Bay Area (horse) Riding School?
January 25, 2008 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Looking for SF Bay Area equitation schools (wanna make with the horse-riding).

I have pretty much the same question as this one.

Lots of good information there. But I'm looking for recommendations in the SF Bay Area.

I've lived in suburbs or cities all my life, so my exposure to horses has been limited. But I've gone on trail rides as described above, had a friend as a teen who was a show-jumper, etc. I've found that I like just being around horses in general.

So I'd like to spend my weekends this spring/summer learning to ride (instead of just sitting on top of a horse). Bonus for some place that would allow me to spend time there cleaning stables, grooming horses, whatever, if I wanted/they'd have me, rather than "your 1-hour lesson is over, please go home now".

(also, I don't really have the income that many in the horsey set do; so if I could cut my lesson rates by shoveling sh*t, that would be welcome.)
posted by penciltopper to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Millennium Farm is down in Portola Valley - on Alpine Road just off 280. The folks who run it really know what they're doing, and their stable is lovely. I don't know if they're do trade for lessons, but it can't hurt to ask. I've never ridden there, but I'm a formerly horsey person who remembers stuff (like, how a properly kept stable should look, happy horses, etc.), and I know the women who run it. I'm kind of related to one of them, actually.

I'm sure they'd be happy to make recommendations if they're not quite what you're looking for.
posted by rtha at 2:51 PM on January 25, 2008

I can't help with stable recommendations, but I will say:

- You should be required to groom and tack your own horse. As a complete beginner, they should teach you how. If you show up to more than one lesson where your horse is tacked and waiting for you, the instructor probably cares more about teaching "fun" things than teaching proper riding.

- Similarly, you should be required to at least help out a little around the barn (muck out your horse's stall, put out hay, etc.). This isn't extra time there on the side, this is part of your lesson.

- Your lesson (the riding part, not the grooming part) should start with at least some stretching (shoulder rolls, twists) and warm up (halts and circles).

The biggest thing to watch out for is showing up for a lesson where the horses are tacked up and tied all day, and then the instructor says "everyone mount up and start trotting".

- If you can find a stable that teaches without stirrups, that would be excellent, but these are really rare now days (the upside is that any instructor that teaches like that is likely to be hardcore, not the "jump on and give the horse a good kick" style).

- Your teacher should teach you the emergency dismount, but if you can also find a half or quarter day clinic that teaches it off of vaulting horses, that would be a really, really good addition to your lessons.

Anyway, good luck, I could keep going There was this one instructor once and... but I won't.
posted by anaelith at 4:17 PM on January 25, 2008

Mrs. Lothar sez:

Equitation *is* just sitting on the horse. Learning to ride can be dressage, jumping, western, etc. If you narrow down your interests, better suggestions can be given.

If you're in SF, you may be still be able to buy lessons in Golden Gate Park. FWIW.
posted by lothar at 6:44 PM on January 25, 2008

If you say where you live you will probably get more specific replies.
posted by fshgrl at 6:49 PM on January 25, 2008

Call Morningstar Farms in Novato and there is also a place on Lakeville Hwy. between Novato and Petaluma but I don't know the name.
posted by Chuck Cheeze at 10:53 PM on January 25, 2008

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