Help me pick a barn for lessons!
I have been riding at Barn A, a medium sized lesson barn, for almost 3 years now. The owner is certifiably insane (definitely a hoarder and a pathological liar and I suspect bi-polar), but her husband is nice, and when she is in a good mood is actually quite nice, but will turn on you in a hot second. I've made several friends there that I really and truly enjoy seeing when I am there, and there are a couple of retired senior horses I'm pretty fond of as well. It's also about the cheapest place I've found for lessons and leases, and now I know why. The problem is that because the owner is crazy she can't seem to keep an instructor for more than a few months, and I have had, no kidding, 13 different instructors over the last 3 years there. Not one has stuck around for more than 6 months, and a few only lasted a month or so. She also is a cheapskate, which doesn't work when you have older horses who need more grain to keep their weight up, and when you are crazy and say things like, "Yeah you can see his ribs, but he's an OTTB, that's what they are supposed to look like!" and other horses that can only be ridden by selected riders because they lack proper training. They are quite literally trained by the lesson kids. The horse I have been leasing on and off for the past 18 months is ok, but frustrating to ride, stubborn and slow as hell, and older. (and is also, despite my lease, used in 4 other lessons per week, which limits my riding time on him) I could ask to change horses, but the only other horses available for me to lease are nuts and I value my limbs intact. I could drop to just weekly lessons, and ride a different horse as well, but my goal is to improve my riding, and with a lease, I can ride every day if I want, and I have been riding 3-4 days a week lately. Oh, and my lessons are group lessons, (5-8 people per lesson) and right now being taught by crazy who is not at all an instructor, but rather a cheerleader who just yells out walk! Trot! Canter! Etc. and then follows is up with yeah! Good girls!
For the last 6 months I've worked at Barn B, which is not a lesson barn, but rather a small breeding & boarding barn run by a lady who I so far quite like and she, her trainer and her barn manager all seem very smart and sweet and nice and really know their stuff. The barn manager is an excellent instructor, and I took a private lesson with him recently because my boss wanted to see how well I ride. I got to ride one of her personal horses, a VERY well trained sweetiepie of a horse who I've adored from the get-go, and it was like a revelation to ride a horse with professional training for a change. Problem being, this is not a lesson barn, so I'm riding the bosses horse, who the barn manager is using to compete this summer, which means I would be able to ride once a week for lessons, and *maybe* once in a while ride here and there, but nothing like the 2-4 hours a week minimum I spend now. There is a possibility of maybe riding more often in the future, but its up in the air right now. I also worry about mixing business with pleasure a wee bit, being that I also work at this barn.
Then we have Barn C. At some point over the winter I was getting fed up with the crazy at Barn A and I began to poke around at other places to take lessons. I took one private lesson each at 6 other barns that I found around me, and narrowed it down to this one. I liked the teacher, it was a lesson barn with several horses to choose from, and seemed fairly well run and reasonably priced. I think she has leases available, but it'll be more than at Barn A, but at least it'll be private lessons on a well trained horse.
Here is the dilemma I am facing.
I can continue to take lessons at A - but our more recent teacher just left because he refuses to work for :crazyass: anymore. (Also because she has a reputation around here for being horrid, and he doesn't want that blemish on his resume anymore.) The downsides to this are, everywhere else is more money for the same amount of riding time, I would be leaving many friends that I have made there, I will miss my "old guys" that I dote on and worry about getting enough food. Also, once this bridge is burned, I can never go back because of the aforementioned crazy and her salt-the-earth policy on people who leave.
I can take lessons at B, but I can not lease there at the moment, because pretty much all but one of the horses there are either boarders, my bosses broodmares, too young to be ridden or just way out of my league skills wise. I can afford the lessons because I work there, but I work there, so.. is this wise?
I can jump to Barn C and just start over. New barn, know no one there, hopefully meet new people and just basically start over. Downside is its more money per month for just lessons, albeit better horses and private lessons, so if I can swing it, its potentially worth it.
What do you think?