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If your DCs help out at a yard how much riding do they get?

(33 Posts)
emlu67 Thu 13-Jun-13 20:45:08

DD (8) has been helping for a few months at a private yard but doesn't ride every time and I wondered if this was normal. If she does a full day then she will almost always ride but usually only for a short time and if she does a couple of hours after school quite often it is just poo picking etc and no riding at all.

She has recently had a couple of falls (nothing serious thankfully) and the owners are wary about her losing confidence, however she will never get it back and improve if she is not doing much riding and in her own words the lack of riding is destroying her confidence more than anything else! She works really hard and never complains as she loves horses so much.

HindsightisaMarvellousThing Tue 18-Jun-13 21:50:44

I thought it was normal in riding schools, for children to help out for the day and receive a free lesson?

The local riding school here takes them from 7 or 8 years old for the morning, longer hours when they are older, and the girls poo pick, clean buckets, fill hay nets and progress onto leading ponies in the indoor school, getting the ponies in from the fields and tacking up when they get a bit older.

One free lesson per session of helping was the general rule, and the older girls often get more riding than this as they are brought in to help demonstrate stuff or be lead file in junior lessons too.

OP in your position I'd have a chat to the yard owners and see if you can agree a set rate of exchange for help i.e. all day = one lesson, two afterschool sessions = 1 lesson. Then you'd all know where you are.

SlowlorisIncognito Thu 20-Jun-13 18:08:27

Hindsight that is pretty rare now.

At most of the riding schools I have known, it is normal for children to have a paid for hour lesson and spend the day at the stables doing stable management. Often older girls or adult helpers will teach them stable management skills, and many children enjoy being allowed to brush the ponies and so on. They also learn poo-picking/mucking out is part of taking care of a horse.

As they get older, and more useful to the riding school, it is more common for them to be offered extra riding (although most still pay for a lesson). This may range from acting as a "backmarker" on a hack (although usually only at 16+ if on the roads) to riding as lead file for less experienced lessons, to schooling younger/new horses (obviously only if their riding is up to the job!). Sometimes a completely free lesson or hack will be thrown in if they have helped with children's shows/parties/whatever, or the owner is just feeling generous.

7-8 is usually pretty much the minimum age that riding schools will allow child helpers, as before this children pretty much need constant adult supervision around horses. At 8, I would expect fairly inexperienced children to be constantly supervised around the horses by older teenagers/adults- by this I don't mean in the stable with them, but near enough that if the child shouts for help they will be heard.

Obviously, on a private yard, things will be a bit different, and there may not be any older helpers to supervise. I don't think this arrangement sounds brilliant, and your daughter may be better off going to a proper (BHS approved/PC centre) riding school, where you pay for lessons, and she does some supervised stable management. If cost is an issue, perhaps she could alternate weeks between this and the private yard?

Sorry this has turned into such a mega long post, but I do feel your daughter is being a bit exploited and may not be entirely safe in your current arrangement.

poachedeggs Thu 20-Jun-13 18:23:52

At 10 I worked 8am til finish (so after 6 sometimes) every day of the holidays plus weekends and after school at times. It was bloody hard work, walking miles to catch up ponies, grooming, pulling ragwort, mucking out, tack cleaning, hauling hay and buckets around, and by the end of the day I was shattered. We would get to ride out once or twice a fortnight plus occasional bareback rides at the end of the day. I paid for my lessons.

It was absolutely formative and an incredibly valuable experience. love it if my children had treat such an opportunity.

Pixel Thu 20-Jun-13 18:31:28

I remember when the helpers got free rides whenever a pony needed shoeing as they got to ride them to the forge and back. Mobile farriers have a lot to answer for wink.

Orchardbeck Sat 20-Jul-13 11:48:39

I used to help out at a riding school from 11 onwards, my mum couldn't afford riding lessons every week but occasionally I paid for a half hour session out of my saved pocket money. It was hard work! We led beginners in lessons, tacked up, swept constantly, cleaned tack, filled water buckets, from 7.30 til 5pm. I wasn't asked to do this work, I chose to do it, and I was pretty independent so it wasn't a case of my parents getting rid of me for the day/ free childminding.

The best part was, if you proved your worth and were there early enough, you got to ride the riding school ponies in from the field (bareback, ride one, lead one) and home again. I remember watching for months with hope until the day came when I was asked to do this, and I was over the moon!

I also got asked to ride ponies as a hacking partner when the yard was schooling young ponies/ horses, again I was so honoured to do this.

I think people expect too much of yards these days - insurance is so expensive, some kids aren't proactive and need supervision all of the time and it isn't fair to expect yards to do it for free.

When I got my own horses and kept them at home, one of my parents' friends asked if they could brin their 11yo daughter to ride, as a one off. I didn't have much say in this and it snowballed in to a weekly thing where they would drop her off each week so they could go golfing...! They were quite forceful! She was not the kind of child you could leave unsupervised either.

Littlebigbum Sat 20-Jul-13 15:18:36

oh that is naughty

Pumpkinette Sun 21-Jul-13 01:27:27

I helped out at a riding school from age 9 to11 until I got my own pony. I was there every Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 to 4:30 or 7:00 to 7:30 in the summer when they done evening rides. I got to ride occasionally but certainly not every week, maybe about 30 mins once a month if I was lucky. I didn't do it for the riding (although that was a bonus), I done it to learn horse care. Looking back I suppose it was a huge amount of free labour - Feeding, mucking out, grooming, tacking up, yard brushing, stacking hay bales, leading the ponies for a full hour on beginner lessons, tack cleaning etc.
Our yard was also very strict on attendance, if you missed anymore than 2 weekends in a row then you where out as they had a waiting list of kids wanting to help.

So to answer the question I don't think it's unusual for a child to not get to ride every time. I think if you could get your daughter maybe a half hour lesson once a week or even a fortnight on top of her riding for helping out she will learn a lot faster than relying on a half hour every now and then.

If she is at a private yard then the chances are she isn't really being taught to ride as such, more having a shot of someones horse without proper instruction. If she's fallen off a couple of times already then she is either been encouraged to do too much too soon or is not getting taught proper balance / position etc or even the horse she is riding might not be suitable for a beginner. (I am just speculating here anyone can fall off and I don't know the ins and outs of the yard set up but from the outside that's what it looks like to me)

PoshPenny Sun 21-Jul-13 11:16:40

Sorry but I think this absolutely sucks. Slave labour, who cares, when they suss it out there's plenty more where that one came from sad sad

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