I recently moved across the country for college, and since I couldn’t bring my horse with me, I decided to try riding with my college’s IHSA team. I attended my first lesson earlier in the week and have very mixed feelings about the experience and am trying to gain insight into weather or not I think the situation is safe.
First, the barn itself is very run down, and all of the tack used was extremely dirty and did not appear well cared for. The college is not known for its riding program so the team is run out of a private facility, which does not seem to be very well maintained. Many of the horses also had large areas of scratches or another fungus on their hind legs. The trainer also has allowed several wild skunks to inhabit the barn because they find them cute. This struck me as a bit of a health hazard, especially since skunks can carry EPM.
Second, our lesson occurred at a very late time which meant that it was already practically dark outside. Although the barn has an indoor arena, it is very small and the trainer opted not to use it. We rode outside, and even jumped several fences, despite the fact that it was so dark I could not see the horses on the other side of the arena (maybe 80 feet).
Thirdly, The trainer had us all do very minimal flatwork, and then immediately requested that I jump two jumps on the diagonal there were at least three foot and three foot three. I had told her that I was experienced in the big equitation but was still surprised she didn’t want to verify my skill level over smaller jumps to begin with. It seemed to me that this decision was, on her part, reckless, as she had no previous knowledge of my riding ability other than the few sentences I had told her.
I want to keep an open mind because I know college riding is a different experience, but my inner voice is telling me that this specific program may not be for me. Do you think that I might just need to adjust my expectations and stick it out, or does the situation seem bad enough that I should find another way to ride through college?