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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May. 23, 2009
    Location
    Texas Hill Country
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    588

    Default Am I nuts, or is this trainer just the new normal?

    Help me validate my friend's concerns about her 9 year-old daughter's H/J instructor. Before she goes completely nurts she needs to hear it from someone besides me that she's not being crazy-overprotective, but that this trainer is really just not a good fit for the kid.

    The other day I went out to watch her lesson for the first time in about a year. I was kinda shocked. The kid's been with this woman for over two years but she's still just a terrible rider who, in my unassailable opinion, shouldn't be jumping at all. Wrong diagonals, wrong leads, hunched shoulders, legs sliding back, echh! She looks perilously close to coming off just trotting a crossrail.

    I dunno, maybe it was because instructor had her up on this new, really nice but fairly hot pony that seemed to be out of her league. Kid was scared (but wouldn't admit it), and had a death grip on poor pony's face the entire time. His neck was upside down, no effort was made to soften him. At one point pony tore off down the rail at a gallop and kid couldn't control him, hunching forward, eyes down, heels up, etc. Meanwhile instructor stood in the middle of the arena in flipflops, checking her texts every 5 minutes.

    There was also a scheduling snafu, so kid's lesson ended 15 minutes early to accommodate the next set of arriving lesson kids. Kid was sent back to the barn by herself, still mounted on this hot pony she could barely ride, in a busy yard with lots of horse traffic. Back at the barn unsupervised lesson kids were running around committing all kinds of Pony Club sins. Pony was (understandably) upset at the horrible ride he'd just had to endure, and tried to take a chunk out of my arm in the crossties. Are you kidding me, Pony?

    My friend says it's always some version of the above at this barn, so she always wakes up on lesson day with a pit of dread in her stomach. It's clear she doesn't entirely trust the trainer. During this feisty-pony episode she was so unnerved that she could barely speak, and had to take a walk.

    I get that my friend's kid is probably not the greatest equestrian talent the world has even known, but after two years she should be able to trot a flippin crossrail without landing on the pony's neck. So I'm all, "either get back to basics on a lunge line, no stirrups for 6 months, etc, or hang it up."

    It's kinda weird, because this instructor is herself a nice girl and a wonderful rider. I get that the trainer biz is tough and the lesson kids are her bread and butter, but I also get that she might be stringing my friend along to keep revenues up. Nice lady or no, after what I saw the other day, I am anxious for the safety of the child and the sanity of her mother.
    Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life


    1 members found this post helpful.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May. 17, 2000
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    Default

    Tell your friend to make an appointment to watch a few other lessons at other lesson barns in the area. I imagine she could learn much from that experience...
    Definition of "Horse": a 4 legged mammal looking for an inconvenient place and expensive way to die. Any day they choose not to execute the Master Plan is just more time to perfect it. Be Very Afraid.


    25 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep. 26, 2010
    Posts
    4,338

    Default

    get a new trainer. now.

    "Meanwhile instructor stood in the middle of the arena in flipflops, checking her texts every 5 minutes."

    I would be DONE with her just on that basis. Everything else just confirms it.


    33 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr. 26, 2000
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    3,144

    Default

    Great equestrian talent has nothing to do with maintaining a safe environ for the kids, the spectators, and the critters. This sounds like a nightmare.

    As to your other question about this being the norm...well...

    I've been out of the loop for about 5-6 years - was last hunting and giving some beginner lessons. In hanging out my shingle again recently and making some big changes in life, I started investigating some of the lesson barn activity in my area. Wow....some of the nonsense I've seen is sort of what you are describing above. Most places seem fine but riders definitely aren't getting the horsemanship skills we got as kids or the skills I insist on putting on "my" kids. A few thoughts:

    Parents aren't horsey and know NO difference. They have no point of reference and many times, they are scared of horses/ponies and seeing a wild ride like you describe fits with their own personal perceptions.

    Kids are spread too thin- rushing from one thing to the next trying to cram in this "well roundedness" that leaves folks dabbling in a million things but becoming proficient in none.

    Just because someone in nice and a wonderful rider doesn't mean they will be a wonderful teacher. This is true with any subject/skill, etc.

    Safety trumps EVERYTHING. Horses are inherently dangerous and to allow chaos or semi-chaos is to invite trouble where one should be doing everything reasonable to mitigate the possibilities for injury, etc.

    FWIW - I've had non-horsey parents come to me with questions about the lesson program their kids are in. When I've given them some of the USPC materials, etc. to peruse on their own, invited them to be around our ponies/horses, they come to a lot of conclusions on their own and make necessary changes. Perhaps you could suggest a field trip to another farm where you friend and her daughter could see sanity & safety first hand.


    8 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 17, 2006
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    3,829

    Default

    As others have said, take her to another barn where you know they have a reputable lesson program so she can compare. I would tell her to yank her daughter from that barn asap. But I know sometimes dealing with kids it's hard to make them take the plunge and make the change. Parents have to step up at that point. This sounds very unsafe. Good luck!
    “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
    ¯ Oscar Wilde


    4 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 14, 2012
    Posts
    87

    Default

    Not everyone who is a great rider has the makings or interest to be a trainer. Unfortunately I feel training can often be a profession people fall into because of the money involved. Regardless of natural talent, riding goals, or level of experience, riding should be SAFE (as possible) and FUN. This lesson sounds like it encompassed neither. Shop around to find the best fit for her goals and a facility that emphasizes safety and quality care.


    5 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan. 8, 2013
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    166

    Default

    Yep, time to move... 2 years and can't handle a small crossrail? Either the kid doesn't want to ride (which may be the case) or this isn't the environment for her to learn in. Back to basics and a bombproof horse/pony that she doesn't have to worry about bolting/bucking/spooking/rearing sounds far more appropriate for a while.


    6 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2011
    Posts
    1,192

    Default

    Scope out some other lesson programs -- it sounds like the kid's current situation is a bad accident waiting to happen! It also sounds like the lesson isn't really a lesson but Mom's just paying to rent a pony for an hour.


    4 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov. 15, 1999
    Location
    Middleburg VA and Southampton NY
    Posts
    6,094

    Default

    How many red flags do you need to see?

    USHJA Certified Trainers directory:

    http://www.ushja.org/programs/tcp/search/

    USHJA Educators and Parents Guide to Riding

    http://www.ushja.org/programs/resour...ents_guide.pdf


    4 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov. 15, 1999
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    Middleburg VA and Southampton NY
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    Default

    Never ceases to amaze me that standards which wouldn't fly in any other setting are accepted by otherwise intelligent and accomplished clients.


    9 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar. 29, 2006
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    1,049

    Default

    In my area, this seems to be the norm. Several years ago, I was boarding at a barn where one of the parents exclaimed "oh my daughter has only had 7 lessons and she is already jumping. Bonnie really knows what she is teaching!"
    Um yeah, BS.
    The kid had no idea how to groom the horse or tack up but was already jumping.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May. 23, 2009
    Location
    Texas Hill Country
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    588

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by chancellor2 View Post
    In my area, this seems to be the norm. Several years ago, I was boarding at a barn where one of the parents exclaimed "oh my daughter has only had 7 lessons and she is already jumping. Bonnie really knows what she is teaching!"
    Um yeah, BS.
    The kid had no idea how to groom the horse or tack up but was already jumping.
    Yeah, the other kid in this lesson had apparently ridden only 5 times ever, and was being sent over crossrails at a canter. Needless to say, she was an even worse rider than Lucy (my friend's kid). She was riding the mellow packer that Lucy usually rides, so I'm guessing that Lucy was put up on the unsuitable pony because it was the only way to shoehorn the two girls into the same lesson slot.

    Lucy is totally horse-crazy and lives to ride, so it's not a matter of her being forced against her will; she's just not, perhaps, very naturally athletic. Her mother is pretty discouraged, because the other big lesson barns in the area dope the lesson horses, which she is definitely not down with.
    Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life



  13. #13
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    May. 17, 2000
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by The Crone of Cottonmouth County View Post
    Her mother is pretty discouraged, because the other big lesson barns in the area dope the lesson horses, which she is definitely not down with.

    Just out of curiosity, how does she know this?

    And honestly, if left with two bad choices, I'd take the pony with a little cocktail over the situation you describe.
    Definition of "Horse": a 4 legged mammal looking for an inconvenient place and expensive way to die. Any day they choose not to execute the Master Plan is just more time to perfect it. Be Very Afraid.


    15 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun. 20, 2012
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    The Part of TN in the Wrong Time Zone
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    1,962

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DMK View Post
    Just out of curiosity, how does she know this?

    And honestly, if left with two bad choices, I'd take the pony with a little cocktail over the situation you describe.
    Additionally if by doping you mean depo or bute, it's not uncommon, they're lesson horses not show horses.
    .אני יכול לעשות הכל על ידי אלוהים


    5 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr. 15, 2011
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    981

    Default

    JMHO, I wouldn't count depo as "drugging"... atleast not in the same sense as any sort of tranquilizer. Just prevents a hormone induced bad attitude.



  16. #16
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    Default

    ^ exactly. There's a certain connotation to the word "doping" but we are talking about a mother who isn't that knowledgable so is tha tword used correctly or not? With direct knowledge and understanding exactly what constitutes "doping" or just heard it from her current trainer or something in between?

    ... but even that must be taken with a grain of salt since we are hearing this from the OP.

    So before I leap to any conclusions (as I rein my conclusion judgy horses in, LOL), I'd like to hear the reasoning behind that statement.
    Definition of "Horse": a 4 legged mammal looking for an inconvenient place and expensive way to die. Any day they choose not to execute the Master Plan is just more time to perfect it. Be Very Afraid.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan. 7, 2001
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    Usually too far from the barn
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    Default

    I agree with DMK. I'd rather the know that a bit of a cocktail was served (or maybe just a beer) to assure that my 9yo would be on a steady ride while she learns that have her on a rocket.

    While I don't like the idea of "doping" I can accept it as a means to an end, in moderation and for certain circumstances. (Old quiet lesson horse gets keyed up on windy days or when snows slides off the roof. Due to injury we have to step a beginner onto a more intermediate horse, etc )

    Your friend's child has clearly not gotten instruction, but semi supervised rides and I hate to say so but I see it more and more. Even if she's not a solid athlete, she should be doing better after 2 years. A good instructor should eb able to find ways to develop some skills, getting her to sit up, steadying her leg, something!

    As for her lesson being cut short, I'd have cut short my payment as well. (Yes, I know that sometimes a schooling session is stopped when a hurdle is cleared or a goal met but a beginner needs saddle time and if they are paying for it they should get it.) The instructor has no respect for the client's time or wallet.

    Beginners should always be supervised when mounted. Pony is lead to arena, mounted and ridden then dismounted in arena. The instructor should always have the authority to request others give right of way to a novice in their midst. In fact, beginners should be monitored in the barn too.

    Its tough for non horsey parents to get perspective. They start kid out at Barn A and have no point of reference. They don't know the points of safety that would be glaring red flags. They just assume that this is what stables are like.
    F O.B
    Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
    Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


    3 members found this post helpful.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan. 26, 2013
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    342

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hunterrider23 View Post
    Additionally if by doping you mean depo or bute, it's not uncommon, they're lesson horses not show horses.
    No lesson horse should be drugged! Period. THIS is what is wrong with our sport!


    8 members found this post helpful.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2009
    Location
    Montreal, Qc
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    2,943

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DMK View Post
    Just out of curiosity, how does she know this?

    And honestly, if left with two bad choices, I'd take the pony with a little cocktail over the situation you describe.
    This^^^

    So ALL the big lesson barns are doping their school horses....except this unsafe barn where your friend's kid haven't learned much for the past to year? C'mon, that is BS.


    6 members found this post helpful.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep. 2, 2005
    Location
    Upstate NY
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    12,004

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowfox View Post
    No lesson horse should be drugged! Period. THIS is what is wrong with our sport!
    Gosh, I sure hope you NEVER take any pain killers when you get up a little stiff.

    There is nothing wrong with a little bute to help with getting a little stiff aches.


    Do you really have an issue with hormonal help? So to you it is wrong that many women take BC pills to help curb their monthly issues too?


    8 members found this post helpful.

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