Another good area to find lessons or barns is simple..let your fingers do the walking in the local yellow pages. You need to find a lesson barn that offers both english and western unless you have already developed a preference; the two riding styles, while similar in the rider physical requirement, are different in style. I happened to learn english from the start and I have no balance in a western saddle...strange I know as at the time I was jumping 4 foot fences.
Lessons will offer you the chance to get to know horses; all types. Mares, geldings, ponies (if you are small enough). A good lesson barn will teach you the basics of grooming, tacking up, leading and so on. A horse isn't a dog on a leash..there are specific safety measures any human needs to take to keep both them and the horse safe. Remember, these are animals with base instincts and outweigh us by, in most cases, nearly a thousand pounds. While most horses are careful of their humans, there is no guarantee they could cause harm without meaning to. Most lesson horses are pretty steady and it takes a lot to get the spooked..it takes a special horse to make a good lesson horse; they don't all have the ability to put up with beginner/student errors.
You are a beginning rider; take the beginner lessons. Most barns have some sort of system to move entire lesson groups up together. For example, the barn I board at is more of a lesson barn from beginner to advanced. The riders may start at a beginner level but learn and advance together; a group rated as beginner at the start may change levels to intermediate a year or so later and all the riders are the same..in most cases. People come and go and new students join in as they come to the barn and are evaluated but we have three groups that I know of that have been together for over 5 years.
The other advice..talk to the instructors at the level you will be riding at and try and observe a few lessons. Some instructors can be abrasive rather than encouraging and you want to decide if the instructors are people you can learn from without being irritated at their attitude. Riders need to be respectful of the instructors yes, but, instructors need to also give that respect back just as a simple courtesy. Some instructors are licensed or trained to teach but not all instructors are "teachers" and don't necessarily LIKE to teach..this can make a HUGE difference to making someone happy to be riding or making them so miserable they leave the sport and never return.
Last edited by tlkng1; 07-02-2013 at 08:11 PM.