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Expectations when finding a new trainer?

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  • Expectations when finding a new trainer?

    Hi everyone,

    After a six year absence, I have decided to get back to riding. I rode for 20 years, and then stopped riding a couple years after I graduated from college. I have no horse at the moment and am looking for weekly lessons. If I find the right place, I would like to consider a lease so I could ride more than once a week, and then consider showing again.

    There is a great selection of facilities and levels of trainers in the area I live. I recognize a lot of them from when I rode as a junior. I have a feel for exactly what I am looking for but I cannot get a response from the facilities I have contacted.

    Now I know in the horse world things can get crazy and it's not like a 9-5 job, but am I out of line to expect a response within 24-48 hours (not including those crazy show weekends)? I have left voicemails and followed up with emails (if I had them from the web). Should I just continue to follow up? I feel a bit stalkerish but it is frustrating to not hear back from folks I don't recall this being an issue with the barns/trainers I rode with in the past.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    If you are near an upcoming show go watch the schooling ring and observe how the trainers work with their clients. Find a few that you like and find out who they are and contact them after the show. Let them know you watched them and liked what you saw. They will know you are serious. If that does not get a response keep looking, customer service is part of this business and too many people forget that. Good luck

    Comment


    • #3
      IME, if you call Mon-Fri between 8am and 5pm and leave a message that you are an adult seeking a trainer, will take X lessons a week and need a school horse to start but eventually lease or buy? Just like that, all the info, short and indicating you wish to be a client?

      You OUGHT to get something back with a week. Back up a text or e mail with a phone call in case they are away from anything that can do that or they are still not onboard with that technology.

      I'd repeat that call early the following week. If you hear nothing in 2 weeks????

      They are wonderful and talented but terminally disorganized. These can be an uneeded challenge as a client.

      They do not have school horses and/or do not do anything but private lessons or they do not want to work with a returning adult.

      They just do not want your business.

      So, give them 2 weeks with at least one follow up call, don't depend on the text/e mails, use the phone. if nothing happens? Move on.
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by findeight View Post
        They are wonderful and talented but terminally disorganized.
        This is what I was thinking but could not find the words to express appropriately

        Comment


        • #5
          Those big show barns aren't in a hurry to reply to someone that is horse-less, IME.

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree with findeight. I really have little patience for trainers who cannot be bothered to return clients' phone calls. Granted, you are not yet a client, but if that's standard operating procedure for a professional, well, that's just unprofessional. So as findeight said, give them a chance, but if you don't hear back they either don't want your business, or can't get it together enough to return phone calls and are therefore not worth pursuing. Let's face it, even at a busy away show, there is plenty of time to return calls. Ever notice how many pros are waiting in their golf carts or ring side or back at the stalls, talking on the phone? It's a service industry, returning phone calls is pretty basic.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by NorthFaceFarm View Post
              Those big show barns aren't in a hurry to reply to someone that is horse-less, IME.
              This.

              And, I hate this. After numerous calls finally returned I used to truck out my horse and although the trainer was great, someone I would have loved to continue to train with, it was a crap shoot if she would be there to give a lesson or be at a show. That, and my horse never seemed good enough.

              OP you have to put your face right in theirs to get some communication with them. That is just how it is. I don't see many returning calls/emails to a random person inquiring. Now, if you have a name and some cash - horseless or not than you probably would get some return call.

              Comment


              • #8
                Agree with Ozone. Trainers prefer students have horses because that usually means: you might board there, horses may need training rides, you might need trailering to a show, etc etc.

                Go to the barn. Explain (nicely) that you made a call and are following up on your own with a visit. This goes with EVERYTHING in life, really...you want it, go get it!!
                COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  But of course...I post this and I got a phone call from one barn

                  I agree with a lot of other comments here. Having always had my own horse and trailered in I have seen some of what I will call favoritism to boarders and full time show-ers.

                  But as earlier stated...once I am a client of yours (horseless or not) I will expect calls returned.

                  I'm not going to jump to any conclusions yet...still need to confirm the lesson time and make sure the place is a fit for me...fingers crossed!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by NorthFaceFarm View Post
                    Those big show barns aren't in a hurry to reply to someone that is horse-less, IME.
                    This is so short-sighted though. When I first came to my trainer, I was a once-a-week lesson student who needed a school horse (no horse of my own). Within about a month and a half I was half-leasing one of her horses and taking 2 lessons a week. Within 6 months of starting with her, I had paid for her to help me find a horse, I had bought the horse, I was boarding with her, I was taking 2 lessons a week, I had attended her riding camp in Aiken, my horse was in training with her and I was signing up for both schooling & sanctioned events & horse trials in my area (and paying coaching fees). If she had not had any interest in me as a horse-less, once-a-week student, she sure would have missed out on a good bit of business in the (not so) long run. I guess the trainers you are referring to don't need the business so much.
                    -Debbie / NH

                    My Blog: http://deborahsulli.blogspot.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by NorthFaceFarm View Post
                      Those big show barns aren't in a hurry to reply to someone that is horse-less, IME.
                      I love it when I'm asked, "So, how many horses were you planning on boarding?"

                      IME, I don't expect to have calls returned unless I have the name of a fellow client to drop. But, if a barn can't return a directed email query (e.g. one that lists what I want, so they can answer yes or no to those things) within 72 hours, they're probably too busy and/or disorganized to take me on anyway. ; )
                      "Go on, Bill — this is no place for a pony."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by cranky View Post
                        This is so short-sighted though. When I first came to my trainer, I was a once-a-week lesson student who needed a school horse (no horse of my own). Within about a month and a half I was half-leasing one of her horses and taking 2 lessons a week. Within 6 months of starting with her, I had paid for her to help me find a horse, I had bought the horse, I was boarding with her, I was taking 2 lessons a week, I had attended her riding camp in Aiken, my horse was in training with her and I was signing up for both schooling & sanctioned events & horse trials in my area (and paying coaching fees). If she had not had any interest in me as a horse-less, once-a-week student, she sure would have missed out on a good bit of business in the (not so) long run. I guess the trainers you are referring to don't need the business so much.
                        I agree with you. Since my new place is just starting, I keep up contacts with EVERYONE whether I have something for them to ride or not because you never know where they are a few months from now. But BNT's with full barns don't need to do that. They figure anyone walking in "off the street" probably doesn't have the resources to play at their level. When I was with BNT's as a junior, nobody came in alone. They were handed off from other local trainers.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by NorthFaceFarm View Post
                          Those big show barns aren't in a hurry to reply to someone that is horse-less, IME.
                          Yep.
                          Surgeon General warns: "drinking every time Trump lies during the debate could result in acute alcohol poisoning."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Its too bad that has been your experience. Although some of the trainers I've worked with have been a little slow on the communication front, I've always gotten a call back within a reasonable time frame (about a week). I think that a lot of them see the potential in an adult rider, with their own pocket book, in terms of steady income and buying/boarding/training their own horse eventually. In fact, I love my current trainer because she is very good at getting back to me, sometimes within the hour! Part of the reason I went with her actually

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Most BNTs that I know that follow a circuit don't operate lesson barns or offer school horse lessons - their schedule just can't accommodate it. You'll probably have the best luck with BNTs that have a host of junior trainers working for them - they'll be the ones that want students, run the lesson programs and can eventually farm you up to the BNT when you purchase and start showing.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                When I was trainer shopping last winter, I gave a farm about a week to get back before I gave up on them. There were two barns that did that, and you know what? If they don't want my business, so be it. I didn't have a horse and really only wanted lessons, but ended up with a lease with a BNT and am very happy for it. Pretty sure they're going to make plenty of money off me with 2x a week lessons, going on the circuit with lease horse this summer, and horse shopping in the fall. A trainer/BO NEVER KNOWS when someone is willing to come in a drop a big chunk of money, horseless or not, and if they don't feel that someone is "worth it" because of that, then I don't want to be part of their barn anyway.

                                /end rant

                                IMO if you've called and followed up and haven't heard back in about a week (maybeeee two weeks this time of year with the shows starting up), it's time to move on. Fwiw the barns I've ever chosen have responded to me within 48 hours and have all had excellent client communication. I do think it says something when they get back to you in a timely manner.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  You will probably have to search a little extra to find the right place - and most likely, it's not going to be with a BNT to start out. As other folks have mentioned, many "big" barns are focused on full-training clients & don't offer much to the once or twice a week rider.

                                  I've have experience in your situation - both as a student and a trainer. A few years after college, I took some time off from riding. When I was ready to start again, it was pretty difficult to find a place that could offer lessons/school horses so I didn't have to be in full-training, but was also at the quality/advanced level I wanted. I was lucky to find a barn that had a lesson/school horse program in the "back" and a full-training BNT in the "front" - all run by the same person. I was able to do once-a-week lessons to get back into riding, and then started part-leasing a sale horse after a few months. However, it's not common to find such a place - took me awhile to find them (and I still had the "pressure" from the BNT to show/spend $$ once I started leasing). To this day, I still only know of 1 BNT in the area that offers adult "riding lessons" on "school" horses. They run a wonderful program - but I believe they still do encourage the riders to buy/lease after they've been in the program for awhile.

                                  On the flip side, I'm now training & have a number of "re-riders" looking for exactly what I had needed years ago. My program is different from that of a BNT - horses in our barn are all privately owned & most riders only take lessons once a week. My students either own their horse, or lease/pay a per-use fee to ride a private horse. We are at a large, public boarding barn (250+ horses) and I train part-time in the evenings and on weekends. One of my re-riders is doing what you talked about wanting - a lesson with me once a week & a hack day once a week, so she pays for a 2-day a week lease on a private horse & then pays for her lesson with me. It's great because she gets to have some time to practice what we're working on in the lesson. Plus, it's great for the horse owner - who wanted some time away from the barn (but not time off for her horse) & gets some $$ each month as well.

                                  We've started to fill a "nitche" for the area - for riders who want quality training without the pressure of a show barn. We go to shows (mostly local) now & then, but our focus is on making strong, well-educated riders who ride because it's FUN. Plus, I have partnered with another part-time trainer friend to create the barn, so we can accommodate multiple disciplines (I focus on h/j; she has greater experience with dressage & eventing) - which allows our riders to try multiple types of riding if they want, without having to go to multiple barns.

                                  I absolutely understand your frustration with folks that don't return calls/emails promptly. Working also in the non-horsie business world - that would never pass! So, I make a point to return calls/emails by the end of the next day. If I'm out of town, I make sure to say something in that regard when I reply - "so sorry about the delay, as I was out of town the last 4 days & am just back in front of email". However, I know this isn't the case for a lot of trainers who either have full programs anyway (not looking for new/part-time business) or just aren't as business-savvy.

                                  Not sure I'm really helping. However, do keep searching! As someone mentioned, check out some local schooling shows & see how the trainers there are working with your clients. You'll probably have a better chance of finding trainers there that have a program like you need - less show focus, more experienced adults paying their own way for the fun of it (less of the "buy the fancy horse even if you don't know how to ride" ammies).

                                  Also, check out the local bulletin boards & forum sites for horse stuff in your direct area. Some of the smaller barns only advertised locally (if at all).

                                  Finally, if you could post where you are located, some of us might be able to offer suggestions, too. Your post doesn't give any location info - so you might inadvertently be missing the opportunity for COTH posters to make suggestions! '

                                  Good luck on your search!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Back in the dark ages, I ran the lesson program for a BNT. Being the dark ages, there were no cell phones, no email, etc.

                                    If I didn't return your call THAT DAY, I felt bad and apologized when I called the next day. Lessons were more money for me and we did a pretty good job of getting kids up from the lesson program to become owners.

                                    At my advanced age now, I am dreadful at calling back. And I just realized I never called back someone who called me last week. Granted, I could not have helped them and it was a casual message, but I should have called back.

                                    Sorry Emily!
                                    *****
                                    You will not rise to the occasion, you will default to your level of training.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Everyone thanks for the responses!

                                      MR....

                                      I am in chester county Pennsylvania. Horse country galore and where I showed as a junior before training in the colts neck area in NJ...farms everywhere!
                                      Last edited by comingback; May. 11, 2010, 09:58 PM.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by comingback View Post
                                        MR....
                                        I am in chester county Pennsylvania. Horse country galore and where I showed as a junior before training in the colts neck area in NJ...farms everywhere!
                                        Good luck in your search! I'm in California & have no Pennsylvania connections so can't help you there - sorry! However, I'm sure you'll find some place that works.

                                        An additional thought: You might contact the local college riding programs to see where they ride. If they do IHSA, then they'll most likely we somewhere the students get access to lots of random horses (like a big lesson barn!). Some college trainers have their own businesses, too - but are already set-up for the lesson program thing for the college kids. Maybe you can slip into one of those programs? You can find the list of IHSA-participating colleges in your area here:
                                        http://www.ihsainc.com/CustomForms/C...aspx?List=Zone
                                        (PA schools are in Zone 3)

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