Rude trainer talks on cell phone during lessons October 26 2009, 0 Comments

Since my day job is with Emily Post, horse people approach me with etiquette questions. I’ve heard this one a lot:

My trainer talks on her cell phone during my lesson. I hate it! It makes me feel like my lesson isn’t a priority for her. Can I say something to her?

My answer? YES.


Think about it. How would you react if a schoolteacher took a cell phone call in the middle of class? A piano teacher?

It’s not only inappropriate, but also disrespectful for a trainer to take or make phone calls during a lesson.

Sometimes there is an urgent call that must be answered. Emergencies would include:

  • Urgent call from the vet regarding a sick horse
  • Phone call from the trainer’s daughter, son or child care provider
  • A call in reference to a family illness or emergency

The following situations do not merit “emergency” status:

  • Call regarding the sale or purchase of a horse
  • Call to schedule a lesson
  • Call to schedule a hair appointment, manicure, pedicure or massage (equine or human)

What should you do if your trainer regularly takes phone calls during your lesson? Well, you could say nothing. How does that make you feel?

Yeah, I thought so.

You have to speak up. I know, it’s hard. Put on your big girl undies, take a deep breath and get out your diplomatic-Middle-East-peace-is-at-stake-here half-smile.  Chose a time and place where you feel comfortable bringing this up. It may be at the END of a lesson, so that your trainer cannot punish you by taking away your reins and stirrups and then making you jump a 10-fence gymnastic (JOKE!!, just a JOKE).

Practice what you will say to her. It could be something like this (you’ll have to make it your own for it to sound natural):

“Jeannette, wow, you’re really busy lately. You’ve been taking a lot of phone calls during my last few lessons. I have to admit, I find it distracting. It interrupts the flow of the lesson for me. Is there a better time for us to schedule lessons when you won’t have so many calls? I’d really appreciate it if you could stop taking calls during my lesson. Thanks.”

Don’t expect an immediate response. When people are called out on rude behavior, they typically react with stunned silence or shock. Most people are completely clueless about the impact that their rudeness can have on the people around them. Once it’s pointed out to them, they usually adapt  and change their actions.

If your trainer isn’t willing to change her ways, it may be time for a new trainer.