Bullying instructors

Gingerwitch

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I did not want to de rail the bullying on livery yard thread with this. So have any of you felt over whelmed by your ri. Eg they tare strips off you about your tack, horses way of going, your commitment, riding ability etc. Then demand you dont do anything other than ride in there presence and tell you when you are having lessons, saddler, back person, dentist etc.....all of which they happen to be able to organise for you, regardless of if you wanted it or not.
I am a lot older so can be donkey stubborn nowadays, but a trainer I have had s lesson with lately has just rubbed me up the wrong way, she is so pushy. Now I dont know everything and am obviously paying for advice but 2 others on my yard have had lessons and felt intimidated. It's a shame really because she has got some excellent tips with the horses, she is just smothering. If you were a weaker person or a bit novicey around horses you could be well and truly ripped off and quashed.
I have not re booked her which is a shame because I was getting some good tips but the negative out weighed the bad.
 

windand rain

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I don't watch lessons if I can avoid it. It is our pony but I really do not like the teaching methods of some. Should add her current one is the best and in fact isn't demanding enough which is equally frustrating
 
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Yes! One particular instructor would only do the same things every lesson (once a week) rather than provide much challenge. When there was something new, or something wasn’t going right they wouldn’t give me much of a chance to get to grips with it - so just strapped side reins on the horse.

The last straw for me was turning up on a wet and windy Friday night for a lesson, told to tack the horse up and to start lunging it to ‘get to know it’ (I hadn’t ridden this one before - and I turned up for a 1hr private lesson, not to lunge the horse). After 30 minutes of lunging it, I was told to get on and after a few laps of the school it bolted with me straight into a fence and I fell off. Didn’t go back after that.

Thankfully she didn’t charge me £70 for the privilege that time.
 

Rowreach

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This is a genuine question, because it's something I'm doing a lot of work on at the moment, do you think styles and methods of coaching have changed over the past 15 years, and do you think it is for the better or worse? Coach education has evolved, and there is more of a consistent approach across all sports, but ime horse sport coaching is vastly different to other sports (far more "professional" coaches in horse sport than volunteers, and far more one to one coaching and therefore less peer review going on).

Personally I like a coach who pushes me, but I also want one who listens. Over the years, some of my favourite coaches have been loathed by other people because they are seen as being too hard (aka honest). I like a straight talker, I don't like flannel.

Like MP, I walked out of a 3 day clinic half way through, when it turned out it was actually masquerading as a training clinic for a load of potential BHSIs, and I was the guinea pig. The two Fellows who were taking it were letting the trainee Is get away with all sorts, and I had a particularly sensitive, talented young horse there who couldn't cope with the bullish behaviour of the coaches, and who wouldn't listen to me at all.

All of them passed their I exam a few weeks later ...
 

Gingerwitch

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nope, i just wouldn't go back if that was the case. i had one who i thought was deeply unfair to the horse and that was a 3 day clinic where we stayed overnight to go there, so i just refused to ride in the last 1.5 sessions.
What a shame.... clinics can be a nightmare if you get a crapo instructor. I was at one getting a very nervy horse through water, I refused to belt horse and we has a lead from other half who got a bit wet lol, then we had a lead from a friends horse. We were had way through own when an Olympic rider came bounding up to the serious jumps and the flipping coach called him through. I was livid. Can you imagine the splosh and the thud thud of an top class horse ! My poor mare turned herself in side out. The Hong Kong riders groom found me afterwards and offered his and her help as they were mortified at what the ri had done it was not his fault, I think it was the ri being all gooey eyes. We nearly ran in to a tree it was so bad a scare
But bless the rider and groom.
It took years to desensitized and she bloody rushes but I I get it. It could have been an awful accident fir my horse and me.
She just shrugged when other half asked what she was thinking on calling rider through and she said it was an open course ! I refused to ride on her lessons to and came home early
 

Gingerwitch

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Yes! One particular instructor would only do the same things every lesson (once a week) rather than provide much challenge. When there was something new, or something wasn’t going right they wouldn’t give me much of a chance to get to grips with it - so just strapped side reins on the horse.

The last straw for me was turning up on a wet and windy Friday night for a lesson, told to tack the horse up and to start lunging it to ‘get to know it’ (I hadn’t ridden this one before - and I turned up for a 1hr private lesson, not to lunge the horse). After 30 minutes of lunging it, I was told to get on and after a few laps of the school it bolted with me straight into a fence and I fell off. Didn’t go back after that.

Thankfully she didn’t charge me £70 for the privilege that time.
Flipping heck
 

Mildlander

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I was at a RC lesson once and was told to leave the lesson by the instructor because if I wasn't following her instruction - I had been trotting into the warm up jump and not cantering as she had instructed because I was nervous, I've never been a confident jumper. I didn't leave because I'm stubborn and said that I would be trying to canter. I did get to cantering round the course - when I was ready to. I put it down to a young inexperienced instructor, who's a more than competent rider, who couldn't get that for me on that day even a low cross pole was a challenge and on any day 80cm feels like my Badminton or Hickstead Derby!! But I have promised myself that if I am ever in a position again of being taught in a manner that doesn't suit me I will remove myself from the lesson and specifically if I ever find myself being taught by her again. I'm old enough and cranky enough to make that call and I can judge between being pushed to improve -that I need - and being bullied.
There are certainly some instructors out there who don't know that the basic tenants of teaching and can't adjust to teach the rider in front of them and so belittle the rider rather than acknowledge that they are not a good enough instructor to help the person they are being paid to teach.
 

teddypops

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I have left in the middle of a jumping clinic with the instructor shouting abuse at me! I was riding a pony from the school I worked at. She had never jumped and my boss wanted me to take said pony into a small group. The weather was really bad so everyone else cancelled. Instructor insisted we start at 70. I told him several times that it was too high but he wouldn’t listen. We gave it a go, pony wouldn’t jump so instructor got on to ‘prove how rubbish I was’ pony wouldn’t jump, he started bashing pony with whip to get her to jump, it didn’t work, she was terrified. I and the 2 people watching were shouting at him to stop and get off. He eventually got off and very smugly said, that’s how you get a pony to jump😳. We all said rubbish and she didn’t jump anyway. I was then trying to get pony out of school but she was trying to get away from this man and pushing against the gate so couldn’t open it and he was yelling in my ear ‘I’ve taken 3 horses to international level and you have taken 1 horse nowhere or worse’ . It was like a nightmare. I told him exactly what I thought of him and the 2 people watching told him what they thought of him and as I was running down the road away from the school with the pony, I could hear him still yelling insults at me! My boss didn’t say one word when I told her so didn’t take it any further but I wish I had.
I also don’t continue lessons with people who are rude or uninterested. I loved my instructor as a kid even although she was very strict. We all tried really hard to get things right to impress her.
 

Supertrooper

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One of the riding schools I was at as a child used to ridicule you if you didn’t want to jump. They then used to send you off in a field with a group of others and then send one horse off to jump a cross country jump and all the other horses would follow. Absolutely terrified me and put me totally off jumping

Then found another riding school because a friend was working there, I went to see her one day and by this time I’d decided never to ride again. They brought a horse out and said while you’re watching you might as well sit on Fred, here’s a hat etc and within five mins I was in the lesson.

He was and still is an absolutely brilliant instructor, hilarious and very talented and puts things across in a brilliant way. He did so so much for my confidence especially when things went wrong.

One of the only reasons I miss riding is his lessons
 
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Interesting subject.
Like Rowreach said above, I like a coach who pushes me. However, I'm a bit more prudent about my personal safety these days, especially going xc.

A couple of years ago or so in a group of 3 sj lesson at a camp, the instructor got quite pushy and aggressive to one rider, so much so that she was getting tearful. Instructor then started pulling me apart quite 'enthusiastically'. I let it go over my head as I wasn't likely to ever see her again after another 60 mins. It was when I got told that I should give up jumping as my position was so poor and then that my mount was completely unsuitable for jumping*, that I came to a halt and asked in a very loud voice if she would care to repeat that so everyone else could hear.
Bugger me, she did!
Staying on the outside track, I relayed in my best loud voice exactly how I thought she could perhaps improve her coaching, her approach to new clients, that perhaps she needed to address her interpersonal skills, and then turned to apologise to person running said camp and left the arena, closely followed by the other 2.

Anyway, these days I do group sessions at RC for social and fun, picking up tips along the way, then solo lessons as I want to improve. If I have a problem then I do try to unpick as to why.
I think having been an instructor in the past allows me to let things wash over me, but equally let's me have the confidence to question, especially when fellow riders are being irrationally berated

*Native pony, couldn't have been that bad as regularly did DC's and also qualified 4 times in 1 season for Eventers challenge.
 

oldie48

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I don't mind trainers who are blunt and straightforward, prefer those who will push me out of my comfort zone provided they know me and like to feel that as a trainer they are investing something in me and my horse. I've done a number of camps with trainers I don't know and tbh it really sorts out how good they are. They might be a name but some are not good trainers but I have usually been able to take something away from a lesson. The only time I have left a lesson was at a BD camp with an experienced trainer who trained one of the regional teams. It was a paired lesson on a boiling hot day and she sent me up to the other end of the arena to canter round in circles whilst she helped my training partner. 25 minutes later she had not spoken to me or acknowledged me in any way and sweat was dripping off me and horse. The session was 40 mins long with others following on so I quietly left the arena as I had had enough. She said not one word! tbh I was appalled and extremely annoyed. I was somewhat amused but not surprised to hear from a friend that several years later she had taken a UKCC coaching test and failed.
 

onemoretime

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My old very victorian RI in the late 50's early 60's used to rap me over the knees and hands with the end of a lunging whip! She had most of us in tears at some time or another, used to call us a silly little goose if she made us cry. She would never get away with it these days and to think our parents were paying for this abuse!
 

Amun

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I wouldn't go back, this kind of person would make me feel very insecure. Surely you can find an instructor who is both good and polite/friendly. I can't complain about instructors I had, all of them had always been nice to me. The only downside I ever had was that two instructors in the same RS sometimes contradicted each other. So I just picked the one I considered more senior.
 

Slightlyconfused

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I walked out of a lesson when i was younger.

I had confidence issues with jumping, I was happy at the time to play around 2'6 and work on a course, spreads etc at that height. Had no intention of going higher as I still felt at times worried. Pony could easily jump 3ft plus but until I was bored at 2'6 and asked to go up I just wanted to get my confidence in this first.

Working on a grid with a spread as the last jump. The instructor had put it up to 2'9 without me knowing, pony took a bigger jump to it, he was 13'2, and startled me. we cleared it no problem and the instructor proudly burst out "See, I told you you could go higher, now lets put the others up". To which i got off the pony and walked out telling her that I wouldn't be having any more lessons with her as she clearly couldn't respect the fact I didn't want to go higher at that moment in time.

Nearly 20 years later an I still worry about jumping and only do trot poles.
 

SEL

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I had some shocking ones when I was younger but I wasn't a very confident child so was easy to bully. I had a real bully when I was a horseless student who seemed to resent me even turning up at the RS for a lesson. She'd sigh loudly if she saw me booked in for the lesson and try and find the worst possible dobbin for me to ride. Unfortunately for her I've always been pretty good at getting a tune out of a dobbin (electric seat when younger) and that just used to annoy her more!

Its easier as an adult because if you aren't happy with the teaching you just don't go back. I see less of the shouty type around now, but perhaps that's because I avoid most RS around here.
 

milliepops

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This is a genuine question, because it's something I'm doing a lot of work on at the moment, do you think styles and methods of coaching have changed over the past 15 years, and do you think it is for the better or worse? Coach education has evolved, and there is more of a consistent approach across all sports, but ime horse sport coaching is vastly different to other sports (far more "professional" coaches in horse sport than volunteers, and far more one to one coaching and therefore less peer review going on).
I don't know if there's a trend, just because there's so much variation in what I've experienced personally over the years, i can't really tell whether things are changing. People tend to stay in the game for decades, so unless there is some impetus to change their style I think they probably just carry on as they are?

as a kid I had a mixture of "fun" not-very-demanding instructors and an extreme old skool dragon. the old skool one was chosen by my parents to make sure I had a rigorous schooling in the horse world because they have no knowledge at all. I remember her fondly but she was the proper bellowing kind that really told you off if you did something wrong. Yes I was scared of her. no she wasn't a bully though, she just wanted me to learn how to do stuff properly.

I guess the next time I encountered that kind of fear was an FBHS when I was attending a centre to do my exams. I have no respect for that person whatsoever because not only did they make everyone cry, they also spent most of the time on the phone. all the time while charging the highest rate of all the instructors in the centre.

My trainer is also FBHS but completely different style, i think he's one of life's natural coaches but I don't believe he has or will do the coaching quals (I mean I guess why would you need to when you are as busy as you want to be).

I have sampled some other coaches from the UKCC kind of background but it's such a personal thing whether you get on with someone or not, i don't actually find the background of education to be that influential? there are many other personal factors I think. The "standing in the middle barking instructions" type will always remain because if you're doing a group lesson of beginners at a RS that's what many of them expect ;)
I am not sure if you can really have consistency of approach because of the variation - often whether a coach is any use to someone who has progressed beyond w-t-c and has their own horse, is the coach's experience and knowledge in the disciplines that the rider wants to train within, as well as their experience with a broad range of horses. the horse brings such a huge added unknown dimension to the rider-coach relationship. not very conclusive there, sorry, today is a stream of consciousness day.
 

sarahann1

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Went back to the lorry at a camp and sobbed after one particularly awful lesson where I should have stood my ground when I said no to something. I got bullied/harassed into doing it by the instructor, made a massive pigs ear of it, what little confidence I had vanished and I felt like a useless fool for the rest of camp.

The club still regularly uses said instructor, I’ve never booked a lesson with them since.
 

fankino04

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I often think the horse world has got a bit stuck in the past, instructors or yard managers teach / treat staff how they were as it worked for them and that's just how it is. When I worked on a yard when I was 16 the way the boss treated me was horrendous ( but I learned alot), years later working in retail management I saw people raise grievances and disciplinaries for far less than we endured. Certain professions seem to think it's part of "paying your dues", I often think top kitchens are similar with their chefs.
 

welshpony216

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When I was probly about 11, I had a lesson with this trainer who insisted I canter a 3 foot course on my old 13.2 hh pony. He had the worst canter ever, and was a refuser, a bolter, and liked to rear and buck, so I was barely confident trotting a 2'3 vertical on him, never mind canter one! but she made us do it, or said she'd take the money and leave, and boy, that lesson was quite pricy. I said no, and said I could try if she put them down to cross-poles. She finally did, and after we finished galloping, bucking, and trotting our way around the course (we probly had some refusals as well) she said some unspeakable things about my poor rescue pony, and told me (in a very rude way) how my leg was to far forward, I was looking down, my legs kept swinging, and how I shouldn't of lost my balance there, or over there, she did complement me on having a pretty good seat though (um.. didn't you say I had bad balance!) . It was a nightmare, but luckily the hour was up and we got out of there. Never came back.
 
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I had a lesson with a very well thought of instructor when I first got CM (who was very green). She rode CM and at one point halted her at the gate so she could chat to someone. The next time she passed the gate CM went to halt and the instructor was not happy, CM was 'dog meat' apparently. Anyhoo... I then got on and rode. The instructor was surprised by how good our downwards transitions were (said as a big dig insinuating how bad we were at everything else - the disabled rider with her 'dog meat' horse :(). She didn't teach me anything and the whole lesson was a waste of time and money. I didn't book her again as I wasn't wanting to pay someone to chat with other people and then insult my horse.

Afterwards it came out that her regular clients at the stables - the very ones who said how good she was - were often brought to tears during their lessons as she was so awful to them. Dreadful.

I later found a different instructor who was much more positive and I loved my lessons with her and both me and CM learnt a lot.
 

McFluff

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These experiences are horrendous. I feel very lucky to have nothing that bad.
I did have a spell (about 5 lessons) at a riding school years ago, where it dawned on me that I looked forward to riding, but not the lesson. It was a large group (usually about 9), very mixed ability (some being taught how to rise to trot) and I was put in lead file, and the only time the instructor spoke to me was to ask me to change direction/pace as lead file. I stopped going and put my return to riding on hold while I found a better school, but I can totally understand how you end up trapped in useless lessons.

Coaching is a real skill, and one I feel is undervalued. As an employer, I employ lots of sports coaches (swim, gymnastics, etc.) - all use the UKCC scheme and all are (as Rowreach says above) regularly assessed and reviewed. I don't know enough about the BHS System to compare. While I have issues with the UKCC system (there is a lot of cost and repetition for a coach if they wish to qualify for other sports - and as an employer, we can create better jobs if people can coach different sports), the general approach does produce some really good coaches.

IMO a good coach should ease you out of your comfort zone (otherwise you don't learn), but not so much that you lose confidence. You need to believe that they 'know' you can do something so that you commit to it.
When you find a good coach, hang on to them.
Equally, be prepared to walk away if you don't feel you are learning, don't look forward to your lessons and don't come away thinking about what you've learnt/need to practice/want to change, as you are wasting your time and money (as well as depleting your confidence bank).
 

jnb

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I had the most horrendous lesson from Mrs (the Radio 1 DJ's mum) Bates at Tong about 19 years ago, I don't think I have ever recovered from it to be honest, she ripped me to shreds & I was literally in tears. Not sure if should name her tbh but I have never felt so low in all my life (well, losing my cob and Dad obviously but)
It was my first and last lesson with her & I didn't have another lesson with anyone for at least 3 years. To this day I don't know why I didn't get off and leave.
She was really horrible and personal to me - at the time I was about a size 14/16 and she basically called me a fat useless rider - the horse could do everything & it was me sitting like a fat sack of spuds that was the problem.
I hadn’t had a lesson for about 5-6 years but just lost my pony of 20 years, was heartbroken and was looking to brush up to buy a horse & she destroyed me. Told me I was nowhere good enough to be looking for a horse.
I gave up looking for 18months before I plucked up the courage to ride again.
It was awful. I still am really wary of using instructors new to me now - I will always go and watch them teach first.
Current instructor does like to push her physio to most of her clients but I think that's because she finds him very good. Because I have a green horse sometimes a friend also shares the lesson and I often feel she prefers teaching her not me (I am paying) but I am super sensitive (apparently) so who knows.
 

Rowreach

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I don't know if there's a trend, just because there's so much variation in what I've experienced personally over the years, i can't really tell whether things are changing. People tend to stay in the game for decades, so unless there is some impetus to change their style I think they probably just carry on as they are?

as a kid I had a mixture of "fun" not-very-demanding instructors and an extreme old skool dragon. the old skool one was chosen by my parents to make sure I had a rigorous schooling in the horse world because they have no knowledge at all. I remember her fondly but she was the proper bellowing kind that really told you off if you did something wrong. Yes I was scared of her. no she wasn't a bully though, she just wanted me to learn how to do stuff properly.

I guess the next time I encountered that kind of fear was an FBHS when I was attending a centre to do my exams. I have no respect for that person whatsoever because not only did they make everyone cry, they also spent most of the time on the phone. all the time while charging the highest rate of all the instructors in the centre.

My trainer is also FBHS but completely different style, i think he's one of life's natural coaches but I don't believe he has or will do the coaching quals (I mean I guess why would you need to when you are as busy as you want to be).

I have sampled some other coaches from the UKCC kind of background but it's such a personal thing whether you get on with someone or not, i don't actually find the background of education to be that influential? there are many other personal factors I think. The "standing in the middle barking instructions" type will always remain because if you're doing a group lesson of beginners at a RS that's what many of them expect ;)
I am not sure if you can really have consistency of approach because of the variation - often whether a coach is any use to someone who has progressed beyond w-t-c and has their own horse, is the coach's experience and knowledge in the disciplines that the rider wants to train within, as well as their experience with a broad range of horses. the horse brings such a huge added unknown dimension to the rider-coach relationship. not very conclusive there, sorry, today is a stream of consciousness day.
No that's really useful, thank you. Personally I find quite a few Fellows are more interested in their phones than the people they're meant to be concentrating on, but there's one or two that can manage both ;)

I always hope that the requirement for CPD keeps coaches up to scratch, but it really doesn't, and my experience with the BHS as a coach didn't impress me one bit. I'm more involved with Horsesport Ireland coaches now, and they do impress me more.
 

fankino04

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I also remember back in the day there was lots of belittling of the BHS stages from many professionals. We would regularly get taught "how to do it in the real world" and then reminded "how to do it if we were assessed for our exams". It always seemed like the exams were a means to an end but that you didn't learn anything valuable going through them, those lessons were taught by experienced horse people who had been there and done that and generally treat everyone like cr*p.
 

Rowreach

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These experiences are horrendous. I feel very lucky to have nothing that bad.
I did have a spell (about 5 lessons) at a riding school years ago, where it dawned on me that I looked forward to riding, but not the lesson. It was a large group (usually about 9), very mixed ability (some being taught how to rise to trot) and I was put in lead file, and the only time the instructor spoke to me was to ask me to change direction/pace as lead file. I stopped going and put my return to riding on hold while I found a better school, but I can totally understand how you end up trapped in useless lessons.

Coaching is a real skill, and one I feel is undervalued. As an employer, I employ lots of sports coaches (swim, gymnastics, etc.) - all use the UKCC scheme and all are (as Rowreach says above) regularly assessed and reviewed. I don't know enough about the BHS System to compare. While I have issues with the UKCC system (there is a lot of cost and repetition for a coach if they wish to qualify for other sports - and as an employer, we can create better jobs if people can coach different sports), the general approach does produce some really good coaches.

IMO a good coach should ease you out of your comfort zone (otherwise you don't learn), but not so much that you lose confidence. You need to believe that they 'know' you can do something so that you commit to it.
When you find a good coach, hang on to them.
Equally, be prepared to walk away if you don't feel you are learning, don't look forward to your lessons and don't come away thinking about what you've learnt/need to practice/want to change, as you are wasting your time and money (as well as depleting your confidence bank).
I totally agree about the repetition part. I really like the UKCC/SI approach to coaching inasmuch as it creates some consistency of practice across sports coaching, but the very fact that that can be applied across all sports means there really shouldn't be any need to repeat so much of it.

But then there comes a time when each coach really has to develop their own personality and approach and I guess that's when you find out who can and who can't :D
 
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