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Our Trainer is losing interest in his students...

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  • Our Trainer is losing interest in his students...

    Hi all. Trying to make a decision for my daughters and I to stay or go at our SoCal barn. Our trainer is losing interest in his job -- he owns the business, and has an assistant, who is nice but not as good as the head Trainer. Trainer often has to do something else on lesson days and does not show up. We still have the lessons, but with someone else. For example, he is sick, his kids are sick, he is working on a different project, he is on vacation, and so on. He is supposed to be there 5 days per week but if get three we are lucky! Is this common in the business? Thanks!

  • #2
    If you’re not getting what you’re paying for, find someone else. If you’re ok with getting 3 days instead of 5, then stay. Bad service is common everywhere. Decide what your limits are.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by JustTheTicket View Post
      If you’re not getting what you’re paying for, find someone else. If you’re ok with getting 3 days instead of 5, then stay. Bad service is common everywhere. Decide what your limits are.
      Exactly. Remember the trainer works for you. You are paying for a service. Like any service provider, if you are unhappy, then find someone else. Finding a good trainer is like dating, sometimes the relationship has run its course and it is time to move on. Nothing wrong with that

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      • #4
        Maybe he's losing interest, or maybe he's simply realized you will continue to pay whether or not he bothers to show up.

        No, that is not normal behavior. (At least not anywhere except the horse world where people seem to thrive on being taken advantage of.)

        If I were you, I would make my dissatisfaction known. Then, if nothing changes, I would move on.

        www.laurienberenson.com

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        • #5
          It's not fun anymore when a trainer starts taking longtime, steady clients for granted. This is pretty common unfortunately. A trainer's motivation, energy level, and focus can shift and it might take a while before you really become aware that this is happening. But when you see that it's become a pattern, it's time to decide if this is how you want to spend precious money and your daughters' and your precious time. It's tempting to push the feelings down, maybe have yet another "talk" and hope it all kicks back in to what it was before. After all, you remember why you came there in the first place and you look back on the good times. Plus it can be difficult and cause anxiety to find a new trainer. But usually it's back to the same old because the trainer's heart just isn't in it anymore. Riding and having horses in training is just too expensive to settle for less for whatever the reason. Good luck.

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          • #6
            In a similar situation I eventually left.
            The Evil Chem Prof

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            • #7
              Whether you should leave depends whether or not you are dissatisfied with the services you are paying for. I've had similar things happen with several different trainers for several different reasons. One trainer was aging and wasn't physically able to ride as much anymore (and my horses at the time were greenies who often required pro rides). Another trainer became unhappy with the other staff at the barn-- she wasn't the BO. This manifested as not wanting to be around as much, leaving early, etc. and that trainer eventually relocated to a different facility. A third head trainer spent a lot of time with me at first, but once it seemed I was a secure client, I noticed the assistant was sent to fill in more and more frequently. There are many reasons why a trainer might do this including being spread too thin. Still, if you aren't satisfied with the assistant's instruction, say so. Make your intentions clear that you prefer to lesson with the head trainer and want to schedule lessons when he will be present. If this isn't possible, it may be time for a change. Trainers' businesses and interests shift and grow. It isn't unusual, but remind yourself, as others have said, that you deserve what you are paying for and to be treated as a valued customer. Stuff will come up, sure, but not that often. My advicr is to be upfront, see if anything changes, and go from there.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by CaliforniaHunter View Post
                Hi all. Trying to make a decision for my daughters and I to stay or go at our SoCal barn. Our trainer is losing interest in his job -- he owns the business, and has an assistant, who is nice but not as good as the head Trainer. Trainer often has to do something else on lesson days and does not show up. We still have the lessons, but with someone else. For example, he is sick, his kids are sick, he is working on a different project, he is on vacation, and so on. He is supposed to be there 5 days per week but if get three we are lucky! Is this common in the business? Thanks!
                Sounds like either he is transitioning the business over to the assistant, or else there are some personal problems. He could be ill or one of his kids, or his spouse. He could be upgrading to focus on his own competition or schooling higher level students elsewhere.

                I would research your options at other barns. Are they better than your assistant trainer? Then have a chat with your trainer about scheduling over the next 6 months and see of you can pin him down.

                If not, move if there is better out there.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

                  Sounds like either he is transitioning the business over to the assistant, or else there are some personal problems. He could be ill or one of his kids, or his spouse. He could be upgrading to focus on his own competition or schooling higher level students elsewhere.
                  Agreed. Often having an assistant *allows* a trainer to step back, temporarily or longer. It’s a difficult business to be in during easy times, hard to deal with personal stuff. And assistants can be great too - sounds like you just don’t care for this one.

                  If you like the head trainer, you might make an effort to speak to him to understand whether the current routine is temporary or permanent. And if the answer is “permanent” or nothing changes as promised, you should absolutely look into other barns/trainers.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Time to lose interest in that trainer.
                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Redlei44 View Post

                      Agreed. Often having an assistant *allows* a trainer to step back, temporarily or longer. It’s a difficult business to be in during easy times, hard to deal with personal stuff. And assistants can be great too - sounds like you just don’t care for this one.

                      If you like the head trainer, you might make an effort to speak to him to understand whether the current routine is temporary or permanent. And if the answer is “permanent” or nothing changes as promised, you should absolutely look into other barns/trainers.
                      This.

                      The trainer is providing a service, so it is entirely reasonable to have expectations and to consider other options if your expectations are not being met.

                      That being said, I would make the effort to try and discuss the changes and your concerns with the trainer. It may be that the trainer is transitioning the barn to the assistant trainer, and taking a step back. In that case, if you do not 'jive' with the assistant trainer, it is entirely reasonable for you to start looking elsewhere. If, on the other hand, the trainer is dealing with some personal issues, YMMV but I would try to work out an interim arrangement. This will, of course, depend on the issues, anticipated length of time and what possible options exist that will suit both parties. There may not be a workable solution, but I would want to chat with the trainer first to explore that. It may be what the trainer needs to realize his current plan is not working, and he needs to tweak it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Move on. You will find plenty of trainers in your neck of the woods who will give your daughters the attention they deserve.

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                        • #13
                          I would talk to him but also start looking.

                          I had this happen with a trainer, her kids got into sports and that took precedence over her paying clients. I understand family comes first but when you are selling your lesson horses to fund their sports clubs, not teaching lessons because you have to take your kid to practice everyday (and stay and watch, my mom just dropped me off and picked me up) and then getting really rude to your clients when they start leaving and you can't pay your bills, it just makes a toxic environment. I held on as long as i could, but when my horses care started suffering and I wasn't getting lessons I paid for (and her refusing to make them up), I left as well.
                          Talking to some people is like folding a fitted sheet.

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                          • #14
                            Normal or not normal aside, what matters is whether the situation is working for you and your daughters. Are they riding at a level that they need the head trainer's attention? Do they like their lessons with the assistant?

                            Assuming it's his business, it's really his business on whether he's there 5 days a week or not. There may be extenuating circumstances that you aren't privy to requiring his absence.

                            Regardless for the reasons, this is a question of "Is this working for us?" If yes, then stay. If no, then find another barn.
                            Jennifer Baas
                            It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I like to give someone the benefit of the doubt especially if I've know them a long time. Have you asked him?

                              After that conversation you can decide if its the right place or situation for you.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Blinky View Post
                                I like to give someone the benefit of the doubt especially if I've know them a long time. Have you asked him?

                                After that conversation you can decide if its the right place or situation for you.
                                Exactly. Step One, any time you have any concerns or questions about what is going on is to have a friendly, non-accusatory conversation with the individuals involved. How can you make any decisions about what to do when you don't know what's going on?

                                Once you understand how things are going to move forward from here, then you can decide what you want to do about it.
                                "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
                                that's even remotely true."

                                Homer Simpson

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Thank you all so very much great advice! My first step will be having a conversation. And we will go from there. Happy trails to all of you!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Well 3 lessons a week is a good number of lessons - figuring you're riding on your own some of the other days. Is it just that head trainer's not there and you don't like assistant trainer or are you happy with the assistant trainers? Has the horse care or management started to suffer?. Are you competing and is this affecting your ability to show. How long has he been in business? If you're able to get in 3 lessons a week with him or assistant trainer and you like both of them, and all else is good. Stay put for awhile. If you're paying for lessons at the head trainer rate but getting lessons with the assistant especially if it's included in your board, then that calls for a discussion. If care and the barn management are beginning to slack off then it's a bigger indication it's time to move on.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I think the only thing you can do "wrong" is the fly-by-night crap we have all seen too frequently in this sport. Never leave without having the hard, real conversations with your current trainer. If you do wind up leaving, he should know exactly why (and have had the chance to fix it).

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                                      • #20
                                        Most trainers invest a lot of personal care for their students in addition to actual time spent. Riding is hard. They feel vested. If this trainer was that at one time, he deserves a respectful discussion with you and a chance to get back to where he was or, an opportunity to explain why that can't happen. If he wasn't a caring, vested trainer, move on anyway with proper notice according to your contract. There are plenty of those out there.

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