From Endurance to Dressage
I am not much of a bridge burner, but there are days when I really want to just flip someone the bird and burn that bridge to the ground.
It is really annoying to be a responsible adult.
It is even more frustrating to be an over-achiever with a perfectionist streak. Type A personalities don't typically burn bridges as it is a messy process that ultimately creates more work for the person that needs everything Just So.
So, while I would love to torch that mother forklift, I'm going to let it stand. It's probably going to slowly rot away, unused, but at least it won't ruin everything else residing next to it.
I think a lot of bridges are burned in the riding/showing/training world. How else do you tell your trainer that you want to work with someone else? How do you tell your barn owner that you're moving across the street? What about your farrier? Picking a new farrier clearly tells the old one, "you're subpar."
Choosing different professionals to either work with the rider or the horse, generally tells that professional you're fired. I've been down that path a few times, and in my case, it wasn't that I meant to burn the bridge, but I needed something that the trainer or farrier couldn't give me. I was respectful and forthright, but no matter how you slice it, getting fired is getting fired no matter how you sugar coat it.
What makes burning bridges where I live even more precarious is that we don't have very many bridges. We're a large city with a very small town atmosphere. If you start burning bridges here, you had better be prepared to go the long way around.
The dressage community is particularly small here. There's me and about 5 other ladies. There is one "big name" trainer, but she's not easy to get a lesson with as her schedule is pretty packed with her full-time horses. Early on I decided that I needed to go out of town for lessons which is why I ended up riding with Chemaine Hurtado and Dr. Christian Schacht. Like I said, not many bridges ...
I constantly wish I lived in a dressage-dense community with lots of choices in trainers, riding venues, and other dressage riders. It's not like I would be running around torching every bridge that didn't meet my expectations, but it would sure be nice to at least occasionally be able to flip the bird and ride away on my high horse.
How about you? Have you burned any bridges lately?
I think you might be on to something about the differences between smaller and more dense communities. The community here still feels small (the horse world always does, I think) but we have many many MANY options. So doing things like moving barns or changing trainers can actually be done fairly gracefully and tactfully with minimal effort (think: friendly little white lies). Farriers always seem. Little trickier, but again relationships can be ended without a ton of drama. (Unless drama is what ya want lol - in which case, torch away!!)
9/28/2015 12:58:17 pm
I like to avoid the drama, but it is hard when everyone knows everyone else. :0)
9/26/2015 07:32:48 am
As much as a good ol' fashioned bridge burning is attractive from time to time, it's 99.9% of the time better to abstain. I've changed farriers a few times and even stayed friends with two of them (don't miss the one I pissed off). I've changed trainers a little bit, but since I'm not a big name client, I don't think anyone really misses me that much.
9/28/2015 01:00:16 pm
I agree - better to be the bigger person, but every once in a while I sure would like to just snap and bite someone's head off. :0)
9/26/2015 08:27:39 am
I fired my first equine dentist. He was unprofessional, unlicensed, and gave my horse sedatives without a vet present (or my permission). I never actually chose him. He was the barn dentist and still is. I really don't get it.
9/28/2015 01:02:44 pm
My vet is also my equine dentist. I don't think I'd feel too comfortable with a lay person doing dentistry on my horse either.
I rode with the same trainer for a while. She's a good rider, but I don't exactly agree with her on some things. She tried to push me into getting a horse when didn't feel ready, and showing took way too much emphasis(want to show and not against it by the way ). January I got an offer to become a working student for a trainer I wanted to take a lesson with anyways(I accepted), and I simply told my trainer that I wanted to try it out to see of I liked it. I didn't want to burn any bridges because it's always great to know many equestrian professionals. I'm not sure if it was a great way or not, because we haven't seen each other since, but we are still in contact on Facebook, so that's good.
9/28/2015 01:05:38 pm
I had a similar situation in that the trainer I was using went back to work full time and couldn't work with me twice a week as I wanted. I let her know and switched trainers. She immediately unfriended me on Facebook AND in real life. I tried to remain friendly, but then I realized it must not have been a genuine friendship.
As a general rule, I am very much like you -- I don't like to burn bridges. And while I've definitely moved from one pro to another for various reasons, I always try to be diplomatic, calm and reasonable.
9/28/2015 01:07:11 pm
I am not sure I've burned any bridges intentionally, but it's probably happened. I am more of the let things go of their own accord type. There's a lot less drama that way.
9/27/2015 09:07:25 am
Sometimes it IS really hard to be the adult. Our community isn't as small as yours, but still, burning bridges is never a good idea. I've accidentally burned a few, despite my best efforts not to. The two I don't regret are a vet who cussed me out over the phone (wow, how professional!) and a barn that fed hay that was half deadly nightshade. I basically told them where they could shove my deposit because no amount of money was worth my horses' lives.
9/28/2015 01:08:47 pm
Now that you say that, I do remember burning a bridge, but it was totally worth it, just like your situations. I guess you know it's the right thing to do when you feel zero regret or remorse.
9/27/2015 05:52:40 pm
Normally, I like amicable partings showing mutual respect, but some people just need to be booted.
9/28/2015 01:09:53 pm
Love it, Mia!!!! I sometimes wish I was as ballsy as you are! :0)
I'm in a super dense dressage-y place and it's definitely to be expected that clients hop around a little in terms of trainers at least. There are some clients who are just hoppers and it's not insulting to have them leave. What really becomes devastating is when a whole bunch of long time clients leave or when another trainer poaches clients. Luckily I've always been able to come up with a good excuse as to why I left even if it wasn't completely true (usually I'd claim location or money).
9/28/2015 01:11:45 pm
Good thinking on your part. Even though you have a lot of choices where you are, you still have to compete with those people, and it's stressful enough without having to avoid someone in a warm up ring.
9/28/2015 01:13:05 pm
In that case, it's for self preservation and not for wanting to be right. I fall in the need to be RIGHT category which means I have to watch my mouth CONSTANTLY. :0)
12/15/2015 08:18:26 pm
I found myself in an awkward place this summer. I started taking pony club lessons with a local eventing coach whose methods I loved (which was really surprising to me, since I'd seen her coach other people's lessons at my barn and had thought that her style wasn't for me, but I think it's the dressage lens she has that I ended up really liking). Suddenly, I was being told how to make my horse go better in my pony club lessons, while my lessons with my regular trainer, there was a constant internal monologue in my mind going on about how I just wasn't sure I wanted to do things this way. There was certainly nothing wrong with my old trainer, and I'd been (mostly) happy with her instruction and methods, but little things had been bothering me for the last couple of months. I found she wanted me to use a lot of rein, and once I started more dressage-type lessons, my seat was suddenly a problem, and I worried less and less about ruining my horse's mouth with too much rein pressure. The new trainer was telling me how to change myself to get what I wanted out of the horse, and the old trainer was saying what the horse ought to be doing. The problem was that the old trainer (and the new trainer) each had lesson nights at my barn. I would have felt terrible just cutting out the old trainer to move on to something else when I was still technically perfectly able to ride with her. I was lucky in the fact that once my classes started this year, I just told my old trainer that I didn't have the time for lessons during the week for the time being, and the expectation of returning has kind of dissipated since then. I definitely lost some metaphorical sleep over how I was "cheating" on my trainer. It had to end though, it got to the point where I was consciously trying to find ways to not do the things my trainer was telling me to do because I just wasn't comfortable with that way of doing things for myself and my horse.
12/16/2015 06:28:44 pm
EXACTLY! I slowly quit riding with my last trainer because of that same thing. I kept hearing Chemaine in my head, and I didn't feel as though what my current trainer was saying was what I needed. I was also able to back out of the relationship though without causing any harm.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
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