Tips For Switching Barns

Photo provided by Emma Knight


Written By: Sarah Lewandowski

We all know the time will come when we need to switch barns, but there are a few important questions to answer. When is the time right, what do we look for in a barn, and how do we tell our trainer and barn owner that we are leaving the barn?
Thinking about making that choice of moving barns from my experience, I’ve made a list of tips:

  • Don’t change barns because of one bad accident. Try it again, get comfortable!
  • Do change barns if there is poor or careless management
  • Do change barns if you feel that the trainer isn’t caring about you enough, or if they are no longer challenging you.
  • Do switch if there is a lot of barn drama, and you hate going to the barn.
  • Do switch if you feel like your horse isn’t getting the care that they need: This is your money after all!

If you do feel that you want to leave the barn, you need to grab a laptop and look up a few places and then call or email them to make an appointment with the trainer to talk to them in person. We live in a world where technology is so advanced now that you can go online, find the barn, see reviews of what others think of it, and see pictures or even videos of how the barn looks like.

When you go out to talk to the trainer, look at how the barn is – how far away is it from your house, is it clean, are the horses kept for, or are there any fences falling over? These are very important factors when looking at the barn.
When you talk to the trainer ask them how their lesson plan is, how many times a week their riders ride, what shows they go to (if you’re interested in showing), what type of footing they use, if the trainer shown in any competitions, is the trainer good with kids, and very important, talk to the people at the barn. Ask them if they like the barn, if the trainer is good – listen to their opinions of the barn.

If you have a horse, ask about the care: how many times a day do the stalls get cleaned, how often do they give hay to the horses, when do they feed the horses, and what is their turn out like?

When you go see the new barns, make a rating sheet. On a scale of one to ten, put down the barn, the trainer, location, horses, lesson costs, etc.

Ask if the trainer to do a trial lesson. See how the trainer is during the lesson: what kind of pointers do they give you, what does this instructor do differently than your current one, do they like teaching, and can you see if they have a passion for riding?

Take your time in making the choice; you don’t need to rush to make your decision. Make sure that you are happy and that all your needs are check off on your list.

So, you found the barn that you love, and you want to make the switch. How do you tell your trainer that you want to leave them?

  • Make sure you’re one hundred percent sure that you want to leave the barn for a good reason.
  • Write down why you’re going to leave. Try to gather all your thoughts and get a clear reason why you want to leave.
  • When you do sit down to talk to the owner/trainer make sure you’re very professional about it. Thank them for their time and their service and tell them why you are leaving.
  • Don’t feel guilty about leaving your barn. We live in a time where people are going to be changing barns, and it’s normal. Horseback riding is very expensive and you shouldn’t be throwing around your money at a place you don’t want to be at.
  • Don’t give a last-minute notice. Many contracts require a 30-day notice. If you do own a horse make sure you look at your contract and read it to see how much of a notice you need to give. Barn owners may not like it if you’re moving less than 30 days without notice.
  • Don’t burn any bridges. You might see this person again,
    so make sure you’re professional, nice, and reasonable.
  • When you do leave the barn, don’t talk about them behind their back. Chances are they will find out what you are saying, as the horse community is a small one, and everyone knows everyone!

Changing barns can be a new and exciting experience. While it can be a stressful time, these tips will help to make it as smooth of a transition as possible, allowing you to focus on starting a better experience at the new barn!