Whether you are an experienced rider or a complete beginner, here are the steps to follow if you’re interested in taking lessons at Ascot:
- Book an appointment to meet Kat Kenney for a tour of the facility. Contact Kat Kenney via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone: 978.729.9959. (Please note that to accommodate our busy schedules, it may be most convenient for you to come to the barn, have a self guided tour, and observe lessons, usually while Kat is teaching.)
- Take a tour to observe ongoing lessons, quality of care given to the horses and ponies, cleanliness of the facility, and the overall welcoming feel.
- Complete a Release Form if you’ve decided you’d like to take lessons at Ascot.
- Your first lesson, please arrive wearing proper attire. This includes (at a minimum) comfortable pants, a boot or shoe with a small heel, and a helmet. These few items will suffice until you’ve determined whether you’re committed enough to invest in additional gear. Schooling helmets are provided at the barn for beginners, but if you decide to continue riding, they should be the first item on your shopping list.
New students will be instructed in grooming and tacking the lesson horse in a series of beginner riding lessons with Kat Kenney. These beginning lessons are an hour in duration and include approximately a half-hour of riding time.
When the student is proficient at grooming and tacking up, they will can begin half-hour private lessons. At that time, students should arrive at the stable at least 30 minutes before the scheduled lesson so they have sufficient time to groom and tack their lesson horse. After the lesson is over, the student cools out the horse if necessary, removes tack, and brushes or sponges the saddle area. The student then returns the horse to its stall or paddock as directed by the instructor, and places the tack back in the tack room. We also encourage students to enjoy hand grazing the horses and ponies after lessons if they have time.
Here are a few places we recommend for riding gear:
Ascot’s “boot library” – Our students often “recycle” riding boots, britches, and show apparel as they outgrow them. We keep a collection of these items at the barn, and are happy to pass them along to other students. Please ask your instructor for more information.
The Equestrian Shop at 40 Essex Road in Ipswich, MA. Phone: 978-356-1180
Dover Saddlery at 16 Atkinson Depot Road (Rte 121) in Plaistow, NH. Phone: 603-382-4000
For a nice introduction to riding, we recommend the book Judy Richter’s Riding for Kids for both parents and children. It’s available on Amazon and we also have copies at Ascot.
How much do lessons cost?
The initial private, hour-long lessons with Kat Kenney are $70. Once a student is able to properly groom and tack up their horse or pony (parents may help children) and independently warm up at a walk in ring, the price with be $55 for half-hour private lessons. Eventually, most students choose to go into a one-hour group lesson for $65.
How often do students ride?
Students are expected to take one lesson per week (though, they can take more if they like, and many do!).
How do I get started with lessons?
Come to Ascot and meet Kat Kenney for a tour of the facility. At that time we will discuss available times and coordinate schedules. If there is a time available, you will be scheduled and Kat will discuss the next steps.
What do I need to bring with me to my first lesson?
Please bring a completed Release Form and wear appropriate attire: pants and a boot or shoe with a small heel. We provide schooling helmets for students until they purchase one of their own. Whips, crops and spurs are not necessary for your first lesson. Please no flip-flops or shorts/skirts. In fact, no open toed shoes for anyone (siblings, parents, friends) working around the horses.
How old does a child need to be to start lessons?
Six years old
What is the lesson process like?
There are a couple of lesson formats. If you are a beginner, arrive 5 – 10 minutes early and wait for Kat. You will be instructed for the whole hour including grooming, tacking up, and untacking. If you are scheduled for a half-hour or one-hour group lesson, come to the barn 30 minutes prior to the lesson time to properly groom and tack up your horse or pony.
What is the cancellation policy?
Out of respect for everyone’s time, we require a minimum 24-hour cancellation notice. If such notice is provided, the cancelled lesson can be rescheduled at a time that’s convenient for the instructor and the student. If the cancellation is made at the last minute, the student forfeits their lesson time and is responsible for the cost of the lesson.
Why do I need to sign a waiver?
The release form discloses important information about the dangerous elements of riding and proves that the student or parent have read and understood the risks inherent in the activity. Our Release Form also includes a lot of useful reference information that will help you get acquainted with procedures.
Are your instructors licensed and insured?
All of Ascot’s instructors are licensed under the Massachusetts Dept. of Agriculture.
Do you run horse shows at Ascot?
Many years ago student horse shows were commonplace, but as our community of riders has evolved, students and their family’s lives have become so busy that it has become difficult to coordinate large group events. Ascot now runs seasonal clinics for grooming, horsemanship, and jumping.
Do you take your students to horse shows?
Yes! Showing is so much fun and it really showcases how much a student has learned in the ring. Our show calendar goes from April through November.
When is the barn open?
The barn is open 7 day/week, however there are no lessons on Monday because it’s the horses’ day off! Barn hours are:
- Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
- Weekends: 8:00 am – 5:30 pm
Monday can also be a day of work around the barn, sometimes with heavy equipment, so be aware of ongoing projects if you board your horse here and want to go for a ride. There will always be a ring available to ride in.
Can I come and visit even when I don’t have a lesson?
Absolutely! We welcome students to come and visit anytime. There is always a pony or horse to groom or graze. Or just come and enjoy Ascot with a picnic and watch some lessons.
Can we bring our dog?
Though we love dogs, outside dogs must be leashed and owners must pick up after their dog if it is within the barnyard. The biggest concern, and the reason dogs must be leashed, is the potential that a dog might spook a horse and cause a rider to fall off. Also, there are established “barn dogs” at Ascot who can be territorial, so sometimes there is squabbling (another thing that can cause the horses to spook). We are all animal lovers here, but in order to keep everyone safe, we must ensure that everyone uses smart judgment. Please don’t feel offended if we ask to put your pup in the car; it’s for the safety of our riders.