Moving on to a New Horse Trainer


Q: I’ve been riding with my current trainer for many years, ever since I was a little kid. I feel like I’ve outgrown her and want to move to another barn where all my friends ride. The lessons are more advanced there, and I believe my horse and I would really improve. How do I tell my trainer that I’m leaving? How can I stay on friendly terms with her? Will it always be awkward when I run into her at shows? I’m so nervous about this!

A: It’s obvious that you respect your long-time trainer and value what she’s taught you. Otherwise you wouldn’t have such anxiety about telling her you’re moving on. Focus on those positive feelings of admiration as you tell her, plainly and calmly, that you’ll be moving to the new barn on a specific date. Share your reasons with her: That you miss the companionship of your friends and that, thanks to all the wonderful horsemanship skills she’s taught you, you’re excited to explore new challenges at this other barn. Make sure you have this discussion in person, when you can sit together quietly for a few moments. Though you might feel nervous or emotional—a few tears in the tack room never hurt anyone—she’ll appreciate your honesty and maturity.

Any professional who’s been in the horse business for any length of time realizes that clients come and go. It’s a fact of life that no trainer can be all things to all horses and riders. For example, one trainer might be a wizard with starting green horses while another one might be a miracle worker with nervous adult riders. So take some comfort in knowing that you aren’t the first client who has graduated from a childhood trainer to one with a more sophisticated method of instruction. Chances are, the trainer you’re about to leave has heard the Good-bye Speech many times before.

To keep your relationship on friendly terms, send her a handwritten note a few weeks after you leave. Tell her again how important she’s been in your life, both on and off a horse. Then, when you do see her at a show, be cheerful and polite. Speak well about her to others. Recommend her to other young riders seeking quality lessons in basic horsemanship. After all, this trainer gave you a wonderful start. Let her do the same for someone else.


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Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.


  1. After you go to the new barn, visit your trainer and tell her about your new life. I am sure that she will really want to know about all your are learning. Perhaps you both will benifit.


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