I Don't Want to Teach Anymore - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 41 Old 04-09-2012, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Georgia
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I Don't Want to Teach Anymore

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.
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post #2 of 41 Old 04-09-2012, 09:01 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Nebraska
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Bad days are what teaches YOU. If every day was a good one, you wouldn't learn something new. Good or bad, every new experience teaches us something

Cowgirl up!
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post #3 of 41 Old 04-09-2012, 09:05 PM
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I never taught riding lessons, HOWEVER I was a lifeguard and swim instructor for many years. I am telling you now, you will FOREVER have days that you question the way you approached a situation. The difference is the level at which you question. You are still learning yourself about how to teach, when to push etc. One thing you will always have is parents watching you like a hawk. It always drove me NUTS! Once I was confident (I ended up being the pool manager for years) my big line was "Though I understand that, yes, this is your child, I am the professional who is TEACHING them something that you are unable to teach. Please trust in my ability to teach your child and if you are not happy with the end result, we can talk AFTER the lesson." It's tough, especially when you are new to something such as teaching. IDK how old you are either, sometimes being younger also allows parents to feel that they now better, even in a situation they are not equipped for. It's all in experience. Stick it out. Believe in what you know and what you have been taught. Stand up for yourself (politely) and you will get there!

"A horse is eleven-hundred pounds of raw muscle, power, and grace between your legs! It's something you just can't get from a pet hamster!"
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post #4 of 41 Old 04-09-2012, 09:07 PM
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*know better hahaha... FAIL at typing tonight...

"A horse is eleven-hundred pounds of raw muscle, power, and grace between your legs! It's something you just can't get from a pet hamster!"
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post #5 of 41 Old 04-09-2012, 09:10 PM
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I'm sorry to hear that. I assistant teach as well, and with nervous riders, especially those with overbearing parents, it can be a delicate balance. How far do you push, and how do you effectively push so the rider makes progress without losing confidence? It's different for each student, and familiarity will help. Unfortunately I don't have much advice about the parent. It truly does come with the territory- some parents are much worse than others. My only advice is to stay calm whenever you deal with a parent, and explain as best you can why you did what you did. Maybe discuss (when both parties are calm) that as the teacher, his daughter needs to be focused on you, not him, during lessons.
Good luck- don't give up due to one bad experience! (:
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post #6 of 41 Old 04-09-2012, 09:12 PM
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: near Raleigh, NC
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First dad did this: "But her dad said I needed to make her do it, because she's here to learn."

And then dad did this: "Leave off of her. That's my job," the dad said." ????

You did nothing wrong. Don't feel bad.

Christina and Spirit
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post #7 of 41 Old 04-09-2012, 09:17 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Louisiana
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Parents want to push until they stand and see an unhappy child. Me, I get irritated when Sarah's instructor doesn't push, and I stand behind her 200%.
Don't let one experience keep you from teaching. Sarah's teacher says she has been the most frustrating confusing student she has had in her 20 years, and twice she told Sarah to stop coming back to lessons if she didn't want to do it. Sarah kept going, took her punishment for whining and now is a joy. Kids are all different. If the child is scared, you are NOT going to change her mind. Honestly, I made Sarah clean stalls every time she did that, and go back to lunge line lessons.
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post #8 of 41 Old 04-09-2012, 09:18 PM
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Tough day at work. But you still love your job right? If this is what you want to do, deal with the situation, (it's the public, there's all kinds out there) and on to the next child wanting to ride.
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post #9 of 41 Old 04-09-2012, 09:28 PM
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First I'd politely ask Dad to take himself to a spot and sit down while being quiet. If he refused he could take his child elsewhere for lessons.

This child need to focus on you, and you on her. Even the 20 something lesson horses can have a bad day and act up. If you are worried about Dad, she is worried about Dad, and everyone is tense and nervous it's all just asking for a train wreck. Horses pick up on so much of our body language.

Don't give up and don't cry. You gave this bully, and yes it bullying IMHO, the satisfaction of knowing he intimidated you. Stop it. Smile at him like he is your bestest buddy, and stay polite. But don't take crap from someone who goads you into forcing his child to do something, something you clearly feel she isn't ready for, then back tracks and says don't do that.

I miss you Rascal. Every day, all day.
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post #10 of 41 Old 04-09-2012, 09:38 PM
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I'm thinking the dad's a real.......jerk.

I agree with NC Trail Rider. He tells you to do something and then when you try to get her to do it (taking different approaches) he gets mad at you. Completely unacceptable. It's one or the other. He can't have his cake and eat it too. (I really do not understand that saying...LoL)

But seriously. You did nothing wrong and I don't think you should quit. You are always going to have difficult days but the great ones make it all worth-while.

The dad had a bulls-eye on your back from the moment they walked into the barn.

"The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with
him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too."

-Samuel Butler
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