Over a year ago, I was faced with the task of finding a new barn on very short notice. My trainer (at the time) and I went on a manhunt, trying to find the best facility for me and my pony (I only had two horses at the time). I knew I had goals of showing, so finding a show facility was important to me, as was finding one with good care because it was clear I wasn’t going to find a new facility that was a. close by and b. allowed outside trainers.
I reached out to my farrier for some recommendations, and he told me to call a woman named Holly (now my trainer). He told me she was hands down the best horse caretaker and trainer in the area, and he would make a phone call for me to see if my trainer at the time could come with me (Equestrian Lesson: this is why you should always be nice to your farriers, vets, masseuses, chiropractors, etc.)
I spoke with Holly on the phone, and I instantly fell in love with her mission, her facility (though I hadn’t seen it), and everything she had to offer. She seemed to be the perfect fit for me, even though the barn was a bit further than I would have liked. However, quality care was important to me as was a show atmosphere because that was my goal now.
My trainer at the time and I looked around at a few new places, but I still kept coming back to Holly’s place. I really felt it was the right fit for me, well.. us, and every other facility I visited paled in comparison. Additionally, Holly was willing to allow my trainer to come in and teach me, as a favor to my farrier since I was such a good client to his (see my equestrian lesson cited above).
I decided that I wanted to move to Holly’s facility, and shortly thereafter, we made the move. The care was impeccable; the facilities beautiful; the ring was gorgeous; and Holly was super nice and accommodating. She made me and my horses feel at home as did the barn owner, and that was something I really appreciated, especially because I was sort of encroaching on her territory by bringing in an outside trainer.
As you all know, last May, I decided to switch trainers and begin riding with Holly. After some reflection, a lame horse as Garden State Horse Show, and a lesson with Holly on one of her school horses where I realized that confidence I had built up over the two years I was at other barns, I realized that it wasn’t so scary switching trainers.
My intuition was right. There was a reason I was so strongly pulled to Holly’s facility, and now she is not just the trainer I see myself sticking with for the rest of my career, but also someone I can call a close friend (and coincidentally, she went to college with my boyfriend, and they hung out frequently – weird, right?)
Oftentimes we may be feeling something in our gut but suppressing it. It can do with anything related to horseback riding. I urge you to go with that feeling in your gut. Your intuition is one of your most valuable tools, and you never know where it can lead you.
Although I am on a break from riding right now due to a head injury, Holly was upped my confidence tenfold. Before my head injury, I was showing and winning. My knowledge and riding has improved so much since I began taking consistent lessons with her. She found me the perfect horse (Monte), keeps me on my toes, talks to me as a friend, keeps me in line, and pushes me when I need to be pushed.
Note: None of this is a knock on my former trainer, and it should not be construed as such. She is a wonderful person, and she helped build my confidence from next to nothing. She was my best friend for years. She was there when I needed her most when Rascal died; when I was horse searching because I had nothing to ride at our former barn; and when things were going south in my riding life. She and I agreed it was just time to move on. My goals just didn’t mesh with the type of trainer she wanted to be, and she did the honorable thing by telling me to move onto someone else rather than keeping me as a client and promising me things on which she couldn’t follow through – like consistently attending ‘A’ rated horse shows, which require a ton of time and effort on the trainer’s part.
So next time you’re feeling your gut telling you something, take a moment and listen. It might be scary. Trust me, I never imagined myself leaving my former trainer. However, you could be cutting yourself off from a path of even more success, confidence, and better riding than you ever imagined.