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Sulta
Apr. 9, 2009, 04:24 PM
So - my daughter has attended a couple of clinics this year - and I have to say I have been underwhelmed. One was by a MNT, one by a BNT. One was show jumping, one was eventing. Groups of 4-5 riders. In the first, the riders/horses were somewhat unequal (my daughter/pony were on the more skilled end), in the second, all were pretty equivalent.

In both cases, she got little to no "walk away pointers", i.e. a tip/trick that she could use when she went home. There was little one-on-one instruction during the clinic. If I compare it to a "lesson" at home, even in groups, the instructor singles her out, give her specific exercises, corrects behaviors, etc. This didn't happen in either clinic.

Since I've never been to clinics before, I'm not sure if my expectations are correct, or I'm missing something. We learned alot from watching other riders, but there was not much specific to her. Is this "standard" or is it hit-or-miss? In the second clinic she was the youngest rider (12yo), others were 17, 20something and middle aged.

dab
Apr. 9, 2009, 05:00 PM
I avoid riding with clinicians I haven't audited for this reason -- Each has their own style, and while I think you learn something from everyone, I choose to spend money on clincians I'm likely to learn more from --

I also think I learn more from being in a regular program with my trainer at home than from most clinicians -- While I seem to need a 'lightbulb moment' to make significant improvements in my riding or my horse, a 'lightbulb moment' isn't usually enough -- I then need to practice the new skill correctly until I own it -- It helps to have eyes on the ground when I'm practicing -- If I were to track it, I'm sure I get more 'lightbulb moments' per hour spent in clinics than lessons -- But, without the continued focus on that moment when I'm working at home, I'm liable to forget it --

TSWJB
Apr. 9, 2009, 05:02 PM
i tend to think that clinics are very expensive group lessons. the ones that i did were fun but for the money i think i would rather take a private lesson with the trainer.
therefore i really do not try to attend clinics.
i do take group lessons. and some lessons you dont get as much and some lessons you get more. so it equals out in the end. i also pay less than a private lesson and i learn from the other members in my group. but like i said i pay less than a private lesson and alot less than a clinic.

Parker_Rider
Apr. 9, 2009, 05:04 PM
What unfortunate experiences for your daughter!! I've been to a few clinics and they've always been such a fabulous learning experience and a way to add more perspective to your riding and maybe hear things termed in a different way that could click.
I did one with a lesser known trainer at Plum Creek Hollow a while back and lloovvveeeddd the clinician (kicking myself because I cannot, for the life of me, remember her name!). We had ~7 people in our group, varying experience, but all one fence height (3'). She did a fabulous job of giving general advice to the group and then taking the time to comment on each of us individually. When she addressed "tricks and tips," she talked to all of us, demonstrating on the person who needed it at the moment. Her reasoning? You never know when you're going to need that information as well - this is why we go to clinics, too! It was so much fun to come home and work on those principles and see a completely different result from the ways that weren't working before.

It's always so important to know what style the clinician uses before you go, because just like teachers, some are amazing and some are.. well.. "what did we spend that $$ for?" I definitely think you got the short end of the stick with your two clinics.

ETA: Dab had a great point! The clinic only works if you have a trainer there who's willing to take you home and work on the parts that really really worked for you (I really like the "lightbulb moment" term!). Otherwise, yeah, I'll agree... it's just a really expensive group lesson.

Lucassb
Apr. 9, 2009, 06:35 PM
I personally love doing clinics, but I am very picky about who I'll ride with. In most cases, there won't be a ton of individual instruction but you can usually pick up exercises that are useful to "have in your toolbox" at a minimum.

The poster who suggested auditing before riding with a clinician made a very good suggestion. That is generally my rule also. The most useless clinic experience I've ever had was with a VBNT with multiple Olympic medals to his credit. I decided to ride anyway, even though I'd never audited him. He is a terrific horseman but the clinic was pretty much "follow the leader" around the ring on the flat, and then we jumped through a grid a few times... a total waste of $600. Never again.

On the other hand, I've learned tons from other BNTs - Frank Madden, Jeff Cook, & Linda Allen are among my favorites - and would clinic with them again in a heartbeat, regardless of the charge. So I think it depends on who you ride with.

IsolaBella09
Apr. 9, 2009, 08:34 PM
I think it depends on whom you choose to clinic with, like Lucassb said. I've cliniced with Nona Garson 3 times and I always learn something new to incorporate into my riding. She's great at figuring out how a horse rides and what the rider can work on. I would clinic with her again in a second.
I think auditing is different, but you can still learn a lot from watching. I find it interesting to watch others ride, see their mistakes, learn from them, and then ride, paying attention to where the previous riders had trouble during a course. Overall, I think it depends on the clinician.

Sulta
Apr. 9, 2009, 08:42 PM
Its been interesting. The one with the BNT - our trainer was there, so could have gone back and reinforced the homework/lessons. And it was with someone that I've heard many people rave about, and no one have a negative experience - so was a bit disappointing - you can tell there is so much knowledge there - I just wanted a little piece of it!

Guess I'll be sure to audit them the next time.

dghunter
Apr. 9, 2009, 09:15 PM
I think it depends on whom you choose to clinic with, like Lucassb said. I've cliniced with Nona Garson 3 times and I always learn something new to incorporate into my riding. She's great at figuring out how a horse rides and what the rider can work on. I would clinic with her again in a second.
I think auditing is different, but you can still learn a lot from watching. I find it interesting to watch others ride, see their mistakes, learn from them, and then ride, paying attention to where the previous riders had trouble during a course. Overall, I think it depends on the clinician.

Okay this is really weird because I was just thinking about a clinic that I audited and it was Nona Garson. Then I started to wonder what she was up to now lol. I liked her a lot and if she ever came back I would do the clinic in a heartbeat.

Anyways back to the regularly scheduled program: different clinicians have different ways of teaching different people. Some clinics are great and some aren't. I'm sorry you've had bad luck so far :( Do one with GM, I don't think he ever skips someone individual attention wise :lol: But in all seriousness if you can, auditing first is a great idea. Or come on COTH and ask :D

mvp
Apr. 9, 2009, 09:58 PM
I have LEARNED to get a great deal out of clinics.

The OP's daughter may be a bit young, but here's what I do.

I scope out the clinician and ask myself why I want to ride with him/her. Sometimes it comes down to a neat opportunity. (I live in the Sticks.)

I'll audit just about anything-- Dressage, Eventing, Western Pleasure, Reining-- so long as the person has a good national or local, word-of-mouth reputation. They must be a good trainer, not necessarily a good rider.

Most helpful are the last two:

Before I go, I summarize in my own mind the top 2 or 3 issues I need help with for my horse. This helps me compose the short description of my horse that the clinician needs to begin at all, and also helps me form a couple of questions.

Since I ride by myself, I also ask them to correct any flaws in my position they'd like.

After that, I stay open-minded, watch others and ask questions at the end if I don't understand.

Post-clinic: I review the things I understood the clinician asked me to change. Any general tools or ideas that were new to me.

Very last and important during and after: I don't expect to completely revise my training or riding, but always ask how the clinician's ideas can be folded into what I already do.

"Take what you like and leave the rest" is a good general mantra. But it happens on the student's part.

snaffle635
Apr. 9, 2009, 10:15 PM
Some clinicians are more about theory and philosophy. Some are more technical. I prefer to audit the philosophers and ride with the technicians. :-)

BTW, just rode with Scott Hofstetter last weekend. I think I'm in love.

Since you've had 2 not great experiences, I'd definitely do more research before the next one. COTH's a great place to get feedback and auditing is even better.

Sulta
Apr. 10, 2009, 07:28 AM
mvp - that's a good suggestion. My daughter is a bit young for thinking about that on her own, but with some help she could identify some things. I'll definitely make sure we set some goals for the next one we attend.

At least the second clinic was a blast - it was cross country, so she got to jump some great jumps, including jumping into water, which she hadn't done before.

Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl
Apr. 10, 2009, 08:32 AM
I expect that clinics WON'T be just expensive group lessons. I am usually picking people for clinics because they have a *system* which they have developed over years. They have distilled priority points in their system, and by doing the exercises, and noticing what they do and DON'T say to each rider, I can learn much more than if they simply pointed out my issues. Any fool can find something I'm doing wrong in my riding! :) The great clinicians providie the framework so I learn in spite of myself, in a way.... I have to put in the intellectual effort, but they have a series of exercises, and the judgement to adjust them, so I can see how my horse and I do at straightness, or the horse figuring out his footwork while I stay out of the way, or whatever the clinicians' focus is.

I'll try to come back later and give examples, but hopefully this may give you another way of thinking about what the clinicians did and what your child learned. I can't tell from your descriptions if the clinics were or weren't too much money for the learning - or if it might be because of your daughters age or the clinicians' skills. Certainly not all BNT are great clinicians, or even good ones! :)

Lucassb
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:26 AM
mvp - that's a good suggestion. My daughter is a bit young for thinking about that on her own, but with some help she could identify some things. I'll definitely make sure we set some goals for the next one we attend.

At least the second clinic was a blast - it was cross country, so she got to jump some great jumps, including jumping into water, which she hadn't done before.

Sometimes the opportunity to ride in a different environment (like cross country for us H/J folks) is "worth the price of admission," I think. Although I am a died in the wool hunter rider, I go out of my way to ride with Don Sachey - who is best known for his success eventing at the international level. (you can find more info here: http://www.extendinc.com/donsachey/index.html) He is an absolute genius at creating positive, effective communication between rider & horse, something that is obviously enormously valuable no matter what discipline you pursue.

I also used to clinic regularly with Kenn Acebal, a very high end dressage trainer; he is the one who taught me how to unlock my older horse's canter - something that literally changed *everything* about our ability to show that horse successfully over fences.

Go with a couple of specific issues in mind, and let the clinician know ahead of time (briefly!) what you are hoping to improve. Most do want you to be satisfied and happy with the instruction they provide and will appreciate knowing what you are looking for.

dghunter
Apr. 10, 2009, 10:17 AM
Another thing to think about-was your daughter being overshadowed by someone else? I audited a clinic and there was a young lady who could not get her horse over the little flower box to save her life. Clinician probably spent at least half an hour just trying to help her before he finally said "there are other people who are paying and can get their horses over the jump, I need to move on". But in the meantime those other people were just walking around getting no help. So perhaps your daughter did a good job but there was someone who was really struggling that got more attention?

mvp
Apr. 10, 2009, 11:14 AM
The OP's kid, really the consumer of the clinics here, might also benefit from the opportunity to communicate what she knows about her horse and her riding to someone who doesn't know them both. It doesn't have to be complete or complicated. But it does plant the seed of taking responsibility for the horse's well-being and development. I think we ought to be learning that from the very beginning and sometimes that gets lost when we are in training programs where someone else makes the big decisions.

PNWjumper
Apr. 10, 2009, 11:36 AM
Clinics are very much hit or miss.

I've taken clinics with very BNTs that I was totally and completely underwhelmed by. Similarly, I've taken clinics with MNTs or even no-name trainers (in which case I suppose they'd be called "lessons" :lol:) that were absolutely brilliant.

I'm very picky about who I'll pay the money to clinic with these days. Greg Best is one of the only people I've ridden with who I would pay anything at any time to ride with again. Not to overshadow John Turner (a local BNT up here) who is another I take any opportunity I can to ride with. Other than those two, I've decided that I would rather audit first and then [maybe] ride with that person since I've been to more clinics than I can count where I came out of it with nothing more than, "what a lovely horse, you guys make a great pair" (and boy is that not even scratching the surface of my issues :lol:).

touchstone-
Apr. 10, 2009, 01:51 PM
Also, I think that sometimes the most useful things you can take from a clinic are the exercises and course design, not necessarily the instruction. Clinicians often think carefully about what kinds of questions to ask the horses and riders at various levels, and often, those exercises improve the ride on their own.

I've definitely attended a few clinics where at first, I felt sort of disappointed that everything went so perfectly and I got so little feedback as a result. Later, the lightbulb went off that my success was a result of the clinic, not just good or bad luck.

I'd recommend videotaping your daughter in the future and/or taking notes on the course design and sequence of exercises. As Lucassb pointed out, it's nice to have those things in your "toolbox."

I grew up riding in group lessons and went on to take tons more on an IHSA team. If your daughter is used to private instruction, I think it takes some practice for her to figure out how to learn in a group setting. Often, you learn as much/more by watching the other people and seeing how they succeed and fail to work out their problems, as you do working through your own difficulties.

In short, if you can walk away with one great exercise you wouldn't have known about, or one great insight--that's how I'll ride a tense horse through a forward line the next time I encounter one--you've learned something useful.

Sulta
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:01 PM
Good points from many of you. As I look back with these thoughts in mind - there was definitely learning happening for DD, but it was learning by "doing", not by individual instruction. In the first clinic, a couple riders were having issues, so they took alot of the time. In the second (with the BNT), no single rider was having issues - all were pretty equal. This BNT evaluated the horses/riders and built up the complexity of the courses/jumps, and that was interesting to see how he made them harder and what challenges he put in front of them. There was "instruction" prior to each exercise to the group about what the challenge was and how to ride it.

So, this supports several of your points, it was just not "individual instruction". At least for DD there wasn't any, others got a variety of pointers and tips as they made mistakes/corrections. While she is a good rider, I find it hard to believe that she rides well enough that there wasn't anything to point out.

Thanks for your thoughts, they've been helpful! I'll think about things differently the next time around.

Lucassb
Apr. 10, 2009, 09:07 PM
Good points from many of you. As I look back with these thoughts in mind - there was definitely learning happening for DD, but it was learning by "doing", not by individual instruction. In the first clinic, a couple riders were having issues, so they took alot of the time. In the second (with the BNT), no single rider was having issues - all were pretty equal. This BNT evaluated the horses/riders and built up the complexity of the courses/jumps, and that was interesting to see how he made them harder and what challenges he put in front of them. There was "instruction" prior to each exercise to the group about what the challenge was and how to ride it.

So, this supports several of your points, it was just not "individual instruction". At least for DD there wasn't any, others got a variety of pointers and tips as they made mistakes/corrections. While she is a good rider, I find it hard to believe that she rides well enough that there wasn't anything to point out.

Thanks for your thoughts, they've been helpful! I'll think about things differently the next time around.

Sulta, if you are looking for individual instruction for your daughter - you may want to see if you can book private lessons either before or after the clinics with these trainers. It is fairly rare to get much individual instruction in a clinic session, but there are sometimes individual slots available either just prior or just after those events (in which case it really helps to know the clinic organizer ;) LOL.)

The exercises used by top clinicians tend to do most of the teaching, so it's important to try to remember what the exercises were and what result they had; personally I write them down in a notebook that I keep, along with drawings of the exercises, striding used, etc and a description of what the point of the exercise is, and any pointers I got. Then you build a handy reference book of ideas to go back to later, either to solve a specific problem or perhaps to freshen up your work when you are feeling a bit stale with your horse.

Sulta
Apr. 11, 2009, 05:09 AM
Lucassb - Since I haven't gone to any prior to this year, I wasn't sure what to expect. In retrospect, I think we got more out of it than I thought when I left the clinic, well at least the one with the BNT. So, next time a clinic opportunity arises, this has given me good food for thought in terms of what I expect to get out of it. Individual instruction may not be the most beneficial. Thanks again.

superpony123
Apr. 11, 2009, 05:17 PM
i would say it's kind of hit or miss. each clinician has their own style. some riders prefer one way, others prefer another, etc.

ive done clinics with kevin babbington and eric horgan at my barn. we have eric clinics several times a year but to be honest i hated it. erics a great horseman, but i didn't connect. we couldn't communicate properly. i didn't get anything out of it, and i felt that it was a waste of my money, and i couldve gotten more out of an every day lesson. but i'm the only one in that group, because everyone else in my barn loves him. they click with his style, i don't. simple as that.

the kevin babbington clinic, however, was absolutely fabulous. we learned a ton and it was very personal, me being in a small group of two ! he sat on my pony and demonstrated a few things, too, which i really liked. i'm bummed to know that he's having a clinic nearby and i won't be around that day.

Isabeau Z Solace
Jun. 24, 2009, 08:39 PM
I am thinking of participating in a clinic with Eric Horgan but need more information. Is there anyone in the NJ/Gladstone-USET area who has ridden with him (if you are a pro that would be awesome !) and would be willing to pm or talk with me one on one ? The horse I have to bring is a pretty difficult mare. 3'9" section.

Isabeau Z Solace
Jun. 25, 2009, 02:19 PM
bump. Still looking for someone to talk to who can give me some more details on their Eric Horgan clinic experience. Thanks.

findeight
Jun. 25, 2009, 08:05 PM
Most clinics I have done, my trainer and all her assistants also ride with the clinician either as part of the group or in a private immediatly following the last session.

Unless your trainer follows the same system or, better, rides along with you, material presented in a clinic can fall by the wayside and waste your money.

The best clinicians merely reinforce what the primary trainer is teaching but provide a fresh pair of eyes for faults and a new way of expressing the same information. Information your home trainer can continue to express in developing you as a rider.

If a clinician is way off on another planet system wise or the at home trainer is not willing, or even able, to reinforce the same theory, clinics just confuse the rider.