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Help! What do I do? Parents and Riding Lessons (sorry, LONG)

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  • Help! What do I do? Parents and Riding Lessons (sorry, LONG)

    First of all:
    This is an alter because this thread includes details about my family that I don't want known under my real username.

    The Real Issue:
    This morning I asked my mother for $25 for a riding lesson with the trainer I used to ride with. I am 17. The trainer is visiting my new barn to look at a sale horse. I am at the new barn because of cost, and do not like their instructors enough to take lessons there. It is going to be a rare opportunity to take a lesson with her without paying a travel fee. She is an excellent teacher and $25 is a wonderful deal for someone of her caliber- and LESS than the instructors at the barn charge. My mother not only refused to give me money for the lesson, she yelled at me for half an hour.

    I have a three year old OTTB who, while quite well behaved, does need a lot of retraining. He has some bad habits on the ground and just is very green under saddle. I've been doing fine dealing with him, but for my safety and his training, I think it would help to take a lesson with someone I know (weekly lessons for 8 years) and trust. I have been riding most of my life one way or another and am an experienced rider, but my experience has definitely taught me you never stop needing to learn, even as a professional!

    My mother's point is that I am 17, soon to be 18, and do not work or drive. Yes, that is true- but this is why.

    I live in a suburban neighborhood with no businesses or bus system. The nearest bus stop is a 1/2 hour walk to my house, and then another fifteen minute ride to a transfer station which is the nearest place to catch a bus that actually goes anywhere in town rather than just down the highway. I am a full time student, and taking a bus to a job after school would mean waiting, usually alone, at the transfer station for at least twenty minutes in the dark each night- not to mention that most of the jobs I'm qualified for due to my past experience require you to be 18. I have applied and been accepted as a dog trainer at different times Petco and Petsmart, but Petco then realized I wasn't 18 (it was ON my application, but the manager didn't notice) and Petsmart ended up cutting their funding for canine education and didn't hire me. I have an easy time being accepted for jobs that pay fairly well for someone in my age group, but transportation and age are big issues.

    So why don't I learn to drive? First of all, I don't have a car and my parents refuse to give or loan me money to get one so I could work and earn money- the little money I earn from training some horses and teaching some beginning lessons (I earn tips only for the lessons because I'm working for board) goes towards stuff for my horse. I have a trusted friend of the family who teaches me when she has time, but she is often busy. My mother flat out refuses to teach me because she isn't confident enough, and my father is verbally and emotionally abusive- driving with him more than a couple times a month causes me to start shaking and having nervous reactions any time I get behind the wheel of a car. I think I could pass a driving exam now, but I don't feel I'm really ready to have a license and be on the road by myself, plus I don't have the 50 required practice hours. I think I could pass the test when I turn 18, but again- I don't know if I'll be ready. If my mother would teach me, I'd be happy to learn, but the father is not feasible as a frequent thing. He also refuses to take me to get the booklet on driving laws from the DMV- he says he wants me to pay attention and learn them from him, but it is no time to learn what a flashing red light means AS I'm driving up to one, I feel!

    Another issue is that when I got my horse I also had another horse. I knew she would be full leased or sold soon because I had grown out of her, I just needed the perfect home for her. The agreement was that they would pay board and vet expenses for one horse, and the second one was my responsibility until the first was sold or full leased. I sold my mare, and then my mother announced she was not paying for the gelding, because I did fine working for board while I had the mare. She now pays half of his routine vet expenses and farrier- only shots and stuff, if he gets injured she says I have to pay because my mare never got injured- and none of the board. I have to work two full days a week to earn board.

    My father just got a new job that pays VERY well. In fact, with the stock options he'll be getting, he expects to make somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but she begrudges me a very reasonable $25 for a riding lesson and $265 a month for board, and even the $50 that is my half of the farrier bill? I understand I need to be self sufficient at some point, but I feel I'm doing a good job of preparing for life on my own and asking for some financial support while I'm in school isn't too much, since they can easily afford it without any hardship. Our house and cars are all paid off and health insurance is covered under my father's new job.

    I also saved my parents the cost of at least two dozen riding lessons by allowing my first horse to be used for lessons by my instructor- which I did not HAVE to do, but did to help out both my trainer and my parents, which tied up my horse for a couple days a week when I could have been riding her.

    At 17, I am done with almost two years of college and graduating from high school on time with a 100% successful completion rate (my high school's version of grades). In the college I'm attending simultaneously with high school, I maintain a 3.7 GPA, with A's in every class I've taken except for two, one of which was a C from a professor who was later disciplined for unfair grading practices, though my grade couldn't be changed. This semester, I have been recognized by the National Dean's List, the International Honor Society of the Two Year College, and my college's Honors Program for outstanding scholastic accomplishment. I have also received scholarships for every semester I've attended college simultaneously with high school, and I am elegible for a scholarship that will cover the entire rest of my two year college credits. I have a guaranteed transfer to a four year university and am elegible for scholarships there, as well. In addition, I spend several hours each week in community service volunteering to exercise horses and do publicity work for a local horse rescue. I received a Volunteer of the Year award with this organization.

    I feel that I'm a kid someone could be proud of- I'm successful in my education, and expect to graduate with a Bachelor's Degree before I'm 20. I have done a good job with the horses I ride. I work hard for my horse's board, and I still get schoolwork for TWO schools done. I'm not any trouble at home- I've never smoked, gotten drunk, used drugs, or even been to a teenage type party. I don't bring boys home, I do my chores and take care of my pets, and my room may not be clean, but my pets' cages always are. I have finished a novel and am looking for a publisher, and I had a small role in an independent film. Yet all I hear from my mother and father is criticism about my lack of a job and driver's license- but when I try to get these things they make it clear they don't want to help beyond my father giving me driving lessons which I already explained I can't mentally handle very often.

    Is it wrong of me to ask for $25 for a riding lesson? I have already paid one $1,200 vet bill for my horse when he was severely injured, which obliterated most of my personal savings, and they didn't pay a cent for- not even ten bucks for gas for the wonderful woman who drove him to the vet. I am trying to get a job, but the circumstances are very difficult, especially while attending two schools. I feel it's essential to my safety with this young horse to at least occasionally have someone else watching and telling me anything I'm doing wrong. This is my first time retraining an OTTB on my own. I am at my wits' end here- paying for it myself would mean spending the money I saved for his next batch of supplements, which he needs since his injury.

    I would not have bought this horse if I knew I would get this little help from my parents, but giving him up is absolutely a LAST resort, because I love him and also he is improving but still difficult enough on the ground that I wouldn't feel comfortable with anyone but a very experienced rider and trainer owning him. He was in danger of going to slaughter when I got him from the track, and I fear that if I sold him before he is better trained and has better manners he would end up at an auction.

    What do I do?

  • #2
    So, the syllogism I see here is something along the lines of:

    Can't drive, thus can't work, thus parents are angry, thus no lessons, thus horse and rider suffer.

    To be honest, I think you're going to have to suck it up and have your dad teach you to drive. My parents taught me and yes, it was stressful, even traumatic, and often ended in tears, but I did it and well, then I got a job, and let's say that now that I work, my parents are a LOT more generous with the money - which of course means more horse stuff!

    I don't doubt you're a great responsible kid, but you seem to only be responsible for KID things - going to the barn, cleaning pet's cages, doing schoolwork. You need to become responsible for ADULT things - working, finding time to ride, making a car payment, etc.


    • #3
      Honestly, it sounds like you're whining. Find some real solutions to your problems. Have a friend stop by DMV and pick up the manual for you. Can you find a way to pay for driving lessons? My mom didn't want to teach me to drive so she paid for driving lessons- and this is cool- they picked me up at my house and dropped me off at the barn! Deal with the whole bus inconvenience and flip burgers for a while if you have to- I was an aide at a nursing home a couple days a week while I was in HS, but back then a person could work an 8 hr shift while still in school. My first vehicle was a moped (God I hated that thing!), and then my mom and stepdad bought me a car, and paid the insurance. Fortunately they also paid my horse's board, but I was responsible for all other costs- vet, farrier, shows, etc., and gas for the car, of course.

      On the flip side, I think your parents are being kinda unreasonable. It sounds like they can afford to help you out, but for whatever reason- they're not. Maybe it's time for a heart-to-heart chat with one or both of them, in a non-emotional, non-confrontational way. Maybe you could start a little conversation while you're helping Mom cook dinner or fold clothes....


      • #4
        Originally posted by Tha Ridge
        ...then I got a job, and let's say that now that I work, my parents are a LOT more generous with the money
        Good point! Maybe that's why my parents were as generous as they were. I got my first "real" job when I was 14(rode my bike), and always had some source of my own income. For my working class parents, I imagine that $150 board bill (25 yrs ago) was a bit of a stretch for them.


        • #5
          Your situation is very hard, and I feel you're handling it in the best way that you can. You sound like a very mature young lady, and definitely one I would be proud of, if you were mine! Sometimes parents don't realize how precious the time is with their children. They want them grown, out of the house, driving, getting a job, etc. but sometimes I think it is necessary to step back and savour every moment with your children and love them for this moment in time - not for how they think things should be.

          I don't feel it is the role of anyone here to pit you against your parents. I feel it would be inappropriate to tell you how awful your parents are. There may be more details that we are not privy to. They may have very good reasons for establishing the rules that they have. We just don't know. And you might not know either.

          It can be considered a great honor and privilege to own a horse at the age of 17 yrs and take lessons with a professional trainer. Many children do not have that opportunity. I understand your frustration with being denied the $25, because I've been in your shoes before. However, now as an adult, I can look back and be thankful for the times I was denied what I asked for even though my parents were somewhat wealthy. I could have had the fancy show clothes and lessons, but I often did not get them because there were lessons to be learned. Lessons about thankfulness, hard work, denial, responsibility, unfairness, etc.

          Being denied the money for a new show outfit even though my parents had it has taught me that sometimes in life I don't get that big raise, even though the company can aford it. I don't always understand why, but that's the way life is. You don't always understand.

          When I was 17 years old, I wanted a car too. I was told that to get a car, I needed a job. So my step-brother and my father would take me to the local grocery store and drop me off for 4 hours every night where I worked part time. They did this for over a year until I had enough money saved for a down payment on my vehicle. They felt it was their responsibility to help me out of the nest. Parents should not throw their children out with no assistance, but neither should they coddle and fail to teach hard life lessons. It is a tightrope walk with many unfavorable consequences lurking below the safety net. Parenting is not an easy job. But neither is being a kid.

          Kudos to you for going to two schools at the same time and working so very hard. If you were my child, I would be very inclined to assist you in any way possible. I think that education is crucial in today's economic state. However, I can see where your parents would be forced to perform a balancing act. How much money to give, and how much to hold back.

          It might be helpful to talk to a school counselor and get some guidance on how to sit down with your parents and have a meaningful talk, where you both come to an understanding and develop a plan for going forward. If you really want to get a job, your father or mother may be able to transport you to work so you don't have to ride the bus. I agree that a 17 yr old girl shouldn't be out at dark in a bus station alone. Even as an adult, I wouldn't feel safe, so I would never expect a child to feel comfortable in that situation.

          I've talked to other young people who have experienced the same troubles with learning to drive in big cities. It is tough when the resources aren't available. In the midwest kids jump on a tractor at 12 years old and learn to drive in the fields! If you live in upstate NY or downtown Chicago, etc., this task can be overwhelming. Again, the counselor may give you some tips and resources so you learn how to drive.

          I wish you the very best of luck. You sound like a fantastic person and believe it or not, these hard times you're experiencing now will add depth to your character as you age. A knife becomes sharp through the honing. Gold becomes beautiful through the pressure. Diamonds are breathtaking after the cutting. Keep your chin up!


          • #6
            Thanks everyone for replying and reading through that big long post.

            As I said, I work very hard (10 hours some days) two days a week to provide for his board. I had savings from a good job working for a trainer near my house when I was younger, but she moved 4 hours away and was not replaced by someone else who needed help. She did invite me to go with her as her groom, but dropping out of school was definitely not happening for me, even for the chance to continue with a very high level trainer! Of course, she wasn't even in my discipline, but I still had lots I could learn from her.

            I have been trying to let my father teach me to drive, but it is just very hard to handle. I have a history of panic attacks, and I was anorexic for all of middle school and the first two years of high school because of his comments. I'm afraid that I will develop lifelong problems with driving if I associate it too much with his verbal attacks.

            I would have been able to pay for driving school if I had not wiped out most of my savings on vet bills which the parents had agreed to pay for when I got the horse. Also, none of the driving lesson places around here pick you up or drop you off- you have to come to them- and they do not accept manual transmission cars, which is all my parents have. There are driving schools that let you use their cars for most of it, but they are VERY expensive and there is no way I could afford $400 for a couple of lessons.

            I've never had expensive show outfits, I've paid for both of my horses and all my tack, and I scrape and scrounge what I can to pay for what my current horse needs.

            Part of why I feel so offended at this is that just this Mother's Day I bought my mother a nice gift, took her out for ice cream, made her a great dinner, and spent all day pampering her. My father's contribution to the holiday was to yell at her in the morning and tell her she should do what she's told when he tells her to, which made her cry. I'm very nice to her and even cooked a dessert for her students (she is an independent art teacher for adults) for their end of class party this week- which I had no obligation to do, but she told me her students had asked if she could bring this dessert which she'd brought once before, and I offered to make it.

            Even when my father was unemployed, he got everything he wanted, and she worked hard and supported him. Now he has a great job that has given him a big starting bonus and a large salary, and they still won't help me- I think I am very accomplished for a 17 year old, and if it hadn't been for the big vet bill, I would have used the savings from my past job to buy a car. Once again, they were going to pay for vet bills, and if I had known they'd reneg on that I wouldn't have gotten the horse.


            • #7
              If you go to your state's dmv website, they will have a manual online. They might have some driver ed and traffic school info on it too. Maybe you can take a driver's ed class this summer and get your license.


              • #8
                Thanks- that is very helpful, I didn't know about the website.

                I do plan to get my license as I stated I think I can pass the test but I do not feel safe driving by myself until I get some more practicing in with someone I can feel confident around.


                • #9
                  What I am about to say I will probably get flamed for, but bear with me. I'm also taking your word for the whole matter on this.

                  I came from a very abusive childhood. The only thing I felt I had in the world was my horse. He was there no matter what. Friends come and go, enemies are forever. I remember what high school was like. Basically my advice is this, given your age you have two options: either suck it up, or turn them in. In sucking it up, you might keep your horse. Turning them is, you'll probably lose him. The situation sucks, I know. I've been there. Still have the physical and emotional scars to prove it. I took the suck it up road. I kept my horse, and still have him in his retirement and love him dearly. No question I would have lost him if I had turned them in; I saw what happened to my sister when she tried to do the same. In the end, only one child speaks to my parents at all. It's just how it is. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that if you are truley in an abusive situation, abusers don't change. Only YOU can determine your destiny. Not them. Make a difference for you, don't ask them to. Only thing I can grant my childhood is that I became a very strong person for it. Sure, I have weaker moments. Sure, sometimes people get to me. guess what? I'm human. You are too.

                  There's an old saying that basically went, "words only hurt you if you let them." Change how you react to the words. Now I'm not saying that when you change how you react, the words won't get more harsh. I know in my case it did. But how *I* act is up to me, I can't change them. They are responsible for themselves.
                  RIP Bo, the real Appassionato


                  • #10
                    I am not even considering turning them in- for the same reasons you said, I have already decided against it. My mother is a good person, but she is just very harsh on me with the money thing (even though my father buys himself expensive computers and musical instruments that cost more than my horse, with HER money) and she also can't keep a promise to save her life. I do still want a relationship with her as an adult, but not with my father.

                    My question is just if I can do anything to convince them to help me a little more, considering the hard work I'm doing with my education and for my horse's board, and the situation I'm in with no transportation to a job, and no job to help me buy transportation. I feel having an occasional lesson is a big safety issue for anyone who rides a young horse, plus it makes me very nervous having no savings in case of another major injury for my horse.


                    • #11
                      you are clearly a clever person to come up with such a cool alter. good luck with your situtation.
                      A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton


                      • #12
                        I understand. Truly! My guy at that time was a very nice OTTB that was also a doggone handful. I felt so lost. My parents had the money to help. They chose not to for the most part. Basically, I bargained with my grades. However, I was also the first child out of the four kids (I was the youngest) to say I was going to college. Two older brothers fled for the military, and the forementioned sister was kicked out of the house at 17 YO. I didn't have contact with her at all for about 5 or 6 years.

                        My situation was the opposite: I had the mealy mouthed father and the abusive mother. Yes, I said mealy mouthed. At the time, I adored him. he was the nice one. That also allowed the abuse of me. None the less, you have got to stop looking into what your parents could do for you, and see what you could work out for yourself. It is of no concern to me that your parents can afford it. YOU'VE got to make it happen. Can you work off the lesson? Can you work something out with someone else; someone who might need clipping done, bathing....something to help you earn the $25?
                        RIP Bo, the real Appassionato


                        • #13
                          I know your busy with school

                          But, being as you live in a suburban neighborhood, most people in the neighborhood probably commute to work, maybe see about walking dogs in the afternoon for people, would take an hour or two of your time but would generate some income, there should be a grocery store or petstore close to you, what about the local vets office even if they don't do horses, maybe watching someone's older child, over the age of 8 after school could do homework then at the same time. just ideas that I've come up with, I have also been in a similar situation, but managed to figure something out. These things may not be anything you'd like to do, but we don't always get to do what we like to survive.



                          • #14
                            I don't know if it's still the same, but back when my brothers and I were getting our licenses, there was a discount on our auto insurance for having taken driver's ed. with a certified instructor. Might be something to check out/ consider. We saved more $$ on insurance than the cost of the program.
                            Member: "Collector of Quirky Equines", "Incredible Invisibles", "Proud to be a Mushroom Head", and "Addicted to Howrse" cliques.

                            COTHers & Friends on Howrse


                            • #15
                              I can try to save up my tip money, but it is a little short notice- I only found out my trainer is coming to the barn a couple days ago, and she will probably come Monday. If I get tips tomorrow perhaps I'll make $25 or almost $25 and I can pay the rest later. I do have someone who does competitive driving who occasionally gives me $20 to go schooling with her as her groom/map reader... I just hate that I can never save up anything in case my horse gets hurt again, because I don't get any of the help I was promised when I bought the horse.

                              I have a sister who has been in jail for methamphetamine, a stripper, kicked out of multiple schools, and had a child with a cocaine addict who was in jail for eight years but got out early for good behavior (the child is five now). They still give her more support than they give me, even though she is over 30. I am the first of my siblings to go to college on time- all of the three others took time off first, and I am going early.

                              My father makes a lot of money even without a degree, so anytime I ask for some recognition (even just to go out to dinner or something, spend quality time as a family) when I get straight As, he tells me grades don't matter and he doesn't care if I even go to school or not, because he did fine without- and my mother tells me it's not an accomplishment for me to get good grades because I don't have a job to occupy my time. (conveniently forgetting I work two days a week for board and go to TWO schools)

                              I guess I am just hurt because not only did they break their word, they don't seem to care about my safety or my horse's training, and they don't mind hurting me or my horse just to prove a point that they don't have to do anything but feed me, and not even that once I'm 18. And I treat my mother so well...


                              • #16
                                Again, you can't change your parents. I doubt anyone has any helpful tips on how to make them see things your way. You'd be better off asking specific questions as to what is wrong with your horse by describing the problems with your horse; not by complaining who are parents are. If they were poor, would that make the problems you are having with your horse less noticeable?
                                RIP Bo, the real Appassionato


                                • #17
                                  Of course I can't change who they are- but I know a lot of people on here are parents, and first of all I wondered if it is really so unreasonable to ask for a little help while I'm working hard to graduate from two schools and working for board. I love my mother and I know she loves me, and I thought maybe someone who is a parent or who has been in this situation could give me advice on how to approach this with her.

                                  As it so happens, I did take some of the advice on this thread- I looked up a driver's manual online, which is taking FOREVER to download (stupid 56K) but I'm sure will be very helpful. I also did the dishes and then sat down for a game of Gin Rummy with my mother and talked to her about my concerns, the fact that I payed the entire big vet bill for the horse which she had said she'd pay for, and that the money I used for that had been my car money, so her arguing with me about my driving was really not very fair. She did agree with that when I presented it to her and also mentioned the stuff I do for her such as baking for her students. She agreed that if I am able to get a scholarship again for next semester (which I expect to get) she will let me use an equal amount to the scholarship of my college savings for a car downpayment if I agree to use the car to get a job in town as soon as possible. She didn't really address my concerns about learning from my father, but if I'm able to pay for my own car hopefully I will be able to have friends do a lot more of my instruction.

                                  As for the horse, it's not a specific problem really- he is headshy (track issue, improving a lot but not there yet), a little rude on the ground (again improving but not there yet), and he's just quite green under saddle. He's good about slowing down when he's asked, but he ducks through corners and doesn't really keep a consistent pace, especially at the trot. He's fine for me to ride and I feel safe on him doing flatwork, but I'd like to have a professional set of eyes on the ground to help me correct the various small issues on the flat before I try to start jumping him, which is my eventual goal. If anyone has any fabulous tips for OTTBs, I'd love to hear them- I use a moon mouth snaffle (like a french link with a rounded middle link, I don't know if it's really called moon mouth, that's just what I've always said) and he responds pretty well, although he does tend to lean on it a lot. He also likes to try to kick the farrier, but I recently switched farriers and he is much better, so I think maybe the other farrier was holding his leg in an ouchy way or something- or he just hated the guy.


                                  • #18
                                    The thing about family ...

                                    You can pick your friends.

                                    You can pick your lovers.

                                    You can even pick your nose.

                                    But you can't pick your family.

                                    Sometimes families suck. Sympathies to you, but it sounds like you're a smart strong person and will come out of it okay. Yeah, right now things aren't great, but ... you know what you need to do to make your future better.
                                    Delicious strawberry flavored death!


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by AltersAnonymous
                                      I have a history of panic attacks, and I was anorexic for all of middle school and the first two years of high school because of his comments. I'm afraid that I will develop lifelong problems with driving if I associate it too much with his verbal attacks.


                                      Part of why I feel so offended at this is that just this Mother's Day I bought my mother a nice gift, took her out for ice cream, made her a great dinner, and spent all day pampering her. My father's contribution to the holiday was to yell at her in the morning and tell her she should do what she's told when he tells her to, which made her cry.
                                      Oh boy, sounds like you are in a situation you will need to get out of as soon as possible. Please, find a way to learn to drive so you will have the freedom to get a job and leave home. You need to be out from under the influence of your $#&@ of a dad, and your mom who is so under his spell she lives her life for him.

                                      You will nt be able to grow as a person and triumph over your panic attacks and self-esteem problems if you are stuck with a verbally abuse father who specializes in put-downs. You've done well to hold things together as you have, and you owe it to yourself to give yourself freedom from this situation.

                                      Here's my advice:

                                      1. Try not to focus too much on developing your riding at this point. I know it's probably what you live for, but there are other problems looming on the horizon. Riding can be worked on after you have crested the hill of growing up and leaving home.

                                      2. Learn to drive... find a friend of yours or a friend of the family or other relative who will help and provide a car. Ask at your school about driver's ed and whether they have financing or grants for students who need it.

                                      3. Finish your education.

                                      4. If you're not off to university, get a job & save up a bit.

                                      5. Move out and do not look back! If you can't afford to board your horse, consider part leasing him to help pay, and/or working at the barn in exchange for board, etc. Consider leasing your horse out or lending him to your trainer to get some mileage and be used in lessons or the like. Or, sadly, at some point you may have to sell or full lease. I've been there, and it is very painful but you cannot stay at home just so you can keep your horse when you are subjected to this environment.

                                      You sound like an intelligent strong woman and you will excel when you are out on your own. Good luck!


                                      • #20
                                        Also, why can't your MOM teach you to drive?