Did you know that about 13 million people ride horses every year? Horse riding is a popular activity and is a great way to reduce stress and get outdoors.
If you’re thinking about enrolling your child in horse riding lessons, you’re probably asking yourself, “how can I find the best stables near me?” Or, perhaps you’re spending hours googling “horse stables near me” to help you rent a horse for your kids.
To make your search a little easier, we’ve put together a guide to help you pick the best horse stables for your kids. Here’s how to go about it.
Step One: Find Horse Stables Near Me
The first step to finding a horse stable is to locate the horse stables that are in your local area. Let’s take a look at how to go about it.
Get on Google
The easiest way to find all stables that are in your area is to get online and do an internet search. Choose a radius that you’re comfortable with, say 25 miles, and then note down all the related search results.
Once you’ve got all the local results in your area, it’s time to do some reading. Take a look at each horse stable’s website to get a better idea of what they offer and whether they’ll be able to provide your kids with the services you’re looking for.
To pull up the horse stables in your area, try searching for terms such as “horse boarding stables near me.” Or, you can search for terms related to your neighborhood to help you pull up stables that you know are near your home.
Ask for Recommendations
You should talk to your friends and family members to get an idea of what horse stables in your area might be a good fit for your kids. Ask your friends whose children already take riding lessons about recommendations for good stables.
What’s more, if you already interact with animal care professionals, you can ask for recommendations from them. For example, your local vet or farrier may be able to give you recommendations for a few horse stables.
When you ask for suggestions, look for individuals who are interested in the same riding style as you. They’ll have better insight into barns that will provide you with the services that your child needs.
Reach Out to Stables
Once you’ve got a few stables that seem promising, it’s time to start getting in touch with them. Send the barns an email or give them a call to learn about details that might not be listed on their websites.
When you first contact the stables, you’ll also have a chance to schedule a tour to see the facility. And, you’ll get a chance to get a feel for the atmosphere and style of the barn just by having a quick conversation.
Step Two: Asking Questions
Once you’ve picked a stable or two that you want to visit, it’s time to put together a list of questions. Here are a couple of questions that you might want to ask to get a better idea of what the stable is like.
How Much Do Your Lessons Cost?
Each stable has its own cost associated with its lessons. And, even though most stables have information about their prices online, they might not have specific details about all the costs involved.
When speaking to your chosen horse riding stable, ask about what is included in the price of the lessons. Check whether you’ll need to have your own horse or riding gear or whether that’s included.
This is also a great chance for you to ask about any available discounts, too. Your chosen stables might be able to give you special rates if you ask about them.
What Are Your Stable’s Rules?
Each stable has its own rules and regulations, just like it has its own costs. What you need to do to make sure that you fully understand the stables is to ask a few questions about the rules of the stables.
Some good questions to ask include:
- How do you organize your tack?
- When and how often do you clean the stalls?
- Is there a public restroom I can use during my child’s lessons?
- What are the stable’s hours?
- Can I bring my pets to the lessons?
- When can I access the area?
Do You Provide Horse Boarding?
If you own your own horse, you’ll want to know about horse boarding options. This is important so that you know whether or not it’s okay to keep your horse on the premises or if you’ll have to transport it to the stables for lessons.
Remember that when you board a horse at a stable, you might have to take care of a few things on your own. For example, you’ll likely be required to muck the stalls or clean the horse on your own.
Make sure to make your expectations clear so that there’s no confusion about what’s included in the horse boarding services. Ask about what’s included in your boarding costs and how often you’ll have access to your horse.
How Many Instructors Do You Have?
The number of instructors at each barn varies. Some barns have just one instructor while other barns have several instructors on staff.
If your chosen barn has multiple instructors, you’ll want to ask if your child will always work with the same instructor or if their teachers rotate. This is important for making sure that your child gets a consistent education.
What Are Your Instructors Qualifications?
Not all horse riding instructors have formal qualifications. Some horse riding instructors simply work at their chosen horse barn based on experience or time spent working with other trainers.
Just because they don’t have formal qualifications, however, doesn’t mean they’re not talented. Some uncertified trainers actually provide better services than those with formal training.
How Long Have Your Horses Been Providing Lessons?
When it comes to starting horse riding lessons you want to keep safety at the forefront of your search. To do so, you’ll need to ask how long the horses have been providing lessons and why the barn uses those specific horses.
These questions give you a better idea of how the horses will behave around your child. And, they let you know whether or not these horses are a safe choice for a first-time horseback rider.
Do You Specialize in a Specific Discipline?
There are tons of different styles of riding out there. Each one requires different training and different types of instruction.
If you’re wanting your child to learn to jump, for example, then you won’t want to work with a barn that specializes in dressage. Ask your chosen barn what type of discipline they offer to riders.
A few examples of riding disciplines you might find at a horse barn include:
- Trail riding
Do You Mostly Have Adult or Children as Students?
Asking the barn if their students are mostly adults or kids gives you a good idea of what type of people hang out at the stables. That’s great for meeting people and making new friends, both for parents and children.
Is Your Barn Insured?
Part of choosing a horse riding barn means determining whether or not that stable is insured. This is extra important for keeping your child safe.
The instructors and the stable should all have insurance. That’s important so that your child is safe and fully protected in the event of an accident.
What Types of Lessons Do You Offer?
There are several different lesson formats you can enroll your child in, including group lessons, semi-private lessons, and private lessons. The more people that are in the group, the higher the price for the lessons.
If your child is just starting out with horseback riding, private lessons are typically a good place to start. These usually come with good discounts if you purchase them in bulk as well.
Step Three: Assess the Horse Stables
Remember that finding a horse stable in your area isn’t just about asking questions. It’s also about assessing the horse stable and seeing whether it’s a good fit.
Tour the Stable
After you’ve further narrowed down some stables with a few questions it’s time for you to tour each stable. Schedule a time to visit each of the stables and make sure that you’ll be able to view the barn working on normal activities.
Before you pay for any lessons, make sure to check out the stable yourself. This is important for getting a feel for what the stables are actually like and how your child will feel onsite.
Inspect the Barn and Stalls
During your tour, make sure to carefully inspect the stalls and barn. This is especially important if you’re going to be boarding your horse at the stable.
If you notice that the stalls are excessively dirty or that the horses aren’t well cared for, it might be a sign that you shouldn’t work with that stable. you want to start lessons with a team that cares about its horses and the work that it does.
Assess the Grounds
It’s not just the stalls or stables that you need to check out. You should also take a look at the grounds and make sure that there’s plenty of room for the horses to run around.
Get an idea of what types of lessons are offered there as well. Look to see if the barn has the facilities needed to provide your child with different types of training and skillset.
Watch a Lesson
While you’re at the barn, it doesn’t hurt to watch a lesson in action. This is a great way to get an idea of what your child’s lessons will be like before you sign up.
You can also ask to meet the instructor ahead of time. That way you’ll get the chance to see how they work and how well they’ll do with your child.
Step Four: Choose a Barn
After you finish touring the barn, it’s time to make a decision. Before you sign the paperwork and take the final steps, there are a few things to consider.
Ask the Barn for References
A great way to make sure that you’re working with a stable that can give your child great lessons is to ask them for references. A professional stable is usually happy to provide you with references.
If the stable seems unwilling to provide you with references, there might be something going on. That’s a red flag and a sign that you might want to choose a different facility.
On the other hand, when the horse barn does give you the references you should follow up on them. Call, email, or meet with the references to get an idea of what their experience is like at the stable. Ask questions that you wouldn’t necessarily ask the director or employees at the barn.
Sign Your Contract
Last but not least, it’s time to sign your contract! Make sure that both you and the barn staff sign the contract to keep the two of you protected.
If the barn doesn’t already have a contract in place, ask to get one written up. This is a great way to keep yourself and your child safe in case anything goes wrong.
Get Started With Horse Riding Lessons for Your Child
With this guide on how to find a horse barn, it’s time to stop googling “horse stables near me” and picking the first result that comes up. Instead, you’ll be able to make an informed decision that gets your child the best riding lessons out there.
Are you ready to get started with outstanding horse lessons? Get in touch with our barn and we’ll set you up with some of the best children’s riding lessons in Pennsylvania.