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School Program - Lesson Policies

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  • School Program - Lesson Policies

    It's Spring Cleaning time. We're planning a communication with our School Program students to reinforce old policies and introduce new ones. The email will include our pricing policy, dress code, etc. Can anyone share their policies?

    In particular, I'm looking for how to word our cancellation policy. I'd like a polite way to firmly state that if a student misses a group lesson because of a personal reason (dentist appointment, homework, vacation, grounded-whatever) and that lesson went on without them........ we will try to accomodate a makeup lesson within that month, but we don't carry makeups over to the following month.

    If a student signs up for a group lesson slot and they miss their group- we try to allow flexibility to make up their lesson, but we don't guarantee a makeup.
    http://patchworkfarmga.com

  • #2
    What you just wrote is FINE.

    Don't get buried in "what ifs". Don't have to explain the what's, whys and wherefores of why the rules are the rules. I might add "office hours are 9 to 7 or by appointment" or something like that to encourage they come to you with questions. But don't think the e mail is enough.

    May also be a good idea to try to meet directly with each parent for 10 minutes in an office setting as they sign the new agreement. As opposed to handing it to them as you run by and they sign it against a tack trunk or the wall.

    One thing I have liked at some barns is an open barn meeting. Some kind of refreshement you provide...something cheap like hot dogs, chips and big store brand sodas. Or a crock pot of chile, stew or soup. People like getting a token of appreciation and it allows them to sit down together with you outside the ring in a social situation.

    Stand up and go over the rules and take a few questions. Then be available for individual questions. Alot of very pricey barns do this (with the same cheap food) Builds customer loyalty and lets you hear directly from them instead of via the barn grapevine. Takes 90 minutes. No, not everybody goes. So what, those that do will think more of you.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

    Comment


    • #3
      My only comment would be that makeups must be done within 30 days, not the month. So that someone who misses a lesson on the 29th isn't screwed.

      "CANCELLATIONS/MAKEUP LESSONS: If a student must miss a group lesson for any reason, we require notification at least 24 hours in advance of the lesson. ONLY LESSONS THAT HAVE BEEN CANCELLED IN ADVANCE WILL BE ALLOWED TO BE MADE UP. All makeup lessons must be taken within 30 days of the original lesson. We will make every effort to accommodate your makeup, however makeups are not guaranteed. Students arriving more than [15] minutes past the starting time will not be mounted, but may audit the lesson and participate from the ground. A mounted lesson missed for tardiness will not be made up.

      Group lessons that are cancelled by [the barn] due to weather, road conditions or emergency will be rescheduled as soon as possible."

      I've left out the wording about 'lesson goes on without them' because I don't think it's necessary. The point is that you want Mom to CALL in advance so that horses can be assigned and gotten ready without wondering whether a kid is just running late or isn't coming at all.

      I'd advise really working that flexibility thing because with disposable income shrinking, not getting a makeup for a, what, $30 lesson, could make parents decide their kid really doesn't need to ride at all. But I'd stand firm on the lateness issue. If a parent complains that the scheduling is going to be tight every week, then perhaps they need to find a different time for lessons.

      I'd love to see all your policies when you've finalized them out of general interest.
      ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
      Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

      "Life is merrier with a terrier!"

      Comment


      • #4
        Have you considered running your school on a semester schedule? I grew up at a local riding establishment that did that, we had an 8-week winter semester, 12 week spring semester, etc. You paid in advance for the entire semester and I think having already paid for it was motivation not to miss lessons for unimportant reasons.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Kryswyn View Post
          Students arriving more than [15] minutes past the starting time will not be mounted, but may audit the lesson and participate from the ground.
          Kryswyn, I agree with everything but this — if your pony isn't being warmed up with the other ponies, your pony shouldn't be in the class that day — PERIOD. My mother (not to mention my trainer) would have KILLED me if I wasn't in the saddle and ready to go at the top of the hour.

          Now that I pay for my own lessons, I am always 30 minutes EARLY.
          "Go on, Bill — this is no place for a pony."

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Okay, here's what I've got:

            Weather: We ride rain or shine in our covered arena. Students will be notified if lessons are cancelled due to severe weather. Lessons cancelled by PWF will be rescheduled.

            Cancellation policy: When you sign up for a discounted Lessons Package, a weekly time slot is reserved for you. PWF makes every effort to schedule our lessons with our horses’ best interest at heart. Please make every effort to keep your appointment as makeup lessons cannot be guaranteed.

            If a student must miss a group lesson for any reason, we require notification at least 24 hours in advance of the lesson. ONLY LESSONS THAT HAVE BEEN CANCELLED IN ADVANCE WILL BE ALLOWED TO BE MADE UP. All makeup lessons must be taken within 30 days of the original lesson. We will make every effort to accommodate your makeup, however makeups are not guaranteed and are subject to the availability of horse and instructor.

            Students arriving more than [15] minutes past the starting time will not be mounted, but may audit the lesson and participate from the ground. A mounted lesson missed for tardiness will not be made up. No shows are counted as a lesson. Makeup lessons may be mounted or unmounted at instructor’s discretion.
            http://patchworkfarmga.com

            Comment


            • #7
              One thing I would add is that it is the client's responsibility to schedule the make-up lessons. I HATE chasing after people to get thier make-ups on the books.

              I have this written and highlighted on my board in the aisleway. As a courtesy I do write outstanding make-up numbers there too (just because we had so many during this awful winter-no covered or indoor). But if the client doesn't act pro-actively to get re-scheduled and the time is up.....too bad so sad.

              I have 1.6 million better things to do than pester a client to make-up missed lessons (like showing, teaching lessons, riding client horses, organizing our schooling show, raising two kids, cleaning stalls, occasionally riding MY horses )
              www.englishivyfarms.com
              Hunters, Jumpers, & Welsh Ponies
              All I pay my psychiatrist is the cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day. ~Author Unknown

              Comment


              • #8
                I was fine until I got to the last sentence. Personally I would not be happy if I was given an "unmounted" make up lesson if I had signed up for RIDING lessons. But I am an adult... and have been riding a long time. I know that instructors with a lot of beginners or kids might have a clientele for whom an unmounted lesson would offer some value.
                **********
                We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                -PaulaEdwina

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by InWhyCee Redux View Post
                  Kryswyn, I agree with everything but this — if your pony isn't being warmed up with the other ponies, your pony shouldn't be in the class that day — PERIOD. My mother (not to mention my trainer) would have KILLED me if I wasn't in the saddle and ready to go at the top of the hour.

                  Now that I pay for my own lessons, I am always 30 minutes EARLY.
                  Sorry, I'm assuming this is a lesson barn where you show up and get on a previously tacked horse and take your lesson. If a person is riding their own horse/pony then obviously they're going to have to be at the barn 30 mins to an hour before the scheduled lesson time. If the barn requires each student to tack up their own mount, then obviously they'd have to show up in advance too. In big lesson barns that's not always possible, and can increase liability unless someone (usually the instructor) checks every horse to make sure everything's been put on correctly.

                  At the barns where I've taught, a student wasn't allowed to mount until the whole class was in the ring and the instructor was in the ring too. In one barn the kids tacked up their ponies under supervision and a full half hour was built into the lesson time to allow for grooming, and tacking up. At another barn, the staff was responsible for tacking and untacking, generally, although the barn rats were always on hand to help. The truly interested students always showed up early and stayed late to absorb as much 'horse' as possible.
                  ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                  Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                  "Life is merrier with a terrier!"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                    I was fine until I got to the last sentence. Personally I would not be happy if I was given an "unmounted" make up lesson if I had signed up for RIDING lessons. But I am an adult... and have been riding a long time. I know that instructors with a lot of beginners or kids might have a clientele for whom an unmounted lesson would offer some value.
                    I would never offer an unmounted lesson to makeup for a missed mounted lesson. The make up lesson for a properly cancelled mounted lesson would be mounted. Showing up late to a lesson, after everyone else was mounted and already working is where the tardy student would have the option of auditing and participating from the ground for the remainder of the lesson time. If the student was going to be late, and either mom or student just decided to blow it off, then no makeup would be given.

                    I really could work a student hard enough on the ground that they'd never be late again

                    If there was enough interest, a series of unmounted lessons, say a book of four could be created. Alternately, a book of lessons could be 8 mounted and one unmounted 'barn' lesson perhaps at a different time. It would depend so much on the facility, the skill of the trainers/instructors.
                    ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                    Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                    "Life is merrier with a terrier!"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The one thing I would add is that the 24 hour advance policy, while perfectly appropriate, needs a sentence to encourage people who must cancel at the last minute (illness, broken car) to still call even though they won't be entitled to a makeup.

                      Something like:

                      If a student must miss a group lesson for any reason, we require notification at least 24 hours in advance of the lesson. In the case of a last minute emergency, a phone call is still necessary and appreciated. ONLY LESSONS THAT HAVE BEEN CANCELLED IN ADVANCE WILL BE ALLOWED TO BE MADE UP.
                      If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        As a mom of two kids that ride (and rarely miss their lessons!) 24 hours is too long. The trainer deserves a phone call to cancel prior to the start of the lesson but no mom knows that her kid is going to be throwing up 24 hours in advance. Our trainer has called us within three hours of a lesson to tell us she is very sick and can't drive to our barn.

                        I think with new parents, I'd tell them what goes into preparing a pony for a lesson-the right saddle and bridle and the right pony for each kid. Get it across to them in a friendly but informative way that riding is different than other sports-it's not like grabbing a soccer ball and running onto the field.

                        Good luck!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          When I helped a BO/trainer put together her rules a few years ago (I did small business consulting at the time), we required the students (if they weren't minors) or the parents to sign a copy of the rules, acknowledging that they had read them, understood them, and agreed to abide by them. It added a layer of accountability that worked well for the barn.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                            I was fine until I got to the last sentence. Personally I would not be happy if I was given an "unmounted" make up lesson if I had signed up for RIDING lessons. But I am an adult... and have been riding a long time. I know that instructors with a lot of beginners or kids might have a clientele for whom an unmounted lesson would offer some value.
                            ~~THIS ~~

                            Not everyone who takes riding lessons wants to be a horseperson. Some of them really are in it just for the opportunity to ride.
                            Auventera Two:Some women would eat their own offspring if they had some dipping sauce.
                            Serious Leigh: it sounds like her drama llama should be an old schoolmaster by now.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              for the most part, i've got no problems with your rules, jsalem, and in fact, they're pretty close to mine. not sure about the last sentance, though. then again, it's not uncommon for some of my lessons to be unmounted, anyway (teach students how to lunge, longline, etc). the only thing i would address, as someone pointed out above, is in the instance of illness or an emergency, 24 hours notice just doesn't work out. for example, an 8 am lesson, and the student woke up sick at 6. car breaks down, gets a flat, whatever. i'm lucky, most of my students are pretty good about not missing, so i can afford to be a little leniant, and when it comes to situations truly beyond someone's control, i work with them as much as possible.
                              Different Times Equestrian Ventures at Hidden Spring Ranch
                              www.DifferentTimesEquestrianVentures.com

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                My barn had a general 24 hour cancellation policy.

                                I'd suggest a 24 hour regular cancellation and maybe a 6 hour sick?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by englishivy View Post
                                  One thing I would add is that it is the client's responsibility to schedule the make-up lessons. I HATE chasing after people to get thier make-ups on the books.

                                  I have this written and highlighted on my board in the aisleway. As a courtesy I do write outstanding make-up numbers there too (just because we had so many during this awful winter-no covered or indoor). But if the client doesn't act pro-actively to get re-scheduled and the time is up.....too bad so sad.

                                  I have 1.6 million better things to do than pester a client to make-up missed lessons (like showing, teaching lessons, riding client horses, organizing our schooling show, raising two kids, cleaning stalls, occasionally riding MY horses )
                                  LOL... I have the opposite problem. I have to hound my trainer to schedule a make up time.

                                  Nothing really else to add. Except I do agree that 24 hours is too long. My lesson is in the evening after work. I let my trainer know by 12noon that day if I have to miss for some reason (can't get out of work, etc). Obviously if I'm sick, I let her know earlier since I'm most likely at home feeling horrible.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Kryswyn View Post
                                    Sorry, I'm assuming this is a lesson barn where you show up and get on a previously tacked horse and take your lesson. If a person is riding their own horse/pony then obviously they're going to have to be at the barn 30 mins to an hour before the scheduled lesson time. If the barn requires each student to tack up their own mount, then obviously they'd have to show up in advance too. In big lesson barns that's not always possible, and can increase liability unless someone (usually the instructor) checks every horse to make sure everything's been put on correctly.

                                    At the barns where I've taught, a student wasn't allowed to mount until the whole class was in the ring and the instructor was in the ring too. In one barn the kids tacked up their ponies under supervision and a full half hour was built into the lesson time to allow for grooming, and tacking up. At another barn, the staff was responsible for tacking and untacking, generally, although the barn rats were always on hand to help. The truly interested students always showed up early and stayed late to absorb as much 'horse' as possible.
                                    True, I now tack my own, whether I have to or not. BUT, I have ridden in classes with some "adult" riders who feel they can show up 10 to 15 minutes after the class has begun, throw a leg over a horse that's been standing saddled for a half hour, and start cantering because, hey, everyone else is warmed up and ready to canter!
                                    "Go on, Bill — this is no place for a pony."

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I think 24 hours notice is reasonable. I mean really, its not like the OP is going to be sitting there with a watch and say "too bad, so sad, you're calling me 12 hours before the lesson". I think the 24 hours is really to just encourage calling the day before if you know you aren't going to make it. And if they do have a good relationship with the clients, probably even the morning of will be fine for various emergencies.


                                      I just think if too many addendums are added in, it will be confusing. Make it as simple as possible, and then make exceptions at your own discretion.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I started a 24 hour cancellation policy a year or so ago and my number of cancels for homework or "came home from school feeling sick" has dropped dramatically. Especially the homework ones! And I will sometimes offer a makeup for a legitimately sick kid on short notice to families that are really reliable or that I know are strapped for cash. But that's not a written policy!

                                        Comment

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