How to Divorce Your Trainer

Is your riding in a slump? Do you dread your lessons? Has your horse stopped making progress? If fun and fulfillment are missing from your riding, maybe it's time to find another trainer. Deciding to make the move to another barn is ...Is your riding in a slump? Do you dread your lessons? Has your horse stopped making progress? If fun and fulfillment are missing from your riding, maybe it's time to find another trainer. Deciding to make the move to another barn is ...

Story originally posted by: Cindy HaleHorseCity.com Free-Lance Writer

Is your riding in a slump? Do you dread your lessons? Has your horse stopped making progress? If fun and fulfillment are missing from your riding, maybe it’s time to find another trainer. Deciding to make the move to another barn is stressful, especially if you’ve developed friendships, or if the barn is conveniently located. But you’re paying a great deal of money for boarding, training and instruction. At the very least, you and your horse should be attaining goals, and you should be enjoying your time in the saddle. If indeed it’s time to split from your current trainer, here are some ways to make the divorce less painful for the two of you.

First, be fair about the situation, and take time to discuss your concerns with your trainer. Arrange a time without distractions where the two of you can calmly hash out the problems. Don’t just confront him or her with a hurried, "Oh, by the way, I’m moving to another barn next week."

Be specific about your complaints. Even though you’ve made your decision to leave, you owe it to your trainer to give a clear reason for your departure. You can do this diplomatically. And it doesn’t hurt to throw in a compliment. For example, rather than sounding accusatory about constant interruptions during your lessons, you could say, "I know you’re a very successful trainer. That’s one of the reasons I moved to this barn. I realize you have lots of clients, and many business dealings, but I think it’s inappropriate for my lesson to be interrupted by calls on your cell phone."

By expressing your concerns, you come across as being truly dedicated to the sport of riding. Plus, your trainer benefits by being made aware of some shortcomings that need to be addressed before more clients leave.

The second tip is to steer clear of making personal attacks. You and your current trainer may have personality clashes that are at the root of your break-up. For example, if you’re timid by nature, but your trainer has the demeanor of a drill sergeant, this never really was a match made in heaven. You can explain this tactfully by saying that you think you’d make more progress with someone who had a different style of teaching. Or your horse may be the one who needs a different style of approach. Some horses require specialists, and not all trainers are gifted in all aspects of schooling a horse. Teaching smooth flying lead changes, or correcting a vice such as rearing, often require a particular professional. Though it may bruise their ego at first, most trainers can accept that they can’t fix every horse’s problems.

Finally, give your current trainer at least a week’s notice before you leave. This is only polite. It allows your trainer to solicit other clients, perhaps those on a waiting list, to fill your vacated stall. Also, by giving some notice, it demonstrates that this was a well-thought decision versus an impulsive tantrum. Besides, most professional trainers don’t issue refunds on board or training paid in advance. If you paid your bill at the first of the month, by leaving in mid-month you’re giving up a considerable chunk of money.

Most professionals in the horse business develop a tough skin. One of the first lessons learned is that there isn’t much loyalty among clients. It can sting emotionally when a favorite student decides to leave. That makes it even more important that you leave your trainer on good terms. No doubt you’ll cross paths at shows, and there’s nothing more uncomfortable than having to look the other way when you pass each other in the barn aisle. Be fair, be specific in your reasons, and give notice. These three tips will make your divorce a little less painful.