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Horse Training - School Search
Sign up for riding lessons!

A good trainer will make time to meet you.
So your parents have finally said that you can sign up for riding lessons. Now you just have to find a riding school.

It’s important to find the best barn and the best instructor you can so do some research before signing up for lessons.

There are several ways to look for a good riding school. Your first step should be to visit a local tack shop. Look on the bulletin board to see if there are any advertisements for riding schools or lessons. Ask the shop’s salespeople what they know about the  lesson barn. Tack shop staff usually know a lot about instructors and barns in the area. 

While you’re in the tack shop, talk your parents into buying you a well-fitting riding helmet of your own!

Look in the yellow pages of the telephone book to see if there are any riding schools near you. One or two may be advertised, but it’s difficult to tell from an ad if a barn is good or not.

If you have a friend who rides at a lesson barn ask her for her opinion on the place. If she likes the barn, your parents can call the instructor and ask if you can look around while lessons are going on.

Here are 15 tips to help you find the best riding school in your area.

1. The instructor should be happy to have you and your parents come look at the barn and watch a lesson or two. She should be willing to make time for you and talk to you about the lesson program, riding schedules and prices. She or a helper should take you on a tour of the barn.

2. Employees at the barn should be friendly and dressed in appropriate riding clothing such as breeches, jeans and boots—not shorts and sandals.

3. The trainer should wear a safety helmet with a chinstrap when mounted—especially if she teaches English riding. You probably won’t see many western trainers wearing helmets—although they should.

4. Find out how experienced the trainer is. Has she been teaching for years? Does she have a degree from a horsey college? Is she an experienced competitor? Does she have any teaching qualifications?

5. The barn area should be tidy. Manure and bedding should be on a muckheap far from the barn.

The stables should be fairly clean. If horses are standing in piles of manure or puddles of urine, it’s best to leave and find another barn.

The barn should be in good repair and not falling down around you. There shouldn’t be old, broken-down tractors     nearby or broken glass.

And people should not be smoking. One spark can set a bale of hay alight and cause a huge fire.

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Are the lesson horses well behaved?

6. The horses and ponies should look alert and interested in the activity going on around them at the barn.

They should be fairly well groomed (inthe winter they might look a bit muddy–that’s OK) and look healthy.

They should look like they get enough to eat—you shouldn’t be able to see ribs or their backbones sticking out.

7. Barn employees should be kind but firm. They shouldn’t shout at horses or hit them.

8. Don’t ride at a school where the   horses look tired and in poor condition. Ask how many times a day a horse is ridden. A horse should be used in no more than three times a day (and that’s still a lot!)

9. There should be no more than six students in a lesson. If there are more, the trainer won’t spend enough time with you individually. Lessons are expensive so you want her to pay attention to you.

10. All of the kids in the lesson should be wearing safety helmets and proper    riding clothes such as jodhpurs, breeches, jeans and boots with a heel. The helmets should look modern and up-to-date. They should have fixed chin straps and look like they fit the riders.

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Are the students at the same riding level?

11. Watch several lessons. Does the school match students with horses by size and ability? If you are tiny you don’t want to ride a 17.1hh horse. If you are a new rider, you don’t want to ride the friskiest horse in the barn.

Do the kids look like they are  having fun? If students look scared or miserable, maybe this isn’t the riding school for you. Riding is supposed to be a blast!

12. Do all the kids in the class look like they are at about the same level of riding?
You don’t want to get stuck in a class with someone who is just learning how to trot when you can canter.
Having someone who is less experienced in a riding class can slow everyone down.

13. A good trainer should have a positive attitude. If she yells at her students or is mean to the horses, leave and try to find another trainer.

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Learning to tack up is part of riding.

14. Does the trainer teach the style of riding that you want to learn? There’s no point in going to a saddleseat trainer if you want to jump.

15. Ask the trainer if you can spend extra time at the barn, learning how to do things such as tacking up and grooming.

A good trainer will encourage you to learn all about horses and to become a more knowledgeable horse person.



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