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View Full Version : High quality instruction/school horse near Buffalo, NY?



Gil's Girl
Mar. 23, 2012, 09:37 PM
I'm looking for somewhere that I could take a jumping lesson 2-3 times a month with a really great instructor and a quality schoolhorse, in the Buffalo area - any ideas?

I've come back from a very long break from riding, and have spent the last year riding for a dressage trainer with a lot of intense position work, and riding/breaking a lot of young/problem horses - I feel like I've gotten my flatwork and position back to a reasonable level, but my jumping is a mess - I used to get a bit fussy and push to the jumps at my worst, but have barely jumped anything in 6 years now, and my brain is just back at square one - I now try and force myself to wait to the point that I'm adding and adding, until there's nothing left! I'm capable enough to be hired to flat/school h/j/eq and dressage horses in CA over the last year, and now am bringing along several youngsters and a young OLD stallion for a breeder here locally. I feel like now I'm stuck in a rut as a solid flat rider for difficult greenies, but not improving at all....

For the next few months, and then seasonally, I'm right on the border of the US and Canada, about half an hour from Buffalo - I help start youngsters for a studfarm here, but I need to start back over fences with somebody really great and a horse that I can trust - so far I haven't found anyone with the really impeccable basics that I'm looking for on the Canadian side within a reasonable distance, so I'm looking to drive to Buffalo area - or even within an hour or so on the Canadian side. I don't have a huge budget for training, so I need the lessons I take to be really good ones:)

Of course I know of SBS - are there an array of trainers on staff, and do they have some good school horses? I assume the quality of instruction is going to be high, any feedback, people you particularly recommend? Do they accept students without horses?

Anywhere else that might be a good fit in the area?

I was spoiled with wonderful trainers through my junior years, rode and catchrode a lot on the west coast A circuit, as both a working student and a rider, and have high standards, even if my riding doesn't always match up lately:)

I would appreciate any ideas, input, suggestions, anything - I'm dying to enjoy jumping again!

FlashGordon
Mar. 23, 2012, 10:01 PM
I feel your pain, having been in a similar spot. Two recommendations for you:

Chrissie Hannon at Skibereen Farm in Orchard Park. Chrissie is great, the facility is nice, and she has a great selection of school horses. Chrissie's clients do the rated circuit successfully, she has a couple juniors doing the Big Eq and plenty of adult ammies doing the hunters. The other instructor at her place who does jumping lessons is also great, and might actually be a really good fit for you from what you describe. I can't say enough about their program, the best part being the atmosphere and how pleasant it is there! Low drama, very friendly, professional, just a really nice place to be. Their main site is down right now but here's the FB page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Skibbereen-Farm-English-Horseback-Riding-Lessons/126059767428947


The other is kind of out of the box but worth mentioning.... Beth Walkowicz at Walnut Grove Farm in Alden. Beth is an eventer, her place is also lovely, and her lesson horses are well schooled. As someone who did hunters growing up, and then took a long hiatus from jumping, I've really enjoyed working with her. She has a dressage-y flavor, is obviously a proponent of getting out of the ring, and she's helped me regain my confidence and my ability to really ride forward to a fence. (which may help you given the description of your habits) She has quite a few clients with H/J backgrounds. http://web.me.com/bethwalkowicz/Site/Welcome.html

I think for what you want, you couldn't go wrong with either. Both are lovely, professional, and knowledgeable. I have contact information for both so feel free to PM me if you are interested.

AlyssaSpellman
Mar. 23, 2012, 10:43 PM
The other is kind of out of the box but worth mentioning.... Beth Walkowicz at Walnut Grove Farm in Alden. Beth is an eventer, her place is also lovely, and her lesson horses are well schooled. As someone who did hunters growing up, and then took a long hiatus from jumping, I've really enjoyed working with her. She has a dressage-y flavor, is obviously a proponent of getting out of the ring, and she's helped me regain my confidence and my ability to really ride forward to a fence. (which may help you given the description of your habits) She has quite a few clients with H/J backgrounds. http://web.me.com/bethwalkowicz/Site/Welcome.html

So excited to see someone mention Beth.. she's done such a great job with her farm. I rode with her at Peter Anderson's place (Ridgewood Farm) before she bought Walnut Grove, and she's one of the few trainers I've had who really stuck out to me. She is a phenomenal rider, trainer, and horse person, and I'd definitely get in touch with her if I were you. :)

Another one to look into would be Becky Bates and her daughter Jaime George at Hasty Hills Farm in Java if that's not too far from you. I was considering boarding over there, but decided on something a little closer to me at least over the winter, and actually talked to Becky today about showing with them this year.
http://www.hastyhills.com/

Peter Anderson is also a very talented rider and trainer, but I'm not sure what their horse situation is over there as far as actual "school horses," but I know a few adults without their own horse who rode with him, and I'm sure he could find something for you to ride.. it definitely wouldn't hurt to give him a call. He has an eventing and dressage background and really incorporates that into o/f work with his students.
http://www.jpeteranderson.com/
The website hasn't been updated in a while, and the phone number listed is his barn phone, but I will send you a PM with his cell phone number as it might be easier to contact him that way.

Gil's Girl
Mar. 23, 2012, 10:59 PM
These are all helpful, thank you! I am definitely looking for a H/J and Eq trainer first and foremost - that's been my background mostly, and where I'd like to end up showing again one day. I don't really care if they show much, as long as the horses and training are generally "A" quality.

I'm going to look at Hasty Hills, I think they are a bit far, but sound like a good match!

SarahandSam
Mar. 24, 2012, 10:20 AM
I second FG with Skibbereen... they have some excellent horses for more advanced riders, and Chrissie and Brianne are both great trainers. Really nice atmosphere in general.

buffalo colleen
Mar. 24, 2012, 11:30 AM
Gil's Girl -- the lesson program at the SBS barn is the Buffalo Equestrian Center (BEC). Their school horses are the best I have ever experienced (I rode and showed with SBS for a long time, so also got to ride many BEC horses). They are all donated ex-show horses, and several of them still do shows with BEC riders, up to 3 ft. The instructors are excellent. This would be a great place to take some jumping lessons to get your feel back. And since it is right in Buffalo, it is really close to the Peace Bridge and Canadian border.

FlashGordon
Mar. 24, 2012, 12:57 PM
So excited to see someone mention Beth.. she's done such a great job with her farm. I rode with her at Peter Anderson's place (Ridgewood Farm) before she bought Walnut Grove, and she's one of the few trainers I've had who really stuck out to me. She is a phenomenal rider, trainer, and horse person, and I'd definitely get in touch with her if I were you. :)

I love Beth, she's awesome and her place is really lovely. She's a super addition to the Buffalo area.... very refreshing IMO!

AllyandPete
Mar. 24, 2012, 10:51 PM
Of course I have to agree that Chrissie is the one to go to, and I do think that she is back from FL now. Even if she is not available Bri is also great. Our webpage is down right now, but the FB link that FG sent is a start!

Becky and Jamie are great as well, but they really are much farther from you. Skib is right of the 219 and a super easy thruway only trip.

As far as SBS goes, unless you are paying to ride with Susie/Jen I am not quite sure what is going on over there. Their long term instructor who was excellent just left, not sure who took over.

Another good instructor is Lindsay Cornell at Hunter Ridge in Ransomville. She does the A circuit stuff. Her barn is smaller, but she is good and in Niagara County, which would be a plus for you.

horsegal301
Aug. 26, 2012, 09:07 PM
As far as SBS goes, unless you are paying to ride with Susie/Jen I am not quite sure what is going on over there. Their long term instructor who was excellent just left, not sure who took over.

Another good instructor is Lindsay Cornell at Hunter Ridge in Ransomville. She does the A circuit stuff. Her barn is smaller, but she is good and in Niagara County, which would be a plus for you.

Resurrecting because I'm hopefully moving to Cheektowaga, definitely going to be near Grand Island. Any update on what's going on with SBS? Do they give regular lessons, or do you have to board/truck in your own horse? Can anyone give me an estimate on how much they charge for lessons?

Same thing for Skibbereen, since their FB is pretty dead and the site is not very informative, what do they usually charge for lessons? Doesn't need to be a private lesson, but since I'm looking to buy a house with the BF, I can't really afford to board my horse out there... just need my horsey fix!

SarahandSam
Aug. 27, 2012, 04:22 PM
SBS' lesson program is with the Buffalo Equestrian Center/BTRC (all three programs are in the same barn, SBS boarder horses are just in one wing while lesson/therapeutic program horses are in the other wing). So they do have a lesson program. I believe basic group lessons are around $50, last I checked. I don't know who is currently doing the more advanced lessons there.

Skib is $35 for group lessons, $50 (or $60 maybe now?) for lessons with Chrissie. I highly recommend Skib for nice horses and good instruction. (:

Snowflake
Aug. 27, 2012, 04:45 PM
SBS' lesson program is with the Buffalo Equestrian Center/BTRC (all three programs are in the same barn, SBS boarder horses are just in one wing while lesson/therapeutic program horses are in the other wing). So they do have a lesson program. I believe basic group lessons are around $50, last I checked. I don't know who is currently doing the more advanced lessons there.

Yeah, IIRC, private lessons are around the $75 an hour range and they require you to start in privates before moving to group lessons to evaluate your suitability. There is also an annual membership fee of $275-375 required before you have the privelige of riding there.

There are plenty of suitable and reputable options other than the BTRC where you can learn just as much for half the price.