Pony share at stables

Trapieter

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Hi,
My child has started a pony share at the local riding school but it is not what I expected.
he does 2 days after school and one full day a week. So about 16 hrs a week of which he only seems to ride 1 hr and only be around the horse when he grooms it. The rest is all stable/ yard work.
I know keeping a horse is hard work and they need to learn responsibility but he has done pony days where he is ridden more in 6 hrs than his whole week. And the worst part is, it’s putting him off.
my son has adhd and asd. Severe anxiety and low mood. The only thing that relaxes him is being around horses. It is why I thought this would be great. Time to chill with a pony. Riding is not the priority… just being around them. He has never had a problem with mucking out, grooming, etc but now he’s refusing to go to his normal pony club sessions. ( so I lose £40)
they wouldn’t let me stay either even though I have stressed he has anxiety and write up says it’s for the whole family …
he’s in primary school by the way and the full day is 8-5.
Does this seem like a fair pony share?

I’m new to this and not really sure how to approach it. I was thinking of reducing his hours but if it’s putting him off the thing he loves the most maybe I should cancel it.
 

Widgeon

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I would definitely cancel - he's only little, it ought to be fun, not putting him off. You may be new to this but you know your son, and secondly this doesn't sound an entirely normal arrangement - normally a share means you can do more or less what you like with your pony on your days, not be doing yard work for other ponies. If this riding school are not particularly interested in what your son needs it might be time to find another one that's a bit more sympathetic / suitable. If you get stuck maybe give the local RDA a call, they might have some helpful suggestions or contacts.
 

Pmf27

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Expecting a primary aged child to put in a full day 8am to 5pm without parental input is unreasonable in my view. Find another venue!
Agree with above. This doesn't sound like a normal share, it sounds as though your son is doing a day's work in exchange for a ride.

I did this myself when I was in primary school and it was fine, as my parents and I knew exactly what the deal was - one day's work from 8am to 4pm and a discounted hour's riding lesson in exchange.

Is there another riding school nearby that you could inquire about shares with? My old riding school, for example, offered loans on their horses which meant you just had to let the YO know when you'd like to ride and for how long, so that she didn't book that particular horse in for a lesson.
 

Trapieter

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It's not working for him at all. I'd look for a different arrangement somewhere else. The days of primary age children being sent up chimneys have long gone. Have you been paying for this share or is it labour in exchange for riding for one hour?
I pay £120 pm
 

Trapieter

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Agree with above. This doesn't sound like a normal share, it sounds as though your son is doing a day's work in exchange for a ride.

I did this myself when I was in primary school and it was fine, as my parents and I knew exactly what the deal was - one day's work from 8am to 4pm and a discounted hour's riding lesson in exchange.

Is there another riding school nearby that you could inquire about shares with? My old riding school, for example, offered loans on their horses which meant you just had to let the YO know when you'd like to ride and for how long, so that she didn't book that particular horse in for a lesson.
No other riding school that offers a share. Plus we pay for the share.
its so hard to find a share/ loan because of his age. I thought this would be perfect.
now I’m worried if I say something it will affect his lessons. It’s so hard to book in there as it is. And he loves his riding instructor.
 

nagblagger

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Err am i reading this right, you pay £120 a month for an hours ride a week, and for the privilege of him mucking out ? I know the riding school will have to employ staff and insurance - but an hour!
if he is not happy, i agree with above posts do not force him, maybe have a meeting with his instructor saying its affecting his mental health and maybe come up with a mutual solution, even if its just a short term with a review date.
 

HeyMich

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Ooft! I think you could get a lot more value for your money elsewhere! I would take a total step back and remind him why he enjoyed it so much - get some low key lessons booked (at another riding centre), maybe a few hacks out into the countryside, or maybe even a few 'own a pony' days too. Your £120 will pay for a lot without the added pressure of manual labour!
 

smolmaus

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This sounds so bizarre. Just for illustration, what would happen if he didn't turn up on his weekend day for example?

If you're paying £120/m for your child to do an activity, be supervised, be taught stable management, have fun etc, him missing a day would be you paying for a service he didn't use. You lose out, but the school presumably won't mind because they get paid anyway.

If he misses a day of WORK, then the stables loses out on his labour. Would he be expected not to take a lesson that week or make up the day on a Sunday?

Perhaps an experiment is in order to see how the balance of labour is actually playing out here. Or just end the arrangement since you've already said he doesn't seem to be enjoying it!
 

HeyMich

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No other riding school that offers a share. Plus we pay for the share.
its so hard to find a share/ loan because of his age. I thought this would be perfect.
now I’m worried if I say something it will affect his lessons. It’s so hard to book in there as it is. And he loves his riding instructor.
Just thinking out loud - do you know where your closes pony club branch is? Could you drop the DC a quick line to see if any of the kids at the pony club would like a share rider? Then you could ask the insructor that he likes to come and give you private lessons (if they do freelance teaching - i've found that most do). The pc DC might be able to point you in the right direction to another riding school in the area too. Worth an email for sure.
 

Spiritedly

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If the stables were paying an apprentice for those 16 hours they would have to pay them over £300 pm so it seems the yard is just looking for labour who pay for privilege of working around their horses!
If no other yards offer pony share it may be worth asking on fb or preloved if anyone is looking for a sharer/loaner for a pony and seeing if your instructor would come and give lessons privately.
 

Trapieter

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Just thinking out loud - do you know where your closes pony club branch is? Could you drop the DC a quick line to see if any of the kids at the pony club would like a share rider? Then you could ask the insructor that he likes to come and give you private lessons (if they do freelance teaching - i've found that most do). The pc DC might be able to point you in the right direction to another riding school in the area too. Worth an email for sure.
This is my closest pony club branch and we are a member😕 I might feel a bit awkward asking that here.
 

ester

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If it were me I think I’d go back to just paying for a lesson and make enquiries locally (probably on Facebook) about other options - there certainly seems to be a fair number of underused ponies that people want extra riders/helpers for so long as parent happy to supervise.

it doesn’t take from 8-5 to do ‘his’ pony and if he’s struggling there’s no point in carrying that on and paying to do so.
 

Trapieter

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If the stables were paying an apprentice for those 16 hours they would have to pay them over £300 pm so it seems the yard is just looking for labour who pay for privilege of working around their horses!
If no other yards offer pony share it may be worth asking on fb or preloved if anyone is looking for a sharer/loaner for a pony and seeing if your instructor would come and give lessons privately.
I was thinking about this last night and I think you’re right.
This sounds so bizarre. Just for illustration, what would happen if he didn't turn up on his weekend day for example?

If you're paying £120/m for your child to do an activity, be supervised, be taught stable management, have fun etc, him missing a day would be you paying for a service he didn't use. You lose out, but the school presumably won't mind because they get paid anyway.

If he misses a day of WORK, then the stables loses out on his labour. Would he be expected not to take a lesson that week or make up the day on a Sunday?

Perhaps an experiment is in order to see how the balance of labour is actually playing out here. Or just end the arrangement since you've already said he doesn't seem to be enjoying it!
I’m probably going to find out as he was supposed to be there today!
 

EventingMum

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Another avenue to explore is RDA. The name doesn't truly reflect what many groups offer. The group based at my yard have many participants without physical disabilities, quite a large proportion have varying degrees ADHD, Aspergers etc and really benefit from the calm atmosphere and interaction with the ponies. The volunteers and coaches are also very good at understanding that the participant's mood may vary from session to session. They offer riding, stable management and Equine Facilitated Learning which has had huge therapeutic benefits for some participants who suffer from anxiety. I currently teach one girl who is high functioning with autism and has anxiety. She started when she was in primary school, she is now in her first year at uni but still likes RDA as her de-stressing pony time.
 

Arzada

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Thank you everyone for making me feel I’m not crazy and expecting too much. I’m going to speak to them today, try and reduce hours and see if they will let me stay with him. If not I will cancel.
I hope you can work something out. Let us know how you get on
 

Wishfilly

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It all sounds very odd, and not like a normal share at all. I agree that you should (politely) knock the share on the head as he is not enjoying it, and look into other options. There will usually be an element of yard work on a share, but it should relate to his own pony, not looking after others!

If it's just about being around horses for relaxation, it may even be worth finding out if anyone locally has a retired or non ridden pony who would appreciate attention, e.g. grooming, being taken for walks etc. And then he could still keep up his lessons at the stables if you wanted that?
 

HashRouge

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Do you mean he only rides once out of the 3 days he is there?

The one thing I would say, from those likening this to slave labour, is that primary school age children are actually not likely to be that much help at all! They do things very slowly and need a lot of supervising/ teaching. It would probably be much easier for the riding school staff to do the chores themselves without the children, so I don't think it's necessarily fair to accuse the stables of taking advantage in that respect. I say this having been a yard manager previously and having to supervise apprentices (age 16 to 18). It would almost always have been much easier for us just to do the yard ourselves, and these were much older individuals than the OP's child.

That said, I would have some major concerns about this arrangement. An 8am to 5pm day is far too much for a primary school age child, especially if this is one of his weekend days (which it sounds like from the OP). He is probably knackered! I would also want to know exactly what yard jobs the children were being expected to do, because I would expect there to be a reasonable amount of tuition included (not just riding) and would also expect that effort was being put in to make the experience fun for them. If they're literally just being pointed at a stable and told to muck it out, then pointed at the yard and told to sweep it and so on, for a whole day, then I wouldn't be especially thrilled. I would definitely be wanting to find out more about what exactly is going on while your son is there OP, and I would also want to reduce those Sunday hours.

The only other thing that I am curious about, is who are the other children who also do this share arrangement? Does your son have any particular friends who go? Could he actually be feeling left out/ excluded if he doesn't know the other children very well? The reason I ask this is because my experience of helping at a riding school when I was younger is that we all did it for the privilege of hanging out with horses all day, but it was also a very social thing. I don't know if I would have enjoyed it so much if I wasn't with my friends. So I would potentially be digging a bit to find out if there could be any social/ friendship issues at play.

Also, OP if you are in West Sussex and have a car, you are welcome to bring your son to come and meet my ponies. He can give them both a brush and a cuddle, and have a sit on the oldie (she is retired so doesn't do much, but he could walk her round the paddock). No back breaking chores required!
 

Glitterandrainbows

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I’d look for a private part loan on your local equestrian group as it will be better value for money you can say to the riding school that you want to see how he handles a pony independently without the help of the staff support incase you want to buy in future but still want him to attend pony club for a while as you still want him to learn from them that way no one is offended and you will probably end up paying less than you are now in a private loan home as often it’s finding the time to ride for some kids/teens
 

Trapieter

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Do you mean he only rides once out of the 3 days he is there?

The one thing I would say, from those likening this to slave labour, is that primary school age children are actually not likely to be that much help at all! They do things very slowly and need a lot of supervising/ teaching. It would probably be much easier for the riding school staff to do the chores themselves without the children, so I don't think it's necessarily fair to accuse the stables of taking advantage in that respect. I say this having been a yard manager previously and having to supervise apprentices (age 16 to 18). It would almost always have been much easier for us just to do the yard ourselves, and these were much older individuals than the OP's child.

That said, I would have some major concerns about this arrangement. An 8am to 5pm day is far too much for a primary school age child, especially if this is one of his weekend days (which it sounds like from the OP). He is probably knackered! I would also want to know exactly what yard jobs the children were being expected to do, because I would expect there to be a reasonable amount of tuition included (not just riding) and would also expect that effort was being put in to make the experience fun for them. If they're literally just being pointed at a stable and told to muck it out, then pointed at the yard and told to sweep it and so on, for a whole day, then I wouldn't be especially thrilled. I would definitely be wanting to find out more about what exactly is going on while your son is there OP, and I would also want to reduce those Sunday hours.

The only other thing that I am curious about, is who are the other children who also do this share arrangement? Does your son have any particular friends who go? Could he actually be feeling left out/ excluded if he doesn't know the other children very well? The reason I ask this is because my experience of helping at a riding school when I was younger is that we all did it for the privilege of hanging out with horses all day, but it was also a very social thing. I don't know if I would have enjoyed it so much if I wasn't with my friends. So I would potentially be digging a bit to find out if there could be any social/ friendship issues at play.

Also, OP if you are in West Sussex and have a car, you are welcome to bring your son to come and meet my ponies. He can give them both a brush and a cuddle, and have a sit on the oldie (she is retired so doesn't do much, but he could walk her round the paddock). No back breaking chores required!

Yes, he has one hack included a week. He does 2 days after school and I even booked his riding lesson on that day so he would ride his share pony but was told he may not be able to ride as the horse may have been used during the day. I guess that explains why it’s only once a week.

I’ve managed to reduce it by 1 hr on the full days as said 8-5 was a bit too long and was told all the sharers do it but they do it because they do it for the love of being around horses and being with friends.
I kind of felt it was implied my son can’t have that love/ passion as he is moaning about it. No understanding of his anxiety or whether I can stay.
he is making friends there but of course his nerves don’t help.
Trying to discuss the matter has been a nightmare really. If the other staff were the same I would be gone but yesterday we booked a session and the staff and older volunteers were so good with him. He has been hiding a saddle pad and ears for ages, too nervous to ask if he could put it on and they all got excited “ you have to show me, I have a saddle pad addiction!” And when he got it out they were all so encouraging he felt good about it and put it on, groomed and plaited the hair. Even did a fancy braid in the tail which normally he wouldn’t even attempt. It was so nice and he loved it.
just wish his pony share was as fun.
he asked me to buy him a grooming set yesterday so maybe he will be more confident in what he wants whilst there rather than just asking “what shall I do now” and as you say be pointed to a random job which is what has been happening. He’s sick of cleaning tack. I asked him if the saddle he used was the one he’d been cleaning “ yes, but I clean it better than that” 😂
He has 2 long days this week I just hope it improves. I would love for him to make friends and they help each other out, ride together.
And thank you so much for the offer but we are miles away, very sweet of you x
 

Winters100

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I would be curious as to what he is actually doing there for 8 hours. I am not sure what the ages are for Primary School in the UK, but assuming that it is below 10 I would think that the children are not very useful, and require more supervision than any tasks are really worth. I doubt the tasks are really hard, because what would you be able to get a child this age to do well? Perhaps the price is such because the riding school considers that it is providing 8 hours childcare? Before making a decision I would try to have a discussion with them to see exactly what is happening, and then to find out why he is not enjoying it. It may just be that he is upset at being apart from you for this long, in which case the decision is one that only you can make, knowing your child, either push him to continue to make him more independent, or look for other arrangements. Good luck untangling this, I suspect there is more to it than you currently know!
 

Trapieter

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So this is not a pony share. Really I think the £30 covers their hack and the rest is just helping out. He rides the horse once .. on that hack or if I have booked him a lesson on his pony share day or an event I have paid for.
but that really didn’t work out well last time as the horse did not want to move in the private lesson. 2 instructors tried, at one point a child from another lesson had to be followed by my son on the horse as on his own wouldn’t go. Then they had to get a volunteer ( probably another pony sharer) to come lead reign basically. His instructor was not happy and said it was a waste of time yet they won’t let him change.
whilst he is there he poo picks the field, fills the water and hay nets, brings horse up from field, grooms horse, gives another Hay net and water. Get the pony ready for other riders having a lesson on him so tack up, untack and lead reign for them if necessary for a lesson or a hack. Rinse horse down if needed and groom after being ridden, clean tack. Rinse horse food bowls, do hay nets and water for other horses, rug the horse and take back to the field. Redo water and hay and poo pick again. And any other jobs they ask him to do.
I spoke to his friends mum who has bought a horse and I said I just can’t afford it. But she told me her expenses and it’s really not too bad. Now, if I had said before this pony share we could get a horse he would be all over it. But now he thinks having a horse is just work work work. He said the pony share has ruined his love for horses. Yet … after being there on a pony share day he says he wants to keep doing it? So confusing. I think he believes having a horse is 9 hrs a day non stop work now! He really just wants to chill with the horse.
 

Arzada

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It's not working for him at all. I'd look for a different arrangement somewhere else. The days of primary age children being sent up chimneys have long gone. Have you been paying for this share or is it labour in exchange for riding for one hour?
So it's child labour plus £30 in exchange for one hour's riding. I'm stunned. I'd look for something more suited to him somewhere else ie some riding, some simple tasks like grooming his pony, tack cleaning after his ride and some hanging out with a pony for significantly fewer hours per day
 

Cloball

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I used to 'help' at my local stables on a Saturday when I was 11 doing similar jobs, so much tack cleaning! But I also used to get at least 2 hours riding in one lesson and one hack and sometimes I'd get a long hack in. It was hard work and we used to start at 7am and sometimes not leave til 7 but we weren't bound by those hours and we could essentially leave whenever we wanted. Plus I was with my two best friends. We also didn't pay for the privilege only for the lessons, sometimes we even got extra free lessons with the guys doing there levels training if the wanted guinea pigs.

I know times have changed now and maybe the share and paying arrangements are to get around certain insurance loop holes but I still think it's a lot especially as his lessons don't seem to be going well. It's not exactly a horse share is it, its more yard volunteering. Then again I am nostalgic for my pre teen ponies years with my friends.
 
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