Is this a sign of a "bad" instructor / issues, or things like that just happen?
10 year old student, riding for just over a year, takes one 30 minute private lesson a week, doesn't own a horse to "practice" at home.
Lesson horse starts acting out during lesson--mini bucks, not listening. The situation settles somewhat, but then the student falls off on an approach to a jump. It was the student's fault in terms of miss-communicating, but the horse was "off" that day as well. No injuries, gets on the horse again, not terribly nervous afterwards, but a touch apprehensive. To give the horse credit, it slowed down when the kids started losing her balance.
The following lesson, the student is on another horse, and the horse is behaving the same--not listening, mini bucks, sort of "off" in general. Instructor leaves the student on the horse in the arena while she walks off to the barn to get different bridle /bit.
The student had been riding both of those horses more or less regularly over that year.
We switched barns after that, but it was just a coincidence--we had completely different reasons, namely switching from English to Western, longer lessons, shorter commute. Now, in retrospect, I'm thinking if there were red flags in this, or is this all within safe and normal.
What are your opinions? Thanks.
I take it you meant to say a 30 minute lesson? Not 3 minutes?
Falls happen; its a part of riding horses. Jumping horses can get excited; might happen once in a while they have an off day.
What I don't like is that the instructor LEFT the student (which is wasting your minutes of that 30 minute lesson) mounted on the horse she was having issues with.
Is it grounds to switch barns entirely? I don't know. It'd be different to see what exactly happened in person.
Although it makes me raise an eyebrow when two separate horses were having "off" days with the same issues. Either the student isn't being taught how to properly handle these horses .... or the instructor needs to have better lesson horses.
I was wondering if after a fall from an "off" horse, if, ideally, the instructor shouldn't make more effort the next horse is not "off." The second horse was coming from his "holiday", and the instructor even mentioned that he's been acting out a little, but assured me that my daughter's ride wasn't his first after the holiday.
These were the only two "off" days for the horses in over a year we were there.
Horses can get fresh when they aren't ridden for a while and are put back into work.
Every spring I have little "talks" with a horse I ride, shooter, because he gets very funky. But after some rides he settles in.
I am probably more cautious than most people, but I wouldn't take my child to lessons where a chance of falling off was a common occurrence. Of course, I know that falls can happen even on well-trained horses, but I would try to minimize the risk. I think children or beginners should be provided with a trust-worthy horse until they are ready to advance to a more challenging horse.
I had a student at school who told me that her riding instructor put her on a horse even though it was really acting up. Then the instructor had her walk along the railroad. She ended up falling off, and I just thought about how dangerous that could be. I think sometimes people forget that safety really needs to come first.
I think the instructor is not enough of a 'horse person' or a 'trainer'. These are different skills than 'instructing'. I think the instructor did a poor job of 'reading' her lesson horses. I think the horse approaching a jump should have, instead, been warmed up better with cantering circles, doing leg-yielding exercises, transitions and the like. Either the instructor should have gotten on the horse and 'tuned it up' herself or taught the student how to get this horse's respect under saddle and get the right attitude and engagement of brain and body before putting a rider into 2 point position and sending them toward a jump.
A big part of teaching riding is teaching a rider how to 'read' a horse and how to work it appropriately until it is ready to go on to the next task, like jumping.
I have had junior riders take lessons on their horse and the horse was not riding the way it should and we spent the entire lesson getting said horse to stay between the rider's legs and reins and stop 'pushing' on them. To send a horse over fences that is not riding right on the flat is asking for run-outs, refusals and other problems like bucking after the jump. You teach a student nothing if you do not insist on good form from the horse, too.
It is back to the old saying of mine "Every rider is a trainer every time they get on a horse." So, you have to teach the riders how to keep a horse honest and to know when they are ready to go over fences.
For a kid, lessons are more about having safe fun than anything else. The instructor can be the best out there, but if the kid isn't having fun, he won't want to go.
When I was a kid, my lessons were fun and safe. I fell off after my first year of riding and that was my own fault, no one else's. Jumping horses can be bouncy pouncy and excited when going over jumps. Even the dead heads.
My instructor never left the arena during a lesson. Never spoke on a cellphone. She wasn't the most educated, but she kept us all safe. Only when I switched instructors and "upped" my game did I start falling off more often. Even then, each fall had their valuable lesson and I learned.
Last summer I started my daughter out on lessons with my original instructor. She's 3 and again, even though the instructor isn't the most educated, I know she'll keep her very safe. She'll be as safe as she can be until she's older and makes the decision to either "up" her game or stay where she's at.
When I was a kid we all did stupid stuff and fell off a lot and learned a lot. I used to fall off almost every jumping lesson, sometimes more than once (lots of times actually haha).
Sure, if the horse is totally unsuitable, don't ride it. But all horses have off days. My instructor (at the time I would have been 9) put me on her OTTB jumper mare and I got piled into a wall hard enough to warrant a trip to the ER. That was an unsuitable horse. But every horse has off days and you have to learn to deal with it. Once you learn to ride a buck, then you learn how to keep the horse from bucking at all. Riding is not all rainbows and butterflies, it's a lot of hard work and every horse is dangerous unless it's dead.
Now, the mare would be cake for me. But I've challenged myself in my riding a lot. Yes, there are unsuitable horses but we have to learn to ride through some "off days" on the good ones to eventually move up to the more difficult horses again and again and sometimes we become over faced and that's how we learn to develop as riders. I'm still dumb enough to get on pretty much anything, but humble enough that if it's too much horse I will get off and hand the thing back. But that happens less and less and less and now as a coach I have to be prepared to hop on misbehaving horses and sort them out, which I am and I do. But I wouldn't be where I am in my riding without getting piled as often as I did as a kid and doing the dumb stuff like galloping through fields and jumping too high. We, as a species (humans), learn from our own mistakes. We can see someone on an icy road drive off into the ditch and will drive by laughing only to end up in the ditch. And until that happens to us we don't learn to slow down on icy roads. Riding is dangerous and we unfortunately have to make a lot of mistakes that sometimes result in leaving the tack. Don't like it, buy your kid a Game Boy. Bikes are even dangerous, kids fall of bikes all the time.
I would not fault the instructor or the barn one bit, except for leaving to get a different bit. I don't know how a bit will stop the hid end from hopping up or bucking - ride harder and sit against it. Leg yield, move the horse's legs and go faster or more sideways. Putting a bigger bit in is not riding.
This is great to know that this is within normal. Due to the instructor's poor communication skills in general I'm not sure on what terms we parted. We've been planning to switch barns for a while, and I mentioned this possibility to the instructor. Then there were a bunch of weather related cancellations, and then we ended up coming to the barn and she'd forgotten to let us know that the lesson was cancelled, so we pretty much didn't have a chance to talk in person about it all (and I was pissed that she didn't let us know) but it wasn't the reason we left. We really loved that instructor, but DD just wanted to try Western and we both wanted a shorter commute.
Anyway, I was just worried that the instructor might think that we left because of the horses, but if it is within normal, she probably doesn't think that.
I did write her an email with many thanks, and that DD had a great year etc, but I know she doesn't reply to emails of those who left.
Anyway, she was a really nice instructor, but I'm only now realising that her lack of communication skills was a bit draining. Especially in comparison to the current instructor. When this one said, "I'll just bring a horse in, and will be right back" i realized that the other one would just silently march away from the barn, and DD would run after her trying to figure out whether she's supposed to wait, to follow, or what. lol We just got used to her not talking much. Everyone's different. :-)
Learning from mistakes, handling situations better, learn to read horses, learn what to do if the dependable school horse is frisky....all part of becoming a rider.
jumping after half-hour weekly lessons is, IMO too early.
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