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
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
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,