Editor's note: This month, Stable Management is tackling the issue of hiring outside instructors who come to your facility to teach riding lessons. There can be pros and cons to this decision, and we'll give you tips to help you decide what might be right for your equine business.
Working with outside horse riding instructors is very different than hiring and managing employees. There might come a time when you decide it’s best to terminate a relationship with an outside professional. It might be because the focus of your barn is changing, or it could be that the individual is not a good fit for your stable’s atmosphere.
“I’ve been lucky that I’ve never had to fire anyone or ask anyone to leave,” said Kaitlin Curington, executive assistant to the president at Fasttrack Staffing, Inc., who is also a head trainer and stable manager at a Wellington, Florida, barn. “But there are people I won’t invite back.”
When the time comes to part ways, it can be difficult to have the conversation. All professionals deserve respect and a candid discussion. However, independent contractors don’t have the same job protections as staff. Employees have distinct protections and specific processes that need to be followed. Stables don’t have the same obligations with independent trainers or instructors.
One way to avoid a confrontation is to begin the relationship with an independent instructor on a trial basis. Depending on how frequently the individual plans to use your facility, choose a timeframe that allows for an adequate adjustment period, perhaps 30 days. Assess at the end of the trial whether the agreement has been mutually beneficial.
Another alternative is to ask the outside instructor to sign an agreement that includes an exit clause for the stable. In it include how much time the individual has the at the facility once you’ve decided to end the relationship. One week, two weeks or a month might be sufficient. In situations that put a person or horse in danger, the instructor might not deserve or get any additional time at your facility.
Remember that ending a relationship is as much about preserving your reputation as it about the outsider. Keep it as congenial as possible. If you worry about legal repercussions, talk to your attorney and come up with a plan of action.