Choosing The Right Stable
Are you looking for a stable? Whether you are moving to a different city, are unhappy with your current barn or wanting to start to learn how to ride, there are certain things that you should look for. Finding the right stable isn’t always as easy as going to the one that’s the closest to where you live. Not all riding facilities are created equal. So, I thought that I would share some of the things that I look for when finding the right stable for me. Use this list as a guideline for when you’re out looking for the right facility for you. There may be many other aspects that could be just as, if not more, important to you. This is just some of the things that I make sure to look for.
Is the facility clean?
How clean are the stalls? How clean are the riding rings? The staff? The tack room? The driveway? Sure, you are at a barn so it's not like everything will be spotless, but there is a huge difference between a well-maintained barn and one that is not maintained at all. Make sure to look at the aisles as you pass by all the stalls. Are there shavings or dirt lying around? Does the barn smell dirty and dusty? Look at their equipment too. Everything from the jumps to the bushes should be in decent condition. One of the biggest things to look for as well is the water buckets that are out in the paddocks. If you happen to walk by one during your tour, look to see how clean the water is. Would you drink out of it? The water buckets out in the field are usually neglected. They need to stay clean to keep the horses healthy. Bacteria will quickly grow in the buckets if no one cleans them.
Does the barn have a good reputation?
I always try to do a bit of research about the facility before I decide to ride there. It’s true, there’s no such thing as a perfect stable, but some have a better reputation than others. Talk to people who know about the barn or see if they have bad reviews online. When I take a tour of the facility for the first time, I don’t normally believe the staff when they say that their barn is a wonderful, non judgemental environment. There will always be conflict at a barn. So if they try to overexaggerate and make their facility more perfect than the rest, that’s usually a red flag.
How are the horses?
The condition of the horses should be the top priority for the riding facility. So take the time to look at the horses on the property. Are they over or under weight? Do they seem happy? Do they spook easily? The horses should look healthy both physically and emotionally. They shouldn’t be staring at the back corner of their stalls or pinning their ears as you walk by. They shouldn’t be over worked or ignored. Their eyes should be bright and their expressions should be animated. Horses are the reason why we do what we do. Without them, we don’t have a sport or a passion. They need to be treated with respect and with high importance. Their spirits should never be broken. They are animals with hearts and minds. They connect with us riders on a deeper level. And that’s what makes riding so special.
How do they answer your questions?
If you’re looking for riding lessons, how many days in the week are you wanting to ride? Are they able to accommodate that for you? Are they group lessons or private? Do you need your own horse or do they have school horses? How far can the school horses take you before you’ll need one of your own? If you’re looking to board, what are the times in a day that you are able to visit? Do their operating hours fit with your schedule? Can you ride while there is a riding lesson going on? Do they offer indoor and outdoor board? How often would your horse be turned out? Are they a full-service facility? If you’re looking to compete, what circuits are they wanting you to show in? Do they expect you to show every year? Do they want you to compete even if you’re just in the lesson program? When they answer, make sure to not only listen to what they are saying, but how they say it. Some may come off eager, accepting or passionate whereas others may be more distant, snobby or indifferent. That will be a huge sign of how they might treat you in the future.
Try it out
Don’t be afraid to try it out for a little while. This may be hard to do if you are looking to board your horse at a stable. If you are looking for lessons, this is a great way to figure out if that stable is right for you. Take a few lessons with them and see how it goes. Do you feel like you fit in? Are your needs being met? If you are not satisfied, then keep looking. At least you tried it out. Don’t be afraid to leave because you’re worried about burning bridges or closing doors. Not every place will be right for you. And that’s okay! You’re finding what your riding intentions are and how they fit in with a riding facility. Remember that riding should be fun.
You should never have to settle for a stable just because it's the first place you look. There are many stables that focus on different disciplines and have different training methods. The best thing you can do is look around and find the best one for you. Talk to your friends and family and do your research. The last thing you want to do is get stuck in something you didn't want to deal with. Whatever your needs are, I hope that this information was helpful to you. I wish you all the best with your stable hunting!
Until next time, happy riding!