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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.

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

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)

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

oh that is naughty

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

umbrunion Tue 18-Jun-13 13:52:50

Of course children fall off but beginners, on good ponies in supervised, decent lessons, shouldn't fall off regularly. I am presuming she's walking and trotting and building confidence rather than jumping. I think my oldest dd fell off once in 5 years of lessons! Younger dds have fallen off more but they have their own, sometimes naughty, ponies.

SimLondon Mon 17-Jun-13 21:27:25

I dont think it's an ideal situation really, have you looked into pony club centres?

dappleton Mon 17-Jun-13 12:51:44

emlu - I agree with a lot of these other posts, at 8yrs old they are effectivley providing you with a free baby-sitting service, to give your daughter free rides as well would be asking a bit much I think. She needs some lessons- which they would not be unfair to ask you to pay for - horses are expensive to keep and stable yards are businesses. It is however great that they provide her with supervised experience around horses at such a young age, she will be learning so much.
I also think it's crazy of whoever suggested an 8yr old should never have fallen off a pony - how would anyone ever guarentee that - i'd ignore that advice if I was you, but she will need to keep riding to keep her confidence up.

starfishmummy Sat 15-Jun-13 16:57:42

I am a bit confused by the original post - surely as a parent you would have made the arrangements with the owner?

emlu67 Sat 15-Jun-13 16:46:50

She is fairly well supervised and of course there are limits as to how helpful she can be at that age which I do appreciate. I have taken out insurance for her from the outset and hopefully as she does get older she will need less supervision and be able to ride a bit more. Thanks for your thoughts.

fishoutofchlorinatedwater Sat 15-Jun-13 14:20:41

I teach RDA and we have a team of "junior" helpers who come along (for 2/3 hour sessions once a week). We don't take children under 10 - they would need too much supervision and frankly wouldn't be much help. Between 10 and 14 they are allocated jobs to do (poo picking, tack cleaning, some grooming, possibly tacking up, maybe, for the children who are nearer 14, warming up ponies on the lead rein) under close supervision. We properly train them not do these jobs, and that is the reward - a bit of stable management experience. No riding at all (we can't really open the floodgates here!). To be honest, most of the younger children get bored and stop coming fairly quickly, but there's really not much useful that a child of that age can be asked to do in a horsey environment without adult supervision. We love having them as part of the team, and hope that in time they will become full helpers, but in the short term they do need to stick to the dull jobs in order for us to keep them safe. I'd be really wary of letting your 8 year old help out on a yard, she'd need supervised so closely that I'm not sure it would actually be a help.

BeQuicksieorBeDead Sat 15-Jun-13 11:35:39

I used to help at a yard from about ten onwards. To start with I think it was more a case of them babysitting me for free every day over the summer hols, as the most I could do was poo picking, mucking out a bit and filling haynets. I loved every minute even though I seldom got a free ride. I imagine what my mum would have paid a child minder would have bankrupted her if I hadn't been at the yard.

As I got older, stronger and more useful, I got a ride everyday. Sometimes more, if they had lots of liveries to exercise. The work was very hard but it really did me good. And kept me out of trouble! But I couldnt have done it at eight years old, I would have been too much trouble to the owners and I suspect would have been put off horses by not being able to do much more than poo picking.

lovebeansontoast Sat 15-Jun-13 11:24:53

Just a question. What is the insurance situation given her age? I know when I had sharers for my horse I wouldn't take anyone under 16 as I didn't want to be responsible for them (duty of care). I remember having a 14 year old only because her mum came with her every time. It was a big livery yard and she had a great time chatting to other mums and grooming various horses. Who is responsible if anything happens to your daughter? Do you have anything in writing?

mrslaughan Sat 15-Jun-13 11:23:47

Sorry - falling off is part of riding, we all hate the thought of it, but i would almost guarantee you that it is not the ponies fault.
Children become unbalanced haul on the ponies mouth - they panic (they are an animal not a machine)...... Accidents happen. Only way to guarantee no falls is to stay on lead rein, an then she will not learn to ride.
Sorry but your expectations with regard to falling are completely unrealistic.

MummyMastodon Sat 15-Jun-13 10:37:46

Gosh, she's very young. I can't imagine she does that much useful work.

I used to lead ponies on hacks (on foot) all day after mucking out and grooming, and the great reward was to ride a pony back to the field bareback at the end of the day (about 15 min ride, no hat). We used to get shouted and sworn at and generally treated like crap.

What were my parents thinking ?

Donki Sat 15-Jun-13 10:29:00

Umbrunion Even on the most well regulated of yards, 'tis not possible to guarantee no falls. I agree that an 8 year old should not be put onto a naughty pony (or asked to do things that they are not ready for), but short of velcroing them on you cannot always prevent someone from losing their balance, or anticipate an unexpected noise making a normally steady pony shy.

By all means, make riding as safe as you can - but if you don't want your child to ever fall off, don't let them ride.

umbrunion Fri 14-Jun-13 23:50:42

She had a couple of falls! She shouldn't have any falls at 8 if not riding naughty ponies.

umbrunion Fri 14-Jun-13 23:48:16

shock shock She's EIGHT. I think that's awful. get her some proper lessons. My oldest dd used to stay all day at the stables but I paid 30 quid and she had two 45 min rides as well as doing pony club badges. She did plenty of hard labour but it was done to teach her properly rather than free labour!

Floralnomad Fri 14-Jun-13 20:47:26

I doubt they see her as free child labour ,TBH an 8 yr old could be considered quite a liability on a yard ( particularly if they've not grown up with horses so are not yard savvy IYSWIM) . I think you're lucky you've found someone willing to have her at all at that age.

emlu67 Fri 14-Jun-13 20:42:51

Thanks everyone, DD is 8 and not 18 but it does seem that youngsters are taken advantage of in general simply because of their love of horses and can be easily replaced. We are not in a position to buy or loan so this was the next best thing and she does love it but I can't bear the thought of them regarding her as free child labour sad

emlu67 Fri 14-Jun-13 20:34:30

Thanks everyone, DD is 8 and not 18 but it does seem that youngsters are taken advantage of in general simply because of their love of horses and can be easily replaced. We are not in a position to buy or loan so this was the next best thing and she does love it but I can't bear the thought of them regarding her as free child labour sad

Littlebigbum Fri 14-Jun-13 13:05:01

One thing is crazy show pony owners are desperate for little jockeys, think you might have to look for the right yard/owner.

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