Changing trainers--how would you proceed?
For the last 8 weeks, I've been riding at a dressage barn in my area that primarily works with owners who are competing at high levels, but which also has a small and nice lesson program. I can't afford the regular instructor, a highly regarded rider with international training, because $100 a lesson is way out of my price range. I'm riding with her assistant, who charges at about the top of what I can afford. She just received her USDF Bronze and is a very kind, good-natured instructor. I'm not sure how long she'll be there. I like the barn, and the schoolmasters are of a quality I can't find anywhere else, but I also feel pretty alone there--this isn't the kind of barn where people just hang out and watch lessons, and about 90% of the clients are very experienced competitors so most are at regional shows every weekend and I don't get to know folks.
I've found another barn that's a further drive, but it's something I can afford, I love the horse I'd be leasing, the lease is more flexible with my schedule, and the instructor is very experienced (she's USDF Silver, has trained horses through GP and I1) and I like her personality a lot. The barn seems a little more rough-and-tumble: small, a bit shabby, but well-cared for horses and a community of adult riders who show but also have fun together. It's a good fit for me, I think.
The problem is breaking up with my first barn. They are WONDERFUL, accommodating people who have made me feel so incredibly welcome. All of the reasons I'm changing (financial, community, etc.) aren't because Barn A is bad. Barn B is just different in a way that I think will work better for me long-term. I need to tell them this week, because I'm supposed to start a lease there soon (which I can barely afford) and I want to free up that horse for someone else.
I don't want to burn bridges or offend the people who've been so kind. Has anyone ever been in a situation like this? Would love to hear what you'd do.