I am graduating from Duke this coming May and will be moving down to St. Louis in July to start my new job in a neuroscience lab at Wash U. Does anyone have recommendations for a good lesson barn in the St. Louis area? My criteria so far include:
- Not more than a 40-min. drive from the Wash U campus
- Reasonable lesson prices and the option to lease/half-lease
- Hunter-focused with the option to show a few times per year (I'll be coming off of four years competing in the IHSA)
I've heard good things about Baskin, Dublin, Irish Fox, and Kennedy so far, so if anyone has opinions on those, that would be helpful! Any other barns you can recommend would be great, too
All four of the barns you mentioned are the "bigger" hunter/jumper show barns in the Saint Louis area and all of these barns frequent both A shows at the National Equestrian Center and also many schooling shows. So if your interested in showing one of these four barns would be your best bet.
Baskin Farms is actually the barn that Wash U's IHSA show team practices out of. I've actually shown there and it's a very nice barn with a lot of very nice school horses. It would also be a reasonable drive from Wash U's campus for you.
Dublin is another great lesson barn, the trainer there is great and very experienced but from Wash U's campus you would be looking at a bit of a drive. Same goes for Irish Fox.
Kennedy, I don't know much about. I know it's another big show barn but I have never really met the trainer or any students there.
Another barn that would be worth looking into for you and that would only be 30 minutes or so from you is KEE West Farm. The trainer there is very experienced and I have a few friends who ride there and just love her.
Most of the barns you've listed are great (esp. Irish Fox), but they are all a bit of a hike from Wash U. Another you can try is East Lake Farm (Paula Mangiaracina) over in Illinois (just across the bridge from StL--closer than many of the places on your list). The barn has a Facebook site and also attends the shows at the NEC.
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Rolling Acres in Belleville, IL. It shouldn't even take 30 mins. from Wash U. Lessons are very reasonable. They have been in business forever. Very nice school horses. They attend a lot of shows, so I don't think that's a problem to go to which ones you would like. I rode at RAS when I was little and moved away from the immediate area later on, but I am back as a once a week rider and am extremely pleased.
Are you going to be living by the Med Center or the main campus? If you are by the Med Center, I would look at Illinois. It is going to take you much less time to get over there, especially if you want to ride during the week.
Also, prices on the east side of the river are typically much cheaper. Doesn't mean that there isn't quality, because there are some really nice barns, land is just cheaper and there is more of it.
I live four blocks from the main campus, and I drive to Lake St. Louis to ride - its about 40 minutes on a good day - it's taken me up to an hour and a half to get out on a bad day. I choose to make the drive because I like my trainer and my horse is happy.
Irish Fox is farther out than my barn, so you may want to take that one off your list if you don't want to drive.
If you want any other info about living in the area around Wash U, pm me. I'll be happy to give you the low down.
Last edited by hasahorse; Mar. 20, 2012 at 10:33 PM.
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I can personally recommend Irish Fox as well as one you haven't mentioned, Great Griffin Farm. They are both about the same distance for you from the campus, about 40 minutes (no traffic), so that might be a bit far. However, both barns offer very nice facilities and quality school horses and instruction. Leasing opportunities are available, and both are close to the National Equestrian Center, our fabulous show venue. Wherever you wind up, I think you will find the H/J scene here in STL to be VERY active and a lot of fun - I wish you much luck and happy riding! :-)
You can also check out TML Equestrian/Gold Farm at Nottoway Farm in Wildwood. Accessible from highways 40 and 44, it's going to be about the same distance from Wash U as Baskin and Kennedy. KEE West is down the street as well. PM me if you want more info but it's a gorgeous facility, plenty of nice lesson horses and lots of opportunities to show.
Also, Baskin does operate Wash U's equestrian team, but I believe they are based at Pegasus Equestrian Center in Ballwin/Chesterfield. That will be the closest barn to Wash U compared to the others listed here. Baskin also does their lesson program out of Pegasus.
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Phancy Pharm ( http://www.phancypharm.com/ ) in Moro, IL - quite an easy drive from STL, and within your 40 min. parameter. I met Nancy last year while visiting my parents; did not see any lessons; all horses were turned out. They have some very impressive photos on the wall.