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Itybty 06-04-2013 12:00 AM

Help me pick a barn for lessons!
I have been riding at Barn A, a medium sized lesson barn, for almost 3 years now. The owner is certifiably insane (definitely a hoarder and a pathological liar and I suspect bi-polar), but her husband is nice, and when she is in a good mood is actually quite nice, but will turn on you in a hot second. I've made several friends there that I really and truly enjoy seeing when I am there, and there are a couple of retired senior horses I'm pretty fond of as well. It's also about the cheapest place I've found for lessons and leases, and now I know why. The problem is that because the owner is crazy she can't seem to keep an instructor for more than a few months, and I have had, no kidding, 13 different instructors over the last 3 years there. Not one has stuck around for more than 6 months, and a few only lasted a month or so. She also is a cheapskate, which doesn't work when you have older horses who need more grain to keep their weight up, and when you are crazy and say things like, "Yeah you can see his ribs, but he's an OTTB, thats what they are supposed to look like!" and other horses that can only be ridden by selected riders because they lack proper training. They are quite literally trained by the lesson kids. The horse I have been leasing on and off for the past 18 months is ok, but frustrating to ride, stubborn and slow as hell, and older. (and is also, despite my lease, used in 4 other lessons per week, which limits my riding time on him) I could ask to change horses, but the only other horses available for me to lease are nuts and I value my limbs intact. I could drop to just weekly lessons, and ride a different horse as well, but my goal is to improve my riding, and with a lease, I can ride every day if I want, and I have been riding 3-4 days a week lately. Oh, and my lessons are group lessons, (5-8 people per lesson) and right now being taught by crazy who is not at all an instructor, but rather a cheerleader who just yells out walk! trot! canter! etc. and then follows is up with yeah! good girls!

For the last 6 months I've worked at Barn B, which is not a lesson barn, but rather a small breeding & boarding barn run by a lady who I so far quite like and she, her trainer and her barn manager all seem very smart and sweet and nice and really know their stuff. The barn manager is an excellent instructor, and I took a private lesson with him recently because my boss wanted to see how well I ride. I got to ride one of her personal horses, a VERY well trained sweetiepie of a horse who I've adored from the get-go, and it was like a revelation to ride a horse with professional training for a change. Problem being, this is not a lesson barn, so I'm riding the bosses horse, who the barn manager is using to compete this summer, which means I would be able to ride once a week for lessons, and *maybe* once in a while ride here and there, but nothing like the 2-4 hours a week minimum I spend now. There is a possibility of maybe riding more often in the future, but its up in the air right now. I also worry about mixing business with pleasure a wee bit, being that I also work at this barn.

Then we have Barn C. At some point over the winter I was getting fed up with the crazy at Barn A and I began to poke around at other places to take lessons. I took one private lesson each at 6 other barns that I found around me, and narrowed it down to this one. I liked the teacher, it was a lesson barn with several horses to choose from, and seemed fairly well run and reasonably priced. I think she has leases available, but it'll be more than at Barn A, but at least it'll be private lessons on a well trained horse.

Here is the dilemma I am facing.

I can continue to take lessons at A - but our more recent teacher just left because he refuses to work for :crazyass: anymore. (Also because she has a reputation around here for being horrid, and he doesn't want that blemish on his resume anymore.) The downsides to this are, everywhere else is more money for the same amount of riding time, I would be leaving many friends that I have made there, I will miss my "old guys" that I dote on and worry about getting enough food. Also, once this bridge is burned, I can never go back because of the aforementioned crazy and her salt-the-earth policy on people who leave.

I can take lessons at B, but I can not lease there at the moment, because pretty much all but one of the horses there are either boarders, my bosses broodmares, too young to be ridden or just way out of my league skills wise. I can afford the lessons because I work there, but I work there, so.. is this wise?

I can jump to Barn C and just start over. New barn, know no one there, hopefully meet new people and just basically start over. Downside is its more money per month for just lessons, albeit better horses and private lessons, so if I can swing it, its potentially worth it.

What do you think?

AlexS 06-04-2013 12:24 AM

Barn A - is out, you listed all the reasons. I am not sure you said anything positive, so you know that already. The friends you have there, will stay friends, and they can update you on the horses you care about.

Still reading, but posting while I read. I vote barn B right now. I am looking for a trainer to come to me, I want someone good, but they all require people to come to them, I don't have a trailer. I am offering the good trainers more money to come to me once a month rather than having average trainers once a week. Personally I'd rather have really quality over quantity.

I finished reading. Do you want to lease a while yet? Or do you plan to buy?
If you are not planning to buy, I vote barn C. Either B or C sound much better than A. Get out of A, you don't need that nonsense.

If you are buying your own horse, talk to B, if not then C. Private barns will take on the odd boarder privately and without advertising that fact, as they want to choose their own.

Final answer, talk to B, tell them your situation and ask if they have anything for you, if not, then C. That would be my final choice, without asking the audience. LOL

Skyseternalangel 06-04-2013 12:32 AM

730 Attachment(s)
I like the sound of C with some of B. As in, a lesson once in awhile with barn B as it offers trainers that turn out good horses.

No to barn A. You can't think of it as burning a bridge so much as saving yourself the drama.

Itybty 06-04-2013 03:02 PM

DH and I decided last night that I'm going to half-drop for just this month with Barn A, as in, I'll pay for a couple more lessons, but I'm telling that I won't volunteer my time anymore, and I won't be paying the lease amount anymore. (double the lessons only cost) and as of July 1 I'm done and will likely never go back. It just seemed like the easiest way to make sure I can get my saddle and stuff out of there safely, and back away slowly from the :crazyass: .

My goals right now are you really focus on my skills and confidence as a rider, I want to progress and learn how to jump and build up my confidence and I feel like part of the reason I've been stuck at the same level for a while is because every new teacher wants to start with the basics, and just when things start getting interesting they get pissed and leave.

DuckDodgers 06-04-2013 11:27 PM

I'm with AlexS- forget about barn A. If you plan on buying a horse then look into Barn B, if not I would go with Barn C.

Barn A has very few redeeming qualities except the fact that you are familiar with it. You'll have to give up your lease, but you haven't been able to enjoy it to begin with. You can't get any solid training with them jumping from instructor to instructor. Just cut your losses.

Barn B sounds like it would be lovely if you had your own horse, or found one to lease through another source. If I understood correctly, there will be more riding opportunities in the fall when the manager is no longer showing? If so you may want to look into holding off on any serious lessons until then. Whatever you're doing, it couldn't hurt to continue working there and taking a once a week lesson on a well trained horse. Someone around the barn may know of someone looking to lease out a horse that you could board there.

Barn C is the option that I would likely choose if you are not seriously looking to acquire your own horse. You could even take a few more lessons there while still riding at Barn B and finishing your lease at Barn A. You can improve your riding through trained horses and consistent instruction, and perhaps have an opportunity for a lease. I don't know what the price difference is between the places and your riding budget, but if you can swing it then that is probably what I would do.

DuckDodgers 06-04-2013 11:31 PM

Also, I'd get your tack and any valuables out of Barn A before informing the owner of your leaving. Given her instability she could lash out, or some of your items could "go missing". I wouldn't leave anything to chance, but on the off chance that things go wrong you don't want a reason that you have to go back there. And if she really is that crazy, I wouldn't tell her where you are going. I may sound paranoid, but I know of a terrible incident when someone inquired to a girl about some stolen tack and the barn mysteriously went up in flames shortly thereafter.

Itybty 06-04-2013 11:33 PM

I cleaned out my locker today, everything is in my car for now. I did the math tonight, and I could take TWO lessons a week at B and still come out ahead of my lease at A by $10 a month. :)

DuckDodgers 06-04-2013 11:42 PM

Super! You can definitely make improvements on two lessons per week! That's what I was doing up until I bought my horse. If you talk to the instructor they may be willing to cut you a package deal if you pay for a certain number of lessons per month. If not, pack away the extra $10 and save up for a nice saddle or something!

Itybty 07-25-2013 07:22 PM

So it took me a month longer than planned, but i am DONE with Barn A. So dang done. Had my last "lesson" there this week, and it just confirmed every reason I am done there, #1 being that there are too many skinny horses, and horses with lameness issues, and the owners just don't do enough to prevent stuff like this, let alone do something about it when it happens. Also, while they have hired a new (and **** good too) instructor, as good as he is, it doesn't negate all the other bad crap about Barn A.

So I ended up going with Barn B. I took a lesson there "just to see" and it was like.. a whole new world! A well trained, healthy, willing horse! Private lesson! The ability to focus on my issues and not on trying to re-train someones peeved cranky schoolie! It's heaven! Now I'm just pissed off at myself for not making the jump earlier. :)

Samstead 07-25-2013 07:41 PM

without reading all the comments I'd say C, no crazy BO, no mixing business with pleasure and you actually get to ride, you can cut back on lessons (I only ride once a week, don't complain)
But it appears you've chosen barn B, which is great (second choice after C) but I'd keep C an option just in case you want to up your ride time or find working and riding at the same barn isn't working.

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