I think I took my first riding lesson ever at Barn 1 (when I was like 5) and I rode there on and off all the way up until 10 years ago. And damn, I forgot about the luxury.
All the horses, besides being fantastically expensive, are so friendly and well taken care of. I got to ride a really nice IHSA mare, and it's really unfair to compare her to Mikey, but she was a really nice horse just incredibly balanced, responded to all my aids even though I suck, put up with my lack of jumping ability. The lesson went pretty damn well and I even got to jump a tiny course, though I'm sure it wasn't pretty. Because there are so many horses there, they had like eight that I could possibly half lease. But the trainer that gave me my lesson didn't know any exact prices as they would all range based on the horse price. I'm pretty sure if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it. They do have a surprisingly cheap lesson package though, cheap being price per lesson, but you have to buy in bulk and use all the lessons in one month. I would love to ride at this barn as I like 1) luxury, the setting is great 2) fancy things, aka the horses and 3) lessons would mean that someone is always around when I'm riding, as opposed to leasing.
They also have pastures for horses which I'm thinking would be great for when I *eventually get my own horse, but that's probably thinking way too far ahead.
I didn't think it would be so hard to choose a barn, but I'm pretty torn. I had a Saturday morning lesson and I forgot about the glory of being at a busy barn on a weekend morning. The trainer that I rode on and off with when I was young was the other trainer at the barn though and so that was pretty damn awkward. I rode a potential lease horse whose this gorgeous ex grand prix horse and was about 17.2, so a moose. And I have a feeling I won't get a better workout anywhere else, I've never felt so weak! He's a great jumper or eq horse, which is kind of exactly what I wanted to do. Puts up with rider mistakes when jumping, which is exactly what I need. I'm kinda smitten.
Also, the trainer at Barn 2 kicked my butt in the lesson and critiqued my eq so much, which I need! I'm totally confident in him helping me become a better rider, as opposed to other trainers who might just be interested in working with bringing along horses.
Because I am so torn, I'm going to bring my husband to a lesson at each barn to help me decide. I was going to try two more barns in the area but at this point I feel like it would cloud my judgment too much and I would end up making an emotional decision (but I probably am anyway).
Also, Mikey's SmartPak order arrived, so I'll be taking out his goodbye gifts tonight. Giving them to him early because he kind of needs them, poor thing. Pictures to follow.