Leaving a barn/trainer

This is too  address when clients leave your barn and encourage others to leave also. This especially applies when they do not discuss their issues with you before hand.   What would you do if they come to pick up their horse with no warning and leave a bill.  Especially if they come to pick up their horses before you usually arrive for lessons and again have not discussed their being a problem.   These are people who are winning at shows and doing really well.  I don’t get it. I have had clients leave with a notice and a discussion and they are still friends and have come back as clients.  Those who leave otherwise seam to feel quilty and talk you down to everyone who will listen and then try to encourage others to leave.  How would you handle this without hard feelings  on either side.

I think a good discussion of this issue is needed as a continuation of a discussion earlier this year.

21 Responses to Leaving a barn/trainer

  1. empressive says:

    I am going to take a try at this…

    First off as a client who leaves not talking or even leaving a note to the trainer is rude and childish. If you have a problem with someone you talk to them. Do not run away from the problem. Plus it may not be so bad to have witnesses, so if it makes you feel more comfortable (for both the trainer and client standpoint) bring someone with you to be there for the whole conversation. Not only is it the right thing to do it is the best thing to do. Think… if you leave burning bridges how will that look in front of potential trainers, friends, ect. in the Morgan world? It won’t look good. People will tear the whole situtation both ways. So keep it simply, try to talk to the trainer. If the trainer losses it and freaks out, etc. then they have really lost. People will see them with their temper tantrum and write them off while praising you for not losing it and at least trying.

    For the trainer not only can you learn from the situation by finding out what went wrong, you can really hurt the clients reputation. See again if you talk to the client and straighten things out both of you walk away with ego’s intact and lesson learned, no hard feelings. If the client “loses it” and goes all get out on the trainer and the trainer stays calm. Guess who everyone watching will side with? The trainer.

    It’s all about how you handle the situation! What you have done will pale to how you actually handle the client leaving situation. Or leaving the training stables situation. See act like a child, get treated like a child. Act like an adult, and be treated as one. Granted sometimes in taking the right path you may end up in the same “people talking behind your back” bit. But at least your conscience will be clear.

    Not to mention human curiosity… (hehehe), but when someone talks bad about you and tries to rant on others. Those people will want to hear the “whole” story. Thus if you (trainer or client) have handled the situation correctly then the story will show you a saint and “other” a jerk. If the storyteller lies, well, they will be found out and much worse off for the wear. Hopefully though everyone will “drop it” and the problem will fade into history.

    (don’t we wish…)

  2. khummel says:

    Most horseman have a type of brotherhood between themselves un beknownst to these type of ill mannered clients. This story is almost word for word a situation we encountered while at OKC last year. To make matters even worse, I had been very good to these people by way of actually giving them a very nice horse. My kindness was repayed by them removing the horse with no notice while we were away. They would not return calls and offered no explanation. It was just a short time before we got news they had moved the horse to another trainer, and had probably been planning this for quite some time. There really is nothing one can do that I know of. You cannot control some peoples lack of manners and lack of integrity. All you can do is kiss your lucky stars for your good clients and treat them well. And dont ever lose sleep over those type of clients. The brotherhood shares notes abouth them too so if they have bad things to say, so be it. Ones longevity and character and reputation over many years will always win out over clients like that. Be glad they are gone and still try to maintain your optimism and goodnesss to people, Do not let the bad apples spoil it and make you hard. There are more good people then the bad and you will attract the good ones by your own goodness. Like the great teacher Jesus said, turn the other cheek. Theae people usually have a history that precedes them and you. Word gets around on them too.

  3. skippacheval says:

    I agree that the honest and people with integrity are still out there. It is always nice to know what went wrong(if any thing) so we can correct it. I work with alot of children and we must set the bar higher. I have seen folks with little sportsmanship and boy does it rub off. The sad part is these kids don’t have many real friends as others realize they could be the next one at the end the the poor sportsmanship. I had a situation of a client wanting to bring two horses immediately. I reminded them they needed to give the current trainer a notice and reason. They did and as it turns out the former trainer would have been put in a financial bind with the abrut departure of these horses. My client agreed to stay a few more months until the trainer was able to fill those stalls. Everyone wins! Sometimes clients forget we have employees depending on us for a paycheck. If we don’t get one they may not.

  4. Scottfield03 says:

    I have not had this happen, but can well imagine how difficult it would be to come home to an empty stall. I know these aren’t my horses, and I know clients can do what they wish with their animals, but I do this because I love it, and I get attached to them, too. From a purely emotional standpoint, give me a chance to give the horse a farewell pat! From a business standpoint, a horse shouldn’t be allowed to leave without its bill paid in full. You are entitled to that money, and owed an explaination. Keep calling, leaving polite messages. If the bill has made no progress in thirty days, a certified letter usually takes care of it.

    Bad clients do gain a reputation amongst trainers just as bad trainers get a reputation amongst clients. Just a thought– had I been the receiving trainer in this case, I would not have taken horses directly from the former trainer’s barn with out at least a phone call to make sure the bill was paid first. No one deserves to be blindsided.

  5. khummel says:

    Thank You Scottfield Excellent point. As a horse lover and a person who bred birthed trained and loved the clients horse for several years. it was even more hurtful to not be able to say goodbye to my compradre, friend, beloved four legged member of an extended family. People forget how emotionally attatched we also get to our horses, atleast I do. I learned but another good lesson. From now on a contract will be signed and discussed with every new client. No horse will be allowed to leave the premises without a thirty day notice , and by appointment only when we are home and in the barn. It probably would have not stopped these people , but atleast new people will know what is the courteous right way to change horse trainers. Nobody appreciates a thief in the night.

  6. empressive says:

    Kudos to everyone here! You guys and gals are head on!
    Actually it would be quite unfortunate and messy if the trainer came home to an empty stall and called the police because the owners did not want to talk to the trainer.

  7. khummel says:

    Empressive, Thanks , Another good point. I think I now more fully understand why most trainers have training contracts and signs posted that state Visitors always welcome-By Appointment only. It is certainly a form of trespassing to come into ones property without an appointment and then remove things and a horse? If I were an owner I would want the trainers at home for very many obvious reasons! If someone has made a decision that someone else can do the job better or for whatever the reason is, that shouldnt be a big secret deal. Just say thank you very much but we have decided to make a change. Or if there is a problem let them know. Especially when the horse has been winning and there is no indication of trouble. How else can a business address problems if they are kept in the dark. In the horse business it all gets back to you anyway. Also if the person is there a week past the first they should pay you for the whole month! Not leave you an envelope with a prorated version of how many days until the horse was sneaked out from the first! Can you imagine doing that to a landlord or a bank? More recently I bought a horse. The seller called me up and asked if they could have his shoes back because they were very expensive LOL!!! I said well eh I think they came with the horse but when we are done using them yes you can have them back. I thought maybe I should bag up the stuff that comes out of his rear end too and send that along?

  8. jns767 says:

    I can’t believe they asked for the shoes back Khummel! Ha ha ha, what on earth were they going to do with them, ask the Blacksmith for a refund? So funny!

    I think it’s really quite scary and sad for the horse trainers that this occurs to. I’ve seen many a boarder up and leave in the middle of the night. They have little regard for the fact that their board checks are a big chunk of the horse trainers livelyhood. Regardless of what reason a boarder is leaving (unless the horse is in a dangerous or unhealthy situation) barn owners/trainers should be given a lengthy notice. As a future and past boarder, I would never leave a facility with out providing a notice AND an honest reason as to why I am leaving…that’s just me though.

    Another question, are there leases or legal agreements that can be signed so that IF in the event a boarder does leave a barn with a huge balance owed, that money can be obtained legally by the barn owner/trainer?

  9. EdanaLL says:

    On the other side of the coin though… what if the trainer is deliberately making it unbearable for a client to be there? I have seen that happen as well. In that case, I don’t think a client should reward such unprofessional behavior with either a month’s notice or payment that’s one cent more than what is pro-rated for the time that the horse is actually on the property. Also, remember that some people are non-confrontational, or may be uncomfortable with a trainer and think they are simply avoiding a scene by pulling their horse out while the trainer is away. Or maybe they fear some kind of reprisal. I’m not saying it’s right, just saying that some clients may not be deliberately sneaky or bad, they just may not have the fortitude to stand up and tell the trainer why they’re leaving.

  10. StacyGRS says:

    There’s a big difference between taking a horse when nobody is around (which, IMO, appears sneaky) and staying an extra month. if someone does not want to be in my barn, I am not going to force them to. People have to do what is in their best interest. Honesty goes a long way..not just at the moment of being disgruntled, but throughout the relationship. If you’ve always been open then you should feel like you can have a conversation and remove the horse in a reasonable fashion. A couple of days notice is sufficient for me, but I do like to be sure that the proper items are on the horse when it leaves and that the proper equipment goes with it as well as knowing that I am going to likely see these people at the next show and it would be nice if it weren’t any more awkward than it has to be. I know some people don’t like confrontation, but it doesn’t have to be one. IMO, if you are a responsible adult then you should be able to have a conversation with someone that you entrusted your horse with…at some point you had that much faith in them, give them that much. It will make things better later. Many times we have had clients leave and then return down the road…open doors allow that to happen, but, if they break my trust by going behind my back to take the horse that isn’t an option. Loosing a client is never a good thing, but, this is a small business and the fewer dramatic situations the better. If everyone can put the emotion aside breifly and behave like adults, usually things go alot better. I’d rather someone moved trainers than stayed where they were unhappy until they no longer enjoyed the horses at all and got out and that is an option that happens all too often, IMO. We do have a training contract that states that all bills are to be paid before the horse leaves, but we do not require any certain amount of notice. I don’t feel I can force anyone to stay. I believe that if a person thinks their horse is in any sort of bad situation that they should have the freedom to immediately remove it. I genuinely like the majority of people I do business with and that makes it easier to keep things open. I would be really disappointed if one of them went behind my back to remove a horse. Remember, at some point you really liked/trusted/believed in these people…treat them that way…on BOTH ends;)

  11. empressive says:

    Edna I can understand your idea of a clients point of view. It is embarressing, hard and scary to muster up the courage and wisdom needed to “deal” (if you will) with other people. Especially when dealing with others livelihood which is much different than returning that blouse that does not fit properly.

    Regardless there are many ways to talk to ANY trainer. Whether you have to call the police for backup in case there are problems, have friends as witnesses, or maybe just leave a note.

    I would also like to ad that sometimes, especially nowadays, I would bet that some people just have to up and leave because of money situations. In those cases I am sure it is gigantically embarressing, but you never know if the trainer will be lenient or try to help. I mean really guys and gals as a trainer if someone is having financial problems and you will have the stall empty then it becomes a choice on whether you trust the person enough to let them leave the horse until they find a place, sell the horse for them, or kick them out as soon as possible. (excuse my language or way of putting things)

    When you really look at a situation like this and delve out the possiblities as to why life led to this situation, gosh there are a lot! Puts some meaning to this thread.So many things can change that by the end of the day talking things out really is the best way to go. Just make sure you come with big guns backing you. Just in case things get out of hand. (by big guns I mean you football buddies) LOL

    Oops got all long and lanky again. Sorry everyone.

  12. empressive says:

    Oh and yes you could draw up a contract so long as it is under state laws. (nothhing fishy like the last contract I read that “basically” allowed the buyer to not only buy the land but also recieve (did not have to pay) other objects owned by the seller. Yeah, right. That never worked out. Anywho if you wanted to haul up a contract get a lawyer to help you figure it out. Saves time money and stress. I personally am not sure if there are horse related contracts concerning this discussion, but I bet you might be able to find some and assuredly can create one. Either way it is a nice thing to have, a contract. Granted you could do it yourself, but sometimes a little help goes a long way. Whoa starting to ramble… Night everyone! Sweet dreams!

    Oh and do not worry about the size of a contract. They come in many sizes, assuredly. Many sizes. Only worry that big ones scare people away. No it’s not like fishing.

  13. khummel says:

    I would not force someone to stay either. thats not what i am saying. iam saying a removal should be by appointment and after a discussion. i would never be so unproffessional and need police to be called!!!??? I would be and have always been polite and wished them well . And remained friends and had some return as you say. I am saying it is wrong to sneak a horse out when the trsainers/stable owners are away at a horse show. The at home help was put in an awkard situation. I just cant imagine doing that at any stable . If someone feels its an emergency situation, one can still mae a phone call and answer phone calls. One can make an appointment for the immediate removal later that day at least. In my situation, nothing was “wrong” at all. They just wanted to change horse trainers.

  14. StacyGRS says:

    I would agree wholeheartedly that a phone call/letter/e-mail/SOMETHING is absolutely the right way to do it…not show up with a trailer and NOT while trainer(s) are away…that just isn’t the way to do it. Agreed!! And, yes, I can totally see how it would put the help in an awkward situation. Unfortunate.

  15. jns767 says:

    Unless the horse is in danger or there is a MAJOR safety concern, I believe wholeheartedly that the trainer/Barn owner should be notified in some form or another. I’ve seen people leave with a police escort and have also seen how devastating it is to the trainer involved. It’s very hurtful and also embarrassing to the BO/Trainer – it may also effect other clientele that may have witnessed this. They may wonder what the heck happened to cause this person to leave in the night or with police. I know that there is gossip that goes on in the horse world and word certainly travels fast. Most of the people I’ve seen leave like this either owe money that they are unwilling to or cannot pay, or they are in disagreement with the barn owner/trainer. Personally, I think it would be difficult to tell a trainer that I was unhappy with their services. I would worry about hurting their feelings or pissing them off. Regardless, I would suck it up and do the right thing – if the horse were in danger, I’d remove it immediately after speaking with Barn owner/trainer. I’d be able to sleep at night knowing that I did the correct thing. I’m a big ole’ baby at times, but that’s small in the scheme of things – this is a livelyhood to many horse trainers and barn owners, and I just don’t have the scrupples to screw them over like that.

  16. empressive says:

    KHummel: I did not mean to contradict anything you said. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. My comments in my third post where in answer to Edna LL on this site.

    I have experienced times when to remove personal property witnesses were needed or violent situations where police were needed. Basically both sides need to be kept safe and responsible. Sometimes having someone else there helps. I am also breaking this from both points of view; for the trainer and client. Edna asked if the trainer was making it unbearable or if the trainer was confrontational. Plus from the view that the client is non-confrontational or uncomfortable. My advice was to cover the whole situation from the worst (in having to call the police) to the easiest (having a friend there)

    Of course, doing this in the daytime and calling the trainer is a must do. Like before I could not imagine someone trying to come late at night and take a horse. What a fright for the trainer! Whose job, is in part, the protection of the horse. Also I came up with the fact that sometimes people have to immediately leave due to financial stress. Where the trainer may not want to be so kind and say “hey you can stay until I have the place filled.” Due to the fact that some people dump horses or some people are more money oriented. I am not speaking of everyone! But I do understand that there are some people.

    So in the end KHummel in no way was I consciously disagreeing with you and still do not. I hope that this clears things up! :)

  17. empressive says:

    Sorry EdanaLL for getting your name wrong! oops.
    hehehe, cute smily faces though! Don’t you think?

  18. Jennifer says:

    A signed contract is no guarantee it only gives the holder the proof for legal action. I was taken to court after signing a boarding contract. I complained one to many times about my horse being lame because of the condition of the facilities. When I got home that evening she had left a message to find another facility. So I did and went to remove my horses the next day. She called the police and took me to court because I didn’t give thirty days notice. The horses were removed before the police arrived so she took us to small claims court for the remaining 25 days of the month. We paid for the partial month. The magistrate ruled in our favor, she appealed and the judge ruled in her favor but reduce the amount to be paid by half.
    Your situation sounds like they may be having money troubles, even though the horses went to another trainer.

  19. elise says:

    This issue is pretty dicey because horses are not only a big financial investment, but an emotional one as well. And that emotion comes from both sides. We love our horses, and the truly great trainers love and care about them too. The trainers that care are building a relationship with your horse just the same as you are. (Oh, there are some toughies who say they don’t get attached, but I bet that pat or carrot at the end of a good session comes from a trainer’s heart, unless they’re Ebeneezer Scrooge). Sometimes, personalities are different, but if you have a good group working with your horse, see the bigger picture and not let those things get in the way. On the other side of that, if you feel your horse is being mistreated or not taken care of properly, address the issue first, then if a solution or agreement can’t be made, at least have the courtesy to pay any bills owed (think of the other horses, because your board is counted in making sure they have feed, etc, too)and take the high road and not bad mouth, unless serious neglect or abuse was going on. In that case, you’ll find you probably haven’t been the first person to remove a horse from a bad situation, and it will catch up with a bad trainer in the end. If my horse was neglected or abused at a facility, all of my energy would go into getting him well and to a better place, and making sure any legal steps were taken to ensure that things were put right.

  20. EdanaLL says:

    Hey Jennifer, no problem on the name.
    I can’t believe your trainer kicked you out and then had the gall to sue you for the remaining month. Too bad you lost the appeal but at least you didn’t have to pay the full amount. I hope you found a better facility!

  21. EdanaLL says:

    OOPS — sorry Jennifer.. it was Empressive who misread my name. But you’re forgiven too Empressive!!

Leave a Reply