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How To Choose a Quality Riding School

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

The benefits of riding and spending time with horses are well documented. Riding develops core strength, balance, and fine motor skills.

It is a bilateral activity that uses both sides of our body equally. It teaches discipline, responsibility, sportsmanship, and a host of other important life skills. It is a healthy outdoor activity that can be enjoyed alone or in groups. Connecting with horses is also therapeutic-it can relieve anxiety and boost confidence. But choosing the right riding lesson program is crucial. What should you look for when you go to select a riding school, and how should you go about determining if it offers a safe and supportive environment? First question: how far you are willing to drive? Plan to go to the barn at least once a week, but riding twice a week or more is better for making progress. You will need to commit to a regular time(s) and not be late, so make sure it is a drive you can handle..

Once you have a list of riding schools within range, the following steps can help you narrow down the selection to the best choice. 1) Check their online presence. Does it look professional, and does it show riders engaged in activities that look fun and educational? 2) Chat on the phone with the instructor. Do they seem friendly and engaging? This is an industry where burnout is real; are they excited to work with you? Do they invite you for a tour, talk about activities they offer, and their teaching philosophies? Look for someone who is kind and patient. 3) Visit the riding school, take a tour, and meet the instructor in person.

The general maintenance of a riding school can offer clues about its management. Poor management can equate to poor safety. Are the fences in good repair? Is the barn tidy and does the tack and equipment look well-maintained? Is there a fence all the way around the riding arena? Do the horses and ponies look healthy and happy in their work, or do they look dull and sad? Do they have variety in their work, or do they go around in circles all day? How many hours a day does a horse or pony work? If you are allowed, stay and watch a lesson. Does it look like a lesson you feel excited for you or your child to join? Do the people teaching there seem happy, friendly, and welcoming? How many people are in a lesson at one time? 4) Price: Riding is expensive because horses are costly to keep.

Very low prices at a riding school compared with its peers should be a red flag. The saying, "You get what you pay for" has extra meaning here-lack of funds can mean lower standards. The benefits of spending time with horses are uncountable and the sense of well-being people derive from horses is unique. The barn is a magical place. Hopefully this guide helps you to find your unicorn!

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