Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Moving On...

I've been riding with the same eventing coach for the past 5 years. I've also been boarding at her house during the summer months and buying the majority of my equipment from her tack store. I joke that I might as well just sign my pay cheques over to her.

There has been ups and downs but lately it's been mostly a series of downs. I don't feel comfortable airing all the issues but it all comes back to the level of service. Scheduling has been a bit of a nightmare, communication is basically non-existent and I've been left out of a few activities that I would usually have participated in.
Cute pony pictures to break up all the text

She makes me feel like she is constantly doing me a favour, when in fact, I am paying for a service. I expect to be treated with consideration and respect. While we are friendly, I wouldn't call us friends. I'm not saying you can't be friends with your coach, but to me the coach part of the relationship is more important than the friends part.

So I've decided to move on.

I've been riding with a dressage instructor for the past few years and will continue. to ride with her, on both horses when I can get in (she only comes to our barn on Fridays and her schedule is always packed so I'm the first on the cancellation list with Ritchie).

I've also started hauling out for jump lessons on Dee. I've only had 2 lessons so far but I'm really enjoying them. My new instructor is strictly a jumper and is quite direct. She does not sugar coat anything but all of her students ride really well and are competitive. I'm excited to see how she will improve both of us.

This leaves me in capable hands for everything with Dee, except XC. Which is a little daunting when attempting to move up to Training this season. For now I'm going to just focus on clinics and try and haul down south to ride with Sandra Donnelly and my back up coach who is also down south. I may continue to catch the odd XC schooling with my old coach if the schedule works out and I am in the mood. But I will definitely not be making any extra effort to make it work out.

I'm also undecided what to do about jumping Ritchie. One of the new girls at the barn is bringing in her own jumping instructor so I may give a few lessons with her a whirl. For now, I'm content to just pop around the small stuff and build his confidence.

Dee's new (only) trick. 
In an effort to not burn any bridges and make it uncomfortable at the barn I have not spoken directly to my old coach. I've broached the conversation a few times and she just brushes me off or changes the subject. I don't normally avoid conflict but this is a fight I'm not going to pick. I'm going to just let it go away quietly and will address it if she ever brings it up.

I'm not sure it's the right course of action but for now it's how I'm moving forward. Have you ever had to break up with a coach? How did you do it?


  1. That stinks. I have been very lucky with my coaches (4 total). The only one I wanted to break up with I didn't really have to since I was moving out of state and only rode with her for a few months.

  2. My last instructor was pretty volatile, so when I decided I was no longer taking lessons with her, I just stopped scheduling lessons. And, since she was the only instructor at the barn (and the BO), I started looking elsewhere to board my horse. In the end we parted on semi-good(?) terms, as in no screaming or yelling, but some snide insults...not from me. No biggie, really, as I'm just happy to have moved on.

  3. It's so tricky. The horse world is so small so burning bridges can definitely create future drama. I think your approach is a good one, letting it go but not making a big point of "breaking up". I haven't ever really had to break up with a coach...I usually just don't book another lesson and leave it there.

  4. oh man, i'm so sorry - that is so hard. i agree with your position completely. at the end of the day, there is a service agreement between coach and client. and while the phrase 'the customer is always right' is vastly overused and abused, there's a nugget of truth in there. if you feel like something isn't working, well... it's probably not working.

    the actual 'break up' conversation is hard for me to broach too... probably i'd follow the same path you have chosen just bc i don't really like picking that fight either. she'll either get the picture, or she won't. it's probably fine either way, esp as you want to leave the door open for the occasional schooling. good luck!

  5. In my experience, breaking up with a trainer is so much harder when the trainer is connected to your boarding situation. I like boarding at a barn where there are no lessons, because I have total freedom to haul for lessons wherever without offending anyone.

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  7. My 'break up' conversation depends on the trainer. You're doing pretty much what I'd do - not burning any bridges, and quietly (but not secretly) taking (at least some of) your business elsewhere. I've been known to skirt the issue a little too: ie: "I'm moving to x barn because I'd like access to their indoor", rather than picking a fight about current barn owners inability to maintain their arena ;)

  8. I just stop taking lessons and let it slide away