Pony Club: Horse riding teacher swore at children, probe finds

Posted: 7th July 2023

Parents complained to the Pony Club over the alleged actions of a worker at the Wheatland Hunt branch in Shropshire.

A meeting concluded the use of inappropriate language was upheld, and the instructor is understood to remain in their role.

One complainant told the BBC they did not feel they had been listened to.

The Pony Club, which caters for young riders up to the age of 25, said it “takes the safety and wellbeing of its members very seriously”.

The investigation started in September 2022 following complaints of bullying, abusive and controlling behaviour and emotional abuse.

The Pony Club was also told young members had been self-harming in written evidence it requested from parents.

A multi-agency meeting took place earlier this year to discuss the allegations and was attended by the Pony Club, police, Shropshire Safeguarding and the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), who is made aware of safeguarding issues in the county.

While the use of inappropriate language was “partially upheld”, the other complaints were dismissed, according to conclusions seen by the BBC.

‘Very difficult’ experience

The bullying and controlling behaviour allegations were dropped due to what the club described as “contradictory witness statements”.

Actions for the Wheatland Hunt branch following the probe included the committee ensuring members, parents, coaches and volunteers all read and abided by the Pony Club’s code of conduct and adhering to a new confidentiality policy the organisation would soon be issuing.

One of the complainants told the BBC the whole experience had been “very difficult”.

They added it made them “feel that it would have been a lot easier to just keep quiet and not rock the boat or threaten the status quo, but we could not do that”.

They also told the BBC they were never seen in person by those investigating their complaints and were given a short deadline to send in written evidence.

A spokesperson for The Pony Club, which is divided into 19 geographical areas throughout the UK, said it could not comment on individual cases, but it said situations such as this should be dealt with in accordance with its codes of conduct.

They added: “We are committed to taking action to protect children and safeguard their welfare, and we work with all relevant authorities where appropriate, including the Police, Children’s Social Care, Local Safeguarding Boards, Local Authority Designated Officers and schools and other sporting bodies as appropriate.”

In a statement, the LADO said: “All agencies were satisfied that the investigation had been appropriate and that all areas of concern had been addressed.”

It added it was unaware of any outstanding safeguarding concerns regarding the Wheatland Hunt branch.

Pony Club: Horse riding teacher swore at children, probe finds – BBC News

Categories: News