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View Full Version : looking for lessons for 6 yr old in Ridgefield, CT area (North Salem, Brewster also)



Mayaty02
May. 1, 2009, 08:10 AM
Hi everyone, I am trying to find somewhere safe, somewhat close to me in Ridgefield and not ridiculously expensive, for my 6 yr old daughter to start lessons. Every place I've contacted offers lessons for $55-65 for her and I just can't see spending that much money for a 6 yr old, who is basically going to be a lead line class. Can anyone suggest somewhere less expensive, but most importantly, SAFE? I am willing to drive up to 30 mins, which woudl mean the area I'm looking at is South and North Salem, Brewster, Ridgefield, Redding, Wilton, maybe Newtown though it's a bit far. any suggestions?

For reference I've already contacted Sunset Hill, Stony Meadows, Starbuck Equestrian and Larkspur Farm - all too $$$

Thanks!

PS I would also love (and prefer) to find a pony that someone will let us use (for a fee of course) and I could get her started myself :).

Hunter/JumperMom
May. 1, 2009, 09:19 AM
everyone i would suggest looks like you already looked into. How about Rabbit Hill/The Ridge in Newtown, right between exits 9/10? Or, and I know it's far, head back up to where Pete was and see what annette has? it's a hike. Kristen is even farther into the monroe side of newtown. Does Starbuck still offer their package lessons, way back when lyn was small, it was I think 8 lessons for 350 and you had 10 weeks to do them? But they were hour lessons and in a group.

Bogie
May. 1, 2009, 09:30 AM
New Canaan Mounted Troop?

When my daughter was small and she wanted to "ride" I found someone with a pony and paid a small sum to giver her lead line lessons myself. It was enough for her and far less expensive.

Mayaty02
May. 1, 2009, 09:40 AM
Thanks guys, I would love to find a pony she can just do leadline on with me....that's what burns me up about spending so much money on "lessons" because i feel that I can do it myself. :)

Kim, I'll have to look into the Newtown places as I think in general it might be less expensive up there. I don't know about going back to where Peter was, but any other places you can recommend I'll check out.

yes Starbuck still does the lesson package and it is less expensive, I'm just not sure it's a good program. I should call them I guess :)

Hunter/JumperMom
May. 1, 2009, 09:55 AM
just sent you an email! I have no clue about her program, and this just came to me, but what about Carla Sharpe and Buttonwood, I think in Easton? Maybe she has something there?

Janet
May. 1, 2009, 10:59 AM
Have you tried the local Pony Club? Pony Clubbers are EXPECTED to learn how to teach those less experienced, and one of them might have an appropriate pony.

When I was in PC (C2 level), I gave lessons to rank beginners (not PC members) on my own horse (I didn't have a pony).

Cindeye
May. 1, 2009, 11:22 AM
Perhaps I'm going to be the downer here, but I believe your expectations may be a bit unrealistic.

$55 to $60 is the going rate for most safe, quality lesson programs regardless of the location. Think about the cost of board, tack, vet, shoeing, insurance, etc., and you'll realize that most lesson programs barely break even. Heck, out of the $60, they may actually "clear" $10/hour...which is nearly minimum wage in most areas.

If I were a pony owner, I would be hard pressed to loan a pony out to someone who wanted to teach her own child on my pony. How would I know that the person knows anything about horses? How would I feel comfortable that the pony wouldn't be ruined for its main purpose by someone who has no clue what they are doing? Also, chances are, my insurance would not allow another "trainer" to teach on my property without being covered by the insurance policy.

Just my two cents.

Mayaty02
May. 1, 2009, 12:04 PM
Point taken Cindeye and I knew someone would point that out. It's not that I don't think $55 is worth it for a lesson, it's more about my daughters age and whether she'll get anything out of it being so young. i'm happy to spend whatever is needed when she's old enough to really progress, which to me is closer to 8-9 yrs of age.

I know there are lots of barns around here that i have not thought of and thought I'd ask for opinions. There are some less expensive that have been around for ages, but i am struggling with finding something reasonable and finding something I know is safe, and a nice small barn for her to learn in.

If anyone has any suggestions, particularly in upper Westchester, let me know!

Sansena
May. 1, 2009, 12:19 PM
Take these recommendations for what they're worth and buyer beware

Lion Hill, Easton, CT
Salko Farm & Stable, Southport, CT <--might offer 'half' lessons; just specify lead line expectations
Ridgefield Equestrian Center, Ridgefield, CT
Millstone Farm, Wilton, CT
Whipstick Farm, S.Salem NY
Sea Horse Stables, Newtown, CT
Zoar Ridge, Newtown CT

If you simply want your kid on a pony for a half hour, contact Pee Wee Horse Farm in Easton CT. Western, no frills, but it does have your main criteria: a horse!

Lucassb
May. 1, 2009, 12:22 PM
I'd go back to Annette at Zoar Ridge...

cidbad
May. 1, 2009, 12:26 PM
Mayaty02, I have to agree with Cindeye that you will not find any place that is cheaper. That is the going rate for our area. My daughter started about 6 months ago and I was in the same position as you. The age really doesn't have anything to do it. Your 6 year old and my 8 year old if they have never been on a pony they are equal. My daughter rides at a wonderful little barn in Greenwich and being in the business for many years it was the only place I would let her ride because of their program. I would never go to Starbuck's. They are dangerous and you have many other options besides them. There is a girl at Carol Malony's that is very good and they most likely would have the best program for your daughter. New Canaan Mounted Troop is very expensive and they spend a year teaching the kids before they even sit on a pony. They do however have a very good program but it might be to much for a 6 year old girl.

Mayaty02
May. 1, 2009, 12:34 PM
ok just spoke with Anna at The Ridge Equestrian Center in Newtown and it's more reasonable, she sounded like she knew how to work with little ones...anyone know anything about it?

Mayaty02
May. 1, 2009, 12:35 PM
Mayaty02, I have to agree with Cindeye that you will not find any place that is cheaper. That is the going rate for our area. My daughter started about 6 months ago and I was in the same position as you. The age really doesn't have anything to do it. Your 6 year old and my 8 year old if they have never been on a pony they are equal. My daughter rides at a wonderful little barn in Greenwich and being in the business for many years it was the only place I would let her ride because of their program. I would never go to Starbuck's. They are dangerous and you have many other options besides them. There is a girl at Carol Malony's that is very good and they most likely would have the best program for your daughter. New Canaan Mounted Troop is very expensive and they spend a year teaching the kids before they even sit on a pony. They do however have a very good program but it might be to much for a 6 year old girl.

Thanks Cidbad for the tips! I love the barn she goes to for camp, Stony Meadows, which sounds like your barn in Greenwich....I just want to see if i can do a cheaper lesson program to see if she even wants to continue....

Sansena
May. 1, 2009, 12:37 PM
.....<snip>,,,,,,,,,,, New Canaan Mounted Troop is very expensive and they spend a year teaching the kids before they even sit on a pony. They do however have a very good program but it might be to much for a 6 year old girl.

You really should know more before speaking/ writing.
First off, Troop won't take a kid under 7 yrs old
Next, they have a summer camp in which kids are lead-lined around with counsellors for each day of their session. The other portion of their session days are spent on horsemanship.

If the child is entered into the program, they get a comprehensive education on grooming, tacking, basic care, etc. But it by no means precedes them 'sitting' on a pony. Especially not for a period of time so preposterous as a year.

Sansena
May. 1, 2009, 12:39 PM
ok just spoke with Anna at The Ridge Equestrian Center in Newtown and it's more reasonable, she sounded like she knew how to work with little ones...anyone know anything about it?

The Ridge is a good place to start for what you're seeking.

cidbad
May. 1, 2009, 12:46 PM
Sansena, no need to attact me. When I went there they told me I could enroll her in the program and pay the fee of around $1000 and she would work around the barn and learn how to do things but it would be next year before she could be in the program that they actually rode. Since my daughter was over 6 I did not ask about what age it started at so I would not have known that. I only stated what I KNEW as it was said to me.

Sansena
May. 1, 2009, 01:05 PM
Sorry you felt attacked.

There are several programs available for children at NCMT. One involves riding and usually has a waiting list. They suggest the child starting in the summer camp program for exposure, then if the child is interested can graduate into the full horsemanship program.

They do not offer individual lessons 'a la carte' per se.

In recent years they did develop another program (the name escapes me) which in fact, focuses on barn management and simiilar education, but does not include riding. It's used to give children a chance for exposure to the horses while on the waitiing list.

I apologize, I had forgotten about the formation of this program. I can see how one might interperate that as being made to wait a year before any riding starts...

ponymom64
May. 1, 2009, 01:28 PM
I don't know anything about the Ridge - I believe, but could be wrong that it is Abby from Rabbit Hill's mom's place. Anyway - I'm pretty sure it is about 1/2 hour - 45 minutes drive from Ridgefield - wouldn't the money you would be "saving" be eaten up by the value of your time and the cost of gas??

Stony Meadows does a nice job with the little kids, since it is closer and you are familiar with it, IMO, I would bite the bullet and go there. My daughter started there when she was 5 and had fun and was safe and I wasn't driving all over creation for 1/2 hours worth of saddle time.

Mayaty02
May. 1, 2009, 01:38 PM
Hi Ponymom: it would be about 25 mins for me, I am right on the Danbury line off route 7 and the cost is $10 less expensive per lesson. That's notable...the camp is also less expensive. I'm going to at least check it out and see how it compares....thanks!

katie16
May. 1, 2009, 02:09 PM
I just can't see spending that much money for a 6 yr old, who is basically going to be a lead line class.


I think maybe you should give your kid more credit! Obviously every kid is different, but there are many six year olds out there that can do more than be on a leadline. Granted she'll start out there, but given good instruction and a very suitable mount, can easily move on to riding off the lead line / lunge line.

Hunter Mom
May. 1, 2009, 03:20 PM
I think maybe you should give your kid more credit! Obviously every kid is different, but there are many six year olds out there that can do more than be on a leadline. Granted she'll start out there, but given good instruction and a very suitable mount, can easily move on to riding off the lead line / lunge line.

No help as I'm not in your area, but I agree with Katie16. Depending on the kid, they may go far beyond a "lead line" lesson. My daughter was doing 18" at age 6. She was trotting within her first three lessons at age 5. I'd find somewhere that fits her now with room to grow, perhaps quickly.

Mayaty02
May. 1, 2009, 03:54 PM
You're right of course she may be able to do more and she hasn't ridden since last fall so by now, maybe she's bigger and stronger. She definitely has the desire and the attention span, it's just that she was so tiny I couldn't imagine how she could do anything, even on a small pony.

Thanks all for your advice!

chunky munky
May. 1, 2009, 04:12 PM
Lourdes DeGuardiola was Small Pony Champion at Washington on a 5 yr old pony when she was 7 years old! You never know:)
For the record all you pony people, it was on Strike a Pose in his green year, 1991. He is still out there teaching children as far as I know.

joiedevie99
May. 1, 2009, 05:13 PM
I believe both Rhiannon Equestrian in North Salem and Narnia Farms at Coker in Bedford have kids programs.

innisfreed
May. 1, 2009, 10:35 PM
For a safe program, quality private lessons for kids are not going to run less than $65 an hour in this area. And as a pp said, that rate is not driving much of a profit since there is only one child riding at a time. I would never allow a 6 year old to take a group lesson even though it would increase profits. It's simply too dangerous IMO. And finding a lease pony in this area for what you are looking for would be quite a challenge. Board alone is $800/mo and up and that is without an indoor.

Honestly, private golf or tennis lessons are $70-100 an hour, and our sport involves high insurance levels and other overhead..... I think riding lessons are a pretty good deal comparatively speaking.

Mayaty02
May. 2, 2009, 08:57 AM
For a safe program, quality private lessons for kids are not going to run less than $65 an hour in this area. And as a pp said, that rate is not driving much of a profit since there is only one child riding at a time. I would never allow a 6 year old to take a group lesson even though it would increase profits. It's simply too dangerous IMO. And finding a lease pony in this area for what you are looking for would be quite a challenge. Board alone is $800/mo and up and that is without an indoor.

Honestly, private golf or tennis lessons are $70-100 an hour, and our sport involves high insurance levels and other overhead..... I think riding lessons are a pretty good deal comparatively speaking.


FYI Innisfreed, I am talking about lesson rates in the neighborhood of $55-65 per 30 minutes, not hour. And yes, my daughter would be in a private until she could trot on her own and steer.

KateUCET101
May. 2, 2009, 05:44 PM
Abby at Rabbit Hill/The Ridge would probably be your best bet. She has about a million kids and ponies and really specializes in the little ones! And, from what I've seen at horse shows, they always do well and seem to really like her.

Good luck!

innisfreed
May. 2, 2009, 07:13 PM
I missed the "$65 for a 30 minute lesson" in your original post, I thought it was for an hour. That is steep and you can find something more reasonable. Glad to hear you are going private, nothing is scarier than lots of little kids bouncing around in a line. :)

cyberbay
May. 2, 2009, 08:18 PM
Try Lise Harrell at Back Barn Farm, in Bedford. 914-234-6692.

Lovely facility, quiet and private, and 2 excellent starter ponies available, amon gother horses. Lise is a USEF judge, and she and her co-instructor/trainer are excellent at starting anyone of any age, as well as moving them along to the advanced level.

Tack up/put away is part of the program, so students gain comprehensive skills.

Jumper6252
May. 2, 2009, 10:02 PM
For your area the places you listed are all places that I would try. But because of where you're located any good quality barn will most lilkely be expensive.

Mayaty02
May. 3, 2009, 08:56 AM
nothing is scarier than lots of little kids bouncing around in a line. :)

especially for the mother! :)

Mayaty02
May. 3, 2009, 09:04 AM
Thanks everyone for your PMs and posts here, I have some great leads and we are excited to get her going in regular lessons!

meshops2
May. 28, 2009, 10:09 AM
Hello, I am thinking of signing my daughter up for Starbuck's summer camp Does anyone know anything about this place?