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comingback
May. 11, 2010, 09:40 AM
Hi everyone,

After a six year absence, I have decided to get back to riding. I rode for 20 years, and then stopped riding a couple years after I graduated from college. I have no horse at the moment and am looking for weekly lessons. If I find the right place, I would like to consider a lease so I could ride more than once a week, and then consider showing again.

There is a great selection of facilities and levels of trainers in the area I live. I recognize a lot of them from when I rode as a junior. I have a feel for exactly what I am looking for but I cannot get a response from the facilities I have contacted.

Now I know in the horse world things can get crazy and it's not like a 9-5 job, but am I out of line to expect a response within 24-48 hours (not including those crazy show weekends)? I have left voicemails and followed up with emails (if I had them from the web). Should I just continue to follow up? I feel a bit stalkerish but it is frustrating to not hear back from folks :) I don't recall this being an issue with the barns/trainers I rode with in the past.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks!

Life is Good 2
May. 11, 2010, 09:50 AM
If you are near an upcoming show go watch the schooling ring and observe how the trainers work with their clients. Find a few that you like and find out who they are and contact them after the show. Let them know you watched them and liked what you saw. They will know you are serious. If that does not get a response keep looking, customer service is part of this business and too many people forget that. Good luck

findeight
May. 11, 2010, 10:03 AM
IME, if you call Mon-Fri between 8am and 5pm and leave a message that you are an adult seeking a trainer, will take X lessons a week and need a school horse to start but eventually lease or buy? Just like that, all the info, short and indicating you wish to be a client?

You OUGHT to get something back with a week. Back up a text or e mail with a phone call in case they are away from anything that can do that or they are still not onboard with that technology.

I'd repeat that call early the following week. If you hear nothing in 2 weeks????

They are wonderful and talented but terminally disorganized. These can be an uneeded challenge as a client.

They do not have school horses and/or do not do anything but private lessons or they do not want to work with a returning adult.

They just do not want your business.

So, give them 2 weeks with at least one follow up call, don't depend on the text/e mails, use the phone. if nothing happens? Move on.

comingback
May. 11, 2010, 10:07 AM
They are wonderful and talented but terminally disorganized.

This is what I was thinking but could not find the words to express appropriately :)

NorthFaceFarm
May. 11, 2010, 10:27 AM
Those big show barns aren't in a hurry to reply to someone that is horse-less, IME.

horselesswonder
May. 11, 2010, 11:10 AM
I agree with findeight. I really have little patience for trainers who cannot be bothered to return clients' phone calls. Granted, you are not yet a client, but if that's standard operating procedure for a professional, well, that's just unprofessional. So as findeight said, give them a chance, but if you don't hear back they either don't want your business, or can't get it together enough to return phone calls and are therefore not worth pursuing. Let's face it, even at a busy away show, there is plenty of time to return calls. Ever notice how many pros are waiting in their golf carts or ring side or back at the stalls, talking on the phone? It's a service industry, returning phone calls is pretty basic.

Ozone
May. 11, 2010, 11:11 AM
Those big show barns aren't in a hurry to reply to someone that is horse-less, IME.

This.

And, I hate this. After numerous calls finally returned I used to truck out my horse and although the trainer was great, someone I would have loved to continue to train with, it was a crap shoot if she would be there to give a lesson or be at a show. That, and my horse never seemed good enough.

OP you have to put your face right in theirs to get some communication with them. That is just how it is. I don't see many returning calls/emails to a random person inquiring. Now, if you have a name and some cash - horseless or not than you probably would get some return call. :mad:

TheJenners
May. 11, 2010, 11:55 AM
Agree with Ozone. Trainers prefer students have horses because that usually means: you might board there, horses may need training rides, you might need trailering to a show, etc etc.

Go to the barn. Explain (nicely) that you made a call and are following up on your own with a visit. This goes with EVERYTHING in life, really...you want it, go get it!!

comingback
May. 11, 2010, 12:02 PM
But of course...I post this and I got a phone call from one barn:)

I agree with a lot of other comments here. Having always had my own horse and trailered in I have seen some of what I will call favoritism to boarders and full time show-ers.

But as earlier stated...once I am a client of yours (horseless or not) I will expect calls returned.

I'm not going to jump to any conclusions yet...still need to confirm the lesson time and make sure the place is a fit for me...fingers crossed!

cranky
May. 11, 2010, 12:40 PM
Those big show barns aren't in a hurry to reply to someone that is horse-less, IME.

This is so short-sighted though. When I first came to my trainer, I was a once-a-week lesson student who needed a school horse (no horse of my own). Within about a month and a half I was half-leasing one of her horses and taking 2 lessons a week. Within 6 months of starting with her, I had paid for her to help me find a horse, I had bought the horse, I was boarding with her, I was taking 2 lessons a week, I had attended her riding camp in Aiken, my horse was in training with her and I was signing up for both schooling & sanctioned events & horse trials in my area (and paying coaching fees). If she had not had any interest in me as a horse-less, once-a-week student, she sure would have missed out on a good bit of business in the (not so) long run. I guess the trainers you are referring to don't need the business so much.

InWhyCee Redux
May. 11, 2010, 01:25 PM
Those big show barns aren't in a hurry to reply to someone that is horse-less, IME.

I love it when I'm asked, "So, how many horses were you planning on boarding?"

IME, I don't expect to have calls returned unless I have the name of a fellow client to drop. But, if a barn can't return a directed email query (e.g. one that lists what I want, so they can answer yes or no to those things) within 72 hours, they're probably too busy and/or disorganized to take me on anyway. ; )

NorthFaceFarm
May. 11, 2010, 01:29 PM
This is so short-sighted though. When I first came to my trainer, I was a once-a-week lesson student who needed a school horse (no horse of my own). Within about a month and a half I was half-leasing one of her horses and taking 2 lessons a week. Within 6 months of starting with her, I had paid for her to help me find a horse, I had bought the horse, I was boarding with her, I was taking 2 lessons a week, I had attended her riding camp in Aiken, my horse was in training with her and I was signing up for both schooling & sanctioned events & horse trials in my area (and paying coaching fees). If she had not had any interest in me as a horse-less, once-a-week student, she sure would have missed out on a good bit of business in the (not so) long run. I guess the trainers you are referring to don't need the business so much.
I agree with you. Since my new place is just starting, I keep up contacts with EVERYONE whether I have something for them to ride or not because you never know where they are a few months from now. But BNT's with full barns don't need to do that. They figure anyone walking in "off the street" probably doesn't have the resources to play at their level. When I was with BNT's as a junior, nobody came in alone. They were handed off from other local trainers.

Go Fish
May. 11, 2010, 02:09 PM
Those big show barns aren't in a hurry to reply to someone that is horse-less, IME.

Yep.

KateKat
May. 11, 2010, 02:15 PM
Its too bad that has been your experience. Although some of the trainers I've worked with have been a little slow on the communication front, I've always gotten a call back within a reasonable time frame (about a week). I think that a lot of them see the potential in an adult rider, with their own pocket book, in terms of steady income and buying/boarding/training their own horse eventually. In fact, I love my current trainer because she is very good at getting back to me, sometimes within the hour! Part of the reason I went with her actually :)

Donkey
May. 11, 2010, 02:26 PM
Most BNTs that I know that follow a circuit don't operate lesson barns or offer school horse lessons - their schedule just can't accommodate it. You'll probably have the best luck with BNTs that have a host of junior trainers working for them - they'll be the ones that want students, run the lesson programs and can eventually farm you up to the BNT when you purchase and start showing.

Across Sicily
May. 11, 2010, 02:44 PM
When I was trainer shopping last winter, I gave a farm about a week to get back before I gave up on them. There were two barns that did that, and you know what? If they don't want my business, so be it. I didn't have a horse and really only wanted lessons, but ended up with a lease with a BNT and am very happy for it. Pretty sure they're going to make plenty of money off me with 2x a week lessons, going on the circuit with lease horse this summer, and horse shopping in the fall. A trainer/BO NEVER KNOWS when someone is willing to come in a drop a big chunk of money, horseless or not, and if they don't feel that someone is "worth it" because of that, then I don't want to be part of their barn anyway.

/end rant

IMO if you've called and followed up and haven't heard back in about a week (maybeeee two weeks this time of year with the shows starting up), it's time to move on. Fwiw the barns I've ever chosen have responded to me within 48 hours and have all had excellent client communication. I do think it says something when they get back to you in a timely manner.

MR
May. 11, 2010, 02:51 PM
You will probably have to search a little extra to find the right place - and most likely, it's not going to be with a BNT to start out. As other folks have mentioned, many "big" barns are focused on full-training clients & don't offer much to the once or twice a week rider.

I've have experience in your situation - both as a student and a trainer. A few years after college, I took some time off from riding. When I was ready to start again, it was pretty difficult to find a place that could offer lessons/school horses so I didn't have to be in full-training, but was also at the quality/advanced level I wanted. I was lucky to find a barn that had a lesson/school horse program in the "back" and a full-training BNT in the "front" - all run by the same person. I was able to do once-a-week lessons to get back into riding, and then started part-leasing a sale horse after a few months. However, it's not common to find such a place - took me awhile to find them (and I still had the "pressure" from the BNT to show/spend $$ once I started leasing). To this day, I still only know of 1 BNT in the area that offers adult "riding lessons" on "school" horses. They run a wonderful program - but I believe they still do encourage the riders to buy/lease after they've been in the program for awhile.

On the flip side, I'm now training & have a number of "re-riders" looking for exactly what I had needed years ago. My program is different from that of a BNT - horses in our barn are all privately owned & most riders only take lessons once a week. My students either own their horse, or lease/pay a per-use fee to ride a private horse. We are at a large, public boarding barn (250+ horses) and I train part-time in the evenings and on weekends. One of my re-riders is doing what you talked about wanting - a lesson with me once a week & a hack day once a week, so she pays for a 2-day a week lease on a private horse & then pays for her lesson with me. It's great because she gets to have some time to practice what we're working on in the lesson. Plus, it's great for the horse owner - who wanted some time away from the barn (but not time off for her horse) & gets some $$ each month as well.

We've started to fill a "nitche" for the area - for riders who want quality training without the pressure of a show barn. We go to shows (mostly local) now & then, but our focus is on making strong, well-educated riders who ride because it's FUN. Plus, I have partnered with another part-time trainer friend to create the barn, so we can accommodate multiple disciplines (I focus on h/j; she has greater experience with dressage & eventing) - which allows our riders to try multiple types of riding if they want, without having to go to multiple barns.

I absolutely understand your frustration with folks that don't return calls/emails promptly. Working also in the non-horsie business world - that would never pass! So, I make a point to return calls/emails by the end of the next day. If I'm out of town, I make sure to say something in that regard when I reply - "so sorry about the delay, as I was out of town the last 4 days & am just back in front of email". However, I know this isn't the case for a lot of trainers who either have full programs anyway (not looking for new/part-time business) or just aren't as business-savvy.

Not sure I'm really helping. :) However, do keep searching! As someone mentioned, check out some local schooling shows & see how the trainers there are working with your clients. You'll probably have a better chance of finding trainers there that have a program like you need - less show focus, more experienced adults paying their own way for the fun of it (less of the "buy the fancy horse even if you don't know how to ride" ammies).

Also, check out the local bulletin boards & forum sites for horse stuff in your direct area. Some of the smaller barns only advertised locally (if at all).

Finally, if you could post where you are located, some of us might be able to offer suggestions, too. Your post doesn't give any location info - so you might inadvertently be missing the opportunity for COTH posters to make suggestions! :)'

Good luck on your search!

Midge
May. 11, 2010, 05:24 PM
Back in the dark ages, I ran the lesson program for a BNT. Being the dark ages, there were no cell phones, no email, etc.

If I didn't return your call THAT DAY, I felt bad and apologized when I called the next day. Lessons were more money for me and we did a pretty good job of getting kids up from the lesson program to become owners.

At my advanced age now, I am dreadful at calling back. And I just realized I never called back someone who called me last week. Granted, I could not have helped them and it was a casual message, but I should have called back.

Sorry Emily!

comingback
May. 11, 2010, 08:51 PM
Everyone thanks for the responses!

MR....

I am in chester county Pennsylvania. Horse country galore and where I showed as a junior before training in the colts neck area in NJ...farms everywhere!

MR
May. 11, 2010, 10:52 PM
MR....
I am in chester county Pennsylvania. Horse country galore and where I showed as a junior before training in the colts neck area in NJ...farms everywhere!

Good luck in your search! I'm in California & have no Pennsylvania connections so can't help you there - sorry! However, I'm sure you'll find some place that works.

An additional thought: You might contact the local college riding programs to see where they ride. If they do IHSA, then they'll most likely we somewhere the students get access to lots of random horses (like a big lesson barn!). Some college trainers have their own businesses, too - but are already set-up for the lesson program thing for the college kids. Maybe you can slip into one of those programs? You can find the list of IHSA-participating colleges in your area here:
http://www.ihsainc.com/CustomForms/CurrentTeams.aspx?List=Zone
(PA schools are in Zone 3)

RNB
May. 11, 2010, 11:17 PM
Interesting thread....and something many horse people probably face at some point. When I was looking for a trainer for my daughter about 15 years ago most of the barns I called NEVER returned my call.

Hopefully, a person trying to find a reputable trainer will have a much easier time starting this summer. There is a group putting together, for lack of a better term, an Equine Better Business Bureau. Check it out....

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/HorseTrainerRatings?ref=ts

mvp
May. 12, 2010, 08:10 AM
If your initial phone call includes a bit more of your resume and intentions to lease (at least) it may help.

The lesson end of the horse world is a bread-n-butter thing to some. And so many people in those programs don't stay or do more. I think this is why it's so hard to find a good school program, and why barns that know more and do more don't put a whole lot into them.

It sounds like you know enough that you do want to find the barn that you can grow into, not just ride their temporarily in order to get your feet wet. Let the answering machine know the difference.

Platinum Equestrian
May. 12, 2010, 10:10 AM
I personally don't like to have to chase or babysit people. If you have to do so at first contact, generally I've found you'll have to do so in the relationship too.

Maybe the others have some good points... you hate to lie if you aren't ready to lease now though. Just remember not every barn or trainer is going to be suitable for every customer. You need to find the one that fits your needs currently.

Linny
May. 12, 2010, 01:27 PM
As has been mentioned, most of the BNT operations don't really offer lesson programs for once-a-weekers and if they take you on, you may feel immediate pressure to step up your involvement. (Those that hav lesson horses keep them for practice horses for their clients etc.)
You may need to drop back to the more local oriented operations. Some of the bigger local outfits might have suitable horses for an accomplished re-rider.
As for getting a return call, barns are notoriously bad at returning calls. Often the barn phone # is listed in the phone book or on cards they leave at tacks shops etc, but the barn help answers that phone. Trainers have their own cell # which is not public.
I know that some might disagree, but if a barn is a lesson operation, stop by and ask. BNT and "training barns" I might consider off limits without an appointment, but a place that offers lessons to the general public should be willing to welcome visitors. Try to go when lessons might be offered (after work hours) and ask if you might speak with the instructor when the lesson ends. Tell her what you told us. While there, you can get an idea of the type of horses and riders they have.
The barn where I ride does alot of business with one of the local universities, but because of the seasonal nature of that business, they are usually advertising for lesson clients. Since Ti's stall is just inside the door, I've met people who stop into ask about lessons.

equidae
May. 12, 2010, 09:28 PM
I'd suggest just going to the barn. That's what I did, and I've been at my place for 4 years ;). I didn't call, just showed up, introduced myself, asked about coming in and that was it. If it is a bigger, more well known show barn- I'd call first. There are MANY people who call, and some who even come in, who are shown around the place, lessons get set up- and then client never shows. I see my trainer's time get wasted a lot with people like this, but she is always polite and cordial even though she knows they are likely wasting her time. I can see where trainers may feel where people might potentially waste their time and not be too quick to return a call. It goes both ways, (not that it makes it right).

I think you need to go there and just say exactly what you want. See the trainer's reception of your situation, if they seem like they don't want to be bothered since you don't have your own horse, then just walk away. You'll be able to better get a feel if you go to the barn and see the type of people there anyways.