Bullying by Riding Instructors

Grace O'Malley

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Apr 5, 2004
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I've only had one instructor who was prone to shouting, but I wouldn't call her a bully. I think for one thing she had been riding for so long and so well that she couldn't remember what it was like not to understand how to do something. Not the most effective teacher. I think the other reason she would get frustrated is that she put a lot of time and effort into schooling her lesson horses, and she'd see us messing up as undermining the horse's training. I put up with it because I was learning so much from riding her horses and from watching the others in the class (I was probably the least experienced). But then I wasn't a total beginner, so I felt confident enough to tune out the shouting and just get on with what I knew I needed to try to do. Still, I wasn't entirely disappointed when she moved away and I had to find another instructor ;)

Grace
 

Wobblydeb

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Interesting thread. I voted with my feet at the last place I went to, but now I wonder if I should have reported the owner?

It is a difficult call because the yard was well run, with good instruction and a lot of consideration given to health and safety for riders and horses.

And while I wouldn't go as far as using the word "bully" for the instructor, she wasn't far off - but only with me in an adult class of 5 people. (I was the worst rider :( ). It simply came down to the fact that she had ZERO understanding of nerves, and when I was pushed far enough beyond my comfort zone to ask if I could opt out of something, she got s***ty.

Mind you I did see her bully a visiting parent once (for looking over a stable door at a young foal), who quite rightly got shirty back.... (no sign on the door to say please don't approach).

Still gets me depressed to think of her attitude :(
 

Kerry Claire

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I'm not an adult but in the past have been bullied by instructors.

When I first started riding (aged 11) I was a nervous wreck and have no idea why I enjoyed it because I was that scared. I was scared of heights and hated going faster than trot.

My instructor should NOT have been working with nervous riders at all - she always put me on the biggest ones and flicked the lunge whip at the horse I was riding every time I passed her. Then when I tensed up with fear she laughed in my face :mad: . One day I was on the biggest horse that had quite a bouncy canter so I really didn't want to canter that lesson. I said this and just trotted to the back instead but my instructor insisted that I cantered - even when I burst into tears :( . She came over and literally made me canter by pulling the horse back round to the front - when I pulled back she shouted at me not to hurt the horse so I had no choice but to give in.

After enduring this for about 6 months or something I changed instructor and learnt to stand up for myself. One of my instructors tried to make me jump in canter but I felt really nervous and refused to. She got one of the leaders to come across and lead me - I knew full well she was going to make the horse canter so I dismounted - you should have seen her face!!!! :D

I wish I'd had my camera with me that day, lol!!!
 

Roseanne

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Apr 27, 2003
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Bullyng Riding Instructors

I agree with one poster that bullying and aggression seems to be creeping into more and more areas of society, not just riding. Happily for me, I have had some really great, kind, and patient instructors who have helped me gain confidence. There has only been one instructor I "fell out" with and it was really because he said that if my horse kept shaking her head, which she did, and refusing to go on the bit, I should get hold of the rein on one side, and yank it sharply! I just said very quietly, because I was a bit shocked and unwilling to do this to my lovely horse, that I could not agree, and he got angry and said in that case he couldn't teach me.

It was upsetting, because I liked this instructor and felt he could have helped me. Maybe I was wrong, and should have complied, but I'm really not the kind of rider who can do anything I think might hurt my horse, and in fact, later in the month when we had the dentist visit our yard, I learned she had some very sharp points on her teeth, and this was obviously causing her pain.

These days, I am careful to ask questions about what kind of instructor I will be paying to teach me. That way, I can't upset them, and they won't ask me to do something I don't feel comfortable about.

There are good, constructive teachers out there, and the bad ones eventually get a bad reputation, so I think things are improving. I hope so anyway.

Good Luck!

Roseanne
 

Hana915

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ive had about 20 different teachers and ive obly ever had 2 horrible teachers. The first one wound me up so much that after the lesson i burst into tears and refused to go back there again, i had only had 4 hour hour riding lessons in my life and they had been 4 mnths previosu of that, so to boost my confidence and make me feel so much better she told me that i was the worst rider she had ever seen and wanted to know my riding teachers name so she could ring her up and complain, by the end of the lesson i was cantering and doing trotting poles and she was telling me how good i was, my brain couldn't deal with the change in her personality and i just burst into tears. The second one absolutly ruin my riding over the space of 4 months, i went from a confident rider who loved jumping and going fast, to a month later refusing to jump and couldn't get canter, so what did she do? she left me for a whole hour struggling round and round the school with a very frustrated horse, while she taught all the otehr girls. I left the riding school in the end, and it has taken 2 years for me to get back on track with jumping, I jumped 2'9 on saturday and i was so prond (i know that's not hight but it's an amaing achievment for me) i was just wished that she could see me and i could prove her wrong!
I think the problems with alot of people when they get bullied by riding teachers is that they get made to feel so small that they think "it can't possibly be the teacher, it must be me" so they stay with the teacher and carry on taking their abuse. it took me 6 months to admit it to my mum, i was just to embarrased to talk about it!
 

dcp

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Hi, I haven't had loads of instructors but I have had a bad one. When I was about 7 he would shout at me and get angry and I used to panic if I was ever asked to take the lead as I thought I was going to go the wrong way. I didn't enjoy it and I stopped riding for 10 years. I decided to start again and went to a kiddies class where the young instructor shouted at one of the kids because she couldn't get the horse to trot and I decided not to go back there. In the end I learned to ride at the Pentland Icelandics in Carlops and my instructor was a wonderful woman who encouraged me so much. If she had turned out to be another impatient aggressive instructor I wouldn't be here now enjoying riding with me new horse. :D
 
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Lora

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I am so sorry this has happened to you.

It takes guts to start doing this in later years like that and I admire your gumption to jump in and do this the right way. (meaning lessons wtih a pro etc) and if some instructor needs to belittle a person to make them feel better about some security issue (or ego problem, sometimes one and the same!) They really need some mental help.

I'm very glad that you are deciding what is the best way to approach this, and realize that you are new and there are better out there.

I had one before that was getting kind of bad, but started yelling back and eventually went into mule mode. (Nope.. ain't doing it, forget it, ain't happening) I'm not the typical ten year old these classes normally draw. I'm an adult and know what I definately am not ready to do yet.

I assume this wasn't a one time thing. I hear maturity and reason in your words and realize this wasn't just a bad day. I'm glad you have better instruction now.
 
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Lora

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one other note on this thread..

I visited a riding farm once, one of the horse owners was out there riding with me in the ring we were sharing. She and I were chatting about dressage lessons and she commented "I don't care where you are in the world, or what day of the week, month of the year, stage of learning in lessons.. If you walk away from a lesson feeling inadequate and chewed out, that instructor feels like they did their job."

Wait, that is sad and even at the time I said "holy smokes, thought it was just me feeling that way" LOL

Should that mentality continue? I thought that was the norm and some method to teaching. But then I had a private lesson with our barn manager. She used ZERO of any of these methods and I had a smile carved in my face for days, felt like she taught me how to fly.
 

mayfaresgal123

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I used to be bullied by my riding instructor. She screams a lot at me, and other riders/helpers. In a lead rein lesson recently, I was leading a 15 hands mare and she makes the ponies trot for about 5/10 minutes at a time, and never think about the leaders. Sometimes if we make a mistake, for example in my lesson recently, we were doing work with no reins. Because i am a nervous rider, i only let go for a couple of seconds with 1 hand, and she started shouting, threatening to take my reins away and make me complete the lesson without them. She also does a similar thing when i ride with no stirrups. Because she competes at novice/pre novice level eventing, she thinks we're all going to be as good as her, but we're not. I'm thinking of talking to her as it's getting to much and I'm thinking of changing yards after 8 years, but I'm not sure what to say. Any ideas?? :)
 

diplomaticandtactful

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I went to one riding school when I came back to riding after a ten year break - I had one lesson and never went back, as I had been used to riding racehorses, so tended to ride short..... and they put my stirrups so long that I felt dreadful, really insecure.

I then decided to go and share horses rather than risk that again. I did get the stirrups down over the years and expect I would fall off if I tried to ride short again.

When I got Rosie, I had someone come to my home and teach me on her - she was wonderfully encouraging, given that I was pretty unfit and Rosie was pretty unschooled and had a huge attitude problem.

She never rode Rosie but helped me to work through exercises with her, and she was so pleased for us when we finally managed to hack out alone, as Rosie used to down tools leaving the yard. When I rang her months later to say that Rosie had actually galloped on the downs and really been up for it, she was delighted for me and the horse. Sadly I can't afford lessons these days but she had a way of uplifting me and Rosie and though we were still very basic, we were improving each time. It must be such a downer to pay for a lesson and feel that you are just being put down all the time - she never criticised me, and I could say, sorry, don't understand what aids I need to give to do that, please help without feeling an idiot.
 

sherry1990

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bit long sorry!!!

when i started horse riding i took some friends along with me, one of which is three years older than me and had been riding alot longer than me and my other friends.....as she was jumping the instructor told me and my 2 other friends to canter round the arena.....whilst she was concentrating on the the girl jumping we were being literally took for a ride :eek:

we were only about 4 or 5 at this point so didn't have much control on the horses and weren't being instructed so we pulled up and stopped to watch our other friend jumping.........as she was jumping she kept complaining that the horses legs felt stiff and we could all hear the horses legs clicking as she rode past.....the instructor just told her to carry on and wacked the jump up higher!!!

in the end my friend complained so much that the instructor told her to get off and that she would have a go and show her how stupid she was being........after jumping the jump she got off and even admitted that the horses legs weren't sound!! :eek:

just proves the customer is always right lol!!!!! :D
 

*toHorse&Away*

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Its really sad to read that some people have been put off completely by scary teachers, and other had confidence severely dented.
As a lot of us are returning riders it is really important to have an instructor that you not only trust, but who understands your limitations and most of all can have a laugh with you when you know you've done something silly :)
 

Wally

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I shout only if sombody treats one of my horses cruelly or I need to convey a message urgently over a long distance. And when I say treats one of my horses cruelly they have to know better, it if it a kiddie or someone doing what they think is right I explain why what they are doing is unfair to the horse.

Can anyone truly learn when they are nervous. We aim to giggle at least 4 or 5 times and hour. You have to laugh then the horses will snigger with you too.

How do you think horses feel with a person howling for an hour at them. They pick up on the vibes too you know, it makes for a very, very bad learning environment.

Horse football is a great way to relax and snigger.
 

Stella2

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My instructor takes Wallys approach 'shouting the convey something quickly over a distance' (I'm never cruel to my horse :eek: ). We laugh a lot too, though we are taking the work very seriously (best to do both). I only ever had one instructor who was arrogant and shouting (she must have been all of 21 and I was 43). It was in my riding school days before I had my own horse and began using freelance instructors. She was filling in for my usual instructor who was off sick. We were 10 minutes into a 40 minute lesson when I dismouted, gave her the horse and said "this is not working for me". Her face was a picture, she tried very hard to pursuade me to stay and as we left the arena she looked very embarrased in front of her colleagues who were clearly curious (I had never done anything like this with my usual instructor). Score 1 for the pupil.
 

notpoodle

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i used to be yelled at and insulted when riding at a teenager. it was horrid, i was often petrified of the instructor (a resolute swiss guy with a moustache who used to ride in the army ... he often peppered his 'attacks' with expletives and got very personal) but because i didnt know any better i thought riding lessons are meant to be like that.

then i went on a riding holiday with a lovely, fantastic friendly etc. instructor. it was *such* a revelation to be explained stuff properly for a change!!

now that im older, i will NOT be taking lessons with an instructor i dont get on with. why should i pay someone a lot of money to be bullied and shouted at! life's too short for that!! mind you, i understand that instructors sometimes yell at you when its the 10th lesson of the day, theyre tired etc. but i think theres yelling and theres YELLING. you can raise your voice without insulting anyone, which is the preferred option!

julia
x
 

Jinete789

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mmmm, it feels to me as though there is more to this than just yelling (or the lack of)

My current instructor can yell "that was rubbish" at me in the middle of a group lesson and I laugh, because I trust him and I know his intent is " I know you can do better than that"

Whereas I once (only once) had a lesson with an instructor whose intent I did not trust, who was of the "who taught you to jump like that???" sarcastic school. I'm afraid my response was "who taught you to instruct like that", closely followed by me curtailling the lesson and getting my money back!

So for me it's about my perception of the instructors intent, and I'm afraid I'm too old and ugly to be sneered at by anyone, particularly someone who I'm paying, in my own time, to help me learn something.
 

notpoodle

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im fine with people yelling as long as they dont hurl insults at me! eg. the one fateful jumping lesson we had before xmas ... being a livery i knew the instructor well, anyway (she's a big fan of angel!) but hadnt had a lesson with her before. she ended up jumping up and down crying out loud along the lines of 'you wont leave until she's done it once! if its the last thing i do, she WILL jump AWAY from the door' whilst i (redfaced, knackered and somewhat embarrassed) tried to reason with pony rather frantically, BUT! i knew the instructor had my best interest in mind, she did not insult me and it was all goodnatured.

julia
x
 

laura jeanne

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"How do you think horses feel with a person howling for an hour at them. They pick up on the vibes too you know, it makes for a very, very bad learning environment."

In my thankfully last lesson, my instructor ran at me yelling and waving her arms because I was having trouble leg yielding my horse over to the rail. When the horse went over, she said to me- "that's what you should be doing!" So I said, "the horse only moved over because you ran at it!"

You are meant to be calm and deliberate around horses, not yelling and shouting when the horse and rider are already tense.

Went to pick up our stuff from the barn last night. Instructor was obviously embarrassed or something because I don't think she would have even spoken to us if we hadn't made a point of going to her and saying goodby and thank you. haha
 
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