Monday 22 September 2014

Setting up a riding school from scratch - project impossible?

Let me say first, right now, I am in no position to set up a riding school, whether from scratch, from made ingredients or even from half baked ;) However, I have recently realised that this has been on my mind for over 20 years...
For a start, it's a crazy thought with numerous establishments closing left, right and centre, costs of keeping horses sky rocketing and prices of land and properties might as well be named "in another life sister".
My rational brain tells me - "Look around, places that make it work have a good deal of backers behind them and/or other businesses supporting them and/or follow the traditional system of quantity over quality". And I should listen to that rational brain and stay very clear from a thought of setting up a riding school.
Yet, I can't help but wonder...what if I did have a go....What if I did attempt to set up a little riding academy that isn't just a coaching programme but an actual place.
I can picture "No" balloons floating around me every time I let that question sound louder ;)

Did you know that there are maybe three books written about running stables as a riding school and none of them actually considers much else than a quantity oriented business model?
How about some guidelines for creating a viable grassroots rider academy, not from how-to-teach point of view but how-to-survive point of view?
Perhaps there aren't any simply because the demand for quality riding tuition at grassroots levels just ins't as great?

Right now, in general terms, you go to a riding school to learn how not to fall off a horse, have a bit of fun, meet like-minded people (also learn how to kick, whack and pull). Then you realise that to actually learn to ride well you need to loan or buy a horse. The amount of negative feedback on riding school instruction among horse owners is staggering. I feel this is not always fair representation and sadly some lovely places fall into the trap of a statistical waterfall but there is a lot of truth in that generalisation.

My question to myself is, how likely is it to successfully run my Aspire Academy as an actual brick & mortar business without filling it up with a Pegasus and his herd of unicorns...

Anyway, I thought I would let you know what's on my mind ;) I've been doing a little research in the above direction and funnily enough I've been inspired to do so by our new little Hampshire base. It is simply so wonderful to teach out of an independent yard, to let clients build relationship with the horses.

My young rider getting ready for her training at the Little Base (as I call it in my mind)

So yes, I feel like this theme will continue as I explore the avenues...If any of you dear readers out there run a riding school and would like to share experiences and advice, feel free to make comment section below your own :) If you simply are a business owner or have entrepreneurial instincts and would like to add your tips, please join in.

I am thinking less in line of copying existing riding school model and more in direction of coming up with an alternative set up where private and small groups (up to 4 riders) are possible. Where riders learn to ride with an emphasis on thorough basic training and where schooling puts horse's wellness in the centre of any methods used.

From news and updates, I am off to Poland next week to run a clinic there as well as see my family which I am very much looking forward to. I will be back on here very soon :)

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