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View Full Version : The Dreaded Switching Trainers/Barns



ElisLove
Nov. 21, 2011, 01:40 PM
I have seen a few people switching trainers and a few threads about changing barns and got to thinking, how does everyone do it? I haven't changed trainers in about 10 YEARS, so I really have no clue anymore about what you do when you want to switch.

What do you look for in a barn/facility?
Do you need indoor ring, outdoor ring, grass ring, natural obstacles (devils dike, banks), fancy looking barn, good barn staff, trails, ect?
What do you look for in a trainer?
Do you need a grand prix level trainer, male/female, a 'yeller' or a quieter one, someone who will ride once+ a week, someone who does full training/flat fee or more 'by the lesson', horse groomed and tacked up for you or do it your self, ect?

What questions do you ask potential new trainers? Do you ask them as much as possible to find out everything about how they run everyday lessons, to horse shows, to vet care, ect? Or do you ask them about everyday stuff and deal with the rest as they come up?
How far in advance would you start asking/talking to potential trainers? Only if you are within a couple months of moving or do you ask them as early as you decide you want to move, even if you know you can't move immediately?

How do you go about doing a trial lesson? Do you tell you current trainer that you are doing that (especially if current trainer is at your barn so will know your horse is taken off property) or do you try to find some way to fudge it/hide it?
What if you tell your trainer you are going to do a trial with another coach, but during the trial lesson you realize that you really don't mesh with potential trainer? What happens then? What if it takes you months to find a new trainer? How do you keep things from becoming awkward?

Any other comments you want to add. Like I said I have been with my trainer for 10 years so I really have no idea how people actually change trainers anymore. Thought this would be a fun discussion to see how everyone does it!:

Rye
Nov. 21, 2011, 01:50 PM
It's not hard, people make it out to be some big dramatic thing and it really does not need to be that way.

I just changed this summer. I called a few places and made some appointments with the trainer to go out and talk to them about their program to see if we might have a good match of my expectations/requirements vs their services/philosophies.

I've changed trainers just 4 times in 14 years, but I try to keep it nice and professional and not personal.

My theory is that I'm not looking for a spouse/lifelong partnership. I'm looking for a nice trainer with good skills, honest business practices and a show schedule that is one I can afford. If it's not all there, I just move on.

KateKat
Nov. 21, 2011, 01:55 PM
I have kind of lucked out on finding my trainers. My first criteria last time I moved was proximity to my house. At the time, I didn't own my horse so it was really looking for a lesson place that I didn't have to drive 45 minutes to get to. Second was I definitely wanted to find a place with an indoor ring (there are not many where I ride and we get rain in the winter. I was tired of cancelled lessons for 2 months at a time). Then after that was obviously quality of the trainer. I'm an adult rider, so I needed a trainer who would understand that and push me, but also realize I'm not a fearless kid who bounces when they fall ;)

I was pretty upfront and honest with the trainer I left (again though, not much invested since I was a once a week lessoner) however we were on pretty good/friendly terms. I told her the reasons I was looking to leave, and gave her about a months notice. I took a couple trial lessons with the new trainer to make sure we were a good fit and thats about it.

Now, I have a friend who just moved to my barn who came from a trainer she was with for 9 years (sounds a lot like you). She spent a good 2 months hemming and hawing over the decision, came out to the barn a few times to throughly review the facilities, talk to my trainer and do a couple trial lessons/watch other people's lessons. This was all done on the DL. When she put in notice with her current trainer, horse was out of the old barn in about a week. That relationship did not end on great terms, unfortunately, despite trying to be honest and do the right thing by the old trainer. I think when you've been in something for that long, it just will not be a clean, easy break regardless of how you go about it.

ETA: my criteria for finding a trainer now would obviously be a little different since my goals have changed and I have my own horse (so her care and training would be put first). I think I lucked out though that I found one I really love all around.

Donkerbruin
Nov. 21, 2011, 02:15 PM
I've only changed trainers once, and that was a looooong time ago. In fact, I was a little kid. My trainer was really mean to me, and assisted a person in selling us a pony who, as it turned out, was completely insane and had been drugged when I tried her out. I remember going to several barns in the area before we found one we loved. When we found my beloved trainers, I recall my dad going over to the old farm and picking up my stuff. Pretty clean break! And I think the old trainer understood why we were leaving -- didn't want any more dishonest dealings.

pryme_thyme
Nov. 21, 2011, 03:07 PM
I gave my 30 days notice to my barn the beginning of November, it was not easy for me. But the BO at my current barn is pretty emotional and seems to cling to you like she is your best friend. So I felt bad since she was upset about it.

But anyways...

It really depends what you want to do with your horse.

I needed to leave since there wasn't a fenced or sanded outdoor ring, no one else went to shows and I don't have a trailer.
So I needed outdoor/indoor ring and access to trailering to my chosen shows.
I personally do most of my training myself so having a coach at the barn isn't a must as long as the new BO allows outside coaches.

The facility must be clean, well-kept and well ventilated.

I ask the BO's what the daily routine is, how they decide feeding plans and turnout, arena schedules, really anything that might apply to you or your horse.
I highly recommend taking a look at some of their horses as well, you can tell a lot about a person by how their horse acts/looks.

ElisLove
Nov. 21, 2011, 04:17 PM
Thanks for the replies. It's interesting to see everyone's opinions on this


I just changed this summer. I called a few places and made some appointments with the trainer to go out and talk to them about their program to see if we might have a good match of my expectations/requirements vs their services/philosophies.
So you don't do trial lessons? Is it still common now a days to do trial lessons?
What questions did you ask that made you feel it was the right choice?


Now, I have a friend who just moved to my barn who came from a trainer she was with for 9 years (sounds a lot like you). She spent a good 2 months hemming and hawing over the decision, came out to the barn a few times to throughly review the facilities, talk to my trainer and do a couple trial lessons/watch other people's lessons. This was all done on the DL. When she put in notice with her current trainer, horse was out of the old barn in about a week. That relationship did not end on great terms, unfortunately, despite trying to be honest and do the right thing by the old trainer. I think when you've been in something for that long, it just will not be a clean, easy break regardless of how you go about it.
How did your friend manage to do trial lessons on the DL? Did she have her own horse and have to trailer it out there or was she on lesson horses?


My trainer was really mean to me, and assisted a person in selling us a pony who, as it turned out, was completely insane and had been drugged when I tried her out. I remember going to several barns in the area before we found one we loved. When we found my beloved trainers, I recall my dad going over to the old farm and picking up my stuff. Pretty clean break! And I think the old trainer understood why we were leaving -- didn't want any more dishonest dealings.
Yikes. That doesn't sound fun. I know of a trainer around here that is very mean to her young students. I talked to one of them once, asked them how they like training with her. Student replied 'I hate her'. Don't know why her parents kept her with that trainer!!


I gave my 30 days notice to my barn the beginning of November, it was not easy for me. But the BO at my current barn is pretty emotional and seems to cling to you like she is your best friend. So I felt bad since she was upset about it.
The last 2 barns I have been at (same trainer) the BO's and BM's ran the barn hands-off. I have seen them maybe once or twice and that's it so if I ever did decide to leave my trainer I wouldn't have to deal with a BO, just my trainer!

KateKat
Nov. 21, 2011, 04:52 PM
How did your friend manage to do trial lessons on the DL? Did she have her own horse and have to trailer it out there or was she on lesson horses?




She rode a horse that was at my barn.

This was more of a does your learning style and my teaching style mesh as opposed to really getting something groundbreaking out of the lesson. So she didn't really need to be riding her own horse at that point.

bits619
Nov. 21, 2011, 04:54 PM
I may have the worst memory of anyone my age because I'm trying to remember how I went about leaving my first barn, and finding my current one... And I can't!

Left the first barn because the lessons were expensive, large groups, and by the end of it all we would do was pay x amount per lesson just to school the naughty lesson ponies for them. Granted, i flippin' loved the pony I always was given (the brat), but it wasn't what I wanted to do all the time.

My answers will be limited because I've never had to consider horse boarding into it.


I rode at a new place that my aunt knew. She knew the owner through the horse world and sold (well, gave, i think!) him a pony a decade earlier. I went to the county fair to watch the horse show, knowing his barn would be there. Introduced myself, and next thing I knew I was working the in-gate for three hours! Lol! I thought it was the coolest thing! (I was 13 or so) I had an evaluation lesson a few weeks later, but that was to show him what group I should be placed in, more than anything.
Eventually I quit the first place and rode solely at the second. I think I sat in the office at the first barn and said my last block of ten lessons would be my last. I probably told them that I found another barn with cheaper showing options, and that we had a family connection to. She was sad to see me go since I had been riding there for 8+ years but it was a good move on my part.

I only left the second barn when I had to move ten hours away for college. And oh how I CRIED! I bawled like a baby into the mane of the horse i rode and adored for 3 years. Bawled.

I moved to Georgia and I know I asked around for hunter jumper trainers in the area. I remember a classmate recommending one trainer, but I didn't pursue it... Don't know why... My trainer was teaching at another facility when I started with her- one that would have come up in a google search, so I'm thinking that's how it happened. I do know I wanted to look at more than one trainer before committing, but I never did. That trainer was REALLY descriptive, creative, encouraging but also a hardass to an extent. She had a horse that I fit on- he was a little short but had a huge lifting stride. The facility was gorgeous. So I didn't look anywhere else :-)
At one point, trainer moved back to her own place and i followed. I stopped riding for a few years but there was no question that I'd ride with her once I went back to it. I just really appreciate her visualizations and drive. She makes the lessons and real workout for me but I'm always learning something new. Her barn is smaller, more relaxed. It's not fancy, but if I did buy a horse i would definitely board there. She goes to shows with boarders but it's not necessary. The ring is small but adequate and dangit if it doesn't make you ride the corners! The horses there are healthy and happy. Barn is well ventilated, friendly dogs under control are allowed (not a must for me, but it's nice), etc etc. I think the only way id leave her place is when I move out of state.

ElisLove
Nov. 21, 2011, 09:07 PM
Thanks for the replies. Love to hear more!

jenct
Nov. 21, 2011, 09:09 PM
We just recently went through this and I have found that doing some good research really pays off. In the past, I have been easily impressed with a good looking facility and have looked past other issues which ultimately had come to bite me in the ass.

I am finally "home." When we decided to move my daughter's pony, we took a couple of things into consideration:

1. THE CARE! We wanted a good size stall that was cleaned at least ONCE a day, preferably TWICE. We took note of the bedding used and how clean the stalls were. Were the water buckets filled and clean? Blankets on and off?

2. FEED - How often did they hay the horses? What did they feed the horses? My favorite response was "whatever you would like them on." I am NOT picky, but I liked this answer. In fact, I look to the trainer to tell them what the pony needs based on the work she is doing and how fit she is.

3. TURNOUT - We have a dominant mare who does not play well with others. Other barns have thought, "oh, she'll be fine with so-and-so" - that has never been the case and then they seriously restrict her turnout. In this pony's case, private turnout was very important on our list.

Also, how was the footing in the ring(s)? Was there in indoor? Where I live an indoor was a must for me. Were the rings groomed daily?

4. SHOWS - We want to show and want to be taken to shows but do not want to have a certain number of shows that we need to do. We are at all AA show barn, but there seriously is no pressure to show at all. Some people show every weekend throughout the east coast, others do local rated shows in the summer. Truly no pressure.

5. PROXIMITY - How far must I drive?? We are fortunate to live in an area with many options. They are not all created equal! I did not want to drive more than 25 minutes one way. I now am about 10 miles from the barn (17 minutes all back roads).

6. TRAINER - How are they with kids? I have a very motivated and mature 11 year old who has been riding for 4 years and takes direction well. What I love is a trainer who does not look at age so much as their ability.

I also wanted a trainer who STILL COMPETES. We had a trainer that kept saying, "when I used to show I...." and this was back when she was a junior rider in the 80's. She drove me crazy with her constant name dropping. Hey, I rode in the 80's too...enough!

7. LESSONS - If you say it is an hour lesson, it should be an hour lesson. Once had a trainer who would say it's an hour, but has declared, we are done after 30-40 minutes. Not worth the money in my opinion. DO TAKE A TRIAL LESSON. If you can bring your horse to do it, then do it! However, we did not tell our former barn that we were looking and I do not own a trailer. I asked the trainer if we could lesson on a horse they had there. This is a boarders-only barn (I did not know this at the time) - and the trainer arranged for my daughter to ride someone's horse in a lesson. It was wonderful. My daughter felt comfortable and loved the trainer. That was the icing on the cake here.

Without a ton of lesson kids from the outside, the rings were not crowded to ride in. That can be huge depending on how big the lesson programs are at some barns!

8. TALK TO PEOPLE - During my DD's trial lesson, quite a few of the boarders came to the ring to watch her ride which gave me an opportunity to ask them questions about the barn. Everyone was happy to talk and they all had such nice things to say about the barn and trainers.

9. RATE SHEET - Get a rate sheet, if possible, before you leave so there are no surprise costs.


I love love love the barn we are at now. Don't make a rush decision. Take your time and get to know the "climate" of a new barn. Good luck!

ElisLove
Nov. 22, 2011, 09:55 AM
I love love love the barn we are at now. Don't make a rush decision. Take your time and get to know the "climate" of a new barn. Good luck!

Not moving barns, just thought this would be an interesting topic.
Thanks for the reply, anyone else want to weigh in?