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Can I realistically expect to be taken seriously as a client if I don't do training board?

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    Can I realistically expect to be taken seriously as a client if I don't do training board?

    As the title suggests, I've been feeling a little bit like a second class citizen in my current situation. I'm new to "real dressage" but have been riding and competing for years. I've worked very hard in my other life (I'm an adult armature with a non horse job) and I have a small farm that I own. I have 3 really nice dressage horses at various lower levels and my retired guy. I have shown rated shows and ridden in BLMs at 1st level. I want to get more serious about dressage and start developing my horses and exploring the levels and I understand the financial requirements to do that.

    However, I don't want to do training board. I have nothing against any of the local dressage trainers, in fact I wish I could be more invested in their programs! My 3 horses are all doing so well but 1) I couldn't choose which one to board and 2) I feel like I wouldn't be able to focus as much attention on the others if I sent one 3) putting that much money into one of the horses would effect my ability to take lessons and show the others.

    In training and talking to many local trainers they seem energetic to work with me and my horses, but want me to come to them. I understand they can't come to me and I'm willing to trailer in and sort of rotate horses, but when I've tried that I just don't seem like I'm being taken as seriously as a client. In fact one trainer even told me that in house people have the priority and has canceled my lessons when an in house person had to prep for a show.

    I'm willing to spend a lot of money on training, probably the equivalent to the "training" part of training board, I'd just rather keep them at home. I worked hard to get my farm, I have a nice ring, I enjoy drinking my wine with them in the evenings!

    Am I getting the wrong impression or is this truly the case in the industry? What can I do to be taken more seriously ?

    It’s really trainer-dependent. The trainers in your area appear to be telling you that yes, to be a higher priority you must be in a full program. That isn’t the case everywhere, here there’s several good trainers that will travel to you once a week or even less. It may not even be the case for everyone available to you, that’s just who you’ve found so far. Are you mainly looking at barns with large programs?
    I’d keep searching for someone lower-key that will either come to you, or be okay with you hauling in a couple times a week. If you post your location, there may be other COTHers who know someone in your area that maybe doesn’t advertise their services not have a website or anything.
    Last edited by mmeqcenter; Aug. 7, 2020, 11:05 PM.


      This has not been my experience with the right trainer. For years, I did a weekly lesson (either them coming to me or me going to them) as I moved my horse up the levels, with different trainers. It worked very well. The problems came when I went to board at a trainer's barn, paid the monthly training fee, but only took lessons when I could and did not have them ride my horse. While they made more money off of me, since I never had the number of contacts I paid for, the care of my horse was TERRIBLE and she got hurt all the time. This was because their interactions with horses was only with the ones they were riding. My horse only got looked at and handled by barn staff (stall cleaners, feeders, etc.), some of whom didn't speak english or had little horse experience and my horse's requirements (never put out first or brought in last) were never communicated to them.


        I'm not sure what part of BLM territory you are in, but some areas are highly competitive and geared towards those in-house clients. Not all trainers need or want to take trailer-ins. Some are well meaning, but are way to unorganized to coordinate successfully with someone off the property. I've been in programs where I got a text at 10pm every single night with my lesson time for the next day because that is when the trainer got around to doing her schedule. Others just scribble things on a white board a day or two in advance and assume you'll check it. It will probably take a few tries to find the right match, but it's doable! Try younger pros, and people who breed/raise/train their own as they may have more understanding of why you like doing things at home.

        Most trainers will give in-house people priority, whether they say it or not, until you have an established relationship with them and are still around 6+ months later.

        You'll also have to work harder at first to be taken seriously, and to be trusted to keep your horses to a standard the trainer finds acceptable - always show up on time, tack up at your trailer, be on and warmed up (or at least walked for 10-15 minutes) at your specified time, with a clean, well turned out, properly trimmed or shod horse that would represent the trainer well if you were at a show, and clean up after yourself before you leave.


          For scheduling, if they are ensuring they meet the responsibilities they have for the in house training clients I think it makes good business sense.

          However, they should take you every bit as seriously when you ride with them. A trainer who doesn't take you seriously doesn't deserve your business.
          If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


            OP, it will depend on your market. I did have the problem you are describing in one place and have not had it in others. IME, the higher quality the market and or pro, the higher quality the professionalism. In your case, you sound like a pretty good client-- you have money to spend and want to spend it, you want to show, you probably can ride well and ride well enough on your own to improve, not just take the same lesson for years in a row. Keep looking for the right trainer and reward that one with your business.
            The armchair saddler
            Politically Pro-Cat


              If you want to seriously get out of the lower levels and have never trained a horse up the levels you would actually benefit from a full training program with one of your horses! I kept my young horse home until third level then went to my trainers fro full training to get him to PSG then brought him back home again. I struggled with the changes and really needed her help. I now have another young horse and will keep him with me unless I hit a snag then I will go to trainers barn.
              I remain very flexible to get in a lesson because I ship in, I work around trainers full-time clients and I'm good with that.
              Humans dont mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. Sebastian Junger


                Agree with Bogey2 , but to answer your question, in my experience yes --the in house clients are preferred.

                DD had a couple of super 3-Day horses (Intermediate/Advanced) that as a family we showed (DD showed and parents were the ground crew) around the Midwest and East for about 10 years (sequential horses). In that time we worked with three trainers (again, sequentially). I found what you did to be true for us. We had a small facility (dressage/stadium/no CC) and hauled to trainer's barns for lessons. When we went to horse trails, it was with the trainer and his or her other clients (occasionally it was just us). I found what you did --the "in house clients" who had the trainer work with them and their horses at his/her facility received more of the trainer's time and attention. But in fairness, those clients were paying more --true we paid a coaching fee --but the trainer's income was made from the in-house clients. Having said that, the trainers were always where we needed them, when we needed them. Perhaps because I am always very clear in my expectations ---(teacher mode) --I gave the trainer a copy of the kid's times, and reminded him/her "DD is at the start box at 1:05" or "DD needs a warm up for dressage at "7:25" --- When it was just us with the trainer (paid for lodging and meals and training time) --of course my expectations were higher still.

                When DD moved on and into law school, her time became more limited (as an attorney now, it still is). She has the current 3-Day horse in training board --on her dime--we no longer are the ground crew at horse trials (didn't do any this year, of course) but just enthusiastic spectators!


                  I’m not sure I understand being « taken seriously ».

                  I don’t know... I take my lessons as often as I can, I practice, and I get better?! I don’t really care what other students are doing as it is irrelevant to my situation.
                  I’ve done the ship ins for 1, 3, 7 days, the full boarding, trainer coming to where I boarded, meet at shows only... monthly lessons, weekly lessons, twice a week lessons, name it...

                  I’ve never felt not taken seriously - I paid and I get what I wanted, what I paid for.

                  I’m the one taking myself seriously in my training?

                  In fact one trainer even told me that in house people have the priority and has canceled my lessons when an in house person had to prep for a show.
                  Of course trainers will do that - it’s their revenue.
                  It’s a business - and it should always be treated as it is.
                  It happened to me too. Was I shocked? Not at all - I wished my trainer’s rider good luck.
                  It could have happened to another in house client who wasn’t showing that week...

                  My trainer is quite busy and she tries to fit me in her schedule whenever she can, and whenever she’s in my area - which is usualy once every two weeks. She knows I’m on a budget so she fits me in between riders that are nearby - I need to be very flexible with time and day. Sometime she cancels because she’s running out of time or she fits in another client.
                  And it’s ok.
                  And I still progress within my plan.
                  And when she gives me a lesson, I get exactly what I’m paying for.

                  What do you want from your trainer ?

                  What are your expectations for your horses?
                  Last edited by alibi_18; Aug. 8, 2020, 10:31 AM.
                  ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                  Originally posted by LauraKY
                  I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.


                    Closest I ever came to this kind of discrimination was when I stabled at a Hunter Show barn.
                    I had a talented TB (sold to me through the Trainer) who I was interested in showing, but not at the level/frequency Trainer desired.
                    So, we were moved from the "elite" 12-stall Show Barn to the larger General Population barn on the same grounds.
                    I still did only the shows I was interested in - many fewer than the In-Training clients - & somehow still ended up EOY Reserve Novice Adult - for which Trainer took Bragging Rights.
                    Water off my back as far as I was concerned.

                    My first Dressage trainer was a guy who went to college in Germany & was a talented rider & great teacher to all.
                    I met him when I was horseless, riding schoolies & along with other students in the same circumstances we learned Dressage.
                    I once saw him take an OTTB mare in the school string & within minutes had her passage & piaffe.
                    He taught us Vaulting as well as Jumping & eventually - when a wealthy client built him a facility with a Cross Country course- Eventing.
                    Idjit BO (that wealthy client) eventually priced us out of the showplace facility - increasing board & charging for weekly lessons whether or not they were taken.
                    Today that facility is a theraputic riding center - donated by Wealthy Moron when the Govt decreed it was not a deduction-worthy business, but a hobby.
                    Trainer/friend had departed & sadly died not long after.

                    When I was able to buy my own small farm, I was fortunate in meeting a local trainer who had taken her own horses to GP.
                    She was a friend of the couple who owned the last place I boarded & I had taken a few lessons from her there.
                    She agreed to come to my place & up until last Fall we got together twice a month for lessons at my farm.
                    Lesson Interruptus due to my vehicles - daily driver AND hauler - needing repairs that ate up my lesson $$. : {
                    She has a business training out of another barn, but is also willing to travel & I am hoping to resume lessons soon.

                    I guess my point is a Good Trainer will not make any distinction in training based on how often you lesson & your perception of Status should not affect your willingness yo continue with hm/her if you & your horses are progressing as you feel you should.
                    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                      What’s the difference between triaging business priorities and ‘discrimination’?


                        Kindly, I do expect to have preference if I board full time and am in full time training. I would likely move if preferential lesson slots were given to trailer in clients when I’m in full commitment/training/there every day.

                        As far as showing, my trainer bends over backwards at shows (and we pay for show training). If I am in full training and pay x amount annually, and someone comes in for a once monthly lesson and joins us at a show, with a conflict in time, I could imagine not being excited if I didn’t have preference.

                        I haven’t thought of that as improper before, just good business sense.

                        I do hope you can find a local trainer who is more of a boutique practice. That said, there are MANY amazing trainers who are training remotely. Not sure what you have in the way of someone to hold a camera, but you have many options there.
                        LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...


                          I have to agree with right horse. My trainer has a small barn with several boarders in full training. She travels to teach me (and a few others) weekly. I have her full attention and commitment to me and my horse during lessons, and I if need her advice about anything she is available to me via text or FB message. But frankly, if it came down to it, I would not expect her to place my needs at the same level as those of her boarders who are in full training.
                          Last edited by SillyHorse; Aug. 8, 2020, 01:42 PM.
                          "She is not fragile like a flower. She is fragile like a bomb."


                            "I have shown rated shows and ridden in BLMs at 1st level"

                            OK, I'm racking my brain trying to figure out what "BLM" is. I know I'll feel really, really silly when I get a clue! I know it's not "Black Lives Matter" or "Bureau of Land Management"...

                            OP, there's a trainer out there who will take you seriously. Personally, I wouldn't bother with a trainer who won't treat me as a serious client.


                              Originally posted by ThreeFigs View Post
                              "I have shown rated shows and ridden in BLMs at 1st level"

                              OK, I'm racking my brain trying to figure out what "BLM" is. I know I'll feel really, really silly when I get a clue! I know it's not "Black Lives Matter" or "Bureau of Land Management"...

                              OP, there's a trainer out there who will take you seriously. Personally, I wouldn't bother with a trainer who won't treat me as a serious client.
                              BLM is the Bengt Ljunquist Memorial championships.


                                I have hauled in to a number of trainers who also have horses in training board. I have never, ever thought for a minute that I would, or should, be treated the same as training board customers. I expect to have their full attention when in a lesson, but other than that, just no. It is good business to give preference to your most financially-committed customers. And when they are at shows, training board combinations are a reflection not only of the trainers riding instruction abilities, but also a reflection of their training abilities. It is a marketing two-fer. There is also an emotional investment by the trainer when they care for and ride the horse every day and see the owner frequently -- sometimes good emotions, sometimes not so much, lol.


                                  Originally posted by Snowdenfarm View Post
                                  I have hauled in to a number of trainers who also have horses in training board. I have never, ever thought for a minute that I would, or should, be treated the same as training board customers. I expect to have their full attention when in a lesson, but other than that, just no. It is good business to give preference to your most financially-committed customers. And when they are at shows, training board combinations are a reflection not only of the trainers riding instruction abilities, but also a reflection of their training abilities. It is a marketing two-fer. There is also an emotional investment by the trainer when they care for and ride the horse every day and see the owner frequently -- sometimes good emotions, sometimes not so much, lol.
                                  This! I have hauled in for lessons for years. I do not have any intention of participating in a training/boarding situation for many reasons and every person I've ridden with have understood this from the outset. I do not expect 'special' treatment but I do expect that when my lesson time starts (whenever that is and they always tell me what they have available) then I expect that their focus is on me for the time I'm paying them. I haul in, unload, tack up and warm up on my own and during that time they're dealing with their in-house clients; but, when I enter the arena I politely let them finish their conversation and then it's my time. Once my lesson concludes then they go back to whatever it is they need to do. I have rarely ever had a problem where it wasn't a reciprocating relationship/expectation.

                                  I should probably add that I've done this for decades on horses typically not bred for the sport and with the exception of one particular person who I moved on from have never had a problem with being taken seriously. Maybe it's because I state my goals up front and establish what I am looking for along with what I will or will not tolerate. If it looks like both sides can agree to move forward then it has always worked as previously stated. I will say, however, that because I used to show a ton and am known for campaigning a few horses, taking them to regionals, etc it doesn't take near as much effort or discussion from the outset when I have had move to a new program as it once did. I will also add that my current instructor who I engaged due to a physical move that took me too far from my previous one (so I don't have a reputation for trainer hopping) has commented more than once that she enjoys teaching me and coaching me at the shows because I'm not as dependent on her as some of her other students including other haul ins. In other words, except for needing the eye on the ground and her advice on how to manage certain situations and introduce advancing skill sets for the horse, I'm pretty self sufficient. I think she takes it as a mini-vacation which I'm more than fine with because I feel like I get my money's worth.
                                  Ranch of Last Resort


                                    I’ve had good experiences trucking in for lessons, and agree you need to find the right instructor and be willing to be somewhat flexible on lesson timing based on availability. My experience has been that I’ve needed to screen instructors up front on how interested they are in working with truck-ins, and commit to a specific time slot whenever possible. I’ve generally been happy with the attention and level of instruction, with the caveat that I’ve ruled out some local trainers with excellent reputations and student results because they were primarily focused on horses/riders in full training.

                                    I have done short-term training board when my horse had needed more/better training than I’m capable of doing. It’s been really helpful when I needed it, however like you I really enjoy having the horses at home and make the rest of it work.


                                      As a life-long "truck in student" -- you have to find the right trainer.

                                      Some will not take you seriously however well you ride or however talented you are. Some will give you some time but not be your #1. Almost all of them will prioritize their boarding clients -- and why shouldn't they? They get so much more out of their boarders.

                                      Keep shopping around, if you feel your trainer is pushing for you to board with them or, is not treating you as well as their boarding clients. You may have to shop around for a while.. and you may need to be realistic about, sometimes the trainer does have to prioritize their bigger-pay-grade clients, and you'll almost always be at the bottom of the barrel.. that is just how it goes..

                                      But I'm totally with you. I could swing board at the High End barns near me. I just don't want to. My horses are way happier at home, and i can put that money towards lessons and other things versus board. It's a no-brainer for me.
                                      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                                        Originally posted by Argo View Post
                                        What’s the difference between triaging business priorities and ‘discrimination’?
                                        There is a legit difference.

                                        Triaging business priorities means that everyone knows what the criteria are for ranking clients' lesson times AND that all clients have an equal opportunity to move up in that rank if they'd like (usually by becoming an in-house client). Discrimination means you are SOL, no matter what you do.

                                        Even though many of us consider becoming that boarder Not An Option for us, if that's not on the trainer's side of the street, it's not discrimination.

                                        I have had the same experience as Snowdenfarm and Beowolf: Sometimes it's really great being on the periphery of a big training operation, safely back from the drama. Also, I'm one of those grown-up amateurs that wants to learn to ride my own horse, so I don't actually want the kind of training where the pro makes the horse and I come to sit on it. Sure, if I'm getting into trouble with a movement (e.g. the flying change) and my inability to ride is creating a training problem, it makes lots of sense to have me get off and the pro get on to teach the horse. One of us has to have a clue, LOL. But that's not what I want the majority of the time. It used to be that dressage most dressage trainers were instructors like this and the owner rode her own horse, for better or for worse. I think the H/J model is coming to dressage world with trainers divided from clients/riders. I'm not sure that works very well in the long term.

                                        Also, I'd like to think that the pro is making more per hour teaching me as the person who shows up in her ring at the appointed time and then leaves than she is with the in-house client whose horse she has to manage more.

                                        So long as I have any instructor's full attention when I have paid for it, I'm happy.
                                        Last edited by mvp; Aug. 9, 2020, 08:13 AM.
                                        The armchair saddler
                                        Politically Pro-Cat