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? to Riding Instructors

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  • ? to Riding Instructors

    So, do any of you have a written list of rules for your beginning riding students mother's?

    I haven't taught beginners in awhile, but now I have been offered the use of two great ponies. In the past I have allowed railbird mother's. Sometimes it has been great, sometimes the child is distracted by the parents presence. Sometimes the mother has been teaching from the rail.

    Help me avoid the pitfalls. What rules do you enforce? What rules do you wish you had put into place?
    Equine Art capturing the essence of the grace,strength, and beauty of the Sport Horse."

  • #2
    Don't make rules. Take it family by family. Too many rules will come back to bite you in the butt - if your rule is that mom has to stay in the car, your next student will be the kind who needs mom in sight or they have panic attacks... work with each child as an individual, keep the communication open, and take a big, deep breath!


    • #3
      I have the clause in my Student Agreement, cuz if it isn't in writing "it doesn't exist."

      17. Parents/guardians will be expected to stay in attendance during the entire lesson time. There will be no “drop-offs.”

      18. Attending parents/guardians will not interfere with any lesson or “help” the student in their required tasks. (If the parent wishes to participate in part of a lesson [i.e., grooming], a $10 Learner Fee will be charged.)

      : Parents/guardians are more than welcome to watch the lesson. However, viewers are expected to remain silent. Failure to abide by this rule, will result in only one courtesy warning by the Instructor. Repeated violation will result in the viewer being politely directed to a comfy chair in the tack room, with a book/magazine available and a cool or hot drink for their personal comfort.


      I have it in writing so that there's no confusion about what's expected and so that it's an across-the-board application to every single student. Everyone knows where they stand and it avoids TONS of misunderstanding & miscommunication.

      EDITED TO ADD: If you'd like to see a copy of my agreement, I'd be glad to share. PM me your email
      <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


      • #4
        I had a simple sheet that detailed requirements that I emailed with directions, phone # , etc...

        Heeled boot of some sort
        (and info on where to buy locally)

        No smoking on premises
        No dogs, please.
        Arrive in time to start at the hour, ideally 15 minutes before the lesson time.
        Bring a cooler if you wish (I'm in AL where it's hot, and I'm not a vending machine)
        cameras are welcome

        I just left it at that, and it worked fine for me.


        • #5
          I just tell people what I need them to do or not do as situations arise.

          For example, when I am trying to trailer load a difficult horse, I HATE IT when other people cluck, say "good horse good horse," push on it somehow, offer treats, or try to interact with the horse in some way. It drives a complete train through the horse's and my focus as well as my timing and feel.

          So they second they start I simply say, "Please can you not talk? Only one person gets to interact with the horse."

          Solves the issue.

          So if a mother was talking to her child during the lesson I would simply say, "Please can you not instruct from the rail? Only one person gets to teach the lesson."
          The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
          Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
          The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


          • #6
            *Hangs head in shame* I was a railbird mom. However it was quickly resolved with a SHUSH from the trainer and a brandishing of whip. Now she has the parent box which is a set of chairs on the other side of the arena from her with cones around it. Parents get to sit there and be quiet or they get banished to the lounge. If you try to talk to her while she is teaching your kid or group of parents get to noisy she has this awesome microphone and will SHUSH you. She usually spaces her lessons out to have about 10 minutes between each one to address the parent/kid issues. There is a rule that unless you just rode or are about to ride you can't talk to her though. Keeps the semblance of order. If you have issues that will take longer or issues to address outside of that time she's prompt with emails or texts.
            Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
            Originally Posted by alicen:
            What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.


            • #7
              I teach 8-10 beginner-ish riders every Sunday at a very busy H/J facility.

              At the first lesson, we sign liability waivers and also review the barn rules. The parents get a copy to keep. There is also a copy posted in the barn.

              We do not allow anyone in the rings except riders and instructors. There are picnic benches about 20 yards away from the ring, on a little incline, so parents can spectate. In the indoor arena, there's a bench along one of the short sides for parents.

              In the two years I've been teaching there, I've rarely ever had an issue. I've got one mom who occasionally wants to coach a little from the sideline. She had horses her whole life, though rode WP. For the most part, her comments are just enthusiasm. I know how much she misses riding. If it gets to be too much I find a reason to take the kid to the far end of the ring.... more space to longe, or whatever.

              I've developed good relationships with all my kids' parents, and I appreciate the fact that they entrust their kids to me. I like most of them on a personal level and while we often chat in a friendly manner, they always respect my role as teacher/instructor. I can't think of a single time any have blatantly interfered. It is a very busy lesson facility and there are usually 1-2 other instructors teaching in the ring on my days also, and I honestly don't recall a single parent interjecting, ever.

              On the flipside, M just had her first riding lesson. She is taking lessons from my own trainer. So, I got to be the lesson kid mom and see just how hard it is not to hover or interject w/o meaning to!!!! One of the big reasons I did not start her at the barn where I teach is that I want her experience to be entirely separate from me.... if that makes any sense.... but I did find out how difficult it is to not be the helicopter horse mom.

              Sounds like you have a nice opportunity, and I am sure you will enjoy it tanner!! Keep us posted.
              We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


              • #8
                have a simple set of rules - easy enough to modify if parents get too involved. I think setting some parameters keeps the parents appropriately distanced and respectful of your time. Depending on level and age of kids might want to explain that some lessons start off w/ grooming and tacking up as that is an integral part of learning to ride and care. A friend of mine does that - first few lessons she tacks the ponies up, then as the kids get better and more confident she shows them how to groom and tack up... most end up learning to clip and braid...


                • #9
                  Although you hope it won't happen, I think it is a good idea to also make sure parents know what to do if their child falls off. It seems kids are usually fine coming off until the parent comes rushing in, in a panic, and make it a BIG deal.

                  I think you also need to read the kids. Some kids are trying too hard to impress their parents to really learn, so it is actually best if the parents are more out of sight until they get the basics.
                  Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                  • #10
                    Gee No, In all the years I have taught never had a parent problem, Guess I was lucky.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ChocoMare View Post
                      18. Attending parents/guardians will not interfere with any lesson or “help” the student in their required tasks. (If the parent wishes to participate in part of a lesson [i.e., grooming], a $10 Learner Fee will be charged.)
                      I would have loved this rule when my kids were riding. I always had to help groom and tack up, especially in the mud and the freezing cold. No way I would have paid to help if I didn't have to! But I suppose all families are different - I have a barn full of dirty horses at home that I can groom anytime I want.


                      • #12
                        In my heart, I love the folks posting about hardcore rules for parents staying away or getting a warning or worse. All of us regress behaviorally around our parents, until they are truly elderly, and for almost all beginners (of any age, IMO), paying attention to one person, while actually GETTING TO RIDE A HORSE, YAY!! is difficult enough; paying attention to two (inevitable, if Mom is standing by the fence holding bottled water) really increases distraction and slows progress.

                        In reality, having moved to a new part of the country a few years ago, the parents, to whom I was initially a stranger, are certainly entitled to observe how I interact with their child, and I think I wouldn't have any customers at all, if I were too "cut and dried" about enforcing such intense rules.

                        When a problem has come up (say, child being dramatic for parental audience) I discuss it one on one with the parent. I had my ring built in a location so that parents can sit in the parked car and watch the lesson, without distracting their child.

                        I can tell you, though, if I had a dollar for every time I've had to SHUSH a parent when a child, after a lesson, has momentarily lifted the crosstie toward the bit ring .... and IF the child is not prompted by the parent, the child will pause, and then think, This isn't right, and then you can see the light bulb go off and they drop the crosstie, pick up the halter, and start unbuckling the throatlatch. Well, if I had a dollar for each time, I'd have me a big ol' pantsful of money. Most parents seem to appreciate the SHUSH in this situation.

                        In fourteen years of fulltime teaching, much of it beginner children, I have "released" exactly one customer from my program because of her mother Just Being Asinine. Others, like the parents who insisted their child was ready to jump 3' when she couldn't steer around the corner to a third crossrail, left on their own.

                        I can ride my horses without a sharps container.


                        • #13
                          Ditto Martha Drum. Also - when we have our first lesson I take a few moments to explain to the child and the parents at the same time that it is imperative that the child be focused on what we are doing and MY voice. I don't try to scare them, but I do make it clear that listening to me instead of other voices can be the difference between staying in the saddle or sitting in the dirt. This goes for in the ring & out. We have picnic tables where folks can and do congregate. Parents can watch lessons from outside of the ring. I have no issues reminding kids to focus on me and the horse; no issues explaining to the parents that their contributions are distractions.

                          ETA - I do have rules that are part of the new rider notebook. Specializing in the teensies and beginners, there are barn rules, medical/liability waivers/releases, various "parts of" handouts, and fun puzzles. Balances out the strict with some fun fluff.


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks to you all! I really need to be reminded of all of these things as I haven't taught beginning riders in 5 years.
                            ChocoMare, I always forget the no drop offs rule and Katarine I also forget the no dog rule, so double thanks.
                            CHT thanks for the falling off reminder.
                            Martha Drum the only beginner I ever told the parents to find a new instructor for thought their little Olympic hopeful should have been doing 3 foot courses on her small pony too!
                            If everything go as planned, I will let you know this fall if I've had anything unusual come up.
                            AND in the meantime if someone thinks of anything else, please share.
                            Equine Art capturing the essence of the grace,strength, and beauty of the Sport Horse."


                            • #15
                              Lol funny because my dd is going for her first lesson in years today. As a rider that has ridden for many years I know how hard it may be to keep my mouth shut all the time. wheshe had lessons before I usually kept my mouth shut. She was being taught correctly at the time and by my trainer on our pony so going to someone's farm idk and using horses idk will be interesting. Good to read these responses and I'll try to comply. Lol. Wish me luck.
                              Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole