a very tiny corner, which had the benefit of an open, raised area where chairs could be placed for the auditors. For some reason, that remote corner, farthest from the gate, seemed to be a magnet for one “reiner” (not multiple reiners) who was a complete and utter jackass. Apparently his idea of necessary and appropriate training and arena etiquette included the following activities:

  • Riding along the rail into our little corner, getting between the auditors and the clinician so that everyone photographing or videotaping ended up with his head bobbing through the shots. One day he spent the best part of two hours galloping one horse through that area over and over and over with no regard for the clinician or the riders. Rude, annoying, unsafe.
  • Running at speed from the far end of the arena into a space just outside our little circle (except when it encroached into the space) and sliding his horse over and over and over. He could just as easily have moved over and slid into an area closer to the other corner, or chosen to go width-ways and stay out of our space completely. At one point, he slid his horse to a stop about 20 feet from our clinician. Rude, inappropriate, unsafe.
  • Doing obviously deliberate “fly-bys” of the clinic riders as they were trying to warm up and cool down their horses outside the clinic area so as not to interfere with their fellow riders. At one point he stopped his horse right off my left flank and then yee-hawed to a gallop so close to me that if I’d had the presence of mind to stick out my elbow I could easily have knocked him off his horse. In any discipline, that’s a deliberate attempt to get someone dumped. I’ve done it myself, but not since I was about 10. Rude, immature, unsafe. I wonder what his liability insurance carrier (or that of the owner of the multi-million-dollar facility) would think of the risk he represents?

To make matters worse, he seems to be teaching his young students to be just as awful as he is. The second day of the clinic, the arena emptied out completely in the afternoon with the exception of the clinic riders, the jerk and two of his students, both young girls. They had the entire rest of the 150 x 300 arena in which to work, but he kept sending them right into our little corner. During my lesson, I was riding a 20- to 30-meter circle around the clinician and these girls kept getting in front of me. My horse had settled in by then and didn’t care, so I just held my line and made them move. One of the girls had the good grace to look a little sheepish, but the other had a nasty little sneer. Trainer’s pet, no doubt. Appalling, horrifying, unsafe. And what are their parents thinking?!

I don’t know whether this guy thought he was intimidating the clinician in breeches or showing off for the women auditors and riders. But he should have noticed that the very poised and confident young man from Vienna wasn’t the slightest bit perturbed by or even vaguely interested in his antics. And someone really should tell him that even women who don’t do reining (or haven’t done it in years, but used to!) can tell bad riding at a glance and are not impressed by it.

Sitting so far to the left that your poor horse nearly runs into the wall every time you go careening around the corner is not impressive. Dozens of crooked stops during which you are whacking your horse between the ears with a big stick are not impressive. Spins where the hindquarters end up moving faster than the front are not impressive. A young student with a horse cranked down in drawreins and a curb bit is not impressive. Oh, and I believe the conventional wisdom among real reiners is that a horse only has so many spins and so many slides in him, and when they’re used up the horse is no longer competitive. This guy seemed to be doing his best to use up his horses as fast as possible. Perhaps the conventional wisdom is different in his specialty, Arabian reining.

Frankly, all he did was make a complete fool of himself, make the facility that was apparently catering to him seem poorly and unsafely managed and spark a spirited debate among the participants about what specific physical inadequacy he might be compensating for. Hmmm … what do you think?!

7 thoughts on “Testosterone Poisoning Victim Mars Clinic Experience

  1. I think you are right! And I would have to complain to the manager as well as have all the one’s at your clinic do the same.. To bad an idiot like that it in a teaching position..if you want to call it that.

    • This seemed like a case of … if they don’t already see that this is a bad situation, nothing I say will likely make a difference. I think all the repetitions of the phrase “the reiners have the right of way” really meant that for some reason the whole place was catering to this guy. And I watched him do the same stuff to boarders and also saw boarder/riders defer to him or ride with one eye on him all the time as if expecting him not to respect their space.

  2. The manager wouldn’t have listened.

    I’ve concluded that the place was run by the Clampetts. Old Jethro there kept slipping his “foreign” accent. It must have truly rankled that the clinician had a real one, and was a real trainer, too.

  3. Kind of surprising that place still gets any business besides this fellow at all?

    Also, how does he even sit in a saddle, if his personal equipment is as big as he thinks it is? Ahem.

  4. Wow. Rudeness is one thing, but setting up other riders and horses for possible injury and then teaching same to a new generation is something else. I hope this idiot didn’t impact your experience too negatively. It sounds like your clinician was a real gem.

    • I still learned good things, but I know what will be one of the first questions I’ll ask the next time I consider going to a clinic. Not having an arena space reserved just for the clinic was one of the very few deal-breakers back when I was a clinic organizer. Bad footing or no dedicated clinic space and the facility got crossed off the list.

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