Rubbish hack - but am I expecting too much?

Dazzle

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May 27, 2016
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I've just started to canter & have serious confidence issues with it. I tend to scream the first time I canter in every lesson (!!), but by the 2nd/3rd attempt it all starts to feel okayish. My instructor suggested that I book an hours hack with some 'steady cantering' to help get more of a feel for it.

I booked a hack for today and was just so ridiculously excited. I remember hacking when I was younger (I'm an returner rider relearning again) and it was great to just 'go' and not have to worry about corners etc. I remember lots of trotting followed by several canters and originally I think it was how I learned to canter. I can remember loving it. Anyway, the hack I had this morning was massively disappointing and I'm wondering if I should say something to my instructor next time I see her, or if I'm just delusional and expecting too much from a riding school hack? What are other peoples experiences/expectations of hacking when you're learning?

I have to make clear it wasn't my instructor who came with me. She is brilliant but the stable I go to is staffed by very young girls. My instructor looks very young but is very serious and quite an exceptional teacher I think. However, I was annoyed today as the hack was led by another member of the staff and there was me and another girl, who I assumed was also learning. However it turned out she had been riding since she was 5 and was a friend of the girl leading the hack. They spent the whole time far ahead of me talking about boyfriends, dresses, make up etc and I felt totally ignored. On top of that we walked for virtually the whole hour and only cantered once for about 3 minutes. I hate to say it, but I was bored stiff!! Whilst it was lovely to be on horseback for a full hour I had imagined I would be trotting and cantering quite a bit and thought it was going to be a real watershed in my riding experience. It was anything but. Usually in a half an hour lesson I get to canter in short spurts but 3 or 4 times. The hack today just felt like a complete waste of time and money. As you all know, learning to ride is expensive and I only allow myself to go once a fortnight so this has really upset me. Is it worth saying anything or should I just expect less in future?
 

Ale

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Feb 8, 2012
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I don't know where you are based but round here the ground is very hard right now to the point I wouldn't be doing much cantering or trotting out on a hack.

I'd have a chat with your instructor yes and see if she can take you on a hack. Or perhaps book a hack at another stable if you can.

It's not very professional of them to just ignore you especially as you are a nervous learner and that would annoy me more than the not being able to canter
 
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Mary Poppins

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If the aim of the hack was to experience lots of canter, it sounds like there was a breakdown in communication between the new instructor and your normal one. Either your normal instructor should have told the new one that you wanted to canter, or the new instructor should have asked you what you wanted to get out of the hack before you went. Either way, you were left unfulfilled and it is just rude of her to ignore you. I would most definitely say something. Riding is too expensive to not get what you want out of your lessons.
 

carthorse

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I'd have a word with your RI. Irrespective of ground conditions you shouldn't have been made to feel like you were tagging along on the hack & the school should be made aware of this & have a word with their ride leaders. Maybe, if you can afford it, book a private hack with your RI?
 

Dazzle

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May 27, 2016
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I'd have a word with your RI. Irrespective of ground conditions you shouldn't have been made to feel like you were tagging along on the hack & the school should be made aware of this & have a word with their ride leaders. Maybe, if you can afford it, book a private hack with your RI?

The irony is it was a private hack!! I didn't expect the other girl to be there. I paid £30 for the hour, I think that's quite a lot??
 

Dazzle

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May 27, 2016
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BTW there was no problem with ground conditions, I'm in Devon in the UK, lovely sunny day and a bit muddy in places but I have ridden in far worse conditions.
 

KP nut

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If you booked a private hack and were then ignored by a young rider leader who allowed a friend to come along and spent the whole ride chatting with her then you should absolutely complain. That is totally unprofessional of the yard.
 
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newforest

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Mar 15, 2008
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BTW there was no problem with ground conditions, I'm in Devon in the UK, lovely sunny day and a bit muddy in places but I have ridden in far worse conditions.
My usual canter area is muddy in places to the untrained eye, but unsuitable at this time to canter on.
We've had torrential rain Monday and on and off heavy showers today. It makes it slippery and deep in places-typical Devon clay soil.

You actually don't sound ready to canter if your reaction is to scream.
 
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KP nut

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Regardless of whether there could have been more canter work or not, the ride leader should have been focused on the customer and not on gossiping with her friend! Plus I squeal all the time. It's very embarrassing but totally involuntary and it does not mean I can't ride well enough to do whatever it is that I am squealing at. Cantering out on a hack is much more challenging than cantering in a school as the ground is rougher, the horse may jump a puddle or swerve to avoid one etc. So I imagine the RI who suggested it thinks confidence is the main problem and not ability.
 
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carthorse

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The irony is it was a private hack!! I didn't expect the other girl to be there. I paid £30 for the hour, I think that's quite a lot??

In that case I'd not only complain but also ask for a partial refund since they presumably charge more for a private hack than a group one. I'd also say I didn't want that escort rider again.
 
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Ale

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If you booked a private hack and were then ignored by a young rider leader who allowed a friend to come along and spent the whole ride chatting with her then you should absolutely complain. That is totally unprofessional of the yard.

Agree with this, you didn't get what you paid for.
 

Ale

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Also maybe you could of said to the girls, can we trot/canter. Perhaps they were holding back because they were told you were nervous/ less experienced. This might of been very hard if they were so far in front and ignoring you though!
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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I learned to canter out hacking. If you paid for a private hack you should have had the attention of an escort or RI and could complain or try another RS. A hack with learning to canter should include 3 or 4 short canters,hopefully up hill. Most riding school hacks will only involve two or three canters.
But learning to ride out hacking is a gradual long term process and I have had plenty of rubbish hacks myself, including today.
We didn't canter much today as the grass is wet and slippery. We just did a short canter up a sand track and at my request. I wasn't bored as I decided to work on transitions and deal with some head shaking which I have somewhat ignored all summer.
But my suggestion is to look for another better school. A new hacking client may well be treated in a very casual way and I don't usually return after a experience like that.
 
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Jessey

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I'd have a word with you RI, you paid for a private hack specifically to get cantering time in, if the ground isn't suitable they ought to have mentioned that and you should have had the attention of the ride leader.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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I absolutely agree with what everyone else has said. You are the paying client, you paid for a hack, and as far as I can see the leader didn't even ask you what you wanted because she was too busy gabbing. Definitely complain.
 

Skib

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For those not so familiar with riding schools -I would think carefully about complaining - RS managers and owners are likely to defend their staff and to believe what the escorts say rather than a client. My worst hacks at several different schools have happened when an RI didnt turn up for work (child ill or they not well - good reasons ) and it has been a temp or someone else brought in. It is really bad fact but the RSs are unlikely to cancel a lesson just because a teacher is absent.
So my experience is that complaining gets you no where - Just leave and try some other places. In a year or two you may want to return. And people on the RS yards often know each other.
You may not even need to leave the school, if you can request another teacher and suitable horse specifically to teach you canter. We are able to request a particular horse and also a particular teacher or escort and if I dont get on with one, I can ask for another.
 

carthorse

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My experience has been very different Skib, I found schools want to know if there's a genuine problem - they value their reputations & want happy clients who'll recommend them, not unhappy ones who'll suggest people go elsewhere. This isn't a case of someone having a strop because they can't have their favourite horse, it's a valid complaint & any good business knows how valuable they can be if handled right.
 

mystiquemalaika

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I worked in a riding school and took rides out, I was only 17 at the time and if I had ever treat a customer like that I'd have been out of a job.
You must put a complaint in,it's a business and they will want a good reputation.
 

KP nut

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I totally agree - and actually the riding school's response to a complaint would also give you valuable information about their professionalism. You may get a dismissive or defensive response. But as long as you are polite and clear, then you really shouldn't. And if you did it would just be another reason to find somewhere else to ride. You booked a private hack to gain confidence and were ignored. What if you were really anxious? What if you had a problem? It does not sound as if the escort would have been aware of it and her behaviour would have made it hard for someone to speak up if they were struggling.
 
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Little-red

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My experience has been very different Skib, I found schools want to know if there's a genuine problem - they value their reputations & want happy clients who'll recommend them, not unhappy ones who'll suggest people go elsewhere. This isn't a case of someone having a strop because they can't have their favourite horse, it's a valid complaint & any good business knows how valuable they can be if handled right.

Totally, totally agree with this! I have been in a very similar situation to you at my old RS; went on a hack with new yard girl because my regular instructor didnt write down my lesson in the book so didnt turn up. New girl promptly ignored me and rode ahead the whole way, even answered her phone!! One of the reasons why I left the RS was that when I complained about it they were not bothered about my concerns. Having since moved to a RS who care about every single aspect of the riding experience - who would be mortified to get a complaint of this nature - i would absolutley complain! You can very easily spot the ones who care about their clients by their reactions to a complaint.

You did not get what you paid for; I pay the same amount as you do for lessons/hacks per hour and would be so dissapointed by your description of being ignored. Not to mention the obvious safety flaws; if you had an accident or needed to stop, would she have noticed if she was so far ahead and too busy talking? Her attention should have been on you and at the start of the hack if she didnt already know your skill level/aims of this hack, she should have made the effort to ask you and then should have been able to determine your route from then on.

I too was nervous about cantering when returning after my long break from riding; it all seemed so easy on pingy little ponies in the school when i was a child! I relearnt how to canter last year with an excellent instructor at my current RS who would take me out on private hacks filled to the brim with canters - uphill canters, zig zag and weaving canters, long stretches on the sandy common tracks which lasted for a good few minutes and then once I had my confidence up, onto straight long stretches leading up to a gallop. It was the best way to relearn it as I found that the school horses can be more willing out on a hack rather than cantering round a school which really helped me get the feel for what a canter actually feels like. I would reccomend speaking to your regular instructor at the very least and asking if they can take you out even if you have to book a different time/day to usual to get them. In my experience its worth it!

Oh and wanted to say - i still squeal sometimes too! I agree it just happens involuntarilly; I did it today when lesson horse jumped a bit too eagerly and we went much higher than expected! I think its the sudden surpirse of things sometimes
 
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