While I agree with you that it is important to teach children that they are not the center of the universe and that you seem to have done that, I would like to point out that you did NOT accomplish this by booting your kid in the butt with a steel toed boot. Even though you quoted and said that tactic is easy.
I think the boot in the rear comment was a metaphor for whatever discipline a parent decided was appropriate. I do not believe I ever said to physically boot the kid in the butt. I do think it was easy to see the child, and most likely parent, needed something. I don't care if it is PC or not, either discipline the kid now, or let the system do it later. It only gets worse as they get older. This situation was dangerous for the child and pony. It is a shame the parent did not or would not see that.
I feel sorry for the pony. It sounds like he would be perfectly willing to behave if he were handled well consistently. Ponies can get very defensive if they're turned out with a group of bigger horses that bully them. The mom and kid will very likely take care of themselves. But that's just my opinion.
This. I also wonder if the pony had some physical issue that was causing at least some of the problems.
Most people don't need a $35,000 horse. They need a $1,000 horse and $34,000 in lessons.
"I don't have to be fair… . I'm an American With a Strong, Fact-Free Opinion." (stolen off Facebook)
The kid should have better manners but, yikes, it looks like her own mother is trying to kill her! She's a novice rider on a pony that is neither pleasant on the ground or in the saddle. Pony is totally unsuitable for her and her mother seems not to be aware of it or care. Unlike an older child or an adult, she doesn't really have the ability to explain her fear and frustration, so she takes it out on the pony's mouth and on the instructor.
She has probably been soured on the whole idea of riding because it's no longer fun. Look, there may be some young riders out there who are ambitious and want to learn how to deal with a snotty pony but they are not rank novices, they are kids who learned to ride on decent ponies and have progressed to bratty ones. Not everyone wants to be a super star rider. Not everyone wants to be the "fixer."
I agree that you are best not being a part of the mess, but sympathize with the child and the pony as it sounds like they were making progress.
Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
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Thank-you for all your responses. I think you have been able to help me see it more from the kid's point of view - in that her frustrations were real and she took it out on me and pony, and I was initially so taken aback from her behavior that I didn't weigh so much how other factors the kid is dealing with - ie her father's lack of support/negativity, her mom's expectations that she ride this pony w/o a program - may be really behind it all (after all, the one making all these decisions was really Mom!). So I guess I am not surprised that trying to talk to mom about all this, didn't go over well/fell on deaf ears. Also, I mentioned the child's schooling and being an only child because I have been given the impression very often that this kid does what she pleases, when she pleases, and have seen her scream at her mother, seen mom tacking up pony and running chores for kid, and seen mom "bargaining" to get kid to do stuff. In no way would I ever tell her how to parent her kid- but the lack of respect between them made me assume her disrespect toward me was not such a new concept to her-- and in contrast, when I was 9, I would NEVER talk to any adult that way.
But one thing is clear - this WAY too much for me to deal with, and while the whole thing is really disturbing (gap in reality on Mom's end, potential of child and/or pony being hurt, etc.), I think talking about it helped ME accept the fact that I cannot help these people any more. You can't help someone who doesn't help themselves. This is a perfect example of why some people should not own horses- they are not large "toys". I also agree with the poster who says child wants to "fart around", and I tried to explain to Mom that this pony is not the right pony for farting around. Perhaps leasing an old, semi-retired horse for light trails and trotting around the arena, at best, would do. It's not fair to child or pony to put either of them through this. But...yes...this I know and have to put behind me.
You said in the first post how they were not interested in " showing", so it may be that the lessons you are giving her are too much work for her and not fun. I don't know what montessori school is( i can guess), but it seems as a lot is put on this 9 year old child. Ponies are tough because being handled so much by children they regress quickly into " wild things". Our pony was wonderful, but it was because I handled him daily.
You did what you could, if they choose to not listen and can't see how different it was when the pony was being ridden by you, that is their choice and they will suffer the consequences of that choice. If you are really concerned about the outcome , let the mother know you will take the pony back for training if they feel it is needed. Some people have to learn the hard way.
Your concern for safety is spot on. But I will be a bit tough on you here because I think focusing on the undeniable moral high-ground of The Safety Issue might prevent you from digging a little deeper into what really went wrong. I don't know you and obviously wasn't there to see all of the nuances, etc. So disregard whatever doesn't ring true, and treat this as "food for thought".
Based on what you've written it seems like most of your emotion in this situation stems from the mom questioning your training methods of child and pony. You agree that there's a problem, and to her credit, Mom wants to sit down to talk about the problem with you (and let's give her points for that-- how many times do we see rants about how clients just quit and then bad-mouth their trainers, without having tried to sort things out?)
It doesn't sound like she came out swinging at you--her statement about how to training the pony doesn't sound all that confrontational or accusatory about you specifically. She's floating an idea that you could have explored with her, been patient about the fact that she's reading this stuff online, and steered her back to the training plan you'd recommend. Instead of creating a teaching moment, you went on offense with a "how would you know anything" kind of statement. On her kid's lessons, she said the kid doesn't want to take lessons and she has trouble understanding your instructions. You again went on the offense saying she doesn't want to take lessons because she just doesn't want to learn, and furthermore she offended you with her bad behavior. Oh, and she's lying.
Is it possible that the kid's escalating behavior in her lessons was at least partly due to that she wasn't connecting with you, and with your instruction style? Plus frustration /fear about pony's deteriorating behavior. Knowing how to do a 20m circle might not mean she understands why she has to repeat it, why we do them in general, etc. And I have no doubt you were trying to teach that stuff, but one of my favorite quotes is "The greatest problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred."
No matter how great the trainer, not every style meshes with every rider's needs. While an adult rider could bring this up with the trainer and talk about what they need and see if things can change, a kid is more likely to check out or act out.
You seem genuinely concerned and thoughtful and conscientous and I'm not saying this as an attack. You were 100% right on the safety issues and right not to want to teach this rider anymore. And to say that x,y,z behavior is not acceptable. Where you got my hackles up and surely the mom's hackles is to label the kid's whole person in such broad and negative terms. That's just not your place as a riding instructor, so if there's one thing I think you should have done differently it's that.
Right around that time, pony attacks child in paddock. He lunges at her w/ ears pinned and brutally bites her, getting her on the shoulder
Of course, I have no idea what the kid is like so maybe she's a tough-as-nails tot who bounced right back, but I can't help thinking this was a terrifying thing to have happen to anyone, let alone a 9-year-old. Maybe her deteriorating behavior afterwards was her way of saying "I quit." It's hard for kids to know how to put the brakes on something.
and in contrast, when I was 9, I would NEVER talk to any adult that way.
I think you handled it well, you did what you could and now it's up to Mum.
With respect to your comment above I have a 5 year old and am pretty straight with her, but it totally amazes me the things that she says to me that I would never, in a million years, have dreamed of saying to my parents. Sometimes I just scratch my head and think "what on earth could I do differently". My sister believes that to a certain extent, we lived under a slight fear of our parents, whereas our kids don't, which may or may not be good depending on your perspective. The other thing to just think about is, that you don't know what goes on at home that encourages this behaviour. It is possible that the parents have a bad relationship or the father is particularly harsh on the kid so the mother over-compensates by being too lax, or that the father is rotten to the mother in front of the kid and therefore the kid sees this as being acceptable treatment to the mother. Who knows.
You handled it right though. It's their problem now.