After reading through the reviews, I hope this entry will change minds. I am actually taken aback by some of the entires in this. Columbia Horse Center is a wonderful facility with an environment suitable for the beginer/novice/advanced rider. For the comments that are negative, I'm sorry you feel that way, but a LOT of comments are completely inaccurate. For over using horses, this is not true. Weekly, the hours of the horses used during the week is counted, and based on the number, the horses get mini vacations. When there is an issue such as bucking, it is dealt with by staff as far as saddle fitting, pain, and any medical attention that needs to be met. If the staff find it is due to a horse's work ethic, the staff looks into how it can be resolved. For the comment made about strangles or the herpes virus, yes it was a case, however, medically the virus can NOT be traced to an orginial start. And considering we lost such a small number of horses out of the 100 head we have, that is an incredible management success. The card system is helpful, not because money was not being tracked, but because riders were taking advantage and not paying. This has allowed the business to record and manage riders. Notice how some people left after the card system was put into place. Some of those people were the riders not paying. The horses are in excellent condition. Many times, the school horses have to have their grain reduced due to gaining weight. Even with adequate exercise. For the care of the boarders, yes the cost of board is high, but so is owning a horse in general. The location, the facility, the 88 acres access, the instruction, on site staff, and quality care is the cost. Consider CHC has 2 indoor rings, long trails, shows on the property, access to outside shows, and constant eyes watching the facility, I'd say the cost is worth it for some owners who don't always make it out or are in need of the facilities. I have been an employee here for quite some time, so these are the hard facts. I find it very upsetting when someone can post something absolutely inaccurate onto a website for outside riders to see. Not fair to the business that works so hard to maintain itself. This is an honest post, from an employee, who knows exactly what is going on. Those accusations are false. Our horses are very well loved, our staff is happy to have their jobs, and our barn is like a family.
For any outside riders who might be interested, I would recommend looking for yourself. For those who have horse experience, you would see what pride we take in our facility and how we manage our program to a T. For those with little to no experience, one walk down our school aisle and I can guarantee at least one horse that will catch your eye and your heart.
We are a family that takes pride in what we do. Please don't read the other articles, especially those with inappropriate remarks or poor grammar and expect that to be an accurate representation of our barn.
Columbia Horse Center is a wonderful place and should not be discredited!
When I first moved to Maryland in 2003, I did a wide sweep of barns from Washington DC to Maryland. I am very picky about where I ride and base my decision on my impression of the barns, the horses and the people. Columbia has made many improvements over the past 4 years or so; upgrading stalls and doing the pesky repair work that was needed. I have been riding there for 5 years now and am also, now, a boarder. The instructors are knowledgable and the barn staff are great with the animals. One review indicated morning turnout as the staff just opening the doors and letting the horses run, and that is true to a point, however, the lane the horses use is well maintained and it is only to the one large field. The horses are not "chased" or yelled at, but are simply encouraged with normal noises, clucking or whistling, to get them to keep moving. As with any horse related activity, occasionally one will get loose; it is the nature and risk of the animal, but the staff is not neglectful. The barn staff is on site 24 hours a day, the stalls are well cleaned on a daily basis and well supplied with clean bedding; horses are kept well supplied with hay at least three times a day, fresh water is always available with watereres cleaned daily and the staff are observant to any emergency needs that might require a call to a vet, which they will do, if necessary, before even calling the owner. Yes I have been to "prettier" barns, but, I can't be more pleased with my choice. Someone also made the comment that the boarders were mean...OK, I'll give in to that on occasion. Some can be standoffish, however, the boarders also have to deal with non-boarders coming into the boarding barn and taking equipment or leaving a mess behind in front of the boarder stalls without due care of picking up after themselves, so yes, occasionally the boarders get a little irked with the non-boarders.
To the knowledgeable horse person, CHC is not a good place to be keeping your horses and taking lessons. The fields are not properly maintained or spacious enough for the horses they hold. The stalls are small and dark, and the footing of the riding rings is not the best. In the summer, it can get incredibly dusty and hard to even see where you're going with so many classes in the ring (sometimes very over-crowded).
For a beginner, the instructors are adequate. But the boarding, lessons, and care and sub-par for what they cost. A lot of what you are paying for is the central location, which is convenient to MD suburbs/Washington DC.
Columbia Horse Center is one of the best places i have evr been to horse back ride. Sure, some of the boarders are really mean and at times it seems that the people there only care bout the boarders but the workers do care. No place is perfect and it takes some getting used to but after spending almost 9 years there ive come to love the place. everyone there cares about the horses and shows their love for them in different ways. Anyone who goes there can learn to love given time. The horses are all spoiled and they just redid all the stalls there. The workers deserve credit where credit is due. They works very hard to make the place seem presentable and take good care of the place. The horses are well taken care of. The love for horses shows in the riders and workers a like. There was one horse there, her name was Vanilla. She got really hurt in the feild from some other horse and then got sick. The workers there did everything they could to save her but in the end she couldnt last. Columbia Horse Center even has a page on their website dedicated to the horses they lost. Everyone has thier own opinions of the place and are completely entitled to it. Even i feel that there is a slight disregard towards the school horses and students there. While they boast that thier main priority is safety first i feel that this is somewhat false. The place does care about safety but they are also overly comcerned about the "money" that the school horses bring in. All school horses are for sale and is one of the horses is more popular the price goes up. That horse also has to suffer hours of unending lessons. This is unfair to the horse. Each horse can only got in 5 lessons a day. Sometime that horse goes for two in a row, gets an hour break then goes out for two more hours. Horses deserve more than a one hour break but if it bring in the "money" then it goes in tht many lessons. Another thing is that they have a system of beginner, intermeddiate, and advance horses. This system is in place based on how easy the horse is to control. Beginner riders are suppose to ride beginner horses but this is not always tru. Beginner riders are sometimes given intermeddiate horses and the the instructor complains about the horse no behaveing. All in all tho Columbia Horse Center is a wonderful place that has it bad and good sided to it because it's not perfect and for some people they leave because it's not the right place for them but for others it is. In the end, its all based on personal preference.
I love columbia horse center because there is always people around! and they have a spring/fall schooling series which is so fun! and the selection of trainers are wonderful! they have many insturcotrs/horses for each level and all the school horses are for sale! so if you really fall in love with one it can be yours! and at chc i have meet LOTS of friends,if chc wasnt close to my house then i would probally not be able to have a horse and compete in shows like i do =]]
I used to take lessons as a kid/young teenager and due to a bunch of different things, I had to give that up. Now that I'm living on my own, I went looking for a new place to take lessons. CHC was my first choice, partly because of its location and partly because of the Saturday Introductory Lesson they offer for free. Most of the other places I looked into seemed to want you to pay for that first "evaluation" or "intro" lesson before you started with them and got put in a class.
Even in that first intro class, the instructors were very helpful with me just remembering how to do all the right things. Since then, I've been very pleased with the classes I've taken (and their size isn't so bad. About six people, tops.) and the instructors I've either had a class with or watched teach other classes.
I really like the card mechanism, actually. It was a little weird, at first, since the place I'd last taken lessons at had us pay every week per lesson but this way, I pay for 13 weeks ahead of time and then just show up, get my card punched, and I'm ready to go.
In fact, I like it there so much that as soon as I was able, I signed up for their "working student" program which allows me to earn extra lessons.
All in all, I've been quite pleased with my CHC experience.
I am extremely appalled by these bad ratings. The horses are loved and spoiled with treats. There is staff on the property at all times. The people are friendly and enjoy spending time here. I personally love it at Columbia Horse Center, and my truest friends are here, including the horses. Some of the horses are rescued, and they really do come a long way. Each one is given a chance to reprove themselves.
"Once the expiration date on your card has expired, they don't make exceptions." - This is absolutely not true. If you miss a week or two, they don't count it against you. You are able to do make up lessons pretty much in any other lesson, and if you have groups, you can combine two of them to have a make up private. If you miss a private lesson, then you are able to make it up whenever is a good time for you and your instructor.
"The services they provide are not appropriate for new riders." We have many beginner horses that are great for the brand new rider. If you want more one on one attention, get a private lesson. There are pony pals for the younger kids, and they are on the lead rope.
"They sometimes seemed annoyed at the fact that I actually needed assistance." Whenever I go around, I see staff with smiles and offering help, or, if they are not around, just ask politely and the staff will kindly assist you.
"i totally agree with someones further entry about the card thing. I left that place b4 i had to do that stupied thing. But its because they cant keep track of there money." It is not because of keeping track of money that there are cards. It is helpful for the parents to keep track, and it helps keep track of the numbers of cards we are selling because the information is recorded. It is also easier on the staff so they know who the person is and they can tell you who you are riding. If you forget it, just tell the staff and they will write down to punch 2 holes the next time you come. It isn't that hard to bring a card to your lesson.
"Also they throw the hay over the stall door to scare the horse." It isn't to scare the horses. It is the quickest way to hay all of them, as there are many. The horses don't care, they just want their food. I have never seen one that spooked because of it.
"One horse was observed running with a lead rope still attached." Some of the horses get overly excited when going out, and will charge at the sight of the field.
"First, the groups are way too big!!" There is a maximum of 8 students per lesson, but less is preferred.
"The same horses were used in three back to back lessons that lasted 1 plus hours per lesson. No break, no water." Due to CHC having so many riders, some of the horses have to go twice in a row. These are the beginner horses, who mostly walk and trot, so they are not being used very hard. The riders are supposed to walk the horses back to the stalls and offer them a drink.
"The fields are filled with weeds and dirt" We do rotate the horses to let the grass grow back in when it gets bad.
"Stay away from here if you want a good, pleasant riding experience." I don't understand what you are speaking of. CHC is like a family. Many people say their best friends are here, even though they ride only once a week together. You can see the bonds within everyone.
I luv the CHC overall. I have been going there for a long time and have never had a bad experience. The horses and staff are the best! I myself am a working student there and love every minute of it! Their summer camps are really fun for the kids. And their boarding is another wonderful service!! I just don't see what you other people are saying about bad treatment of horses or unfriendly staff. I am almost always at the CHC and have never witnessed anything bad or cruel and the staff is always friendly and ready to help you and answer any questions. THE CHC IS THE PLACE TO BE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Columbia Horse Center is a wonderful place to ride. I have been there for atleast 9 years and i am not leaving. the horses are great and the people there are amazing. If you have a problem with it then shut up and deal with it.