I look for one on one attention. To me that is more important than anything. Value for my money...meaning if I pay for an hours instruction it doesn't include tacking up or visiting a whole bunch. A trainer who practices what they preach...meaning they have accomplished what I am trying to get them to teach me. For me that means a competitive show record. For other people it means they are an accomplished trail rider with loads of miles. All depends on what your are looking for. And a clean barn with well fed horses that HAVE turn-out. I don't board but if I did I would ask for atleast 3 references.