Frequently Asked Questions
Finding the right riding facility that is a good fit can be a bit daunting. We also know that riding, training and showing is a big investment of time and money. Here at FPF we hope to answer some of your questions up front.
We know that these might not be the only questions you have for us. Don't hesitate to call us if you have any further questions.
What disciplines does Finer Points Farm specialize in?
FPF is a largely a hunter / jumper/ equitation barn. We attend 20-30 shows a year in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Some are local or schooling shows, some are “B” or “C” rated by MHSA or USEF and some are “A” or “AA” rated. There are plenty of show opportunities for riders and horses at any level.
FPF is also experienced in training eventers up to Training Level and has had several winning horses and riders at Waredaca, Loch Moy, Morven Park and other local event venues over the years. With a strong background in Dressage, extensive experience cross-country and, of course, in show jumping, FPF’s trainers are able to prepare serious event riders for competition.
For riders who are just starting or unsure of what discipline most interests them, FPF provides instruction in the fundamentals of riding – balance, control, track, connection, response to different leg and rein aids – to every student, even dead-beginners, that are applicable across all riding disciplines. Once our riders have established their basic skills and are ready to consider a particular discipline, we make sure they experience all of the different competitive options, so they can choose for themselves which discipline is best suited to them.
What hunter/jumper/equitation shows do you go to?
FPF shows most in Maryland at venues including McDonogh, Country Hill, PG Equestrian Center, and Meadowbrook. We also show often in southern Pennsylvania at Swan Lake (Littlestown) and sometimes at Heritage Acres (Dillsburg). Virginia venues that FPF attends include Commonwealth Park in Culpeper for the HITS series and Virginia Horse Center in Lexington VA.
My child has been taking lessons and is ready to move up. How do we see if we'd fit with Finer Points Farm?
Finding the right barn and the right trainers is essential for enjoying the sport and for moving up. Nothing is more important than finding a trainer who you can trust to guide you safely, honestly and correctly in a horse world that, all too often, customers know very little about. We encourage all prospective customers to come out and visit us, get to know us and our facility in person, and, most important, take an initial lesson. If you are not satisfied with your first lesson, we won’t charge you for it!
To get started, give us a call at 301-980-0762 to schedule a trip to the barn. Your first lesson can be on your horse, if you own one, or on one of ours. It can be for a full hour, or just for a few minutes. It is just as important to us as it is to you that FPF be a good fit for you, your horse and your family. The best way to determine that is to jump right in, get to know each other and get to work. After your first visit, we’ll discuss our respective goals and feelings about the direction we’d like to go with you and your horse. If it looks like a good match, we’ll continue our work together – but, if for any reason, it appears there’s a better situation for you to ride, learn and compete, we’ll be happy to help you find that barn too. Of course, we’re always interested in growing our business with the right customers, but our first priority is ensuring that you find the right barn for you and your horse, so you can maximize your enjoyment of the sport and feel comfortable that your working with people you can trust.
My child is (or I am) new to riding. Is Finer Points Farm a good place to start?
Yes!! We love to get students who are just starting their riding experience. Our instructors have over 50 years of combined experience teaching hundreds of beginners riders, young and old. We have several fantastic horses that are safe for beginner riders and who can teach you or your child the fundamentals of safety, horsemanship and riding. We’ll start with just lessons, and, if the interest increases, we’re able to bring our riders along to where they may be ready to lease or purchase their own pony or horse and perhaps begin competing in the sport. We won’t push our students to do more than they want to do in the sport, so it’s possible that you’ll just continue in regular lessons, but we’ve brought dozens of students from their first lesson on a horse to competing at regional and national levels in the sport, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you have a beginner who’s interested in learning to ride.
Do you train riders of all ages?
Yes. We recommend that young children wait until they can sit up straight in the saddle and hold the reins in their hand on their own. Typically, three years old is an appropriate age for us to start a child riding, and we have tremendous experience teaching young kids.
Do you have horses to lease?
Yes, we have horses and ponies available to lease. We are committed to making sure that we find the perfect horse for each rider, however, so if what we have available in the barn does not suit, we are happy to help you find that special horse or pony to lease or buy.
Do you board horses?
Yes. Finer Points Farm is a boarding and training barn, so we do board our training-customers’ horses and ponies. We do not, however, board horses that are not in the training or lesson or show program. If you are looking for a place to keep your horse, but aren’t interested in lessons and training. FPF won’t be the right fit. If, however, you’re looking for a facility that will offer you outstanding care for your horse while you lesson, train and show, FPF is a superb place to board your horse (if we have empty stalls available!).
Do you provide only stall board, or is field board an option? What is included in board?
Only full stall board is available for horses in the training program. Board is all-inclusive, so there are no extra charges for anything that your horse may need in the ordinary course. There are no extra charges for blanketing, switching blankets, adding protective boots, etc. There are no fees for bringing horses in or turning them out at special times. There are no hidden costs.
We feed top quality grains and hay, provide electrolytes in the summer and mineral oil in the winter at no extra cost. We’ll add in any other supplements that you purchase and may want to provide for your horse. Turnout is in small groups (3-4 horses), if not private or semi-private. Stonedust paddocks are used when the footing in the fields and grass paddocks is not suitable. We live on the property and check on the horses constantly throughout the day and night. Horses are typically provided hay 4-6 times per day. We’ll meet the farrier or vet with you or for you. We are 100% committed to providing the very best care and the most attention possible for every horse in our care.
Do you have veterinarians and farriers that can treat my horse? Can I use a different vet or farrier?
We have very talented vets and farriers that work with our horses, but you are always free to use a different provider if you wish. Currently, South Mountain Equine provides farm veterinary care to our and our customers’ horses, and we regularly use Drs. Spurlock in Lovettsville, VA as well. We have two fantastic farriers who are at the barn regularly - Liam Straton and Mike Dunigan. Either can provide services to your horse. If you currently have a relationship with either a vet or farrier who is willing to come to FPF to provide services to your horse, you are certainly free to continue using them as well.
How much are lessons, training, showing?
Please call for the current rate schedule for standard prices. While there are largely set fees for typical services (lessons, schooling rides, show training etc) we work with each customer individually to make certain we understand the comfortable budget and that we tailor the training and show program to fit into that budget. Some customers take 3-4 lessons per week. Others take only one or two. Some customers have their horses schooled multiple times per week. Others only occasionally. Some customers show virtually every week they can, while others show only once or maybe twice a month. Other than the basic minimums involved in a commitment to participate in the FPF training program, there are no financial minimums, no requirement that you purchase and pay for any particular services and no obligation that you attend any set number of horse shows. We understand that a big part of making horses work in the lives of our customers is making the sport affordable – we take an active role in helping balance our customers’ desire to lesson, train and compete with the realistic budgets they have to dedicate to the sport.
Do you give group lessons or just private lessons? How long are the lessons?
Most regularly scheduled lessons are private. We occasionally teach semi-privates lessons and monthly (or so) group clinics/lessons/fun shows are a regular part of our training program. Private lessons are scheduled for an hour each, but can vary depending on the course of any given session. Groups and semi-privates are usually a little longer than an hour but they too can vary in length.
When do you teach lessons?
We teach virtually every day that we are on the farm. Since horse showing is a big part of what we do, there are several days a month that we are off the property with our customers at horse shows, and so, of course, no lessons are taught on those days. Other than show days, we teach at whatever times are most convenient for our customers. We have lights in our large, all-weather outdoor ring, so teaching after dark is commonplace. As a general matter, we try to schedule our regular lessons from Monday to Friday and we use the weekends for extra lessons, make-ups and group clinics and fun shows when we are not at horse shows.
Do you allow outside trainers at Finer Points Farm?
No. Boarding at FPF is a mutual commitment that our trainers and staff can provide you the best advice, training and care for you and your horse. No outside professionals are permitted to teach and train at FPF unless we’ve invited them for the benefit of our customers.