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Dear Ehh: Advice for Parents With Disappointed Riders

Updated on February 17, 2019
Ellison Hartley profile image

Ellison is a professional horse trainer and riding instructor. She runs a summer camp program and offers kids a safe introduction to horses.


Dear EHH

My daughter has been taking group riding lessons for about 4 months. They are currently learning how to trot and the instructor has let all the students try it off the lunge line beside my daughter. She gets her hopes up each week that she will get to trot by herself and is getting discouraged. What should I do? Why isn't my daughter trotting on her own yet?

Dear Disappointed and Confused Parent,

I totally understand how it must be hard to see your child frustrated or discouraged after lessons. It is certainly hard when you only ride once a week and you get your hopes up and then continually get disappointed.

Rest assured, your instructor is probably just looking out for your child's safety and also her confidence. If she hasn't had a chance to trot by herself yet, your instructor must have a reason why.

Maybe your child is still not quite solid enough in her position to be able to trot and steer all on her own. Maybe she is one of the more timid riders in the group.

Any good instructor will take their time and be overly cautious with a timid rider. They will not push them on until they are absolutely sure they are ready. It is much easier to take your time with students and allow them to slowly gain confidence. If you rush your students and they lose confidence it is harder to get it back.


You should talk to your instructor and express your concern. You want to make it clear that you are not doubting her expertise. Just that you want to be able to explain to your child why she hasn't gotten to trot off the lunge line yet.

Ask your instructor to discuss it with your child, that way she knows exactly what she needs to work on.

One other suggestion I have is that if you really feel like your child is falling behind, maybe sign up for some private lessons. Private lessons can really be an easy way to make fast progress when your child has only been in group lessons before.

Communication between you, your instructor and your child is so important. Making sure that everyone is on the same page will help keep your child from getting frustrated. Not to mention, if you know what your instructor's plan is you can help your child understand, and not be continually disappointed.

Everyone learns at their own pace, and that is okay! As I said before, it is better to be overly prepared before moving on to the next skill than it is to rush.

I'm sure your instructor has your child's best interest in mind. By keeping the lines of communication open with your child's instructor, you will be able to understand things better. You will be better able to keep your child from getting discouraged if you understand why things are going the way they are.

Building confidence in our riders is of utmost importance to riding instructors. As I said before it is a lot easier to take your time and gain confidence then it is to rebuild confidence once it is lost.

Your instructor may not know how disappointed or frustrated your child is. If your child isn't expressing it to their instructor, they won't think to do anything differently or to explain anything differently.

Every instructor wants their students to be confident and safe. Don't be afraid to communicate with your instructor about how your child is feeling. Many times students don't let their disappointment or frustration show to their instructor, but wait and tell Mom and Dad about it when they get home.

If your instructor is aware of how your child is feeling he or she can do her best to keep boosting their confidence and explaining why they do things the way they do.

Communicate with your instructor, understand what their plan is so you can help your child understand. Once everyone is on the same page, I'm sure she will be trotting on her own before you know it!

Good Luck,


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