Too long, didn’t read: not sure how to go about leaving a barn I’ve been at for a long time that I generally like. Mostly want to save money and achieve goals that I can’t at current barn. What should I expect? How should I go about it? Should I stay where I am? Advice and your success stories when moving trainers/barns. I have zero experience doing this since I had my horse at my house as a kid.
Here’s the long story:
I am essentially a lifetime horse girl - I am nearing my 30’s with 20-ish years of horse experience. Most of that experience was having my horse at my parent’s home and having a trainer come to me.
Now, I’m an adult with a green (but amazing and amateur friendly) OTTB boarding at a big show facility. I bought him from the trainer’s connection and at her advice (she was essentially my buyer’s agent - I bought him completely sight unseen through videos with X-rays on file). I’ve been at this facility for quite some time before purchasing, I work there, and I show with them. I like the facility and I think it’s very reasonably priced for what it offers (pricey, but completely appropriate). I don’t need training rides. The horse himself is easy-going, travels well, goes out with a herd, and is generally an easy keeper. I feel like I hit the lottery.
I’ve had the horse for a few months now, but I feel like I’m starting to get burnt out between working so many hours at the barn for so little money off my board and not being able to go to shows I want to attend (TB shows, special events, etc.) because I don’t have my own truck and trailer AND because I worry that my trainer will be upset with me showing without her. I show currently at a nice, competitive, regional rated series. It’s starting to get a little stale, but I keep going because it’s my only opportunity to show given my lack of transportation.
There are other little things that kind of have me thinking that I can achieve what I want elsewhere - this isn’t necessarily the fault of the trainer, but often in group lessons, other clients will talk and gossip with her throughout the duration, so I don’t get much feedback. Essentially the only way I can get more attention is through private lessons. Even when I do get full attention at shows, I am being told to correct things I already know - I know what I did to miss a lead change, I know he got in front of me because I wasn’t using my seat effectively, etc. I’m not perfect, and I like having the guidance, but essentially any feedback I do receive are things I already know that need to be fixed and how to fix them in my own practice. I am constantly looking up things to improve my riding and reading books and articles to supplement my knowledge.
So this brings me to my next point: I have the opportunity to move my horse to a smaller, low key facility where I keep my retired horse. Board for both horses at this place costs what I pay currently for my show horse, but obviously I lose some of the great amenities. This place has everything I need, though. The owner at this facility has goals similar to mine, and her trainer was actually who trained me when I first started riding as a kid (but not the trainer who came out to me as a junior). The owner and I have chatted and she would totally take me and my horse along with hers to shows we’d want to attend. Meanwhile, I’d be able to save money for my own truck and trailer. I wouldn’t feel pressured to go show at shows I could give or take going to since it’s my only opportunity. Even if she couldn’t take me, I could find transportation elsewhere OR I could simply save the money - it’s funny how your feelings about showing change when you pay a lot more to own a young horse.
That’s about it in a nutshell. I have very little experience navigating this kind of thing since it’s the only big boarding/show barn I’ve been to, and I know there’s the reputation of drama. I don’t want to burn a bridge by moving, but I also don’t want to resent being there. I also don’t want to be making a hasty decision. Words of wisdom for the average adult ammy who is trying to enjoy her amazing horse?