This riding school is situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh and is approved by the British Horse Society. It provides both ... More
Tower Farm Riding Stables
This riding school is situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh and is approved by the British Horse Society. It provides both indoor and outdoor tuition. Activities such as trekking and hacking excursions are available across the surrounding countryside and professional instruction is on offer for every age group and every level of riding experience. There's also a saddlery and feed shop on site. If you fancy having a mare for yourself, horses and ponies are bought and sold here.
This was the first time I have ever been to this riding school. Was visiting the city and decided that it would be lovely to see the area on horseback (I have ridden since I was a child and owned horses on and off in early adulthood). I had phoned the previous day and booked a trek out. I explained my height, experience etc to the girl on the phone. I arrived on the Saturday to a yard of full of children running around. I went to the office and paid for my ride and was told which horse I was riding (?it's name meant nothing to me, as I explained this was the first time I had been here). No-one offered to tell me, let alone show me, where the horse in question was - this is quite a large stables, so I wandered out into the yard to see if I could find someone who could help. Eventually after 10 minutes a large, red-faced woman appeared and asked if I was going out on the hack. I replied "yes" - at which point she then bit my head off, saying I should have been on the horse ages ago - well, I would have had someone bothered to explain to me what it looked like and where it was. She then barked at a passing child to go and get the horse for me. Is this the owner of these stables????? Surely not with an attitude like that! Anyway, the obliging child fetched my horse for me - a very pleasant, nicely mannered horse - and we set off. I almost felt sorry for the horse, having to live with this woman every day. Had a nice ride out. The scenery on their door step is beautiful with large panoramic views of Edinburgh as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to give my horse a well deserved pat after we arrived back, as he was being used in the next hour's riding lesson - cue more moaning from the red-faced woman - and I barely had time to get off him when he was dragged by some other sub-serviant helper into the indoor school. This riding school is in the most fabulous location, and the horse I rode was a lovely, gentle character who obliged at every pace while I enjoyed the scenery .. but if this crazy woman (who honestly looked like she was going to explode at one point) is anything to go by in terms of the management, it would make me have serious second thoughts about returning .. which is a shame, as if nothing else, I feel I owe the horse a packet of Polos !
I learnt to ride at Tower Farm many years ago. There were not the great facilities there are now, but then the staff were knowledgeable, polite and helpful and over the age of 18. The horses were well cared for, as was the tack. Now you venture on to the yard at your peril terrified that you might fall foul of the"yard manager", contact with her is at your own risk! (She is often unbelievably rude and unhelpful and not nearly as knowledgeable as she thinks she is.) For some reason this year many of the larger horses are in appalling body condition and look like rescue cases, there have even been some worked with open saddle sores! courtesy of the Common Rides. Tower Farm needs a hands-on owner, a new yard manager, supervision for a too young and inexperienced staff and control of the hords of children to be found there as parents use the place as free childcare at weekends and school holidays. Far too many lessons are taken by unqualified and inexperienced staff often filling in time between school and college. There is no way I would let some unqualified teenager teach my child a "risk sport". Someone really needs to get a grip of this place before it goes under. It could be a real asset to Edinburgh, it has a great setting and great facilities but at the moment STAY AWAY!
Tower Farm was once a riding stables to be proud of. The horses were well groomed and looked after, the teaching was of a high standard, the staff were friendly and the manager was not controlling and rude to a level suggestive of psychosis.
Even when TF began to lose its name, until last year, the horses were never allowed to suffer. The Common Rides might look grand, but the horses become skeletal due to over-exertion and their backs are rubbed raw by ill-fitting, poor quality saddles. Riding school horses have been euthanized because of the effects of Common Rides on their unconditioned bodies.
There is quite clearly an issue with either knowledge of horses or the ability to manage them. One pony could barely move for the pain in his hooves for a couple of weeks in the summer of 2011, and all he got was harsh words for walking too slowly. Every year without fail, the same ponies become lame with laminitis because nothing is done until the inflammation takes hold. And every year the same pony rubs herself bloody with sweet itch because putting a rug on is “too much hard work”.
The yard manager clearly demonstrates a lack in knowledge regularly, and the yard owner is callous and appears uncaring towards the animals and the clients.
The fact that the manager has any respect in the equine community only goes to show the decrease in expertise in horse husbandry and/or the corruption of the horsey world. It is a society of cahoots, lies and rivalry, and it would appear that animal welfare charities have become entangled in this web.
As a riding school, if you can stomach getting on a sore and poorly conditioned horse, you will find that the staff, on the whole, are unqualified and often under the age of 20. Not only this, but they are unknowledgeable and often preach false info. Some of them are rude and unhelpful. All of them could do with a good (or reasonable) manager.
As a livery yard, it’s guaranteed that you will not be valued (unless the financial situation worsens, and even then it doesn’t last long or come to much). You will be treated as an inconvenience. It is impossible to have a discussion about your horse with a member of staff. If you try to, you will be brushed off, snapped at or nodded at unenthusiastically until you sod off so the employee social can continue.
Your horse may well be handled by untrained, unsupervised children. But, it has to be said that this is preferable to some of the untrained, unsupervised and occasionally abusive members of staff. Horses have been seen being shouted at, handled with yard brooms, yanked and struck. There is no helpfulness, no flexibility, no loyalty and corruption is rife.
Everything is the manager’s way or no way. Want to be involved in your horse’s veterinary care? You might be given the passport to hold, but you will not be given any further say unless you fight for it.
If you want a place to keep your horse which you can use to relax and unwind or socialise with like minded people, TF is not the livery yard for you. You won’t even get a smile or good morning and the atmosphere is tense and uncaring.
Yes the horses are lovely – honest and talented, for every ability, but they also spend their summers thin, sore and over worked. Yes, the helpers are enthusiastic, and yes, the staff can be great but both are unsupervised, untrained and this allows poor horse care and incorrect, sometimes abusive handling to creep in.
The review below sounds suspiciously good and much like an advertising plug. It fails to mention the founded concerns for animal welfare, the disgusting way clients are treated, the passive owner who is letting horses and clients suffer under her responsibility and the ogre-like manager.
If you are sceptical of my claims against TF, then simply visit the stables to take in the ethos and see the under-weight horses for yourself.
Or if you prefer, enquire with the British Horse Society, as they themselves have “grave concerns” over the place.
I've been riding at tower farm for just over six years. I've been to other stables all around edinburgh, and TF is by far the best. The horses are well looked after by the helpers and staff, whenever the helpers have spare time i see them grooming or spending time with their favourites. As well as the staff the helpers try to help you as much as they can and at the same time they are having fun. Every week I go I see the same helpers (Allana, Louise, Elisha, Kathryn and Cat) and I admire them for their hard work year in year out. And whenever I talk to them they tell me TF is like a second home to them and everyone who is involved is part of the big family. I have noticed however that when the kids are having a really great time and the manager comes they all stop. I know that a yard isnt a playpark but I dont think its right to make them feel as if they have to stop having fun and get to work, especially since they dont get paid they just do it for the love of it. The staff all have their own style of teaching and if they tell you what horse to ride the next week its because that horse will suit your needs. I have been taught by all of them (Eve, Sinead, Rhiannon, Alex, Debbie L, Alana, Caroline and Debbie C.) All the horses seem happy and recognise the staff and helpers which i think is a nice touch to the yard. It is run in a very organised manner. By 12 all the horses will have had a morning feed, boxes will have been mucked out, Hay/ Haylage given depending on which the horse needs. Then after Lunch, the yard will be swept the muck will be put in the muck heap, The horses will have had a luch feed through lunch, and some of the horses will be groomed. at the end of the day the horses will be taken up to the feild and as a thankyou for a hard days work the helpers may get to ride to the feild, which is fair.TF have group lessons for evey level includinng adult only lesson some nights, but if you dont feel confident enough to do a group lesson or you would like to progress at your own pace there are individual lessons monday to friday through the day. They also do ride outs to portobello beach and the pentlands as well as Common Rides. The horses are turned out very well for the common rides.They are bathed and plaited with clean tack on and you can try out your horse before hand to make sure it is suitable for you. I hope you will give TF a chance because it really deserves it. I would just like to say thankyou to everyone who works/helps at tower farm :)
I find it hard to believe the last couple of negative reviews. My experience has been quite the opposite. The horses at Tower Riding School are extremely well looked after. I am member of several animal welfare organizations and would not consider, for one moment, using a riding school where I thought the animals were mistreated in any way. The horses at Tower are all extremely well fed and anybody visiting the stables would observe this, they have full beds of straw and are most certainly not overworked. Every horse I have ridden at Tower has been a delight to ride.
I have been receiving lessons over the last couple of weeks from Caroline, who has proven to be an excellent instructor. She has let me progress at my own speed and takes the time to explain the theory behind her instruction. When booking you can request your instructor.
It's great to see the kids working about the place and not hanging about street corners or in front of a television, they clearly enjoy being involved in looking after the horses and ponies.
There is a happy atmosphere about the place and I have no hesitation in highly recommending these stables to anyone who is either thinking of taking up riding or is already a proficient rider.
The yard manager treats paying clients with no respect and at times downright rude. Why is she allowed so much power but at the same time destroying what could be a prosperous business? Why do the owners ignore the comments here and comments of clients? People are voting with their feet and leaving.
I have read through other peoples reviews some good and some bad, personally im not a fan of the place, the horses aren't looked after properly and for people saying give her a break she's got thirty horses to look after, she's got more than that, but she should look into getting some proper staff who actually know what they are talking about, it doesnt matter what the place looks like to me all i care about is how the horses are treated, and a number of them look like hat racks, its awful, im surprised the sspca havent been up yet! I go up there to take my young horse to do some jumping as we dont have an indoor school at the yard im at but why people livery their horses there when there are much better places i will never know and to be honest i dont really want to, as i would think that they are blooming stupid with too much money, yes her horses work hard but at least they are fit enough by the time commonride season comes round i know a number of riding schools who have lost horses over the years because of how unfit they are, the only good thing about tower is the competitions they run, the indoor and outdoor schools, and caroline when she's teaching i had a fab lesson with her on manny just as a top up really and it was brilliant unfortunately the horse was rather lean, when he shouldnt be that skinny, i hope they can pull it together as it could potentially be a great place, It just needs to ditch debbie, and a few other staff and then they wont have any bother
This well established yard has super indoor and outdoor facilities, great location and fantastic surroundings but thats where the good stuff ends.
Staff are young and slightly know it all. Yard Manager is hard to talk to, she believes its her way or nothing else, she is rude, harsh, speaks (shouts) at her clients, People pay alot of money to keep their horse here and come for riding lessons that they deserve better. Beginner and starter lessons are taken by unqualified young staff, evening lessons are taken by freelance qualified instructors who are really good. Where are the certificates, awards, training courses, BHS approved, thank you letters etc? Why are these not on display in the office with a gallery of staff pictures, names, qualifications etc?
When times are like these clients need to know they are spending their money with an establishment that will take them places, teach and educate in riding and all things horses. We go at the weekends only because the times suit.
I am worried this place is cutting corners. I heard a wee girl on the phone, crying, saying her pony wasnt allowed a straw bed in its box!! Surely if these horses and ponies are standing allday they need some comfort!! I also saw piles of muck/straw in the yard with people and horses having to walk over and round it. Whats wrong with a wheelbarrow and tidy up as you go along. A tractor then comes out and scrapes it all away, no health & safety, tractor/staff/helpers/horses all moving on the yard at the same time!!
Things need to be changed at Tower Farm soon or the already fed up mums and dads who watch their kids ride week after week will take their cash elsewhere. Manager needs to change her attitude and remember the saying ' the customer is always right!'
Finally Tower has some super horses and ponies, nice helpers who work there for the love of it and great freelance instructors so do give it a try!!
ps I think the owners who keep their own horses at Tower must be fed up too with the mess and the management - I would not like to pay what they pay each month!! (price list in hallway)
I knew Judy very well. She and her horse Sacha and I rode frequently together.Judy started the riding school way back in the late 70's and we did our BHS exams together, travelling to the south together, and giving each other encouragement! Judy kept this yard immaculate. I returned in 2010. It was nothing like the place I had seen in the 80's. The mud was everywhere, and so were the kids. I too had a riding school for 26 years, so I know a little about how they should be run!. I said nothing when I took my grandson there for a lesson. It was appalling. The instructor was rude, and paid little or no attention to anyone except the lead file. There was lots she could have done with these children, but she never corrected a hand position, length of rein, leg position, or gave any explanation for anything she was asking the lead file to do.My grandson basically got a 35.00 pony ride for 25 minutes. I thought of my departed old friend, and was glad she was elsewhere, and not seeing what her dream stable had become.
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