Speaking for us ladies, we’re loyal to hairstylists because we trust their judgment and feel like they won’t let us walk out of the salon looking like we just boarded the Hot Mess Express. The same can be said about finding a great riding trainer: they must make us feel confident, polished, and satisfied with our personal growth. Just like therapists, trainers should listen, empathize, and call us out on our bull****. In fact, your trainer can become one of your closest friends over time, as you pull through thick and thin together.
But what happens when a trainer-client relationship isn’t working out, either because of a little tiff or because it’s simply run its course? Well, you either leave the barn on good terms or you pack up your things and load your horse on the trailer in the middle of the night under the blanket of darkness.
The million-dollar question still remains: can you break up with your trainer and still be friends? Six riders tell their side:
I moved my horses [from my trainer’s barn] because my family purchased our own horse property in an equestrian neighborhood. I wanted to be able to take advantage of the trails and adult riding community. We’ve kept in touch mostly because we share similar views on horse keeping and I made sure she understood I wasn’t moving because of anything she did — just that I wanted to be on my own. I also use her as one of my hay suppliers, which helps our relationship! - Laura R., Florida
I broke up with my trainer and we’re no longer in contact. During the 2016 Presidential election, we were on differing sides. She would harass me after lessons because of whom I voted for. She refused to teach me because of our differing religious beliefs — seriously! Eventually, I got my things and left. - Taylor Y., Pennsylvania
I was with my trainer for five years both riding and working. It was a big show barn. I didn’t have my own horse and it was super expensive, but all of my friends rode there. Once everyone graduated and moved out of state, I wanted to find a more affordable place where I could have my own horse. [Leaving] was never awkward because I think we both realized it wasn’t the best fit for me. - Emily Z., Minnesota
I had been looking for a horse with my trainer for almost two years and had gone through six horses and thousands of dollars only to remain unhappy and horseless. I wasn’t unsatisfied with her training, but at a certain point, the universe kind of tells you something isn’t working. When I finally found a horse that was a keeper, his owners would not let him go on trial with my trainer, so I decided to leave her barn after I purchased him. We are still friendly, but things are a little awkward when we run into each other at shows. - Sarah G., Michigan
I was with the same coach for 13 years, moved away, and took my horse with me. It was so hard to move! I thought I made a huge mistake and wanted to go back, but her and I both knew that in order for me to improve and grow, I had to leave her barn. The coach I have now was an amazing move, but I’m thrilled that my [retired] pony is still with my old coach. She keeps me updated on his progress and I ride him whenever I go home! - Bryelle S., Ontario
I was with my previous trainer for eight years before moving barns. He started training me in high school and through college. He’s one of my best friends and we used to hang out all the time. He introduced me to my now-husband, and he was at our wedding! No bad blood whatsoever. - Sarah K., Massachusetts
Are you friends with your former trainer, or is that relationship a thing of the past? What went down? Comment below.
Photography by Sportfot.
Written by Kate Kosnoff
Kate Kosnoff is an equestrian journalist, blogger and photographer. When she isn’t working, Kate can usually be found sipping green tea, scrolling through Twitter, or petting her horses—sometimes a combination of the three. She is based in Indiana and can often be spotted in jumper rings across the Midwest and Florida aboard her strawberry roan, Waffle.