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Choosing a Horse Lesson Barn

Jul 15, 2008
Taking riding lessons is a great way to introduce yourself to the world of horses. But before you rush out to the first stables listed in the classifieds section there are a few things you should know.

Many stables specialize in riding lessons. These riding schools have many school horses and several instructors who teach. Other farms have a single coach, often the barn owner, who teaches lessons on a few select horses from her barn. Both types of farms have their benefits.

Riding schools are generally lower in cost than smaller barns. They usually offer group lessons where up to six horses and riders learn together in hour-long lessons. Many schools also offer semi-private and private lessons at higher rates.

With a variety of horses available to ride you get a chance to see what different horses are like and gain a range of experience riding them. Usually there are at least two instructors, often more. You can sometimes try different coaches until you find one that works well with you, but not all schools give you that option.

Riding schools tend to be less personal than smaller stables. The lessons are generalized to meet the needs of the group, so the instructor often cannot work with specific issues that an individual rider may be having.

In the long run most riding schools are limited to lower level riders. As riders develop their skills they may need to move on to private coaching and may need to lease or purchase their own horse.

Smaller barns usually only hove one coach. That coach often only teaches private or semi-private lessons, often because there are not enough school horses available for larger groups.

With only a couple of horses available for lessons the student gets less selection. On the other hand there is a chance to get to know the horse you are riding and gain a rapport with that horse. The horse is often well trained and tends to have the ability to go further than the basics. If that horse does not have that level of ability the owner may have another horse that will take her riders into higher level riding.

Small barns are also more personal and inviting. This can be great for riders with confidence issues. The only difficulty is that when the rider/coach dynamic does not work there is no secondary coach to try instead.

When checking out a barn for lessons take a good look around the property. The horses should be well groomed and in good weight. While they should not be fat, they also should not have their ribs showing. There should be signs that the horses get lots of turn-out and are not stuck standing in a stall all day.

The barn should be clean with clearly designated areas for keeping tack and for grooming horses. Pitchforks and other farm implements should be stored neatly away where they are not likely to be knocked over by a passing horse.

The arena should be clear of dangerous obstacles and be well fenced. A mounting block should be available to help riders get on tall horses. The footing should be loose and around 3-4" deep.

Be sure to take the time to meet your instructor, or if that is not possible in advance of a lesson ask if you could take a trial lesson to get to know the coach before committing to a series of lessons. Many barns ask that you pay for up to 10 lessons at a time. This is normal, but you should be able to at least meet the coach before committing. The lessons are generally not refundable, so you want to be sure that you are happy with the person you will be learning from.

If you do start lessons at one farm and find over time that it doesn't work out, don't be afraid to look around to find a barn that better suits your needs. Everyone is different and each barn suits its own type of people.

Above all make sure that you find a farm you are comfortable at, and where you feel safe. Riding lessons should be fun, not stressful. So take your time, find the right barn and enjoy your introduction to the world of horses.
About the Author
Lydia V Kelly is a writer for www.HorseClicks.com, popular classifieds of horses for sale, horse property and trailers for sale.
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