The Chronicle of the Horse
MagazineNewsHorse SportsHorse CareCOTH StoreVoicesThe Chronicle UntackedDirectoriesMarketplaceDates & Results
 
Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    Join Date
    May. 7, 2009
    Posts
    1,419

    Default Ideal vs Realistic Expectations of a lesson horse or program?

    I am looking for info on how a "good" lesson program is run. I grew up as the child of parents who ran a nice barn with what I felt was a well run lesson program. Most important part of our program was the horse, we had more than enough to use for the amount of lessons we taught , horses only gave 2 lessons a day, and all horses where safe, sane and sound and could get a bath some braids and head off to a local or lower rated horse show and do well. Is the the norm?? or more of the ideal??
    Kim
    If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug. 22, 2005
    Posts
    3,788

    Default

    There's a world of difference between "good" and "profitable". To get the latter, some compromises are most likely going to have to be made on the former.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2008
    Posts
    7,452

    Default

    I don't think any horse should work more than twice in one day. Once if a lesson is heavy on the jumping. Ours also never worked more than 5 days/week.

    Sure, it cuts into the profit margin, but if you can't make a profit working your horses a reasonable amount, then you need to reconsider your business model. Overworking will cause them to break down faster, so is not a good long-term business decision.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    May. 7, 2009
    Posts
    1,419

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fordtraktor View Post
    I don't think any horse should work more than twice in one day. Once if a lesson is heavy on the jumping. Ours also never worked more than 5 days/week.

    Sure, it cuts into the profit margin, but if you can't make a profit working your horses a reasonable amount, then you need to reconsider your business model. Overworking will cause them to break down faster, so is not a good long-term business decision.
    I agree, I would not allow my Dd to ride her pony for more than 2 hours in the ring ( trail rides are a bit different) so why should school horses be treated differently? I realize there are exceptions to the rule ( aren't there always?) but I think it works better as the EXCEPTION than the RULE.
    I am struggling a bit with some of the practices where I am currently teaching and was looking for opinions on the care and use of school horses. Our school horses when I was a kid were just like our personal horses ( and we used them as such if we were between horses!) and they received the same care and treatment. This is not the case where I am currently working and I am trying to decide if there is enough of an issue for me to resign. I do understand that it is a business and needs to be treated that way but over use seems to be the root of many of the issues, not having enough horses to meet the needs of the clients at their current levels makes it tough on the few horses who do.
    Kim
    If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 27, 2007
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    596

    Default

    I have a small lesson program (as in I teach 1 lesson after school most afternoons and a few on Saturda morning) and I use my lesson horses very sparingly. That said, I do not make much of a profit (mostly just supports my other horses' feed and hay). I know if I was relying on this to support myself and make a living, I would have to make the horses (and myself) work a bit harder. When I started teaching on my own horses, I swore I would not run the horses ragged like I had been forced to when I taught for other lesson mills-type barns. But, until its your barn and your lesson horses, you can't make the rules....if you want to keep your job.

    But, since you asked, my lesson horses rarely teach more than once a day. They are all used as show horses when the opportunity presents itself and they all hold their own in the show ring usually carrying lesson students. They each have their strengths and quirks, but overall they are sane, safe, pretty, and reliable. They teach the students as much as I do some days! I like to think I am in the group of "good" lesson barns, as I teach safety and responsibilty to my riders, even though I may not be the fanciest barn in the county.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr. 29, 2006
    Location
    Evansville, Wisconsin
    Posts
    3,081

    Default

    Interestingly, I was just chatting with one of my co-boarders about a topic like this last night.

    Years ago I used to ride with a man who owned and ran a large stable with a lesson program. He was incredibly organized, and that really helped him manage a great balance between the care of the horses and income. He kept tons of records about what each of the horses cost him in upkeep, how much money they were bringing in, and thier condition. Most of his horses were only in one lesson a day, though some of them were in two a couple times a week, if I recall. And since a lot of them were part-leased, it was pretty normal for them to get ridden 6 days a week, but only be jumping in lessons maybe 2-3 times a week. Some were ridden even less. And most of them were still profitable.

    For one thing, keeping meticulous records helped him see any correlations between things like under saddle time and feed costs, weight loss, or health problems. Maybe Dobbin can maintain on a handful of grain and a moderate hay ration getting ridden 4x a week, but more than that and he becomes thin/sore/grumpy and incurs extra expense.

    For another, most of the horses lived out 24/7 in small groups with run-ins, grouped by personality and feed requirements, so labor was minimal compared to a lot of large programs. Not to mention the health benefits. Bedding costs were also low, since stalls were only used for emergencies and on vet/farrier days.

    One of the biggest lessons I learned from him was that running a horse business is less about "getting more" and more about finding the right balance of "enough, but not too much."

    Not a bad life lesson in general, for that matter



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2002
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    1,841

    Default

    I run a fair sized lesson program with only 5 horses. It works because I have my lessons organized with one "beginner/novice" style lesson and then one more "advanced" style lesson. The beginner lessons never jump anything more than a crossrail, and most of the time it's simply poles and cavellettis. The advanced students jump taller cavellettis/bigger crossrails/an OCCASIONAL 2'6 vertical here and there. Horses don't work more than twice, but they have 2-3 days off per week. They live in a LOVELY 6 acre pasture at night, and a nice covered run in with fans during the day. They get the same feed and hay that the fancy $$$ show horses get, and their feet are on a strict schedule; farrier comes twice a week, so if a shoe is lost it's replaced quickly. They all get monthly glucosamine shots, and we take care to make sure their tack is properly fitted. I think they have a pretty good life.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
    Location
    The rocky part of KY
    Posts
    9,495

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hellerkm View Post
    I am looking for info on how a "good" lesson program is run. I grew up as the child of parents who ran a nice barn with what I felt was a well run lesson program. Most important part of our program was the horse, we had more than enough to use for the amount of lessons we taught , horses only gave 2 lessons a day, and all horses where safe, sane and sound and could get a bath some braids and head off to a local or lower rated horse show and do well. Is the the norm?? or more of the ideal??
    It seems to be more of an ideal in my experience. Even though most of the horses could clean up OK and do well it aways seems that a few horses wind up with most of the workload, probably because they are the kindest or most versatile.
    Organization is definitely a key issue. My first trainer used to sit down with her assistant at the end of he day and make out a sheet for tomorrow's lessons, taking into account how each horse had worked, who needed shoes or whatnot.
    My current trainer has a limited number of beginner horses, all of whom are aged, and seems to have some trouble keeping them reliably sound. One horse has navicular. Another had something else, yet another is 30 this year and they think he may have had a stroke so he is now out of the program and keeping the yearlings in line.
    Actually the first trainer also had aged horses and also had some troubles with soundness. She grumbled about the quality of the footing every day until she finally moved from one facility.
    I just can't see having a program be profitable unless each horse can generate a minimum income per day that covers their overhead, which will vary from area to area.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007
    Posts
    15,446

    Default What you can do

    You can't change the total number of horses available, nor the number of lessons per week.

    But can you redistribute rides? Think about what your riders need to learn. Sometimes switching up more advanced riders so that they're sitting on a horse typically used for newbies and working on other things can help. Or you can school the quirky ones you don't use for advanced lessons and see if you can "tune them up" enough to be useful for these students.

    I know you are new to your place, but in a few months you might make some suggestions. If you think they have some "dead weight" in their lesson string, perhaps you can help them replace those horses with more useful ones?

    In general, lesson programs depend on the quality of their school horses. Those programs are typically higher quality in all respects because the people running them have a higher standard of care and horsemanship. The riding public can tell the difference, and these places build sterling reputations for themselves.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  10. #10
    Join Date
    May. 7, 2009
    Posts
    1,419

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    You can't change the total number of horses available, nor the number of lessons per week.

    But can you redistribute rides? Think about what your riders need to learn. Sometimes switching up more advanced riders so that they're sitting on a horse typically used for newbies and working on other things can help. Or you can school the quirky ones you don't use for advanced lessons and see if you can "tune them up" enough to be useful for these students.

    I know you are new to your place, but in a few months you might make some suggestions. If you think they have some "dead weight" in their lesson string, perhaps you can help them replace those horses with more useful ones?

    In general, lesson programs depend on the quality of their school horses. Those programs are typically higher quality in all respects because the people running them have a higher standard of care and horsemanship. The riding public can tell the difference, and these places build sterling reputations for themselves.
    MVP I am laughing because I was not willing to "wait" to say something, I refuse to use a horse who is lame and back sore due to ill fitting tack , I was told that if I used a gel pad he could work, well not in my book. He needs rest and then needs to be evaluated for better fitting tack , once he is sound and NOT sore!
    I was able to do exactly what you said and redistribute my lessons to other horses without too many issues. I do have one student ( who rides really really well) that I just might not be able to accommodate. She is specifically taking lessons to work on her over fences skills and the horse mentioned above is the ONLY one who can jump over 18 inches and is not a draft style horse.
    The owner of the riding academy is NOT the owner of the farm so she is boarding her lessons horses and paying a per use fee for the ring for each lesson, I have NO idea how that ever becomes profitable? I just don't see it happening. WE are teaching over 50 lessons a week with 5 horses, but two of them are large ponies who can only carry lighter weight riders, no adults. and only one of them can jump over 18 inches , one can't canter or jump, and one can only w/t/c no jumps! There are holes that need to be filled, when this program started and the majority of the students were beginners it worked but now that the riders are progressing there are holes, big ones. I realize that sometimes it takes awhile to fill the holes, but ignoring the issue and giving one horse with a sore back the brunt of the work is not fair. I have decided to stick it out and see if we can come up with a few horses that can meet our needs, another issue is there are ONLY 15 stalls at the farm, two stalls are currently occupied by teh riding academy owners 2 personal horses who cannot be ridden AT ALL ( not just lessons NOT AT ALL BY ANYONE including her) so that causes an issue, to me they should be pasture boarded somewhere to make room for the horses you need to make your program run well, but again I tend to be more idealistic than realistic I guess.
    Once again I am realizing how lucky I was to be raised around good horseman who cared about their horses and took the time to teach new riders how things should work, we rarely had lame school horses ( occasional abscesses and stone bruises from the pasture were the most we ever saw) and they were fun to ride, well schooled and taught many kids to ride safely!
    Kim
    If you are lucky enough to ride, you are lucky enough.



Similar Threads

  1. Realistic expectations...
    By runNjump86 in forum Eventing
    Replies: 30
    Last Post: Mar. 27, 2012, 12:20 AM
  2. Your ideal conditioning program...
    By runNjump86 in forum Eventing
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: Mar. 6, 2012, 10:53 PM
  3. Replies: 5
    Last Post: Dec. 20, 2011, 06:46 PM
  4. leasing horse to lesson program
    By morganpony86 in forum Hunter/Jumper
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: Jun. 2, 2011, 07:17 PM
  5. Lesson Program near Mooresville, NC
    By eventerdiva in forum Hunter/Jumper
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: Jan. 24, 2011, 05:04 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •