At our farm we are very lucky and blessed to have a crew of horse owners who are great! We have a few families that have "tween" girls, and while we have a "riders under 18 must have immediate adult/parental supervision" rule, there are a few girls who we allow to come, as long as we are not busy, and ride.
The girls are between 11 and 13 and otherwise have pretty impeccable manners. However, to my way of thinking, even if they have butts like glue, there is a lot of wisdom regarding horses and training that is to be had in and amongst that age bracket. While we typically let the girls "do their thing", we have repeatedly asked a certain young lady to not practice certain "corrective measures" with her horse and even verbally offered suggestions. I get the feeling it goes in one ear and out the other, although I think perhaps (hopefully), most recently, it has maybe sunk in? This was after a demo with her mother present. We will see, the opportunity to know for certain has not come up yet. I'm not "supervising" in the capacity of trainer or instructor, but rather just offering adult supervision while they ride... I only speak up if I see a kid hanging off their horse at unnatural angles or when safety or safety and poor training techniques (combined) are present.
I am a riding instructor... just not these kids' "direct" instructor. I'm getting a bit frustrated to the extent that I feel like saying "I'm sorry, you are no longer able to come without your parents"... although I don't really want to. The kids are generally pretty respectful, but it is clear in their blank facial expressions that they think I'm full of crap if I say things like "What are you trying to accomplish with that maneuver?" I've also discussed and thoughtfully explained and demoed how to more effectively communicate with their horses with parents and their children.
Would it seem condescending to the parents of these kids if I say "Look, I really enjoy allowing your child the opportunity to ride on days when you can't be here, however we need to establish some new "rules"." I'd then spell out that any "tween sitting" will need to be in the capacity of "teacher and student" and if they don't like that, then the kids can only come with their parents? I'm not interested in defending my instructing techniques to them, and I guess I also feel as though they take for granted the opportunity they have to spend "quality" horse time because of me. We've also been doing this for free, and I've considered tossing in that the kid has to clean stalls to "earn" their horsey time without their parents... I think that might help them to NOT take it for granted. Thoughts? I'm a bit perplexed. I really try to be diplomatic and yet frank about things,. In this situation I am aware that it has gotten to this point because of a lack of "rules" directly relating to this situation, just our general barn rules.