What do you do if you and your trainer have a different vision for your barn and horse care? What if your boarders start leaving because of your trainer? What if your trainer creates drama in the barn or is not doing his job? What if your trainer is not respecting the rules you have set up in your barn and refuses to follow them in a passive aggressive way? Let me tell you right now these things happen and they happen a lot!
When we first opened we had several trainers come through our barn and they took over and the atmosphere became very negative. I started losing boarders because I was not strong enough to stand up to the trainers and be very clear and direct about what I expected at my barn. Because I was a new barn owner at the time I didn't even have a clear vision of what I expected at the barn so it led to others taking over (including the trainers) and chaos hit my barn and business hard. It is not a good way to run a business at all.
The most important part of this post is in the next paragraph! Don't miss it!!
The first thing you need to remember is that if you have several boarders that are upset or even worse leave then I can guarantee that the trainer is not going to pay the income that you are losing. Can you afford the loss of income? The second and very important point is, if you have a trainer at your barn and you are losing people because of what your trainer is doing then you might want to take a very long look at what is going on with the trainer in the barn. It is fine if a client and trainer have a difference of opinion but if it starts to happen with several clients then there is a good chance the problem might be with the trainer. The third point is that the trainers at your barn will never fully understand the pressure or stress that comes from running a barn and all that goes with it. They might have been barn managers but that is still much different from being the barn owner and dealing with monthly bills and upkeep of the farm. There is a huge difference. If you can't pay your bills and mortgage it will always be in the back of your mind that you could lose your business or worse farm. I believe every barn owner has had those thoughts go through their mind at one time or another. If a trainer loses a client or two and can't pay their bills, they are not going to lose the farm! To many of them it doesn't matter if a boarder leaves because it doesn't affect their bank account that much but you might be stuck with an empty stall and less money coming in. Then there is the task of trying to fill the stall with a new horse. That is just the reality. You need to remember above all else that it is a business and your business comes first.
The barn owner also does not always understand all the pressure the trainer goes through at times either unless they are a trainer themselves. I have a wonderful trainer that works out of our barn full-time. She has been with us six years and I am amazed at what she can do with a horse. I will never fully understand her job and the pressure she feels with her clients and especially when a client is not happy. She will share her concerns with me but because I have never walked in her shoes I don't feel the same pressure she feels. It goes both ways at times.
The best thing you can do if you have a trainer that is working out of your barn is to sit down and talk with them about how you run your barn and your expectations. Ask them to share what their training looks like and how it will help your barn. The relationship between the barn owner and the trainer is not just about the horse and client. It is a working relationship that needs to have balance and a common belief in how a barn should run and strong agreement on how horses should be taken care of.
If your trainer can't follow your barn rules or believes he is above them then it won't work. If you believe that horses should be outside during the day and your trainer wants them living in a stall twenty-four hours a day then it is not going to work. If you don't believe in horses being tied up for hours on end or hobbling as part of training and your trainer does then it is not going to work. If you don't believe in aggressive bits and tack to force a horse to obey and move correctly and your trainer does then it is not going to work!
There are very good trainers out there that will be an asset to your barn. You just need to be very deliberate in what you are looking for in a trainer to represent your facility.
Once you go through a few trainers that have hurt your business you will appreciate and cherish the trainer that compliments and becomes an asset to your business. They are out there. You just need to be very deliberate in what you are looking for in a trainer to represent your barn. They will be part of your barn every day and many times the first person a possible new client will see when they come to your barn. Be smart and don't be afraid to expect honesty and integrity from the trainers at your barn. Once you find a trainer that has the same value of life and care of the horses as you do then you will see wonderful things happen at your barn. I sure did.
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! If you are just starting out in your planning stages of your horse business or need some help now that you are in it, I would like to encourage you to check out my two books. My first one, "What it really takes to start and run a horse business" is my families journey of starting our horse boarding business and about learning from our mistakes especially during the first couple of years. My second book, "The total horse barn management makeover," is about the relationship between the barn owner/barn manager and client and how to resolve the issues that will come up when you are running a horse business of any kind. These books will take you deep inside the business world and will inspire and give you the tools to get through those tough days and situations. You won't find more honest books out there about running a horse business.
I wish you the very best in your horse business,