Weighing My New Options

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” 
- James Stockdale

New barn and a whole new set of options and problems. Since my blog has helped me in the past mentally work through my options in regards to horse shows, barn moves, trainers, and my life in general - I figure I would go ahead and abuse my poor blog again as I start considering what I will do lesson/training wise for now/the future.  I intentionally decided to take a step back for the month of April to not only let Dante settle but also to get a feel of the property dynamics (and do some sleuthing). When I moved in I didn't appoint myself a Trainer to work with to give myself more flexibility and freedom.

At our current barn there are 4 Trainers:

  • HJ Trainer M (a female M vs the male M I worked with last year) -  She is older, doesn't go to rated horse shows anymore and hasn't in over 20 years. She seemed nice when I talked to her and claims she is very good at getting the best jump from every horse. I have not witness her teaching any lessons because she works mostly in the mornings. She has an assistant trainer K who does all the riding from what I can tell. I watched her teach two lessons, I was very lukewarm about both, the assistant has also never shown at a rated horse show. They have a lot of clients.
  • Trainer K - She seems to do English and Western lessons. She is also in charge of the currently defunct up-down lesson program (which is ginormous). The only rated horse shows she's been to in the last 20 years were breed shows. I've seen her referred to by several people as an "English" trainer, air quotes and all.
  • Dressage Trainer P - Has decent scores though I can't easily look up her record because Centerline Scores is GONE! Also teaches Working Equitation and has all the fun stuff. Obviously I am a HJ rider but it might be fun to try and despook Dante on some WE toys.
  • Eventing Trainer N - I've interacted with her the most. She is a bit nutty. Everyone refers to her as crazy. I saw her teach 1 lesson where the rider never got the horse on the bit and never did anything above the walk. Has also not been to a rated horse show in 15+ years. Small program.

Now there are two barns literally next door and across the street that also have Hunter Jumper programs. From what I could garner from talking to others they do allow people to ride over and take lessons - I do not know what their protocol is for our current Coronavirus circumstances (aka if they are still allowing this or even teaching right now) so I may just have to file away lessons with these people for later.

Next Door:
  • Trainer A - I took a lesson with her when I first moved down here and was seriously under-impressed. She didn't teach me how I felt I should be taught, tried to sell me a horse before I even started riding and I came away feeling really meh about her. She did go to thermal this year, she rode so-so, her students have done pretty well showing in the past, focused mostly on Jumpers. Small program.
  • Trainer DY - I really enjoyed riding with her when I first moved here and honestly would consider moving into her program if I could afford it. I tried reaching out via her web form but didn't hear back. With the chaos of everything going on I will try actually giving her a call. Last rated horse show she attended was last summer, she has Hunters (including a derby horse) and Jumpers. Small program.
  • Trainer H - This Trainer has never returned any of my calls but Friend M rode with her the first year she was here. Focused mostly on Juniors/Equitation, has a HUGE program. Friend M said her teaching was lackluster and the assistant trainer did the best job teaching, but that she didn't care for the program overall. Friend M and I come from a very similar training background (my best riding friend growing up under Irene is M's trainer). So I trust her judgement.

Across the Street:
  • Trainer P - Huge program with both amateurs and juniors - got 3 personal references from people who ride on the show circuit. Prices are very reasonable for lessons (the property itself was out of the question for me). Riders seem pretty polished at horse shows.

While I don't want to be a Judgey McJudgerson one of my goals of moving to San Diego was to get better at horse showing. Of course when looking at student and trainer show records you have to know that what influences results is a combination of rider/horse and education. (aka some students are just better students than others, horses are more schooled that others, and teaching styles vary wildly!) With horse shows up in the air though its not something I need to focus on right now. So my plan for now is to:
  • Find out if on property lessons are being taught by Trainer M for owners/leasers (all up-down lesson programs are closed for sure). 
    • If yes - take a couple to feel Trainer M out, see if she will help me improve Dante's jump.
    • If no - keep riding on my own
  • Find out if I can ride over next door or across the street. 
    • If yes - take a lesson with DY and Trainer P and feel those trainers out.
    • If no - keep riding on my own
  • If possible take some Dressage/WE lessons with Trainer P to torture my poor young horse.
In the long term though - I don't think Trainer M and her assistant will be able to help me with my rated horse show dreams but hopefully I'll be able to find another way.

Weighing My New Options