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Pony Club trainer threw a bottle at DD's pony yesterday at training. Normal? New to this pony lark so please be gentle!

(24 Posts)
needastrongone Fri 26-Apr-13 09:46:57

Ok, here I go!

DD who is 11 has ridden ponies most of the life in an ad-hoc manner as we live semi rurally and the best friend lives on a farm. She is used to doing all the tacking up, feeding, going on a hack (if that's the right term), doing games in the field etc. We know nothing.

She never showed the level of required commitment to loan or own her own pony until this last winter, when she demonstrated this by going down to the farm every evening and helping the other girls bring the ponies in from the field and all the relevant associated tasks. Every night without fail.

So, we now loan one of the farm ponies but all concerned recognise this is short term as, while she's reasonably easy to handle and steady, if DD wishes to compete, there's only so far we can go on her. Pony hasn't competed for a long time but used to, she's a touch stroppy in this new environment and set in her ways. Good to get her used to it for a few months then we will buy our own.

So, Pony Club is new to us and effectively the pony too. We've been to training about 4/5 times and competed in a friendly once.

Said pony played up a bit last night I think. The trainers called her stroppy, ill mannered and naughty but I think tried to give DD ways to handle her. Not sure, here and need to get to the bottom of this.

The thing I can't quite reconcile in my mind is that the lead trainer threw a bottle at the pony to make her move. Surely that's not right in any capacity? I wouldn't do this to my dog and I certainly wouldn't expect one of my kids teachers to do this at school!!

DD came back from training distraught tbh, tired, in tears and worried she can't handle the pony. We are paying and have paid to date a lot of money to equip her properly for PC.

I know the pony isn't perfect but she does have a lot of redeeming features, I have painted rather a bleak picture! Surely the PC trainers should be helping her handle this, as they do at the farm using really positive methods for pony and child?

Or am I totally off tangent here? Please tell me!

cq Fri 26-Apr-13 09:53:39

Totally agree that's not right, under ANY circumstances. The trainer does not know the pony, it could have had a complete fit at having something thrown at it like that, and your DD could have had a nasty fall. Not to mention all the other ponies in the class being upset by it.

To the pony's credit she did none of the above.

I would go and speak to the trainer(s) in person and find out why they did it. It is the most frustrating thing in the world to try and teach a child on a stubborn pony but if they haven't got the patience then they shouldn't be in that job.

Sadly these days it seems as if an awful lot of kids get bought top-notch 'push-button' riding ponies. If your DD can persevere and win through with this lovely little character, then she will be by far the better rider in the long run.

Littlebigbum Fri 26-Apr-13 11:21:43

That was putting your child in danger.
I agree with Cq no that is not normal.

Callisto Fri 26-Apr-13 12:25:21

That is seriously out of order, I would be extremely cross if anyone under any circumstances chucked anything at one of DD's ponies. I would have spoken to the instructor and also whoever organised the rally and possibly the DC if I had no joy from the first two. It could have caused a serious accident and I am aghast that the instructor thought it was an acceptable thing to do.

As for the pony, it is hard to say, but a difficult pony will teach your DD so much more than a push-button. I too would persevere. Can you get her some private lessons or get the pony schooled by someone competent?

mrslaughan Fri 26-Apr-13 12:34:53

Hhhmmmm - I think is really dangerous.
I ride at a busy riding school -, the most I have seen instructors do us flap there arms abit at the more stubborn ponies, you don't see them with a lunging whip, or throw things at the ponies......
But then there attitude is all ponies have strengths and weakness's and you have to learn to ride the pony effectively.
If you threw something at my mare she would probably kick out at you - it would be counter productive to getting her to do what you want.
Can you ask around an find out if there are any instructors that could either come to you, or you could hack too, so your dd can have some one to one lessons.
I am a novice - but in my experience there is the theory of how you ride, and then how you have to ride a particular horse..... Maybe your dd could do with some help as to how to ride this pony - and throwing a bottle of water at it, is most certainly not it
[quietly horrified shock]
Can you find

needastrongone Fri 26-Apr-13 12:58:12

Thanks all for the replies. I hadn't thought about the danger aspect.

Just to clarify, which I should have done initially, the owner of the pony gives her lessons each week. She also took the trouble to come to the first competition, to see how DD and pony got on. She corrected some issues from that but all in a very positive way. DD was enthused.

Owner and owners sister have big issues with the local PC, which I won't go into here, mainly the way it's run and how the trainer is with the children sometimes. Owner of our pony was the trainer there for years. It's pretty complicated and not 100% relevant to my issue. They have raised these issues before but they are so long established at the branch that I think they are viewed as moaning old timers. Both are livid and suggested the DC but I wanted objective opinion too, which I now have.

I did play it that way with DD (ie, stick with it, you will learn more from this pony, think how you will feel when you have mastered her etc) but she's a 'sticker' anyway iyswim? At the recent event, the pony was really good actually in most races but got put in an event with cones, she's not keen on cones! DD perservered when the pony refused to go near (you had to place a ball on the cone as you will all probably know), every other team had finished, everyone was watching and she tried and tried and tried until the pony complied and I was proud of this attitude. This week, our owner worked particularly with her on future tactics!

Thanks smile I really pissed of today tbh, seeing her confidence knocked.

Mirage Fri 26-Apr-13 13:56:43

Both dds go to PC and the CI teaches them at home.I have never seen an instructor throw anything or hit a pony,no matter how naughty they are being.I'd be raising the matter with the CI or DC.Good on your DD for getting her to do what she wanted in the end.

The other posters are right,a pony that knows it's own mind will teach your dd so much.We have one,can be stubborn,moody,grumpy,strong willed,but once you get to know her and what makes her tick,there is nothing she won't do for you.An instructor once told me that she was pure gold and a rare find,but I'm well aware that there is an instructor at our PC who does not like dpony at all.It gives me great pleasure that DD1 does so well on her because it has taught her that hard work,determination and perseverance pay off in the end.

Let us know what

Pixel Fri 26-Apr-13 19:02:04

I had a lesson at our local riding school once. First of all the instructor threw her cup of coffee at a pony (the whole thing, cup and all), then as I attempted my first ever jump she hit the pony with a lunge whip, it bucked on landing which resulted in my first ever fall too!
This was 36ish years ago so I'm guessing she'd be in her late fifties now, it couldn't be her could it? wink.

Dreadful way to behave of course, which is why we never went back, but I suppose with PC it's not so simple.

WillowKnicks Fri 26-Apr-13 21:49:42

If a child who is usually happy to learn & can take criticism is in tears IMO that is not right. At the end of the day, I just want my DD to have fun with her riding & everything else is secondary.

My dd does pony club & I have never seen anything remotely like this happen!!

SlowlorisIncognito Sat 27-Apr-13 18:36:05

I am amazed by this. Pony club are normally quite up on safety so I would definately be reporting the instructor to someone higher up. It could have potentially spooked all the ponies in the group (assuming this was a group lesson?) which could have ended in disaster. I have worked and volunteered at a few riding schools and none of them would ever do anything like this, at most they might use a lunge whip in a controlled manner (not touching the horse).

As your daughter is only 11, it is setting a bad example of how to behave around horses too. If I were you I would be trying to improve my own knowledge, so that I would know such things were wrong and be able to step in on future occasions.

I also hate it when intructors put down horses they don't really know. Some horses do change in new situations, and when it is someone's much loved pony, that's not always the right thing to do.

Booboostoo Sat 27-Apr-13 22:23:41

I've never heard of an instructor chuck a bottle at a pony, although I have known instructors successfully use a lunge whip (as long as you really know the pony and how it will react). Aside from anything else the bottle thing does not sound like a very effective training method - the pony would either ignore it or freak out at it.

The more worrying thing though is that your DD returned from her lesson upset and disheartened. It sounds like this was mostly down to the instructor's attitude rather than actual problems with the pony! I would avoid this PC/instructor and see if there is another option in your area.

tazzle Sat 27-Apr-13 23:34:13

Throwing object at any equine to get it to go near objects new to it ( you said not keen on cones) or it finds scary is a recipe for disaster and instructor ( well not that I would call her that) was lucky pone did not spook and ditch your dd. I too would be having words with senior level pc folk !

I find using positive reinforcement far more effective in getting pones cooperation .

Well done to your dd for sticking with it... as she gets mix of rides on well schooled pones as well as others this will definitely teach dd more.. imo everyone should ride a good pone to find out what's achievable so they are inspired to go learn how to get other pones to do it and be good riders.

Echo others.. stay away from that pc clubfif that person in charge.

needastrongone Sun 28-Apr-13 11:22:54

Thank you for your kind observations thus far.

Firstly. Agree completely that I need to learn more myself and get more involved. This will happen for sure. We had initially loaned this pony mainly for informal hacks and for DD to have her 'own' pony at the farm. Then she showed an interest in pony club and it's sort of snowballed before I have had a chance to catch up! Plus, no excuse but, DS plays a lot of Rugby and we have a heavy commitment to this. Season is over today, which frees me up even more to involve myself now.

I telephoned the DC after reflection. I am not sure of the response I got tbh. She called me back after speaking to the trainers. These are the things she said.

1. I wasn't there that evening, with a sort of inference to my mind that I should have been. I wasn't there because we tow a two pony trailer with our friends who have a DD with a pony, they offered this week to take DD as I was on rugby duty and DH was away. In addition, another lady who is extremely experienced took her ponies from the farm too and parked next to trailer, so I felt safe that there were enough responsible adults there to help. I think DD's pony went on a trundle as DD let go of her reins stupidly though. I accept fully I need to know more and be involved as a fair and valid observation though. I am not sure what this has to do with the incident tbh.

2. The reason the bottle was thrown was because the pony was napping (sp) back and the trainer needed to stop her before she backed into others. She shouted, then threw a bottle. DD was on the pony at the time. DC considered this acceptable.

3. The intructors don't have time in a multi pony lesson to devote specific time to each individual pony and it may not be this pony will be suitable for an inexperienced rider. The girls all assure me that DD's pony was actually quite good on Thursday and she can be more of a monkey than this. They know the pony inside out, she's been on the farm all her life, so I believe them.

4. Next time, please telephone the parental liason officer in the first instance.

I accepted this, given lack of knowledge, feeling rather that I have blackened our name already and relayed the conversation to the pony's owner. She STILL didn't think this was ever acceptable for a variety of reasons, questioned why the trainer didn't just grab the pony and advise the others what she was about to do, thought this was dangerous for DD and telephoned the DC herself, making her feelings clear. I think they have sort of agreed to disagree. But she's coming to training next week herself to observe!!

Yesterday, our pony's owner organised an informal rally at the farm with her new PC branch, as I mentioned there's history at the other branch! She could see DD was very upset and let her join in with her friend and a couple of 'borrowed' riders. The pony behaved beautifully and they came 3rd. DD was so happy, even if the standard wasn't that high, it doesn't matter. This branch seems so much more informal and supportive but I have shelled out a shed load of money already for kits etc and all her friends are at the other branch and I am not sure she would like to move anyway.

Happy for your observation and critical comment. I accept fully I need to learn more, I got loads of jobs to do at the rally yesterday, spent the day there and loved it but I felt I could ask daft questions lol!!

miggy Sun 28-Apr-13 11:45:46

Honestly Id move. Some PC branches are just full of old guard seriously scarey older ladies or competitive bitchy mums. really sounds like you have stumbled into one of those sadly!
only sweatshirts etc will actually be different so wont cost much compared to your poor daughter being put off or put down.
This is not anti PC, some are lovely full of helpful supportive people. DS left our branch last year only becase his particular sport is only taken up to age 15 in PC.
I always remember one particular competition where I was line judging (bit like referreing) having given up my day to do so. It was a scorching hot day and I had shorts on and during the course of the afternoon could feel my legs burning! There was a group of parents sitting behind me from one well known PC branch of hell.They disagreed with a decision I made and sent the rest of the afternoon bitching loudly right behind me (with my dd at in front of them mortified) about how stupid I was and laughing at my "clown legs" oul really not have wanted to be in that coven (sorry branch!)

taurusmum85 Sun 28-Apr-13 22:02:48

HI iv had horses all my life and trained some very difficult ones and throwing a bottle at a pony for napping will not stop it happening again it just spooks the horse and rider and does nothing positive. If it naps it's a schooling issue which should be concentrated on with both your child and pony together because if your child can't stop the pony doing this on her own it can get quite dangerous. Once your child has more lessons and can control the pony better without a bottle being thrown to 'help' she will do really well in competitions.

bargainlil Mon 29-Apr-13 12:06:12

I am going to visiting family in north Wales and Chester later this week, and wondered if anyone knows if there are any good equestrian shops nearby that we can stock up on some horsey and rider stuff?
My DD needs new jod boots, jods, show jacket, show shirt etc and would also like to look at head collars, spurs, saddle cloths etc.
I know of Horse and Country in Wrexham and will be calling in there but just wondered if there are any others hidden away that I could get to within an hour or so of North Wales and Chester?

frostyfingers Mon 29-Apr-13 17:10:05

Not only do I not like the sound of the bottle throwing in the first place, the conversation with the DC puts me off even more. They should be helpful, willing, encouraging and pleased that your DD is with them, not so judgy and snooty sounding.

Branches can be a very mixed bag (bit like schools really) and some have lovely friendly people, and others do not.......I would encourage your DD to attend the one she had more fun at, she will learn much better where she is happy. If she's happy then the pony will be and you will be too - it's a no brainer!

SimLondon Mon 29-Apr-13 22:15:58

Im quite shocked by this, and also by the fact that the reasons she gave you just aren't reasonable. I would be complaining loudly and looking for an alternative branch.

Booboostoo Tue 30-Apr-13 07:05:58

That is a ashockingly inadequate amswer!

1. What does you not being there have to do with the quality of the lesson?

2. A pony that naps into others can be dangerous and it may be that it is unsuitable for group lessons at the moment but throwing a bottle at it won't stop it napping! It sounds more like the instructor panicked so maybe showing her inexperience?

3. OK it is possible that this pony is not suitable for group lessons but your child is not the right person to discuss this with! The instructor should have contacted you and discussed her concerns.

4. Fair enough but this procedural issue is not really relevant to their either their responsibility to teach effectively or respond to complaints.

If I were you I would change PCs without a second thought.

needastrongone Tue 30-Apr-13 10:01:41

Oh dear!

I am such a novice at all this. The ethos seems so alien to Rugby Union, which my DS has been involved in forever, so inclusive and team building.

We got an email today to say this weeks training is only for those girls competing at the areas at the weekend. Is that normal? I know it's not for rugger but I also don't want to compare the two disciplines.

DD will not want to move I know. Our friends stick it out by agreeing with all the trainers say at training then doing all their own training at home! But I will move if I have to and I feel that's best for sure, no one is saying to my DD what they called my friends DD at the weekend for making a mistake but that's another story smile

Life seemed very simple a couple of months ago smile

TackedOff Tue 30-Apr-13 13:12:17

That is NOT normal. Your pony club doesn't sound very nice.

Having said that, I finally took the dds to a lesson with 'THE' trainer, that EVERYONE at our PC has last weekend. She was opinionated and really dislikes my friends childs pony. Someone told me that she often punches the ponies on the nose to show them who's boss. I quite seriously said that if she did that I would punch HER on the nose (ok I wouldnt have but I would have made an enormous fuss about it).

If you don't want to move (and I would), then you need to go and watch at pony club for a while. I don't see why being more knowledgeable would make throwing a bottle at a pony any more acceptable (it really really isnt).

Are there any riding clubs in your area as our local one is very much less snobby and cliquey than our pony club.

miggy Tue 30-Apr-13 17:05:03

Needastrongone-PC treasurer once told me a good joke

"whats the difference between a pony club mum and a terrorist ?

...You can negotiate with a terrorist!"

Good luck smile
We are all here for you smile

notquiteruralbliss Wed 01-May-13 13:14:37

I'd be incredibly unimpressed with the instructor. And with the DC. I once had a problem with something that happened to one of my ponies @ camp & called up about it, making clear that it nothing similar was to happen again. I was taken seriously & the problem didn't re-occur.

CountryCob Thu 02-May-13 14:29:41

Sounds like the pony is much more of a keeper than the trainer! If the pony doesn't kick off or drop your child when having a bottle thrown at it then it did very well on being a safe, sane and responsible ride, which I value above most other things in an animal you are riding, certainly on the roads.

Its not just the impact - its the shock of something wissing through the air at it that means some ponies would have run for the hills and this trainer, for all of her confidence, could have no idea what was going to happen next, don't let her fool you on that! It is likely that the bond your child has built up with this pony and its steady personality saved the day.

It is important to remember that this is a hobby and meant to be fun. Unfortunately the horsey world does have some megalomanic and cruel people around, they just bully to get what they want and do end up looking good as they have removed all who disagree with them, including the animals who won't comply. If I know the type then in other circumstances they are probably quite a good trainer so others will have different experiences but they are ultimately hugely domineering, with a touch of frustration that they never made it big. They will argue black is white so you may not get anywhere with them but that does not mean you are not the best judge of what is right for your child and their pony, whether you are horsey or not.

If this is a solid and safe pony your child enjoys which can do most of the things that your kid wants to do then they are better in all but the most ambitious circles than a talented animal that is unpredictable, if you swapped the pony too early for a flashy but scary animal you couldn't trust you may rue the day you parted as it sounds like you have done very well on the first pony, they are not all like that. Its great that your child has got the talent and commitment to want to compete but if she ever decides just to do a bit of everything, look after her pony and have fun with games and hacking that is great too. Once you get involved with PC etc sometimes it can seem like the only valid thing to do with horsey is to push for as many prizes as possible until you are out of your league but there is a lot of that now in a kid's life and if she has being having fun up to now then it would be good to try and keep that as well and appreciate the value of it, keeping the competing etc in perspective and dumping the horrible bully trainer before she tries to convince you the problem is the pony if you are happy with the pony. My friend's PC trainer convinced her that a seriously difficult ride was the best horse for her, it was drugged when she tried it and they went with the trainers recommendation. Horsey was a lovable nightmare and if my friend hadn't quickly become a hugely talented rider to match then she could have been seriously injured. I am sorry that you are starting to see the nasty side to the horsey world, most of us are decent. By all means take advice but do not let them others try to convince you they know best, go with your instinct which clearly worked well this time to tell you that throwing bottles at ponies is not ok. Sorry for the essay and good luck!

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