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Lessons at 2 different barns—advice on choosing?

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  • #21
    I can see a few scenarios

    1. you've way exaggerated your skills which barn A recognizes and barn B either doesn't recognize or doesn't care which could have serious consequences for your safety and confidence.

    2. barn A simply doesn't have the kind of horses that can help you progress, they're a safe beginner barn and not an advanced rider barn.

    3. barn A instructor doesn't have the skills to advance a rider, and does better with beginner riders

    4. barn B has a more efficient program and finds it easier to be a full service barn where they provide the horse care and clients just ride
    http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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    • Original Poster

      #22
      Originally posted by findeight View Post
      Trainers don’t have psychic abilities and if you have only been riding with one a few months, how the heck do you expect them to know what you want? Remember they teach many people with different goals, expectations and comfort levels. Have you sat down one on one and discussed what you want with barn A trainer? Keep in mind most barns no longer carry pay by the ride school horses and very few have anything for 2’6” and over...unless you lease it.

      Off hand, barn B lost me at “ not as much horsemanship and slightly snobby atmosphere”.

      Are you going to be buying or leasing a horse in the next 6 months? Be realistic here. If not, that barn B horse they are letting you use might evaporate. Sometimes when you get a nicer ride as a twice a week lesson only rider, it’s because they are going to pitch it to you after you get attached. Effective sales/ lease technique.
      Thank you, findeight. Lol yes I'm fully aware that trainers aren't psychic--the first thing I did at both barns is go over my background and goals at our evaluation lesson. Both conversations were candid on either end.
      I did not know most barns don't offer 2'6 plus horses without leasing; that's a very useful point in both scenarios. I'm hoping to lease within a year max, depending on if I find the "one." Pitching a "nicer" horse so I get attached is also a VERY interesting point!

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      • Original Poster

        #23
        Originally posted by SuzieQNutter View Post
        I see no reason why you can't continue to have lessons at both places until you lease a horse. Then you have more horses to choose from to lease.
        Thank you, SuzieQNutter. That's what my best friend keeps saying! Probably the most realistic angle since I am looking to lease within a year. The two barns do give opposing directions during lessons (ex: while cantering, one says hands low, one says hands high) but I can keep juggling that.

        Comment


        • #24
          Originally posted by Blueriver View Post

          Thank you, findeight. Lol yes I'm fully aware that trainers aren't psychic--the first thing I did at both barns is go over my background and goals at our evaluation lesson. Both conversations were candid on either end.
          I did not know most barns don't offer 2'6 plus horses without leasing; that's a very useful point in both scenarios. I'm hoping to lease within a year max, depending on if I find the "one." Pitching a "nicer" horse so I get attached is also a VERY interesting point!
          Yes I second this. Like right now I have a horse that’s for sale that belongs to one of our boarders and she really wants to keep him in our barn so I’m allowed to use him for lessons until someone buys him. He is amazing and perfect and easy for every level of riding up to 3’ and I save his energy for people who might be interested in buying a horse. If after a few lessons you make it clear you’re not interested I’m gonna save his energy for someone who might be. It’s not personal or anything but I have a job to do and the horse can only do so many lessons and someone else will pay for him. I’d buy him myself as a lesson horse but I can’t afford him lol. All my lesson horses that are as nice as him I got for free or very cheap a long time ago, rescues and ottbs, when they weren’t as nice as him and I’ve put a lot of work into them to get them to the point where they will jump nicely for any random person. They will all save your butt if you make mistakes because at 2’ a chip or a miss isn’t so bad but if I constantly have random people jumping 2’6”+ on them they are gonna stop being so forgiving eventually. Plus the higher you jump the more risk of injury there is for the horse and the more maintenance the horse needs, and I can’t afford to pay for hock injections and adequan for all of my lesson horses lol but if you want to jump higher and pay for that stuff if/when needed than fine. I know some other trainers that won’t let you jump higher than 2’ if you don’t have your own horse. Her horses straight up just don’t jump higher than that. I’m not so strict since most of my horses are fairly young but I see where she’s coming from.

          but with all that said I have a few 1x a week riders I let jump higher, but they have all been with me for a long time, are very talented, and really would come up more frequently if certain life things didn’t prevent them. But I also have them ride a lot of my greener horses who are not really 100% ready for the lesson program, so they are also kind of helping me school horses. So I let them get a little crazier because I love them and want them to have fun and know if they take a tumble they’ll laugh it off.
          Last edited by Farosh; Nov. 7, 2019, 12:56 AM.

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          • Original Poster

            #25
            Originally posted by Impractical Horsewoman View Post
            I've seen both types of barns, and from what you describe, the first barn instructor doesn't sound like she has a structured plan to improve your riding--sometimes, at barns with less available help, owners and teachers are very preoccupied with management, so she might not even have remembered you requested a jumping lesson until you told her. If the all-flat lesson was due to something she was working on with your riding, the horse's soundness, or the fact that the horse had been jumping a great deal in other lessons, she should have told you. If you do stay at that barn, you might need to be a bit more proactive every lesson about explaining what you want to learn. Not a deal-breaker, though, unless she continually ignores your requests. It also might be a good idea to ask to ride another horse there, before making a final judgement.

            If you're looking to lease a horse, though, one big concern about the second barn would be cost. Most mid-tier show barns (I'm assuming this isn't a super-fancy barn, but a barn that goes to local rated shows, or maybe a couple of "away" shows a year) don't make money off of lessons. The goal is to get someone capable enough to at least half-lease a horse and go to a show or two a month at minimum. That's how such barns make their money. And this isn't a criticism, btw, because it's hard as hell to stay afloat in the horse business. But if that's the expectation, you should be aware of how much things will cost at the barn in the long run. Some barns might still let you take a once-weekly lesson on a school horse if you can't afford showing and leasing, but if that's the case, you do have to be aware that you won't be a priority client in the same way someone who is fully part of the program. If you're at a barn where people show frequently at a certain level and you don't, it can also limit your social circle. Even if people aren't snobby, it's harder to make friends if you're around less.

            I'm not quite clear what you mean in terms of horsemanship, though, for a once-a-week rider, it's really difficult to get a full sense of what the horsemanship culture of a barn is, unless they're so desperate for help they're asking anyone to lend a hand who even takes a few lessons (which would not be a good sign). There are some barns where barn staff takes care of all of the chores, including tacking up, but at even at the lower-level show barns I rode at, for people with genuine skills, there were opportunities to ride greener horses and lend a hand at the barn and shows.
            Thank you, Impractical Horsewoman.
            You really summed up a lot of the characteristics of both barns here. Barn A definitely has less of a structured program--and I could very well see the instructor being preoccupied with other management work. I'll have to find out if my horse has been busy with other jumping lessons, perhaps with students more advanced than I am.
            Barn B is more of a mid-tier show barn with a show schedule similar to what you describe. Your insight on how these mid-tier show barns work is extremely eye opening!

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            • Original Poster

              #26
              Originally posted by blondewithchrome View Post
              another question for you to ponder: are your lessons at both place just “get on and ride” or does either include instruction on fundamentals and why? For example, I myself (considered advanced by my barns standards) May have a lesson solely focused on lateral movements, working on shoulders/haunches in, turn on the haunches, etc and using that on course. We only do poles that day because we try our skills that should be able to help us school the horse or correct something when jumping our height (2’6-3’-3’6). I do not judge the height of jumps in a lesson as a gauge of skill and challenge.

              this is part of horsemanship and being the best rider you can be - understanding the mechanics of the animal, aids, and subtle skills. Does either barn give you the “why and how,” and do you think you can learn how to do these things? Again, just “jumping higher” isn’t necessarily the measure of if the program is teaching you the skills to be a more skilled rider.
              Thank you, blondewithchrome.
              Yes, both places do give instruction of fundamentals and why. I probably get a little more information on a regular basis from Barn A simply because the lessons are a bit longer (only by 20 minutes or so but at my level is extremely helpful). You're right that if the height of jumps isn't really a gauge of skill.

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              • Original Poster

                #27
                Originally posted by cayuse View Post
                IDK if this has been mentioned, but could it be possible that you are able to ride the more advanced horse at Barn B because of the solid foundation you are getting at Barn A?

                Thank you, Cayuse. I would say yes, because even though he's a lazy sweetheart (instructor's own words), I learn tons from him even before he gets revved up.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #28
                  Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                  Is there a possibility of higher jumps, and more in depth education at Barn A in the future?

                  I ask this because I know too many barns where whether they are ready or not have riders jumping courses, that the horses jump for them. The riders themselves are loose in the tack, and only look good because they need not really ride.
                  Thank you, merrygoround. Yes, absolutely--they have plenty of more advanced riders in their program. I do know of other barns that push too soon, and I really don't want any holes in my training from places like those! Simply jumping to jump is not what I'm interested in, I do want to build up to it.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #29
                    Originally posted by Farosh View Post
                    Tbh for me first few lessons with new people who have been riding their whole life are a lot more stressful than teaching people with zero experience. Lots of people come and say that they have ridden their whole life and are really not very good. Some are good but a little out of shape and just need a few rides to get back into it. It’s hard sometimes to distinguish those people right away because some might have great eq but the second anything goes wrong might get scared and not be able to handle it, some people are very sloppy but have a ton of fun with the horses that are a little faster and more challenging and you have to get to know people better to really be certain. But either way, they will be safer on a slow horse and really if you’ve been riding for a long time I think you should be able to get just about any school horse in front of your leg even if you’re out of shape. I’m fortunate enough to have a few safe guys that are not a ton of leg, forward but slow and have a substantial jump in them but they are hard to come by and they are everyone’s favorite horse so if I already used one of them that day you’re gonna ride a harder horse and do less in your lesson. My general rule though is that if you want to jump 2’6” or higher consistently you need to lease or buy your own horse because the lesson horses work hard and even though they can jump higher than that I’m not going to make them work that hard, especially for someone I don’t know very well. They have to jump a lot so I keep the jumps small. But if they are leased I’ll be a little more liberal with the jump height since I know they’ll be jumping like 2x a week and flatting the rest of the week.

                    anyway I hope my perspective offered a little insight into what trainer from barn A may be thinking. Sounds like barn b might have access to higher quality horses and can afford to use their horses a little more liberally.
                    Thank you, farosh! This is really helpful. I laughed a little at your rundown of different types of riders because I recognize a little of each characteristic in me, depending on the situation! Your perspective on the rider vis-a-vis the horse's level/schedule/energy is right on. I really respect trainers/owners that look out for their horses that way. From what I can tell, it does seem like Barn B has more access to higher quality horses for lessons right now.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #30
                      Originally posted by foggythistle View Post
                      I think you need to discuss this with both instructors. Tell them each that you are thinking of leasing to get more saddle time, or whatever your goals are. Ask them if they can help you with that. Ask them to introduce you to others that they have helped (assuming they are still at the same barn). Ask some serious lease questions with the assumption you could lease a lesson horse (you would need to state this up-front)....
                      1. How much is a lease (full/partial)?
                      2. What's covered in the lease fee/what do you have to pay for on top of that (vet, board, shoes, etc),
                      3, How many times you get to ride if a partial lease, are they still going to use the horse in lessons (especially if a partial lease, will they use the horse on the days when you come),
                      4. Which horses are available for full or partial lease. Do you like those horses?
                      5. What if the horse becomes unsound for some reason? This is part of horse ownership, and if you owned, you'd be responsible for everything. BUT if you're leasing, especially partial, and the horse is unsound as the result of something done with some other rider, who's paying?
                      6. Are there times when you cannot ride the horse and are those acceptable to you (e.g. some barns are closed on Sunday)

                      As others have mentioned, there is no cut-and-dried universal answer to your question.
                      Thank you, foggythistle. All of these are really great questions to bring up--especially #5, because I'd probably start with a partial.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #31
                        Originally posted by Rumorhasit93 View Post
                        From a horsemanship standpoint (and overall), sounds like you could make barn B work. It’s worth asking if you can tack the horse up yourself- most likely they’ll say yes. And don’t worry about what the other people think. I, for one, actually thinks it’s cool and fun to take care of my own horse. So just do your own thing!

                        Id prefer the barn that pushes me to be better. Riding a younger horse would certainly be more appealing to me. Especially one that is well trained, so that if I am asking for something incorrectly, the horse will “tell” on me.

                        Good luck!
                        Thank you, Rumorhasit93.
                        I'm like you, I love taking care of my own horse--I've always looked forward to grooming/tacking up etc. just as much as I do riding. The younger horse at Barn B is really well trained and certainly lets me know when I'm not communicating as well as I should be, and honestly it's quite an amazing experience to ride a horse who'll do that and also give him your all even for just a short lesson!

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #32
                          Originally posted by Mac123 View Post
                          Man, this is a tough one! Do you have video from lessons at both places? It'd be fascinating to see the differences.

                          Barn A may be picker on your real skills and more in tune to the flatwork piece of things. Or it may be protecting it's older and less fancy school horse. Or it may be super conservative. Or it may be less experienced or less organized/specific.

                          Barn B could be seeing your real skill level. Or they may be glossing over your gaps, putting you on a nicer horse and hoping that you will end up buying a horse with them (something that will likely need training) and showing with them. As a show-oriented barn, they could be less concerned with the basics and more used to pushing people forward (while having the staff and the program to manage & prepare the horses to allow that). They also may not have true school horses and something fancier/more advanced is all they have available to you.

                          Without seeing video, I find it hard to really give an opinion of which barn is accurately addressing your skill level (or perhaps neither of them are!).

                          If you don't have video or aren't comfortable sharing it, I would have a conversation with each barn. Ask barn A why the lessons have felt more basic than other experiences ("I'm just curious and trying to learn, but I was wondering if there's a specific reason that our lessons are more flatwork and small jump focused? They feel like a step back compared to other experiences I've had, but I'm wondering if you had a specific reason for that?")

                          ...and ask barn B if they can emphasize the horsemanship and also be aware of your goals ("I'm loving our lessons and feel like I'm being appropriately pushed in my riding, but flatwork and horsemanship is important to me as well. Could we incorporate more flatwork? And would it be okay if I helped the grooms get ready for my lessons and cool out/untack as well? I'd like to be a well-rounded rider. I also just want to let you know that I don't plan on showing much - I just want to be the best rider and horsewoman I can be. Are you okay with those goals?").

                          Those 2 conversations should give you some really helpful feedback.

                          FWIW I hated it when clients just asked if they could jump higher, because usually if I wasn't having them do so it was for a specific reason. Asking why we weren't doing something in an attempt to learn goes over way better than just asking to jump bigger - or at least it will tell you their reasoning! If the reason is that Dobbin can't do more and he's your only lesson horse option, that will really help you in your decision! But so many clients aren't willing to take the time to learn and commit to the basics these days. And that may be why Barn B is just pushing you on - they're probably used to an impatient, higher end clientele that wants to do the fun stuff regardless of if they're ready for it.
                          Thank you, Mac123. Every possibility you state is a question I've asked myself. I don't have much video but I'll try to get some that I'm comfortable sharing (eek). I really should have another conversation with them both about the gaps in either scenario, like you say. I definitely don't want to jump higher just to do it, and certainly not if my instructor doesn't think it's appropriate for me to do so on her own. I love the thrill of jumping but am not looking to push it too quickly, just efficiently. Appreciate your details.

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                          • Original Poster

                            #33
                            Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post
                            I can see a few scenarios

                            1. you've way exaggerated your skills which barn A recognizes and barn B either doesn't recognize or doesn't care which could have serious consequences for your safety and confidence.

                            2. barn A simply doesn't have the kind of horses that can help you progress, they're a safe beginner barn and not an advanced rider barn.

                            3. barn A instructor doesn't have the skills to advance a rider, and does better with beginner riders

                            4. barn B has a more efficient program and finds it easier to be a full service barn where they provide the horse care and clients just ride
                            Thank you, enjoytheride.

                            1. I was always taught to let my riding do the "speaking"--at both evaluations I answered their questions about what I was doing at my old barn/my riding background. For safety reasons alone, I'd rather downplay rather than exaggerate my skills! My rule of thumb for pretty much everything...

                            2. They have some advanced horses, but they could have a busy schedule so probably reserved for more advanced students.

                            3. She does teach a lot of beginner and intermediate riders. Not so much the advanced ones, from what she's told me.

                            4. This makes a lot of sense. They do seem to have more resources and staff.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #34
                              Originally posted by Farosh View Post

                              Yes I second this. Like right now I have a horse that’s for sale that belongs to one of our boarders and she really wants to keep him in our barn so I’m allowed to use him for lessons until someone buys him. He is amazing and perfect and easy for every level of riding up to 3’ and I save his energy for people who might be interested in buying a horse. If after a few lessons you make it clear you’re not interested I’m gonna save his energy for someone who might be. It’s not personal or anything but I have a job to do and the horse can only do so many lessons and someone else will pay for him. I’d buy him myself as a lesson horse but I can’t afford him lol. All my lesson horses that are as nice as him I got for free or very cheap a long time ago, rescues and ottbs, when they weren’t as nice as him and I’ve put a lot of work into them to get them to the point where they will jump nicely for any random person. They will all save your butt if you make mistakes because at 2’ a chip or a miss isn’t so bad but if I constantly have random people jumping 2’6”+ on them they are gonna stop being so forgiving eventually. Plus the higher you jump the more risk of injury there is for the horse and the more maintenance the horse needs, and I can’t afford to pay for hock injections and adequan for all of my lesson horses lol but if you want to jump higher and pay for that stuff if/when needed than fine. I know some other trainers that won’t let you jump higher than 2’ if you don’t have your own horse. Her horses straight up just don’t jump higher than that. I’m not so strict since most of my horses are fairly young but I see where she’s coming from.

                              but with all that said I have a few 1x a week riders I let jump higher, but they have all been with me for a long time, are very talented, and really would come up more frequently if certain life things didn’t prevent them. But I also have them ride a lot of my greener horses who are not really 100% ready for the lesson program, so they are also kind of helping me school horses. So I let them get a little crazier because I love them and want them to have fun and know if they take a tumble they’ll laugh it off.
                              Gotta say, your lessons sound FUN!

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #35
                                You guys have given me so much to think about, as well as a lot of different perspectives. Thanks again for taking the time! Truly appreciate it

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by Blueriver View Post
                                  The two barns do give opposing directions during lessons (ex: while cantering, one says hands low, one says hands high) but I can keep juggling that.
                                  Opposing directions might be because of the horse and the situation, not so much giving different advice.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by trubandloki View Post

                                    Opposing directions might be because of the horse and the situation, not so much giving different advice.
                                    I agree, the more advanced the horse the higher the hands.

                                    Think of a straight line between elbow to wrist to bit.
                                    It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by Blueriver View Post

                                      Thank you, merrygoround. Yes, absolutely--they have plenty of more advanced riders in their program. I do know of other barns that push too soon, and I really don't want any holes in my training from places like those! Simply jumping to jump is not what I'm interested in, I do want to build up to it.
                                      Then Barn A is the barn for you. Too many programs push riders too fast to get them to horse shows where they make their real money. Riders need a strong, solid foundation and sounds like trainer A doesn't feel that you have that. He/she likely indulges your requests to jump, since you have to keep people's interests, but keeps returning to flat work because you have holes there. In his/her opinion. I'd stick with someone who wants the best for me. Barn A sounds like that.

                                      And the focus on horsemanship is invaluable. Barn A. All the way.
                                      Power to the People

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                                      • #39
                                        I think the tone of your question speaks to you already knowing the answer you’re leaning toward, and that would be the more challenging lessons.

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                                        • #40
                                          Does Barn A have different school horses for you to ride? Maybe just riding a less "beginner friendly" horse would be one way to make your lessons more challenging there. I am all for learning about how to get a horse more forward but to me, equally important is how to learn to ride tactfully on a more sensitive horse.

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