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10yo daughter helps out voluntarily at stables and is being accused of not working hard enough

(88 Posts)
Shellybash Mon 01-Dec-14 08:33:58

My daughter took up horse riding 7 months ago and absolutely loves it. Her and her trainer get on so well together and really share a special bond.

Since the summer, she and I have been helping out in the yard, mucking out, tacking up, all the usual stuff. She's a very petite age 10 (still wears 6 - 7 yrs clothes) so she's not exactly strong but really does her best.

In the last few weeks she has been going to the stables on her own to help out, however, in the last 3 weeks, I have had messages from the trainer advising that my daughter is causing issues.

A new yard manager appears to be advising the trainer that my daughter is not listening, is deliberately ignoring instructions, and is being lazy and is taking breaks when there's work to be done. My daughter typically spends between 4 and 8hrs there at any given time.

This seems so unlike the little girl who helped me at the summer. I didn't expect too much from her, and I know she loves to cuddle the ponies, but I was surprised and really pleased to see her tack up, un-tack, groom and carry saddles to and from the tack room! She struggles with the weight from even the tiniest saddle but she pushes through it! smile

This work is completely voluntary and my daughter gets no treat for doing it either from us, her parents, or the riding school. She simply just loves being there.

My first reaction is one of pure and utter RAGE as I know the stables are desperate for any help they can get, so to single out my daughter in this way seems very harsh in my opinion. If she sweeps up even a little, then she has done more than anyone who didn't show up to help that day..

If anyone has any advice or tips to help me calm down before I chat with the trainer I would very much appreciate it.

Thanks all x

Quangle Mon 01-Dec-14 08:37:37

Bloody hell. Does he not realise she's not paid?

Or perhaps she's getting in the way and they find it more of a hindrance than a help but what a horrible way to behave to child who is obviously very committed.

Shellybash Mon 01-Dec-14 08:49:02

Thanks for the support Quangle. Obviously her trainer (female) sets the rules as it's their business so yes, she knows there's no money involved.

I thought that too that maybe she's in the way a bit, but since the trainer is so desperate for help, I asked if it was OK for my daughter to go and she could help train and coach her, and this was agreed.

A new girl has started as a yard manager and it seems to have taken a turn for the worse since then, due to what I believe are possible unrealistic expectations.

I didn't sleep at all last night and anxiety and panic are kicking in as I need to face it tomorrow when my daughter has her riding lesson. Actually feel sick.. :'(

CocktailQueen Mon 01-Dec-14 08:51:17

Try not to over-react, op. Why not have a calm chat - out of your dd's earshot - about what's been happening and see where the fault lies?

Is there another riding school near you she could go to?

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 01-Dec-14 08:57:19

My ds is 10 (& in age 6-7 clothes). No way would he be able to do all that.

She's 10 years old for goodness sake, still at primary school. Enthusiastic I guess but distracted by the cuteness ofvthe ponies.

I'd stop her helping out if that's the attitude. Have a word with the owner & say she won't be helping any more as you feel the new trainers expectations of a 10 year old are unrealistic. ;I work with that age group myself).

Littlef00t Mon 01-Dec-14 08:58:51

I think there's a tack room section somewhere, you might get some useful responses if you link from there.

OwlCapone Mon 01-Dec-14 09:01:58

I would not be sending my DD back.

Shellybash Mon 01-Dec-14 09:20:37

My ego is agreeing with Picturesinthefirelight and owlcapone about not sending her back (yes cocktailqueen there are other schools she could go to) but I really want to try and stay rational about this and not just take the huff and demand the ball back so to speak.. I think I want to try and work through it and if I feel it's not resolved after my meeting, I may look to do something more drastic. In talks just now - wish me luck. I hate confrontation.. sad x

claraschu Mon 01-Dec-14 09:28:39

I think you have to have a very frank chat about this with the trainer.

Sorry to be negative, and yes it is a generalisation, but a lot of people who hang around with horses a great deal can be a bit bitchy. I have heard a lot of stories like this one.

springalong Mon 01-Dec-14 09:39:23

Can you observe without being seen? Perhaps drop off, then pretend to drive away but park round the corner. Just see if you can over hear some of the conversation. At least it would give you a flavour of how the day would start. (I know nothing about stables so apologies if this is a silly idea)

molesbreath Mon 01-Dec-14 09:43:20

Bloody hell … how out of order is that !

I wouldn't send my daughter back there. I think what pictures says early sums up all you need to say.

There are plenty of lovely stables around and plenty of wierd ones but you know that already

Haffdonga Mon 01-Dec-14 09:45:55

I don't think you should be angry or upset - yet.

Frankly, a riding stables can be a dangerous and dirty place and a stable manager cannot afford to have lots of little pony-mad children milling around just because ponies are cute. Anyone allowed access to the yard must be following the right health and safety procedures and not getting in the way. It's very fair to say that if dd wants to spend time at the stables she must be there to help. If she's specifically not following instructions she's putting herself and other people (and horses) at risk.

I'd be asking your dd if she actually wants to work in the yard by mucking out etc, or if she just wants to be with the ponies. If she's not so keen on the boring heavy stuff she may be too young.

CleanLinesSharpEdges Mon 01-Dec-14 09:54:12

Haffdonga has said everything I was about to grin.

Not listening and deliberately ignoring instructions in a stables can be dangerous.

If the stables let every 10 y/o that likes to cuddle the ponies hang around there all day they'd be inundated with kids. It's really nice that she wants to spend time there but she needs to be safe and useful while she's there, otherwise, to be honest, she's just an hindrance.

LastingLight Mon 01-Dec-14 09:57:52

She is too young to be hanging out at the stables by herself without supervision. My DD is 12, we own a horse, and I wouldn't let her be at the stables for any length of time unless I'm there. Horses can be dangerous, especially for small children, and the stable manager might simply feel that she is being used as an unpaid babysitter. Sorry OP, I know how horse-mad kids want to be there and nowhere else, but it's not always practical. Are you meeting with the manager?

Haffdonga Mon 01-Dec-14 09:59:30

Think of it as another hazardous workplace (e.g. a restaurant kitchen or a building site). Would you expect an enthusiastic ten year old to be allowed to hang around all day getting in the way just because they loved licking spoons or diggers? Of course not.

Shellybash Mon 01-Dec-14 10:02:50

Hi Haffdonga and CleanLinesSharpEdges

Totally agree with all you've said, but I know my daughter too.. She would never disrespect an adult, and would never deliberately ignore instructions or flaunt rules.

The yard is fairly new (my daughter was one of the first to ride there), so when the trainer asked for helpers, I'd asked if my daughter and I could along, learn bits as we go along, and I've also had my daughter on pony days to learn basic stable management techniques, which she loves.

She's enthusiastic and helpful, but for some reason since the new yard manager started, is suddenly not meeting the standard.

Prior to the new yard manager, all feedback from the trainer had been especially positive.

My dd and yard manager's daughter had a slight debate around 3 weeks ago where the yard manager's daughter was challenged on her behaviour (I didn't even know about this until last week), so i'm seeing a negative connection..


Thank you all for your comments, they're very much appreciated.


SunnyBaudelaire Mon 01-Dec-14 10:03:14

I agree with haffdonga - I have worked in stables and frankly having a load of little girls who cannot lift anything and just want to hang around brushing their favourite pony's mane are a PITA.
Anyway she is too young to be 'helping out'

Shellybash Mon 01-Dec-14 10:07:59

Hi LastingLight

I agree. The younger girls are only allowed to go if there are older and more experienced helpers to help teach and guide them (myself included). I just didn't happen to be there on the times when the issues arose which is rare.

And she's also started going as part of a direct request from the owner since the business is new and there are very few helpers (not enough really to meet the current demand).

I thought we were helping... sad

Thank you for your comment.

LittleBairn Mon 01-Dec-14 10:08:02

That's outrageous she's only 10 and volunteering for 4-8 hours doing physical work that is probably too much in the first place.
I assume you pay for lessons? If so I would find another stables this lot don't sound friendly and I'd resent giving them money when they are whining about a child.

SunnyBaudelaire Mon 01-Dec-14 10:09:14

the stable owner should pay an experienced full timer not rely on child labour anyway

LittleBairn Mon 01-Dec-14 10:10:39

The fact that they are requesting her help and know that she is often unsoervised would worry me about their attitude to health and saftey. I would be wondering what other corners are being cut.

LittleBairn Mon 01-Dec-14 10:11:00


Shellybash Mon 01-Dec-14 10:16:38

Hi SunnyBaudelaire - the owner cannot afford a full time helper, but has a part time yard manager and it's since the yard manager started, we are starting to experience issues. I'm sorry you see enthusiastic yet inexperienced youngsters as the expletive acronym you used. That's disappointing.

Littlebairn, I think I'm starting to see the light. Yes, I pay for lessons, and until a few weeks ago this was a very friendly yard. Now, not so much.. x

SunnyBaudelaire Mon 01-Dec-14 10:19:01

shelly I spent years working in stables and have seen it all.
if someone cannot afford a worker they should not be in business really.
and PITA is hardly an expletive its a description.
Honestly when you have six horses to get ready. feed/ water/ unload a feed truck and there are people who are too weak and young to help, and they are just hanging around pouting and cuddling the horse you need to get ready, PITA would be the least of it.

tazzle22 Mon 01-Dec-14 10:21:20

I can see both sides of this in that at primary age I did v. work at a riding school in return for an accasional ride as my parents could not afford lessons. It was definately hard work.

I have three horses of my own now and often have kids of all ages around the yard in different capacities to "play with " , cuddle or ride them. They are very calm ponies and its a calm place to be..some riding schools are very busy places so anyone doing work there should be very horse aware indeed.

Obviously we dont know the environmetal issues or anything about the yeard bUT what I do know is that if its a BHS reg yard and "goes by the book" then maybe an incoming manager may be having to make changes..... maybe previous one lax on some issues she feels strongly about.

eg some places insist on hats being worn even when handling the pones not just riding... or gloves been worn when leading with lead rope. ... or not going behind a horse.... or having a certain distance etc etc. Many ten year old would have to be reminded of such things anyway never mind if its a change of "standards".

I would for now give manager benefit of doubt and chat.... then maybe come to some sort of agreement about what DD can cope with realistically and safely and for how long.

tbh if they are desperate for help then they should be prepared also to train the volunteers and support them so they can be helpful. I have volunteers at our small charity and I have to realise everyone needs settling in periods and support to do the job. However there is also a responsibility that the volunteer has to be at some point capable of doing the job without close supervision otherwise it does become a responsibility to "look after" that volunteer. In a busy working environment that might not always be possible.

Good luck, I remember how passionate I was at her age x

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