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What is your priority - having a horse that goes well, in a situation where he’s well taken care of and you’re both progressing, or hanging out with a group of barn buddies?

This may very well be a barn which is focused on training, showing, and progressing, to the point that the trainer and barn owner have “created” a clientele with the same mindset. Therefore, the focus will be on the horses and their training, not socializing. I think most of us on this board might revel in such a situation!

It seems like the other boarders might be older than you? If so, they are probably focused adult-amateurs who have limited time and are there to get in a ride and get back home to fix dinner, walk the dog, etc. They might not know you would be interested in getting to know them more, if there is a significant age gap.

If socializing is important to you, and this barn doesn’t provide it, can you find it elsewhere? It just seems like you’d be giving up a lot to leave this barn, in exchange for a different situation which might turn out to be far worse than what you have now. A safe environment, where your horse is a priority, is very hard to find.


I agree w the above post. Keep in mind people of different ages can and do become friends. Social media can certainly create unrealistic expectations and make one feel they have less (whatever) than others.

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Dont believe anything on social media. Especially don’t believe anything about social life and friendship. By and large the more real the friendship the less its served up on Instagram. Also you might hate these people IRL.


Depends on your goals and what you want out of a barn, plus what stage are you in at your present riding career. Do you want to show or just go hang at the barn?

I think you are in a great spot if the care and training are good. Grass isn’t always greener. Sounds like you are at a nice professionally ran barn that has an older working crowd that appreciates lack of goofing off and teenage/young adult shenanigans.

I keep my horses at home but I’m assuming you want what my kids lesson barn has which is does barn events and lots of activity. It’s very much less pro feeling and more backyard feeling though. Not my kinda place but great for kids.

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Haha that’s a much less sugarcoated way to put it than I was thinking in my head, thank you! But of course when you put it that way, you’re 100% right. All the horror stories I hear about horse “care”, I honestly don’t even know if I could trust someone other than my trainer with the care of my horse. I keep thinking “well if riding isn’t fun…” but of course it’d be a lot less fun if my horse got hurt or the barn was a toxic environment or a whole slew of other factors. And the riding itself is fun, so I think I just need to get over myself. I think the uncertainty is coming from just not having any idea of what’s out there, but I guess that doesn’t matter if horsie is happy where he is.


Oh goodness that is so true. I find it so hard to not fall into the trap of believing what I see, but you’re so right that the more it’s advertised on social media, the less real it is. Maybe I should just delete Instagram from my phone so I stop getting polluted with this perfect unrealistic image of what some barns are like :rofl: :rofl:

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Speaking from years of life … the real friends are the ones you make one on one, and really grow to trust and respect. There are never going to be that many of them. Group and clique and club and team dynamics can be fun, but very often it’s about the synergy of the group, and you many not even end up liking the individual group members that much or have very much in common with them outside of the group. And when you or others leave the group or move on to something else, you may have nothing in common outside the group and drift away. And because of all this, these sorts of groups can turn toxic quite quickly too.

It can however be legitimately hard to be in a situation where you are at a different age or life stage than most of the other people. This can occur all over the place, in college or jobs or other activities. You can be much older or much younger than the other people at work. You can still make friendships and have colleagues across age differences. It is one of those things that we face all the time after we get out of high school, where you are expected to mostly only socialize with people your own exact age and two years age difference is considered huge.

If Instagram is making you doubt your life choices, delete it. Or only follow things that amuse you. Don’t follow things that are designed by the people posting it to make you feel envious.


So the issue is not having any real social connections at the barn …

I’m not sure how that connects with “How do you know when it’s time to move on from a trainer?” as that is your title. Per your first post, you don’t have issues with the trainer and the trainer is not why you are thinking of going to another barn. Being clear about that should help clarify your approach.

You are missing many details to give a context for why that might be. You seem to be looking at the barn group as not having made friends with you, rather than at yourself for not having made friends with them.

How long have you been at this barn? How have you made outreach to get to know others at the barn? Are there already some long-standing groups there, and are there some boarders/students who have been there less than a year?

Often a primary source of connection is being in the same general age range, especially if you are also in similar life situations. What is the barn population like in terms of being within 10-15 years of your age, with similar life activities? (School, work, children, etc.)

People tend to bond over common interests. Since it is a horse environment, that would mean looking for other common interests as well, beyond horses. Especially experiences that both have had (school as a student or a parent of students; travel to the same or similar places; other sports; similar things both have done; etc.) People also tend to connect more readily when they share newness to a situation with someone else. For a time, at least, that newbie status is a shared experience (but that may not last long term if there aren’t other common interests).

Those are some starter ideas. But your focus in your original post is all on the training and riding and not on the barn’s social landscape. Might do well to pay more attention to the other boarders and students, who they are, what they do, how they interact. Good luck!

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life observation for whatever it’s worth … When the first show of the CSI franchise was becoming very popular, and a lot of people were following it, there was a surge of interest among young people - high school & early college age - in becoming a CSI as a career. (That tends to happen when hit shows and movies are based on a particular job, whatever it is.)

But when I asked the high school students I knew at the time if they understood how gritty and yucky and smelly the job is, and if they understood that a real crime scene investigator usually does not get involved with solving the case and being in intense strategy meetings, and that further much of it is scraping icky matter into a plastic baggie, working alone behind a microscope and then submitting a report – they did not know that at all. That’s not what the show portrays (real CSI’s laugh at it).

The young people I asked were attracted to the group belonging and camaraderie that they saw on the show. That was why they thought they wanted a career as a CSI.

Having a consistent group of great friends is a wonderful thing to have in life! But that’s not something to necessarily expect from work or a recreation, although that can happen. Close friend groups are something we build over time. It can be hard to find that readily as a young adult - don’t know if that’s what you are, OP.

Some environments offer that more than others. I probably would expect to have some good barn friends, but they would be barn friends, not life friends so much. Unless we also connect outside of barn activities.

A group that is more about life’s purpose - could be religious or other philosophical, or something long term - is more likely to yield those friendships. And it also depends on each of us being the friend that we want to find in others.

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Hmm in your shoes, no, I would not move my horse out of the situation you describe for the reasons you describe. A trainer with the skills and investment in your horse to get him going well is NOT something to casually walk away from (unless your horse is older and confirmed in his training). And trainer shopping is hard… trust me, in the words of Olivia Rodrigo, “it’s brutal out here.” Even if you love the trainer and the barn, it’s unfortunately entirely possible they are not a match for your horse.

My experience has been that people come and go, and a barn’s social dynamics can change radically in a matter of months :confused:.

But maybe what you can consider doing is branching out and taking lessons on school horses other places? Or even your social media connections—why not connect with local folks online and then meet up at shows or events? The community can be so close knit, sometimes it only takes knowing one “in” person and you know them all.


That is such great wisdom, thank you! I was thinking yesterday and I’ve realized that all the reasons I am with my trainer are nothing I can walk away from. I’ll find community elsewhere rather than potentially putting my horse at risk by trying to both have my cake and eat it too. Thank you so much for the advice! I truly appreciate the confirmation that I’m doing the right thing by being with this trainer!

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i think that if you’re looking for ‘the cool kids’ to hang with, maybe you’ll find that at local shows. And maybe there is a local club of young women that put on schooling shows etc and need volunteers that you could join in with. You will earn cred with them by being your authentic fun self AND by being a really good rider. So take your lessons, ride your horse and if you need to move to advance your (and your horse’s) skillz …by all means move along. But soak up what you can here first. And find something inside of those fellow boarders that you can appreciate. They may not be your idea of cool, but my guess is at least one of them is a jewel-in-the-rough.

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