Hi OP, if you haven' ridden for 15 years and are an intermediate rider, you should probably opt for lessons for at least 6 months or so. While you are taking the lessons you can put the word out that you are are looking for a loaner. This does a couple of things - it allows the people who are likely to loan, to see you handle and ride a horse, and decide for themselves whether they would like to have you loan their horse. And even if they don't have a horse suitable for you, they can keep an eye out for a horse which is suitable. A riding school situation will also allow you to ride some different horses so that you can decided what sort of horse you would like. Big? Small? Cob? Thoroughbred? Hot? Steady? There are so many variables in just that one question, which can't be answered unless you have ridden some different horses.
I rode at Chessington Equestrian Centre whilst i lived in Leatherhead. I really liked i. I thought the lessons were very good. However, they worked you hard so expect to hurt if you haven't ridden for a while!!
I would opt for a few lessons first - I returned after a long break and found it very scary - it's taken a good few years to get back to the confidence level I was at - so I wouldn't take on too much now
We loaned over the summer but is was a different loan from usual - we paid £50 a week and got all the horse love we could handle - 2 unsupervised rides a week in the menage and 1 lesson a week - that really helped me as it wasn't full on 'ownership'
I'm looking to get back into riding after 15 years out the saddle. Ideally I would prefer to loan / share rather than have riding lessons as (1) better value for money; (2) it seems difficult to find a genuinely good riding school; and (3) I'd get to build a relationship with the horse.
However, all the loan / share ads I have seen seem to want experienced riders who are available to ride during the week, which makes sense I suppose. Problem is I work long hours during the week and have a 1.5 hour commute home from work so I can only really commit to weekends. I could possibly do some evenings but could not commit 100% to them in case I get caught up at work and have to stay late, which happens a lot in my line of work ( So I either need a horse where someone else can tend to it during the week, or a hardy one which can survive in field during the week and is ok only to be ridden at weekends.
In terms of experience, I have not ridden for 15 years and need to get my confidence back so I would be looking for a really safe, confidence giving kind of horse. I am not bothered about doing anything too much - just gentle hacking and schooling. I would also like it to be stabled somewhere with other experienced people around in case I need any help or tips!
I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination but I know the basics (can walk, trot, canter, and know basic stable management) and I am sensible, aware of my limitations, super keen and willing to listen and learn.
Do you think I will be able to find a suitable loan or share based on these facts? I am obviously willing to make a financial contribution to the horse's upkeep. Everything available seems to be for experienced riders, and I don't think I fall into the 'experienced' category yet.
Alternatively, can anyone recommend any genuinely good riding schools in the Surrey area (I am near Reigate / Dorking)?
I have been disappointed the last few times I had lessons, for example the last time I went I paid a fortune for an hour long lesson which started 10 minutes late (but ended on time) and it turned out the other person in the lesson could not canter and was too nervous to try (I was sympathetic towards her as I get nervous too, but it was an 'intermediate' lesson at a riding school which has four levels (beginner, novice, intermediate and advanced) so really I don't think the riding school should have put her in the intermediate class) so we spent the whole lesson in walk and trot on a very tight circle as there was another lesson going on in the other half of the school! I've been to various riding schools in my life but never found a really good one. Can anyone recommend a good one in Surrey?