Lately I’ve noticed a shift in local equestrian programs where the “lesson program” is becoming less and less prominent. Obviously clients are still taking lessons, trainers are still training, but the days of operations having a whole string of lesson horses, and days full of lessons are waning. When our facility hosts local shows, it’s obviously what programs in the area still host the full lesson program experience, with their half dozen lesson ponies and bombproof geldings, versus the smaller groups of client/owners.
My own trainer has been scaling back her lesson program in favor of really spending time with the clients she already maintains, many of which are showing or traveling on a regular basis. She isn’t concerned at all about the change in process for her riders. Most of her clients have owned before (like me) or already own a horse in her facility. And while I understand time is money, and she needs more time, seeing the lesson program get smaller provokes a lot of feels from me.
As I’ve mentioned, I was a lesson kid and barn rat for years before I took on a “real horse” lease. And now, I’m right back in that world of being a catch rider and lesson kid. This is close to my heart, in my mind a vital step in the journey of horseback riding as a whole. I just wonder how trainers are recruiting and gathering new riders without watching those people coming up through the lesson horse program. Perhaps just my area fits into this need due to the variety of options, or the influence of our culture? I’m not sure.
I feel like there is so much learned from riding many different horses, and having lessons on a consistent basis. Not to mention the risk for a parent, or an adult re-rider based on whether they decide to continue in the sport and the sample size of time they’ve really spent with horses. It was mentioned that if you want to run a successful lesson programs now, you have to teach all the time, every day – all day, to make the economics work.
Maybe I’m just witnessing a very small niche of the area doing this, but I had to ask. What are you seeing in your area? Are the big lesson programs still thriving?