Friday, June 30, 2017

The Camp Kid Dilemma: Being a Good Citizen of the Equine Economy

It invariably happens every single year. You get a kid that comes to your riding camp that takes lessons at another stable in the area. You're relieved because at least they have horse experience and potentially even some skills; however, you're also nervous because there's a lot of 'manners' you now have to maneuver through.

Working with adults that ride at other stables is pretty simple. They are adults and they maneuver through the manners along with you. However, children don't do that. It's all up to you!

Here's my rules for maneuvering:

    It's never a good idea to insult another barn, but especially not to children who won't understand where your disagreements may be coming from. Moreover, those children may parrot what you said. Those barns are working hard to keep people interested in horseback riding and providing services to the industry. No matter how much you disagree with their training philosophies, barn management style, or business model.
    Instead, the proper answer to anything you disagree with is: "At our barn we do things like this because ________."
    It's important to explain WHY you might do things differently. Even though they are children they should understand why you choose to do the processes you do and they can make their own choices outside your barn as to what they think.
    Do NOT use your camp to steal children away from their home barns! Do you want more students? Do you love the kid and wish you could ride with them more? Well, yeah! Obviously you want to ride with those awesome kids and wish you could share your knowledge with them! That's what instructors do! But it is inappropriate to kidnap them from others in the industry.
    Even if the kids say outright "I like your barn/horses/lessons better. I'm going to quit the other barn," it is inappropriate to respond with an enthusiastic "YAY!".
    The appropriate answer is always: "You are welcome to ride here whenever you want. Talk to your parents about it and make sure you think about your goals. We are here for you when you need us." By saying that you leave the door open (because it is!) but you make the child realize they need to make choices and talk with their parents about their goals.
    Kids do enough comparing without your help. You never want to compare your barn to another barn because all barns are DIFFERENT! We have different priorities, different philosophies, different horses, different management styles, different budgets, different facilities, and maybe even use different riding styles. But everyone in the industry is doing the best that they can!
    When you get kids from other barns that are riding on their hands, leaning too far forward, have unstable legs, can't keep a posting rhythm for the life of them, or have major fear issues because of past experiences DO NOT ASSUME anything about the barn they came from. Those kids often do not necessarily have those problems because of the instruction they are receiving, often their instructors are trying to correct those problems as well! Don't blame the instructor, understand that learning is a process.
    And remember, you have students that drive you nuts too and have problems YOU are trying to correct!

1 comment:

Elizabeth McDonald said...

Love this! There's too much rudeness in the horse world, it's so refreshing to work with people who just want to help the industry and act as a community. Thanks for sharing!