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View Full Version : How to (lovingly) tell trainer goodbye??



GimmeQs
Mar. 19, 2010, 08:11 PM
Hi all; I need some advice. I have recently bought a new horse and have trained with a different trainer for a few weeks while away from home. From this, I've realized that I've "outgrown" my at-home trainer and I feel that it is time to move on.
I love my trainer as a person and she has been a mentor to me. She is excited for me to get the new horse and work with me. However, I used almost my entire savings purchasing the horse and lessons with her are $100..... If they were $30 each I would continue to partly ride with her just to keep up the relationship, but they are too expensive.
I don't know how to break this to her, and even my mom says "yeah...that's a tough one..."

Any thoughts????

Thank you!!

twofatponies
Mar. 19, 2010, 08:15 PM
Not intending to talk you out of it at all, but what sorts of things made you realize you needed to "move on". Is it more about the cost, which you also mention? Have you already found someone else you want to work with (the trainer you mention riding with while you were away?) or would you just start looking?

I guess more detail might help me think of ways to talk about it with the old trainer. Though the fact is pretty much any reason is still going to disappoint her.

I guess I mean it's not that you have to have any concrete reason for moving to another trainer beyond "I feel in my gut I should." Of course you will be moving your horse to the new trainer's barn, right? You can always come up with the usual excuses about the new barn being closer/cheaper or otherwise more suitable for your changing finances/schedule/etc. In other words don't make it about a critique of the current barn or trainer, just about something more objective like distance, hours, fees, your job schedule, etc.

Good luck!

EqTrainer
Mar. 19, 2010, 08:28 PM
I would be very careful about this and I'm not saying that just because I am a trainer. It's just that often when people are making changes they get carried away with the spirit of it all and it's hard to backpedal once you've moved on.

Often the person who knows you best is the person to at least get you going on a new horse. If you move trainers now, you AND the horse will be new to the trainer. Just some food for thought.

nhwr
Mar. 19, 2010, 08:45 PM
I wouldn't necessarily think of it as outgrowing your original trainer. I had a trainer that was fabulous with light, hot horses. Then I bought a different kind of horse and it didn't work so well. It wasn't that I outgrew her per se. The situation just didn't work anymore.

If your relationship was good and you don't make your departure personal, your trainer should get over it-especially if you do well with your new horse. That gives your original trainer the opportunity to claim they taught you everything you know :D

Good luck with your new horse.

CelticRiverDance
Mar. 19, 2010, 10:31 PM
You might want to take a few lessons with your new horse with the current trainer before deciding to move on. You might not have out grown your trainer as much as outgrown the horse you were riding. It's hard for a trainer to advance a student past the capabilites of a rider/horse combination when the "combination" has gone as far as they can. (This is assuming you outgrew the horse you were riding).

It is a tough decision to make and I wish you luck.

You can always take the cowards way out and tell your trainer that you can not afford lessons for now. Wait a bit and then start with a new trainer. Sad suggestion and a professional should be able to handle your feeling a need for a change. I, however, did not fair so well with telling my trainer that I felt that I needed an equitation trainer for what I was pursuing at the time. She is a dressage trainer and at that time I was riding hunters. She still is snippy with me and that happened 7 years ago. Rather imature on her part.:cry:

NOMIOMI1
Mar. 19, 2010, 10:40 PM
A lady that left our barn lied and told everyone that her son was dying. Please... Dont do that :)

Its gonna be tough any way you do it, ESPECIALLY if you were close :(

Ive moved on several times, somtimes because of a move, and others because I found another trainer that fit my current horse/pricer range/location/level/discipline, and its always very difficult.

Its ok to be honest, and say that you'd like to see other people lol.

GimmeQs
Mar. 19, 2010, 10:40 PM
Your replies have already given me different angles to consider.

I was trying to be vague as to not name drop (especially since I think lots of people read these forums) or give myself away I'll try to give some details:

My current trainer has lots of experience with dressage with baroque type horses, and has the opinion that most "German" dressage is "poorly done" dressage.

Meanwhile, I had the opportunity to try my new horse before I bought him. He is from a very well known barn under international FEI~level trainers (that RI would call "German"). When I first rode with them, I was suspicious (from current RI's opinions).
However, as I rode with them (and then took what I had learned home with me and rode other horses this way), I realized I was missing some basics in my riding. There were core concepts that I really began to "get" in one lesson at the new barn and could apply across the board and see a big change in my basic riding and the horse's way of going.
Now, I know that different trainers decide to teach concepts to their students at different points in their riding and perhaps my current RI has a different training system and would bring these "missing concepts" into my lessons at some point. But combined with RI's opinions about "German" riding and then the riding, theory, and quality of horse I discovered at the new barn, I have serious doubts. I think RI is great for timid riders and for an introduction into dressage, but I do seriously think there are some holes in her training system. I am beginning to see some issues in her horses that I (humbly) think are a result.


Unfortunately, because I'm typing this and not saying it, this post could come off as really pompous and as if I spent a day in a fancy barn and suddenly think I am an expert. This is not true! But in speaking to the "new" people about my RI's training system and approach, etc, it seems rather black and white that I would be going down and incorrect road if I were to stay with her.

Not to mention that RI's system of dressage is more geared toward a baroque type horse rather than the warmblood I bought. Again, not saying that that system isn't correct or couldn't work for a warmblood; I don't think her interpretation of the system is correct.

To answer some questions: I do have a new trainer back to home, to try. There are several others that have bean reccommended to me.
I will not be moving the horse to new trainer's barn as I have my own barn.

I could be a wimp and say that money is my only issue and have found a less expensive trainer. However, she will most likely remind me that I can work off my lessons by helping her at her barn.... I work full time, but I think my excuse will seem to flimsy if I just go "yeah...well....it's not worth it to me" Seems like I'd be saying "yeah, YOU'RE not worth it to me"

Also, yes it will be true that a new trainer will not know me or my horse. But I kind of like that idea..... Maybe because the people at the FEI barn didn't know me at all but greatly improved my riding in a few lessons, and so I'm hoping for that amount of success again(!).

Thanks for listening!

NOMIOMI1
Mar. 19, 2010, 10:52 PM
No, there is nothing wrong with what you are saying :)

I cant remember the last time Ive had an instructor that could use english fuently enough to badmouth another style lol.


BUT, Ive seen my fair share of bad in EVERY style. Whats important is that YOU felt improvment, excitement over it, and your spirits are up about training with your new horse :)

That is what horse riding is all about, dont work so much about the other.

atlatl
Mar. 19, 2010, 11:22 PM
I've been in that situation and what's worked for me was sitting down and saying "I really appreciate all I've learned from you. I'm at a point where I'd like to try something different. I hope we can still be friends and I look forward to seeing you around" or something like that. If she's a reasonable person, she'll wish you luck. If she reacts badly, well then all the better to leave. You owe her the courtesy of some explanation, but since you're not boarding there, it's not like you need to give 2 weeks notice.

The hard reality is that it's your decision. Of course you don't need to burn any bridges and I certainly wouldn't recommend sharing your assessment of her riding program.

Good Luck and congrats on the new horse.

Mukluk
Mar. 19, 2010, 11:27 PM
"I love you.....but I must leave. Thanks for the memories!"

How about just being honest and expressing appreciation for what you have learned and that you feel it is time for you to move on? You don't really need to give a big explanation. Good luck! Why should this be any different than giving your landlord 30 days notice and moving to a new place?

meupatdoes
Mar. 20, 2010, 12:18 AM
You don't need to give a big reason.

[This was a whole paragraph on leaving sufficient notice which I am deleting upon reading more carefully and seeing you don't board with her.]

Depending on your relationship you may also consider a handwritten thank you note describing all the things you love about the trainer, how nice it was riding with her and how much she helped you, mentioning your hopes to keep in touch, and taped to a nice bottle of wine. This can happen right away, or maybe her birthday is convenient, or maybe it would be a nice way to keep the friendly relationship by remembering her for the holidays.

Donkey
Mar. 20, 2010, 12:25 AM
I would just tell your RI that you want to try something different and that you are curious about other training methods (which is the truth and is normal) so you are going to spend some time taking lessons from xyz. Or from a variety of different instructors or clinics only for a while etc. Try to leave it open ended in case you want to come back or consult her for advice in the future. Make sure she knows before you make concrete plans because there will be nothing worse than her finding out through the grape vine.

Remember it's not you, it's me ;)

lewin
Mar. 20, 2010, 02:52 AM
"I have loved working with you and you have taught me so much along the way. I am going to expand my education and try learning another school for a while and expand my toolbox as a rider. I would love to keep lines intact for the future as, again I have learned so much from you."

A small gift card or other gift might be nice too.

mbm
Mar. 20, 2010, 04:43 AM
well... one thing you need to know is that most trainers will tell a new (or prospective) student that their current/previous trainer sucked and that there are holes etc etc. this is a pretty universal thing trainers do.

do you have anyone you trust that will be willing to give you honest feedback about either trainer and your riding?

and, since there are different schools and systems that will get you where you want to go - what you need to do is find the (correct) system that works for you. this can be difficult - especially if you are not experienced in dressage.

and, while i guess you dont need a reason to quit a trainer, it is always good to not burn bridges.... if it were me, i would try to be honest and point the finger at yourself (i need a change, i am burnt out, etc etc)

you also might want to consider riding with both for a while just to see ....

Sunnydays
Mar. 20, 2010, 07:52 AM
Lewin put it very well. Good luck with your new horse!

Nojacketrequired
Mar. 20, 2010, 01:38 PM
If she's a reasonable person, she'll wish you luck. If she reacts badly, well then all the better to leave.

Let's think about this a second.

If you've been with her a long time and she has no idea you are planning to leave, I wouldn't take her first reaction as anything but shock.

After all, you've had X number of weeks to consider it, but to her it's a brand new shock.

Be considerate and allow it to sink in before you take anything to heart. Some things said in the surprise/heat of the moment are things you would never have said if you'd had time to think before you said them.

If that happens, YOU be the one to go back with the olive branch if her friendship is important to you, because she may be too embarrassed over her reaction to approach you.

NJR

NJR

staceyk
Mar. 20, 2010, 04:13 PM
Hi,

There is a reason platitudes are used (it's not you, it's me!). They are less painful than the truth (I found someone I like better). A few tried and true, and also it sounds like they might actually apply in your case...

You know me too well.
I need a new perspective.
With my new horse I feel it is time to make a change.

I would ask if she would be willing to take me back as a client at some point in the future. It may be an option you want anyway.

Stacey

Velvet
Mar. 20, 2010, 05:03 PM
All you can do is be honest that you've chosen to work with someone else. That it's about what you want to do and that you feel you need something different.

If the trainer is upset, they would be upset no matter what you say. If they're professional, they might not like losing you if they think that the two of you were not finished working together (meaning they felt they could still have helped you), but they will be professional about it.

It's all about professionalism. The worst thing that students do is to leave by slinking away. I realize not everyone can handle confronting someone and speaking the truth, but in the end, it really is the best thing for both of you. Grab the tiger by the tail and say that you're moving on. The worst thing would be for them to feel that you are being STOLEN away by another instructor who is feeding on your excitement or insecurities as a rider. Let the RI know that you have made this decision because of things YOU feel.

SharonA
Mar. 20, 2010, 06:19 PM
How exciting to have a new horse that you're enjoying! Not to worry; everything will work out -- one day. :-)

If your current trainer has been acting as a mentor, what do you think about appealing to her in that mentor's role? Maybe say something like, "Trainer, I find myself once more in need of your advice -- but this time it's alittle tricky." At which point she'll hopefully smile and say, "Oh, just tell me." And then you can say that you have to admit that you got alot out of the training over at XYZ. You're wondering what your mentor would advise, considering that you really do want to follow up on some of the methodology and techniques you learned elsewhere. Would your trainer be willing and comfortable employing some of those techniques, even though in the past she's said they aren't her thing? Or, would she recommend that you take a break from her training, go elsewhere for a few months, and see if that works for you and this particular horse? Be sure to say that you apologize if this is an awkward conversation, but whom else could you ask because you trust her opinion and she knows you so well, no one else is as well-qualified to give you advice, etc.

It may still be awkward, and she may still be offended, but at least you handled it as maturely and honestly as I think is possible in these things. :-)

ESG
Mar. 21, 2010, 09:48 PM
Okay, I'm confused. First, you say that the only reason that you're leaving current trainer is that her lessons are $100 and you can't afford them any more. Then you say that your new horse is trained in a different style/school than what current trainer has taught you, and that's the reason you need to move on. Which is it? :confused:

InsideLeg2OutsideRein
Mar. 22, 2010, 01:03 AM
People do outgrow instructors. (And I happen to be quite happy with my German instructor, and feel that his lessons are on a totally different, more intense, more productive, more insightful, more gratifying level than anything I've gotten from other instructors I've worked with.)

I'd have to say, you will have to stand up for your riding goals and be straight with your current instructor: I really like you, but I need to do this for myself and my horse. You may risk the relationship, but IMHO it's worth it. I've had to do it, and while it was hugely uncomfortable, it all worked out. Writing a thank you note or such can also lessen the blow to the current instructor ;)

InsideLeg2OutsideRein
Mar. 22, 2010, 01:06 AM
Okay, I'm confused. First, you say that the only reason that you're leaving current trainer is that her lessons are $100 and you can't afford them any more. Then you say that your new horse is trained in a different style/school than what current trainer has taught you, and that's the reason you need to move on. Which is it? :confused:

I think the OP said that she considered moving on and keeping a few lessons with the current instructor for relationship purposes, but that she can't do those additional lessons at that rate.

ESG
Mar. 22, 2010, 01:07 PM
Yes, and then later, she said she wanted to switch because this new trainer trained in a different style, that current trainer dislikes. If that's really the case, why even consider going back to current trainer, no matter how cheap/expensive her lessons are?

Nope, we're not getting the full story here. But then, we never do. :winkgrin:

Blkarab
Mar. 22, 2010, 02:14 PM
ESG--can you be a little more sensitive? The OP came here asking for some advice in the most delicate way possible and is not asking to be picked on for her decision, but to receive some advice on how to handle it delicately and professionally. The reasons for leaving are really none of your concern, as she is asking for gentle ways to break it to the current instructor. I don't understand why you feel the need to attack everyone and every situation and make the OP's feel at fault. Sometimes things just don't work out, or a change needs to be made for improvement and growth. Doesn't matter if it's because she has realized that she has more to learn from a new instuctor, tired of the old one's personality, wants to seek out something new, or just plain has had enough and needs to leave. What does matter, is giving advice in a polite and constructive manner.

katarine
Mar. 22, 2010, 03:03 PM
Oh Lorday ESG is as capable of being sensitive to other's feelings as I'm capable of being a gymnast. Ain't gonna happen. Ask ESG if there's been a firesale on shadbellies of late, baby.

To the OP only you know current RI well enough to know how to float this statement, but it's something like this: I've learned a ton from you, RI, and appreciate your attention to detail and passion for dressage. But... I'm at a point where I want to explore taking lessons with another instructor. I think hearing another's POV would help me expand my horizons and grow as a rider. I don't want to end our friendship over this, as I do respect you and appreciate so much what I've learned from you, and I did want you to know as soon as possible, so that you would have plenty of heads-up.

Just repeat some version of that and stay on point. Best wishes.

webmistress32
Mar. 22, 2010, 03:12 PM
I was totally honest with my old trainer and didn't over explain things. I stayed in touch, made sure to visit and gossip with him when I ran into him and now my daughter absolutely loves riding with him.

he doesn't hold it against me one bit that I continue to ride with someone else. that someone else just works better for me is all the explanation my old trainer needs :-)

meanwhile what I learned is if you really care about your old trainer then that will continue to be true. if you decide later to go back, it will be good for everyone - maybe even better than it was!

Bogie
Mar. 22, 2010, 03:48 PM
In an ideal world you would say to your trainer, "thanks so much for all you've taught me. I'd now like to expand my understanding of training and try taking some lessons with trainer X. That trainer use the system that my new horse was trained by and I'd like to see what she thinks."

Unfortunately, it's not that easy. You are friends with your RI. often trainers feel betrayed when you leave them. And most certainly the loss of your lessons will impact her financially.

That said, I would go with as much of the truth as you can. It is always easier to tell the truth (IME) even if it's a bit awkward at the time. Perhaps you could ease the transition by taking a lesson or two with her and telling her that you are considering learning from more than just her.

I've always been on the "group plan" and generally have more than one trainer. I try to find people with similar enough methods that I don't get conflicting advice, but I benefit from their individual experience and different training styles. They know that's how I am and I don't get any flack for it.

I once had a horse that just didn't work with my main instructor. I'd ridden with her for years and I'd seen what nice horses she turned out. But not this one. She finally suggested to me that I try some other trainers to see if they could help me more than she could . . . we sat down together and picked out who to go to. It turned out to be a great solution and I was always grateful to her that she had my horse's best interests in mind.

Don't burn bridges if you can help it. I went back to that instructor with my next horse and she helped me tremendously.

CHT
Mar. 22, 2010, 05:54 PM
You know what I find nice when I person moves on to someone new? If once they acheive a goal they were working on (such as a competition goal), they email me to let me know how it went. In my mind this makes me feel that they acknowledge and appreciate the roll I played in getting them to that point. This is a good way to put feelers out to see if their are hard feelings about the switch down the road.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Karen

ESG
Mar. 22, 2010, 07:34 PM
ESG--can you be a little more sensitive? The OP came here asking for some advice in the most delicate way possible and is not asking to be picked on for her decision, but to receive some advice on how to handle it delicately and professionally.

I'm not picking on anyone - I simply asked a question.


The reasons for leaving are really none of your concern, as she is asking for gentle ways to break it to the current instructor.

If I don't know her reasons for leaving, how can I give an opinion as to what she should say?


I don't understand why you feel the need to attack everyone and every situation and make the OP's feel at fault. Sometimes things just don't work out, or a change needs to be made for improvement and growth. Doesn't matter if it's because she has realized that she has more to learn from a new instuctor, tired of the old one's personality, wants to seek out something new, or just plain has had enough and needs to leave. What does matter, is giving advice in a polite and constructive manner.

Why are you so defensive? :confused:

ESG
Mar. 22, 2010, 07:35 PM
Oh Lorday ESG is as capable of being sensitive to other's feelings as I'm capable of being a gymnast. Ain't gonna happen. Ask ESG if there's been a firesale on shadbellies of late, baby.

Right back atcha, baby. :cool:

nhwr
Mar. 23, 2010, 09:36 AM
For a trainer, this is just part of the business. Clients come and go. Departures are difficult because they impact trainers financially and (perhaps) emotionally. But it is the nature of the beast. The why of a departure doesn't really matter, IMO.
I think this is one of those situations where the less said, the better and the sooner you do it, the better. Be considerate and polite, but the more conversation you have the more potential there is for hurt feelings. If you are asked why just say it is time. Any other answer is a potential for offense.

Make sure that when you encounter the old trainer at shows, clinics or just around town, you are genuine, cordial and interested in what they are doing. Don't act guilty or gush about how you and your new horse are faring.

Using this approach, time will probably smooth most ruffled feathers.

GrayCatFarm
Mar. 23, 2010, 01:32 PM
After reading all the posts I like the ideas of (1) honesty, (2) acknowledging that you are indebted to the trainer for getting you as far as you have got , (3) reinforcing that you value both the friendship and the mentoring she has provided, and (4) stating that you would like to expand your experiences by working with another trainer at this time. I would do this all in writing (not email) along with a small personalized gift. I did this once when I had to end a relationship with a trainer and I later learned that the letter I wrote helped immeasurably because what they read was an affirmation of their value and expertise - and not what was lacking. Good luck! And remember, farriers can carry news far and wide in their travels. Say nothing negative EVER.

Baroquecoco
Mar. 30, 2010, 08:59 AM
That was a nice and thoughtful response to someone wanting help in saying goodbye to a trainer with kindness!