Feedback on Glenoaks Equestrian Center and/or other jumper barns in Portola Valley
I am thinking of moving to this barn from another place. I am primarily looking for a good trainer, good horse care and reasonable cost (know that's not really possible in the Bay area but to the extent that it is) . Does anybody have any experiences, feedback to share?
You really didn't give much time for replies. While there are a chunk of us Bay Area folks, it's small in comparison to the number of COTHers that frequent the forums - and your title is pretty narrow, so only those of us who explicitly know Glenoaks or know where Portola Valley is would reply.
First off, do a search here on COTH for barns in the SF Bay Area - there are a LOT of strings with good info, and maybe of the trainers mentioned will be Portola Valley barns.
Narrowing down to hunter/jumper barns in Portola Valley-proper makes it very specific. The only h/j barns in "Portola Valley" are:
* Glenoaks Equestrian Center
* Springdown Equestrian Center
* Portola Farms
* Portola Pastures
If you want to broaden your search, you could also consider:
* Portola Valley Training Center (technical Ladera/Menlo Park)
* Webb Ranch (Ladera, Ca - although not much h/j there)
* Woodside Horse Park (Woodside)
or consider places in Atherton, Stanford, and Woodside.
Glenoaks is run by David Murdoch. He runs a tight, well-oiled machine of a business (which I consider a good thing). I boarded there for a number of years, before/during/and after he made many of the facility updates. Nowadays, there are multiple arenas, direct access to heaps of trails, h/j ring, dressage ring, cross-country course, and a school-horse program.
I would board there again EXCEPT that there are no lights, and I'm an evening rider - that is the #1 problem for me. However, the footing is excellent and survives well in bad weather, so I never really missed a ride-day all winter (but often was riding in the DARK). Access to the trails is a plus.
David runs the hunter/jumper program, and then there is an eventing trainer and a dressage trainer on-site, along with a very good lesson-student program. I can't speak for the eventing or dressage trainers. David is very straight-forward. He is a tough (drill-sergent tough), but I like that & always felt like I learn heaps in my rides with him. But, he will never "sugar coat" it, so if you need someone to tell you you are awesome even if you aren't, David is not the guy for you. Marion, who runs the school-horse program, is fabulous as well. A softer personality - perfect for reriders, the kids, and more laid-back riding, and she has an excellent background of teaching at all levels.
I can't speak for their prices, but it will be lesson than PVTC but more than Portola Pastures.
At Portola Farms, you can get another big group of h/j trainers - you should look there. Springdown is a very specific (more lesson-school horse type) program. Portola Pastures is mostly "casual" riders and a SNT.
PVTC is the largets h/j location in the area, with heaps and heaps of barns to choose from. Toni and Colin McIntosh (at PVTC) are fantastic, and there are some other note-worthy folks there too.
Woodside Horse Park has some h/j barns now, most noteably Willow Tree Farms (Butch, Lu, and Guy Thomas).
Again, there are a number of strings if you search on COTH with more feedback.
But really, the only way to know is to go visit each barn AND take a sample lesson - either trailer-in on your horse, or ask to lesson on a hrose there. Don't move until you have ridden with the trainer yourself, watched them teach a few lessons to others, have visited in person, and understand all the pricing and options. Some places are one-size-fits-all pricing (aka must pay full-training + board, no matter how often you lesson) and others provide a la carte services (board + pay as you go for lessons/etc).
You'll need to pick somewhere other than Portola Valley/Woodside/Peninsula if you want to be paying less for board/training. Or consider boarding at a smaller facility and trailering-in to a larger place for lessons with a top trainer. You are going to hard-pressed to find a situation with both for a "reasonable" price in the PV area, sorry to say.