I talked a lot about how to find a safe and reputable place to learn to ride. We talked about what questions to ask and what to look for in a good beginner farm.
Even in a perfect world, we can do everything right and sometimes we still end up in the wrong place. Maybe our gut instinct proved to be wrong. Maybe the staff members weren’t as nice or professional during your lesson as they were when you met them.
It happens, the first step was to get out there and try to find the right place. Now that you know this facility isn’t right for you, what should you do now? That is the purpose of this article.
Bad Trainers Are People Too
First off, out of professional courtesy, you need to let your instructor know. Don’t take the easy way out and bail on your scheduled lesson. If you don’t feel comfortable completing your remaining lessons, let the facility know you won’t be there. Don’t expect to get your money back for those lessons.
If asked why you weren’t satisfied or comfortable, feel free to tell them in a kind and non-confrontational manner. They should appreciate any feedback they get that can help them do a better job with future clients. It could simply be a personality thing, you just didn’t click with the instructor, that is totally fine too. The main thing is to give notice that you are not coming back and if given the opportunity to do so, politely let them know why.
One Size Doesn’t Always Fit All
Everyone is different and a place that your friend thought was awesome might not be such a great fit for you. It is not a big deal, there are always other places to try.
First, before you will be able to determine how to find a place that is a better fit, you need to really evaluate what it was about the place that you didn’t like or didn’t feel comfortable with? Was it that the groups were too big? Was it that there was no emphasis on horsemanship and you didn’t get to groom or tack? Did you feel like you were being pushed past your comfort level in your private lessons?
Identify what it is that disappointed you about the first place. Now as you start to look around for a second time, you will be in an even better place to make an educated decision. Hopefully, you won’t be as nervous since you have had at least some time in the barn. The big difference is that now you know you have a non-negotiable that you are going to need to fulfill to be happy at your new riding facility.
Back on the Hunt
As you are talking to or checking out new places, that non-negotiable should be at the forefront of your mind. Now when you talk to an instructor or a farm representative, you can specifically say that you are looking to continue on your horsemanship journey. Then you express exactly what you didn’t get out of your first facility (without naming names or pointing fingers, we aren’t trying to gossip, we are talking business).
Once you have explained what you are looking for, ask them if they think they can accommodate your needs and what plan they would have for you moving forward as a beginner rider starting over at a new facility.
It may take a lot of conversations and visits before you find the right place, but the second time around you will be more relaxed and know exactly what you are looking for. Keep looking until you find a place that has all the right answers and can give you a specific direction they would go with you if you started riding with them. Sometimes, it is just taking the time to find a person that you click with. Once you do, it will make all the difference.
If you are not 100% sold on the facility you are riding at, here are some red flags. If you notice any of these, I would suggest moving on to somewhere more professional.
- Frequent cancellations
-Frequent changes of instructors without explanation
-Lack of continuity from lesson to lesson
- Instructor unable or unwilling to answer questions
- You do not feel comfortable to tell your instructor if you are nervous or unsure
- The group lessons are too big (personally, with just one instructor I think it should stay 4-5)
- You are given instructions, but you are not given the “why” part, the explanation of what to do, and why we do it that way…knowing why we do things the way we do is essential to all around horsemanship
You need to feel comfortable with the people and the place where you are riding. If for some reason, even if you can’t put a finger on it, you’re just not feeling like the place is the right vibe for you, there is no shame in moving on.
The more horses and horse facilities you experience the more you will learn. Don’t be discouraged! Just think of it as an extra step on your horsemanship journey!