Barn Switching -- Could use some suggestions!
I've sort of been "shopping" around for a new barn for awhile for a few reasons. I've been riding with my current barn for a little over a year now and I've enjoyed (most) of the horses as well as my trainer. The barn manager and I DO NOT get along. On any given day I don't know if she'll be in a pleasant mood or bite my head off on a tirade. It has gotten to the point on several occasions where I've had such anxiety over a task (like helping with turning out) that it's made me sick. Obviously, this is not what I want out of my barn. Riding should be fun. The only reason I was sticking around was my trainer who has become a valued friend in the time I've known him and I take some work off his hands for him in the barn (which again, is no fun because it's not his barn; if I make an error either he or I gets a lecture). There is also a marked shortage of usable mounts for showing. The only prospect I'm looking at now as an adult is a very unpredictable gelding who spooks randomly. Our last lesson we ended up spooking and galloping sideways in the same spot twice no matter what I did. I can't imagine taking him to a show with all the show-related stimuli if he can't even handle the invisible boogey men at home!
I finally found a barn I love. The atmosphere is precisely what I dreamed about when I was thinking about a barn. The trainer is so amazing I don't even have words. It was like learning to ride for the first time taking a lesson. There was so much I had been taught that isn't actually as effective or even correct equitation-wise that I'm now having to retrain. My mother also surprised me with an amazing early Christmas present after I went on at length about how wonderful the barn was and their many lease options. She's willing to pay for six months of lease time while my husband and I work on our finances (we're young and rearranging some debts) so I don't have to trade my love of riding for the drudgery of bills, bills, bills. I'll say I was literally dancing with excitement.
To make a very long story short, I'm worried about the transition because of the personal aspect of things. We don't just have a business relationship, I consider him a good friend. He's a very cool person, but I'm not sure how to explain that. I've never been in that position before. I don't know how to tell him what I'm doing, because I want to be completely honest because it's a small community of barns and the likelihood of seeing him at a show is very, very high. The barn manager also shows up from time to time, so it's not as if we're moving away. I've already understood that I will have to break it to my trainer first because he would know the best way to approach the topic with the manager. She seems to be in a state of barely balancing the books so the loss of income (and free labour) will likely not sit well and she is prone to blacklisting people.
Has anyone ever had this problem? What is the most fair and professional way to approach this kind of thing, where I want to do what's best for me while not souring a friendship? I'm not leaving just yet, but I will need to tell them before the year is out, since I'll be leasing officially in January. Any help would be amazing!