This is the product of too many rainy afternoons.
This a purely fictitious scenario but many of my coaching/riding colleagues will have come across many of the characters and situation.
I am phoned by a lady who wants lessons for her daughter Tabitha (her nickname will change on a regular basis) and her horse so they can start eventing over the coming season. We discuss their current situation and level of riding ability, make a plan and come up with some rough overall achievable goals based on the information given. They want their lessons at 11am on a Saturday morning so you tactfully move around some of your loyal clients to fit them in to this prime time slot. It has to be 11 because Tabby has early morning ballet practice and her brother, Tarquin, has lacrosse training after lunch.
The day of the first lesson arrives and you meet your future riding star and her horse. You promptly find out that their ability has been hugely exaggerated but you diligently go about filling in the gaps in their education. After the lesson as you are half way into your car to get to your next lesson pony club mother comes out with a whole load of paper work, old dressage tests, schedules etc. and wants to discuss the plans for the next few months for everything from feeding, bedding, shoeing, best shows, dressage tests etc. You finally leave already half an hour late for your next lesson and phone you next 5 clients to tell them you’re running late.
Lessons continue to progress but 2 out of every 3 lessons get cancelled last minute due to various excuses including:
Lost shoe (number 1 excuse especially first lesson which never gets rebooked.)
School skiing/ mountain climbing/ hang gliding trip
Illness (usually accompanied by social media pictures of a hard core party the night before)
Tarquin had a fencing/ tennis/rowing lesson with a coach they were very lucky to find.
Family holiday to Mauritius/Swiss Alps/Barbados
After a few months pushy mother announces her concern about the lack of progress and is going to try a new trainer that a pony club friend recommended and they were very lucky to get him.
Hans Ruffenhard is an Eastern European dashing ex cavalry officer, he walks with a slight limp and carries a cane which he slaps against his patent leather boots in frustration every time Tabby makes a mistake. Nobody can quite place his accent or is really sure what country he actually comes from. Their first lesson was AMAZING and he has Tabby doing something called half pass and jumping a grid with a 1.10m fence at the end. ‘We are so lucky to have found him’ exclaims the mother. He is so popular he will only take on new clients if they pay for 10 lesson in advance but only charge £90 per lesson for cash. He tells them to forget BE90, they will be at 1 star (whatever that is) after 10 weeks. Unfortunately after 3 weeks he has to return to his homeland??? to help prepare for their Olympic bid. Promises to return money but technical problems are hindering this.
So Bitty returns for more lessons, more cancellations and more concerns on lack of progress. Another replacement trainer has been appointed to help speed up results.
A riding club friend has recommended a new coach. ‘We are so lucky to have found her’ gushes the mother.
Patsy is a former junior star who once rode at Badminton but fell off at the 12th fence still slightly drunk and stoned from the party the night before. She is now back on the teaching circuit as her drink driving ban has expired. Patsy can’t teach too early in the morning due to the effects of the night before and spends much of the lesson huddled under a blanket on a chair in the corner of the school wearing dark glassed and sending selfies on Instagram. Her first lesson is, however, AWESOME as they were doing something called shoulder in and jumping a grid of about 1.20m and to expect to be doing 2 star by the end of the season. Nobody is sure of Patsy’s last name as she has had a string of short lived marriages, last one being to a Bolivian polo player. Her lessons are a snip at only £100 each for a block booking. Unfortunately after just 2 lessons Patsy has a relapse and has to go back into rehab.
So, once again they return for lessons.
After a good run of lessons Tibtab enters a few events which you go to with her to help her throughout the day and at only her second event she comes back with some ribbons. Huge smiles and champagne corks popping in the lorry park only to be told by over ambitious mother that she feels they have now ‘outgrown’ you and need a higher level coach.
You know they’ll be back but do you really want them back?