Cancellation Policies: A Necessary Evil for Riding Lessons

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Credit: Thinkstock Riding instructors need to have a cancellation policy that is accepted by their students and younger students' parents. Maintaining a stable and horses costs money, and providing riding lessons are a mainstay for that stable owner paying his or her bills.

Credit: Thinkstock Riding instructors need to have a cancellation policy that is accepted by their students and younger students' parents. Maintaining a stable and horses costs money, and providing riding lessons are a mainstay for that stable owner paying his or her bills.

“I don't have a strict cancellation policy for students who use their own horses. But if they're inconsistent, students don't get to keep the most desirable time slots, which are weekdays 3:30 to 6:00 pm during the school year,” said Angela Greenshields, a CHA Master Instructor in Olympia, Washington.

However, since Kristi Harris, a CHA Certified Master Instructor, Combined Clinic Instructor, and CHA Driving Clinic Instructor in Pryor, Oklahoma, travels to her clients, she needs more advanced notice of cancellation. “I rarely have cancellations,” she said. “If it becomes a problem with a student, we will discuss and determine if it is worth my time and effort to keep teaching them.”

Carol Parker, a CHA, PATH, and Centered Riding Instructor in New Fairfield, Connecticut, asks for at least a 24-hour notice. “There are certainly times when a student won’t know about the need to cancel until less than 24 hours. In such circumstances, these students will contact me the morning of their lesson,” she said. She added that her students are respectful of her time. She sometimes uses emails to confirm lessons with students. “I strongly feel this is a communication that works both ways," she added.

Christina Sdrenka, a Level 3 CHA Certified Instructor and the owner of Saddlewood Horse Club in Cape Coral, Florida, asks for a two-week notice from students in her monthly package program if they plan to stop riding. If students need to reschedule, she requests 48-hour notice. “Our cancellation policy is not always popular with parents,” she said. “They have to understand that horse and instructor are ready for the scheduled lesson, so if they do not show up or call last minute, it is their loss. Once you have established a clear understanding, they accept it.”

Students and parents generally try to respect the riding instructor’s time, especially for those instructors who have developed an official cancellation policy. So don’t hesitate to create a written policy and enforce it when needed.