Seeking Dressage Barn/Trainer/Board in Atlanta - Help!

Hi all-

I’m looking at a move to the Atlanta area towards the end of this year/early next year, and need to start exploring boarding/training options for me and my mare. Like all crazy horse women, I can’t decide where I will live until I find out where I’ll be riding!

I’m looking for farm that’s within an hour of Atlanta (I’ll be working in Midtown and living somewhere between there and the barn we choose!). We don’t require anything fancy, but would appreciate a trainer that 1) will work with a Friesian Sporthorse and 2) teaches riders beyond second level since we are schooling 2nd/3rd level movements currently.

Unfortunately, I’m also experiencing a bit of sticker shock in the area, since most barns where we are moving from board averages ~$500 for full-care. I’m willing to drive a bit further for an affordable barn or an amazing trainer. Any advice is greatly appreciated!!

Check here;

Check websites to determine if they do boarding instead of relying on the table provided.

Roel Theunissen at Atlanta Dressage. Wonderful trainer!

Really depends on exactly what you are looking for. The most popular area trainers usually have there own barns that is where they primarily teach and board is usually $1000-1500 with very limited turnout. There are a few trainers that travel and then you can maybe find decent farm with a bit more turnout but still looking in $800-1000 board range. Most of the dressage area closest to Atlanta are in the North - Alpharetta, Canton, Milton, Cumming; which is prices above. There are a few places South, West, and East that may be more affordable but if you go to those areas and get a home near there, keep in mind you won’t have many options should it not be right fit for you. If you have a horse trailer you might want to just look for best boarding option for you and plan to trailer to trainer of your choice. I currently board at Arabian farm and before that at Hunter Jumper farm that also had dressage arena on property; and use FEI Trainer that travels to several farms in the Northern area.

Trainers that travel in North area: Kim Schisler Sosebee, Andrea Manos, Heather Beecham, Kayce Redmond, (and limited travel to a couple specific barns is Michelle Gibson). Travelling trainers can let you know which barns they travel too which might help in your search.

Trainers with their own primary farms and usually do not travel Roel Theunissen & Adam Lawstaka, Karen Lipp, Laura Wharton-Mero, Chris Erbskorn (may travel some), Karen McGoldrick, Julie Cochran. (Manfred Lewis - East of Atlanta)

There are a few others but above are only ones I can recommend personally as I have seen them train, ride, and/or I have met them.

If I was in the position geographically and financially my picks would be Roel Theunissen & Adam Lawstaka followed by Karen Lipp based on the horses and clients I’ve seen come out of their programs.

Leslie O’Neal Olsen
Out I-20, west of Atlanta

Re Willowbrook;

Laura Wharton has a low key barn and operation and is wonderful to work with. Not your typical DQ prima donna. If you’d like her contact information just let me know.

You will definitely want to test the commute to any barn you are considering before making your decision; Atlanta traffic is unfortunately pretty tough and getting to/from “horse country” into Midtown is going to be a challenge.

I live in the Alpharetta area, which is very horsey. I love it, but I would not personally be willing to commute to Midtown from my house. It would be well over an hour each way (assuming there is a need to commute during rush hour.) In fact, I used to work in Sandy Springs, which is well north of Midtown and it often took me close to an hour in traffic. :frowning:

I board and train at Shannondale ( which is in Milton. It’s about ten minutes from my house and I absolutely love it, but it is well outside the price point you mention.

Revelry Farm is nearby: I believe their board is more affordable at $750 or so. I’ve only been there for social events but the horses seem happy and well cared for, and the clients seem nice and also pretty happy.

Atlanta Dressage (Roel and Adam, mentioned above) recently moved their facility to Suwanee … I understand it is beautiful but that might be quite a trek from Midtown. I have a friend who rides (trailers in) to that program and he raves about how wonderful the training is. Not sure about their pricing.

Welcome to the area… feel free to send a PM if you have specific questions about the area or want to chat.

Most of the trainers mentioned on this thread are on the high side. It will be difficult to get your price preference within a tolerable commute to midtown.

I don’t know prices, but check; [URL=“”] (tiny turnout) _ Just FYI on Little Creek it is Government/County run with no Sunday horse care so owners have to Co-Op one day a week of horse care. Also turnout is in two huge herds, so if you have horse of any significant value you need to be careful with the turnout situation there. Also there are no regular day to day 3rd level and above dressage trainers there; but Manfred Lewis my travel to Little Creek some and I think Gigi Nutter does clinics there every once and a while.

Chastain has little to - no turnout and again no regular day to day dressage trainers 3rd level and above.

P.S. I live in Sandy Springs and depending on time of day it only takes me 30 minutes to get to wear I board my horse in Alpharetta/Milton area. Suwannee is also not bad for me. You just need to time your commute and learn back roads and alternatives to certain areas during rush hour.

Chastain is likely going to be $$$ as well, given the location. And I would think it is a very hard place to keep a horse, given the lack of turnout.

Perhaps Vogt would be an option if you want to stay close to town ? I have never been there so no idea about turnout etc, but I see the VRA group at shows and they seem to be doing well and having a good time. Board is $850.

I was told that Willowbrook was sold and/or being rented by someone other than Leslie - is that not the case?

Thank you for all of the input! It looks like I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me.

As for turnout, I’m more concerned with her being turned out in a small or private group than for an extensive period of time. Our past two barns have been limited paddock turnout (1-2 hours, not everyday) and she gets along just fine on this routine. So, a limited turnout, or limited grass turnout facility isn’t a huge drawback.

Can anyone tell me the name/location of the facility that Karen Lipp trains out of? Also, does anyone know anything about Debbie Lane’s programs/students/facility?

Karen Lipp trains out of Top Hat Farm in Canton, GA; board is $1500-1600 a month and you have to be in significant training program I believe to board there. They do limited turnout but it is individual. I train with her assistant trainer, Kayce Redmond (also Grand Prix rider with Gold Medal and wonderful trainer in her own right), whom travels to other farms when she is not at Top Hat.

Debbie Lane is great, but her barn is not in popular dressage area and I know when I looked at sale horse with her several years ago she talked about trying to sell her place and get out of training a bit as she is older, but for now she is still there and great.