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kimj 01-13-2011 02:10 PM

Question about best place for lessons
Hi everyone,

I'm new to posting here but have read the forums for a couple of years now. I would love your thoughts on something I'm having trouble deciding on. Background on me is I'm 37, always wanted to ride as a kid but never did much more than the occasional trail ride, but now I've been taking lessons very casually for a couple of years. I've tried to ride once a week but have kids so that hasn't always been possible coordinating schedules so my progress has been slow, to say the least. Over the last 6 months I've been 1/4 leasing though so have increased my riding to 2-3 times a week so that has helped a lot!

Anyway, my question is my current coach is moving where she's coaching from to a facility about a half hour away so it's making me question if I should try a different place (there's one that's literally 2 minutes up the road from me). My current coach teaches mostly kids and is only available for lessons after schools two days a week and on Saturdays (a big pain for me since I have kids), and like I said, she's now about a half hour drive away. However, her lessons are very cheap ($30 for a full hour with about 3-4 students) and she only charges me $100 to lease and I can ride 2 extra times per week. There is only an outdoor sand ring (with lights) and fields though - no indoor ring.

The place I'm looking at is a full-time facility so lessons are every day but Sundays, all day, and they have an indoor ring. The lessons are $40 for half an hour though, but they're private and to be honest, I think a bit more professional in terms of technique. For example, at this facility I know they start you on a lunge line at first and I've never had to do that at all with my current coach with the exception of starting cantering, even when I was brand new... My current coach doesn't think starting on the lunge line is necessary... Leasing at this facility though is $250/month (including the once a week lesson) but you only get 1 extra ride a week vs 2 at the other place.

Cost is a factor for me for sure so I wouldn't necessarily be able to lease with the more expensive facility right away (plus you can't lease with them until you've taken lessons for 2 months with them), but I'm concerned with 1) that I'm not really progressing with my existing lessons anyway, even though they're cheap, and 2) that even though I can ride twice a week with my current coach, it's too far away so that won't really be feasible with my schedule.

My current coach also does lots of school shows, so I end up having lessons missed a lot as she's at shows on the Saturdays, and she also gives the horses the winter off so I can't ride for 2 months of the year (I'm going through withdrawal as we speak!!). There's also the fact that I have lessons with kids, which isn't always the most fun, especially with the parents watching! LOL

So, what do you think? More potential time in the saddle (albeit alone a lot which can get rather boring as a relative beginner!) at a better cost or an indoor ring, better location, and maybe better coaching??

Thanks so much! I've asked my husband but he doesn't ride so he doesn't really understand much beyond cost and distance (so that makes them about even). LOL Sorry for the novel! Hope you could make sense of my rambling!

kimj 01-13-2011 02:16 PM

one last thing
Sorry I'm so wordy, but I should maybe add one more point. My current coach is focuses on hunter/jumper whereas the other facility I'm looking at focuses on dressage - though I'm not sure either really matters at this point as I don't plan on doing much with either; I just wanted to be a confident rider who has strong basic skills so I could comfortably own my own horse one day if I want to. The better skill set I get the better, but I don't plan on attempting to compete in any way.

kitten_Val 01-13-2011 02:16 PM

Welcome to the forum, kim!

With all my respect I don't believe in cheap lessons being very professional. If you just want to ride(mess with horse etc.) sticking with your current trainer is probably the best (because it's so cheap), however if you want to progress in your riding I'd go with the professional coach.

P.S. I haul one hour/one way for the lesson. :wink:

Zimpatico 01-13-2011 02:21 PM

I would definately try a lesson at the closer facility. You may be surprised by how quickly you'll improve with better instruction. Lunge line lessons are fantastic for beginners and experiened riders alike! If you aren't looking to show, but want to be a solid rider, it sounds like the other place will give you a better foundation. And, $250 a month for a weekly lesson and weekly free ride is still a pretty good deal at a professional facility. Before making any commitments, call and ask if you can watch a lesson, have a tour, and meet the instructor. Then ask if you can take an initial lesson to get the feel for the place before making any decisions.

kimj 01-13-2011 02:26 PM

Thanks kitten_val! I agree with you 100% about 'cheap' lessons, but I'm not sure they actually are any different in this case as my current coach is very wealthy so she likes to keep her lessons affordable (that's what she says anyway) - and she's got the same qualifications/certifications as does the one at the facility. I think the difference in price is more related to the amenities of the facility. My current coach's students are actually the ones that win all the school shows, even against all the really expensive barns! I think I just get the more 'lax' coaching as she's trying to be nice to me being her adult student... But I do question why we're not taught on the lunge line at first though - do you think that's a red flag that she doesn't believe in that?

Thanks again - and again sorry for the wordiness! LOL

EmilyandNikki 01-13-2011 02:26 PM

Looking at your posts, I would recommend the more expensive place. Just because you said you want a solid foundation so one day you can own your own horse. The more expensive place focus is on dressage, which will give you the basics and you will learn some really cool things!
That and you said that you currently arn't progressing in with your current instructor. I will pin that on you being in lessons with kids. kids and adults learn differently, and at different rates. Kids learn slower, and aren't as interested in training and care, adults tend to learn quicker and want to KNOW everything they can about the animal, the care and the training. Me being 17(in between and at my prime for learning) have been in a lesson with a 30 year old, loved that lesson, I tended to improve quicker, but I still wanted to know what she wanted to know so it was great. Then I moved into a lesson with a fearless 12 &14 year old, who really just wanted to ride. Everything else(including care) came second. Now I'm in a lesson with a nervous 11 year old, who I try to help boost her confidence as much as possible by hiding my nervousness. It's ending up being a win-win for us, because she see's me attempt things and thinks she can do it, and I try to help her out by trying to believe I can do it(It's sooo hard trying to hide nervousness and uncertainty!)
Back to your topic, you really need to be in a lesson with older people who share your interest and are about your level. You'll find yourself progressing much faster, and having more fun!

kimj 01-13-2011 02:28 PM

Thanks Zimpatico,

Ya, trying a lesson, etc., is probably the best way to go before making any decisions. That's what my husband said too - darn him for being right! LOL


kimj 01-13-2011 02:37 PM


Wow, you really get the difference between adults and kids - I'm constantly reading, looking for more information, wanting to know why, exactly where do I put my leg, etc., etc., and that kind of stuff is what I really feel like I'm missing. Sigh.... LOL I'm feeling guilty for possibly leaving my current coach now...we're about the same age and I really like her (as a person)...but to be around other adults at similar levels would be wonderful.

Okay, I feel like I'm taking over this forum...LOL I'll stop posting now. ;) Thanks everyone for your awesome and quick help!!


Zimpatico 01-13-2011 02:45 PM

Kim, if you'll be around other "like-minded" adults at the other facility, that's a huge plus. Not that I mind having the kids around the barn, but I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have other adults around to discuss health issues, training, tack, etc... Or, just go have a drink with! It sounds like the other facility may be a better fit all the way around.

kitten_Val 01-13-2011 03:27 PM

Just .... give it a try in new place! :-) You may not like it... You may love it. You just never know. Some trainers are just awesome (and reasonable), some expensive (and useless). So it all depends on your luck, discipline, and purpose. Go watch some lessons, ask questions, see if you like the personality of the instructor (understand the explanations, easy to follow, etc.). I went through 5 trainers before I found my current one I'm very happy to work with!

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