While we were practicing turning the horse in and out of a simple cone pattern, I got to thinking.
Here in Kentucky, there are several riding stables within a 50 mile radius. In fact some of the top show barns in the country are located within 20 miles of my stable. These top show barns draw in riders and clients from all over the country and the world. And while this is the heart of the Saddlebred world, we have a few hunter/eventing barns and a couple of western barns.
And you know what they’re all pretty good. In fact it is hard for me to think of one that isn’t. Several years ago there were a couple of barns, where it seemed the kids fell off all the time, the riders were scared and timid, horses ran away at the academy shows. But you know what most of those people are gone.
I think with so many good stables around, unless you have decent, well-trained lesson horses and a pleasant, well-educated instructor, you’re not going to stay in business.
What this does is it builds competition. Not competition between barns, although I suppose there is that, but what I’m talking about is competition to find and grab kids/adults/riders who want to find a nice place to learn to ride.
So still wandering around with this brand new rider—she is wearing a good fitting helmet (she has borrowed from us for the first time), tack that fits and is comfortable, and a wonderful horse whose just loves to mosey around—but will still listen to the not so good signals a beginner gives—I thought about how this kid came to ride at the barn that day.
Her mom had called about a week before. She had been given a gift certificate from some school auction. And I almost turned them down. The certificate was three years old.
Here in the LEC office we are always complaining about people who try to use a lesson coupon that is expired—not a few weeks, but months. We give out a lot of free gift certificates for school auctions and benefits—and always put an expiration date on them. And we are always complaining about the lolly-gaggers who always want to use their certificates months beyond the expiration date. And they only want to use their certificate for their out of town cousins.
But here was this mom, she had this certificate—so before I turned her down, I said, “where do you live, close by?”—waiting to hear the same old response, that her husband is stationed at Ft Knox (which is already 50 miles away) and that they are being moved to Hawaii next week, and just wanted to come ride.
But no, they actually live in a nice subdivision about 5 miles away. So I thought O.K., just let them come. I’ll teach the lesson, then none of the instructors have to come in, and I also don’t have to pay anyone extra to teach or lead the daughter.
And you know what? It was a good one.
So just how do you find those good ones?
How do you make sure they find the Louisville Equestrian Center, instead of Zubrod Stables or Stonehurst Stables or Twin Oak Stables or Rock Creek?
You have to let them know. They have to know who you are, what you do and how they can do it.
But what’s the best way to let them know? What’s the cheapest way? What gives you the best bang for your buck?
For more ideas, be sure that you have signed up for the 2016 RIDING INSTRUCTOR’S WORKSHOP’S ANNUAL SEMINAR. Some of the country’s best instructors and trainers will be gathered together to share ideas and network with fellow instructors. Check out the Riding Instructor Workshop’s FaceBook page as well as go to ridinginstructorworkshop.com and get registered today!