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In our riding journey, just as in life, we are faced with difficult decisions…

Perhaps it is deciding whether to part with a horse that isn’t a good match
Or it’s moving to a different barn
Maybe it is going to a new instructor or trainer
Or making a big investment in a clinic, a course, or a piece of equipment, such as a new saddle.

How do you know what the best choice is, what is right for you?

This was the topic that came up at a recent clinic here at my farm, as several riders were struggling with knowing what the next step should be for them to better their riding.

We had an excellent discussion at this clinic, and I’d like to share some of the wise advice that was given.

Just hit play below.

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46 Responses

    1. Thanks Mary – Callie sent a follow up email with the correct link 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  1. Hi Callie,
    Thanks for these advice. I’m considering leaving my current barn for next year, because I found one nearby that is really teaching dressage (I’ve dreamed all my riders’s years to learn that discipline) and might be really good. I still have to go there and get the necessary details; the only thing holding me back is leaving the school horses I’ve learned to love dearly…
    I’ll have to weight the pros and cons, and decide what’s best for my riding happiness, as you said. In the meantime I’ll enjoy all the moments I can get with Saki and Vivace (the two ones I ride).

    Thanks as always for being there for us!

    1. Roxanne, it may be really helpful to write down the pros and cons so you can visually see them to help make your decision!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  2. I had to make a decision to leave the barn I had been at for 4 years. It was a horribly scrutinizing decision because I had to make sure it was for my horses’ well being and not my own ego or insecurities getting in the way. Even though it was unnecessarily ugly and painful for a few weeks. Ultimately, it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made so far on this horse journey for myself and my horses.

    1. I’m glad to hear you made this decision and weathered the challenges of change!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  3. I recently moved my horse to a new barn and it was a very hard decision. What helped for me was to listen to my gut. I think that we can’t discount those feelings we get in our stomach that steers us and we should listen to it more often.
    I also went through a recent period of time where I was doubting if I should keep my mare that I have owned for almost 2 years. She is very dominant and I have always worked and ridden with gelding previously. What helped me was to try and not put her in a box and not have unrealistic expectations. I have decided to keep her and try harder to understand why she does what she does and have empathy instead of frustration that she is not something different. I still have my days when she is being marish but have made the commitment to her. I don’t want her to get shuffled to someone else

    1. Genevieve, I have been in the same place you are before! If you feel comfortable continuing to work with her I think it is worth challenging yourself – however you don’t want to push too far past your comfort zone and cause damage to your confidence or get hurt!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  4. I’m coming along as a beginner rider and only want to purchase only one horse. I am wondering how much training I need to master before I should purchase a horse that is more intermediate. For endurance riding, I want to buy a horse who naturally good at ‘pulsing down’ and can recover well at the vet checks (getting A on vet checks would be part of enjoying enduring riding for me) so I’m looking at Arabians and mix breeds who are sometime young and over my riding level. My trainer will know when I’m ready~but is this a 7 year journey or a 3 year journey? My first big decision is not buying beginner horse.

    1. Diane, it is really difficult to say how long it takes – the journey is different for everyone but your instructor, if you trust him or her, can help you decide when you are ready to begin the process.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  5. Thank you, Callie! Listening to our own voice IS essential on our equestrian path. My trainer is a an observant and empathetic person who intuitively picks up on what style of training works best with each of her students. She noticed that even though we use a two way earpiece/ speaker, it was best for ME to hear her instruction before and after I rode the new task. I needed my own head space to absorb what she suggested so I could focus and feel myself and my horse making a correction or trying the something new— and it really works well for me. She’d be quiet and watch me do the task. Afterward, we’d talk about how it looked or felt and then move forward. AND I had to move my horse to a new barn to train with this trainer; again a big decision and lesson in listening to my own voice. I always appreciate your insight!!!

    1. Awesome Jacqueline! Glad to hear you have a great instructor to support you in your learning to ride journey 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  6. Hi
    Love your videos always good solid advice and guidance. I am in one of those situations where I have stuck with my quirky mare for over a year and whilst we have made progress my gut is telling me we are not the right match . Tough decision ahead but also I want the best for her so feel I owe it to her to sort her problems before I move her on…

    1. Jill, you can do this! Although it may be a tough decision initially you’ll be doing the right thing to keep yourself safe and I’m sure you can find a great home for her that is a better fit!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  7. Hi Callie, thank you so much. I stuck with a trainer, I felt very uncomfortable for more than 3 years, because I thought it is good for my horse, but not for me. I split up after she rode my horse 4 weeks and the horse was depressed and had changed in a not good way. Now I have no trainer, have to search for a new one, but it is getting much better with only me and the horse. Thank you for giving me selfconscious to trust my gut feeling.
    Greetings from Switzerland, Yours Vera Widmer

    1. Absolutely trust your gut Vera – I’m sure you’ll find a trainer who is a better fit for you and your horse!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  8. Thanks Callie for confirming my trust in myself with listening to myself regarding having to face the fact that the horse I purchased and invested my faith, time and finances on was not the right one for me nor I for him. Unfortunately I was sold a horse that was not suitable for my skill level even though I had my trainer helping me. It has been an extremely sad time but I know I made the right decision. I’m hoping I can find his right person so I can move on. I lost the little bit of confidence I had but I’m going to remember the good things I experienced. You were one of those so thank you once again for your devotion and commitment to both horse and rider. You’re a gifted authentic trainer

    1. Hi Theresa & Callie-
      What a timely topic for me as I am struggling with the difficult decision to find a new partner for a horse I purchased in May.
      Just like you Theresa, I had the guidance of my trainer in selecting my first horse. I put my trust and confidence in that she would guide me in the right direction. The horse I purchased was billed as just needing a little finishing. Now after saddle fittings, chiropractic care, equestrian dentistry and professional training I’m able to say out loud this is not the right horse for me.
      One of the most difficult parts has been my trainer’s opinion that this is the right horse for me and if I stopped being scared he would relax. (I should tell you I had a jumping accident on my horse in August and fractured my T12). My trainer is a good person and I think part of her reason for wanting this match to work out has to do with her feeling responsible for me buying him.
      It’s really hard to say out loud, “I’m selling my horse.” The first thing folks ask you at the barn is “Are you selling your horse?”
      I think I’m ready to trust myself and say out loud “Yes I am selling my horse!”
      Thank you both for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

      1. Sue, it is a very difficult decision to make. Just saying it out loud like you said is the very first step. I’m sorry to hear about your injury, I wish you a speedy recovery!

        -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    2. Theresa, it is not an easy decision to make but you must trust your gut! I’m sure he will find the right person for him whose skill level is more appropriate!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  9. Hi, first I love your videos and work shops. They are so helpful. I have a confidence problem. I’ve taken lessons for years and finally decided on getting a new trainer. Not sure if she is the right fit for me. So this topic is right up my alley. Thanks for all your help

    1. Glad you enjoyed this video Lynn! I would recommend, if it is a available to you, to take lessons with several different trainers and find which one is right for you!.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  10. Thank you for this insightful advice. You must work with alot of us “boomers” who have recall of flying over fences, riding more energetic or youthful horses and asking for greater accuracy in our horses movements, and our bodies obliging that demand. That is no longer happening and our need to reassess is much more critical to success. I value your approach here

  11. Hi Callie this was a great topic and I wished the video was longer. Just today I had my very first ever farrier appointment with my new foal as I’ve always done my own hoof trims as I was pressured into making this appointment by my current agistment owner as this farrier refused to come out for only a few horses so I booked in my foal for a hoof trim and all the other horses were put into a small holding yard to get their hoofs trimmed but my foal wasn’t as the agistment owner wanted me to hold my foal in a large open paddock with all my other horses running freely and she had the nerve to say to me that your foal is walking all over me and I couldn’t control all my other horses running around this paddock at the same time so this little foal had a very bad first farrier appointment and also learnt how to pull back on the lead rope to avoid the farrier. Thanks Darryl

    1. Yikes Darryl, those are not desirable behaviors! We did a video here on the blog last year with a horse named Zelli, a mare who learned many bad behaviors, and too was difficult to even try to have the farrier trim her! You can click here to watch her video.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  12. My 3 year old Friesian mare died suddenly of a ruptured stomach 2 weeks ago. She was my first horse and I got her as a surprise from my husband for Christmas when she was 1.5 years old. Since receiving her, I showered her with love and care through Sweetitch and other problems…I loved her so. I am a ‘senior’ rider in my mid 50’s and am not at all a great rider, but I was working at getting better and also looking forward to training my Willow to be ridden. I had just ordered a hand-made tree-less saddle (the maker came and measured Willow and had me try several saddles to see which is best). Now, suddenly, I am faced with wondering what and where I should go now. Do I get another horse? Do I get a young horse again or an older one (which might or might not have problems) and if I do get a horse, how to help it become part of the herd that my Willow was in (albeit she was at the bottom of the hierarchy and suffered much from it). I don’t know if I have the heart to go through it all…but I love horses. :o( I feel as though a piece of my heart was ripped out or as if a vital part of me has been removed. I’m lost.

    1. Hi Cat, So sorry that you experienced such a devastating and unexpected loss with Willow. I too am an older rider, 66, who is learning so much from Callie. I am riding old lesson horses late teens to late 20’s. One of my favorite rides was an 11 yr old that taught me a lot in my 50’s. Yes, get another horse! Worry about the saddle later or look for a horse whose confirmation is similar and the maker can adjust it to match. Ask the saddler. It may be cliche but most advice that I have heard is to put an inexperienced or new rider on an experienced, well trained older horse. There is reason why something is a cliche. I guess it depends on what your strongest desire is. Is it to train or is it to ride. If you want to train a horse and feel you have the chops to do it you cqn always improve your riding thru lessons before you ride your youngster. It sounds like you have other horses to ride. In any case allow time to grieve and think about things and the wonderful memories of your experiences with Willow.

    2. Cat, first I’d like to extend my condolences for the loss of your horse. I think right now it is okay to take your time looking at getting another horse, give your heart some time to heal that way when you are ready for another horse you can go into it with clear sight as to what is the best fit for you. My thoughts are with you in your healing process.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  13. Callie I need your help! I have a horse who is too much for me because he is scared and spooky and I am not confident. Even less after a couple of falls and injuries. However I love him and don’t want to see him go to a home where he is not supported and loved. How can I win his trust and him mine?

    1. Hi Charlie, I’m sorry to hear that! Do you know the history of this horse?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  14. I have been a member of the balanced riding and Callie’s and Wendy’s classes for several years now. They are great
    I had an instructor for several years but was stuck. I have a hard time moving on but it worked out that the instructor moved on and another came to the stable. In a year the new instructor has brought me so far! I started your goal setting and my instructor has taken me closer to meeting the goals.
    She also told me the horse I was riding and loved was not good for me. How hard was that! I changed horses and know that is part of the success.
    Hard decisions but there is good on the other side.

    1. Laura, sometimes the most difficult decisions are the ones we need to make to move forward! I am so happy to hear you have grown so much as a rider. Thank you for being a member of our courses – it is a pleasure having you in our community 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  15. Was hoping for a little more information on letting go of a horse that may not be a good match, or determining if it’s a good match.

    1. Hi Cathy, what are you experiencing that makes you think you may not be a good match?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  16. On November 1st I am changing barns, the first and only barn I have been involved in. Many changes have occurred there during the last year, and on the positive side it has helped me bond with my (first ever) horse, on the other hand it has been quite isolated and not functioning smoothly for us. I am very excited with the potential for a larger community of riders and support in our new situation. Difficult to leave the comfort of the known, but I think my whole horse life is about to blossom and thrive in the new environment!!!!

    1. Sharon, I hope this move opens up great new opportunities for you and your horse! Change can be scary at first but it can definitely be a good thing 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  17. Thank you Callie for bringing up this topic. I am a senior rider at 73 and feel that I have been trying to learn to ride since I got my first horse when I was 50. I am a lot more focused on that endeavor now that I finally have kids out of the house (fingers crossed). Being a novice rider, I felt that all instructors knew more than I did. I was working with a program that was focused mostly on safety which felt good to me, as I had come off several times. Well a recent instructor became rather irritated with me and accused me of being afraid and he could tell that I was afraid because my toes were pointed out (his observation). At the time, I had just come across some Wendy Murdoch material and realized that through this other program, I had never been taught where and how to sit the saddle, where my feet should be, nor how I should steer. I have felt so much more confident since switching to an instructor that has worked with Wendy.

    1. Lynette, I hope you have found a program that is a better fit for you! I’m glad you found Wendy and were able to go back to basics and get a nice solid foundation 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  18. Thank you. I have met many people with strong opinions and still do. I have learned to listen to me say thanks for the input and do what I think is best. No one knows me and my horse as well as my horse and I do. People see on point in time. My horse and I have been partners for 13 years through good and bad. I have stopped using local trainers and use this training and friends only. My horse and I are in a much better place because of it. I appreciate the research and the use of “psychology” yoy use in your training. Thanks again.

  19. Hi. Love your YT channel & advice which has brought me here. I’ve been riding for nearly 50 years w some significant breaks. I’ve been trained & taught very differently to the way I am at my current barn & it’s frustrating. Not just in riding but handling, tacking up & the like. For example I rode in ISHA in college which meant I was practicing & showing on different horse I had never ridden. We rarely ride courses at home but concentrated on fundamentals. Lots of ground work using cavaleties, sp?, no stirrups or reins, eyes closed & doing the same over jumps. I learned among other things to really feel the horse & balance as well. We practiced what I’ll call basic Dressage as well. All of this resulted in a good eye to the jumps, feel and touch w the horse & all around skilled riding. I’ve always been taught this way with very few exceptions. At my current barn, which is a big time A, B barn, we had a guest instructor for a clinic that had us do all those exercises as related to jumping. I was told by the trainers at my barn how well I’d done & I believe I shocked them. I’m coming back from a two year break & am so bored. A typical day is going round the ring at w, t & c, then riding the same course over & over. I also get called out on how I handle a horse on the ground. My way is different to theirs but it’s the way I was taught & valid. They used to have practice rides with no jumping & I’d practice ground work the way I used to, not ride around in circles. It made a huge difference in my riding but no longer an option. I also only ride one horse now & there are options for me to ride others, mix it up. I’ve been thinking of talking to my trainer about this or finding another barn. I’d be happy with just working on transitions, Dressage patterns, eyes closed, no stirrups and such but I don’t think that would sit well with her or the staff no matter how respectfully I broached the subject. After all I am an older rider & not one of their precious Juniors. However I was on the verge of showing B shows as an Amateur sp? Adult before I left so there might be some value in that for the reputation of the barn. I think you can tell I’m unhappy in my current situation. Do you think it’s best to talk to them first, while looking for a new barn, or simply leave when I’ve found one & then explain? Maybe two barns at once? I realize you don’t know these people or the barn but any input would be helpful.

    1. Hi Melissa, personally I don’t think that you should only stay at a barn because they are known well at the horse shows, I think it is more important to find a group of people that you enjoy being with and a trainer that you trust! My recommendation would be to try a few lessons at another barn that appeals to you and just work on finding a place that you are more comfortable and when that time comes, make the move!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  20. I am a disabled adult female who lives with my mom in Southern California. I ride at two different Therapeutic Horse Riding Centers. The first one isa non-profit in Chatsworth, CA where instructors and the volunteers come to work sick; my mom and I have a weak immune system. We can’t be around sick people. The Instructors at the Chatsworth one make me get back on if I tripped dismounting; it happened a few years ago. The Chatsworth one, I get to work on Dressage. I couldn’t even get on the horse, there for awhile. The other one is for-profit in Pacific Palisades at a State Park; the instructor and volunteers don’t come to work sick. The Pacific Palisades one, I get to do some Dressage and other things. Which one is the better for me, or should I try a third riding stable?

    1. Hi Catie, have you tried making a list of the pros and cons of each stable? That could be a great way to objectively decide between the two, or to choose whether or not to find a new stable!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

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