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  1. #1

    Default 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!


    2 members found this post helpful.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 29, 2004
    Posts
    10,586

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    I was lucky enough to grow up in the kind of program you are looking for but unfortunately those old time riding schools with a suitable school string and competent instructors don't seem to exist any more. I don't know what the answer is. If you tell us your location perhaps someone will have a recommendation for you.


    4 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 30, 2009
    Location
    CA to Costa Rica to WI
    Posts
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    Unfortunately, I think everything you're looking for is hard to come by. That being said, smoking a pack of cigarettes in a lesson and showing up in flip flops? Definitely not acceptable.

    I'm 23 and I've never owned a horse so I've been in my share of lesson programs. Some are better than others but all had their faults. Only 2 (out of 6) wound I send my kids to.

    The first wasn't even a lesson program at all. My parents pulled me from a terrible program, and I started riding with a wonderful horse woman down the street. My dad would drop me off on Saturday mornings and I would ride my bike home after. She had 2 horses: one slow grouchy packer, one nice push-button young spooky horse. I learned to work with both. When my horse would colic (a cribber) we still had my lesson, it was just a horsemanship lesson. When my horse decided one day he didn't want to walk in the arena she said "I'm not going to tell you how to fix this. You tell me how to fix it. Walk me through it."

    She taught me how to think when I ride.

    My current trainer is also amazing. She's always in her breeches and boots and ready to hop on a horse if needed. She's great about teaching you how to reward the horse and work with a horse in a non-combative way. She is also great at working with horses and riders who are timid. However, she's the only trainer there and has one working student after school so horsemanship from a "prep for first pony" standpoint probably isn't as big. She teaches new riders how to groom and tack and eventually catch horses from turn out, but past that it's just not a huge focus for her. She would love it to be (we've discussed it at length), but she's too short on time to do so. That being said, she's ALWAYS available to boarders will help new owners work through anything with their horses including lunging, trailering, tying, etc. She just doesn't do it with the lesson kids.

    I would happily send my kids to either place to learn, but neither are perfect. I don't think any program is.
    Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

    Fourteen Months Living and Working in Costa Rica


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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct. 23, 2004
    Location
    Southeast
    Posts
    1,504

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    I board at a very large lesson facility with 5 instructors and 15 school horses, 7 days a week. Every instructor is dressed to ride and present when the student is tacking; giving instructions on the particular school horse. There are rules when entering/leaving the ring, and instructors walk to and from the tacking area to the mounting block with all new riders. Students spend a while on the lunge line, and must earn their stripes to jump. The classic riding seat is drilled. I have noticed the little kids stay around, but once they reach 12-14 they move to other barns due to the controlled teaching environment. I have never seen anything remotely dangerous.

    This barn also takes fantastic care of the school horses, massage, chiro, days off. The downside, the lessons are expensive by local standards and many of the older boarders (kids 12-16) leave due to the controlled atmosphere - teens hate to be told what to do.
    "You gave your life to become the person you are right now. Was it worth it?" Richard Bach


    5 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 24, 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    227

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    OP you aren't asking too much. I wish more people would seek out what you're seeking. It exists! (And is pretty reasonable.)

    I don't know where you are or how you've looked, but definitely can recommend looking for freelance trainers/instructors (you might try to avoid term "trainer") that don't necessarily also run a barn. Not that good beginner trainers can't also run a barn, but a lot of young, quality, enthusiastic instructors out there won't yet have a barn, while many bigger-name or barn-running trainer won't feel they have the time or energy to give your little one the attention and time she needs.

    Ask the people doing the grooming. Find out where the barn rats are. Ask around using ideas like "who teaches safe horsemanship?" and about the local pony club and its instructors.

    Most of all, keep looking. Take lessons with her at as many places you can, and ask a lot of questions. Go to local shows and ask older the young people who have good horsemanship skills and happy ponies who they work with. (Likewise, find out who the tense and sneering kids or over-prepped ponies work with and avoid them.) Be always watchful the other students and riders where she trains, and pay particular attention to how the horses are treated. Don't be afraid of non-show or mixed-use barns.

    Happy searching!
    At all times, we are either training or untraining.
    Flying Haflinger blog: http://flyinghaflinger.blogspot.com/ Flying Irish Draught blog: http://flyingirishredhead.blogspot.com/



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2012
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    616

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    OP - My hats off to you for being sensible!!!

    I have ridden at several show/lesson stables of all sizes throughout my life. Most of these were a-circuit barns, and my experience has been that size and prestige (or cost) do not necessarily coincide with a good program. Here is what I tell every parent who is looking for a good program for their child:

    1. The students absolutely must tack up and groom the horse, whether its a lesson horse or their own horse. This is the foundation to becoming a good horseman and really developing a bound with the horse.

    2. The lesson horses must be well groomed and healthy, and not overused. This usually indicates that the trainer pays attention to how the stable is being run.

    3. The trainers are always appropriately garbed while around the horses (i.e. closed toe shoes). They are in the ring with the students and paying attention while the lessons are going on.

    4. The horses welfare takes priority, which means the trainer will cancel lessons or make other arrangements if a horse comes up lame.

    5. The trainer take time to ask where the rider wants their riding to go (i.e. pleasure, showing, etc.) and the trainer has a plan to get there. Be careful of trainers who promise immediate results as becoming a good rider takes time. Also, I prefer to go with trainers who have been there and done that as they almost always have a good perspective.

    6. Lastly, is the atmosphere one where you want to spend time and have your child spend time. Don't be lured in by fast talking, salesmen. You and your child will be spending alot of time at the barn and put alot of trust in the trainer. If you aren't comfortable around them, then rethink that program.

    Well, that's about all ...
    ~ In the chaos of the showing, remember riding should be fun for all, including our 4-legged kids.


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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun. 27, 2010
    Posts
    177

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    I was shocked when I returned to riding and brought my kid out for lessons and saw people smoking at the barn and the assistants talking about inappropriate things in front of the lesson kids. That just was not allowed when I was a young barn rat at the stables I was around. But seems to be the norm in general . At any rate, as others have said, no barn is perfect. I'd look first at whether the horses are cared for, safety and well-being of the child and horse are priorities. Then I'd be on a constant lookout for ways to augment my child's horse experiences, instead of wasting too much time trying to get others to change. I've just never found that to work. Need additional motivation? Take the child to spectate at shows and grands prix or horse expos. Audit clinics and let the child hear the thinking and high standards of the greats and talk about it. Stay as long as he/she can before losing attention. Need additional horsemanship? Hang around and have your child watch the farrier, equine dentist or vet at work if it's permitted. Join Pony Club or encourage reading the Pony Club manual, horsemanship books, instructional DVDs. Bring your child around other horsepeople you know and let them hang around and absorb. Build family vacations around seeing horse-related things when you can. Take kids to see Rolex or the Kentucky Derby or can spark interest and motivation to strive to achieve and get more out of lessons, etc. Encourage friendships with other kids who ride and take the time to plan get-togethers centered around horses. Give them horsemanship books as presents for birthdays or keep them in the car for long car trips so they might pick them up by default. Glance at them yourself and talk about them. The point is, if you can't find what you need, cobble it together and make more of it happen. Not perfect, but better than just being frustrated.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 2007
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    TN
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    1,870

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    I was in what I would still consider a pretty solid lesson program growing up. The trainer tailored her teaching to the rider's goals. Everyone learned when and how to use different training techniques, and was expected to watch everyone else's rounds as well.

    While riders were expected to tack up their own horse, the average lessoner would not have learned horse care just by coming to lessons. Anyone who wanted to learn that would have had to hang around the BM, who would put you to work doing whatever you could do and teach you things bit by bit. We also learned some horse care during day camp over the summer. There would be supervision and activities for the younger kids, but the older kids would be more interested in feeding (for some reason we always loved feeding! ) and helping out.

    Really talented instructors can pick out someone's learning style and what motivates them. My most recent trainer had me nailed down after one half hour trial lesson that was probably as much conversation as riding.

    I really wish I'd done Pony Club. Growing up I didn't even know it was out there, but the people I know who did it are SO solid on horse care.
    "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

    Phoenix Animal Rescue



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 4, 2008
    Posts
    745

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    like other posters, I don't have a great answer.

    I will tell you that I am a trainer, I own my barn, and care about my horses and students.

    First, I will advise you not to be swooned by chandeliars and synthetic fence.

    Secondly, as for suitability, a 7 year old should rarely be mounted on a 16 hand horse. I say rarely, becuase I recently sold a 16h+, 20 year old Hano mare to a trainer friend of mine 400 miles away just to do that job, it's a saint and a machine. I teach my 7 year olds on a med pony that goes 3 miles per hour.

    I will speak of our program, then of what I compete with.

    My facility is a working barn, about 5 years old. We started working out of it before it was completed, and my husband suffered a catastrophic medical episode that has delayed aesthetic finishing of the exterior. The indoor arena is not sided, but still in housewrap, and our plans for a gated stone entrance never left design and excavation stage. So, curb appeal is lacking at best.

    However, the interior stalls are roomy and lovely, with every horse having a window to the outside. The tack and viewing room is warm, organized and tidy. The horses are happy, relaxed, healthy and our daily priority.

    Staff is sternly instrcuted that smoking in the presence of minors on the property is absolutely unacceptable, and you would only see flipflops on an owner, or my mother on a Sunday in July, feeding carrots over the stall fronts.

    We only teach private and semi-private lessons and advertise sparingly.

    I am well rounded, experienced, and well connected. But won't boast of any of it. We are a little quiet gem in an inundated area of lesson mills, A show barns and sub-par operations with gleaming aesthestics.

    Within 4 miles of me you can choose from two facilities that advertise in every local publication that teach large volumes of public lesson programs. Additionally, there are several other small scale operations as well. They charge less than $300 for a ten week session of group lessons taught by who knows?

    One also houses 2 to 3 A show trainers that are ready to scoop you up, sell you an overpriced animal and suck you dry by the time your daughter can actually count strides. The other is run by an interesting individual that struggles with real personal skills.

    It is a hard road to navigate, your ideals are realistic. keep looking, don't be too proud to stop at the less than perfect looking barn. You can see the horses through the cobwebs, many times, the cobwebs are there because the horses were more important than the dusting...

    Your basic ideals on a teacher and mentor for you daughter seem realistic, that doens't have to be sacrificed. Morals and appropriateness are slipping away all around us... We exist, we are humble and quiet, and busy enough that we are hard to find.


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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2011
    Location
    Westchester, NY
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    2,510

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    The number one thing for me is a barn I can improve at. I rode at a few different riding schools when I was younger and the reason I left every single one was that I outgrew it. I'm not saying they need to have mounts that can do 3ft or higher. But if I have maxed out height wise for school horses, I would have stayed if instructors had been more creative than w/t/c and then some 2ft outside-diagonal-outside.

    Things like more technical courses, horses with more advanced flatwork, horses without more advanced flatwork but trainers that are willing to let you attempt more advanced flatwork...stuff like that. I remember having a great lesson trying to get lead changes and a counter canter on a school horse that hadn't been asked to do either in years.

    If I'm bored every lesson, I'm done with that barn. That is my number one turn off.

    There are other things that might make consider leaving, but there are two sides so its hard to say point blank. But if I am consistently getting really upset or frustrated or I am consistently anxious or scared of the horses I'm riding, that gets me to start looking other places. However when I was younger I have felt both those things, the first one being me just having a hard time grasping a concept and the second one being me being a nervous rider even though it was time for me to ride harder horses I was absolutely capable of riding. Both were situations that would have happened at any barn.

    I think you sort of know when a barn isn't working for you. I will say though that one of the best school barns I ever rode at my very very good trainer smoked in the indoor arena like a chimney. That wouldn't have been enough reason to leave, and my mother didn't think so either (I was about 8 or 9.) But to each their own, and you have to be comfortable with the situation!



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2012
    Posts
    616

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrsbradbury View Post
    like other posters, I don't have a great answer.

    I will tell you that I am a trainer, I own my barn, and care about my horses and students.

    First, I will advise you not to be swooned by chandeliars and synthetic fence.

    Secondly, as for suitability, a 7 year old should rarely be mounted on a 16 hand horse. I say rarely, becuase I recently sold a 16h+, 20 year old Hano mare to a trainer friend of mine 400 miles away just to do that job, it's a saint and a machine. I teach my 7 year olds on a med pony that goes 3 miles per hour.

    I will speak of our program, then of what I compete with.

    My facility is a working barn, about 5 years old. We started working out of it before it was completed, and my husband suffered a catastrophic medical episode that has delayed aesthetic finishing of the exterior. The indoor arena is not sided, but still in housewrap, and our plans for a gated stone entrance never left design and excavation stage. So, curb appeal is lacking at best.

    However, the interior stalls are roomy and lovely, with every horse having a window to the outside. The tack and viewing room is warm, organized and tidy. The horses are happy, relaxed, healthy and our daily priority.

    Staff is sternly instrcuted that smoking in the presence of minors on the property is absolutely unacceptable, and you would only see flipflops on an owner, or my mother on a Sunday in July, feeding carrots over the stall fronts.

    We only teach private and semi-private lessons and advertise sparingly.

    I am well rounded, experienced, and well connected. But won't boast of any of it. We are a little quiet gem in an inundated area of lesson mills, A show barns and sub-par operations with gleaming aesthestics.

    Within 4 miles of me you can choose from two facilities that advertise in every local publication that teach large volumes of public lesson programs. Additionally, there are several other small scale operations as well. They charge less than $300 for a ten week session of group lessons taught by who knows?

    One also houses 2 to 3 A show trainers that are ready to scoop you up, sell you an overpriced animal and suck you dry by the time your daughter can actually count strides. The other is run by an interesting individual that struggles with real personal skills.

    It is a hard road to navigate, your ideals are realistic. keep looking, don't be too proud to stop at the less than perfect looking barn. You can see the horses through the cobwebs, many times, the cobwebs are there because the horses were more important than the dusting...

    Your basic ideals on a teacher and mentor for you daughter seem realistic, that doens't have to be sacrificed. Morals and appropriateness are slipping away all around us... We exist, we are humble and quiet, and busy enough that we are hard to find.
    You sound like you have the makings of a lovely barn with a solid perspective for what's important. Please PM me with your location. I would love to check it out.
    ~ In the chaos of the showing, remember riding should be fun for all, including our 4-legged kids.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct. 24, 2008
    Location
    Portola Valley, CA
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    What makes a good lesson program? Happy horses and happy instructors. A safe environment where mistakes by students can be made and it is okay. Instructors who take their job seriously but with a great deal of humor. A place that has adequate and safe equipment. A program that has horses of a variety of levels and temperaments.

    After that, the program you choose is a matter of preference. I work at (what I consider) to be one of the best programs in the area for beginning to intermediate riders, but it's not for everyone. The eighty or so lesson horses live in pasture and are muddy but happy in the winter. We have "lesson helpers" who are kids who help tack and do chores in exchange for lessons. Managers (usually former lesson helpers) make sure the meds and chores are done, and they manage the lesson helpers. There are quite a few instructors so there's a variety of teaching styles for students to try (although students generally take with one instructor). It's a very family environment, but it's not a show barn, per say. Some of the students do event through Novice and Training and attend dressage shows regularly.

    I've also worked at A show barns with lesson programs. It's a different environment, but the instruction (I've found) is quite comparable. Just with the show barn, there's a bigger push to show.

    I wouldn't support a program that allowed unprofessional attire or behavior. Just take your money elsewhere. I won't ride with someone who habitually picks up a phone in the middle of the lesson (unless it's for a vet, etc). I wouldn't support someone who didn't hold horses' welfare as a high priority.


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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct. 24, 2008
    Location
    Portola Valley, CA
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    Default

    What makes a good lesson program? Happy horses and happy instructors. A safe environment where mistakes by students can be made and it is okay. Instructors who take their job seriously but with a great deal of humor. A place that has adequate and safe equipment. A program that has horses of a variety of levels and temperaments.

    After that, the program you choose is a matter of preference. I work at (what I consider) to be one of the best programs in the area for beginning to intermediate riders, but it's not for everyone. The eighty or so lesson horses live in pasture and are muddy but happy in the winter. We have "lesson helpers" who are kids who help tack and do chores in exchange for lessons. Managers (usually former lesson helpers) make sure the meds and chores are done, and they manage the lesson helpers. There are quite a few instructors so there's a variety of teaching styles for students to try (although students generally take with one instructor). It's a very family environment, but it's not a show barn, per say. Some of the students do event through Novice and Training and attend dressage shows regularly.

    I've also worked at A show barns with lesson programs. It's a different environment, but the instruction (I've found) is quite comparable. Just with the show barn, there's a bigger push to show.

    I wouldn't support a program that allowed unprofessional attire or behavior. Just take your money elsewhere. I won't ride with someone who habitually picks up a phone in the middle of the lesson (unless it's for a vet, etc). I wouldn't support someone who didn't hold horses' welfare as a high priority.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct. 1, 2012
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    297

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    I love that this has become a thread. A good friend of mine and I talk about this frequently. Growing up, I was very blessed to learn riding and horsemanship at a few great barns with amazing trainers. That being said, I have also had my fair share of negative experiences as well. My very first "formal" lesson, a trainer had me jump. I had a good balanced seat from having ridden outside of lessons, however that is not acceptable in any way, shape or form. On the contrary at some of the great barns, even after I had ridden for many years and shown, my first lesson at that facility would involve a lesson on a lunge line for evaluation.

    You are definitely correct that proper horsemanship doesn't get taught enough. In my honest opinion, it is because too many people ride through their junior years, become 20-21 and decide that they can now teach. Many of them don't know enough to teach. I see it everyday. What helped me was the fact that my parents had common sense horsemanship and they also had high expectations of what I should be taught. As I got older, I was lucky enough to be at a farm where the trainer had no problem teaching us about barn sense. Our parents would drop us off at the farm in the morning and pick us up early evening. We learned to feed, clean stalls, ride several different horses, etc....

    As an adult I have had a hard time finding a lesson program that I feel is suitable for myself. I have read the websites of many local farms, visited them, watched lessons, watched training at shows and asked around. I also have no problem being forthright and saying that I am not willing to commit to a program with them until they have made me feel comfortable with what I am looking for and willing to meet the majority of my expectations.


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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2004
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    3,266

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    I really get what the OP is looking for and hugely appreciate her concerns. I struggled with this when my DDs were young, finding someone who would teach them for all the right reasons. I was not interested in 'trainers' or trainer cliches or belonging to a show set at a barn. I was looking for someone who would see my daughters' horsemanship and be interested in them for those reasons, not how deep our pockets were. I ended up having to do most of it myself and I dragged their butts around on a tank of gas to go see good riding whenever the opportunity arose - audited top clinics, sat at world class shows, every discipline - nothing but the best so they had a correct visual, they learned an eye.

    Unfortunately a lot depends on what is available to choose from in the area where you live. I share the advice to dig around to find an individual who cares and wants to mentor. I have myself backyard mentored a few kids.

    We just had a recent experience. We finally met the right person to further my daughter's skills. He teaches what we've searched for for yrs. 150% focus, rides every stride with you, everything for the proper development and good of the horse, uncanny abiltity to describe feel and has the exercises to make it happen.

    It was the look on his face when I mentioned looking for a person who taught for the 'right' reasons - it was then that I felt that connection. His eyes were deep and bright and he said 'that's the way I was brought up!' We both knew who we were and he has connected with my daughter in all the ways that I dreamed about.

    I wish you all the best -- you are 100% right about what you want for your child!
    The truth is what you can get other people to believe.

    -- Tommy Smothers


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  16. #16
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    Jan. 16, 2013
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    2

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    Thanks so much for all of these thoughtful responses! Greatly appreciated and I look forward to implementing your suggestions! All the best!



  17. #17
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    Oct. 21, 2009
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    South Central: Zone 7
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    As a trainer with a "medium" sized lesson program (30ish students who show in both local and rated shows), here are the things that we really emphasize...

    First and foremost you must have good lesson horses. That means well trained, appropriate mounts that are healthy, happy and SOUND. Our lesson horses are never ridden for more than an hour per day, usually 4 or sometimes 5 days per week. We teach the kids how to groom and tack these horses by themselves so their ground behavior must be impeccable as well. It's also nice if you can have a variety so that students never get stuck in a rut. The ability to ride multiple horses is one of the main appeals to riding in a lesson barn.

    Secondly, the instruction should be good. I only do private and semi-private lessons as it ensures the greatest amount of attention per student. Riders are able to progress faster and can interact more with the instructor. It's also nice if the trainer can do demonstration rides when needed and should continue in their own education through clinics. Its a plus for them to also be involved in other areas as well-riding other disciplines, judging, managing shows, etc. And of course they should be professional in both attire and attitude.

    Lastly, amenities are important, though not the highest priority. An arena with good footing, free of hazards and a place to watch the kids ride (assuming you stay and watch) are important. The barns should be clean and organized. Things don't need to be fancy but should give off a professional atmosphere. Tack and equipment should be safe, clean and well taken care of.

    Those are some of the principles that I based my program on- quality riding instruction based in good horsemanship.

    Oh and a good barn cat!!


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  18. #18
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    Jan. 3, 2013
    Location
    Orange County, NY
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    Smoking Cigarettes and wearing flip flops are not allowed in my barn. ......Or any Barn that I know of!

    It sounds like you (OP) have had some pretty terrible (and I hope) rare experiences.

    I'm not sure what part of the country you are in but here in the Hudson Valley there are many good barns to choose from with fantastic beginner programs where none of any of the bad things you mentioned in your original post would go on.

    Sounds like it's time to keep shopping. I'm glad to hear your negative experiences are not turning you or your daughter away from horses.

    I hope it comforts you to hear from others on here that you are not too picky and your standards are not too high. It just sounds like the standards at the barns you have chosen are way too low and unsafe.



  19. #19
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    Jan. 22, 2013
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    One big turnoff for me is when the instructor is on his/her phone the whole time and fails to build a friendship with you.

    Dose the trainer have favorites? If so, how dose she treat them compared to the other kids, and even the kids they don't like so much. The reason I mention this is that at the three barns I have attended I was always FAR from the favorites, and for this reason and obviously other reasons, I ended up leaving.

    How worked are the horses? What is the atmosphere like? What about those kids who don't have there own pony, Are they treated fairly?

    I know this might be silly, but what about the pony moms. I prefer them to be somewhat friendly and not so cold that they won't acknowledge the new kids or the beginner moms.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan. 29, 2013
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
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    -Instructor who cares about their riders and is very knowledgeable about horses and riding

    -Someone who is professional and doesn't just try to be your friend and make you like them so you'd feel bad leaving

    -An instructor that is good at teaching and knows how to communicate - there are lots of great riders, but not all of them are good teachers!

    -Happy, HEALTHY horses that are trustworthy and don't have bad habits that could scare or injure a beginner/child

    -A safe facility and area to teach - no broken fences and things all over the ground for a horse or child to get injured on. No clutter or mess where someone could get injured in any way.

    -Enclosed area to ride - gates in working condition and fences all the way around riding area.

    -Tack and equipment in good condition so nothing breaks while kids are riding

    -Horses that get enough work to stay safe and sane

    -Instructor that groups riders fairly according to ability - doesn't put beginners in with advanced riders

    -Instructor that varies the lesson plans enough to keep things interesting and keep everyone learning for every single lesson!!

    -Parents and barn staff that are friendly and helpful

    -Instructor is attentive to students and doesn't talk to someone else (i.e. parent, boarder, etc) during the lesson for a significant amount of time

    -Instructor doesn't talk on phone, but to the students

    -Instructor doesn't focus on only one student in the middle of a group lesson, but divides time equally among all riders

    -Easily accessible - can be found easily and isn't dangerous to get to the barn (roads in good condition, not too out-of-the-way)

    -Safe environment where riders and parents feel comfortable expressing concerns to instructors, owners, staff

    -Absolution policy - are they willing to make things right if you aren't happy? or are they willing to recommend someone else to you if things just aren't measuring up, or any other reason?

    -Experience - is the instructor certified? If not, where do their qualifications come from?

    just a few off the top of my head.
    Last edited by equinekingdom; Jan. 31, 2013 at 01:14 AM. Reason: needed more spacing



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