Selecting a Stable For Your First Horseback Riding Lesson: Which Questions to Ask?
The idea of selecting a stable or a ranch for your first horseback riding lesson may seem like an easy task, but there is more to the process than choosing the first stable listed in the phone book or web search. Before calling any potential stables, prepare a list of questions to ask, see if the stable has reviews, and look to see if the stable has a website and what information you can find there.
Contacting Potential Stables for Horseback Riding: How to Approach
You never know who is going to answer the phone when you call the stables, so ask to speak with the stable owner, manager, or the person who can give you information about riding lessons.
Once you are on the phone with the correct person, start by introducing yourself and tell them what you are looking for. You can say something such as, “Hello, I’m Sandy Lester, and I am searching for information on horseback riding lessons for, (myself), (or my son/daughter who is (age) years old), are you taking new clients at the moment?”
If they are taking new clients you can then ask the questions below, if they are not, thank them for their time and call the next stable on your list.
Which Questions to Ask Potential Stables or Ranches Before Starting Horseback Riding Lessons?
1. How many instructors do you have and what are their qualifications?
Some barns have one instructor while others will multiple. If there are multiple instructors make sure to ask if you will have the same instructor or if it changes with the lessons. Not all instructors are certified, just because they don’t have a certification does not mean they are not qualified. Many instructors learned from working with other trainers and instructors, and sometimes they may be even more qualified than those who hold a certification.
2. Ask about the lessons horses. How long have they been used for lessons and why do they use these specific horses?
You want to make sure that the horses are safe for you and or your children. Asking the age, how long they have been used as lesson horses, and why they use these horses and not others will give you the information needed to determine if the horses are safe for a first time rider.
3. Does the stable specialize in a specific discipline?
Finding out the style of riding the stable specializes in is necessary because if you want to learn to jump you wouldn’t want to choose a barn that specializes in western pleasure. Make sure the stable offers instruction in the discipline you want to ride in. (dressage, eventing, showjumping or even trail riding etc.)
4. Are students primarily youth or adults?
Finding out if the riding students are youth or adults will give you an idea of what type of people are at the stable. In the future it may be important for you to make friends to ride with at the stable so finding people in the same age group as you or your child might be something to consider.
5. Are they insured?
Riding at a stable that does not have insurance can be dangerous if someone gets hurt. The stable and the instructors should all be insured and you so choose you may ask what their equestrian insurance policy covers and does not cover.
6. Are lessons private, semi-private, or group and what do they cost?
Lessons should decrease in price with private being the most expensive, then semi-private, and then group. For beginners private lessons are the ideal way to start and some stables may offer discounts on horseback riding lesson prices if multiple sessions are purchased at one time or per month.
At the end of the call if the stable sounds like a place you may like, ask if you can make an appointment to see the stable, meet the instructors, and the lesson horses. If you don’t think it's a potential option for you, thank them for their time, and you will be in touch.
Once all the calls and stale visits are complete, review the information on each stable, choose the stable, and schedule your first lesson.
Horseback riding is physically demanding and takes some coordination, but all of this improves as you advance in your lessons. If you have taken a few lessons and things aren’t not progressing like you think they should, or if you are not clicking with one of the instructors, make sure to voice your concerns to the stable owner, manager, or the instructor.
If things are not coming together at this stable, try another, and maybe even another after that. All stables will not be perfect for all students, so find the one that is right for you.
What may be missing from one stable may be covered more clearly for you at another so giving a few stables a try before you decide that riding is not for you. Enjoy the ride!