Hello everyone! This is my first time posting on here so feel free to let me know if anything needs to be fixed and apologies for the super long post!
I have been considering moving barns for a while now, so I was hoping to get some advice on what barn to go to (and also just vent lol). For context, I am a full time college student who currently rides around twice a week (once with my school’s IHSA team and once on weekends with my current trainer at home). I have been riding for this trainer for just over two years now and it’s been an interesting relationship. She is by far the most qualified trainer I’ve ever ridden with and I have learned a lot with her, however recently I’m starting to feel like her program isn’t a great fit for me anymore. While my riding has undoubtedly improved a lot since coming to her barn through riding lots of young horses/ottbs and picking up hacks for boarders, I haven’t been progressing in things like doing bigger shows or riding in harder classes. None of her lesson horses can do much beyond a few trot-canter crossrail lines- either because they are way too green to do much else or they are too old/have soundness issues over fences- and the only shows that we go to are local schooling shows once or twice a year. Since riding at a different barn that has much more capable horses for my school’s IHSA team, I’ve started to get frustrated with the pace of my lessons at home. They’re $50 each for a private 30 minute lesson in which I usually don’t even get to do multiple jumps in a row, and I’ve started to feel lots of frustration from the lack of difficulty. Although I’ve learned to genuinely love putting rides on the green beans, the constant “trot an X and then halt in the corner” structure just isn’t fun for me anymore. My IHSA lessons have started to become the highlight of my week, because we get to ride a variety of very nice show horses that the boarders at this barn let the team use, and thus can do a lot more in these lessons than I have in a long time. Anyways, I have started looking at some other options of places to ride on weekends and over the summer.
#1. The first place that I looked at would have been the ideal fit if not for a few issues. The pros are that one of my very close friends who I trust the opinion of rides there and has vouched for it numerous times. I’ve met the trainer a handful of times as well while going to watch my friend ride, and she has seemed absolutely great. They do a lot of shows, seem to help riders move up in a competative setting, have opportunities to hack outside of lessons, and most importantly for my tiny college-student-budget- they’re VERY affordable. I could do a full lease over the summer on one of their horses for half of what I used to pay for a half lease at my current barn, and their show fees would make occasionally traveling to the bigger shows possible for me. However the cons pushed this barn farther down on my list. It’s around an hour away from where I live (I’m someone who absolutely hates long drives although it’s not a dealbreaker). And the biggest problem is that my connection there said all of their nicer horses are either fully leased out or otherwise not availible. I was told that I’d probably end up bored on the lower level horses there, so even if I wasn’t interested in showing or leasing it doesn’t seem like there’d be anything for me to ride for a while- just like at my current barn.
#2. The next place that I looked at is the one that I’ve been leaning towards. I have another friend who rides here although I’m not as close with this person as I am with friend A. This barn is a LOT more expensive than anywhere I’ve ridden before, so it’s unfortunately unlikely that I’ll be able to lease or show with them. However they have a surplus of very nice horses available and I would still be able to afford to do lessons there around two -maybe three- times a week. While I would love to up my riding time this summer, I will likley not be able to afford more than this anywhere besides at barn #1. I have never ridden at a full-on legit show barn like this one before, so it would definetly be a cool experience, and I also could probably find a job there doing chores to help with extra money. They have all of the shiny bells and whistles on the property, complete with picturesque rolling green pastures and super fancy looking tack rooms. This barn is around a 45 minute drive, which is still far from me but not as bad as barn #1. I’ve never met their trainers and don’t know as much about it, but I’ve only heard good things from the friend who goes there.
It basically just comes down to quantity of rides versus availability of capable horses.