Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How I Accidentally Ended Up at a Show Barn

Two years ago, my equestrian journey found me at a show barn.

The story of how I ended up there started innocently enough. I was still riding at my old trainer's barn, the trainer who had last been at the height of her game in the 70's and 80's. We had no indoor, so over the winter, I secretly took a mid-week lesson at a nearby barn to keep up my riding fitness. At the time, I didn't know it was a "show barn". It was just a barn that was local to me that had an indoor and a good lesson program. 

While I was there, however, I noticed a remarkable thing. I was not regularly falling off, nor was I at any point in fear for my life. Sure, the school horses were not big, fancy or athletic, but they allowed me to work on myself.

In the spring, I discontinued my mid-week lessons at the show barn and went back to old trainer's barn. I was full leasing her baby, a 4 year old that I had backed and started (with her supervision) the previous year.

First time on.

That spring continued with all the foibles of riding and showing a green horse. In particular, a green horse that had been gelded late and had a bit of an attitude problem. A big, sulky, pushy gelding that was not afraid to take a pot shot at you on the ground, with either teeth or hooves.

It was around this time that I started to feel that riding this horse was not fun. I was starting to realize that he needed a stronger rider than I, one that could push him through the sticky spots and also give him the confidence he needed.

Not Confident

It all came to a head at a local horse show in June. It was one of those shows where I felt like THAT GIRL. You know her. The one on the crazy horse that everyone tries to stay away from, the one everyone whispers about and points at. I got yelled at in the warm-up by a stuck up, snotty, sunhat-wearing trainer. My horse was a screaming, sweating mess. I felt out of control and embarrassed, and I was paying $200 a day for this "privilege".

Also Not Confident

Show barn was also in attendence that day. I looked over at the girls in their matching barn jackets, sipping their diet cokes while their quiet horses dozed in the sun on the ends of their loosely held reins.

I wanted to be one of them. I wanted a barn jacket with my name on it. I wanted to laugh and joke and drink a cold diet coke between classes. I wanted not to fear for my life or the lives of small children and innocent bystanders. I wanted my show goals to be more than just "Please God, let me not fall off or be injured today."

I went home that day and made a decision. I was leaving old trainer's barn and joining the new barn.

I went the very next day and tracked down show barn trainer at another local show. 
I found her and I told her I wanted in. I wanted to be on her team.


  1. You know, I've felt VERY SIMILARLY before and that's why I am where I am now :)

    1. Do tell! I would really love to hear your experience with this.

  2. I'm always amazed at how some places do not take care of their riders. It really is short sighted. Glad that you were smart enough to figure it out.

    1. Thanks. It was very, very hard to leave. My old trainer was someone I really looked up to and respected. But I don't think she understood what was best for me.

  3. imho confidence is everything. ride with the trainers who inspire confidence and on the horses who make you happy!! who cares what 'category' the barn fits into :)

  4. Glad you made the switch. :-) Sounds like a good idea at the time.

  5. If you want to be in a program, you have to drink the juju. It's sounds crazy and prejudiced, but it's true! I LOVE being in a program and part of the reason that I love it is because I believe in the same principles as my trainer.

  6. Riding that horse definitely sounds like an unpleasant situation.