Before you entrust the wellbeing of your horse to an equestrian center or agree to take lessons from a trainer, you want to be certain that both you and your treasured four-legged member of the family will receive the best treatment possible. For those scouting around for a new full-service equestrian center, we’ve compiled a list of the biggest things to look for.
Safety is the number one thing to look for in an equestrian center, and you can get a good idea of how safe the facility is before you even speak to a trainer or student.
When you drive up to an equestrian center or scroll through their pictures online, two of the most visible parts are the paddocks and horses. Even if you have minimal experience in the equestrian world, you’ll likely have a good sense of whether the paddocks look like they’re large enough for the animals they contain. Does it look like the horses have room to run? Are the fences clean and do the horses look like they’re well cared for?
If you’re actually at the equestrian center rather than browsing its website or social media, you can really inspect for safety both at the equipment and personnel level. As you walk through, inspect the barn for cleanliness and ventilation, ask questions of the grooms to gauge their level of knowledge, and watch active riders to see if they’re doing anything that looks unsafe.
When you speak with the trainer, wait to see if they initiate a conversation about horse safety with you. Since safety is such a high priority in the equestrian world, a trainer failing to bring up that conversation could indicate that this isn’t the right center for you. If you wish, you can also inquire about past injuries and what steps have been taken to prevent future ones.
As you ask questions about bigger safety concerns, do note the smaller details that are equally as important for day-to-day care. If you are planning to board your horse in this barn, look at the quality of the feed, the cleanliness of the stalls and buckets within them, and the condition of the tack. All of these should meet or exceed your standards. Look at the footing in the ring and paddocks as well, and ask questions if you are uncertain about anything.
Relationship with the Trainer
After safety, your student-to-trainer relationship should be high on your list of priorities. Even if the equestrian center under evaluation checks every safety box there is, it is not the right one for you if you don’t feel comfortable with the trainer. You should be able to trust in the instructor’s knowledge and feel good about who they are as a person.
In the equestrian realm, certifications have some credence, but experience trumps all. Equine knowledge is better learned in the field than in a classroom, so look for trainers who have years of experience and ask for recommendations from people already in the industry. You may also be able to look up a trainer’s show records and ask the riders you see how long they’ve been with that person.
Aesthetics also carry weight in this industry. When you first approach the center or see it in pictures, look for some of the hallmarks of classic equestrianism, like a well-maintained white fence around the paddocks. Looks aren’t everything and you will need to do more thorough examinations, but details like this could signal that you’re on the right path.
If you or your family are looking for a full-service equestrian center near the Charleston and Mount Pleasant areas, take a look at our equestrian center on Seabrook Island and get in touch with our trainer by calling (843) 768-7541 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.