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Should ds change riding instructors?

(10 Posts)
MollieO Sun 24-Oct-10 22:42:18

Ds (6) has been riding for 1.5 years. Very confident. Can walk trot and canter and nearly at the stage to start jumping.

He goes to a local riding stables (BHS approved) with a good reputation. Since he has been there he's had three riding instructors, the latest of whom left recently.

His weekly class has been allocated another instructor. He is the youngest in the class and the smallest. Most of the others are 9.

Since he's been in her class he has been put on a 15.2 horse one week (the instructor didn't swap him with one of the bigger children). The horse spooked and took off, ds handled it well and stayed on.

Today there were just two of them in the lesson. The pony ds was on is well known for being stubborn. After ten minutes the instructor decided that rather than continue with the lesson she would take the two ponies out on the road. The other parent objected and ds was sent off with a trainee because there was nothing else the instructor said she could do (no alternative pony available).

I was surprised she just gave up. Ds came back 20 mins later with still 20 mins of the lesson left. I had to insist he rejoined his class (instructor didn't want him/the pony there).

Five minutes after rejoining the lesson the pony bolted and threw ds against the wooden fence and electric fence (at the top of the wooden fence). Ds very upset and grazed but got up and insisted that he wanted to get back on (which he did with the instructor walking round with him for the last five minutes of the lesson).

I spoke to the riding school owner and the instructor and was pleased that the owner agreed with me that ds shouldn't have been sent out of the lesson because his pony was being difficult. She said the instructor should have put side reins on the pony and got a helper.

Not sure what to do going forward. This instructor has been allocated the usual class ds is in but from what I've seen she isn't anywhere near the ability of his previous instructors.

What would you do? Stick with the class and hope the instructor has learnt from this incident and the previous one, or see if we can find an alternative class/instructor?

NightFury Mon 25-Oct-10 11:00:22

A difficult one. I'd probably try to get into a different class and see if another instructor would be better. Or even try a different riding school with a lower rate of turnover in instructors. It's been a while since I have been in the UK but 3 instructors in 1.5 years seems quite a lot to me.

MollieO Mon 25-Oct-10 15:30:19

First instructor left to join the army, second got a shoulder injury and has had to give up riding for a while, third decided to go travelling.

I've paid for lessons in advance so we have 9 of the current block left to take. I'm minded to use them for ds to have private lessons (1 hr class lesson = 30 min private lesson) and see if he improves enough to join the walk trot canter jumping class. At the moment there isn't another weekend class that is suitable.

He is happy to stay with that instructor but I think we've had two lucky escapes and I don't want a third. Ds hasn't had problems in lessons with the other instructor and the same ponies which makes me question this instructor.

NightFury Mon 25-Oct-10 15:36:57

I think your idea of going with the private lessons is very sensible.

MollieO Mon 25-Oct-10 15:50:38

Just called the stables and spoke to another instructor who know ds. No other class is suitable for him. I've signed him up for a private lesson this week with an instructor who takes a walk/trot/canter class which ds isn't currently experienced enough for (they canter without stirrups, which ds can't do yet). She knows ds (in fact everyone there knows ds as there are so few boys who ride) and will be able to give me an indication of how far off he is ability-wise from being able to join her class.

He is very sociable so enjoys being part of a class but I'm happy to wait until he is good enough to join that one.

I happy to stay with this riding school as the horses and ponies are well looked after and it's a well run yard.

JRsandCoffee Wed 17-Nov-10 18:18:28

Just read this - how did it go MollieO?

Hope you managed to sort out, does sound like the new instructor just wasn't experienced enough to deal with problems. Hope it all worked out. I was so cross reading the posts as I've spent a lot of time teaching children to ride and was frustrated/ annoyed on your behalf - when he's doing so well you want them to continue to go well and not have someone mess it up! Hope it all worked out and he's enjoying the private lessons/ new class!

MollieO Fri 19-Nov-10 12:49:02

He is having private lessons with an instructor I trust with a view to him joining her class when he is able. He needs to be able to canter without stirrups to join the class. He is nearly there so I reckon early in the new year. Fortunately his experience hasn't put him off riding at all.

JRsandCoffee Sat 20-Nov-10 13:23:46

Hurrah! Good to hear smile

dappleton Thu 25-Nov-10 09:24:10

Was just reading through this and just wanted to say i'm glad you've now found a solution to your problem and it is important to have an instructor you and more importantly, your son, trusts.

However, perhaps i've missed something, but it seems the instructor herself doesn't select which pony a child gets to ride at your stables - in which case all she can do is make the best of the situation if a pony is being less than co-operative. If she had have done what you and the yard owner suggest and kept your son in the lesson with a difficult pony and a 'leader' your son most probably would have felt inadequate as a rider that he couldn't deal with the situation himself and frustrated that he couldn't have done everything that the other child was doing (and from the other view point the other child probably would have learnt very little as the instructors attention would have been focused on your son and the problems his pony was creating)- going out on the road diffuses the situation, keeps the children happy and confident and still teaches them a lot of new techniques, really the only mistake the instructor made was not standing-up to the other parent who blocked her from making a good decision (the other parents probably know little about horses and should have had things better explained to them). Ponies are not always perfect and can have their bad days - part of the instructors job is to spot potential problems before they arise, no instructor can tell a 6yr old 'your pony looks loopy today and is likely to bolt so we can't continue with the lesson' but this is probably what she is thinking when she says 'your pony is a bit stubborn today as he/she is in a bit of a bad mood so how about we go for a fun ride out on the roads to make him/her happy' - child never knows the difference, keeps loving ponies, remains confident and next time a different pony can be used!

As a parent of a child learning to ride please remember not every pony is perfect and even the good ones have their bad days, we learn from these bad days as much as the good days!

MollieO Tue 30-Nov-10 21:15:43

The pony ds is always stubborn but other instructors have managed him previously (as has ds). I was left with the feeling that the instructor didn't want to bother to try to manage this particular pony. Sending my son out on the road being led by a trainee isn't acceptable, especially when the trainee came back 20 mins before the end of the lesson and didn't want to ask the instructor what she should do with ds.

The instructor did actually say at the beginning of the lesson that the pony had been a problem all day and we were only 5 minutes in when she decided that a lead lesson out on the road was the only option. If she had genuinely made an effort I would have no problem but the fact that she clearly didn't want to bother was extremely frustrating.

I agree with you about the other parent. The lesson should have stayed together. Ds didn't want to go out on the road and said he felt pushed out.

I also had a problem that she didn't switch him off the 15.2 horse in a previous lesson and let one of the girls twice his size ride it instead (another instructor had a word with her when she found out that ds had been allocated a 15.2 horse and the instructor had done nothing about it - the instructors allocate the ponies to the riders - apparently ds was confused with a 12 yr old of the same first name).

Fortunately the incident worked in ds's favour. He is making huge progress with another instructor and is now too advanced for that class.

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