It’s THAT time of year. Winter is in full swing and I’m a wonderful snuggly hairy beast, nestled in my blanket, my tummy well fed. The first show isn’t for months and I’m a critter without a care in the world. AND THEN…those enticing notices come in the mail, are pinned up on tack room bulletin boards, in house show offices… CLINIC TIME! Get a head start on the show season, they say. Use your Christmas bonus! Ride with an Olympian! Uh oh. . .
Clinics make us better…they build confidence, open up our minds – horses and riders – to new perspectives, a different way of saying something, enlightening metaphors. Heels down day and day out can make one wince. Ride like there’s anchors attached to your heels… well now why didn’t you say so?
Oh and by the way, it’s cold outside. Well it’s WINTER, people! I heard George Morris say at a clinic in Florida this winter that if your horse isn’t fresh, call the vet! Expect it and plan accordingly.
From my perspective (and that would be the horse’s) clinics can be fun like jumping new grids, or they can be boring, jumping the same line over and over makes me cranky. Sometimes I get fidgety.
Clinics more likely can be confidence boosters, facilitating us to jump in balance and rhythm with the best form we can. But a clinician also has the power to crush our confidence; it can be very scary if we are overfaced.
Clinics are great venues for low-budget riders like my mom to get instruction and advice from a different perspective of a knowledgeable trainer. Web sites like Equestrian Coach, Horse Channel, EventionTV and Ask The Horse Show Judge are very helpful for training, riding and showing. But learning takes place experientially – and one has to do it to get it.
Commonly asked questions:
What if the clinician sets up something you know your horse isn’t ready for?
Human: Calmly walk over to the clinician and explain your reservations due to the level of your horse.
Horse: If an adjustment is not made, calmly take the course and fart in the clinician’s face as you trot by and try your best.
What if you can’t hear or don’t understand what the clinician is saying?
Human: Calmly walk over and ask clarifying questions of the clinician. You are paying good money for his/her advice and if you leave the clinic not understanding a point that was made, you’ll be grumpy.
Horse: Exactly as above, because if YOU’RE grumpy, I think you’re mad at me and I’m just a horse trying think up ways to keep you smiling.
Quiet please… not clucking, no side quips. Dress warm, zip it up, write notes, but keep it down to a whisper. And down in front.
Above all, Mom:
Before you sign on the dotted line, research the clinician. Ask people who have attended before or audit one yourself. Make sure you place us in the correct session for our experience and training level.