New Adult Rider: Need Advice on Choosing Where to Take Lessons - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 17 Old 04-08-2018, 08:16 AM
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There are barns that are built around horses, and their are barns built to attract "clientel". If it's a tie breaker, I'd go with the former anyday - as a beginner, you want your butt on a serene, unstressed horse; as a more advanced rider, it's a matter of ethics as well. Watch the lessons, watch the horses, get some education in best practices of horse keeping, then maybe one will start to stand out over the other.

To me, for example, sprawling farms with pristine fences and pastures virtually free of hoof prints, let alone horses, are very off-putting. A modest farm, where all the horses are out, with enough room to move and the ability to interact, would win.

I must admit that trail access would be a large consideration for me as well. Yes, it does fall under "clientel" (as it is my desire), but I also believe that horses do need to get "off the ranch" now and then for mental stimulation, and that moving over rough and varied terrain is good for their strength and coordination.

"The people" are way, way down on my list to consider, unless they instruct me. After a week of "people", I'm there to center myself, pay attention to my horse, and not heed other people's needs for a few hours.

Of course, that's just me...
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post #12 of 17 Old 04-08-2018, 09:09 AM
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I also think trying a lesson or two at both places will be the only way to really know. And a big part of it will come down to what the horses are like, which you won't really know until you're on them. I had lessons for a bit at one very impressive looking barn, with a nice-seeming instructor, hundreds of acres of beautiful trails... and the horses were so poorly schooled that they all balked near the gate and it was a fight every ride just to get them to walk on the track around the ring to warm up! The "nice" instructor turned out to be completely clueless, and also too bone lazy to do much, and would make a million ridiculous excuses to keep us inside the indoor ring and never let us ride outside, as she was more into sitting in a lawn chair and looking at her phone than actually doing anything productive.

I switched to what appeared to just be a little backyard operation, but the horses there are the best I've ridden and the coach -- who didn't seem as warm and nice at first -- is smart, hilarious, and wonderful. The ring is small, there's no indoor arena, and the trails are short and muddy, but you couldn't pay me to switch back.
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post #13 of 17 Old 04-08-2018, 09:26 AM
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I would agree with the others saying you should watch the lessons and the horses.

Look at the riders each barn turns out. Are they tactful, respectful riders with an understanding of the horse's needs? If not, run. Run FAR. You don't need a barn that teaches you to be unkind to horses. If so, that's a promising sign. No matter what anybody's long term goals are, FIRST they should learn to respect the horse.
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post #14 of 17 Old 04-08-2018, 09:27 AM
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I'd try barn 1 first and audit barn 2. I miss the Ladies classes from when I moved here. Over the years several of the women have moved to other barns as they purchased or bought property and have their horses at home. Some of us work jobs with inflexible schedules, others can schedule around. We still get together 18 years after that first lesson here. We range in age from 26 all the way up to early 70s. Some of us have kids, some don't. While the core riding group is the heart the mothers of some of the riders have been folded into the group. It helps that at Christmas the instructor offers a Mother Child ride. There is a short lesson to get those moms that have never been on a horse comfortable and then there is an hour long trail ride that she finishes up with hot chocolate and cookies. You can't beat that.

I bet you'll find she also has a show schedule just not one as intense (I am not sure what word to use - demanding, elite...) as barn 2. If you decide showing is the end all be all and the 2nd barn becomes a better fit then you can switch. It may be that barn 1 trailers out to ride and offers a package if you ride there. While $500 a month for a half lease sounds expensive you need to ask what it involves and how much ride time are you getting. Here your lease covers lessons so runs more than a typical lease but the owners want to insure their horses are being ridden right and used to keep them fit and tuned up.
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post #15 of 17 Old 04-08-2018, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the replies! Lots for me to consider and think about. I do know I’m excited to ge started!
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post #16 of 17 Old 04-08-2018, 01:36 PM
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I agree - I'd lead toward the first barn. You won't advance much at all without a good rapport with trainer(s). Teaching adults is different than teaching children and teenagers, and it sounds like Barn 1 has more experience with the former. It also sounds more social, which is important. One of the things I like about the barn I go to is that it's not a lesson/trail ride factory - folks are welcome to hang around and chat and learn. Making connections could also help you in the future if you want to go out on a trail ride (it's often more fun with friends!) or learn more about leasing, or need advice on technique or just want to know "why does this bridle look like this and why does that one look like that".

Like others have said, basic horsemanship is the same, and it takes time to feel really grounded in the basics. And the better rapport you have the more you can chat with others about what they like or dislike. I came into it with a vague understanding of different disciplines and sport categories (hunter vs dressage vs barrel racing etc) but have learned plenty of new things too (like, trail class in shows. Maneuvering around trail obstacles? That sounds like the bee's knees to me.) By it's nature (expense, space required) modern equestrian sport can be a pretty insular place, so it's important to find a place you feel comfortable in and can ask questions and not feel shot down. I'd venture to say that a kid-oriented, competition-focused barn may not be one of those 'feel free to ask silly questions' places.

And no shame in switching to another barn if you eventually outgrow this one. But that's all in time. Aside from trail access, Barn 1 sounds like a good fit.
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post #17 of 17 Old 04-08-2018, 03:59 PM
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I agree that barn 1 sounds like a better fit for someone just starting out. I don't understand how anyone can go to the barn and not get sucked into the social aspect. The instructor at barn 1 seems like she has the laid back style that is better suited to beginners.
Barn 1 sounds like a tightly knit and supportive group. You can always switch to the bigger barn later if you want to show.
For me big show barns are intimidating because there's so much pressure to be competitive. That kind of pressure can really kill any desire to ride especially for a beginner. Plus you already mentioned that the instructor you met with may have a bit of a condescending attitude. That's not what you need when you're just starting out.
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