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SADDLESEAT RIDERS, question about barn ettiquette

I have absolutely no saddleseat experience. I currently board where there is a saddleseat barn on property.

Is it/is not unusual for a saddleseat barn to not allow visitors? What is considered normal for a saddleseat barn with relation to people viewing the horses/training/trainers?

In Covid 19 times, many barns are restricting visitors.

In my experience, all barns are private small businesses (except mine which is a members only club!!) and the rules for visitors can vary widely depending on the owner or trainer.

In general larger barns with big public lesson programs and lots of active boarders are less likely to notice visitors.

Smaller barns, places where the barn owner lives close to the barn, higher end barns with valuable horses, and places that are essentially training barns where owners aren’t riding every day, are going to run much more private.

Anyhow you need to ask about these things up front when you start riding or boarding there

I assume there was some kind of incident. Could you give details?




no, i am not giving details. i was curious considering they are our neighbors. i have never met a saddleseat rider before. trainer is good friends with my trainer. would like to learn about other disciplines as i only come from hj world.

Their barn is very busy. she trains and breeds.

@ladyj79, not looking for this to be any type of popcorn-munching affair. we had a Tennessee walker once at a barn i boarded at who did have pads and was showing on the circuit. knew nothing about the situation so did my research. apparently it is called “pleasure shod!” :slight_smile:

If you want to visit make an appointment with the trainer.

Some saddleseat shoeing and training techniques are controversial, and some are now illegal, so I can imagine a trainer being cautious about curious looky-loos.

If you are really curious, take some lessons. That is the best way to get to know a discipline and a trainer.


well it’s good to know the situation seems average. and you’re right: with covid a lot of the barns aren’t letting people in to visit. Perhaps now is a time to make new friends.

I don’t live in a predominant saddleseat area. I read about the discipline all the time, but I’ve never seen it up close and personal. All the horses from what little i’ve seen as they walk past our door seem fine.

If I remember correctly, you’re an educator, so you understand that knowledge is important when assessing new experiences :wink:

My background is hunt seat, Pony Club, etc. My oldest friend grew up riding saddle seat. Over the years, I’ve been to bunches of barns with her, watching her ride and attending “adult camps,” and the trainers have always been nothing but welcoming.

Like most barns, they are full of expensive, delicate animals and filled with equipment and situations that could be dangerous. One thing I’ve seen in many saddleseat barns is aisles that are high enough and have the right footing for riding. If you didn’t know to stay out of the way, you could suddenly be faced with a horse and rider coming around the corner right at you, speedily.

Most barns don’t want people they don’t know walking through. I doubt it has anything to do with them doing any strange, nefarious saddleseat practices.


thank you. this is what i suspected. as i said, there hasn’t been an incident. we only just moved in and this barn has been on this property for ages. it seems they truly do not want anyone coming in to visit, say hi, what have you. this is ok.

The horses are extremely pretty! I love when they walk by. Thank you for the info! Perhaps now I will do what scribbler suggested and watch some lessons for myself since it seems like an interesting discipline. Would always love to learn more.

@ladyj79 Lol!!

@Larbear Given previous posts :joy::woman_shrugging:

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Trains and breeds suggests a more private kind of facility. Not a big open boarding barn. A busy trainer and breeder doesn’t want lookie-loos wandering in. A potential client would make contact by phone or social media.

you would think. my property is a training facility. a few private barns on one plot of land. everyone gets their own amenities so yes, it’s a mixture of private and public :slight_smile: thanks for answering my question kindly, respectfully, and courteously.

I found the environment at SS barns radically different from any other english discipline barn Id ever visited. I went to around a dozen across GA, SC, NC, and KY in 2019 while horse shopping. In some ways it felt more like a racetrack in that things were very regimented and there was a head trainer orchestrating and a lot of professional very focused grooms prepping horses, tacking/untacking, notetaking, etc. There was something “machine like” about the setups and not in an unpleasant way but rather when you have a program that works.

As someone outside of the discipline and their program I was asked to schedule a time, horses were prepped before I arrived, and there was a strong sense of being encouraged back out the door when I was done. I had hour visits where six horses were tried. A very different experience to say an eventing barn where I might arrive and the trainer would say “hey I’m five out Susie will show you where Horse is if you want to pull him out and start grooming” and then they’d want to hang out and chat after.

It’s become a pretty niche discipline with not great publicity in recent years so I think most barns are hyper aware of controlling the narrative when “outsiders” visited. Anything from tails being put up or stacks was always explained at ever barn in great detail and you could feel that they wanted to ensure the right impression was made about the care of the horses.

As a breed I think they are truly America’s hidden gems. It’s the only barn I’ve ever been at where when a trainer made a loud noise every horse in the barn went towards the sound, ears on, bold, bring it on attitude. I wish I’d found the right one as a personal horse but would look again in the future.

Since your trainer is friends asking for a warm introduction would probably go a long way. I’m sure they’d love to find a time to show off the barn, their horses, and answer questions.


thank you! when I had asked my trainer originally why we weren’t allowed to see them she said it was because the horses are worth a lot of money and it was probably better they keep their facility private. but i have never seen a saddleseat barn, like i said. i was actually quite excited to finally get to watch a discipline i have only ever seen on youtube and know nothing about otherwise. thank you for the information! i haven’t met the trainer but my trainer says she is very nice, but it is better to admire from afar for now. I figured the trainer would rather not answer my questions about things i am not privvy to. i appreciate the insight, this helps a lot.

I’ve ridden at and visited tons of saddleseat barns, taught lessons at a few along the way. Trainers typically are working horses back to back and no time for visitors. If you really want to go see the horses take a giant tub of peppermints with wrappers as an intro and find out what time the trainer is done with horses… usually around lunchtime. Then take a minute and go introduce yourself.

Simple as that. Most are super friendly and happy to meet a new neighbor. You can also ask if you can watch them work horses one morning if you have time. Just be honest and hold back any judgment and ask open ended questions. Just cause its different, doesn’t make it wrong.

Have fun!


Coming from a breed that is dominated by saddleseat, I would agree with what has been mentioned above. The training facilities are not typically daily lessons/camps/etc. In a lot of cases, they are training the horse, rather than the rider. So, you tend to not have many random people walking around the barns. Obviously, this is not every SS dominate barn…but seems to be how many of the big/fancy barns work. Whoever compared it to the track…spot on. I’ve worked in both and it’s totally true. back to back working of horses…it’s non-stop until all of them are done.

I currently work part time at a training barn(carriage, Western Pleasure, Hunter Pleasure, Western Dressage, an Equitation horse very now and then). We don’t typically have SS horses, but the barn is run like many of the other big training facilities in our breed. Anyways, We only have 1 client who comes out regularly to ride her horses. The barn is on gated/private property. There aren’t visitors because there is no reason for there to be…and you have to know the code to get in. That one client normally comes out by herself, though I did help her take Christmas photos last Friday with her family. That was cute.

Most of our clients live elsewhere(majority are out of state) which contributes to what may seem like ‘lack of visitors’ - if they are in town, they are catered to because they pay a lot for their horses to be taken care of, and honestly, they don’t know how to get their horse ready. We have them tacked and ready to go because we know what the horse is currently in/using - so, I’m not saying the clients aren’t capable, but we are the ones with the current knowledge on what is going on. Even our clients that are equitation riders. They’ll send their horse to us for the months leading up to the bigger shows, but they will take lessons somewhere closer to them and only come in once or twice a month. The vast majority of our horses have clients who don’t personally show them…the trainer does. So, there isn’t much reason for them to spend a bunch of money to come visit a horse they aren’t going to ride. I’ve never seen the owners of a lot of the barn residents. Definitely a different, much QUIETER scene than the bustling boarding barns in the area.

So, yeah, it’s different. Not always bad, at least not where I am, just different. I’d take the advice given above and if you are intrigued, shoot an email to the trainer and ask if you can come out and observe. Go with an open mind…and hopefully it isn’t a barn that does some of the not-so-awesome things. And, If it is, I doubt they’ll let you in…though some of the things that make me absolutely cringe are pretty main stream…which makes me cringe even more.

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Now (when COVID is out of control) is not the time to be visiting anyone in a different barn.
Why put anyone in the possible position of having to explain public health recommendations to you?
There will be plenty of time to arrange a visit when the pandemic isn’t raging uncontrolled as it is now.


well unless they have a substantial checkbook in hand

I worked with saddlehorses while in college, the only visitors we had to the training barn were potential clients or purchasers who were pre-qualified as persons of means


When i was a child and learned to ride, it was at a Saddlebred/Morgan barn. (we learned saddleseat and pelham). My sister and i took private…well there were two of us, so semi-private, lessons. In the winter we rode inside one of the barns… It was an odd sort of barn in retrospect… there was a ring at each end and a dirt track connecting them down a long row of stalls on each side. As we rode past we could see into all those stalls, the horses, they were bound to the nines…neckwraps, surcingles with lines going to their tails and some to their heads. In the summer there was always one being trained in the outdoor ring next to us. They were trained with chains or wooden beads around their pasterns. I kinda felt sorry for them, but they were quite beautiful. Necks for Days!!! When i started owning my own horses, it was Morgans. Well, the first one was a mustang. But, later, when i could afford to buy and have trained and board and so forth…

same for my wife and I. We met while working for different saddlehorse farms… mine had most under harness, hers under saddle, we kept padding one another taking horses to the ring. (she had had a top contenting Saddle Horse as teenager…we still have the silver trophies she won --yeah old days when they gave real silver trophies)

After we were married and had the kids we decided that a Morgan was going to be best as an all around horse… the ones we have had all have excelled in multiple disciplines (have three now, but had six others before keeping them all to their was to cross over to the other-side).

The one that was the funniest was our first one as she was actually purchased to be our kid’s saddleseat horse… the horse did Everything but saddleseat. Was a national champion in two completely different disciplines… one being competitive trail… the first time we had her out side of the farm she would not step over the water running down the street gutter… but soon learned and was a horse that attracted many admirers

here she is out in the wilderness

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