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Divorcing a Coach with Tact

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  • Divorcing a Coach with Tact

    It's not working anymore. He has personal issues that are getting in the way of his coaching. He is aggressive and a bad communicator.

    There is another coach who has moved into the facility that is a better fit...

    How do I broach the subject without creating Hiroshima?

    Frustrated in FLA
    Last edited by draysage; Jul. 8, 2011, 06:34 PM. Reason: too long

  • #2
    "I need to end our business relationship. I appreciate what you've done for me so far, but I'll be working with XXXX from here on."

    There doesn't need to be anything else. If you start listing reasons you'll provoke an argument with him. You hired him, and now you're firing him. It's simple, really.

    good luck.


    • #3
      It's going to be very, very hard to do with tact because he will take it to the rude side. You can remain in control by showing class, but know that you will need to have your 'back up' before you even begin the conversation.

      Changing trainers can be difficult, especially if they're in the same barn. Works well if they are both professionals, but when one is a cry-baby-bully-boy, I just don't see an easy departure. Sorry.
      Hillary Rodham Clinton - the peoples choice for president.


      • #4

        I will of course be uber professional. I see no other way. The only way this can be done effectively, would be "to the point". Do you think sending an email would be ok? Does it NEED to be face to face? Is that like breaking up with a boyfriend of a year via text...in bad taste?


        • #5
          I think it would be better in person. I read one time about using a "yes sandwich" when having to say something difficult. In this case you could say something along the lines that you are grateful for everything you've learned from him (yes) and that you are going to work with another trainer now (no), and thanks again for everything (yes). Perhaps a small gift to give at the end there, and then LEAVE. Don't get into a discussion of your reasons, his reasons, anything. Smile brightly, shake hands and leave.


          • #6
            Originally posted by draysage View Post

            I will of course be uber professional. I see no other way. The only way this can be done effectively, would be "to the point". Do you think sending an email would be ok? Does it NEED to be face to face? Is that like breaking up with a boyfriend of a year via text...in bad taste?
            I think doing it face-to-face is the best way, especially with a bully you will see around the barn. Anything else will be seen as "sneaking around" by someone who will misinterpret and mischaracterize anything you say. And then you'll be on the run. Face up to it, do it, move on.

            I said it's simple. But it won't be easy. I don't envy you, but once you've done it, you'll begin to wash the drama out of your life.


            • #7
              how i'd attempt it

              1. Set the stage. Call person by phone (try to pick a time they won't pick up!). Leave a message: "Hi [name] I'd like to speak with you privately at the barn today, if you have a minute. I'll be out at the barn at xxpm, and hope to see you then." I think this gives the person time to mentally prepare for some bit of news that may not be good.

              2. Meet person. Be pleasant but cool. "I wanted to let you know that I have decided to take my horse out of training/decided not to continue lessons for now. I admire your skill and have learned a great deal but I'd like to try working with another trainer, or even other trainers. Thanks for all you have done, blah, blah."

              3. Any questions should be answered in the briefest of ways, and I think I would state vague reasons that have nothing to do with the trainer's shortcomings, eg: "I'd like to try working with different trainers." " I think it's good to switch things up periodically, for both me and my horse."

              4. Share who you will be working with only if asked. Don't engage in debate or discussion of your decision, and don't respond to criticsm or accusatons. A good response is to shrug and say "maybe you're right."

              5. I would wait a couple of weeks before picking up with a new trainer, if you can manage it. However reasonable it is for you to make a switch, it will be embarassing to the former trainer. I would try to make the first few lessons at low traffic times at the barn. Whatever you can manage to make this switch less obvious, at least in the beginning would be very gracious.
              Dressage, riding, sport horse blog
              Unique browbands for dressage and hunter riders


              • #8
                Can you just say that you want take some additional lessons with the new trainer and then quietly drift away? Who knows if you make it more in the light that you want to expand, rather then leave, perhaps the present trainer will get some insight?

                I've been doing this a long time and the top BNT tend to rather expect that clients come and go and sometimes come back. For example, I used to ride with Pam Goodrich, now I don't but when I see her at the shows we are happy and I will get her to coach me. She never held one little bit of anything negative.

                Another BNT was realy weird, I had been trucking in for lessons and it was getting towards winter and I wouldn't be trailering. Next time I saw her, it was spring and I had moved barns, bought a second horse. I was on my new horse at show grounds and so happy to see BNT who was NOT nice to me. (Put her hands on her hips and snarled I just want to know what I did to offend you). But 3 years later we have really fun times at shows.

                I don't want to name names, but I am presently working with someone that I guarantee everyone on this board would be very familiar with. I have been having one specific problems with one of my 2 horses. BECAUSE this trainer is so professional, I came to the lesson and laid my plan out on the line...the left to right flying change is still a problem I'm going to take some lessons with (another trainer at the barn) to work on this. So lets leave the changes and work on the other stuff. Completely comfortable situation for everyone. This reflects the professionalism of the trainer that I am working with. Its like not everyone is going to be your best friend. Not every trainer is going to be the best match for you. And your best trainer match may vary over time.

                This is supposed to be fun right! He works for you. Dont let him make this unpleasant

                EXPECT that your present trainer will take this move as a true professional should.


                • #9
                  StaceyK has nailed it. She's put out a very good plan of action. Don't be afraid...it's YOUR TIME and YOUR MONEY, and you may spend either with whomever you wish.

                  Don't let him bully you, nor should you let him give you " a chance to let him prove to you that you're better off staying with him." He had that chance. He blew it. In some ways he sounds like a controller, and you don't need that. excuses..."oh, I think I've figured out a new way to teach you."

                  If he is the type to say, Well, I need to know the name of your next trainer so I can tell him what you have learned so far", you don't have to tell him. But also say something to the effect of: "I'm certain my new trainer will have heard of your competence. You are a professional, I'm sure I won't have to worry about gossip".

                  The sad thing is: if you are nervous about 'divorcing' this trainer, he wasn't a very good one to begin with.
                  The nice thing is, it's a heck of a lot cheaper than a real divorce, and you don't have lawyers involved.
                  The best thing to do on a golf course is a GALLOP!


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by draysage View Post

                    I will of course be uber professional. I see no other way. The only way this can be done effectively, would be "to the point". Do you think sending an email would be ok? Does it NEED to be face to face? Is that like breaking up with a boyfriend of a year via text...in bad taste?
                    Emails and texts are tacky ways to end any type of relationships...whether it be personal or professional.

                    OP....Go the route of something like...You have been a wonderful teacher and I have learned a great deal from you. I am going to have to stop lessons with you. Right now I just feel like I need a fresh set of eyes for me and my horse. Thank you so much for all you have done for me, it is greatly appreciated. Maybe a small parting gift to go along with the conversation.


                    • #11
                      The only thing I'd add is that if possible, give the trainer some notice. Although it might be uncomfortable in the short term, over the longer term they will appreciate you for that.

                      It's hard for anyone (especially in this economy) to lose a client suddenly.

                      It's a real pain when trainers take it personally when you decide to try someone new. Just remember that it's your choice whom you ride with, your trainer's behavior is what is causing you to end the business relationship, and you are not the first person (or last) to change trainers. It's harder when this all happens in the same barn. You just need to be prepared to smile and say hello every time you see the old trainer and if anyone asks you why you switched, say something neutral and non committal.
                      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                      • #12
                        Agree that StaceyK's advice is well-laid out ... give a little heads' up that news is coming, say it, provide a small gap between the trainers, make it look like you really are *trying* something new, not that you had your mind made up all along ... and also, don't talk about it around the barn, either. SOMEONE will want to nose in and create drama.

                        Originally posted by hrsmstr View Post
                        The nice thing is, it's a heck of a lot cheaper than a real divorce, and you don't have lawyers involved.


                        • #13
                          Have a few friends in a similar situation. One was honest and to the point. The other is still avoiding the issue directly and people are starting to talk/spread rumors.

                          Definitely be up front and try to give some notice. Your trainer will appreciate it in the long-term. Also, agree with not talking about it publicly and be diplomatic if it comes up. There's always someone who will add to the drama if you open the door.


                          • #14
                            Just did this, and it went so well - both of us will still see each other at horse shows and so wanted to be careful to keep it civil. Sat down and talked, explained what I felt wasn't working, had to be firm because of course she wanted to just change things but we both are professionals and so it was very good!

                            Had it go VERY bad however, and it was because the person in question was NOT professional, and it reflects very badly on her, not me. I was careful to keep my end clean, but she has been badmouthing me for a long time. It doesn't look good on her, though, as I have been nothing but nice. Have had several people tell me this, as well...

                            So do nothing you will be ashamed of, and have no regrets, and you will be fine, no matter what their behavior is.


                            • #15
                              I think so much of it depends, and reflects upon, how professional the coach is.

                              There are two coaches/trainers at my barn and both are lovely, professional ladies. A recent clinician I rode with suggested I try some lessons with the other trainer at my barn, the one I hadn't been riding with. I was worried the whole thing could become awkward, but when I told coach 1 I was going to do that, she said fine but that I could also ride with her again. So I tried some lessons with coach 2 over the course of the month, and just today actually made the switch back, and talked to both coaches about THAT. Both were fine with the switch back.

                              The whole thing felt a bit awkward to me, and liking both ladies so much, I was really worried about offending anybody. My husband put a different perspective on it. He's a golfer and said that he's golfed with quite a few of the coaches in town, and it's never a big deal to move around amongst them. He said, "I just think that as a woman, you put more emotion into working with different trainers than you need to. If they're all professional, they won't take it personally." And today, it seemed that was true because everybody seemed just fine and I'm back on a schedule with my original trainer just like that.


                              • #16
                                Deed is done. Did it face-to-face.

                                I think he knew it was coming, so it was easier than I thought. He actually said that he can no longer really help me outside of the lessons program, since he doesn't have the time, nor the resources to accompany me to the shows I would like to attend. I did it yesterday, and today at the farm, he was cordial, and even asked me a few questions about where to school off property that is a reasonable distance. So, it seems like he is equally relieved. Yay.

                                I kept it non-personal, and just stated that my goals are changing and I am feeling I need more "full service" support. By this, I mean that if I want to go to an away show for a few days, I need a team that is going as a group in order to take advantage of the trailering, etc. He got that.

                                So, crisis averted.

                                Thank you all for your responses. They really helped me to formulate my approach, and it seems I am none the worse for it.

                                Thank goodness.