Today was my first bad day teaching riding lessons.
I've been apprenticing under my trainer, Meg, for about six months, learning how to teach child's riding lessons. I sit in on lessons three to four days a week.
Recently, Meg has been giving me lessons to teach on my own. One every two weeks or so. I usually recieve an easy, older, advanced beginner walk/trot/little canter kid. I was starting to get my confidence up when my first bad teaching episode occured today.
I was given a kid who I had taught before. Jenny. She's a good little rider, but a bit timid. Meg told me what horse to put her on -- a 22-year-old, safe, quiet old man. She had never ridden him before.
The moment Meg said I was going to teach Jenny, Jenny's dad was suspicious. Because I'm new and because I'm young and because whatever. Because I'm not Meg.
I helped her get her horse out of the pasture, tack him up. Everything was fine. But Jenny's dad was watching me like a hawk.
So Jenny got on her old lesson horse and started riding. Everything was going fine. She got a little nervous at times, but we laughed it off. Tried to make it like it wasn't a big deal. Because it wasn't; it's just something you have to work through. (At least that's what I've always thought, but today made me think that maybe I'm wrong.)
Jenny hates her lesson horse. She complains how she can't control him (she can) and how he makes her nervous (even though I'm confident he's perfectly trustworthly). So I take her out of the paddock and into the round pen, so maybe she'll feel better.
Once we get in the round pen, she looks fine. She still complains she doesn't like the horse. "But it's all a part of riding! You have to learn to ride different horses!" I told her, brightly.
Then I asked her to canter. She started losing it. She was scared. She had broken her arm on a horse and it had left her with confidence issues. At first, I said, "It's okay. We don't have to canter." But her dad said I needed to make her do it, because she's here to learn.
So I pushed her on. I said, "Three canter strides and I won't make you do it ever again." But she refused. Things started going south. I feel wrong about this next part...
I told her to stop her horse. I talked to her (she was crying) and asked her nicely for three canter strides. When that didn't work, I demanded three canter strides. I had tough, but I didn't yell at the kid. I assured her that it would be okay. Her lesson horse was never going to hurt her.
"Leave off of her. That's my job," the dad said. I left off and let her walk.
"Will you trot for me?" I asked. She wouldn't. She talked to her dad and dismounted. We went back to the barn and untacked the horse.
I apologized to Jenny for pushing her too hard. I apologized to the dad for getting hard on his daughter. He didn't look like he accepted my apology.
They left and went to their car. Meg came back and I told her (teary eyed myself) about what had happened. She went to talk to the dad. She said she stuck up for me. The dad didn't pay for the lesson.
I just feel so horrible. I failed as a lesson teacher and pissed off a parent. I made a kid cry. I have a great track record. All the other kids I teach love me. Some of them like me better than Meg. But this one time just broke me. I can't take the feeling that someone doesn't like me. I BLEW it.
I may have been wrong about pushing that kid. I don't know. Part of me says that she needed a push to get over her fears, but another part of me says I was over stepping my boundries. She COULD do it. She would have been fine. She would have cantered those strides and been perfectly okay. She would have felt great afterwards. But... She wasn't ready, mentally.
Some days I want to just be me and my horse. No baggage. I want to screw up my own life and not mess with others. But I can't just quit teaching. Meg needs me; she can't handle everyone by herself.
I just... Needed to get that out. I'm crying and upset. Meg says that this kind of parent stuff comes with the territory. If so, I don't want the territory. I can't take it.