View Full Version : Burned out and lost (long) *1 year update, post 28

Sep. 24, 2010, 08:15 PM
I am so torn over what to do. Please, I need your help.

I don't enjoy riding anymore. Going out to the barn is a chore. I used to LOVE riding all the time! Now, I barely drag myself to the barn 4 days a week and flat out refuse more than 1 lesson a week (despite my trainer insisting I take at least 2). A huge part of the problem is that I really, really dislike my trainer. I won't get into it. The point is I really dislike her as a trainer and as a person.

Now, I know you guys love to jump on the 'just leave!' train. But, that's not as easy as it sounds. This is the only barn I've ever ridden at (10 years). I'm 17 and will be going to college next august. That means, even if I left next month, I would not have time to barn jump until I found the perfect barn. I plan on selling my mare before college. So, I would have- what? 6 months to find and settle into a barn, then trust the new trainer to sell my horse for me. Is that worth it?

The next option is to quit riding. For the last year I’ve been wanting to more and more, but my parents (riders) won't let me. They love the trainer/barn/riding and want me to enjoy it too. They are willing to pay for another barn if I drive myself. I want to just quit now, rather then switch and then end up quiting anyway.

The next question, if I switch barns, do I switch disciplines? I dislike the ‘crank and spank’ methods of many trainers in my area. Finding the perfect one wouldn't be a six month thing. Plus, if I stay hunter I would face the wrath of my current trainer. She is well known for her nasty, backstabbing, lie-spreading revenge against long time boarders who leave. I think I would really enjoy dressage, but again, is it worth it for 6 months? However, if I fall back into love with riding, my dad is practically begging me to keep my horse through college (he'll pay). So that's an option.

What to do? Do I quit? Do I waste my parents’ money and just suck it up? Do I change barns? Do I change disciplines? Do I sell my mare now? What should I do?

Sep. 24, 2010, 08:22 PM
It sounds like you really need to take a break.

Perhaps your parents would understand if you explained that you'd like to focus on other things for awhile and lease out your horse while you sort things out. Then the horse could be ridden and you wouldn't have to go to the barn.

If you end up going to a college with a good riding program you might want to take your horse with you and use that opportunity to try dressage.

Good luck!

Sep. 24, 2010, 08:25 PM
Sell your horse now...perhaps see if the trainer can become an ally vs. an enemy.

Tell her you're going off to college and you want to sell your horse before winter...so now's the best time.

BS the silly nasty bugger, feed her ego and she may help you sell your mare. You hate her and how she teaches...right now, it's a "so what" that you hate her....use her then leave.

Take up riding once you get out of college.

Sep. 24, 2010, 08:31 PM

take a break.

I am middle aged, have ridden my whole life, had non-horsey but supportive parents. I was encouraged to do other things and am so thankful for that! I played soccer in high school and went on to play in college. I rode and competed with a vengance for many years while in grad and nursing school. I met my husband, a farrier, at an event. I know have 2 teenage kids. I'm busy with their activities right now so don't get to ride as much as I"d like. Both kids ride and I love being their groom.

Take a break. There is more to life than horses and you need to experience it! College will be a great opportunity to spread your wings. You know how to ride and won't forget.

Roxy SM
Sep. 24, 2010, 08:32 PM
Since your parents really want you to ride and are happy to support your riding financially even during college, perhaps you could sell your mare now, enjoy senior year, and then maybe after the first semester or two of college once you've settled in there they will buy you another one if you feel you want to get back into it? Maybe wherever you go to school will have better trainers in the area, and you could choose to switch disciplines if you wanted, or get a horse that would be willing to let you dabble in a little of everything! That could be fun if you don't want to be super serious and competitive at upper levels. I wonder since they are riders why they are pushing you so much. You'd think they'd be happy there was more money to spend on their own riding!

Sep. 24, 2010, 08:35 PM
Put the mare up for sale now. Have the trainer put more rides on her while she is up for sale- and just ride her once or twice a week yourself (not in lessons) until she sells.

Sep. 24, 2010, 08:36 PM
First, you need a (((hug)))!

I think if I were in your position, I would opt to have the current trainer sell the horse. That would avoid rocking the boat for your parents' relationship with the trainer. After all, what parent could blame you for wanting to put your effort into academic achievement for a good solid finish to your senior year ;). You could also tell them that after you adapt to your freshman year at college, you would consider riding again.

If you do decide to keep your mare, then I would change barns. Maybe let the current trainer think that its because its a good idea to have some space away from the parents so you can learn to be more independant. You will have all this school year as well as next summer to have fun with new friends and a new trainer. A new discipline would be a good option is that's where the better trainers are. Maybe then the trainer and parents wouldn't feel so rejected.

Good luck. Riding is awfully expensive ($, time and energy-wise) and hard to justify if you're not enjoying it.

My advice is worth what you paid for it, but maybe there's something in there that can help you find a solution.

Sep. 24, 2010, 08:38 PM
I think it is surprising that you are concerned with her wrath if your parents decide to continue to ride there.
In any event some things take introspection to figure out what part of riding still appeals to you. If you enjoyed moments grooming, hacking out, or simply cleaning tack and grazing your horse then you need to reconnect with that.
I get those moments of fullfilment every day, sometimes it is creating a cool gymnastic and others it is getting a tense horse to relax and stretch forward.
If you are riding to fullfill another person's expectations then you are going to feel resentment and you will continue to focus only on the negative .

in limine
Sep. 24, 2010, 08:45 PM
Who says you have to ride with a trainer? If you have been riding for 10 yrs, you must have enough skill to be able to ride on your own. You can always take lessons with an independent instructor when you find someone you like. And moving to a barn with some friends might help you enjoy yourself more.

You also don't have to stick to one discipline - do what makes you happy. If you aren't sure what that is - experiment.

There are many barns that support riders of all disciplines. While I am primarily an event competitor, I consider myself a horse'person' - I have experienced many disciplines, from polo to dressage to western riding. There is a whole world of wonderful, kind and fun horse people out there.

If you are ready to sell your horse and part ways - that is OK too. You also don't have to sell your horse through a trainer - you can sell your horse yourself. Prior to going to college I sold a young horse that I had bred, raised, trained and competed through Novice level eventing.

Sounds like taking a moment to ask yourself what you really want and what you are capable of handling would be helpful. Sound like you have a supportive family, so don't rush making a decision. But the decision of what to do is up to you.

Hang in - breathe - this too shall pass.

Zu Zu
Sep. 24, 2010, 08:56 PM
Jingles for you ~ a break and after perhaps your riding enthusiasm will catch up with you ~ Jingle & AO Always Optimisic ~

Sep. 24, 2010, 09:02 PM
Thought about what might be the most helpful response ... and IMHO quitting riding is not it, at least not yet. Sometimes it is really difficult to separate changing relationships and their stresses from other things. You have been riding with the same trainer since you were 7. Ten yearis is a long time... and this trainer was/is probably a very important person in your life. You grew up with her.... and now you are 17. It's a tough transition for you and for your trainer to you from 7 to 17 and to let things change and mature.

From your prior posts you have been thinking about making a change for awhile.

Maybe accept that the change you make does not have to be perfect - maybe it just needs to be simple. How about a low key barn that provides good care and a quiet atmosphere. No need to lesson, no need to show, just a safe place to ride and make your own decisions. A place where you can go and remember what it was about horses and riding that you loved in the first place. There is certainly enough time between now and college to do that.

Since your parents are supportive, there is no need to rush to sell.... but there is a need to resolve the conflicting feelings you have now. Resolution does not come from turning away from the problem but from figuring out what to do to sort it out.

Good luck

Sep. 24, 2010, 09:23 PM
Thought about what might be the most helpful response ... and IMHO quitting riding is not it, at least not yet. Sometimes it is really difficult to separate changing relationships and their stresses from other things. You have been riding with the same trainer since you were 7. Ten yearis is a long time... and this trainer was/is probably a very important person in your life. You grew up with her.... and now you are 17. It's a tough transition for you and for your trainer to you from 7 to 17 and to let things change and mature.

From your prior posts you have been thinking about making a change for awhile.

Maybe accept that the change you make does not have to be perfect - maybe it just needs to be simple. How about a low key barn that provides good care and a quiet atmosphere. No need to lesson, no need to show, just a safe place to ride and make your own decisions. A place where you can go and remember what it was about horses and riding that you loved in the first place. There is certainly enough time between now and college to do that.

Since your parents are supportive, there is no need to rush to sell.... but there is a need to resolve the conflicting feelings you have now. Resolution does not come from turning away from the problem but from figuring out what to do to sort it out.

Good luck

This is a very well reasoned post! And I agree, before you sell you mare, try something else. It is highly likely your dislike of riding is purely coming from your dreading interaction with the trainer. The excuse that you need to separate from your parents for your own growth is a good one. If your parents are still clients I doubt there will be any harsh words. Kids grow up and leave their childhood trainers behind, this is NORMAL! Act like your sneaking off and you'll get that response; act like your making an adult decision and you'll be respected :)

When I moved my horse from my trainer's barn a year before I left for college I shared with them my excitement to be able to be independent and expressed that I may have to come back now and again for some help (I've taken two lesson back there in the last 6 years and if I called up for one next week they'd welcome me with a hug) they responded with equal excitement although a bit sad to see another kid grow up. When I went on a study abroad in my junior year I called them to see if they had a stall since they were the only people I would trust with him while I was gone (true and what I told them) and my trainer said, "there will always be a spot here for your horse and if not we'd make one." And I know people that they don't let back because they've burned the bridge. So it is important to go out gracefully as this is a very small industry.

Sep. 24, 2010, 09:35 PM
How do you feel about your horse?

I was burnt out at times and I had to step away from alot of things and just try to find the joy in being with my horses. If you are having a conflict that is unable to be worked out, move. Horses and people can survive changes. One of the toughest things about growing up is making decisions and living with them. Do what is right for the horse, and then for youself. Try a new disclipline, by all means. I took up some trick training and liberty work with my warmblood and backed off of some of the ring riding. He does stupid tricks like pushing barrels to me, coming to me sideways to mount,he backs up by gently pulling on his tail...etc. etc. I found the fun in it again and so did he. Sometimes we take this too seriously, move on and grow. Good Luck.

Sep. 24, 2010, 10:30 PM
A bad boarding/lesson situation can make you wan to just not be at the barn. I know it's time to find a new barn when I'm trying to figure out when I can go to the barn when no one is around...

If you think your current trainer can help you sell your horse, then sell her and take a break. Enjoy college - it really goes by way too quickly.

If you do want to keep riding, sit down and have a conversation with your parents about the situation. If you feel like you need to, see if you can involve a trained mediator (if your parents really won't listen). There's almost no worse feeling than feeling trapped.

I've worked with people who were completely ready to give up on riding and brought them back around to absolutely loving it, so I know a lot of your joy in riding is situation dependent. I'm sorry you're not enjoying it. It's a miserable sport if you're not liking it.

Good luck. :)

mzm farm
Sep. 24, 2010, 11:03 PM
Do you like your horse?
What about being with your horse, when no one else is around?

I cried many tears into my old gelding's mane - through highschool, college, grad school. He got to see me weak, which people don't get to. He was there, steady and calm.

He started out as a hunter, we dabbled in dressage, eventing, trail riding, road riding and some really crazy stunts, mounted orienteering, camping,...
And you know what? At 23 yrs old he does not care that he did not get to be a Grand Prix anything, he is happy to see me every day and nicker his "hi" and "yum" and I am happy to see him too.

Change is hard, but if your parents are supportive, make a change FOR YOU - whatever you feel is right for you, take a break from horses, showing, maybe just trail ride?

If this person is so terrible, do you care that she would be involved in selling your horse and whom your horse ends up with?

Best of luck with whichever way YOU choose to go.

Sep. 25, 2010, 05:56 AM
Since your parents seem pretty willing to foot some bills right now, this is what I would do:


You've identified that your trainer is a big (the biggest) reason you don't like riding so much anymore. In less than a year, you'll be able to be at a new barn in a new town. Maybe at that new town you can find a half-leasor to keep your horse fit while you adjust to college and find out what your horse interest is.

Do you know where you'll be going to school yet? If you're doing early decision, you'll know in December. Early action is a little later, still. And even waiting until "regular" decision is like what, March? Maybe once you can start doing research about new barns you'll get reminded of that spark.

I like the idea of seeing if you can find a nice private farm to put him at in the mean time. Idk where you are, but if you have icky winter weather, it's a good excuse just to spend time together on the ground when you don't have an indoor to do hard work in. When spring rolls around you'll have had a riding hiatus and time away from the trainer. As you finish high school, I think you'll have a better gague of whether you want to be done with horses or just done with that trainer and her program. That still gives you the summer to market him before you leave if you do decide to sell. Maybe you won't get "top dollar" like you would if he was in a program like you have now, but I personally would be willing to lower the price if I knew I was making the right decision for the right reasons.

And, as long as you do it on good terms, if you want to sell after you try a "low key" barn, your trainer will probably let you back in to tune him up... after all, that's how she'll get a comission.

Find a way to get clear-headed. Eliminate the variables one by one until you figure out what you want to do.

Sep. 25, 2010, 11:28 AM
If you are sure you will sell the horse, you probably would do better staying where you are and using the trainer more for tune up style pro rides, instead of the dreaded lessons, to get the horse sale ready...and start marketing NOW-it may take awhile to sell in this kind of economy. Bet Ms nasty will be nicer to you when she sniffs a commission check.

If you want to keep the horse or are not sure? Then you need to do something else.

When you hate going to the barn, you need to do something but, IMO, if a sale is in the near future? Let current trainer start that ball rolling. If you get lucky and it sells sooner then expected, you can short term lease or find something to ride.

IMO this is a good time to take a break anyway. Your life is changing dramatically and it is time to let go and branch out. You'll be back the better for the break and not overloading yourself that first college year.

The horses will still be there when you get settled...and you can pick your own trainer.

Sep. 25, 2010, 05:05 PM
I sniff "academics" here (the college thread), so I'll propose an "academic" solution. That is, a "sabbatical" from riding. Now sabbatical does not mean that you fritter way your time. Sabbaticals are times for renewal and exploring new directions. The first year of college is one of extreme change and stress. New expectations, new people, new EVERYTHING. You need to approach it energized, and this situation is anything but that. Can you consider (1) leaving mare at barn so trainer can continue to work with her with an eye towards a possible sale while (2) departing the barn for a dressage barn (see, parents I am still interested in riding) or (3) (gasp) a driving barn where you could function as a working student and sample an entirely different sport? Would I be correct that ten years of the same thing presents no new challenges for you to tackle? How many more times do you need to see the same scenery in the indoor ring (in my case the hole in the wall where the tree limb fell)? Dressage could be just the ticket - and think of the benefits should you decide to return to h/j world! And driving, OMG, that would be entirely cool and is where I'm going when I can no longer swing a leg over my gelding...... Propose a sabbatical to all concerned. And, in academics, you have to PROMISE to come back afterwards......and I bet that you will, only possibly not to h/j world. Good luck!

Sep. 25, 2010, 06:21 PM
I have seen situations in which a trainer has turned a rider off to the point that they quit and it is always so sad. Are you sure that your trainer is the real issue? Do you still enjoy riding when you are not lessoning? If so, then try to find a way out so that you can remember why you loved it in the first place. Is there no other trainer in your area that you know to have a good reputation? Someone who could help you get your horse sold and you could maybe take a step back and lesson once a week before you go off to school? Sometimes a new environment and/or a little space to breathe do wonders. Then you will have a place to enjoy riding when you come home for breaks, and if you do decide to ride while away at school, you won't have to quit now and go through the pain of having to get back in shape.
Not an easy situation. Good luck, and don't let a bad trainer ruin it for you!

Sep. 25, 2010, 09:02 PM
If I was in your sitation ( I was about 1year ago!!!) I would either take break for a couple weeks and have your parents ride the horse to keep him fit and just see what happens. If you really loved it you would be always missing it or wanting to be back with your horse. Or you could try another trainer(this is what got me back into it!!!!). I know it is only 6 months but after four months trainerless and barely being able to hack my horse I tried a new trainer, rode with her for 5 months and it made the biggest dfference in my life. Not too long from now I will be heading to college too. I can't help but thinking that it is the end of my life because that means my junior days will be over forever. The truth is that we have our entire lives to ride and learn and progress and just because you're going away to college doesn't mean you have to stop and drop your riding, your trainer, and your horse.

Sep. 25, 2010, 09:12 PM
Maybe riding really IS more of a chore now. Riding isn't for everyone. There's some people who can start riding when they're two, and ride until they're 82! Others just start to realize riding isn't their thing anymore.

I'm not sure how I feel about horses being kept through college. If it's something you want to do, and you have someone to be able to keep working your horse for you, than I'd say go for it! If not, I wouldn't recomend it. I barely have time to ride now with all the school work.. and I'm in eigth grade. I can't imagine being able to continue riding as much as I'd have to through college.

If you can't see yourself enjoying riding in the future, maybe you should quit, and sell her. At least then you'll know that she's with someone else who will use her to the best of her ability. :)

And if you ever decide you'd like to ride occaisonally, you can take lessons at a barn near you, doing whatever discipline you choose!

Sep. 25, 2010, 09:41 PM
Thank you guys so much for your advice! I sat down with my parents tonight and told them that I was open to options, but *something* had to change. We discussed many options and finally settled on this:

I will continue to ride with my trainer. Meanwhile, I will take lessons at various other barns (non-hunter) for the next month or two. I will try to find one with a trainer and lesson horses I like. From there, I will have 4 options
1) decide my situation is good enough and stick it out
2) change barns and bring marsie with me (if I think she'll like dressage/eventing)
3)change barns and leave marsie with current trainer to be sold as a hunter
4)decide riding just isn't fun anymore and quit, having tried different options

Wish me luck! I've never ridden anywhere else, so this will be quite the adventure for me. You guys will probably hear from me again asking your advice/opinions on different barns

Sep. 26, 2010, 10:06 AM
Sounds like a great plan. I was somewhat in your shoes, not with wanting to quit, but needing to change from a long term trainer in my last junior year. I had been with her since I was probably around 10 or 11, and in the summer between Jr and Sr years in HS, I had finally reached the boiling point with this trainer and convinced my parents to let me leave. We left the next day and never looked back (there was a safety issue for my horse finally broke the camels back and made us leave so quickly). I was completely uninspired by this trainer, didn't particularly like her, didn't respect her, and has I got better, I realized that she wasn't actually a good rider or trainier but I had spent my whole riding career basically with her and my friends there and it was very hard to leave. Plus she was inexpensive and I could work off my board/lessons so it was a good deal for my parents.

I went to a show barn the next town over for my last year and everything changed. My horse went from a greenie to a polished big eq horse nearly overnight and I went from being an "also ran" in the Medal/Maclay to winning at big shows and qualifying for finals. It was absolutely the best decision I've ever made in my life and my only regret is that I didn't come to the decision earlier. If only I had another year to really perfect my game.

So, this is great, take some time, allow yourself to try lots of different options and enjoy yourself. Good luck!!

Sep. 26, 2010, 10:11 AM
Well, good for you. Sometimes talking to your parents can be the hardest part of all!
The one thing that nobody really brought up in all their wonderful posts is that ..... GGIIRRRRLLLLLLL!!!! You're a SENIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL!! That can be monster amounts of stress all by itself! Students that I've had in the past who were live-at-the-barn types could barely make it out during their sr year with all the other time constraints placed on them by studying, etc.! And too much stress can make you physically ill, too, and then you HAVE to take time off.
It sounds like you've found a way to take a deep, much needed breath. Trying to take a horse with you to college as a freshman can be a big mistake for many people and then your parents will be left scrambling trying to sell it when you're NOT around.
Good luck with your Dressage adventures. Sometimes just changing the focus on your riding can really re-energize your passion for all things horsey. I for one am so glad that you're trying to keep that passion alive and not just dumping it!
Inhale, exhale...... it'll all be fine.

Lord Helpus
Sep. 26, 2010, 10:49 AM
Congrats on having the BIG TALK with your parents. it seems to have been productive and now you have many options.

The option that was not discussed is becoming a teenager and enjoying the last year you will ever have with your childhood friends. Horses will always be available, but being in high school only lasts for 9 months. Please save lots of time for that. From my point of view (who showed right up to going to college and took my horse to college, selling him after freshman year when I discovered "life without horses") I wish now that I had enjoyed my senior year as much as I enjoyed my freshman year.

Once my horse was sold, I took 8 years off and did not miss horses at all. Then I went to a horse show and all the great feeling came flooding back and I was a horse owner again within 3 months. That was decades ago and I still have horses and a horse farm and could not imagine another life.

The current plan is not a bad one, but I worry for you that your parents might "forget it" and continue to pressure you to stay involved if you make the decision to sell your mare. Perhaps you might write it down and keep it in an open place so you can remember each step in the process and also so your parents can remember it and they will back off if you decide to move through each option at your own pace.

Whatever you do, best of luck to you. Many of us have the t-shirt and can empathize. The fact that we are posting on COTH means we have come back to this world. Once a horse person, always a horse person. But it does not have to be a priority at every stage in your life.

Sep. 26, 2010, 10:51 AM
I barely have time to ride now with all the school work.. and I'm in eigth grade. I can't imagine being able to continue riding as much as I'd have to through college.

Well, as a former 8th grader and former college student... they are both manageable. By the time you reach college, you'll be at a different developmental level and it WILL make sense to you and you WILL be able to handle it! College really isn't about lots of busy work with assignments due every day (unless you're a first-year bio/chem student, in which case... it was nice knowing you, lol).

College, in my experience at a top-tier school with a semi-science major, was more about a small handful of very important assignments across the semester. Most of my days and weeks were literally just sitting in class for 4-6 hours a day and then spending an hour or two a night studying (obviously more when I have an assignment due)... so that left me 16-18 hours a day to sleep and do everything else life and college offers (or demands!).

When you get there, if you want it to happen you can make it happen. Academics are not usually the reason girls stop riding in college... it's everything else (like sororities, clubs, part time jobs, a very healthy social life that requires some extra sleep to recover, etc) that eats up the riding time.

Sep. 26, 2010, 12:43 PM
^ i agree, for the most part. I took a lot of hours (two majors and two minors) every semester after my freshman year, and tried having my horse about a half an hour away from campus. it was hard because I often had multiple tests/papers/presentations every week and was typically too busy or too tired to spend an hour to drive plus all the time you end up spending at the barn grooming/riding/etc. I hardly saw my horse, so he promptly went home.

So I think it can be done if you have a good academic schedule -- ie, if you have a day off with no classes or get done with class early in the day -- and you don't have to drive too far to get to your horse, or if you're a lot better at time management and handling stress and sleep deprivation than i am (i admit, i'm not the best at any of those).

Sep. 5, 2011, 06:03 PM
After 1 year, here's an update. I visited just one barn ( I know, bad me) and decided to switch. Gave my 30 days notice and chose a move date 2 weeks later (while trainer was at the show) A few days before I left, mare developed a serious, mysterious illness which snowballed into non-stop health issues. It was a few months before she was fit to travel. Awkward few months, lol. I finally left with two horses ('stole' my parents greenie) and haven't looked back. Greenie has overcome so many issues, mare has had excellent care as she deals with issue after issue. She's still not right, but for no to minimal extra cost we have a huge variety of options to help her out. And, if she has to retire the place has great retirement care.

I didn't take lessons for 6 months (beats my previous record by 5.5 months) but in that time I actual improved as a rider. The facility is ridiculous, a huge indoor with fantastic footing, thickly bedded stalls cleaned continuously, multiple acres of pasture per horse, trails, 20 different feeds, unlimited hay, I can't say enough about it. The boarders are all very nice, dedicated people, and the BO is 500X the trainer, rider and horsewoman my previous trainer was. I've taken a handful of lessons, and each one is a break through.

I now ride about 6 times a week (even in college) and have 2 horses to ride, and am even considering buying a third and turning mare out for the winter to see if she gets better. I LOVE going to the barn again and am already planning years into the future. If anyone is thinking about making a change, DO IT. It's so worth it. I love riding again.

Sep. 5, 2011, 06:28 PM
Good for you. Glad you updated...we get all this angst and never hear how anything comes out.

Hopefully, your mare will make a full recovery over time and be good as new.

Sep. 5, 2011, 08:59 PM
YAY!!! Glad you found what you needed!!!

Prime Time Rider
Sep. 5, 2011, 11:47 PM
Interesting thread. Bottom line, if you're not enjoying riding anymore, it's importatnt to ask yourself why? In my case, it was due to a very negative trainer who was constantly putting me down. I changed barns and trainers, and I'm really happy now with a trainer who is positive. Riding should be fun. If it isn't, it's time for a change.