Leaving a Training Barn

If you haven’t picked up on this by now, I like to stir up debate. PlaymorBill, StacyGRS, Scottfield, Colwilrin are all fun people to discuss with– you can all agree or disagree with me and one another respectfully, along with many others. So here is another thought provoking doosie!

What is the standard procedure if you have a horse in training, but want to move to another trainer, and not on good terms (FYI – this is not anything I am in the process of doing, but had a friend recently go through this and it was a big mess!)

Who and how how do you inform the soon to be ex trainer? When do you tell the trainer?

Do you have a best/worst transition example to share?

12 Responses to Leaving a Training Barn

  1. colwilrin says:

    Luckily, I have never had to go through that. I left my jr. exhib trainer when I graduated from college and sold all my horses. For decades after, I showed and trained without a trainer. A few years ago, I found a new horse, decided I wanted to be in a training barn, and started at the barn I am at now. Barring me doing something really stupid and having them throw me out…I’ll be there until they retire. Which (if you are reading this) is hopefully MANY MANY years away!!!!

    However, I have watched many clients come and go through the barn. Some return every spring, and many are still counted as “friends.” What keeps those clients so near and dear appears to be the fact that they were very honest about what the could afford, what their expectations were, and were realistic about the abilities of their animal. The clients that asked questions, voiced opinions, and LISTENED to what the trainers assessed their horse’s potential and faults to be had positive experiences and were be welcomed back.

    Those that were unrealistic, lacked respect for the other clients (and the time the trainers needed to spend with other horses),were dishonest about themselves or the horse, or had huge egos generally did not leave on as good of terms, and would not be welcomed back (at least not by the regular established clients).

    OH…one good rule of thumb…think of a training barn as an employer. Just as you wouldn’t trash an old employer while on a job interview…don’t trash an old trainer while looking for a new one. I can remember one client in particular that trashed no less than 4 former trainers. All I could think of was “hmmm…what’s the common denominator here…HER…maybe she is the problem, not four successful trainers!”

  2. colwilrin says:

    AH HAHAHAHA…Hard to believe I have an English Degree. Love the grammar…”were be welcomed back”…boy you can tell its Friday, and there is no spell check to these posts!

  3. PlayMorBill says:

    GLG: You raise the best questions. Kudos!

    Moving Trainers

    This is how it’s supposed to work:

    1. Client informs trainer of concerns and intent to move (trainers always want to know why).

    2A. Trainer contacts new trainer and offers to help with timing and logistics.

    2B. New trainer confirms clients bill is paid in full.

    3. Client moves horse(s) to new trainer, and everyone lives happily ever after.

    Believe it or not, peaceful transfers of power do in fact happen. Unfortunately, sometimes a fly gets in the ointment and the whole process turns into a flaming drama-fest.

    As a matter of policy, Sammi & I have always done everything we can to avoid flaming drama-fests. :)

    Horse Trainers live a precarious life. Profit margins are paper thin, which makes protecting their clients a high priority. When faced with the prospect of losing a client, especially a good, multiple-horse owner, emotions (the ‘fly’) can skew common sense.

    As a client, sometimes you just have to minimize the damage, and move on.

    Trainer Philosophy:

    The BEST way to stay in the horse training business a long time is to take care of your clients from the moment they step into your ring until the moment they step out. First and foremonst, they are Morgan customers. They have chosen our breed and we should do everything we can keep them happy with that choice. This includes being cordial and helpful when the decission to move has been made.

    We go so far as to suggest which horse trainer will best suit their needs, and will even make all the arrangments for them. In the long run, this has always paid dividends for us.

  4. StacyGRS says:

    Somply treat others as you would want to be treated. Be upfront, kind, and understanding of the fact that it is not fun for either side. Make an effort to communicate your problems and give the trainer a chance to make it work for you. Try your best to not burn bridges and don’t wait until you can’t leave nicely. If you know you aren’t happy and have tried to talk to the trainer about it and you just don’t see eye to eye don’t drag it out until there is hostility…it benefits nobody to have an unhappy cutomer in the barn and it makes the split a bitter one which is not good for anyone. Those are my words of advise:)

  5. StacyGRS says:

    Sorry…I guess I sort of failed to answer the question. Once you know you are moving make it as efficient as possible. Tell the previous trainer and have your arrangments made as to moving the horse soon afterward. A list of your belongings helps to ensure that the right things go along. Being up front and not dragging it out is helpful. You said not on good terms…try to make it on good terms. Period. It will benefit you later.

  6. denu220 says:

    I went through this a long time ago and just tried to be as kind and tactful as possible. One of my faults is that I’m not always as direct as I should be; I never told the old trainer I was disappointed in his/her work. I just mentioned the fact that I wanted to pursue a different avenue for my horse and gently informed the old trainer of my intentions to leave/paid the bill/set up the trucking, etc. Sadly, the old trainer got bent out of shape and threatened to run over my new Barnsby cutback saddle with his pick-up truck :( Can you imagine if I had ever been “direct”??!! Sometimes the line that you want to move your horse closer to home works also. Of course, if you can be brutally candid (I can’t always bring myself to do this) then you should probably have an open, totally honest conversation with the old trainer. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible when company is parted on uncordial terms…

  7. denu220 says:

    That was my most negative experience—here’s one that was very positive. I moved my sport horse over this past summer. The reason was that the bills turned out to be double or triple the original estimate the trainer had given me (not a Morgan trainer but a hunt club person). I was totally direct with her, told her I couldn’t swallow the bill right now, and calmly made arrangements to find a new home for my sport Morgan. The woman and I parted on GREAT terms—hugs and well wishes and “keep in touch” and all. I took a platter of pastries to give her when I went to pick up my horse, and we’re still good friends in the hunt club :)

  8. Scottfield03 says:

    I have not yet had a client leave my barn to go to another, but I am sure the day will come. I would just hope that I would be given a chance to fix whatever my client was unhappy with before just being given final notice. And then I would hope that this client would be fair in talking about me to the new trainer. I also would not want the horse to leave without the bill being paid in full, of course. For me, it is very uncomfortable when a horse comes to me from another trainer. I NEVER go after clients, but when they ask, I always get nervous, because I don’t want to turn down new business, but I always feel terrible about the trainer they are leaving. I always want to call the other trainer right away, but it seems the new client never wants that to happen. I also hate the limbo time between when the client contacts me, but I am not sure they have told their current trainer of their intentions. Yikes! Any advice for me?

  9. denu220 says:

    I make it my general policy NOT to discuss the old trainer with the new (especially where faults or disagreements are concerned). Sometimes people and horses just don’t make the right “fit” over time, and that’s a natural thing that can happen to the BEST trainers and clients. So, I make it my general state-of-affairs not to bash the former trainer. I guess if the new trainer had questions about one of my horse(s), then he/she would have to take the initiate to contact the old person. If if happens to you, don’t take it personally—it doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. Sometimes the fit just isn’t right, and sometimes the fit changes over time…necessitating changes in trainers (like some romantic relationships, for example). Hopefully, most trainers understand this human dynamic. As regards the “limbo time” you mentioned, I would wait until the horse arrived at my barn and politely ask to see a statement showing the bill paid in full at the old place. Best of luck with this! I can say, “Relax, you’ll do fine” but know it doesn’t work like that in the heat of the moment. Relax…you’re very intelligent and gracious here on the blog (and I’m sure in the ring)…you seem to have a good head about you and good sense and I believe you’ll know the right thing to do :)

  10. StacyGRS says:

    actually, when the horse arrives at the new trainers would be too late to check on the unpaid bill if you plan to do that. I would simply ask before taking the horse…”it is my policy to not take any client with an outstanding bill at another trainer’s place. Is your bill all cleared up?” If they would lie to you then you’ve got bigger problems ahead! We generally try to talk to the trainer that the client is coming from before the horse leaves them…no bashing on either side, just basic info and a courtesy call to make sure everything is fine between us trainers.

  11. colwilrin says:

    StacyGRS makes a good point about the courtesy call. This is a small community, and people who show (trainers and owners) are going to constantly see each other throughout the show season. Having “bad blood” between people can take a lot of the joy out of this sport.

    Also, I would think the new trainer would want to call the old trainer to find out about the horse, where they are in training, and any special needs the horse may have (food, warm-up schedule, equipment, etc…). There is no sense for the new trainer to “reinvent the wheel.”

  12. khummel says:

    My advice is don’t lie . Don’t sneak around and leave the former trainer/riding instructor hanging. Be upfront and say I am leaving your training/your instruction etc on such and such a date. Thank them for what they did for you and leave as friends. I recently had a client sneak a horse out while we were at Oklahoma. That was very rude and very confusing for the at home help to deal with. That showed a tremendous lack of class since we the former trainers did not know anyhting was even wrong. When we called them they said they didnt have the money and just wanted to board the horse (we do not board). How much better if they would have told us up front. Don;t ever do that to your fprmer trainer/teacher. It is so rude and sneaky and leaves a sour taste . It is a small world and everybody should try to get a long even if they want to move along. Doing the right thing is much better and easier in the long run always! K Hummel

Leave a Reply