Help, I need advice!

Helllo! I’m new to this forum so hopefully I’m putting this in the right place! Sorry for the long post I haven’t gotten this out of my system yet but it’s been on my mind the past several months. Thank you to whoever takes the time to read it …

I’m a lifelong rider in my early 20s. I took some time off from riding due to financial reasons but recently started back up 2 years ago at a new barn. At first the barn and my new trainer were awesome. I loved everything about it and that my trainer was very thorough and kind at first. I had a regular food service job at the time but horses were always my passion and I always dreamed of a career involving horses my whole life.

So a year ago when she offered me a job helping out around the barn I was estatic. I figured it was a great way to gain some valuable experience and get my foot in the door. I took this up and my tasks involved mucking, cleaning, turnout, feeding exc. She agreed to pay me slightly above minimum wage and also offered me free riding time and lessons.

However, as soon as I started working I found that my lessons were thrown onto the back burner and eventually became non existent. At this point I offered to pay for the lessons because I wanted to continue my growth as a rider but she insisted that a perk of working there was that I didn’t have to pay. Although my lessons still have stopped and I haven’t had one in 7 months now I decided to not make it a big deal. She was always very nice to me in the beginning and always mentioned how much she appreciated my hard work.

I have since quit my other job and work at the barn all week. She mentioned to me multiple times months ago that once the summer came and the high school kids would be around during the day that I would get to lesson and ride more. She even said that by then she would just have me manage the summer camp they run and I wouldn’t be mucking stalls anymore. Now it is the end of the summer and all I have done is stalls and only done all of the manual labor still. However I never complain and am very easy going.

I have also started riding her daughter’s horse (the daughter has no time for him and he has sat for 2 years) as a favor to them. I am the only rider she has that can handle him and I got him slowly back doing wtc. Because of this I have had to give up my jumping which was my main focus of riding because I only ride this horse now. I don’t particularly enjoy riding this horse but it was very important to her that he started being riden again so I was agreeable to help.

Recently the owner/trainer has been in a very bad mood due to personal reasons and has been taking it out on the people helping out in the barn including me. Over the past few months I’ve been screamed at and verbally abused for things out of my control. However she is elderly and a lot of times she will tell you to go do something , forget, and then yell at you for doing it. She gives conflicting instructions constantly and has been very mean as of late. As someone who has always worked hard and does many favors around the barn I feel like this treatment is unfair.

Her daughter who is very spoiled finally came down to barn to ride her horse the other day and all she said was that I had a lot of work to do. She apparently wasn’t satisfied with her horse’s progress. I felt insulted. I agreed to ride him as a favor to them and gave up my riding time to work with him. And all of my riding with him was with her mom(the owner) present and directing us so his lack of progress isn’t necessary in my control. I thought he was doing well considering how long it had been since he had been riden. I felt so disrespected as I never asked to ride this horse and I was expecting a thank you rather than criticism. Of course the owner sides with her daughter.

Anyways I have been seriously considering going back to a regular waitressing job and then taking up lessons at a different facility. I feel like I would make more money that way as well as progress as a rider. I feel like I’m not gaining anything by spending all my time mucking stalls and riding the daughter’s horse for their benefit. I’m not sure how and if I could leave at this point. I’m the only one she thinks is capable of riding that horse and I’m the only one she has to muck the stalls during the week. Since all the high school kids are going back to school this fall she really has no one else who can do it. I know leaving at this point would really really screw her over but I also can’t handle being screamed at any longer for ridiculous reasons and having my riding not improving. Please I need advice

If you are really being treated so poorly and being grossly taken advantage of, it really doesn’t matter if you leaving “screws her over.” Get another job and leave that place.


^^ This tells you your answer – leave. What she does after you leave is her problem not yours, you have to look out for yourself and this situation is not what you signed up for and not meeting your needs.


Listen to your gut, it’s not wrong!!! Go and get a waitress job and take lessons somewhere else! ASAP! They’ve shown you who they are and what their word means. You cannot screw them over, they are doing a fine job of that all by themselves!

Good luck to you!


Yes. This. Do this. Do it now.

These people don’t appreciate you a whit. You’re a barn worker, and even better, also an exercise rider who can be put off for months on end with a vague promise of some lessoning whenever important (paying) clients aren’t around or an important person’s (daughter) horse doesn’t need to be ridden… which is never.

Go somewhere where you’re the valued client.


Thank you guys. I really needed to hear some confirmation that I wasn’t crazy and this was a situation I shouldn’t have to put up with. I’m going to try and get some courage to go job searching a hopefully leave this barn soon


Give 2 weeks notice now.
College kids going back to campus leaves a lot of jobs available for you.


The only person getting a good deal here is the trainer. They are taking advantage of you. Don’t put up with this - empower yourself, give a one week notice (maybe two, if you feel that is necessary) and have another job lined up. Don’t return to this barn. And do not feel guilty that you’re leaving. As another poster said, that’s their doing, not yours!

And for the love of punctuation, please post in smaller paragraphs! :winkgrin: Us old ladies have trouble reading those mammoth paragraphs with no end in sight! :wink:


And for the love of punctuation, please post in smaller paragraphs! :winkgrin: Us old ladies have trouble reading those mammoth paragraphs with no end in sight! ;)[/QUOTE]

Sorry about that! The rambling in my head came out onto the forum in a mess! I’ll work on that for next time!
”‹”‹”‹”‹”‹”‹Thanks so much for your advice also! :slight_smile:


LOL no worries!

1 Like

Definitely leave this place. It seems like you may be on the quiet side and non-confrontational and the owner and her daughter have figured that out. They are now totally taking advantage of you. I hate that. You are not a second-class citizen, don’t let them (or anyone else) treat you like you are. Take another job, find a barn and just go get the lessons and have fun with it. Working at a barn is very tricky. As you noticed, barns are full of drama. You will likely find it easier and you will likely be treated better if you are a paying client. Sorry you’re going through this. Be strong!


If you are inclined, there would be another option and that would be to ask for a meeting with the trainer. You could tell her you love working with horses, but working for XYZ barn has become difficult. You could tell her that it is important to you that you keep progressing as a rider and the promise of lessons and more riding time is one of the main reasons you took the job in the first place and not having a lesson for 7 months makes you question whether this is the right situation.

You could go on to say that you realize she is under a lot of stress, but you don’t respond well to situations where voices are raised or you are being chided for things that are out of your control.

If confrontation is something you avoid at all costs, a simple, polite, professional letter might accomplish the above.

If the trainer is reasonable, she’ll realize you are thinking of leaving but giving her a chance to make changes to entice you to stay. You can only play the “I’m considering leaving” card once, but it is probably worth playing to see if things resolve in your favor.

Slightly off topic, one thing that is a bit confusing is you mention you gave up your riding time, but you mention you are riding the daughter’s horse. You also mention that you haven’t had a lesson in 7 months but the mom is directing you when you are riding the daughter’s horse. Maybe it is possible the trainer feels she is fulfilling her promise to give you lessons when she gives you direction on the daughter’s horse. Ditto for more riding time.

If you decide against having a conversation with the trainer to see if you can iron things out, I agree with earlier posters, I would start to look for a new job and once I found one, I would give my two weeks notice.

Best of luck!


What reason could you possibly have to stay?


Hi! Thanks so much for your response! I feel like you could be right about this and what’s going through her head. To clarify what I was thinking more specifically though… my discipline is Hunter jumper. Before I started working here I was taking jumping lessons and I haven’t jumped in the past 7 months because of my lessons stopping. When she directs me on her daughter’s horse it’s more of like to have him extend, when to try and collect a bit more, circles and bending to try and get his balance and muscle back. None of the directions she gives me while riding him have anything to do with my position at all it is just directions on what to work with on that particular horse. That’s why I feel like I’m not personally learning or growing as a rider as much as I would like to. Besides that since he was just getting back into riding we only did walk trot for several months. It’s a good experience but I just miss being challenged in different ways and getting to really push myself as a rider. Thanks again for you help!

Thanks for your response, and you’re absolutely right. I’m just a very non confrontational person unfortunately and I’m afraid to quit. I feel a lot of pressure because I’m the only person who can do a lot of the tasks and I don’t know how easily she’ll be able to find a replacement. As someone who would love to work in the horse industry however and am going to college for equine management I’m afraid of tarnishing my first long term reference in that job field. A lot of it is just me being a coward which is something I’ll need to overcome

Leave, don’t hesitate. Go in today and tell her you’ve found another job, even if it isn’t true. That’s it. You don’t owe them an explanation. If they’re upset that’s really just too bad for them—you don’t owe them your labor.

Also, given how this program is being run, I’m not sure a reference from them would even be useful, or worthwhile. You can find a working student position with a better-known rider with a real program and be part of a team where your input is valued and you can learn. Or, as you said, you can waitress and just go be a paying client somewhere else.

I was in situations similar to this as a teen more than once because I was so desperate to ride and learn and had parents that were only generally supportive (they would pay for weekly lessons, but little else…they appreciated that I loved to ride but saw the whole sport as a pointless money pit that they weren’t willing to contribute to). That was half a lifetime ago, and it still makes me angry to think how easily so-called trainers exploited me and other eager kids without a second thought. It’s a pretty crappy side of the industry and it will only stop if people don’t play along.


Don’t worry about this. I know a young woman who was exploited in the same manner – many months of hard barn work with promises of lessons that never happened. It was very hard for her 17 year-old self to screw up the courage to leave, but she managed to do it and today, 10 years later, she has a successful training business. I believe that finding it in herself to leave that job gave her a lot of confidence that has served her well ever since.


Ah, don’t be so critical of yourself. I don’t think you’re a coward. I think you’re amazingly loyal. She’s been lucky to have you all this time. It’s admirable that you have such loyalty – it’s a wonderful trait. BUT, advice from an older person to a young person: you have to know when to draw the line and protect yourself. This is true of riding, careers, relationships, everything. Once your situation starts to negatively impact your self-worth and life goals, it’s time to move on. Just do it the right way: give her 30 days notice and offer to help train your replacement.


Sorry about that! The rambling in my head came out onto the forum in a mess! I’ll work on that for next time!
”‹”‹”‹”‹”‹”‹Thanks so much for your advice also! :slight_smile:

You can go back and edit your 1st post. Just use the enter key! to make those paragraph spaces. We all hate the I can’t find what line I’m reading style :sleepy:

1 Like

Update your resume. Put everything you have done on it to include knocking the rust off her daughters horse. I would list it as a tune-up. I wouldn’t call it “training” but I would list it as a tune-up.

Put in for other positions at reputable stables but also look for a job that will pay the bills. Take whatever job will get out out of that situation - give your notice and move on. Technically you could walk away without the 2 week notice because she did not full-fill her part of the “contract” as in - not providing the lessons, however if you can do it the “right way” then I would.

I would not stay in that position though because you are being used. Take the skills you did earn (believe it or not - being able to correctly muck out a stall is an important skill to have). And move on.