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The tack room

Bullying instructor or am I too sensitive? adult new rider

76 replies

ElectraBlue · 11/12/2021 21:18

I came back from my group riding lesson this morning really upset and I am not sure whether YABU.

I started horse riding at the grand old age of 50 a few months ago. At the time I was really nervous and even scared around horses.

I had to work hard to be comfortable around horses and feel like I have made some progress as I can now get on and off the horse quickly, walk, trot (sitting and rising) and give my horse directions from my seat and do the usual change of reins. I am also comfortable tacking/untacking the horse. I have had a couple of spooks and I did my first (unplanned!) canter last week when my horse suddenly took off in the trot but I stayed on!

Since I joined a new stables the problem is that the instructor is constantly denting my confidence. She has called me lazy, told me I don't listen or try hard enough and belated me in various ways.

Maybe because I am older I often struggle with my stamina and I am also still not always able to remember all the correct elements when I am riding and I am still working on coordination. It is a bit harder for me to keep up with the rest of the group who are much younger than I am (20s). I have instance where I struggle with 'lazy' horses.

It is to the point where I am losing confidence and it is a vicious circle because as I get nervous then my riding gets worse. This morning we were asked to do sitting trot without stirrups (first time for me) and every time I struggled to keep my balance and could not really manage to do it and I felt incredibly self-conscious and of course the instructor did not give me any advice and just blamed me for not getting it right.

There was another older lady in the group two weeks ago but she never came back. I noticed at the time that she complained to the instructor that she could not hear her instructions because she had some earing issues and that she had already made her aware of this, yet the instructor had not made much effort to make the lesson more accessible.

I am starting to wonder whether this instructor is actually a bully who simply can't grasp that older people might have a bit of a harder time learning or whether I am overly sensitive.

I will not give up as I have worked hard to make the progress that I have made and I don't care if I am not as good as the others, I simply want to be able to learn out my own pace and not be shouted out when I am trying my best.

Are there any older riders here who can give me some advice? do you think this lady's behaviour is appropriate? These is a big stables in London and I can't really go anywhere else and unfortunately she is the only instructor doing the new riders group on the days that I can do.

I feel like I should really not almost end up in tears at the end of every lessons...

OP posts:

wheresmyshoe · 12/12/2021 10:13

Do not continue with this instructor and make sure you tell the owners why. This isn't good enough. Less frequent/shorter individual lessons will bring you on far more as the lesson can be tailored exactly to your needs. You need an instructor who works with rather than against you. You do not have to put up with this, the power to choose is in your gift. I wish you much enjoyment in the future.


Floralnomad · 12/12/2021 10:19

If you are not enjoying it then stop . I’ve ridden on and off for 50 years ,have been an owner for 40+ years and have come across a few instructors that have not been my cup of tea . If I were you I’d book a private 30minutes somewhere as that will be way more useful to your riding than a group . There are loads of riding schools find a new one .


cherrypiepie · 12/12/2021 10:24

I would not pay for any service where I was called lazy. I would move stables. I hate the word lazy. Why would you pay for a service and then be lazy and not try?

I used to ride as a child teens and into my early 20s and could not imagine doing it now. You are to be commended! My core muscles would revolt!

Have a few private lessons as pp said half an hour is plenty. Lunge is good for balance. Need a non spooking horse

My driving instructor was the same and constantly berated me and even told 17 year old me 'he didn't think I was doing it out of badness' (sic). As my mum had organised it I thought I couldn't change. Anyway the other two (one at uni then another one at home) we really decent people.

Gym instructors are the same too, one continuously told me how wrong I was and barked (like a dog) in my face (not just me). The other 8 were nice normal people. Obviously never went back to her classes.


ElectraBlue · 12/12/2021 10:27

Thank you so much everyone and I really appreciate all your feedback.

I should have added as well that even the horses don't like her! which she admitted during a lesson. She came close to the one I was on and the horse literally jumped to the right which makes me think she is also too harsh with them. I will speak to the management (she is only any instructor, not the owner).

@Pleasedontdothat I would really love for some suggestion as to where to ride in London. I can travel anywhere in the capital that has a train station/tube nearby please don't hesitate to suggest stables!!

OP posts:

Spudlet · 12/12/2021 10:51

Train from London Bridge to Tadworth, then a walk of about a mile.


Floralnomad · 12/12/2021 11:31

What part of London are you ? Mount Mascal in Bexley has lots of different instructors .


SexyNeckbeard · 12/12/2021 11:31

I used to have instructors like that as a child so when I started riding again as an adult I decided I would not be putting up with that sort of thing. You're paying a lot of money for your lessons, I would either move or see if you can have private lessons with someone else


XelaM · 12/12/2021 12:32

Trent Park (3mins walk from Oakwood tube station) is huge and has lots of different instructors. If you decide to go there, PM me and I can recommend the softer, nice instructors rather than the harsher ones


Pleasedontdothat · 12/12/2021 15:20

@ElectraBlue I only really know south and west London so depending on whereabouts you are these suggestions may not be that useful!

Wildwoods has already been mentioned and it is a good school with great hacking but sadly one of the loveliest instructors has recently left. The other instructors are mainly quite young and ime not that interested in helping an older learner improve.

Kingsmead equestrian centre in Warlingham is fab (nearest stations are either Whyteleafe or Upper Warlingham). Most of the instructors are young but really empathetic and encouraging - I’ve made huge progress there, and although the horses are mainly cobs they’re happy and forward so you don’t feel like you’ve had a massive workout every time you want to go into trot.

Kingston Riding Centre (which has confusingly moved to Chessington) - very expensive lessons but good quality instruction plus they have a large indoor arena which is a bonus in the winter.

Ealing Riding school - 10 minutes walk from the tube. I’ve not had lessons there myself but a friend’s daughter was working there last year and was very positive about it.

Wimbledon Village Stables - expensive but they have lovely hacking on Wimbledon Common and they do know their stuff. They might only be taking on advanced riders at the moment though so you’d need to check with them.

Keep an eye on Ham House stables website - they’re not taking on new clients at the moment but the instruction you’d get there would be exceptional.

It might be worth trying Stag Lodge 2 (in the A3 by Wimbledon Common) - they have a lot of different horses but the standard of instruction can vary wildly depending on who you get.

I wouldn’t recommend Dulwich Riding school or Deen City Farm. Dulwich has zero turnout and a tiny indoor school in winter as the outdoor floods and is unusable and DCF has the shoutiest of all instructors…

Lower Morden equestrian centre has just set up as a riding school - I don’t know what the standard is like but I shouldn’t imagine from what I know of the people running it that it would be terribly high. They’ve spent a lot of money on a new arena etc but whether or not they’ve matched that with spending on training etc is doubtful!

Hyde Park stables is obviously very central but you need to take out a not-so-small mortgage for lessons there Hmm

Let me know if any of those suggestions are helpful


Creamcrackersandricecakes · 12/12/2021 15:45

I just checked out Hyde Park Stables, as would love to ride in the park. An hours private hack is £145!!!!!!!!!


grey12 · 12/12/2021 15:57

The instructor doesn't sound like a super great person..... my instructor (back when I was a kid) she was very good but hard on me. My posture wasn't brilliant, I don't keep my back very straight Blush but it is important to remember all the things, they make the ride more comfortable for both you and the horse.

In my school they did long-reigning (I thing that's what it's called) for a very long time!!! It make you more confident and taught you balancing.

The biggest problem is that you are leaving the class sad Sad horse riding is usually such a relaxing activity. Maybe you should talk to the school. Or see if there is another class you can join with a different instructor


ElectraBlue · 12/12/2021 16:18

Thank you so much for the suggestion. I live in East London but really anywhere in London would be suitable!

I am so glad to have been able to read so many supportive comments. I was starting to believe that there was something really wrong with me...I think these particular stables have some decent instructors. I had someone who was really good for the first two lessons but after that instructor took over. I will also look at going back to private lessons rather than a group. Although I do enjoy being with other people.

OP posts:

Pleasedontdothat · 12/12/2021 16:40

Ah if you’re in east London then my suggestions are a bit rubbish, sorry!

Definitely try booking some private lessons with a different instructor - lunge lessons in particular are really worth doing - and also talk to the school’s manager/owner about how the current instructor is making you feel.

If you’re still not happy with the current school then it’s worth joining Essex and/or Kent Facebook groups and asking for suggestions there


Vapeyvapevape · 12/12/2021 17:29

@Creamcrackersandricecakes I was bought a ride at Hyde Park stables as a present, it was lovely although a bit hairy having to ride through traffic so get to the park.


bonzo77 · 12/12/2021 17:50

Your instructor is horrid. It’s not ok. I have to say that most of my teachers at riding schools were like this. But that was the 80’s and I’d thought things had moved on by now. Especially teaching adults. How disappointing.

If you’re in east London I’d look at Lea Valley. I know quite a few people who started there. Also, if you get the urge, I’d definitely say sharing a nice horse and having some private lessons, building a proper relationship with the horse is the way forward. Being able to practice independently between lessons. Sharing is about £15 a day, and I pay £40 for a 45 minute private lesson. You’ll make massive progress in all areas of horsemanship like this. If you can walk and trot, tack up and groom, you may well manage a share on a quieter type.


mayblossominapril · 12/12/2021 18:00

Try booking a holiday near a decent stables with some good hacking out as a week of riding daily will improve your riding.
Hacking out is much less exhausting for both of you.


ElectraBlue · 12/12/2021 18:03

@bonzo77 I did not know you could 'share' a horse. What a wonderful idea.

@Creamcrackersandricecakes and @Vapeyvapevape I also did a Hyde Park ride as a a one-off treat for my birthday. It is indeed strange at the beginning to be riding in the middle of traffic. We also encountered a dog off the leash when we were coming back in the street just behind the stables who decided to run towards my horse and sniff his hind legs...thankfully the horse did not spook or kick it. They are very well trained.

OP posts:

Pleasedontdothat · 12/12/2021 18:32

@ElectraBlue sharing is great however I think you probably need to have a few more months riding lessons before you’d be ready. Most owners looking for a sharer specify ‘no novices’ as you’re essentially responsible for the horse on ‘your’ days so you need to be confident and competent. It would be a great goal to have though and if you wanted to do that you should tell your (non-shouty) instructor that’s what you’re aiming for. Riding schools often offer shares now - they’re not quite the same as a private share arrangement and they’re usually a lot more expensive but a useful stepping stone.


AwkwardPaws27 · 12/12/2021 19:40

Eastminster School of Riding (short bus ride from Hornchurch, district line or Romford, Elizabeth line) is supposed to be very good. I'm planning on re-starting there in future.


Floralnomad · 12/12/2021 19:52

I agree with a pp that you really don’t have the experience to consider a share . If you have some private lessons you will probably find you progress much quicker and can then join in a better group .


Moanranger · 12/12/2021 20:17

Really useful advice on here . I would just like to add that riding sitting trot without stirrups (while a great excercise) is NOT for a novice. You need to be balanced in walk-trot-canter first. What is good is ridden lunge work, which is excellent for the novice to establish their seat. Private lesson, obviously. Persevere -it’s great fun!


bonzo77 · 12/12/2021 20:18

Keep your eyes out. I know that where I am there are two rather old, sensible horses who really could do with sharers who only wanted to do quiet hacks and gentle schooling. There are enough people around who could support you. Both horses could manage faster hacks once in regular work. One of them has taught me huge amount (though I wasn’t a beginner when I started on him), and also will potter about with my 6 year old on board. There must be others around like them.


ElectraBlue · 12/12/2021 20:19

@Pleasedontdothat , thank you for the additional advice. I will keep this (share) as a goal for the future. Maybe starting with a share at a riding school.

@AwkwardPaws27 thank you! I will get more information about these stables as it sounds interesting.

OP posts:

Tigertigertigertiger · 12/12/2021 20:30

Omg this is exactly how many riding instructors behaved when I was learning - a lifetime ago !
Can’t believe it’s still happening.

Horsey people can be very odd


CaptainThe95thRifles · 12/12/2021 21:59

The horse world is full of old fashioned, dictatorial instructors with over-inflated egos, so you should definitely get used to standing up for yourself, complaining and moving onto better coaches - who do exist, but can be hard to find. It's appalling teaching to allow a student to struggle with a new exercise without actually helping them to change what they're doing - there's about a million ways to teach riders how to sit the trot properly and it takes time and practice. You really shouldn't feel disheartened at this stage. I've worked with fairly competent riders of many years who were unable to ride effectively in sitting trot / without stirrups, but with good coaching and time, it always comes together. Get a few more canters under your belt and try to find yourself a nice, laid back share and a good, confidence building instructor to help you and it'll all be fine Grin

Also, the treatment of the other rider who was having hearing issues is disgraceful, but not unsurprising in some sectors of the equestrian / RS community. I've had the same issue myself, albeit not in riding schools, but if a coach has the attitude that my not being able to hear them is somehow my fault, I move very swiftly on!

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