ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Finding A Good Lesson Barn

Updated on January 3, 2013

Overview

Good lesson barns are sometimes hard to find. It is particularly challenging for the majority of people who need to find one - beginners who know little or nothing about horses, or who are looking for lessons for a child. Parents, in particular, may be bewildered by the options and worried about who they are trusting with their child's safety.

Knowing what to look for is a challenge, but hopefully the following tips will help.

Source

Decide on your style

Before you even start looking for a barn, you need to decide what kind of riding you want to do. This may be in part geographically dependent - it's a lot harder to find an English barn in, say, Denver, than it is in Maryland.

If you or your child already know exactly what kind of riding you want to do, you can start at a specialist show barn. If you are not sure, then you should find a general barn, many of which specialize in teaching beginners. If in doubt, most riders find it easier to transition from English to Western than vice versa. If you are not sure which you want to do, it's best to find an English barn if possible.

Make A List

Now it's time to make a list of barns that fulfill your needs and are easy to get to. The internet is a good source. Some regions may also have an advertising-supported equine newspaper that can be found at tack stores and, in rural areas, feed stores. These newspapers often have advertisements for all of the local barns.

Make a short list of the ones that appear suitable. This list will be your starting point. Take into account the things that matter to you - show record, for example, is only important if your ultimate goal is showing.

Visit Each Barn

Yes. I really mean it. Never hand a penny over to a lesson barn without a site visit. Call them first and check their opening hours. Go at a time when lessons are happening. If they insist on an appointment - take them off the list, they likely have something to hide. Reputable barns are happy to have you visit.

Once there, do a site inspection and check the following:

1. Are there working fire extinguishers in the barn? Extinguishers should be located at doors and every fifty feet in large barns. A sprinkler system is an extra bonus.

2. Are the fences and barn in good condition? Horses should never be turned out in barbed wire. Horse fencing should be solid post and rail or the tape kind of electric fencing. Stalls should be free of sharp edges that can injure a horse.

3. Do the horses look healthy and happy? Although a novice can't determine details of care, the horses should:

a. Be neither too thin (ribs and hips showing) or too fat (withers hidden in fat, overall obese appearance). One thin horse, if there's a good reason for it is not a reason to pass, but if all of the horses are underweight, leave right away. Some older horses may have apparently protruding hips as a result of scoliosis ('sway back', particularly common in mares that have been bred multiple times).

b. Have shiny coats. Note that old horses tend to have duller coats and a lot of horses used for beginners are older. But a shiny, fine coat is a sign of health. It also means the horse is being groomed regularly, although if a horse is caked with mud it can mean it was just brought in from the pasture. Horses should not still be filthy when they are tacked up. Some barns only groom horses when they are about to work, but mud on a tacked up horse may indicate that there is mud under the tack, which can result in sores.

c. Respond to people in the aisle with pricked ears and signs of interest. A good number of the horses should poke their heads out to say hi, unless they are all behind grills.

4. Is the barn clean and tidy? Stalls should be mostly free of manure and the barn should not stink of ammonia. Grooming kits and cleaning equipment should not be left lying around in the aisles. Saddles should be on racks, on horses or propped up against the wall, pommel or horn down. Tack should be clean and in good repair.

5. Is the arena in good condition? The footing should be even and although a little bit of a rut in the corners probably just indicates that it needs to be raked, large holes and the like are a bad sign. Is there a mounting block? Reputable barns generally do teach riders to mount from the ground, but expect blocks to be used routinely as it's better on the horse's back and the rider's hips as well as prolonging the life of the saddle.

Watch a lesson

Actually, watch more than one lesson. Take into account the following:

1. Are riders wearing helmets? (I know helmets are not traditional in western riding, but they really are a good idea).

2. Is the instructor appropriately dressed? Flip flops are a bad idea around horses, for example. Instructors should lead by example and wear long pants, comfortable closed-toe shoes and helmets if they ride.

3. Does the instructor have a teaching style that suits you? A large barn may have several instructors, of course, so not getting on with one of them may not be a disaster. However, barns also tend to have a 'barn style'.

4. Are all the riders in the group of the same or a very similar level of ability? Beginners should ride with beginners and experienced riders with experienced riders.

5. Is abusive behavior such as beating horses happening? Hint, one smack when a horse is naughty is not beating. Turning a crop over and hitting it five or six times is generally considered excessive. Beginners should not be wearing spurs.

Conclusion

If you follow these guidelines you should find the right lesson barn. Of course, if the barn turns out to be wrong, don't be afraid to leave.

If you see extreme abuse, then don't be afraid to report it, or it will never be stopped. Fortunately, that is rare and the vast majority of barns are good places that treat horses and students well.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      smohunterjumper 

      6 years ago

      This Really helped me! I did choose the perfect barn for myself! Anyone who wants to ride, READ THIS! :D

    • profile image

      kate 

      7 years ago

      My couch is makeing a big school !!!! I can't waht to workthere

    • profile image

      newday98033 

      7 years ago

      So far as I know, we sold him several years ago.

    • jenniferrpovey profile imageAUTHOR

      jenniferrpovey 

      7 years ago

      Is the horse okay now?

    • profile image

      newday98033 

      7 years ago

      The first barn used cheap hay and not enough of it. Horses coliced and were hungry. We didn't realize it for a while, then switched to another who told us our horse was starving. My fault for not learning about horses and the business. But lesson learned.

    • jenniferrpovey profile imageAUTHOR

      jenniferrpovey 

      7 years ago

      Bad barn experience?

    • profile image

      newday98033 

      7 years ago

      I wish I'd seen this article 15 years ago. Thanks, Jenn!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)