Consumer reviews and reports on scam companies, bad products and services
The Cambridge Training
The Cambridge Training Stable Ed Fodge hunter/jumper barn, fraud, misrepresentation, lessons, sales, lame horses Maple Park, Illinois
6th of Apr, 2011 by User863821
Ed Fodge of the Cambridge Training Stables is one of the biggest frauds I have ever met. He is completely unconscionable, over priced and a liar. I will detail my experience with him and can provide evidence to back all my claims. I started taking hunter/jumper riding lessons at the Cambridge training stable summer of 2009 (after discovering the nice website online). I was a beginner hunter/jumper rider and was very impressed by Ed's manners and welcoming demeanor. I took lessons from Ed for a year and even participated in two schooling shows with him. What I came to learn was that all my lessons consisted of the same thing: walk, trot, canter, jump. There was no real instruction as to how you post, how you position yourself for jumps, how to collect your horse, how to count strides and judge distance, etc. It was merely you do what he says. If he says jump, you jump. It didn't matter what I looked like or about my position. He had me, as a beginner, jumping with absolutely no foundational training what-so-ever. After several months I never felt like I was consistently improving.
Interestingly enough, I was being charged $70 an hour and was expected to not only untack the lesson horse but also clean all the tack every time I rode. I realize this is not an outrageous request, but I lived 2 hours away one way(4 hours round trip) and sometimes needed to be on the road heading for home at a decent hour. Ed never checked tack to make sure it was suitable for each rider. He put every rider and every horse in the same tack. I bought and used my own saddle occasionally (which he let me use, but never checked to see if it actually fit the horses). Being new at this, I had apparently bought a saddle that was too small for me. Ed never told me and let me ride in that saddle for months. One day he offered me a new saddle to buy (an older model collegiate) for $500. It was bigger and worked out better so I purchased it. He then offered to take my smaller saddle and in return I had to pay a month in advance for lessons and then he would give me a second set of lesson for the value of the saddle. Essentially I took two lessons a day, one I paid for and one for the value of the saddle until he had "taught" the saddle price off. I came to learn later that he had known for months my first saddle was too small but never said a word to me about it. Additionally, the saddle he convinced me to buy was such an old and useless model that I had a horrible time selling it and eventually got rid of it for half the price I paid after months of listings. He also had sold a 20 year old crosby saddle to another beginner at the barn. She found out later from a better trainer that it didn't even fit her horse (one of Ed's lesson horses she bought!) and it was so worn it left bruises on the sides of the riders legs.
Ed had been talking to me about buying a horse (every beginners dream) and as a result I began horse shopping. Naturally, everything and anything I found he was overly positive about and encouraged me to pay him to come along and "try" each horse. He wanted to charge me his time and his gas and ride new horses on my dollar (some trainers do charge for this service, but even if I offered to drive him he wouldn't give me any break). This man does nothing for free or out of the goodness of his heart, everything carries dollar signs. I eventually did find a horse, and without his help, purchased her. I had liked the barn she was boarded at so I decided to leave her there and take some lessons with the trainer there. I soon learned, through my many lessons with an exceptional, qualified, A circuit rider and trainer, that I knew absolutely nothing about riding. It was unbelievable that after a year of riding with Ed I couldn't even perform basic tasks correctly like trotting and cantering. After a year of lessons I thought I would have at least gotten that down. That completely explained why I looked like such a fool at both schooling shows he entered me in.
I still did visit at Ed's barn due to having friends there. However, a few of them had told me that he did nothing but bad mouth the horse I had purchased. The irony was that he was the one who encouraged me to buy her. Obviously not moving her into his barn and paying him right away caused him to bad mouth me. So let's talk about the horses at his barn. For one thing, they do not get pasture turn out like they should. If they are turned out at all it is only in one of the arenas and only for a few hours at most. They are not put out to graze ever. Most horses there spend all day in a stall or in a lesson. Some of the lesson horses have terrible attitudes, kick, bite, etc. most likely due to the lack of turn out. The stalls look like a nice, decent sized stall, but they are all rock based. Yes, your horse stands on rocks all day. He doesn't clean stalls daily either and as a result some horses have come down with white line disease (not necessarily caused by stall conditions, but it is a factor) or thrush. The bugs at his barn are the worst I have ever encountered at any barn I've been to. They are terrible and he does not spray for them. I often came home with mosquito bites all over my legs (yes they bit me through my clothes) and arms. As far as winter time, the horses are worked regardless of the temperature outside. We would have lessons when it was so cold we couldn't feel our feet or hands. He has an odd feed regime and will often mix grains such as strategy with horseman's edge for no apparent reason (I even asked Purina reps about this and they were confused as to why he does this). Also, if you left anything in a tack box in his tack room, mice would either eat it or poop all over it. If you made the mistake of leaving things like brushes or shampoos out, he would use/take them. There is more even. A friend of mine from Ed's barn (who worked for him for two years) decided to leave and come to my barn after taking a lesson from my new trainer and coming to the same realization that Ed taught her nothing. She was very much attached to a lesson horse he had at his barn and decided to purchase her when he put her up for sale. This started the beginning of a terrible nightmare. He was terrible to work with and tried to hike the price on her (told my friend $2500 and told me $3000). Also, I discovered the horse did not have a negative coggins and had to threaten him with the state law before he would have it pulled for us (I helped her buy the horse). When my friend moved the mare to my barn the trainer rode her only to tell my friend she was not worth $2500 because she had absolutely no real training at all. She had no idea what contact was, how to be on the bit or use herself/bend. The mare was incredibly rude at the barn as well, unlike at Ed's. At Ed's barn she had no real turn out and spent most time in a lesson or a stall like I had said. When we did introduce her to turn out she became a beast. She was rude, dangerous and often broke gates. It got worse when the farrier came out and discovered she had white line disease in one of her hooves. We were able to treat it, but she has since been lame almost every other day for a month now. My friend got a hold of Ed's farrier and discovered that Ed had known about the white line disease for months and refused to treat it because she wasn't lame at the time. Instead, he let her foot crack and allowed her to constantly throw shoes. My friend has tried to contact Ed over and over and he ignores her calls. Stay away from this man. He is nothing but a fraud and a scam. All of his students have terrible habits particularly jumping ahead of their horse and pinching with their knees. He does not teach fundamentals, but charges you like he's an grand prix trainer (far from it). I have seen a few horses enter his barn for training, but I've never seen any drastic progress in any of them (some people even moved their horses because of that). He puts all horses in virtually the same tack, hops on and walk, trot, canter, jump. That's it. All of his lessons are predictable and all his training rides are the same too. He ignores problems the horses have instead of fixing them (ie if they kick at you he says "just ignore it"). He is no where near a good trainer, he's just garbage and a waste of time and money. He's nice to you while you're lining his wallet, but the second you leave he has nothing nice to say or will hardly talk you unless you are making a big deal over him. He doesn't even show often. Occasionally he'll do a NIJA show or a schooling show, but unless a student is paying his way (yes he makes you pay his hotel) he doesn't usually go to shows. Bottom line, you will not learn anything from this guy. You won't learn how tack functions (he doesn't even teach you how to put polos on correctly) or how to fit tack, you won't be taught any fundamentals (such as learning about having contact and learning how horses bend, understand lines and judging distances to jumps, etc), you won't be taught what certain horse behaviors mean or how to deal with them and most certainly you will not advance as a rider, but you will go broke paying him to teach you. Also, do not expect to buy nice horses from him (he gets some of his horses from animal shelters than turns around and sells them for a lot more than he paid) or for him to be honest about what each horse can and can't do. He's in this to make a buck. He doesn't care about people's feelings or about the well being of the horses. There are much better trainers in the area that are honest and that will teach you how to ride.
3994 days ago by Satisfied Customer
As a student and boarder at the Cambridge Training Stable, I am shocked at these accusations against Ed. He is not only a wonderful caring person, he is also the best trainer I have ever had. I started riding when I was eight years old and trained at four other stables in DuPage and Kane county before going to The Cambridge Training Stable. Under Ed’s coaching I have won countless championships for equitation and my horse for hunter on the NIHJA Circuit. I have trained with Ed for eight years, and if anyone knows Ed the best, it is my family and I.

That former student said the lessons only consisted of the same thing. This is confusing to me because Ed always teaches of variety of important skills, leg yielding, half halts, how to perfect lead changes, and how to always be an effective rider. Ed is an extremely carful trainer, he ALWAYS puts SAFTEY first! He will never have a student do any skills they, or their horse are not ready for. For NIHJA shows, I spent a year doing 2’0” 2’3” and 2’6” jumps. This was so I could confidently perfect each level without rushing anything, and understand how to control and guide the horse over the proper fence heights. Ed always considers equitation to be a number one priority, like I stated, I’ve done extremely well in competitions.

Every student, no matter the barn or situation should always be expected to clean tack properly. I have ridden at several barns before The Cambridge Training Stable, and this task is ABSOLUTELY STANDARD. If you live two hours away, that student should have prioritized their time, that was not Ed’s problem. That student also claimed that Ed never checked for suitable tack. When I was buying saddles, I was allowed to bring four different saddles from the tack shop and try them on my horse for size, before buying one. Ed helped me realize which saddle was the right fit for both my horse and my body. I can’t speak for the other student, but knowing Ed, he was always willing to help find the right tack, he had different sized saddles for his variety of students. He also DID USE, and continues using different saddles of different sizes for his school horses, a smaller quarter horse, and a 16 hand warmblood.

After this student left the barn, Ed never bad mouthed them, I was around riding at the barn a few times a week.

As for the horses at this barn this former student is referring to my horse with the, “Terrible attitude of kicking and biting.” Let me explain this situation. My horse a half thoroughbred appaloosa came to the barn the summer of 2005. He was a four year old green horse that had a bad bucking problem. My parents and I decided that this horse needed to be in full training with Ed. It is unbelievable the transformation this horse made. From a bucking bronco who intimidated his riders, Ed trained this horse in a few months to respect and respond to leg commands and totally changed his mindset to know that bucking was something bad. My horse learned that he had a job to do, and it was unacceptable to buck riders off. He turned out to be a beautiful show horse, he loves to jump and jumps courses beautifully. I won’t lie that at home in the barn he is not a “teddy bear” type horse he does not enjoy be hugged and cuddled like some horses do, but that is just his personality. He is a show horse that has a beautiful disposition at shows. He also places in hunter classes or wins. He won Training Hunter Over Fences at lamplight out of a class of 30.

As for the rocks in the stalls, there were NEVER any rocks in my horses stall, perhaps that former student had the barn confused with another? Also, my mother works five minutes from the barn and she often checks up on my horse. He always has a clean stall, fresh hay, and a full bucket of water. This past year I have gone to college out of state, I hadn’t seen my horse in a few months, when I came back to ride, he had been well cared for. As for mosquitos, yes, believe it or not they will bit you! I leave a large supply of fly spray for my horse when I cannot get out there daily to spray him, Ed sprays him as well as changing his different blankets according to the changes in the weather.

This former student’s “friend” who bought Ed’s school horse was the small quarter horse. This mare underwent years training of training. She was not an easy horse to ride but before I had my horse, I rode this mare in competitions and won. Another student at that time competed with this mare as well, and jumped courses, she obviously knew how to bend herself. The reason she became “rude” was because at Ed’s, she lived in a stall. When you take a small horse and all of a sudden put her in pasture board, they need to adapt to their environment. She became a “beast” because she quickly had to learn to defend herself against the other horses. Again, I cannot speak for the accusation of white line disease, but there is NO WAY Ed would ever keep that a secret and not treat his horses. He cares 100% about their well being.

I’m also pretty sure I do not have terrible habits, from the first place ribbons I have for equitation I think that qualifies me for not pinching my knees. Ed always makes sure all bad habits are broken. His others students also have done extremely well in equitation, winning champions. Horse Shows are expensive, that’s just the sport. Trainers that charge their clients for the hotel rooms and travel expenses for horse shows is normal. Like I said, at the other barns I was at, we got charged for their meals too.

It sickens me to hear that former student say Ed doesn’t do anything out of the goodness of his heart. My horse unfortunately got a colic in the fall of 2006. I was at school and my parents at work. Ed tried numerous times to contact us, when we got the messages, we found out Ed had stayed at the barn, called the vet immediately and had been walking my horse for hours, which probably saved his life. Also, he got one horse abused horse from a shelter (the 16 hand warmblood). He worked with this horse for years, showing him that he could trust kindness. This horse went from being terrified of humans, to becoming the sweetest loving animal. You can’t “buy” that kind of compassion. Ed has an absolute gift working with these horses.

I can go on and on about how excellent Ed is as a trainer. He is kind and extremely intelligent about horse care, horse training, riding skills and techniques. As for the former student, the problem was not the horses, or Ed, the problem is that a stubborn rider who does not take criticism well, is likely to voice information based on self frustration. Upon seeing recent riding videos of this former student, in my opinion her biggest mistake was leaving Ed’s expertise of how to ride.

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