Trainer I Want To Be
This is to all the trainers on the forum.
I started teaching lessons here and there at the barn I rode at as a teenager. In college, I taught people in their backyards. After college, I got a job at a glorified backyard barn. 30 stalls and I taught 25 lessons a week. After 2 years, I moved to a new and bigger barn with my boss. 95 stalls and I teach 75 lessons a week. I am a full time staff instructor and work 6 days a week.
I was never able to afford a horse as a kid so I went through a lot of trainers. Most of them kicked me out when they realized I couldn't show or buy. I was taken in by the barn owner and that is how I learned to teach and train horses. I adore that owner for that and my current boss is a similar sort.
I refuse to force kids into buying, leasing or showing unless they want to and many of my students appreciate that. I recently had 2 of my students move to a barn closer to their home. I do not blame them for that, but within 2 months, one bought a horse and the other is leasing and talking about showing. I was looking for a horse for the first, but I refused to get something that wasn't right for her.
Am I weird for sticking to my guns on my ideals?? My boss supports my decision not to push for a random horse (She even hugged me and said she wants all her trainers to be like me), but I'm scared I will forever be a staff trainer. Don't get the wrong idea, I love my job and I make pretty good money.
But... is it possible to move up in this business without giving in to the idea of pushing people into spending more money?
Please answer honestly. I like to think I will not change no matter what, I'd just like to know how far I could potentially get in this business. Thanks in advance.
There are a lot of levels of trainer / owner relationships as well as levels of showing. If you have high aspirations, you need wealthy owners willing to buy good horses. If you can train riders and horses at a highly competitive level, this is where most ambitious trainers head. Others are rather complacent and happy with students riding at a medium level. They are happy if students make steady improvement and do not push riders beyond their comfort level and do not push them to buy better horses than they can really afford.
Many trainers that aspire to show at a very high level, only want very advanced students or want to show high level open horses. They can be very obnoxious and pushy and not even want to 'waste' their time on medium level riders working within a modest budget.
You have to decide how high you want to go with your show career and with your students. There is a lot more money in showing at the highest levels IF you can be competitive and can find well-heeled owners willing to buy top horses. There is a lot more pressure to WIN at any price and expenses are many time higher.
For many people (myself included), the 'dog eat dog' nastiness of that high level of showing is not worth it. Trainers at that level can get desperate to win, can get really under-handed trying to 'steal' another trainer's clients (and money) and will stop at almost nothing to win or keep clients. They expect large commissions both on horses they sell and horses they buy. These commissions often mean more to them than finding the right horse or finding the best owner for a particular horse. Clients with deep pockets and big commissions are all they are after.
You have to decide at what level you are most happy. You may have to work a little harder on finding suitable horses for impatient clients. You have to decide what students you have that are ready for a better horse but one that is less finished that you can coach through the finishing process. You have to decide which students need or are ready for a 'push button' horse.
You may need to step back and project what kind of students and what kind of horses you want to be working with 5 years down the road. Then you at least have a plan and a direction.
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