What do you think makes a great riding school?
I've had endless experiences leaving recommended barns being disappointed in the way my child was treated by an instructor, the suitability of the pony/horse, or the safety of the facility.
I'm not talking an a-circuit show barn, I'm not even necessarily talking a local show barn. I just want my 7 year old horse crazy daughter to grow up with the love of ponies, a solid riding base, and the ability to navigate around the barn from tacking to turnout (appropriately, supervised, and when ready!). Essentially "prep" for her first pony.
I feel I'm not seeing enough horsewoman skills being taught in the barn. Respect for the animal and their natural tendencies, an unrelenting safety-first approach to being in the barn, trainers losing sight of the fun, trainers losing sight of the memories most of us are trying to make with our daughters when we take them to meet that first paint pony they fall in love with.
When did trainers find it okay to smoke a pack of cigarettes while my 7 year old rides around a HUGE arena on a 16h horse? I'm all for comfort, but how do trainers find it acceptable to show up in the barn in flip flops and a tank top and tell my newbie child how to be safe around the barn? Oh, and as a mom, I'm biting all of my fingernails off when the trainer asks my baby to pick out the back hooves of that pony I just saw the trainer smack when he tried to nip her! Yikes!
I'm not trying to rant, I just want to know if I'm alone in these concerns.
Should I expect more? Who is to set the standards for the riding school? the owner of the facility? the trainer themselves?
What do you think makes a great riding school? From the facility itself to the horses to the ammenities to the instructor!
What are major signs/turnoffs you run into that keep you from going back for lesson #2?
If you've had an exceptional experience at a facility-- what are some of the major pluses?
Encouragement, counter-opinons, comments and other questions all welcome!
And if you have a great trainer give him/her a huge hug of appreciation. The ones that go the extra mile are few and far between!
I'd love to encourage more professionals in the horse business to know that we DO notice the small steps they take to give us and our most precious collectables a wonderful experience!