It isn’t always easy to find a barn that fits all of your needs. Oftentimes, we have to pick and choose on what’s most important, and what we’re willing to forgo.
But the barn is our happy place. It’s where we get to spend time with our horse. It shouldn’t be a place of constant stress or crappy feelings. If you identify with one or more of the seven examples below, maybe it’s time to start looking for a new barn.
When your fellow boarders and riders no longer feel like friends.
Horse enthusiasts come in all shapes and forms, and with a variety of personalities. Unfortunately we all don’t always mesh. The love of the sport and our animals should unite us, and it usually does. But unfortunately this isn’t always the case. If your fellow barnmates are making your experience at the farm unfriendly, then maybe it’s time to look for a place with people who are either more welcoming or more like you.
If riding starts to become a chore.
Remember, we do this for fun. Riding is challenging, and that’s part of the joy – when you overcome obstacles and unlock new skills in your training progression. But if you’re constantly frustrated and not progressing, maybe it’s time to take a step back and think about how you got to where you are. If you are dreading going to the barn or finding excuses not to be there, then there’s a problem.
If your horse is chronically injured.
Horses are majestic and beautiful creatures, but they’re also really talented at finding creative ways to hurt themselves. Accidents happen fairly frequently. If your horse is injured more often than he’s sound over a long period of time, you may want to reconsider his living arrangements. It just might not be the best fit for his accident-prone needs.
If you feel self-conscious every time you’re in the saddle.
Getting up in the saddle should make you happy! That’s what this sport is all about, right? So if every time you’re riding in a lesson or sharing the arena with other people and are too distracted by your own self-conscious feelings, there’s an issue. Find a place where you feel comfortable in your own skin and saddle without fretting about what others are thinking about you.
If you’re driving yourself into debt.
Some boarding barns are more expensive than others. We all pay a pretty penny to afford our horses in general. But some of us pay extra for the time and wisdom of coveted trainers or the convenience of amenities. If you are struggling to make ends meet month-to-month, that’s not sustainable. Financial stress is a real and heavy burden. Don’t dig yourself into a hole you can’t climb out of. There are plenty of friendly, safe and reputable barns that meet the ranging financial needs of all of us, even if they don’t come with the FEI international instructor or gorgeous covered arena.
If you are never on the same page as your trainer.
It’s important to work with an instructor who will push you to meet your goals, if that’s what you want out of your riding career. It’s also OK to just want to pay someone knowledgeable to make gentle “tweaks” to your position if that’s all you’re looking for. But if you’re paying a professional who is not helping you meet said goals or makes you uncomfortable by asking too much or too little from you and your horse, then it might be time to test the waters for a new instructor.
If you feel like you, or your horse, are ever unsafe.
This should go without saying, but if you worry about your own safety or the safety of your horse at said farm, then it’s time to leave.