The barn you choose to ride at will not only shape your physical riding skills, but also your mental skills and how to perceive everything equine related. Your instructor and fellow barn mates will teach you what it’s like in the horse world and hopefully fuel your love for the animal and sport. Even if you aren’t looking to compete at the highest level, finding the right barn for you is very important.
If you are looking for a place to take lessons, you have less to take into account than someone who is also looking for a place to board. Before you start looking for a barn, try and think of all your wants and needs. Do you need a place that provides lesson horses or do you have your own? What type of riding do you want to learn? If you are looking to board, what needs does your horse have? How far are you willing to travel?
Once you have a good idea of everything you are hoping to find, you can start looking for a barn. If you know anyone who rides, ask them where they go for lessons or if they recommend a barn. A google search is another good way to find a barn. Try searching the type of riding you want near where you live. For example, if you want to find a hunter barn near Lexington, KY, you would type Hunter barns near Lexington, KY. You may find websites that have several farms listed on them and what they offer. Those sites are super helpful to find loads of information in one spot.
Try to pick out a few that fill in your needs first and then see if they have your wants. Once you have several barns you’re interested in, schedule a barn tour. Barn tours allow you to learn a little bit about the barn, how lessons and/or boarding works, and hopefully about the instructors. Try and get a feel for the atmosphere at the barn if you can. It’s easy to change barns quickly if you are just taking a lesson, but if you are boarding the process can be long and hard. If you like a barn or two but aren’t quite sure yet, ask if you can watch a lesson. This will allow you to see how the instructor teaches and interact with their students.
Once you have found a barn you can schedule your first lesson and you’re ready to go. If you are bringing your own horse, make sure you have a date to move and the right amount of grain for the transition time from one kind to another. If you can, try and get any equipment, such as a tack box, you need before you move or have a temporary solution handy. You should feel comfortable when you’re at the barn. The right farm will make you feel happy and welcome not judged and out-casted. Take your time finding the right barn for you and don’t be afraid to ask questions!