In order not to burn bridges in the equestrian community, express gratitude whenever it is necessary. Photo © Kaleena Weakly

Proper Etiquette for Assistant Trainers Switching Barns

Altering a professional relationship can be a very challenging, and often uncomfortable, situation. The process assistant trainers go through when switching barns is not black and white – the grey areas are very prominent.

Handling the transition with grace and professionalism is essential. So, what are the “rules” when switching? How do you handle the grey areas?

Try following these etiquette tips.

1) Communicate

Communication is key. Make sure to have a meaningful conversation with your current employer. Explain your reasoning for the switch and answer their questions. Try to express your feelings in a neutral, responsible manner. Listen to the other person’s point-of-view and attempt to understand their perspective. The way you communicate through your choice of words is crucial. It is very easy to close yourself off with hostile words. The ability to communicate spells the contrast between failures and success. To achieve success, a trainer and assistant trainer must work as a united team.

2) Discuss your goals

Make your goals very clear for everyone involved. The employer you switch to must understand your aspirations. This will help them help you learn and grow as a rider. Describe what you hope to learn and achieve. Understand that the journey to success has its ups and downs. Be willing to adjust your expectations if needed. In the horse industry, it is crucial that assistant trainers know their own goals so they can efficiently progress.

3) Express your gratitude

In order not to burn bridges in the equestrian community, express gratitude whenever it is necessary. You do not want to destroy a strong relationship with your previous employer. Therefore, convey your gratefulness for the opportunities they presented you with. Every horse, client, etc. was a chance for you to grow as an equestrian. Simply, a sincere “thank you” goes a long way.

4) Don’t actively solicit your previous clients

Soliciting clients is rude and disrespectful to your previous employer. If someone wants to train with you at a new location, they will come on their own. Remember, many clients are loyal to their trainer and do not appreciate attempts to “steal” them. Be mindful of this because respect to the trainer and client is key.

5) Give notice

Be sure to give notice of your departure and arrival. Set up a certain date and give at least a few weeks for both people to prepare. Do not tell your previous employer the day or week before you leave the job. This would be disrespectful and quite unprofessional. They may need time to find a replacement assistant trainer. Your new employer will also need time to prepare.

6) Be polite at shows

Even if your transition between trainers is a complex situation, it is crucial to remain polite at shows. Professionalism must be the foundation of the equine industry. Therefore, snide comments and unnecessary gossip are not needed. Say “hello” or “good morning”, do not simply ignore the other person or glare at them. A small conversation or greeting goes a long way.

The key to a smooth switch as an assistant trainer is professionalism. Demonstrate respect for both trainers, communicate effectively and try to comprehend the perspectives of everyone involved. You must do what is best for yourself, but handle the manner in an understanding mindset. After all, you are the bright future of the equine industry.