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help - where/how to find a trainer for a smaller barn

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  • help - where/how to find a trainer for a smaller barn

    So, my barn manager has asked me to help find a new h/j trainer since she does western pleasure. She says she is sick of hearing me complain about the string of beyond terrible trainers (I've been riding for 3 years! I've evented through novice, I'm a hunter jumper trainer! etc etc) we have had and that I should just pick the new one myself .

    So the question: Where do you look for an up-and coming trainer, or someone who would be willing to train out of a smaller, less fancy facility, but still knows their stuff and has some clientele willing to relocate?

    About the barn- to give you a better idea of what we are working with:

    The requirement from the barn's side is that the new trainer must have some of their own clientele to bring in with them. There are some clientele at the ranch that are looking for a new trainer as well, so there would be prospective new business for the trainer.

    The good things: Excellent care, the most astonishingly cheap boarding rates you have ever seen in so cal (er, prices removed, don't want to be construed as advertising, but trust me, it's ridiculously cheap). Several different barns and pen options. A large jump arena with jumps available to use. Jumps are not fancy, and could use a coat of paint, but are totally serviceable and safe. Pasture & limited turn out available too. Lots of shady trees, a creek, etc.

    The not-so-good: Not Fancy. Not landscaped, groomed, etc. I wouldn't go as far as totally back-yardy, but definitely not your fancy show barn. Not in a super horsey area. Within an hour of several bigger show grounds (LAEC, camelot, earl warren, hansen dam) but about 45 minutes north of the more horsey moorpark/somis areas, and at least an hour north of LA. So quite a hike for most of the established trainers with clientele that seem to be more populated to the south of us.

    TIA for any suggestions!
    It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

  • #2
    Finding an up and coming trainer or rather someone who is just starting out is one thing in Los Angeles. Someone with an established clientele is another. I think you will find that location is paramount. Most established trainers like you said aren't going to travel beyond the SFV or Moorpark. My trainer is very established and just set up a satellite barn in Malibu (main barn is in Orange County) and it took a year and a half to find a decent property. There were ample properties available in Ventura County and even closer (and were extremely reasonable!) but our interest was to be in L.A. I am not saying it's not feasible but I don't think it will be easy. In my opinion, I would decide if clients/boarders or a trainer is what is more important to your business and then advertise accordingly. Just my two cents.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by Bearhunter View Post
      In my opinion, I would decide if clients/boarders or a trainer is what is more important to your business and then advertise accordingly. Just my two cents.
      Unfortunately, it's not my business, I'm just helping out. A good trainer is the most important to me, but the requirement of the barn owner is that they be able to bring at least some clientele with them. Doesn't need to be huge numbers, but the BO wants someone who can bring in at least 3-5 horses. BO does not know much about horses and only sees the $$ aspect of things.

      I know that this is sort of a needle in a haystack search, and was just hoping some COTHers could maybe suggest some ideas I hadn't thought of in seeking someone out.

      ETA- where would you suggest advertising?

      Thanks.
      It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

      Comment


      • #4
        Obviously, word of mouth is going to yield the best results. However, I guess as far as advertising I would try the Chronicle and maybe Yard and Groom?

        Comment


        • #5
          It is hard to know what to suggest without knowing more about the situation.

          Is the new trainer supposed to bring 3-5 clients in exchange for simply being able to teach at your barn? (ie, all the board revenue goes to the BO while the trainer keeps lesson $$?) Will the trainer have to pay a ring fee to the BO in addition? If so, will there be a different split for existing boarders vs. new clients the trainer brings in?

          Will the BO require (or provide) insurance? Will the BO offer the trainer stall(s) for free or reduced cost for their own horses (lesson horses or sale animals etc)?

          There are lots of different ways to do this kind of thing but whether or not the arrangement works tends to depend on how willing both parties are to create a mutually beneficial situation. BO's who just want a trainer to feed them boarders with not much in return don't generally attract the best talent, particularly if the facility is not the sort of place that will attract active lesson/show customers. (Who, after all, are the trainer's bread and butter.)
          **********
          We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
          -PaulaEdwina

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          • #6
            Go to local and rated shows and watch the schooling ring and the barns. You may see some smaller-operationed pros you like.

            Bringing clients is fine, though you should know that no pro can live on 3-5 clients. If they have only those to bring with them, they'll need to be part time at your place. They (and your BO) have a clear understanding about the number of stalls they can control in the future so that either side can see this as a long term relationship.

            Can your barn offer a string of school horses? That's another way a small pro can make ends meet.
            The armchair saddler
            Politically Pro-Cat

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
              It is hard to know what to suggest without knowing more about the situation.

              Is the new trainer supposed to bring 3-5 clients in exchange for simply being able to teach at your barn? (ie, all the board revenue goes to the BO while the trainer keeps lesson $$?) Will the trainer have to pay a ring fee to the BO in addition? If so, will there be a different split for existing boarders vs. new clients the trainer brings in?

              Will the BO require (or provide) insurance? Will the BO offer the trainer stall(s) for free or reduced cost for their own horses (lesson horses or sale animals etc)?

              There are lots of different ways to do this kind of thing but whether or not the arrangement works tends to depend on how willing both parties are to create a mutually beneficial situation. BO's who just want a trainer to feed them boarders with not much in return don't generally attract the best talent, particularly if the facility is not the sort of place that will attract active lesson/show customers. (Who, after all, are the trainer's bread and butter.)
              As far as I know, BO gets board $$ (which again is pretty cheap, outside pipes are 235$ for a 12 x 24, 285$ for a 24 x 24, and I think 360 for a box with a run including shavings).
              Trainer gets all training and lesson $$ with NO cut to BO. No ring fees or any other type of fee, with a possibility of discounted trainer stall/stalls depending probably on amount of clients brought in (I am assuming here as this is what has been done in the past). Trainer must provide insurance.

              While it's not the type of place to attract seriously active A showers, we do have a pretty solid group of regular lessoners that do local shows and would probably do more showing with a trainer that encouraged it. We have some boarders that would definitely like to put their horses in training but we don't have a trainer right now so they can't. The other trainer at the barn is a western trainer and has a pretty big group that do daily lessons, full training, and go to what I think are pretty big western shows (LA, paso robles, las vegas), so while we aren't fancy, we aren't completely out of it either.

              Again, I'm just the middle man that wants to finally have a decent trainer!! We did have a good established eventing trainer for many years (I have been at this barn on and off for over 15 years! lol), and she had a very successful business out of our ranch, until she relocated several hours away.

              Thanks
              It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by mvp View Post
                Can your barn offer a string of school horses? That's another way a small pro can make ends meet.
                Barn does not have school horses although there are a few privately owned horses at the barn that may be available for use through private arrangement with their owners. There are a few sitting around where the owners would love to have them getting ridden or leased.

                Also, I know no trainer can exist on 3-5 clients, that's just the minimum the BO has put out there for anyone moving in. We have 2 18 stall barns, a 6 stall barn, a 4 stall barn, and probably a about 100 pipe corrals. It's probably 60% full so there is plenty of room for someone to expand a business.
                It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

                Comment


                • #9
                  List on Bay Equest and the SoCal version, SoCal Equest, I think.

                  Think about what made the facility popular in the past. It used to be one of the go to spots years and years ago. The last time I was there, about 8 years ago, the facility was "m'eh". not super attractive or enticing, but not horrible. I'm at a facility like that now, but the trainer has been there for over 20 years. It suits her.

                  The problem is that you are going to have a harder time attracting the kind of trainer you want to the type of facility that is offered...at least long term. You need a local, beginner sort of trainer or someone starting their business.
                  Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                  Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

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                  • #10
                    The problem is that you are going to have a harder time attracting the kind of trainer you want to the type of facility that is offered...at least long term. You need a local, beginner sort of trainer or someone starting their business.
                    [/QUOTE]

                    I think this is what I was thinking exactly. I think a trainer with an established clientele is going to be tough given the facility and whereabouts. However, there are new pros that are very talented out there looking for a place to go. And I agree that socalequine.com is also a good place to advertise.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It doesn't sound half bad, really.

                      Lots of room and people who would like a H/J trainer. No obvious conflict with the western trainer, except perhaps for ring time.

                      A few horses around that could form the basis for a small school program. The trainer might not want to need more since training and showing would be their goal (I assume) and the schoolies are just there to help people get started.

                      Most important, inexpensive board that makes it possible for owners to even afford to keep a horse in training.

                      If I ever move back to Cali, I want this kind of gig. I like modest and mellow barns where people are hungry for learning and doing more, and don't feel like they're going broke to do it.
                      Last edited by mvp; May. 14, 2010, 07:21 PM. Reason: Well if you can't right write, ferchissakes....
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Bearhunter View Post
                        However, there are new pros that are very talented out there looking for a place to go.
                        I agree that this is exactly the type of person I would like to find. I don't need someone really established, I just want someone knowledgeable and GOOD. It's the BO's requirement of must bring in 3-5 horses that makes things tough when looking for someone just starting out.

                        MVP- I know! I don't think it's really all that bad, and it seems like it shouldn't be so seemingly impossible to find someone who would be interested. The western trainer actually has her own "western arena" and trail course, and then there is a separate english arena with jumps, so ring time is not a conflict.
                        Last edited by two sticks; May. 14, 2010, 02:51 PM. Reason: because i messed up with the quoting...
                        It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mvp View Post
                          It doesn't sound half bad, really.

                          If I ever move back to Cali, I want this kind of gig. I like modest and mellow barns where people are hungry for learning and doing more, and don't feel like their going broke to do it.
                          I second this. As a SoCal native, I would dig this type of gig. Why does she have to have clientele? Could you not do a roving trainer? Freelancer?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I still would go watch at local shows.

                            An example: I have a trainer friend in NY State who is educated, talented and needs a barn and local economy that will let her grow a business. She's honest as well as a good sport who would fit in just fine at your place. If the opportunity were right but she had to fill 3-5 stalls, I think she could do that with a couple of month's notice.

                            My point is that I think many pros can find 3-5 horses-- training projects, schoolies or client horses-- in a few months. They already have clients, lessoners and connections.

                            You should find my friend's West Coast twin and I think he or she is out there. Watching my NY buddy lease stalls in different barns, I know she'd want to make sure the BO made word-and-deed match. And the BO would at least would listen to a pro who asked for changes at the barn she thought were necessary to grow her business.

                            If those things are good-- the BO is realistic, honest and a business-like grown-up, and sees the trainer as a welcome addition that's a little bit of a joint venture-- I think the right pro will come.

                            But you find these people by watching the trainers at local shows. They'll win some, but that's not most important.

                            Listen to them tell their kids things that seem a little more educated than you'd expect for the level of the show or the fanciness of the horse.

                            You'll see horses-- fancy or not-- pack their riders around. The horse may be green, be a PITA on that day whatever, but you don't see these people using the show to have a big ol' training fight in the schooling ring. They usually have picked divisions and prepared their riders appropriately for that day.

                            See what the pro says to the riders after the ride and use it to teach them. If they are positive with their kids (and when they don't know you're watching) then you can trust this as "what you see is what you get."

                            Look at their spot in the barns or trailer and you'll see a lot of nice people-- families who come for the show and want to hang out. They seem to help each other holding horses, rubbing boots, whatever.

                            Tack may not be fancy, but you see stalls, horses and amounts of feed and water that look good to you.

                            When one of their students does well and you happen to be near by, congratulate them, say hi, and tell them you like what you saw. That's enough. They're response will tell you a lot about how professional they are. The good trainer knows she's always in customer service roll at a show, and it's not hard for the good egg to make the 15 seconds it takes to thank you for your good wishes.
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Ditto what others have said about going to local shows to watch trainers. Maybe even talk to some of the established trainers in the area to see if they have any suggestions. They may have been contacted by someone looking for an assistant trainer position, even if they don't have an opening. Some barns have lost clients due to the economy and may have needed to lay off a person, or reduce their number of days.

                              Would a part-time person work? Maybe someone from the local area who could come in a few afternoons or mornings a week to augment their income.

                              It probably is going to be hard to get someone who can bring in 3-5 horses since the person you are likely to get could be starting out on their own (and probably not taking any of their former boss's horses with them) or coming from outside the area without any clientele. Might get someone who has a few project horses of their own that would at least add to the BO's income.

                              Are you a reasonable distance from Ventura or the southern part of Santa Barbara? Or really in the middle of nowhere in the mountains east of Ventura-ish??
                              The Evil Chem Prof

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by Peggy View Post
                                Ditto what others have said about going to local shows to watch trainers. Maybe even talk to some of the established trainers in the area to see if they have any suggestions. They may have been contacted by someone looking for an assistant trainer position, even if they don't have an opening. Some barns have lost clients due to the economy and may have needed to lay off a person, or reduce their number of days.

                                Would a part-time person work? Maybe someone from the local area who could come in a few afternoons or mornings a week to augment their income.

                                It probably is going to be hard to get someone who can bring in 3-5 horses since the person you are likely to get could be starting out on their own (and probably not taking any of their former boss's horses with them) or coming from outside the area without any clientele. Might get someone who has a few project horses of their own that would at least add to the BO's income.

                                Are you a reasonable distance from Ventura or the southern part of Santa Barbara? Or really in the middle of nowhere in the mountains east of Ventura-ish??
                                BO says no to the part - time, have tried going that route already. BO is kind of a pain if you can't tell already . However BO is leaving at the end of 2010. And new BO will hopefully be current BM who is awesome and much more knowledgeable. Yay!

                                We are only 15 minutes (max) from ventura (I live downtown ventura and it takes me 11 minutes to get to the barn). About 45 minutes south of Santa Barbara, so not totally in the middle of nowhere.

                                I have trainers in both S.B and Moorpark that I used to work for, and they are keeping an eye out for me, if they come across anyone they know I am looking! Maybe I will get in contact with some of the bigger barns in the T.O./Somis/Agoura area and see if they have any suggestions.

                                I will definitely try to start going to some more shows and will look for circuits that I don't usually go to and see if I can find some new faces...

                                Thanks!
                                It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Word of mouth and Yard and Groom are my suggestions. I think the best type of person to advertise to is somebody looking to build up experience and a name. Look for somebody aging out of the juniors and looking to start their career as a pro. It sounds like a good place for an up and comer to create a little bit of a name for themselves.
                                  Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                                  My equine soulmate
                                  Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

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