Friday, December 6, 2013

Mulling It Over, feel free to weigh in

Bah! Decisions, decisions.

There is never a lack of decisions around horses, what hay, what supplements, what saddle, what color polos look cute today, etc.

But sometimes a decision comes along that occupies my brain for days on end and tends to permeate all aspects of my life, either waking or sleeping.

What to do with Prair has become one of these decisions.  I know that we are switching barns,  that is pretty much set in stone.  What I'm getting less certain on is where we are switching to.

I've described the option of a friend 1/2 leasing the mare at a local show barn, which is definitely not a bad option. 

But until a couple days ago, I hadn't even considered sending Prair down to the other trainer we have worked with fairly consistently.  The obvious (and immediate) downside of that option is that Prair would then be an hour away.  The equally obvious upside is that she would be in a program that I know with a trainer that I know I like.

I can literally talk myself in circles on this one. 

Here's the basics:

Scenario 1:

- "Local" barn (30 min from house, but opposite direction from current barn).
- Known friend to 1/2 lease - very interested in staying on the full show schedule for 2014.
- Small facility - only about 5 acres for 20 horses, so very limited turnout, though everyone gets out every day.
- Respected/intense show barn.  All the horses are pretty, pricey and good at what they do.

Scenario 2:

- Significantly less local barn (1 hour from my hour, no traffic.. up to an hour forty with traffic)
- Known trainer, I enjoy her lessons, I like how her horses go.  She wins a lot.
- Less known possible 1/2 lease option.  I have met the girl, but we aren't close, though I know she's a really good rider and would be taking Prair in the AA's.
- Larger facility.  More traditional pasture turnout plus a Eurocizer to walk the horses before they go "out to play" though there's only one big indoor ring (no outdoor).
- Also a respected/intense show barn.  I think a slightly less rigorous show schedule, but comparable in terms of 1-2 weeks out every month during the season, and certainly plenty of championships/derby wins/etc to boast.

So really, the biggest difference between the two in terms of program is whether I'd prefer a known trainer/unknown rider or an unknown trainer/known rider. 

There is also a cost difference between the two.  The closer barn in Scenario 1 would end up being a couple hundred dollars more each month (assuming a lease) than Scenario 2 (also assuming a lease).  In the grand scheme of things I don't think that's as large of a factor as trainer fit, or convenience but it's big enough to be on the list. 

The more I think about it, the more I am beginning to lean toward Scenario 2, and the trainer I know at a barn that's farther away. 

Realistically, my visits to the barn are going to decrease over the next few months which will reduce the extra drive time.  Financially speaking, Scenario 2 is much more viable for me to continue with when I'm riding full time again (but still caring for a kiddo).  And picking a "more likely" long term option seems smart, rather than ping ponging around every 10-12 months. 

But just when I start to feel firm in my thoughts for Scenario 2, I freak out at the distance and think that it might be worth trying a new program to save the time.

I suppose another unknown is the fact that I've really never been in a structured "program" at a show barn before which is a whole other world of unknowns in itself. 


Decisions, decisions.


  1. I'd choose whichever option that gives you greater peace of mind now + easiest riding situation after you've had your baby. Good luck!

  2. I would go with the known trainer personally.... trainers seem to have that overriding 'thing' where they are going to get the horse going the way they like, and the rider is going to go along with that if they are in their program. Pick the overriding program that you like best!

    1. ALSO, you should definitely email me about Pia. Because, you know, maybe ;)

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  4. I would have to agree with Andrea....go with the trainer that you know. I think it would be more terrifying to send my beloved mare to a barn and trainer I wasn't familiar with, instead of one where I know the trainer and know the kind of program she'd be in. While that's just my humble opinion, I think it would give you greater peace of mind to send Prair to a trainer that you've worked with before, and also a place that Prair is more familiar with. I feel like since you already know and take lessons from one of the trainers, I'm sure this trainer will be very selective in who will be riding Prair and keep a close eye on how that rider rides....if that makes sense. As you mentioned, your barn visits will eventually dwindle as you get further along, and wouldn't it be great for Prair to be one less thing to stay up at night worrying about? I don't know, I would lean towards the trainer you know and trust, but whatever you decide, I'm sure you will make the best decision for you and your lovely mare! :)

    1. Also, idk why I appear twice and my comment 'was removed' haha

  5. I agree with SheMovedToTexas, but perhaps you should simply go out with your friend and visit the closer barn, watch the unknown trainer in action. I'm sure it wouldn't take you long to figure out if you're on board with her methods.

  6. As a horse girl who is now a Mom, the answer to your decision "rides" on this question:

    Do you want to see your horse with some regularity?

    The hour+ drive is way too far to be convenient, even thirty minutes is pushing it. I am talking about after the baby is born. I had a much easier time getting to the barn before she was born, although an hour-long car ride would have been extremely uncomfortable at the end. My horse lives a whopping eight minutes away and it is very difficult to do any thing with him. Unless you have a second caregiver who is willing to go with you and the baby to the barn and you want to see your horse in person and continue to provide some of her care, keep your horse as close as possible. If you want Prairie's competitive career to come first than you might have to satisfy your horse visits with Gus, so keep him close as an alternative, and allow Prarie to continue her journey in the hands of those you trust implicitly, because you will not be available like you are now. Believe me, this is a hard lesson that I have learned and I am still continuing to try to be as involved with my beloved horse as possible.

  7. If it were my horse, I'd pick the situation with the trainer you know and trust. She will be able to determine if the rider is not suitable and as a trusted person, should tell you it's not working.

  8. Tough choices! I think I would rather chose the trainer I know. I have had problems with trainers in the past and no matter how well I know the rider, if their trainer is less than stellar, my horse will come back with "issues."

  9. I agree, that if you want Prair to continue her show career, then prob better to go with the known trainer. He/she will make sure leasee is taking good care of your mare.

    But Val is right, with a baby, an hour can be a looooong time in a car with a baby, or add to the guilt riddled time you spend away from them. My kid tends to try to brake glass with his squeals if in his carseat for too long. Mommy's going gray...

    You may want to just consider the next move temporary, because until you have the kid and get back to riding, its hard to really know how your schedule will work out. For me, even the 30 +/- min drive really adds to the time suck that horses are.

  10. I wholeheartedly agree with Val above. I don't have kids nor any interest in having them, but most of my friends have children now, and I have seen firsthand just how difficult it is for them to fit in any time with their horses, especially when the children are babies/toddlers. The farther the barn, the less attention the horses get.

    Option #2 sounds great for Prairie, yes. But 1 hour one-way without traffic is a really long drive when you are the most sleep deprived you will ever be in your life, and have a baby waiting for your return at home. Just the drive will be two hours spent away from your newborn, and that's not even counting the time you spend in the saddle. If you are planning on not being able to spend much time with Prairie anyway after the baby is born, then I'd say go for that option. If you want to participate more actively in her career as a show horse, I would go for option #1 which is closer to you. I agree with Natalie regarding the first trainer-maybe take the time to go out and get to know her better before making the final decision?

  11. I dont have kids yet, but all my horsey friends seem to be getting preggers and having them! The issue is time time time, not trainers, not money. It's being able to sneak away (or bring baby in tow) to the barn to do anything. I think closer is much better unless you think this trainer is going to seriously mess up your horse. If you think they can keep her going until your back it either where she's currently at training wise and not create issues with her, I'd probably stick with the option closer to the house.

  12. I think closer will be better once the baby is here, it wont be feasible for you to make 1-1.75 hours trip with a baby in tow, ride then do the same coming back. While you may spend a little more staying closer to home it will save you gas money and time. I've learned time is more valuable then money many times (at least for me!). Why dont you trailer in with P2 to the closer trainer for some lessons...see how it goes and make a decision from there...

  13. One more thought you may like further away trainers program but I still feel like you need to be active in your horses care maintenance, career even with one you trust. The distance will make that hard...unless you have a friend you super trust has similar views as you do to horse care etc that could check in on can always try option 1 if it doesnt work go to option 2.

  14. Since you need to move quickly, I would say go with the known trainer. If you had the ability to get to know the new trainer better in a month or so, I think they would be a good option but without that, I say option 2. Then also plan to go down once a month, make an appointment and stick to it! Good luck

  15. I'm going to raise my hand for scenario 1 for a couple of different reasons:

    - I know and like a lot of trainers in my area. But I also know that they're REALLY busy! As a current half leaser to Polly- I'm the one that keeps her in treats, makes sure she enjoys grazing time, decides to take off my spurs if I'm giving her a rub....
    Not to say that the unknown leaser wouldn't be amazing- but a known friend might be more thoughtful about your horse.
    - An hour forty is a haul! When I was riding in the North Bay my trip was 50min (w.o traffic)- and I easily spent a half day driving to, riding, and driving home from the barn. Even though I don't have kids- so I don't know- I do feel like that would limit the ability to get up and ride- or even just visit- with frequency.
    - It sounds like barn 1 has a reputable group of clients and you have a friend that rides there! Is there an opportunity to meet the trainer, watch some lessons, hang out with your friend there for a bit to get a feel of the atmosphere and training style? It might be that Barn 1 is the perfect fit for you in the long term!

    Just my two cents :)


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