Friday 19 January 2018


In the last few months I've been thinking about barns and trainers, and how neither of them are ever perfect so we go with lesser evils or those which meet our needs best at a certain point in time.

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to discuss what imperfections we are willing to live with when it comes to our trainers and barns. Do you put up with some flakiness for an instructor with a great eye? Do you forgo bathing your horse for a place with great hay? Are proximity and cost near the top of your list or will you spend more time and money to get the best? On the other hand, what's non-negotiable for you? Let me know if anyone wants to do a bloghop on this and I can set up a linky thing.

Here's mine:


- Good hay
- Safe fences
- Indoor arena (for winter)
- Decent arena availability
- Safe place to ride outside
- People I trust to notice if something is wrong with my horse (colic etc) and let me know
- Big pens, paddocks or pastures - room for my horse to move
- Other horses
- A place I feel welcome to come (this is a bit ambiguous, but I've seen situations before where it's someone's more private place and it feels like going to someone's house uninvited)
- Parking for my truck and trailer (extra fee okay)
- Place for my stuff (this can be a locker, shared tack room, or even just access to my trailer, but I'm not going to have my saddle etc. live in my car)

Imperfections I do/will deal with
- No indoor stabling
- No heating
- No plumbing
- No trainer
- Annoying lights
- Annoying boarders
- Being the only one in my discipline
- No wash rack
- Having to arrange vet/farrier etc. myself
- No blanket service
- No extra feeding

Indoor arena is a must

Trails to ride and fellow boarders to ride with are certainly nice, but negotiable


- Fair to horse
- Teaches me something new that I can see benefit of at clinic/lesson and that I can work on at home (this includes explaining stuff to me well enough that I can work on it by myself)
- Does not intensify my own bad habits (e.g. I know I can be a timid rider who can have a tendency to overuse the reins. I rode with one instructor who got more scared than I did when my horse misbehaved, and another who wanted me to ride more with my hands, I stopped riding with both)
- Doesn't seek to belittle or embarrass riders (no GM for me)

Imperfections I do/will deal with
- lives in another city
- requires hauling out
- can get lessons with only a couple times a year
- different discipline
- no formal training
- cannot figure out or remember my name
- difficulties scheduling
- always late
- "eccentric"

My non-negotiables for a trainer is a very short list. I will ride with a lot of different kinds of trainers, however value plays a role as well: I will pay and travel a lot more to lesson with a Grand Prix dressage trainer than I will to a local reiner who is just helping me with leads. I've benefited from both though and believe you can learn things from a wide variety of trainers.

Not required, but huge extra points if trainer will come to me!

I think location and availability of options in your area is an important component of what imperfections you are willing to put up with as well. Out of necessity I have to be more flexible about training in my area because there are so few choices, but there are enough boarding locations around here for me to be firm about things like an indoor arena that might be luxuries elsewhere. What's your take?


  1. My old barn I drove very far for great instruction at a shitty stable. Though the stable had many rings, lots of space and hills, imperfect footing but was a good price. Now I spend more money to be at a lovely barn with good hay, footing, bedding and as close to my house as I'll get. The instruction is fine mainly I'm glad I'm not forced to be in mandatory training/grooming etc.

  2. There are not a lot of boarding options around me. I used to find them frustrating in one way or another. My non-negotiable are:
    - diet- I want my horse fed well. i have no issues paying for my own 'extras' but I expect MY horse to get them. Not other horses.
    Turn-out- Irish needs a ton of turnout. Carmen is more flexible on it. I need it to be safe.
    Access to riding ring: I am okay with not riding if there are lessons but I need to know when it is so I can work around it. I can't stand showing up and being told that I can't ride. My other pet peeve is if the barn owner doesn't keep up the footing or stores equipment in the arena.

    Negiotiables are pretty much everything else.

  3. Our non-negotiables are really similar, although I'm much pickier about trainers