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Changing Barns

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  • Changing Barns

    I'm not really looking for advice, but I'm frustrated and hoping for some words of encouragement.Or maybe I just need to vent. Or maybe I'm looking for someone to tell me I'm doing the right thing. Or give me a glass of wine.

    I currently keep my horses at a barn that focuses on its lesson program and not on its boarders, which is fine since that's how they've positioned themselves. The facility is great, with brand new Footing First footing in the main indoor and outdoor rings. My trainer has helped me climb up the ranks and I've become a better rider working with said trainer. My horses are going great, and are healthy, happy, and sound. However, riding in the culture of the lesson program barn has worn me down. I can't ride after work since the rings are swamped with little kid lessons. The lesson program always has priority, so I'm often kicked out out of the main ring and have to ride in the small ring with the "bad" (read: slightly worse than average, not horrible) footing. Last week, I was forced to ride outside when it was 30 degrees since there were 2 lesson kids in the indoor and the trainers weren't willing to let me ride around them. Most weekends I have nowhere at all to ride. The other trainers get angry (jealousy I'm assuming, but I don't want to be presumptuous) when I jump anything over 3"6, even if I only take one or two jumps and give them the rest of the course to use. The barn manager can't stand me because she says my expectations are too high, even though I've never once complained to her because I am happy with the care of my horses. In general, I get this sense that I am looked down upon for being successful. I am being made to feel bad for how hard I work to be good. I know that sounds incredibly conceited, but I assure you that's not how I mean it. I consider myself an average amateur, but in this barn, I stick out like a sore thumb.

    So all that being said, I've decided to leave. The barn should be my happy place, and it's just stressing me out. Grand Prix horses just don't fit into a lesson program. I've been battling with this for months, and have worked with my trainer to try to make improvements by changing my riding schedule, but the underlying issue is still there. I told my trainer a few weeks ago that I'm going to leave next month. I was very clear that it was not trainer's fault, and that I will actually miss my trainer dearly, but that I don't fit into the facility and life is too short for unnecessary stress. Trainer understood. Today, weeks after the original conversation,I wake up to texts from trainer saying that I am making a big mistake, that I should stay where the state of the art footing is, that I should stay where my horses are thriving. I'm heartbroken because I feel like trainer doesn't have my or my horses' best interests at heart, because otherwise it would be clear to see we need a change. New barn is with a BNT who has riders at the top of the sport. The facility is not as nice but is still beautiful, and the horses are well cared for. The footing is average. Everything seems to come back to the footing--that is my trainer's big argument for why I should stay. Part of me is wondering if trainer is right, the other part of me thinks what good is state of the art footing if I'm not allowed to ride on it for half the week. Am I doing the wrong thing, taking my horses and myself out of a situation which on paper is working, because we're having results in the show ring like we've never had before? My only concern is doing wrong by my horses. I don't want to ruin a good thing they have going, but I also want to be appreciated and respected where I ride. My mind is made up, I'm leaving, but I'm tired of being made to feel badly about it, and just because my mind is made up does not mean that I am 100% sure I'm making the right choice. Oh, and barn manager is going around saying how happy she is that I'm leaving.

  • #2
    I think your trainer woke up and it just sunk in that she’s losing a client and she’s not thrilled about it. You’re making the right choice going to another barn. This one stresses you out, and you’re right- what’s the point of incredible footing if you can’t even ride on it? Reiterate to your trainer that the move isn’t her fault but it’s time for you to move on. And then enjoy the new barn. Good luck!

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't think you have any real choice but to move. I actually can't believe the barn didn't do more to accommodate skilled amateurs like you. In the long run, I would think committed long-time riders are more lucrative and enhance the barn's reputation more than an endless parade of lesson kids. (No disrespect to lesson kids... I applaud good lesson programs).

      Good luck at your new place!

      Comment


      • #4
        I’ve bounced around through a couple programs over the past 7 1/2 years. The conclusion that I’ve come to is that if I have to choose between the facility and the education then I need to choose the education. As a horseless amateur I’ve had to acknowledge if I want to make progress then that depends on the qualifications of the trainer and their teaching style working with my learning style. A visually attractive barn or particularly high end footing is not going to teach me anything.

        I will never judge somebody for feeling like they are too advanced for a barn, as long as it’s true. I had an acquaintance who was actively showing Grand Prix level dressage and had her horse boarded at a HJ barn that did a lot of beginner lessons (quite frightening lessons in general, but that’s a different story). She would have a good chuckle talking about the awkwardness of trying to school upper level movements in the little indoor while other adult riders were just trying to learn how to post. I don’t think anyone was ever unkind to her but she certainly felt out of place and I doubt she was sad when her job moved and she had to leave.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Horsegirl's Mom View Post
          I don't think you have any real choice but to move. I actually can't believe the barn didn't do more to accommodate skilled amateurs like you. In the long run, I would think committed long-time riders are more lucrative and enhance the barn's reputation more than an endless parade of lesson kids. (No disrespect to lesson kids... I applaud good lesson programs).

          Good luck at your new place!
          Skilled lesson students can also be intimidating to coaches/trainers who lack the maturity and professionalism to understand those valid points.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think you are doing the right thing in leaving. If you want to progress, you have to ride. And if you can't use the "state of the art footing", what good is it to you? I also think you will have a little bit more support and more in common at the BNT barn if what you say about yourself and your horses are true. So get to moving! Good luck on your new endeavors!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ProfessionalAmmy26 View Post
              The footing is average.
              This would be a deal-breaker for me. I left a VERY nice facility and winning program over footing, and since you mentioned jumping 3'6" I wouldn't want to subject my horse to the unnecessary wear and tear of riding on a sub par surface. Average footing can be lots of things, but when I consider the average surfaces I have ridden on, it would be a definite no.

              But perhaps that's just me...

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree with the other commentors here. It sounds like an absolute nightmare just to get ride time in since the rings are in use for the lesson program. I understand that the facility and quality of the footing is important to you but if you can’t get the ride time and training you need, then how good is the facility if you can’t use it?

                now, the other barns footing - when you say average, is that “what you’d find at any show and pretty standard for a hunter jumper barn” average, or is it “it’s really not that great but it’s not terrible” average? If it’s the former, I think you’re fine. If it’s the latter and you’re concerned about soundness then I’d definitely reconsider that facility.

                if it were me, I’d likely leave. Sounds like the culture also isn’t great for you and you admitted yourself that you don’t enjoy going to the barn anymore. Remember why we do this in the first place - enjoyment and happiness!

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  The footing at the new barn is nice sand footing (I don’t know what all is in it, but it seems to be sand based from what I remember on my tour), but it’s not the crazy expensive, high tech footing that some of the rings at my current barn have. I’d say new barn footing is what you’d expect at an A show, while current barn footing is what you find at the best shows in the country. I don’t jump my horses at home often, normally less than once a week, and normally no bigger than 1.20m so I can save them for shows.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    OP, there is a part I am scratching my head over. You are the perfect person to ride during little kid lessons. We lesson in the same arena as little up down kids and while I would prefer to lesson in the arena alone, it is very doable. As to the question of footing at the other arena, is everyone else doing ok in it? No ones horses have become lame? We had the highest end barn here in town put in the most advanced footing and it was making the dressage horses lame so they had to pull ALL of it out of 2 huge arenas so sometimes state of the art, per se, is not necessarily so.
                    "Punch him in the wiener. Then leave." AffirmedHope

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by CindyCRNA View Post
                      OP, there is a part I am scratching my head over. You are the perfect person to ride during little kid lessons. We lesson in the same arena as little up down kids and while I would prefer to lesson in the arena alone, it is very doable. As to the question of footing at the other arena, is everyone else doing ok in it? No ones horses have become lame? We had the highest end barn here in town put in the most advanced footing and it was making the dressage horses lame so they had to pull ALL of it out of 2 huge arenas so sometimes state of the art, per se, is not necessarily so.
                      The issue is that there are different trainers for the lesson program and the boarders. There are 5 trainers in total. Each trainer fights over ring time. While I’m fine riding alongside the beginners in the boarder program, the lesson trainers block off half, or more, of the ring so that nobody rides in their kids space.

                      There are also schooling show almost every weekend, which means there are kids everywhere and nowhere for me to ride.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Very tough call. As someone who has had a grand prix horse injured because sub-par footing, I am very wary.

                        Does the new barn maintain the footing well? Like it is drug and watered at least 1x a day if not more? Makes sure that no where is too deep? Because if not, I would be hesitant. Sandy footing is a recipe for tendon issues if not maintained. Even not jumping much, but doing proper flat rides on upper level horses (lateral work, varying canter speeds/transitions, etc) can really be an issue on not great footing.

                        I played a frustrating game of having to constantly ask for the ring to be maintained at a facility I worked for (I wasn't allowed to drive the tractor but thats a whole different set of issues with the place) and it was ultimately a factor of why I left.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ProfessionalAmmy26 View Post

                          The issue is that there are different trainers for the lesson program and the boarders. There are 5 trainers in total. Each trainer fights over ring time. While I’m fine riding alongside the beginners in the boarder program, the lesson trainers block off half, or more, of the ring so that nobody rides in their kids space.

                          There are also schooling show almost every weekend, which means there are kids everywhere and nowhere for me to ride.
                          Lord that's too busy of a barn for me. Will this happen at the new barn though?
                          "Punch him in the wiener. Then leave." AffirmedHope

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ProfessionalAmmy26 View Post
                            I currently keep my horses at a barn that focuses on its lesson program and not on its boarders, which is fine since that's how they've positioned themselves. The facility is great, with brand new Footing First footing in the main indoor and outdoor rings. My trainer has helped me climb up the ranks and I've become a better rider working with said trainer. My horses are going great, and are healthy, happy, and sound. However, riding in the culture of the lesson program barn has worn me down. I can't ride after work since the rings are swamped with little kid lessons. The lesson program always has priority, so I'm often kicked out out of the main ring and have to ride in the small ring with the "bad" (read: slightly worse than average, not horrible) footing. Last week, I was forced to ride outside when it was 30 degrees since there were 2 lesson kids in the indoor and the trainers weren't willing to let me ride around them. Most weekends I have nowhere at all to ride. The other trainers get angry when I jump anything over 3"6, ever if I only take one or two jumps and give them the rest of the course to use. The barn manager can't stand me because she says my expectations are too high, even though I've never once complained to her because I am happy with the care of my horses. In general, I get this sense that I am looked down upon for being successful. I am being made to feel bad for how hard I work to be good. I know that sounds incredibly conceited, but I assure you that's not how I mean it. I consider myself an average amateur, but in this barn, I stick out like a sore thumb.

                            So all that being said, I've decided to leave. The barn should be my happy place, and it's just stressing me out. Grand Prix horses just don't fit into a lesson program. I've been battling with this for months, and have worked with my trainer to try to make improvements by changing my riding schedule, but the underlying issue is still there. I told my trainer a few weeks ago that I'm going to leave next month. I was very clear that it was not trainer's fault, and that I will actually miss my trainer dearly, but that I don't fit into the facility and life is too short for unnecessary stress. Trainer understood. Today, weeks after the original conversation,I wake up to texts from trainer saying that I am making a big mistake, that I should stay where the state of the art footing is, that I should stay where my horses are thriving. I'm heartbroken because I feel like trainer doesn't have my or my horses' best interests at heart, because otherwise it would be clear to see we need a change. New barn is with a BNT who has riders at the top of the sport. The facility is not as nice but is still beautiful, and the horses are well cared for. The footing is average. Everything seems to come back to the footing--that is my trainer's big argument for why I should stay. Part of me is wondering if trainer is right, the other part of me thinks what good is state of the art footing if I'm not allowed to ride on it for half the week. Am I doing the wrong thing, taking my horses and myself out of a situation which on paper is working, because we're having results in the show ring like we've never had before? My only concern is doing wrong by my horses. I don't want to ruin a good thing they have going, but I also want to be appreciated and respected where I ride. My mind is made up, I'm leaving, but I'm tired of being made to feel badly about it, and just because my mind is made up does not mean that I am 100% sure I'm making the right choice. Oh, and barn manager is going around saying how happy she is that I'm leaving.
                            Have to agree with you. if you cannot use the facilities at your current barn, there is little point in staying.

                            My only suggestion is to try to keep everything with your current trainer as positive as possible. Reiterate that you are leaving because you cannot get enough riding time due to all the lessons that are taking place (or whatever the case may be). Agree with her and tell her the footing is lovely and if you could have used it more often you wouldn't be leaving. Thank her for all her help. Tell her you hope the two of you can work together in the future and let her know you mean it. In the horseworld people move around a lot so you never know what the future might bring.

                            I would leave all the commentary about the other trainers and the BM not liking you because your expectations are too high, or you work hard or (insert comment here) out of the conversation. It isn't relevant and you cannot really be sure what these other people are thinking or feeling unless they tell you to your face. Take the high road. It will cause you a lot less stress.

                            I hope you enjoy your new facility. Having other riders around you with similar goals and riding abilities might just be the change you need!
                            Last edited by OneTwoMany; Nov. 11, 2019, 08:39 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Horsegirl's Mom View Post
                              I actually can't believe the barn didn't do more to accommodate skilled amateurs like you. In the long run, I would think committed long-time riders are more lucrative and enhance the barn's reputation more than an endless parade of lesson kids. (No disrespect to lesson kids... I applaud good lesson programs).
                              It sounds like BM's business model is a quantity model. Lots of lessons. Lots of "at home" schooling shows, etc. It is hard to run a program that successfully caters to skilled amateurs AND lesson kids. It is possible, but it is not easy or even especially common. Usually facilities focus on one or the other or something in between.

                              If BM has five trainers at the facility, BM's business model might be all about the numbers. The more lessons and the more "at home" schooling shows there are, the more income from those activities. Catering to an accomplished amateur won't bring in more ring fees or schooling show fees for the BM and it probably won't attract more lesson kids. Catering to an accomplished amateur might even bring in fewer ring fees if newbie lesson kids are required to deal with traffic while still learning the basics.

                              This is pure speculation, but the business model could be why BM says OP's expectations are too high. OP (understandably) wants to use the ring. BM and other trainers (understandably) want newbie lesson kids to be able to ride without traffic. Either way, it sounds like it isn't a perfect match and OP would be better off at a facility where she can ride more.
                              Last edited by OneTwoMany; Nov. 12, 2019, 12:23 PM.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                By the end of the first week in the new facility you will be wondering why you didn't move sooner. BTDT!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  You totally have the right mindset - barn time is sacred time! I almost have to ask if you're in Ohio, OP, since I left a barn for literally the exact same reasons, with what sounds like a very similar set-up. Although I just did a show at that barn I had left and the footing was atrocious. You're better off in the long run, moving

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    FTR, it would be difficult for me to dislike the footing at the best of the best shows more. I would leave the barn *just* for having that footing (that I think is actually so hard on the horses)! I would be much happier with a sand-based footing...though, of course, there's no way to know anything/enough about either footing based on what you've said.

                                    I agree with everyone else that at the end of the day you are not happy. It is difficult to gather the momentum to leave, but now that you have I wouldn't second guess your feelings. It's quite a positive that you might be able to preserve a relationship with the trainer (though that's one of those things that I would "believe it when I see it"). Best of luck to you!
                                    __________________________________
                                    Flying F Sport Horses
                                    Horses in the NW

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I'm with PNWjumper .... I dislike the new fiber footings and prefer simple, sand based footings. Sand doesn't mean bad quality at all. There's actually a lot of vets who will testify to many injuries happening in the new fiber footings due to its tendency to be too grabby or hard. Any footing, regardless of substance, must be maintained properly for it to function as intended, so for me it's more about proper and regular maintenance than it is about the substance.

                                      Not to mention, if you aren't even riding on the fiber stuff at the current barn, it really doesn't matter!
                                      Jennifer Baas
                                      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Your experience is asinine to me. I manage a farm and we focus on lessons and leasing, but we do board too. EVERYONE who boards pays to use the arena. It's fixed right into the boarding rate. My business mind is saying they are that way because there is no money in boarding, but there is money for lessons.

                                        I am in the same boat, I make more off lessons than boarding, but I would NEVER ask a boarder who is riding to leave the arena because I am teaching a lesson. I might ask them to cut the arena in half, so I can keep my lead/lunge line kids safer, though.
                                        I’d rather ride on a Mustang, than in one.

                                        BaileyAnn Neal

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