I get this question a lot, so I decided to do a post on it. This is a tough situation to be in, especially if you’ve had a working relationship with your trainer for a while; if you’re good friends with your trainer; or if you simply just feel awkward about leaving and have no “good” reasons to leave (ie. your horse isn’t in danger). Note: This also applies to telling barn managers or barn owners; basically, the person to whom you have to give notice when you are leaving.
I’ve moved barns many times for many reasons, and I’ve compiled some tips over the years that have become helpful when it comes time to move on to a new facility. Hopefully these will help you if you ever are in a situation where you’re thinking of moving barns!
Do write down why you’re leaving. Sometimes the easiest thing you can do is gather your thoughts. Get clear on why you want to leave your barn. This will help you vocalize your thoughts when you have the inevitable sit-down with your barn manager, trainer, or barn owners. Additionally, you will be able to see your reasons on paper and know if they are legitimate reasons for leaving or if they are something that can be fixed with a simple chat with your trainer/barn manager/barn owners.
Don’t feel guilty. I have often talked to riders who felt guilty about leaving, especially if they had a great relationship with their trainer or if their trainer had done a lot for them. That’s okay! We’re only human. However, if you want to move up a division or want to try a new discipline and your trainer just does not offer that skill or have that capability, you should not feel guilty about going somewhere that can help you get to where you want to go. Horseback riding is incredibly expensive, and you should not be shelling out thousands of dollars every month to do something you don’t want to do.
Do be professional. When you do sit down with whomever you have to give notice to, don’t play the blame game. Don’t tell them why it’s their fault you’re leaving or everything they did wrong. Be grateful for what they did for you. Thank them for their time and services. Explain to them that you feel it is just time to move on. If at any point the situation escalates (this can and does happen) simple remove yourself from it. Do not engage in any drama or BS. You are here to express your wishes for your horse and your riding. You don’t want to get into an argument about why you are leaving facilities. If you want to leave, you have every right to do so (barring whether you owe money – that’s a whole different story).
Don’t be defensive. If you go into the “talk” with a defensive attitude, it’s going to rub off on your barn managers/barn owners/trainer. Be positive and uplifting. Don’t expect everything to automatically go poorly. Your trainer, barn manager, or barn owner could take things very well (in fact, I recently helped someone who had this exact thing happen to them). Going into the “talk” with an attitude and expecting bad results is only going to produce bad results – a self-fulfilling prophecy if you will.
Do know you are making the right decision. If you are confident in your decision, then nothing should hold you back. Do take the time to sit down and think about whether you want to switch facilities. If you do, then do it and don’t look back. Do your research about your new barn and your new trainer. If you do your homework, you will be sure to end up in a better place than you were before. This isn’t to say that your old facility was a piece of you-know-what; it just means that you will be on your way to improving your riding and love of the sport, which is what you wanted in the first place, right? Have the confidence to know that by switching facilities, you are doing the right thing for yourself, your horse, and your riding career. Don’t let your trainer, barn managers, or barn owners take that away from you, make you feel guilty, or make you feel like you are making a bad decision just because they don’t want to lose you as a client.
Don’t give last minute notice. Many, if not all, boarding contracts have a notice requirement – and that requirement is usually 30 days. Nothing is more annoying than giving less than 30 days notice that you are moving. Don’t be that boarder that tells your barn manager, barn owner, or trainer that you will be moving barns less than 30 days before you move. If you do have to do this, it is customary to pay for the upcoming month in full since you broke the notice requirement. Give as much notice as practicable. This will not only make you look more professional but also save you from burning a bridge that you may need in the future.