Not all riding centres are the same as some offer a lot more than others.
Below we have outlined some of the key points to consider when planning your riding experience.
Important quality checks
In order to run a riding establishment in England, Scotland or Wales, a centre needs to obtain a licence from the local authority as a minimum standard check. This certifies that the facility and the welfare of the horses and ponies have been assessed.
We recommend that you look out for a centre that is accredited by one or more of the following:
- The British Horse Society
- The Association of British Riding Schools
- The Pony Club
- Riding for the Disabled Association
Like the centre, your coach or instructor should be accredited with a recognised teaching qualification.
You should look out for a teaching qualification, such as a UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC) or a teaching certificate from an organisation such as The British Horse Society or The Association of British Riding Schools.
You should also ensure that your coach or instructor has the correct insurance before undertaking a lesson with them.
Before you go for a lesson we recommend that you visit your centre so you can familiarise yourself with the yard. You can meet the staff there who can tell you about what happens in a lesson and they can introduce you to some of the horses to make you feel more comfortable around them. This is also a good chance to check the facilities and you could even watch a lesson take place.
If you aren’t able to go down to the yard then you may find that your local centre has a website or a Facebook page and they may have pictures of their centre there.
Something to think about?
You might want to ask yourself what you want from your riding experience as this varies for a lot of people.
Below are some things that you might want to consider:
Do I want to learn in a group or on my own?
Think about how you would like to learn and check that the centre and coach can provide this. Does the centre offer one-to-one lessons or do they only cater for groups? Will you be with other riders at the same ability? Will you all be a similar age?
What would I like to learn?
It could be to learn new skills in both riding and stable management, be able to go hacking in the countryside or to enter a competition one day. Ensure the coach or centre is aware of your expectations so that they can tailor their lessons to suit you and that the centre has the capacity to help you achieve your goals.
Can I try a particular horse sport?
You may have seen an athlete from a particular discipline, such as dressage or show jumping, and this may have interested you to try that particular sport. A number of centres offer the chance for people to try out jumping and practice dressage tests, while some riding centres also offer the opportunity to try out other sports which are less well known. This is something you may want to ask your instructor after your first lesson.