Thread for Trainers (and others) - Avoiding Burnout - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 05-30-2010, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thread for Trainers (and others) - Avoiding Burnout

Growing up, I remember watching my trainer ride her own horse one time every weekend, usually on a simple trailride, and I remember thinking that I could never do that, I could never get enough time in the saddle. I could go from first thing in the morning to late at night. Even as a teenager, I would work camps and teach lessons all day, and be in the covered arena working horses in training until 1 in the morning, ready to start early again the next day.

I turn 26 next month, and sometimes I find its all I can do to make myself work my own horses. I have no interest in getting out of horses, even when I look at other jobs I can't actually picture myself doing anything else. I get to clients horses and lessons as planned, but I have to force myself to work my own.

It sounds at first like I just rode too much, but I don't think that's it. This all started a little over a year ago when I took over management of a rescue facility. Working with beginner people and difficult horses in mass puts a bit of a strain on things and I found myself expecting less and less out of my already wonderfully trained horses just out of habit of working at the other barn.

I've considered getting back into competing just to give me a drive to move forward. My main business is extreme problem horses, so by the time I get done with that, I look at my own horses and say "thank goodness you have manners", and my expectations lower. I find very little challenge anymore with anything that anyone brings to me and its all become a bit boring and redundant.

I'm sorry if I sound whiney, I'm just trying to rediscover that drive because I know I do still have a lot to learn and there are many more goals to pursue. Does anyone else find this problem? Where do you go when you feel like you hit a road block?
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post #2 of 8 Old 05-30-2010, 01:44 PM
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With some of the horses that come in for us, I am highly looking forward to my own. lol
But there have been times where I'm working so hard with other horses and lessons and such that I just don't have the extra energy to get mine out. Perhaps you need to lighten your work load just a little, so that you still have the energy to ride your own. There's no pressure on your own horses, and you aren't getting paid to ride them so consequently your drive to get them out is slowly deteriorating.
If you have run out of different challenges to teach them, look into something completely new and teach or do something different with them. We do all kinds of different things to add variety and to make a nice well-rounded horse. Why not find someone you respect and take some lessons with your horses? You will probably find some things you hadn't realized yourself to work on and make it interesting again.
I find that if you're the main rider on a particular horse you get to know each other so well that sometimes you don't realize things you're doing or not doing, so getting an outside eye could add some more interesting elements. :)

In riding, a horse's energy is like a river- guided by the banks but not stopped by them.
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post #3 of 8 Old 05-30-2010, 01:53 PM
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Ah I know how you feel.

I was managing a 50 head facility for an owner that had less than 5 years experience total with horses. All lesson horses were in horribly fitting saddles, huge correction bits, and kids with no respect for the horse yanking and yanking and yanking. I was managing employees that just didn't care. They'd hide the waste in the stalls instead of clean them (and the horses only came into their stalls to eat twice a day!!!!!!), and I was teaching lessons full time plus trying to fix up the place AND training!!! It was a disaster. Every day was a 16 hour day.... I lost 40 lbs in 3 months doing that job!!!

I went from loving working with horses and people with their horses, to despising it. I had my horse (the same horse as in my aggressive bucker/rearer thread) and she was started well, a very happy horse... and now she's had a year off and part of me just hates going to the farm. It's just a very weird time for me, and I've never been here.

Part of me just wants to sell my horse and get one that is already greenbroke or just needs a few adjustments to be a solid mount. The other part of me says, hell, I've owned her for 3 years, I need to suck it up and just DO IT.

So, I'm going to go out 4x a week. I'm going to FORCE myself to do this. I love my horse, we are a good pair, she's just got some issues from sitting around. I miss having the drive, too. I'll let you know when I find it and what triggers it.

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post #4 of 8 Old 05-30-2010, 02:25 PM
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The biggest thing that helped me in this situation was to experiment with a different discipline for a while. Gave me a break and there was almost always something to take from the new discipline and apply.

When I just couldn't bear another 18 hour day at a hunter show, watching the same horses over the same courses: we played with doing the jumpers and started mixing it up by going to jumper shows.

I brought in a dressage instructor to work with my better hunter riders to improve their flatwork and took lessons myself.

I bought a sidesaddle and with the help of a book and video, taught myself to ride passable sidesaddle. For grins I let some of the better kids try it too.

I have lots of other examples, but you get the idea.

Sometimes, a new greenie, project or sale horse really rekindled my interest.

However, I do remember moments that were close to despair. Schooling horses at 8 o'clock in the evening, after a full day at the barn, under my not terrific lights with nobody to set fences for me because they were on training board, I was obligated to school them, and that was the only time I had available.

Disputes with clients or students were worse.

Having to put a horse down was *the worst.*

At these times I told myself it was the life I choose and the life I loved 90% of the time, and that the alternative was a job in the cube farm.

Hope that helps.
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-01-2010, 07:05 PM
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It is burnout and most Pro's experience it sometime or other. Form the Pro's I work with they've said either leave the profession or find things to make it more interesting - going on a learning vacation to Europe, taking clinics, taking a real vacation away from it all...
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-02-2010, 12:55 AM
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Here's what I did. I got married and started working in a factory. 10 years later I hated what I was doing and was burned out. Luckily I was let go from my job and I have again entered the horse training field full time. It's going to be much longer than 10 years before I am burned out on this.

There's nothing like the Rockies in the springtime... Nothing like the freedom in the air... And there ain't nothing better than draggin calves to the fire and there's nothing like the smell of burning hair. -Brenn Hill
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post #7 of 8 Old 06-02-2010, 02:37 AM
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I went through a stage where my husband and I were sick of the life we were living. Despite our relatively young ages we were both in positions of responsibility in our jobs and were tired of the stress of trying to manage people who were older than ourselves etc, etc (I'm sure you get the picture!)

We sold everything up and went on our OE (overseas experience). We spent a few years working and traveling around Europe and Asia. We based ourselves in the UK and got menial, live in positions in pubs, hotels, stables, whatever we could get in an area of the UK that we wanted to see. Once we had some money saved we would leave our job and go tour a different country. When our money ran out we would go back to London and start all over again.

The time spent traveling was what gave us the chance to work out what we wanted from our lives. When we were ready we came home and worked toward our goals. We now have our own multi-faceted business, my husband is becoming recognised internationally as an expert in the field of hunting, hunting cartridges and ballistics.

At 26 how can you know what you want to do with the rest of your life? I know it does'nt seem like it but you are very young. Maybe it is time to go do the unexpected, there is a whole world out there to explore. Traveling opened up our minds and let us see that there is nothing that can not be done. Sometimes you have to walk away from the familiar in order to discover your personal potential. After time away you may find a whole new way of being with horses that re-enthuses you as you never thought possible. Lets put it like this my husbands passion has always been hunting, after years of travel and menial jobs he was able to see what he could do with that passion. We now have a guided hunting business that is booked out six months in advance, people come to him to learn how to shoot, people send him their rifles to accurise, he designed a polymer compound for getting extreme accuracy out of rifles, he is a published gun writer and he gets emails from people all over the world wanting advice on hunting cartridges - oh and he is in the process of building his own wildcat cartridge.

My point is the business we have now actually began on a beach on the island of Naxos in Greece where we spent a month after a particularly arduous few months of working around London and Scotland. We had a series of truly awful work situations and they were just what we needed to learn what we didn't want in our lives.

Sorry for going on and on and blowing my own trumpet I am just very passionate about people allowing themselves opportunities to explore their potential. If you feel that you have to do only one type of thing with your life you may never be truly happy.
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post #8 of 8 Old 06-02-2010, 08:51 PM
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This is completely and entirely normal! There are a lot of great pieces of advice people are offering. I think it's important for all trainers to find out what motivates them and keeps it fresh.

Personally for me, I can't own my "own" horse. I'm with you, I'd never find the motivation to do much with them after a long day or week. I buy projects that I work with to get them going well in the show ring (HUGE motivation for me!) and then try to turn a profit by selling them (also a motivation). I have a pony that's a particularly excellent little guy that I had a hard time parting with... so I just leased him out to a kid. Makes me money every month and I only do the occasional tune up. I am planning on putting him up for sale soon though.

Another thing that keeps me motivated? Boundaries. PROTECT YOUR DAYS OFF! I keep my lessons Mon-Thurs and very very rarely will do make ups on my free weekends. When I don't have horse shows I make sure to spend more time with the husband, read a book, watch a movie, hang out with friends... When I'm at work, I'm AT WORK. When I can get a day off? I take a day off.

And while most of my closest friends are horse people, I make sure I have some great friends who aren't. Gives me a chance to attempt to be "normal". :) At the same time, I really enjoy HF b/c it gives me a chance to talk with people who also love horses, but aren't right in my circle. There's some thing very fresh in that!

Also, don't feel bad or that you don't reeeally love horses just because you don't want to spend every minute in the saddle!
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