Switch Willow Stables
4829 Switch Willo, Austin, TX 78727
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02/17/2011Provided by Citysearch -
I brought my daughter here for a camp. She was treated terribly by the regular clients (mostly young girls that were very cliquish, who made nasty comments that were meant to be overheard), and complaints to staff were ignored. Some of the other Mom's felt the same way.
Adding to the disappointment was the rain, keeping us off the horses for 3 of the 5 days. Next time, I will find a camp with an indoor arena
07/27/2007Provided by Citysearch -
I used to ride at Switch Willo in the lesson program, and after many cons about the barn have moved. All 50+ lesson horses are crammed into a muddy, disgusting pasture, with no grass and minimal care. I often would find my assigned horse reeking of thrush (hoof bacteria from standing in filth) and many horses were very thin. The arenas are horrible, I have had my knees crushed many times from the stupid trees that litter the rather small arenas. The footing is horrible, I never once saw them dragged (evened out by a tractor) and the many deep spots caused horses to trip, and unsurprisingly bow a tendon (similar to pulling a hamstring) The other riders who own horses are VERY snobby and would do their best to avoid riders who don't have a horse. The head trainer ""Glen"" would often be herd screaming horrific curse words at his students. He was often absent and barn rumors spread of his shirking duties and never showing up to teach. He is very unprofessional and obviously cares more about money than the horses well being, however lucky for him his wife commands all the horses to be dangerously over weight as she prefers fat horses on the verge of obesity. The turnout pastures are very small, with no grass, are muddy and crammed between the two arenas. Thus, if a horse in turnout was playing, more often than not, a horse being ridden would play as well, creating a dangerous situation. The traffic getting to the barn was always horrible, no matter how close you might be to it, the high way is almost always backed up. The camp, was a waste of time. I attended it and was disappointed. We rode for maybe 30 minutes every day, then the rest of the 8 hours we spent swimming in the ""pool"" or watching horse movies. The consolers were 16 and shockingly rude and short tempered. The trainer was nice enough, though I hardly learned anything. Attention should be paid to the horses well being (arena, turn out areas) then the scenery which really is not that beautiful.
05/24/2007Provided by Citysearch -
I am not a kid, so my review does not come from my child's experience at camp. Instead, I am an experienced adult rider that took lessons at this barn for about 1.5 years before switching to another barn in Austin. When I first moved to Austin, I did not do my research; I just went to SW because they had the most ads in the YPs and online. After doing my research, I found a much better barn and am happy there.
I didn't have a horrible riding experience at this barn, they do know how to train riders and do it well, although some of their methods are questionable compared to other trainers I've had, but they do have a lot to improve upon.
First of all, who cares about landscaping? You're there to ride, not admire the flowers. They spent far more time landscaping the area than dragging the arenas to ensure proper and safe footing. This was a huge problem for me. Many times we'd go into the ring and there were literally deep holes in the corners or center of the ring! It needs to be dragged at least weekly if not more due to the amount of riding that goes on at the stable. I also didn't like that there were trees in the middle of the arenas! That didn't make sense at all and was more hazardous than pleasant scenery/shade. And no covered arena, as others have mentioned, was definitely not a plus in my book.
Also, a $40/group lesson with 8 riders is ridiculous! Other barns in the area have the same prices and don't have more than 4 or 5 riders. Along those same lines, I felt like boarders were fairly rude/snobby to those without horses, which was unfortunate.
The paddocks were also lacking. Turn out for boarders is probably pretty minimal due to the small acreage of the farm. There simply isn't enough acreage on the property for the amount of horses that they have. All of the lesson horses are crammed into a bedrock pasture (no grass so when it rains, it's sopping wet, which leads to thrush) and this just didn't sit well with me.
04/14/2007Provided by Citysearch -
aLL of you commenters say bad things about this barn just because your kids say so... THEY ARE KIDS! And who cares about the summer camp, the actual barn is amazing. The facilities are outstanding, and the horses are cared for very well. For example, my horse got sick one night, and no one would have noticed if the workers weren't so attentive! The trainers are all profesional, highly experienced adults, and give great lessons. There is no covered ring, but the drainage system is pretty good. The lesson horses are very well cared for and their paddock is safe and spacious, although it does get a little muddy after rain, but common people...THEIR HORSES! There is a wide variety of fun from the begginer rider, to the more advanced, and there is even a tack shop right on the property for all of your horsey needs!!! GREAT PLACE!!!!!!!1
04/13/2007Provided by Citysearch -
My family TOTALLY disagrees with the negative comments about this camp. They have an incredible program and are able to accommodate a large number of children (27?) from ages 6 to 16 with varying riding skills quite well.
I have had occasion to spend quite a bit of time at the stable during camp. The facility is crawling with adults. There are 8 trainers along with a huge staff, and tack shop personnel in addition to all the counselors.
While it is expensive, good camps are well worth the expense to have our children enjoy time with horses in a well supervised environment. No other camp that my children have attended has produced so much fun while building confidence in horsemanship skills.
The rings are dusty? It?s summer at a stable.
IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE CAMP DONT GO BACK - THAT WILL GIVE THOSE OF US WHO ARE ON THE WAIT LIST A CHANCE TO ATTEND AGAIN!
08/06/2006Provided by Citysearch -
Not a bad barn, no adult supervision for the camp. Counselors are young teens with no enthusiasm, beginner riders hardily ride at all, the trees in the arenas appear to get in the way, and the school horses are in decent shape despite all 50 being crammed into a muddy pasture. I have heard the trainers curse often at their students, and they remain immature and rude. The camp fee was almost unreasonable as well as the forced t-shirt fee and groom box; the scenery was fairly well cared for, I wasnt fond of the chicken wire everywhere..nor the constant sound of horsed shoes slipping on concrete floors.
08/01/2006Provided by Citysearch -
I agree with the previous review about camp. This is an expensive camp, unavoidably since looking after horses is expensive (although in addition to the camp fee which was $285/week this summer, they charged $18 for a t-shirt and $12 for a grooming kit so the costs really added up) - yet the younger children especially learn very little with horses and watch videos endlessly. They can do that at home for free! Despite the high cost, very young (lower teen) counsellers run the show with little supervision or enthusiasm (much less appropriate experience or training). Astonishing lack of adults on the scene. My daughter who loves horses watched hours of video (an activity never mentioned in their literature .....) and appeared to receive virtually no riding instruction (for instance in two weeks of camp, the idea of learning to post at a trot wasn't mentioned, much less accomplished) and very little of the supposedly daily barn lessons )hardly used the 412 grooming kit for instance...). The arts and crafts seem to be coloring in preprinted pictures - like kids color menus at restaurants. Older children (9 up) who ride well enough to be in the higher groups (ie post competently and ready to learn to canter and jump) seem to do more, and can have a lot of fun. Even then though the video watching and lack of adult supervision would seem to be an issue. Two friends with younger children who have also attended this camp also thought the younger ones are not supervised suitably, even away from horses, and would not send them again for this reason. Generally very disappointing because the facility is beautiful and the horses very well cared for. This could be an amazing camp with a bit more effort from a suitable staff but everyone just seemed to be doing the minimum which isn't good at any camp, and certainly in this price bracket you usually get much more and I think should be able to expect more.
07/24/2006Provided by Citysearch -
The summer camps are not worth the money. They might be close in to town but your girls will watch more videos and swim than real horseback riding time. The plus side is their facilities are very nicely kept. I don't have any comments on boarding or lessons as we haven't used it.
08/16/2005Provided by Citysearch -
The Switch Willo facility is breathtaking. There is gorgeous landscaping all over the grounds and it truly is a hidden gem. The location is amazing, close to downtown with lots to do all around the barn, but still secluded and peaceful.
The care at this barn is great. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and great with the horses. They notice if anything is off and the experienced staff gets on the problem right away. The aisles seem like they are constantly being swept and the barn is well maintained. Something is always being improved.
The training rides are great and easy to get. The pros are amazing riders that can fix most problems and make the horses go great. They are also experienced teachers who really know what they are doing. They treat their riders like adults and really work with them to help them get as good as they can be. Its not hard to see they really want to help you improve.
At shows, Switch Willo always takes home tons of ribbons. At the local shows, Switch Willo normally cleans up most of the divisions, and at the bigger rated shows there is always a group of great horses bringing home championships.
There is a great group of kids and adults at Switch Willo. Whatever your age, there will be a great group of people to get to know. The people at this barn are incredibly friendly and really seem to be open to meeting new people and making new friends. There aren't problems with competitiveness and cattiness and this barn.
The school horses are INCREDIBLE. I wish I grew up riding these horses! I am so impressed at how well behaved and responsive these horses are. I have seen the care that goes into them and the result, and it is really impressive to see so much effort go into the care of the school horses. They all seem happy and healthy and willing to perform their job.
The camp at Switch Willo is also awesome. The pool is a great addition in the hot weather and the kids always seem to have fun at the horseshow at the end of the week.