My trainer is one of the most important people in my life and has become like a family member, especially after the loss of a parent when I was younger. There is no one I trust more to take care of horses and I respect my trainer's approach to horsemanship and life like no other. Should I need to work with someone else down the line my default position is staying professional and keeping a respectful distance, but that's how I approach new relationships (e.g., with co-workers) generally - it takes a long time to know whether you want or think it's appropriate to be "real friends" let alone life-long ones!
I'm a 17 year old girl, and my trainer has really become a strong female figure in my life. She is almost like a second mother to me. I think she is amazing at what she does, and she has made me into the rider I am today, so I am forever grateful. It takes a special trainer/student mix to feel this way, so don't think that you have to be super close to yours. Try and find a trainer that you admire, who listens to you, will teach you everything she knows, and cares about her riders and animals. That is really important.
My trainer is a mentor and friend in the context of our business relationship, but I never forget that it IS a business relationship. When it comes to horses and riding I put a very high value on her knowledge and opinion. I also have a huge amount of admiration and respect for her as a person.
But in the end, I don't consider us to be friends socially. It's strictly an excellent business relationship with someone I respect and admire.
My relationship is more on a professional level, however, I am invited when he is having a party/barbecue, we camp together at shows, and hang together between classes. He's much younger than me and usually has a bevy of girls fluttering around him trying to get his attention. I consider him a friend at arm's length because if I didn't pay him, I woudn't be riding with him.
Yogurt - If you're so cultured, how come I never see you at the opera? Steven Colbert
My trainer is AMAZING. I have only been riding with her for 3 years now but she actually was the trainer of my trainer when I was in high school which is really cool (small world). She is my encouragement, my voice of reason, a mentor, and my motivator. She reminds me that I CAN DO THIS and pushes me to my limits. When I feel like I can't do it anymore (with life issues and with riding) she is there to voice her opinion and I love that. I love the commaraderie of her barn too. We have some events we all do together for holidays and the bigger shows like Estes (which I'm hoping to go to soon) but there is definitely a trainer/student relationship... she's just also someone I feel comfortable talking to about other things.
I do have a business relationship with my trainer, but she has also become someone dear to me. I trust her advice on things regarding DD (she's "raised" a lot of girls!) and life in general. She's been a true blessing in my life, and that of my daughter.