My good friend started riding with a new trainer in town. He has very different ideas and he seems really tough on the horses. My friend’s horse, normally a very nice, quiet guy but a bit limited in the talent department, now is very tense and unhappy looking. Should I say something to her or keep my opinion to myself? I would hate for this to come between our friendship.
BILL— I guess it comes down to matters of degree. How disturbing is the new trainer’s approach? Is it just not your cup of tea, or is it distressing or painful to watch? How do you think your friend really feels about her horse? Does she really care about him or is she mostly success driven? How realistic is she about her horse’s limitations? More importantly how good a friend is she? Is she likely to value your opinion or be offended that you have one?
If the owner is really your friend, it’s hard to ignore the situation and say nothing. One time out of 100 a confrontation may be in order, but a low-key, inquiring approach probably has the best chance of getting through. “Do you think he is understanding what’s being asked?” “Does he seem upset to you?” Try to help your friend draw the conclusions herself rather than telling her what to think.