When we first opened our doors for business we didn't have an established trainer at our barn. I wanted a barn that allowed the boarders to bring in their own trainer to give them lessons. I thought this would be a positive thing for our barn because many of the barns in the area do not allow you to bring in your own trainer, usually because the barn owner is a trainer himself. I completely understand the reason if you are the barn owner/trainer combined. It is a smart business choice.
For David and I it would only benefit us to have trainers here helping our boarders. I truly believe we should always be learning and growing and sound guidance is a true gift.
We had only been open eight or nine months and problems were already happening in our very new and very young business. Because we had many different riding disciplines and philosophy's on training and riding, soon I was getting calls from different boarders that were upset because they didn't understand what a particular trainer was doing to a horse in the arena. Sometimes the boarder thought the trainer was being to harsh with the horse. Other times I would get calls that the trainer was taking up too much of the arena or asking people to wait out in the stall area until they were done. Slowly the problems started to mount up until I had clients that were talking about leaving our facility.
Before I knew it I was spending too much time trying to figure out how to talk to these trainers and come up with a solution and how we could all share the arena. I needed to come up with a list of what was allowed during lessons and what was expected from the trainers. I began having problems with trainers not following the regular rules of our barn. I actually had one trainer that would use other peoples tack without their permission and then forget to put it back! I needed to get the point across that this was not their barn and they didn't make the rules. I was very willing to listen to them and find a way to make it work for everyone, but again I was dealing with some strong personalities and during the first couple of years in business I was very intimidated by them. They were used to giving instructions and terrible at taking instructions. I was slowly becoming a doormat and I needed to grow up fast and become a strong busineswoman in order to run a healthy barn.
When honesty was missing
Another issue I was dealing with was the trainer that was not being honest with their clients. We had trainers that were telling clients that they were at the barn on certain days working with their horse and charging them for it, and David and I knew they had never even come to the barn on those days. Sometimes we wouldn't see the trainer for a couple of weeks but they were charging the boarder for services not done and we were caught in the middle of it.
I know some of you reading this are thinking this would never happen at your barn. I didn't either at first but it does happen more often than you think. I now believe the reason these issues happen is because the barn owner or manager is not aware of what is going on in the barn or is not strong enough as a business person to put a stop to it. That was me years ago. I strongly believe what ever happens at your facility is a reflection of your barn and you as a barn owner and business person. If you want a barn that has a reputation as an honest barn, then you will need to be the one that leads it in that direction.
Asking a trainer to leave
I now realize how much clout a trainer can have in a barn and how fast they can set the tone for the barn. Clients can be so dependent on their trainer and don't always see all the problems that a barn owner will see and it can make things sticky if the trainer is doing things that are not allowed or dishonest. When we were having serious issues with trainers in our early years of operation I learned very quickly that it was risky to ask a trainer to leave because you would risk losing boarders that would follow with them. Eventually I did ask a trainer to leave and this did happen. It was a low point for me and my boarding business and the stress was incredible at the time but I survived and you will too. Looking back I have to say it was a great life lesson and I believe one of the seeds of transformation for David and I into strong business owners. It was very painful but I don't think we would have grown or learned anything if we didn't go through that trial.
I have learned now not to be a doormat and it opened doors for a wonderful trainer to come to our barn and make this her home. She has been here for many years and it has been a blessing. We still allow other trainers to come and work with their clients at our facility and it always seems to work out just fine. We don't have any of the issues we did early on and now I am not afraid to talk with a perspective trainer coming into our barn for the first time and let them know what we expect here at our facility. I am also not afraid to ask them to leave if I need to. Learning to run a horse business takes time and I truly believe through adversity and trials we will grow as stronger equine professionals.
The wonderful thing about horses is that they keep us on our toes and just when you think you have your horse figured out they do something that leaves you with a big question of how to fix it. Every boarding barn should have a trainer because many of your cleints will be new horse owners and many will come with horses that have issues. It just comes with the territory. If you are the barn owner or manager then finding an honest trainer that will help your clients grow and learn to be safe on the ground and in the saddle is vitally important.
One last thought. If you find a trainer that has the same philosophy about the care of horses and clients and you both respect each other, then they are worth their weight in gold! I think one of the biggest assets a boarding barn can have is a good trainer. If you find one, let them know how much you appreciate them.
If you are new to my blog then welcome! If you are having issues with clients, trainers or even a barn manager, you will want to read my book "The Total Horse Barn Management Makeover." This book is all about the relationship between the barn owner/manager and client and how to resolve the issues that will come up in your horse business. You won't find another book that talks about the people issues of barn management and I believe this is such an important of any successful horse business. Remember, the horses will be the easy part!
Wishing you many blessings in your horse business,