Horse Life

Moving On…Maybe

Since Pilgrim became mine in May of 2014, I’ve been training with trainer PW, who was the resident trainer at the barn I boarded at. She’s absolutely wonderful with greenies and I owe her a ton for helping me with my severe confidence issues. I wouldn’t have blamed her one bit for dumping me after a few months of w/t in endless 20m circles, but she stuck with me and was able to push me enough to build confidence, without overfacing me and my shaky ego. It took me 6 years to get back on a horse after my accident, and another 5 years to get back to eventing, but we’re doing it and I know it’s because of her support.

That being said, trainer PW has ALOT of clients, all of which board at my old barn, and 100% of them do H/J. When I boarded there, I had P in full training with her, which included 16 rides/lessons per month. So typically I would take 2 lessons/week and then on days that I couldn’t get out to the barn, I’d text her and she’d ride P for me. Very convenient, considering P is the type of horse that NEEDS a 5-6 day training week. When I moved to the new barn, I had to scale that back to the 4 lesson/month package, which costs less than half of the full training package. So when I left, her income from me dropped.

Trainer PW has never been to a show with me. This isn’t something that necessarily upsets me because I’m pretty independent and definitely do not buy into the handholding that many H/J riders subscribe to, but going alone every time can get, well, lonely. I usually have my husband there, but when we have to bring kids, it gets messy. One thing I loved about being a working student was showing with a group of people- everyone helped one another and there was always someone to cheer on or cheering for you. This past year of dressage/jumping/CTs/HTs has been very isolating.


The other thing is that I’m not a priority client anymore. I’m supposed to be having lessons every Friday evening, but for one reason or another, I haven’t actually had a lesson this month. The last lesson I had was very short, due to the darkness and the arena lights being pretty nonexistent. So we switched lesson days to Sundays, but those will only work if neither of us has anything going on.

I’d been considering supplementing regular lessons with PW with lessons from a local FEI rider/USDF Silver & Bronze Medalist/USDF L Judge. I took one lesson with her a few months ago when she came to the barn I was boarding at, and really liked her teaching style. One of my friends rides with her and sent her young TB to her for training, and just raves about her. So a few nights ago I finally got the courage up to contact her- we’ve been emailing back and forth today and I’m hauling to her tomorrow. I’m super excited, but nervous!

Since my clinic last weekend at KFP, I’ve also been considering training regularly with the clinician. She’s an eventer and knows the scene, plus has students that event as well. I talked to her a bit after the clinic and she said she teaches anytime day or night and on weekends that she’s not competing, since she lives onsite.

So…pro/con time!

Pros to switching to new trainer(s):

  • Facilities conducive to working adult: dressage trainer has indoor arena and eventer has arena with competition-like lights and all-weather arena.
  • Facilities in general: dressage trainer has full sized and correctly measured dressage arena. Eventer has xc course onsite.
  • Trainers attend shows that I attend…to compete themselves and/or with students.
  • Trainers both train with others to further their own education. No matter how good the rider, I don’t believe really anyone is too good to continue with their own education.
  • Trainers will be able to help plan competition schedule since they have a working knowledge of the events in Areas II and III. That would be a bit more ideal than my current

There are some cons, though.

  • Increased cost. Trainer PW is reasonably priced and close. Hauling to her is about 10 minutes from my barn so doesn’t take much fuel at all to go back and forth. Dressage trainer’s prices in comparison…yikes. I haven’t contacted eventer yet for price sheet…I’m afraid. Plus, increased cost of hauling. Dressage trainer is 40 minutes away. Eventer is 25 minutes away.
  • Potential for scheduling conflicts as others start to gear up for the spring horse trials.

So…I don’t know. And I don’t know how to go about telling PW. I really respect her and her training methods, but I feel as if it’s time to switch to trainer(s) who are active in the disciplines I want to be competitive in.

If anyone has any advice, I’d love to hear it! Poor husband at this point just looks super confused by my ramblings. At this point I’m going to see how the lesson goes tomorrow with dressage trainer, and go from there.

8 thoughts on “Moving On…Maybe”

  1. Tough choice! It sounds like changing trainers would be a good move- better setup, potential to have someone at shows with you, etc. I do not have a regular trainer (I take lessons with various clinicians as they’re in the area), but the barn where I board does LOTS of dressage shows. It’s so fun go with them to shows- as you said, lots of friendly faces and mutual helping. I bet with a different trainer you’d at least have some fellow students at shows.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ugh i hate having to make decisions like this… and definitely don’t envy your position! really tho at the end of the day the most important thing is that you’re getting the services you want and are happy with for an amount of time, energy and money that is reasonable to you. i’m all about branching out with different trainers anyway and currently ride with 3 (plus the occasional clinician) so my gut would be to try ’em all out and see which one has you really itching for more! good luck!


  3. I love going to shows/events with other people. It makes it so much more fun plus if you get in a pickle someone is there to help you out 🙂 I don’t know that much about Dana as an instructor but if you liked the instruction from her I’d say make the switch! I’m sure PW will understand and might even agree it’s time to train with someone in your own discipline. Plus if you can’t to get to KFP one week I’m sure PW would be happy to help you out.

    Good luck and I hope you like the dressage trainer! Are you going to Hidden Springs? I use to live in Charlotte but all the trainers I rode with have retired or moved so I don’t really know who is around anymore… or close to where you are (I lived in the Weddington/Waxhaw when it was still rural!)


    1. I wasn’t sure how I’d like her as an instructor either because I’m kinda picky when it comes to that, but I really had the time of my life at that clinic. Dressage trainer is Jennifer Flowers- she used to event, then she taught dressage/hunters at UNC, then branched off on her own to focus solely on dressage. She’s got a lovely, quiet manner about her…and boy, can she ride!


  4. I’d say that even if you have to cut one lesson out a month to make up for the cost of trailering, do it. If you’re going to get more out of someone who focuses on your discipline and can make the time for you on a consistent basis, that’s way better than sticking around and hoping PW can fit you in.


    1. Yes, you hit the nail right on the head. I can’t imagine I’ll lesson nearly as often, but if I could get 2-3 quality lessons a month, that’s much more valuable in the end.


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