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ok help! Kids are multiplying, how do I do this?

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  • ok help! Kids are multiplying, how do I do this?

    Run a lesson/training barn I mean? It started just with my daughter, then her friend boarded and took lessons, then a few more etc. Now I'm facing all sorts of dilemmas like finding good ponies, charging by the lesson or charging a monthly fee. And how do I teach the children AND entertain and answer all the millions of questions the Moms have??? And how do you keep an hour long lesson from taking 2 hrs by the time the kids groom, tack up, get distracted, get on, ride then undo everything? And how do I train any of my horses when my weekends are suddenly booked with kiddies? I've always been able to run the barn by myself but now I'm thinking I need some junior helpers?
    Ok I'm stressing, advice please, I don't need to reinvent the wheel!
    Riot Farm

  • #2
    Have older kids help with the tacking up and untacking. Having the young kids rush through tacking up so they can ride longer sends the wrong message...and most of the kids I teach love the time they get to spend brushing "their" horse.

    But I think the most important thing is to decided what your priorities are and not let other people pull you in directions you have no intention of going. It is easy to think "oh, I will just do this for this one person", but when you do that over and over and over you can get pulled from your business path. It is OK to say no!

    With parents, limit your random conversation time. If the conversation is going to be longer than say, 5 minutes, you need to interupt it, and schedule time for it. Or put it in an email. While the kids are cooling out their horse is also an ok time to talk to parents a bit. My kids like to be able to chat and wander about without feeling I am closely watching them.
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

    Comment


    • #3
      HA HA - dont mean to discount the stress, but I'm sure many would like this problem. I've never done this, but have some thoughts that might help.

      First, I think you need to put a limit on the number of lessons you WANT to do per day and how many days during the week.
      Second I would base this not only on your time, but on the number of school horses you really want to keep and how much they can/should work. Before you go crazy, remember that in the end, less is more.


      Next, I would consider the junior helper thought (is that child labor??) that for each hour they work, you credit $xx towards a lesson. Helper should be able to supervise/guide and teach kids how to groom and tack up. Also untacking, cleaning saddles/bridles etc.

      I would tell moms that student needs to arrive 30 minutes early to groom/tack up/chat etc. You don't want rushing but its good to learn time management.

      Re the million mom questions - dunno.........!

      For a bunch of years I rode w/ a dressage trainer who had a bunch of funny restrictions. Didn't teach at night. Didn't teach after certain time on Sundays. Would only go to certain barns w/in x miles of her house. (she was a "floating" trainer). Would ride anyone's pony. Would NOT ride horses that were not well behaved. (she was tiny, and over 60, self preservation!)
      AND SHE WAS ALWAYS BOOKED.
      We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........

      Comment


      • #4
        I suggest a monthly fee for a set number of lessons... like once weekly for $150 or whatever. You can also do school horse leases where they pay a little bit more and get to ride other days in a "free ride", obviously only if they are capable of riding on their own with parental supervision of course.

        I personally hate paying "by the lesson" and I'd think that woudl be a nightmare to keep track of.

        Tell the kids their lesson is at lets say, 4 PM, and its up to the kids and their parents to get the pony, clean him up and tack up and be ready to go at 4 sharp. If they can't do it unsupervised, have someone else in the barn who can help out, a kid or another more knowledgeable mom. I am the mom and am often called upon to check saddles, girths and put bridles on while I am helping my daughter, doesn't bother me a bit, so long as they make an effort before calling me over.

        Comment


        • #5
          My trainer is a master at training students and parents as well as horses. In more than 15 years I've never seen her raise her voice. I've also never seen her let anyone monopolize her time. If you try to talk to her 'unscheduled' she gives you probably 1 minute of atention then simply turns away and goes about her business. Not in a rude way, but its a very pointed reminder that she's very busy When she's teaching, she is totally focused on her students, and her attention to detail is amazing. But if you want to talk to her outside of your lesson, you need to schedule the conversation and keep on point. Generally, we've all learned that if something is really important to discuss she'll give us a call. Otherwise, its all just noise to her. Its also a first rate way of keeping drama out of the barn.

          Get some student workers, schedule your time, (including time for yourself so you don't burn out) and train the parents to respect your time before and after lessons. Sometimes its best to just say "I have to run right now, can you give me a call at such and such a time?"

          Also agree that you need to decide how much you can handle and don't let other people put you in a situation that gets you in over your head, as your reputation will suffer eventually.
          Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
          Witherun Farm
          http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

          Comment


          • #6
            Also, in terms of kids getting ready for lessons/getting distracted: my instructor doesn't let us mess around/chat too much when tacking up, but then after we ride, she doesn't care how long we stay grooming and pampering our horses. We don't waste her time or draw the lesson on too long, and we still have plenty of time to chat and spoil our ponies
            I like mares. They remind me of myself: stubborn know-it-alls who only acknowledge you if you have food.
            Titania: 50% horse, 50% hippo
            Unforgetable: torn between jumping and nap time, bad speller

            Comment


            • #7
              This is how it happened to my mom and sister!

              This is how it all started for us!!!

              A little girl bought my large pony when I was ready to move up to a horse and she ended up boarding with us and taking lessons... then her friends came.... and then their friends came... and then a lesson barn down the road closed down and BAM my mom hadn't blinked once before she had a dozen regular students.

              My mom never planned to be a riding instructor but it just sort of worked out that way. She is definitely qualified but had/has a full time job so it just never crossed her mind. While my sister and I were in college we took on a few of her younger students to help out since she was swamped. I have since not taught a lesson since 2008 but Mom and sister still teach on the side of having full time jobs in the corporate world.

              Our once private barn is now a small business and my Mom loves it. She is naturally organized in everything she does so her lessons were strategically set up to where the kids first few lessons included tacking up and grooming then you were expected to arrive early enough to do it yourself. I will say that its easy to get caught up into the whole thing. Our barns little business is thriving and with my mom and sister working full time else where they cant do this forever. It DOES offset the costs of having our own horses which is great but man does it keep you busy.

              My best advice is to hire a teenager that wants to work off lessons as mentioned above. They can feed/groom/tack/untack, freeing up your time to teach more lessons if thats desired!

              Best of luck, its sounds like you are going to enjoy having a lesson program!

              Comment


              • #8
                Definitely agree with the work-for-rides plan. However, be sure that the parents are in on the plan, as I found out that some of my parents thought I was taking advantage of their children who were feeding as I was wrapping up my last lessons; perhaps cleaning a couple stalls; whatever - in exchange not so much for lessons, but for trucking to shows, day fees, etc.

                The other BIGGIE that I'd think through carefully is adding to your string. Right now, all your daughter's friends are gung-ho. What happens when they discover boys? Or soccer. Or cheerleading? Or go off to college? Or their parents divorce/move? You don't want to find yourself with a string of good school horses/ponies and no students.

                Best of luck!

                Carol
                www.ayliprod.com
                Equine Photography in the Northeast

                Comment


                • #9
                  Well, I'll add a few thoughts as someone who was a junior/assistant trainer for several years at a big lesson facility.

                  Total Newbie lessons are private and an hour long, with 15 minutes to learn to groom and tack, 30 minutes of riding, and 15 minutes to untack and groom. Everyone else has 50 minute groom or private, with the whole time being mounted.

                  Once they move on to group lessons, they must arrive 20 minutes before their lesson time to groom and tack (earlier if you expect them to catch the horse in the field). You should have one barn assistant to help with grooming and tacking all day. That's a great job for a teenager who wants to work off lessons.

                  Install a big clock in the barn.

                  Let's say beginner lesson starts at 9 am. Kids arrive at 8:40. They groom and tack on their own, with barn assistant supervising. By 9 am, they are lined up outside the arena. If it is a beginnerish lesson, I'd want to help them each mount. Lesson is over by 9:50. You have ten minutes to talk to parents, use restroom, etc. while the children dismount and take horses back to barn. At 10, you should have a new line of kids waiting outside the ring. If its a more advanced lesson, I'd let them mount on their own as they got to the ring instead of waiting for me outside the ring.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I would agree with statements of kids coming early to tack up and ride, lesson starts mounted at a specific time. I started riding at 9. First lesson was in how to catch, groom and tack up pony (bareback pad and bridle). Maybe for the next two or three times, I had some help. After that, even at 9-12, catch own pony/horse, groom, tack up, bell boots if needed and be at ring on time. Afterwards, untack, care for horse and clean tack before going home. I even learned how to wrap polos. It can be done even with little kids. And all the horses I rode were turned out so I had to learn to outsmart the horse and catch them sometimes too, though most came right up.
                    \"I never play horseshoes \'cause Mother taught us not to throw our clothes around,\" ~ Mr. Ed

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by joiedevie99 View Post
                      Well, I'll add a few thoughts as someone who was a junior/assistant trainer for several years at a big lesson facility.

                      Total Newbie lessons are private and an hour long, with 15 minutes to learn to groom and tack, 30 minutes of riding, and 15 minutes to untack and groom. Everyone else has 50 minute groom or private, with the whole time being mounted.

                      Once they move on to group lessons, they must arrive 20 minutes before their lesson time to groom and tack (earlier if you expect them to catch the horse in the field). You should have one barn assistant to help with grooming and tacking all day. That's a great job for a teenager who wants to work off lessons.

                      Install a big clock in the barn.

                      Let's say beginner lesson starts at 9 am. Kids arrive at 8:40. They groom and tack on their own, with barn assistant supervising. By 9 am, they are lined up outside the arena. If it is a beginnerish lesson, I'd want to help them each mount. Lesson is over by 9:50. You have ten minutes to talk to parents, use restroom, etc. while the children dismount and take horses back to barn. At 10, you should have a new line of kids waiting outside the ring. If its a more advanced lesson, I'd let them mount on their own as they got to the ring instead of waiting for me outside the ring.
                      This.

                      Also, it helps if horses are already in from fields, tack is organized for each horse, etc. so as to cut down on the amount of time kids are messing around.

                      If students take too long tacking up, etc..... well, then, they are cutting into their saddle time. They learn real quick to be efficient and on time. If you don't enforce this policy, you will get people showing up late, people taking forever to tack up, people messing around.... and then YOU will be running late and general chaos will ensue.
                      We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        When I was 14 I spent most of the day Saturday helping the little kids tack up for their lessons in exchange for my weekly lessons on school horses. I got a list in the morning of students, school horse assignments and lesson times and got each set of kids to the arena by their set time, and helped the prior lesson cool out and put their ponies away. Sundays I would feed and groom and clean tack in exchange for a couple of "free rides" on school horses.

                        It was great fun, the trainer got about 12 hours of work a week out of me for one lesson and the occasional ride. I got to spend all day at the barn and it eventually worked into riding sale horses and grooming for some of the adult riders at shows which was good money. A couple of the adult riders let me take their horses in classes at local shows and one gave me a year free-lease on her horse when she took time off riding to have a baby. Trying to explain that I got a lot out of the arrangement it wasn't just free labor for the trainer.

                        It was a good deal both ways. For a kid whose parents didn't support riding it was a great way for me to learn and ride, and the trainer got a great deal of help from someone who was happy to be there working hard.

                        Do these kind of arrangements still exist? This was in the 70s.

                        Comment

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