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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2002
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    MD
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    19

    Default Kathy Kusner

    There will be a clinic on May 21-22 at the Oldfields School given by Kathy Kusner. Has anyone take. Her clinic before? Are they all the same? Just trying to get a feel for what she will focus on. The price is a steal at $275 for both days, lunch included! I may just do it, but I haven done anything like this in years... Hope I don't embarrass myself! They say we have to jump a Liverpool! Yikes! Not sure ole Sparky will be down with that! Better get practicing

    You can find info about the clinic on the Oldfields School Riding page on FB



  2. #2

    Question

    Hi -

    I'm curious to find out whether you decided to take Kathy Kusner's clinic this past May and what you thought of it?



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 24, 2009
    Location
    Washington
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    518

    Default

    Definitely be prepared to not only jump the liverpool but to walk it! My boss attended a Kathy clinic in may(?) and came back with some really great exercises. They have been great for every horse in the barn. She said it was really intense never stop working schooling but totally worth it.
    Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 29, 2010
    Posts
    248

    Default

    I don't know about clinics with Kathy, but I did go to Oldfields (only for 1 year unfortunately) and the new indoor is absolutely incredible. Beautiful new jumps, good footing, and it's nice and big. They built it the year after I left, but I went and saw it when I visited that year for graduation.



  5. #5

    Cool

    Well, I have been really looking forward to my clinic with her for a few months now, and even rearranged my work schedule to be able to participate on both days. Finally, the first day of her clinic was this past Sunday and it was just beyond description awful. Keeping in mind the best interest of my horse, I really could not justify going back for more the next day, even though I already paid for it. Besides experiencing feelings of an intense disappointment and letdown, I've also been puzzled how something like this could actually happen. While it's true that this is a super accomplished rider, and a very nice person in general, those criteria alone should not give her a free pass as a clinic instructor..? It has been almost impossible to find out if anyone out there has done a clinic with her recently and had a similar experience. One issue seems to be that she is revered for her past accomplishments to the point that nothing even remotely negative can be said about her. For context, in the past I've taken clinics with Melanie Smith Taylor, Linda Allen, Bernie Traurig, Karen Healey and Wendy Murdoch, and felt that they have been worthwhile experiences. Sadly, I am not able to endorse Kathy Kusner's clinics in the same way.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 1, 2002
    Location
    Cow County, MD
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    6,958

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jumpforfun View Post
    It has been almost impossible to find out if anyone out there has done a clinic with her recently and had a similar experience. One issue seems to be that she is revered for her past accomplishments to the point that nothing even remotely negative can be said about her. For context, in the past I've taken clinics with Melanie Smith Taylor, Linda Allen, Bernie Traurig, Karen Healey and Wendy Murdoch, and felt that they have been worthwhile experiences. Sadly, I am not able to endorse Kathy Kusner's clinics in the same way.
    Can you be more specific? I've never clinicked with her, but would like to know more about how she teaches or what exercises she used that you weren't happy with.

    I've had experiences in clinics where I felt the clinician pushed certain horses beyond their comfort levels for the sake of having all the participants doing the same exercize (cough...Anne Kursinski), and my opinion is that while you're there to learn, you also have to be a good steward for your horse. I watched a rider walk out of a GM clinic because she didn't think her horse was quite right (he had stopped in a gymnastic and George got after her for it). It turned out her young horse wasn't being a chicken, he was spiking a fever and had a high white count.

    So...specifics? What didn't you like? What did you like?
    Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun. 29, 2012
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    3

    Default

    I am also interested in specifics. She is usally in this area during the Spring to clinic and while I haven't had a horse ready in the past, I will have one ready this spring.
    “We humans have a tendency to deny the impact of nature,” Rutledge says. “To pretend we have the control over nature is the greatest egotism.”



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2004
    Location
    City of delusion in the state of total denial
    Posts
    8,539

    Default

    I rode in a clinic with her several years ago. My group of 8 riders ran the gamut from me (competently showing in the big eqs at the time; ) to a couple of foxhunt folks riding a variety of creature, one of which was a super-athletic, gorgeous, rank bastard that day unfortunately; to an 8-year-old on her pony just starting crossrails. That could have been the organizers as other groups were similarly disparate.

    I did not feel that 15 minutes of my time were well spent in learning to carry a stick. I also felt the exercises set were well below our level of competence; I did not feel challenged on the flat or over fences. She set low fences, which is fine- you can learn as much over cavaletti as you can over bigger sticks- but I did not feel she did well at either rearranging the sets of us or tailoring the exercises for the group she had in front of her, even given our variance. It's possible to have a simple exercise that can be ridden several ways to test different levels. When one member of the group struggled, the entire group sat out for 30 minutes. That could be a great learning opportunity, but not for 1/4 the length of the session. I did not return for the second day and instead served as jump crew. There I learned a lot- I got to watch all three sessions that went. So I'd recommend auditing her clinics, but I don't feel that riding with her in a clinic setting is a good investment of time or money.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
    - Harry Dresden

    Horse Isle 2: Legend of the Esrohs LifeCycle Breeding and competition MMORPG



  9. #9

    Default

    So here are the specifics: One big problem was Kathy's apparent complete lack of short term memory. She could not keep track of how many of us have completed an exercise already, and would frequently lose her train of thought in the middle of a sentence, obviously forgetting what she was about to say. She told us that she was "bad with names", but her memory deficit was quite severe, almost to the point of dementia. She would ask a rider for her name, repeat it back, then ask the same person her name just a few minutes later and have no recollection of hearing that name before. After hearing and correctly repeating one girl's name several times, she asked her to spell it the 5th time around. We later found out that this same girl spent quite a lot of time with Kathy on previous day, driving her around the area! There were 7 riders in my class which was way too many for her to handle efficiently, so most of the time we stood around for 10, 15, sometimes up to 30 minutes at a time with our horses on super short reins, while waiting for our turn. Her "big" teaching point of the day was the "proper" handling and use of the crop, and she chose to spend 30 minutes of the 2 hour lesson on this topic. She demonstrated the technique with each individual rider, one-by-one, spending at least 4-5 minutes with each person, while the others watched. Our poor horses were bored silly, standing still, unable to move an inch on such short reins for prolonged periods of time. Eventually we were instructed to beat our horses hard with the crop (while at a standstill) for being too "sluggish" because we want a "new" and more energetic horse to do the exercises. I found all of this totally unnecessary and extremely upsetting. All I can say is that going over one or two courses consisting of 2-5 jumps in the matter of a two hour session, while not having done any real warm-up work, supling exercises or lateral work whatsoever was baffling to me. Keep in mind that this was the "intermediate/advanced" class, and our "jumps" were single rails lifted off the ground on one side only, by about 6 inches. If my horse was not totally freaked out by being smacked repeatedly for no reason whatsoever, I would have worked him afterwards so that he could actually get some exercise. The entire experience was beyond words bad and I am shocked to read so many great evaluations of Kathy's clinics, especially ones that have been held fairly recently. How is that possible? I really wish there was a way to prescreen a "clinician" before spending our valuable time and money on them. Unfortunately, outside of her rates, there is nothing else about Kathy's clinic that even remotely compares to my prior experience with other clinicians at her level.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    May. 20, 2003
    Location
    Middleburg, VA
    Posts
    3,013

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jumpforfun View Post
    So here are the specifics: One big problem was Kathy's apparent complete lack of short term memory. She could not keep track of how many of us have completed an exercise already, and would frequently lose her train of thought in the middle of a sentence, obviously forgetting what she was about to say. She told us that she was "bad with names", but her memory deficit was quite severe, almost to the point of dementia. She would ask a rider for her name, repeat it back, then ask the same person her name just a few minutes later and have no recollection of hearing that name before. After hearing and correctly repeating one girl's name several times, she asked her to spell it the 5th time around. We later found out that this same girl spent quite a lot of time with Kathy on previous day, driving her around the area! There were 7 riders in my class which was way too many for her to handle efficiently, so most of the time we stood around for 10, 15, sometimes up to 30 minutes at a time with our horses on super short reins, while waiting for our turn. Her "big" teaching point of the day was the "proper" handling and use of the crop, and she chose to spend 30 minutes of the 2 hour lesson on this topic. She demonstrated the technique with each individual rider, one-by-one, spending at least 4-5 minutes with each person, while the others watched. Our poor horses were bored silly, standing still, unable to move an inch on such short reins for prolonged periods of time. Eventually we were instructed to beat our horses hard with the crop (while at a standstill) for being too "sluggish" because we want a "new" and more energetic horse to do the exercises. I found all of this totally unnecessary and extremely upsetting. All I can say is that going over one or two courses consisting of 2-5 jumps in the matter of a two hour session, while not having done any real warm-up work, supling exercises or lateral work whatsoever was baffling to me. Keep in mind that this was the "intermediate/advanced" class, and our "jumps" were single rails lifted off the ground on one side only, by about 6 inches. If my horse was not totally freaked out by being smacked repeatedly for no reason whatsoever, I would have worked him afterwards so that he could actually get some exercise. The entire experience was beyond words bad and I am shocked to read so many great evaluations of Kathy's clinics, especially ones that have been held fairly recently. How is that possible? I really wish there was a way to prescreen a "clinician" before spending our valuable time and money on them. Unfortunately, outside of her rates, there is nothing else about Kathy's clinic that even remotely compares to my prior experience with other clinicians at her level.
    This is pretty much what my experience with her was, as well.
    On the first day, she spent at least 30 min on how to properly carry a whip, making us each demonstrate it to her individually, and then she went around and made us all do it again! She then spent another 15 min on how to properly bridge your reins. Add in talking on her cell phone several times, arranging for a lunch date with an old friend that stopped by, and then making us ride around on VERY short reins, CONSTANTLY collecting the horse (and yelling when I let my horse have a 5 second stretch after 15 min of that, as she was about to explode) at the walk and trot on a small circle around her in the center of the ring, and about only 35 min of the 2 hours actually spent on the group doing any full ring flatwork and jumping (which was low, OK, but not even challenging).

    The second day, she REPEATED EVERYTHING regarding carrying the whip and bridging your reins, and this time the group got about 20 min total on actually jumping.

    So, would I recommend anyone clinicing with her? ---> NEVER.

    ETA that I was riding in the Advanced section of the clinic. So I should hope by now that most of us in it knew how to carry a crop properly and bridge our reins...
    Last edited by SidesaddleRider; Sep. 20, 2012 at 10:11 AM.
    Cherry Blossom Farm - Show & Field Hunters, Side Saddles



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug. 31, 2011
    Location
    southeast Georgia
    Posts
    2,997

    Default

    This is very depressing to read. Growing up, I idolized Kathy Kusner for her riding, and more recently, I admired her tremendous accomplishments outside the equestrian field.
    I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart leaped with delight at the sound. --Nathaniel Hawthorne



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct. 1, 2002
    Location
    Cow County, MD
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    Default

    Thanks, Renn, jumpforfun and SSR. I appreciate the specifics and will cross her off my list of people to clinic with.

    I, too, grew up with "School for Young Riders" as my bible, and a worn copy still has a place of honor on my bookshelf. I would have loved the chance to ride with Mrs. Dillon, who taught both KK and Joe Fargis. KK was certainly a pioneer in her time, but it sounds like her clinics aren't relevant to what I want to do.

    It's interesting to hear about her lecture on use of the crop, complete with "practicing" the use of it on a horse who hasn't done anything wrong. AK did that as well and insisted we hit our horses over the top of an oxer to practice. Even though I hit my boot instead, it nearly blew my poor horse's mind. This is what I had in mind when I wrote above about being a steward of your horse. I swore after that experience that I'd never blindly follow a clinician's instructions when I knew it would be bad for my horse. Valuable--and expensive--lesson learned.
    Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2004
    Location
    City of delusion in the state of total denial
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    Default

    I will say that while we spent a long time on use of the stick, those of us with responsive horses were not asked to use it. My horse was forward going that day for once in his life, and I did not have to demonstrate my knowledge of how to get him going. Others were asked to lay a stick on the horse, and with good reason. No one who didn't need to sharpen the horse was asked to do it. (While I'm thinking about it, another problem I had with the clinic was the lack of connection between exercises. I have enjoyed clinics where one exercise builds on another. This was not so in this clinic.)

    From the ground I did see an improvement in some of the other horses from day 1 to day 2 and from beginning to end, and she had no trouble with names. This was a few years ago; I hope it isn't that age is catching up to her. She joined us at lunch and was very educational on the history of the sport and very gracious to all of us.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
    - Harry Dresden

    Horse Isle 2: Legend of the Esrohs LifeCycle Breeding and competition MMORPG



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb. 8, 2007
    Posts
    2,811

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Sing Mia Song View Post
    I've had experiences in clinics where I felt the clinician pushed certain horses beyond their comfort levels for the sake of having all the participants doing the same exercize (cough...Anne Kursinski), and my opinion is that while you're there to learn, you also have to be a good steward for your horse.
    My barn manager had the same type of experience with AK, too. Her poor little mare was just fried afterwards and she said that she wished she would have just left, but there's that feeling of, "Wait, this is a BNT and I'm just a minion...she HAS to know more than *I* do, right?"

    I've never cliniced with anyone before, but reading so many of these kinds of threads gives me pause. Auditing, sure, but actually taking my horse to someone now makes me nervous! My trainer has actually advised me to be very cautious about who I clinic with, because my horse is kind of a weirdo in how he likes to be ridden. She said that if I'm ever in a situation where the clinician is telling me to ride him in a way that is counterproductive, I'm supposed to either fake it or walk out.
    "It is not necessary for you to let everyone know everything about you. In fact, it is probably wise that you don't. There are some things that you need only discuss with God."



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2007
    Posts
    1,311

    Default

    This is why I enjoy doing clinics with MST. I asked her once why she didn't focus on the rider's position and she explained that if the position is harmful to the horse (heavy hands, slamming on their backs, etc)...then she will certainly address it but that type of correction cannot be accomplished in a short time frame in a clinic and that she will certainly give advice she is not going to delay the group. I say this because I think the "holding the crop" portion of the clinic for Kusner fits in this area of taking time from what really matters. If you are attending a clinic the inference is you know what you are doing at the level of your group and the clinician should get down to business. Or alternatively, if she likes that discussion she should call a pre-meeting in the am and do a stand up education about it without the horses and say when you come in to ride I want you to be thinking about "this discussion". Then people won't be upset, horses wont be antsy and you can get to why your there.

    I think the equestriancoach website is going to be great because they are stock-piling great educational pieces from the star riders and trainers before they get too old and have these types of comments and for people coming up to watch and learn from the great ones without losing respect for them.



  16. #16

    Default

    My barn manager had the same type of experience with AK, too. Her poor little mare was just fried afterwards and she said that she wished she would have just left, but there's that feeling of, "Wait, this is a BNT and I'm just a minion...she HAS to know more than *I* do, right?"

    I've never cliniced with anyone before, but reading so many of these kinds of threads gives me pause. Auditing, sure, but actually taking my horse to someone now makes me nervous! My trainer has actually advised me to be very cautious about who I clinic with, because my horse is kind of a weirdo in how he likes to be ridden. She said that if I'm ever in a situation where the clinician is telling me to ride him in a way that is counterproductive, I'm supposed to either fake it or walk out.
    Your trainer is giving you a great piece of advice! This has been a real "eye opening" experience for me personally, to say the least. Best I've been able to gather from my trainer is that as she watched my horse becoming more and more terrified, she was wondering to herself whether she should pull us from the lesson. My only guess is that, just like me, she did not want to cause a "scene" in a clinic with a BNT in front of all the other local professionals... Thankfully, both of us were smart enough to realize that there was no way to justify going back for a second day of that insanity. Afterwards, with positive encouragement, it took us 4 days to get my horse back to being relaxed and happy in the ring, instead of constantly worrying about being punished at any moment for no reason at all...



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun. 16, 2010
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    114

    Default

    I love Kathy's clinics (I've done several). I use tools from her clinics almost every time I ride. She demands a lot from the horses, but she's very big on clarity - she says confusing messages aren't fair (I still pet mine all the time though, so she didn't get through to me on that ).



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