Long time readers know that I am a big fan of riding lessons and believe it is the ONLY way to learn to ride a horse that is non-abusive to the horse. I do not believe in "teaching yourself" and it is rare that a family member can adequately teach you. (Even pro trainers often send their kids to someone else, 'cause let's face it, kids often listen better to someone else!) I am a huge fan of horse-friendly riding lesson tactics like learning to trot on a longe line without your reins and not being given back your reins until you have developed enough balance and skill not to use them improperly. Learning to ride properly is a great way of avoiding injury and keeping your horse from becoming sour and angry.
However, today I just have to feature some riding lesson establishments that make me shake my head and think, damn, you'd almost be better off winging it! First, let's look at Painted Spirit Ranch in Murrieta, California. Parents, EVERY TIME you see someone jumping without a helmet, it's a clue to run, run, run far away with your kid's skull still intact. Here we see kids jumping without helmets (and in western saddles), and the web site shows a kid going over a crossrail on her fourth lesson. This is totally insane and unsafe. Yeah, the lessons are cheap, $30, but this is one area of life where you don't want to economize.
(And they have totally unaccomplished stallions, too! STOP BREEDING MUSTANGS, DAMMIT! We already have like a ZILLION of them that don't have homes!)
Here's another winner. Note the entire page of complaints from various people! And their web site asks if you're going to Heaven? Um, look in the MIRROR, folks, before you worry about others!
Just one review "We came to sun city stables for a family ride. I have owened and riden horses for over 20 years my husband rides and my daughter although only 7 has done the basics. We asked for a lead rope for our daughter as she isn't very able in the open. We were told her horse was so quiet he would just follow behind mine. She had no stirups as she was on an adult saddle. We followed the owner down a narrow track leading off the property. The first thing we saw was a lose horse running back to the barn. At this my horse started to get restless pawing the ground. In the next few mouments lots of riders appeared, many out of control. We got our horses as best we could to one side of the narrow track. As my horse was neared by the other riders he went mad bucking rearing kicking out and spinning round. I fell off, was riden over, kicked in the head and leg and my daughters horse bolted and she fell of in the scrub cutting her back. We were very lucky we wernt killed.The owner refused to refund our money and offered no assistance. There are to many people who cant ride being let lose on unschooled horses here."
Of course, their site is full of helmetless children bombing around on wormy looking horses. Check out the Google album. I particularly like "George the grade stallion." Pass the Advil...
P.S. Your trainer has man boobs.
To Makayla's mother: these are not riding lessons. Please get your child a real instructor and a helmet!
For those of you trying to avoid bad barns/trainers - check it out, Ripoff Report has a whole category for them! Of course, some of these stories may not be true and you will want to do your own investigation, but many of them sound extremely verifiable. Also, if you are being lied about there, you CAN respond. There were so many complaints about a Patricia Wilson of Avinger, Texas that you'd have to figure where there's smoke, there's fire. When I googled the phone number, it came up as Patricia Gumm so maybe she got married. Either way, if you live around Avinger - watch out!
Now, let me give you a good example for comparison. This girl is jumping at a level appropriate to her riding level. The horse is perfect for her - a really solid "packer" type that is predictable, sane and well behaved. The instructor is watching her, and teaching - not on her cell phone, not socializing with others, not asleep at the switch. Everything in this video looks good.
It is Friday and today's Friday Featured Rescue is this adorable Arab/Andalusian cross mare located at Broken Road Rescue in Bath, Michigan. What a cutie! Her adoption fee is a reasonable $500, so if you're local and have always wanted a beautiful gray mare, check her out. I really like what I see of this rescue - very nice facility and fence, they are keeping their "oldies" because they know how hard it is to find homes that feed them properly, and they're doing things small scale and in a manageable manner. They also do small animal rescue, so even if you don't have room for another horse, please check them out.