Frequently Asked Questions

Lessons & Camps

What should I expect for the first horseback riding lesson?

Most first-time students learn to groom, tack, and mount their horse or pony. Once mounted, the student will learn to steer at a walk and possibly trot on a lunge line. It’s a lot to squeeze into a first lesson, but we expect to go over the material multiple times during the first several lessons.

Students who have ridden in the past will also learn to groom and tack during their first lesson. We understand that they may already know this material. However, we may do thing slightly different. Each student learns how our barn works, what we expect, and where things are kept.

How often should my child take a riding lesson?

Most beginner students ride once per week. Riding once per week will let you and your child decide if this is something they want to pursue. We expect all of our students to ride at least once per week and have found that students who ride less frequently do not progress and will get frustrated. As with most things, the more the student rides, the faster they will progress.

When is my child ready for a group riding lesson?

Students are ready for group lessons when they can tack their pony with minimal help and control their horse or pony at a posting trot. If a parent wishes to learn to tack and is willing to help, then younger students may be able to join a group lesson sooner.

Is it possible to work for riding lessons?

YES! We’re happy to have our students work for their lessons. Each working student must pay for one weekly lesson. The paid-for lesson can be a group lesson or an individual lesson.

Working students must work four hours for every lesson. All working students must be comfortable handling horses, helping younger children tack up, and able to follow direction and work with little supervision.

Is horseback riding camp appropriate for my child?

Camp is a great way for our students to really progress and understand what is involved in caring for the horses. However, all riders are in group lessons during camp and must be willing to try to tack up. In addition, students must be able to follow directions, dress themselves, and go to the restroom by themselves.

Current students who are five to six years old may attend camp if approved on an individual basis. Non-students must be at least seven years old to attend camp. Students under the age of eight should only attend summer camp for half days, due to the heat.

Horses & Ponies

When will my child change horses?

We try to keep students on the same horse or pony for as long as possible. The horse or pony a student rides depends on their level and abilities. As a student’s abilities increase, we will change the horse that they ride. It’s important that students be matched to an appropriate horse so that they are safe and not “over mounted.” As the student progresses, they will change horses. This change will present them with new challenges and new learning opportunities.

What is involved with leasing a horse?

Leasing a horse is a lot like leasing a car. You get use of the horse or pony in exchange for a monthly fee.

We have full leases and half leases. A full lease means you have access to the horse or pony seven days per week. A half lease means you have access to the horse or pony three days per week.

If you lease one of the lesson horses or ponies at Pony Paddock, the lease or half lease includes one group lesson or one half hour private lesson per week. For a full lease, you’ll need your own tack, including a saddle and bridle. For a half lease, you’ll need your own saddle.

Leasing a horse or pony that does not belong to Pony Paddock would involve paying board at Pony Paddock. The owner of the horse or pony will usually request a fee for the lease.

Students should not lease a horse or pony until they’re able to ride independently. In addition, students should never ride alone!

Do we have to purchase a horse?

No. Purchasing a horse is a personal choice that the rider and their family should discuss when the time comes. At some point in a student’s riding career, it’s nice to have their own horse. Lesson horses can be dull and unresponsive. However, horses and ponies can be leased. If a student continues riding at Pony Paddock and wishes not to purchase or lease a horse, there are options to help the student to continue to progress. However, if a student wishes to compete for and pursue year-end awards, they’ll need to lease a horse or pony.

Shows

When is my child ready to participate in a horse show?

Pony Paddock participates in local shows approximately six times per year. These shows have classes for every level, including lead line and walk. So, when your child starts to show is strictly up to you.

Showing is not required. However, showing is a great way to help our children set goals and judge their progress.

How much does it cost to participate in a horse show?

That depends on the level the student is showing, the location of the show, and the show itself. We’re happy to give you an estimate based on the show you wish to attend. All fees are subject to change.

What should I expect at a horse show?

The short and sweet of horse showing is there’s a lot of “hurry up and wait.” Pony Paddock goes to all horse shows the day before the show. Students are expected to take a lesson at the show facility on Friday before the show. This is in addition to their normal lessons.

Unless you’re showing at a dressage show, we’re unable to tell you when you’re going to ride. We’ll try to give you an estimate of the time schedule, but, realistically, it’s a guess. Since show management can’t stop the show if you’re not ready when your class is called, please plan on being there all day.

We live in Florida, so it will usually be hot at the horse show. We recommend you bring a cooler with lots of water. It’s very important to stay hydrated during the horse show. Fruit, water, and Gatorade will help. Bringing snacks will also save you money. Most show facilities have a concession stand with hamburgers and hot dogs.

When you get to the show facility, you’ll need to check in with the office. In the office, you’ll sign a release form, pick up your number, and leave them a check for the show fees. At the end of your division, you’ll go back to the show office and check out. During checkout, you’ll pick up any ribbons you won.

Parents and students must be able to tack up the horse or pony without the instructor’s help. Chances are the instructor will be coaching other students and won’t be available to assist.

We also expect all participants who show to help clean up after the show. This involves loading to come home and unloading once we are home. This is part of the show experience. If a student is unable to help load and unload they will be charged an additional fee.

What do I need to be ready for a horse show?

The easiest way to have everything you need for a horse show is to go to Bits N Spurs in Newberry or Tack Shack of Ocala and tell them you are getting ready for your first show. They will take it from there.

You will need:

  • A Pony Paddock polo shirt or a show shirt (if you are wearing a jacket)
  • A Jacket
  • Breeches or Jodhpurs.
  • Breeches need tall boots or half chaps. Jodhpurs need garters.
  • Clean black paddock boots
  • White fluffy show pad for your saddle
  • A black helmet. Helmet covers may be used over schooling helmets.