child returning to riding lessons

15 years 10 months ago #11917 by max2
E has been having weekly private riding lessons since she was just under 5 years old. She was at the stage of doing little jumps and they would try out their new ponies on her before letting other children ride them. She was confident and happy and loved going riding.

She had her first major and hard fall just before her 8th birthday, and a few months thereafter the property where she was learning to ride was to be sold, her instructor left the employment early and went travelling. She had lost some of her confidence during canter, and they were working through that with her.

A few months passed and she wanted to get back to riding so I took her to another riding school. Early on in the piece due to illness, another family member of that instructor took on a lesson and her manners and conduct were outright rude, so I removed E from that school.

E's overall confidence dropped further because of the lack of regular lessons and contact however she wanted to have another go so I found another school.

That particular person hated the previous school's operators and told me so, and I have found her manner and how she discusses other mothers as a bit tactless and not professional. There is a bit more to the attitude and information but as I don't want to identify the person (and I am sure a couple of you might know of her) I shall leave it out. She is a tough cookie and has a high turnover of students of whom she is derogatory about.

She feels E was wrongly trained to begin with. I am not offended by that, but I see a lack of confidence in E's riding that she once had and one or two of the horses that she is put on frighten her. They are beautiful award winning animals, but she isn't back at that stage.

The manageress does not believe in keeping a rider on the same horse/pony, but rather changes them every week so the rider learns to accept different natures etc.
Fair enough, but it hasn't allowed E to rebuild her confidence either and she looks and is terrified at times. The manageress has also told her at times (in the hope of building confidence) that unless she pulls her finger out and gets on with it, she won't be allowed to return....[:0]

Because E started at a new school campus this year, she has been too zonked out to re-commence riding, but will be from 2nd term on a Saturday.
I contacted the manageress (I had kept her up to date with the school goings on) and she eventually said it would either "make or break" E as a rider if she wanted to ride in group lessons.

She generalised that individuals who have private lessons are no less than monkeys, needing to be told what to do and when, and that only talented riders are any good at group lesson riding.
The email went on about a few other things that I am not sure why they were included, but I am somewhat uncomfortable now about returning E to the school.

E has gone from confidently representing her school at equestrian, enjoying riding and trying out the new horses/ponies at her first e. school to just wanting a farm hack and is worried about returning to the last place.

So, I am wondering what others experiences are. I know a few of you are horsey people and wondered if you think I should look for another riding instructor for E's "monkey" lessons or wait until we are over the ditch and have a friend of the SOH's who rides have a look over and see what she thinks.....

I started riding at a similar age, and whilst I see E has to work on issues such as keeping her heels down, and the hands in place (she was taught to ride with them "up" to begin with) I am also not confident that I am doing the right thing in returning her to the manageress.

do you all believe that a learning student should be rotated weekly on different (and good) horses, or would you let a student get their confidence up and achieve certain goals before moving them up to a better horse?

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15 years 10 months ago #184481 by Pumpkingirl
Like your daughter, I went to a riding school from the age of 5. It had two very proper English women running it. From memory one was quite nice and one terrified the bejeesus out of me.

However, they believed the younger riders needed to build a rapport with their pony. I was put on the oldest, most trusted pony they had until the instructors felt I had enough confidence to try the next pony up. On my first ride on the new pony, I was on a lead-rope that the instructor held and she gave me tips on his quirks.

A few months later, my confidence increasing, I went up to the next and so on.

I believe enjoying riding - not being good at it, or a Mark Todd or anything else - but enjoying riding is the most important thing at that age. And to be honest, at any age. I gave up riding because, like your daughter, I had a terrible crisis of confidence but I was about 15 years old. I bought a beautiful horse but he was the wrong horse for me. My confidence went from 100 to zero in just a few months.

Anyway, you need to be able to trust this woman and her judgement, because that is your daughter's life in her hands. I think from your post you've said enough to show that you really don't trust her and I think you're right not to send her back if it doesn't feel right.

I had private lessons from a rider who was only a few years older than me but was a natural-born teacher and a really good rider. While I don't really remember what I was taught by my original instructors - apart from "heels DOWN" :D - I remember heaps of tips and tricks that my tutor gave me. She also related really well to me, took me with her to shows and showed me why she enjoyed horses.

Go with your gut Swaggie, it's always right. It took me a long time to overcome my fears and to be honest, I've never got back the confidence I had as a kid, when I could jump on a horse and ride it bareback around the paddocks with just a rope and halter.

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15 years 10 months ago #184512 by Kiwismum
Hmm I wouldn't take my child to this school. As educators of a sort they should be more willing to listen to your(the parent) concerns and work with you.

It also sounds to me from what you have written that they are not very sympathic to your daughters fears, and are not willing to bend at all.

It is important to build confidence on a pony, and although it is good to ride different horses regularly first youneed to learn how to ride, and to be comfortable on a animals back.

Find someone to teach her, there are plenty of good teachers out there without putting up with that sort of thing.

Oh and maybe its just me, but I would be tempted to point out that you are paying for these lessons and she should have better customer service.

Sorry but what you wrote about this womans attitude really bugged me.

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.
A person only gains light
by bringing light into another's life

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15 years 10 months ago #184523 by max2
Many thanks for your thoughts PG & Kiwismum.

You know when you type a post, and then it stays in your head, well I think I answered my own question simply by putting it all down and out in the forum. As I had to drive to do a debt collection this morning, my own thought was I must reply and tell the Mangeress that we won't be going through with the lessons after all.

I don't want to put down the woman's abilities or what she can do with training her horses, they are fantastic and well trained, but her manner comes across to me as brutal in judgement of others, even newbies who are coming for the first lesson, she has a lot to say about them going from their telephone conversations and I was shocked. I said to her once if you say that about others in front of me, what have you said to others about me?:rolleyes:

I know I can never speak to her about keeping E on the same horse. She has already told me she has lost students whose (in her words) "mummies know better than I" and told them to go elsewhere to have their monkeys trained...

Charming eh.

Thanks for the shoulder(s) to lean on for a while! :) [;)]

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15 years 10 months ago #184525 by Ghilly
I don't know much about riding lessons or the people that take them but this woman doesn't sound like she is a very nice person. From what you have told us, she is very unproffesional and shouldn't be talking to anyone about other clients. As for the 'monkey' learning..... I don't see what she's on about. What's the difference? Ok, ,one on one learning but wouldn't that be better than a class of people all needing attention?

Seems to me she's more interested in dissing her competitors in the riding school business.
Nah, flag her Swaggie. Especially if she's not helping E at all and E doesn't feel comfortable with her.

The woman who lives at the end of our driveway has just started giving lessons, one on one, total focus on the learner.
There is no room for slagging people off when they are trying to learn and especially when they need confidence.

I would agree that sticking to one horse, just to get confidence going would be the ideal. Once she's gained ground and feels more sure of herself, then she will feel better about changing to a more challenging horse.

You would hardly give a kid driving lessons in a performance car. Start off with a Morris Minor and build up.

When I was a tot, I was taken to Ballet lessons, not quite the same thing I know, but the teacher used to slap the backs of my knees whenI didn't turn my knees out. It was about a year later, after seeing a Dr who had considered putting me in calipers that everyone realised that no matter how much the witch slapped me, my knees just wouldn't go out that way.
I hated every lesson. I was scared to death of this woman and her slaps.

Maybe a different teacher would have taught me a few things? Who knows. Maybe I would have just enjoyed it for enjoyments sake. Good grief, Anna Pavlova I was never going to be! :o:rolleyes:[;)]

I can't ride, I know I would enjoy it even more if I could but when and if I do get on a horse that I can manage, I have thoroughly enjoed myself and isn't that what it's all about anyway? If Mark Todd didn't enjoy it, he probably wouldn't be where he is today.

Give E a hug from me and tell her she'll find her mojo again. Maybe she just needs to go back a few paces and start a-new with a nice teacher and a good horse. Don't give up just cos one or two mean old crows have personal problems dealing with people.


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15 years 10 months ago #184527 by reggit
I have mixed memories of riding schools [:I].

The first (when I was about 8) was fantastic, all the ponies were at a good beginner level, and they believed in ensuring that you learned on a range of ponies, not sticking to one. You were given a bit of time in the ring, a bit of time 'trekking' and a 10-15 minute slot on pony care etc.

From about 12 onwards I was riding others horses and eventually my own, with minimal instruction other than occasional pony club which I disliked immensely and hardly ever went to...never was into showing etc.

As an adult I went back to riding lessons one on one and loved it the first time round, a great and gentle instructor who built my confidence up.

Second time as an adult (long break from first time) had a lady who was a bit too gung ho for me, a very good instructor but believed in the school of hard knocks and, I'm sure, thought I was a right wuss. I got to ride two very good horses BUT because very few adult students, they were always very fresh when I got on them, and over time started to lose my confidence. Didn't help with the attitude that 'you need to have a fall to get over your fear of it' that the instructor had! :(

The last time was in a group with an 'adults back to riding' course at tech, great fun except everyone else was a total beginner but me! Enjoyed it though, as it didn't push me too hard and I could just get on and have fun.

I agree with others that fun is the main thing. It is good to learn to ride 'properly' but I noticed the big change in styles now compared to when I learnt as a child. Doesn't matter for me as (a) my early training developed good balance so I am comfortable and (b) I just enjoy being on a horse and plodding around, rather than shows etc.

Does E know what she wants to do? Is she interested in shows at all? Otherwise, a good, kind, competent and confident rider is all she needs to be, as far as I can see. And leaving it a bit until you get over here and find somewhere that suits isn't really a problem.

Take a break...while I take care of your home, your block, your pets, your stock! [;)] PM me...

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15 years 10 months ago #184562 by Anne
Here's what I recommend to parents who ask about riding (and lots do, I have lots of kids, girls and boys who learn to ride with me).
Learning to ride is very similar to learning to ski. When we learn to ski we tend to have a block of lessons over three days - a week. Not many people try learning by having a 1/2 hour skiing lesson once a week - which is how people try to learn to ride. If you can, find a place which runs holiday courses or friends that she can go to for three or more days. Then she can live, eat and breathe ponies. She will find out about the hard work and even if she doesn't ride her confidence and knowledge will increase with daily reinforcement. Daily or 2x daily riding will improve her riding really rapidly, which will of course improve her confidence. I have had kids who have never been near a pony finish the weekend cantering, jumping and playing tiggy.

Equally, if E doesn't really want to ride and do all the other mucking about with ponies, but likes the idea of dressing up etc, she will come to that realisation herself during an intensive course. You will then save yourself bucket loads of money on weekly lessons.

Of course, if she has fun and likes the riding and work, she will become completely and utterly addicted and you might as well give in completely and buy the works.

I keep a child on the same pony until they are confident. I can usually get them to ride something else when we come to the second ride of the day by saying the first pony will be really tired and will get grumpy if they are ridden again!

I often have a group of children staying or coming in daily during holidays. The more experienced kids help the newer ones and they all have lots of fun. Those that don't like all the "other" work never return and usually give up saying they want to ride. The ones that enjoy it keep coming back again and again and nothing seems to put them off.

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15 years 10 months ago #184574 by max2
Thankyou all for your thoughts and kind words.

E absolutely adores horses, spent a lot of her school holidays at the first equestrian centre helping out with making up the various feeds, doing a couple of day courses which did not involve riding (things like caring for your pony, mucking out, grooming your pony for shows, stuff like that) and part of her duties before her lessons and after was catching and walking along with the pony to the mounting yards.

Initially she was a bit small to be able to carry a saddle or put the bridle on properly over the horse's head so her instructor and I used to do that instead.

One of the things lacking in E's horsey education that I can see is as Anne's says, daily contact and care, and in our situation at the moment its just not possible to do that during school days as E travels to and fro school a fair bit but can spend more time during school holidays for sure.

The last manageress has her saturday classes catching, grooming, lesson and reverse which I think is essential, but I am tripping over the attitude and find it of concern. I would hope that she wouldn't single out her students in a similar manner because it isn't going to help E get over this hump.

My priority is that E regains her confidence and enjoys riding, rather than feeling scared. I want her to feel confident again, I want her to be able to take her horse out in NZ and go for a ride down the back if she feels like it and feel confident and happy to do so, given time back there. She also wants to be able to ride on the farm with her own horse and I know she would look after it and its needs, but she needs her confidence back.

I guess I wanted to "suss out" from you all whether our situation was unusual, or if this is "how its done" these days. It certainly wasn't when I learned, as I also only moved "up" horses when my riding improved, and we were certainly not put on the family show horses at all although the last horse I rode was retired from the family dressage needs and put into the school work for those at the suitable stage.

Perhaps for now E and I should hire a couple of trekking hacks and just go out and plod a bit..... and wait until her other instructors find new employment....:confused:

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15 years 10 months ago #184593 by Kiwi303
Can't comment on riding schools since all my training has been by mates, mates parents and assorted other riders, But from the perspective of sporting coaches trying to teach me other sports, I wouldn't use an educator with the attitude you describe there...

Either just plod around in circles or find a supportive rather than confrontational teacher.

Confrontational education works when someone already has a drive to fulfil something, such as someone focused on a goal, and where the chivvying and whipping will push them into giving that last little bit of effort that distinguishes the champion from the also-ran. It's entirely the wrong attitude for someone doing something simply for the enjoyment and the wish to learn and will merely make them unhappy and not wish to have anythign to do with the sport any more.

You Live and Learn, or you don't Live Long -anon

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15 years 10 months ago #184597 by max2
I was just re-reading the email again Kiwi before I came back and read your reply, and your comments are similar to what I was thinking, that is, perhaps this instructor has "her" standard of her expectations from her students and she doesn't want someone to aspire to being a confident farm "plodder"..... esp. on such nice horses.

Perhaps I need to pose a stronger reply establishing what "we" want to achieve from the lessons, and see if our expectations can be achieved and met (and welcomed) at the school.....

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15 years 10 months ago #184741 by Anne
Now that you've clarified that you are a rider too, I would strongly (really strongly) support the idea of hiring a couple of horses / ponies and going trekking together. Much more fun for E than being chivvied by some instructor. Does she have any friends nearby who could come with you? That would be even more fun for all of them.

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15 years 10 months ago #184828 by max2

Anne;156732 wrote: Now that you've clarified that you are a rider too, I would strongly (really strongly) support the idea of hiring a couple of horses / ponies and going trekking together. Much more fun for E than being chivvied by some instructor. Does she have any friends nearby who could come with you? That would be even more fun for all of them.

We went on one last year with a friend from school, however it was difficult as the friend wasn't as experienced as she thought, we were caught up with a crowd that didn't know how to turn their horses around to face the right way, and I was getting separated from the Girls, and it ended up a complete expensive stuff up and not enjoyable at all...

PG suggested to me off line that we consider also volunteering at our local riding for the disabled to provide E with a regular contact/handling of horses .
I just emailed ours this morning and they are always looking for feeding volunteers! We are heading over on Saturday to introduce ourselves and see if we can be of help - many thanks for the idea PG. :)

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15 years 10 months ago #184832 by Pumpkingirl
That's fabulous Swaggie, I'm so pleased. RDAs tend to be pretty magical places, I hope E finds horsey magic all around her :D like I did.

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15 years 10 months ago #184833 by max2
"Ours" has 5 horses at the moment, with a 6th one possibly turning up on Monday for trial. Apparently they go through a few to find the good ones that don't spook or cause trouble for their riders.

E is 2 years too young to lead, (which I think is a fair thing all things considered) but can certainly feed as long as I come along to supervise which as I am driving her anyway is absolutely fine....

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15 years 10 months ago #184878 by sundaysbest
Well my 20c worth is...

I learned to ride from 5 to 15 years of age... I'm 26 now and still learning!
I think what that woman said about private lessons and monkeys on backs not learning anything / being told what to do is a joke - you will learn everything if you suck it in... whether it be group or private lessons - I had both - it's what your child wants to gain from them. I can think of many people in my group lessons who flapped about not paying attention and too busy socialising (more in the pre-teen years)

Yes, I think your child should have the ponies rotated etc, once they get to the stage and if they are lucky enough to have their own pony, if they keep with it - they will bond and grow through different ponies and hacks. Every horse is different that is for sure... and it WILL help her improve, by mixing things up. If she is involved with riding school holiday camps etc, she will be allocated a pony for the week - and that is a really special time I think - cause they can learn and grow so much.

Having confidence is key - so any instructor that takes baby steps is a good instructor in my books!!! But in saying that, if they are good they will know when it's time to turn up the pace a little.

Confidence in cantering - hmm... what about lunge at the canter with E on board... or cantering UP a small rise (not hill!) is always good...

There are alot of dodgy schools out there mate, so be careful and full of well, full of it people running them... there is not harm in mixing it up a bit - how about contacting the local PC and asking about available instructors or something - word of mouth has always been great for me.

No harm in mixing things up!

And I think the most important part of a young one learning about horses is MUCKING OUT!!! :D I've done my hard yards that's for sure, I paid for many a lesson with my skills in the poo pick up department.

Ahh all the best, I hope E improves and gains confidence... horses are amazing! Tell that woman to stick it - go with your gut!

PS.. sorry to rant, hope you found some of that helpful!!! :o:)
PPS.. power to the pleasure riders out there!!! If your daughter wants to do it for fun and joy and not for the ribbons and rosettes - go her!!!

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