I fear I made a huge mistake, time to find new trainer?

New to using forums for horse advice, let me know if I posted in the wrong section. I just can’t go to my horse friends for advice because everyone will know who I am talking about.

As the title reads I think I made a huge mistake and it might be time for me to find a new trainer.

I’ve been using the same trainer for almost a year and I could not be happier with their work. My absolute favorite thing about them is that they advocate for the horse and then the rider! On top of they have a great work ethic and I have nothing negative to say about their handling/management of horses. Last but not least they have had a prolific high end show career in the disciplines I am pursuing. If this trainer had not moved to the area when they did I would have ended up traveling 2-3 hrs round trip per lesson.

Recently unforseen circumstances have caused my trainer to be pushed out of their training facility and into early retirement (they are burnt out from all the drama). I had no issues sticking my neck out because at the same time the facility owners of the property I lease for my horses needed a full time employee to live onsite and manage their broodmares while they are still showing and living at their other house in another state with their working horses.

To be completely honest I was ecstatic with the turn of events because after discussing it with my trainer they agreed to continue to give me private lessons which means I will be their ONLY student. This is a dream come true for me!

Recently, since they officially received approval to move onsite (about 1 week ago), my trainer’s attitude towards me and my horses has really changed. It could just be stress and that’s what I keep telling myself but our interactions are just getting more negative and outright hostile.

For example my ability to manage my horses is suddenly not just under scrutiny but I am being verbally ripped apart over the smallest things. And my horses are being verbally put down in the process. For example since 2 of my horses are not show horses (they are for trail riding and backwoods camping) I have been told by my trainer that they do not deserve to wear blankets in the winter. That’s just the most recent example of the asinine comments/orders I’ve had to listen to.

Preemptively I have decided to remove my mares from the facility I lease and bring them back home. Only my geldings will still be at that facility for 6 more months. By April 2022 construction on my property will be finished and my property will be able to support all 5 horses.

My work is very stressful and my horses are my only hobby. So it is very important to me that when I spend time with them it is productive and a positive experience for everyone involved. Currently I am constantly stressed out every time I must interact with my trainer bc I have NO clue if the interaction is going to be productive or if I am going to be chastised/put on the defense about who knows what. I’d say at this point only 70% of our interactions are still positive.

So here is what I am torn about: Do I try to move past this and work with my trainer? Do I cut ties immediately? Or do I take the time off in the next 90 days to find a new trainer and just slowly distance myself from my current trainer even though I will have to see them 2x/day at the facility I lease for the next 6 months?

Horses and riding are your fun. Currently your horses and riding are not fun.

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Whatever the “unforeseen circumstances” may have been, it sounds like this person needs a serious break, and shouldn’t be teaching at all.

If it was me, I’d keep a low profile and get the hell out of there, with all my horses, as swiftly and tactfully as possible. That doesn’t really address the facility’s owner, though, or anybody else left on site with this person. Have you spoken to them? I can’t imagine they want to be stuck with the trainer after you leave, but I’d talk it out, just to be clear.

I don’t envy you, that’s for certain! It sounds like a real mess.

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That’s a really good point.

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It might be worth simply asking your trainer what is going on.

For example, when they made the comment about your horses not needing/deserving blankets simply respond with ‘why are you saying that?’, or ‘did you mean to say that out loud?’

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That was an initial concern of mine also, but after a couple heart to hearts my trainer assured me they still want to teach but only private lessons NOT a training facility. However, like you are bringing up while they may have said that to me, perhaps their heart isn’t really in it.

I have a zoom meeting scheduled with the facility owner today and we’re going to discuss what’s going on. I don’t want to jeopardize my trainer’s employment because at this point they would be scrambling to find a place to live and board their horses. They move onsite this Sunday.

But I will absolutely update the facility owner (there are no other boarders).

So have I got this straight?

You were boarding at one farm and using a trainer at another farm. I imagine you were trailering in, or trainer was visiting you? So you had fairly limited exposure to this trainer on a daily basis.

Your trainer had conflict with their barn and quit or was fired after one year there. You then got the property owners at your barn to hire the trainer as a caretaker so they could give you lessons. Now the trainer turns out to be a nightmare. You want to move your horses to avoid the trainer.

It’s hard to know what to do without knowing the parties. Your trainer may be a difficult and drama prone person, they may have mental or physical health or substance abuse issues, etc. Or you two might just be a bad for closer contact. Or you may be difficult to get along with.

I think you need to talk to the property owners. You got them to hire this person in a win/win situation that would keep you happy as a boarder. Now you want to leave immediately because you dont like the trainet any more and potentially leave them with a nightmare caretaker that they hired on your recommendation.

There is also the possibility that you are being overly sensitive and taking comments the wrong way. There is a whole school of thinking that I clipped healthy horses don’t need blankets in winter, for instance. You’ve gotten used to DIY horse care and now you’ve invited your trainer full time to run this barn. They are going to meddle, one way or another.

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Yes, this scenario is really confusing.

Are the property owners having issues with the trainer, or just you?

I certainly wouldn’t be moving my horses (yet) but I would be having very clear conversations going forward.

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One of the first put downs that came from my trainer was about my schedule and how I’m not a serious student. And I did try what you suggested: I asked them to explain. Basically what it came down to is I didn’t approach them like their other students. The other students made lots of promises and talked themselves up quite a bit. Whereas I made it very clear I work long hours and that I wanted to ramp up to 3 lessons a week and I wanted to ramp up to showing my horses. I also wanted to wait until my lease was up at the other facility before I would board my horse’s at their training facility.

They took that as not serious whereas I see that as responsibly vetting a trainer and facility before taking my horse out a fantastic boarding environment into an unfamiliar one.

And as for the blanket opinion, it came down to “only show horses need blankets. Backyard horses do not.” No tangible thought process beyond that.

Wow . . . so she’ll be moving there herself too. That makes it even trickier.

It sounds like you’re doing everything you can for the moment. It’ll be interesting to see what the BO thinks. Do they know each other reasonably well?

You’re absolutely correct about the 2 separate farms. However I ended up leasing a horse from the trainer and actually took lessons on 2 of their different lesson horses (depended on what I needed to work on, each horse had different strengths). I was actually onsite at least 4 days a week because this trainer was leasing the facility in order to run their training business out of it and since they were starting up they needed stall cleaners and help maintaining the facility. I ended up helping out because each working student started to flunk out and the trainer had to scramble to find employees.

There has been a lot of conflict at their training barn but from what I’ve witnessed with my own eyes it all started with the training barn owners. They’ve endangered client’s horses on an almost daily basis, they leave the property disgusting (we’ve since found out they only clean it to lure in the next trainer), and they have NO respect for the fact that the barn is being leased. My trainer once had to kick out 1 rider who trailered in 4 horses and took over the entire arena just because they were friends with the training barn owner. Nevermind the fact that none of these horses had health certs.

Each time my trainer has been professional, respectful and firm. They’ve worked hard to not get sucked into the drama, hence why they are burnt out. This is why I was willing to connect them with my facility owners because I was really impressed with how even keeled they behaved under stress. I will fully admit I would not have been as kind or as professional as they have been if I was in the same situation.

I can’t leave immediately, fencing HAS to be finished in order for me to move all my horses back home. That’s January 2022 at the earliest.

I am talking to the property owners today. This sounds awful but I don’t think they’ll have any of the same problems with the trainer, after all they are providing very cushy and gorgeous accommodations. Sometimes I’m jealous of my horses that they get to live there, lol!

In the beginning when the comments started I could let them roll off my back, chalk it up to stress, and forget about it. But in just the last week they have stopped feeling like off handed comments. They’re getting more personal, more ridiculous, and its not a comment. They turn into hostile lectures where I’m pinned to a barn wall getting loudly lectured/not quite but almost screamed at for 30+ minutes.

Wow. What a mess.
It sounds like it would be a good idea for you to have a non-emotional meeting with the barn owners, and just give them a heads up that You have had some uncomfortable interactions with the trainer, and feel the need to distance yourself from them. You can do this without lots of drama, just state the facts….also keep it short.

Depending on your relationship with the barn owner, you might have to skip this and just move on with your own self-care taking plan.

Personally, I would abort mission to continue working with the trainer. Life is too short, and I certainly sincerely don’t see how you can focus on learning if you are embroiled in that sort of negative relationship. It’s not worth trying to recover it, especially since you’re only going to be there a short time.

She already gave you an out. She said you’re not serious… You can simply say that you have thought about your conversation and have decided that she is correct. You are not a serious enough student for her: thank her very much for all her help, and tell her that you will be working on your own for a while until you find a trainer who is right for your situation.

Be prepared to walk away from the resulting potential tirade. I really mean it… Walk. Away. End the conversation. If she pursues you, tell her politely that you feel that you have talked about it enough, and the subject is closed. Keep walking.

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Ok, so up to now you were riding the trainers horses at their home base facility 4 days a week and doing free work for them.

Now you have arranged for them to live at your home base, and train or coach you on your own trail horses. They express disappointment with the quality of your horses and the amount of coaching you can commit to.

Sounds like some crossed wires here. Did they know about your own horses previously? Do you seem like a different teir of client now that they get to see you in a different environment? Do they feel your goals of showing are unrealistic with your horses and time commitment?

I’m also confused, you mention discussions about bringing your horses to their facility after a lease was up. Does this mean conflict started while you were still riding their horses at their home base? Or did conflict only start after they got the job at your home base?

How assertive are you? Honestly lots of older horse pros have had one too many TBI and can get locked into monologues and may not even realize they are being offensive. Students often get into a deferential mindset with coaches and feel they have to sit and listen.

I agree this is not the right coach for you now. What happens if they work as caretaker but don’t give you lessons anymore?

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Sorry, I’m trying to keep comments short, coherent, and concise but not succeeding :sweat_smile:

Basically I trailered my mare in, but I still had 2 months left on my lease. My plan was to trailer her for lessons (30 min round trip) but at the last minute my facility owners begged me to stay, wrote up a new lease offer I couldn’t refuse and at the same time a very challenging/fancy gelding became available for lease at my trainer’s facility. So I leased the gelding until I bought him last month.

I only did free work for one-two months while my trainer was in between working students and employees.

No, my trail horses need absolutely NO training. They are trained out the wazoo!

I have 3 show horses in addition to my 2 trail horses, all well bred and valued in the mid to high 5 figures. Obviously not as valuable as the horses my facility owners raise and compete but nothing to sniff at. Two of the 3 I bought from my trainer. When they make the degrading comments its only about my 2 trail horses. For some reason my trainer has really started to single them out. I find this offensive and ridiculous because my trail horses are amazing. I could go on and on for days about how smart and loyal they are. People don’t really understand how much training and experience a horse (IMO) needs to have for back country camping.

Up until last week they have never expressed disappointment in my horses or the amount of coaching. The only reason I haven’t ramped up to 3 lessons per week is that my trainer has been trying to find housing arrangements and has basically given up any hope of having a successful training business and has gone back to their day job while selling off extra horses and planning their next move. That’s another reason their comment was shocking is because at this point in time, it has nothing to do with me.

They knew about my other horses and we went over all my horse experience and my short/long term goals at my initial assessment. I had to go through 3. Each one of my horses were evaluated on the ground and then my riding was evaluated.

I’m definitely different than their other clients, I’m more reserved and realistic. I’m also in my mid 30s, not early 20s. From what has been explained to me I am exactly the type of clientele they want. My trainer made it very clear it is a training, NOT a boarding barn, I even was there when they gave 30 days notice to a student out who refused to do anything with their horse except braid its hair.

I have the money, the horses, the tack, I’m interested in the disciplines my trainer excels at and is the most passionate about. I conduct myself well and my horses are well mannered. Everything that a trainer would want representing them in a ring. My trainer has even asked to borrow my horses to advertise their talents as a rider/trainer.

No, this conflict literally just started 1 week ago when they got the job at my facility.

When they initially questioned my commitment I was calm and patient and asked questions before reminding them of all the circumstances (most of which were because of them) and the conversation ended really well and I feel like we genuinely worked through the issue.

As of Saturday night when they once again single out my trail horses, there was no reasoning, no explanation, no conversation. I was just on the receiving end of hostility and a lecture.

I stay calm when these outbursts happen and so far I am just chalking it up to the stress of them having to move. I did push back about the blankets because I’m sick of my trail horses being degraded. And when I did that my trainer just grew more hostile and made absolutely no sense. My facility owners are having a carriage house built on site just for my trainer and its not going to be ready in a week. Its still livable but they will have to use the main house for showering. So technically they will have to “rough it” for 2 weeks which could be where some of the stress is coming from. But like I’ve said, this is SO out of character, and its only started in the last week.

I’m mostly concerned for what the next 6 months will look like and how do I nip this in the bud???

Just because of timelines that I have each of my horses on (shows, camping, down time, etc. . .) I think I can space it out to where they wouldn’t notice my increasing absences.

You say the trail horses, which I’m understanding the trainer has no investment in, are not up for debate one week after this person has laid eyes on them. Who is doing the actual care of your horses? Turnout, stall cleaning, blanketing, etc.?

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My trainer met my trail horses months ago and was thoroughly impressed with both of them. They even wanted to borrow one to show off their riding abilities. I don’t know exactly what you mean “are not up for debate?”

I care for my horses. I do all the turnout, stall cleaning, feeding, blanketing, etc. . . I run my own business so I set my schedule, and my horses are only a 15 minute drive from my house.

You say “the choice to blanket my trail horses is not up for debate so kindly keep that opinion to yourself.”

Now, if there is a legitimate reason for concern (overheating, poor fit, etc.) be open to a second set of eyes.

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If someone says they are leaving somewhere because there was too much drama, that person was the drama.
Sounds to me like you are dealing with someone who has some issues and likes to stir the pot.

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Ah ok, I get what you’re saying and I’ll remember that if it comes up again.

You’re absolutely right about the second set of eyes too!

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In addition to probable past TBIs, I suspect that the trainer is under a severe amount of stress from this impending move and sudden, unwilling (?) change in her career trajectory. I wonder if she resents you in some way? You are witnessing her vulnerability and she owes you her new housing and her new job, so maybe she is trying to reassert her position as All-Knowing Trainer and is degrading you because she’s uncomfortable with how much she owes you. And re: the trail horses, she may honestly be jealous that while she’s selling off the horses that she used in her business, you’re in a position to keep “just trail horses” (I know they’re not “just” anything) in addition to several nice show horses. I don’t know, I’m not a psychoanalyst and don’t even play one on TV, but your description made me wonder if her insecurity is part of the dynamic.

None of this excuses her horrible behavior obviously. I might give it a couple weeks though to see if things settle down when she stress of the move is over-ish, especially since you can’t move all your horses right now anyway. Obviously don’t forget what you have learned about her as a person though…

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