Is this riding school any good(7 Posts)
DD 8 has started riding. Few day camps over the summer and now weekly 1/2 hr lessons with 2 older girls, about 10 and 12; she has had 3 of these lessons. They are all very confident. Lessons seem to consist of a few ‘round the worlds’, A LOT of walking between letters in the arena (apparently to learn to turn ) and maybe 3 laps of trotting. This seems a painfully slow, not to mention hideously expensive (£17 a time), way to learn to ride. Is this normal? I can ride, learned on friends ponies, no formal lessons and can easily and safely manage a fast hack. I have some other reservations regarding the stables, but they are 4 minutes from our house and next closest is 1/2 hr. Thoughts from anyone appreciated.
I have some other reservations regarding the stables
The rest of the post I don’t see a problem with as such. To learn to ride properly, with correct position, correct contact with the mouth and the horse going well takes a lot if time in walk.
Like you I learned of friends ponies, was fine off on hacks and jumping etc. Wasn’t until I started work at a top class yard I realised I was doing everything wrong, which was no good for the horse at all. Took 6 months of riding walk and trot to fix my habits and the difference in the horses was huge.
So. As an ex instructor if they are walking and trotting because they need to learn the basics of dressage I’d be fine. If it’s done out if laziness and crowd control, not so fine.
Learning to do things well is often painfully slow. But also for kids it does have to be fun as well.
I’m not there. But your comment about other things on the yard are concerning.
The ponies seem very bored. I get that you need to learn on bomb proof ponies, but they just seem a bit disinterested.
They are generally very disorganized. Last week dd missed 10 minutes of her lesson because we were told to wait for the instructor at reception, turns out lesson had already started, and then I was asked to ‘go and grab a pony’ for dd. Surely they should have a pony ready and shouldn’t be asking a parent to get what they need for their lessons.
Over the summer we went on a picnic ride. Dds pony spooked (was on a lead rein, so didn’t get far). DD decided she didn’t want to ride home. I said I’d call a friend to come and collect dd, but my offer was declined. Instead they put dd plus 2 other young girls in the double front seat of one of their pick up trucks and took them back to the yard- not even enough seat belts, never mind car seats. It was about 2 miles on country roads. I know I should have said no, but I felt cornered- my opportunity to get a friend to collect DD had passed and if I’d insisted it would have delayed an already cold and wet ride further. It was really unsafe.
They also just seem to make up hacks as they go along....as I said it’s very disorganised.
Well from your 2nd post I would trust your gut, it seems a bit casual and disorganised at the very least. There are lots of excuses/explanations you could give e.g. riding school ponies usually are a bit 'follow my leader' (you don't want them to be lively or too inclined to do their own thing!) and the pick up truck with no belts is still somewhat normal for some farmers/country dwellers and was totally standard when I was learning to ride (in fact my old teacher used to let a gang of us ride around in the back of the horsebox on trips out, no seats at all never mind no belts! ). The roads were much quieter then to be fair.
But whatever the rationale, unreasonable or not, you are the customer and you are 100% within your rights to go somewhere else if you aren't happy. Never feel obliged to please/stick with someone you are handing money over to and certainly you shouldn't let them put your DD in a position you feel is unsafe....
Unless you are in an unusually un-horsey area, I think you should be able to find another school as a minimum that can run lessons roughly on time (if the expectation is that you arrive early enough to tack up your own pony as it is in some places, then that should be made clear and your DD shown what to do), engage the kids well in lessons, even the total beginners, and follow appropriate safety standards (personally if I was running a school I would never offer to drive anyone else's child anywhere except in a real emergency, that just doesn't seem necessary or worth the risk as you were offering an alternative way to get her home, and certainly I wouldn't do it in a car without a seat belt, whether or not I felt it was safe for my own DCs).
However I wouldn't expect it to be much cheaper than £17, that actually seems quite standard/reasonable, and there will be quite a bit of walking on the lead rein at first as she learns, particularly if she's not over confident. A good guide is whether the school is BHS approved so I would use that as a starting point. I'd ask for some private lessons, perhaps on a lunge rein, to get her started and then she can join a group class or hacks when she is more able to do fun stuff.
I've had a similar situation just recently with DD also 8yo and new to riding.
We went to a new centre very close to us for a trial lesson. The ponies were tied directly to the ring (no safety release), the stirrups were regular ones not cage or safety release ones, there were 8 children in a 20x40 arena with no one next to me (apart from Ex and I who stayed by our DCs ponies), I told the instructor DD's girth was too loose and couldn't be tightened anymore and she checked it by looking at it rather than touching it and one child fell off while trotting. That was our first and last lesson there, we now drive half an hour to a safer stables.
Accidents will always happen around horses, so it's wise to take as many precautions as possible to minimise the number of accidents and their severity when they do happen. Your first post doesn't mention anything dangerous. Lessons will be expensive everywhere, it's unfortunately part of the hobby because horses are expensive. Beginners have to learn at their own pace and it's best to find one's balance before cantering. Schools ponies are almost always undermotivated because beginners and many novices would panic with a forward going pony.
Your second post is only worrying with respect to the truck and seatbelts but you should have said something about that and it doesn't have much to do with horses.
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