Not high strung at all. He has a sense of humor but will also be very blunt if need be. He expects you to give 110% in the clinic. If you don't, expect to not get much from him. If you expect coddling and to be told what great job you are doing because you show up and "just do the job", you will be disappointed. But if you go expecting to work, pay attention, be ready to ride when called on (ie pay attention to the order he has your group go in and be ready to go when it is your turn), not chit-chat, etc you will have a blast. Make mistakes, he will help you fix them. That is what he is there for.
Also be there for the other groups and help set fences, listen/audit, etc. He usually uses the same sort of exercises for each group, though of course tweeks them a bit for each level (though sometimes you would be surprised that the BN group can do the same stuff the Prelim group does, only lower!)
The clinics I have done with him he has also done a morning lecture each day. Find out if he is and if so, be sure to be there for it.
I was thoroughly unimpressed with him.
I found him to be rather unhelpful and more interested in dishing out one liners than actually putting his years of knowledge to use.
I was so disappointed that I cried for 1/2 of my drive home.
When he says "your horse may be crazy but he's not stupid".
This does not mean oh my gosh Jimmy thinks my horse is smart therefore I think I've just picked up 500 bucks worth at this clinic!!
My clinic was all sorts of awesome. (sarcasm here)
He told me not to do anything--so I didn't--and then he yelled at me for not doing anything.
He finally gave me one good piece of instruction AFTER my last go through the gymnastic. Me thinks to myself: Um--gee--thanks but why couldn't you have maybe said that 2 HOURS AGO!!! grrrr
~at least it was on day one and I could put it to use on day two.
and that was the good stuff. It got way worse than that for me and others--I'll spare everyone the rest of the fun details.
I'm the sort that doesn't like to hear anything positive from coaches. I'm paying them to tell me what I'm doing wrong.
For some folks the fancy one liners and compliments are enough I guess.
The only other thing I have gathered is that there are riders out there who have never had decent instruction so when they attend a sub-par clinic it's actually a step up.
And then there is the celebrity factor.
I've audited several Jimmy clinics. The most educational part, IMO, was the theory discussion at the start of the day. For the ridden part, he seems to like to use little exercises to make his point to the rider, or to teach the horse something.
Each time he built a gymnastic line that was a double bounce, 2 or 3 strides to a hogs back, then the same number of strides to another double bounce. It was really interesting to watch the horses who wanted to rush figure out how to wait.
He can be a little gruff and does like his zingers, but I never felt they were really undeserved, nor did they rise to George Morris level insults.
I've done three with two different horses and thought he was great. He gave me some fairly concrete suggestions that were helpful for my riding, and he really got how my mare operates. If you have a horse that likes to jump you will be fine, he really only seemed to take issue with the people who brought horses that were over faced and stoppers. He sets gymnastics and courses that will challenge you but are height appropriate.
At the risk of getting flamed by his fans (of which I would count myself as an admirer - I love his writing and respect his opinion on the sport and his many accomplishments), I would not ride in a clinic with him.
I have audited two clinics of his, one many years ago, and one more recently and both times came away disappointed. At the last clinic specifically, a BN rider could not get her horse anywhere near a tiny, modified "ditch". She did not know how to correct the problem, and after dozens of quick reapproaches and shouts and stress all around, he never GAVE her the tools and she retired for the day.
It would have been a great teaching moment for all of us there - when your horse refuses, here are some steps you can take to address the problem. Here's where to look, here's how and when to use the stick, here's how to get into safety seat, whatever.
I think if he'd taken 10 minutes to break it down, the rider seemed willing to try and she at least would have learned something from the experience and had something to practice.
Speaking for myself, I don't mind any clinician being gruff with me as long as I'm getting useful advice - but if I'm struggling with something, I need a HOW TO and I need it BEFORE I've mucked it up on my own a dozen times.
Maybe it just means he prefers riders at a certain level? A friend of mine rode with him who was going training, and she had much the same experience as purpl.
I would agree that he is probably better with novice and above riders, although personally I wouldn't bring a baby green horse that was still learning about their first ditch to a clinic with anyone. It's an awful lot of money that could be better spent with a regular instructor, and it can waste a lot of time for everyone in the clinic. I did the training group last time but I was also more on the training getting ready to go prelim side of things. I also watched the prelim group and they had a good clinic as well.
I can appreciate purplnurpl's comments. Not all clinicians are for all people. And I have seen people in his clinics that I am sure went away feeling just the way she is describing.
I personally don't think I count myself in the "riders out there who have never had decent instruction so when they attend a sub-par clinic it's actually a step up. And then there is the celebrity factor." group. I rode with Jim Graham for 7 yrs, have ridden with "the Captain" (don't waste your money), Phillip Dutton (unless you are going Prelim competitively, or higher, don't waste your money), and more. So those sure weren't sub-par, and I sure wasn't after the celebrity factor.
He expects you to already have some tools in your tool box. Or to open your mouth and ASK for additional help and clarification if what is going on is not working.
My take on any clinic situation is my horse and I should have certain skills before attending. Much like competition, I should be able to do a W/T test and jump 2' before entering an Ameboa combined test - yeah been there done that.
Now having paid my hard earned, precious dollars to attend a clinic for a maximum of 4 hours (2hr/2days) aka group lesson. I do not want to be the person who is keeping others from taking instruction because my horse is not ready - another been there, done that. My SIL took the 2nd day and everyone was much more relaxed/happy.
TBFAN - I understand your concern about the BN rider. BUT they were not prepared and he could have spent the better part of the 2 hour session teaching her horse to jump a ditch - without teaching the others anything. They in turn would have left feeling their money and time was wasted.
I have watched more than one clinician focus on one horse/rider to the detriment of the others.
His actions, while harsh for the one, were actually better for the majority as he could focus on them and teach.
"Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
Courtesy my cousin Tim
I have audited w/ him one and rode with him once. I really enjoyed both experiences and took home things to work on. But I was upfront and honest when I rode with him about where my horse and I were at in training/fitness/competition and I know he appreciated it. I had been focusing on the jumpers w/ my gelding and hadn't been out on cross country in awhile. But I was riding a Training packer that knows his job and makes up when I don't do mine right.
In stadium he pushed me to work on even more advanced stuff than most of the others in my group but that was because I was riding at the time above that level. However on cross country, he backed off because he knew that I didn't have an eye for the galloping fences and struggled with it in a few exercises until it came back.
I, too, have rode with lots of different clinicians and realize that not every clinician works well with every person. Thank goodness that is why we have different clinicians!! However, I think if you go with an open mind, willing to work and pay attention and willing to try something different if he asks, then you will be fine.
Fooler, I agree in general, that the horse and rider should have certain skills, but maybe the rider didn't know how her horse was going to react to that fence. Maybe she was trying to move up to Nov, I'm not sure.
Still, I don't think it would have taken 2 hours to get across basic points that anyone could have used, in an effort to help the rider who seemed to be trying.
This is very basic stuff, like having your horse straight and in front of your leg before approaching a fence, or how to use your stick appropriately when your horse has run out - but sometimes when you're in a clinic or at a show or in any stressful situation, those things can fall by the wayside and you forget or regress.
These are very basic things that every rider should have. And if someone of Wofford's caliber sees them missing, I would want those holes pointed out and addressed and it doesn't need to take forever. I've seen this teaching demonstrated by others who had much less impressive resumes than Woff. They don't allow rider to make multiple incorrect attempts before dismissing them - they make the corrections that can be made BEFORE things devolve, so the rider learns SOMETHING, at least.
My personal feeling watching it; as he shouted at the rider and allowed her to run a dozen times at a teeny "ditch", all crooked, rushed and flailing, as her horse ran out every time and then threw in the towel because she lacked the basic skill to make it to the other side, was that Woff missed a good opportunity to demonstrate, even briefly, the skills that were needed, and obviously missing, to addressing that question on that horse.
Wofford is the product of an excellent system of riding and training, and I was hoping to see him demonstrate that system in his clinic at every level, and he did not. That takes nothing away from him as a rider or a person and I'd bet he shares that excellent system with his upper level riders, who probably already have that base or see him regularly.
But I would not spend my own money to clinic with him for that reason. I want a clinician who will help me get through a difficult situation on a horse at any level by addressing the holes they see before things get out of hand.
JMO. I still read Wofford's book when I need a gymnastic exercise.
Here are blogs from the clinics I've taken (in reverse order). I got less out of a clinic I didn't blog that was just gymnasium and SJ (but my horse was coming back, and I was worried about him, too). I think he's god, and I've read all his books/seen his videos, so he's a brilliant reinforcement for me. report back!!
I watched a bunch of clinics he gave at the PA Horse World Expo and I thought he was great and the riders were BN, N and T level at best. He gave each of them small things to work on that improved the overall result dramatically. And he had a great sense of humor...
TR - I'm jealous and would love to have the same opportunity!
I have a good friend who primarily events and rode with Jimmy for many years when she was still on the other side of the country. Now that she's over here, she clinics with him every time he's around. I would describe her relationship and feeling about him in the same way that I would describe my respect and feeling for riding with Greg.
So we talked a lot about our "mentors" and both started thinking about riding with the other one (her with Greg and me with Jimmy). Last winter Greg came out after the season and it was perfect timing for her to join in on a clinic. I was so excited to "share" the person who's had such an impact on my riding in the last 5 or 6 years, especially since she and I have a lot in common (in a horsey way).
She. hated. him.
Like hated him so much that she almost didn't attend the 3rd day of the 3-day clinic. I was very disappointed that she didn't give his advice a chance to work for her or her horse, but whatever the reason, they didn't click and it didn't go well.
Now I'm scared to ride with Jimmy. Not because I don't think he would be awesome to ride with, but because I'm afraid the same thing would happen in the other direction
So I, for one, am really looking forward to hearing your recap of how the weekend goes!
I understand where you are coming from but you have to remember that in a clinic situation that taking extra time to overcome an issue at a ditch or bank or whatever is doing a disservice to others in the group who did not have that problem and are having to wait around for an extended period of time to try to fix something. I have rode with multiple clinicians and most believe for the greater good of the group and also for a safety factor as the clinician usually just met Susie and Hony for the first time yesterday that you get x amount of attempts and then you need to move on and come back with your personal instructor and work it out.
At the Wofford clinic I rode in, my group had several people who were having issues with a ditch and brush Fence. One rider, who is a good friend of mine, never did get her mare over it even with me giving her several leads. Wofford decided that she needed to come back and work on it with her trainer later as the mare was just to the point of shutting down and my friend was getting too tired to properly ride her to the fence with her skill level. After our group was finished, my friend's trainer (who happened to be there at the clinic auditting) and I went with my friend with Wofford's blessing and spent the extra time to let me school the mare over the fence but not waste the group's time. We did sucessfully get the mare over the fence but it really needed more time than what would have been fair to the others in the group to spend. Sometimes as clinicians, you just have to know when to step back and bypass something in the sake of safety of the horse and rider as well as the good of the group.
OP--Jimmy is fine with non-eventers. We often have show jumpers ride in our clinics. Even have a few steeplechase riders.
Only thing to practice ahead of time is trotting over placing poles. Typically set 9' apart (so they take two steps between the poles). I always make sure my horses can do that
Otherwise...gymanstics is mostly free jumping the horse with a rider on top. It is about letting the exercises help the horse and the rider staying quiet....until they are needed to not be quiet. Working on straightness and flexibility. It generally carries over to course work. Working on keeping a quality canter, doing only as much as you need too and letting the horse do or learn their job.
PNW--don't worry about it. Not everyone clicks. I'm surprised your friend didn't like Greg (I'm assuming its Greg Best). I didn't find him that different from Jimmy (although I've never done a 3 day clinic) but what was interesting to me....having worked for Frank Chapot...is how different Greg's style was from Frank's. Frank was very different Jimmy....more simmilar to me of Phillip.
** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **
This has been a great thread to follow for I've been a fan of Mr Wofford and ponder what taking lessons would be like with him...
Aye, but that's the rub, is taking lesson different then a clinic (rhetorical question)...of course, so my question is,
why go to a clinic?
I have a great trainer, she had taken raw clay and molded it into something resembling an Eventer. Were I to go to a Lucinda or Jimmie or Phillip clinic, what would I gain that I don't get from my regular trainer? Would Jimmie magically teach me to be able to go novice (skipping BN) pushing me past my trainer? Would Lucinda show me a better position such that I could not take lessons from my very good instructor again for fear of losing it?
A little hyperbole, but I've really wondered this of late. Perhaps the second most important bond in eventing (after the horse) would be the trainer for it is the trainer the one sees day in day out that pushes, prods, and gets us to step beyond the comfort zone.
For the ROI, what does a clinic with BNT/R accomplish?
I think clinics are great if you are stuck and need a new approach, or if you just want to try riding with someone new for fun. They aren't miracles, though
I generally do 1-2 a year (did a gymnastics one with JW last winter that BFNE put together, in fact). I'm not sure that he said anything I hadn't heard before, although he did say it slightly differently. An hour lesson did not overcome 30 years of doing it wrong, and to be honest I am still guilty of it. He did not really say much about my horse, who is solid at the level and didn't put a foot wrong all day. I enjoyed it and will probably do one this year given the opportunity.
This is always a good question. I rode with Jimmy in lessons for years. Clinics are now all he really does but I try to keep our groups on the smaller size. Going to a clinic with someone like him who was my trainer is a different situation. He will not say that much to me....and certainly not say something I haven't heard before. But he can knock the rust off me faster than anyone and give me a few ideas for the current horse I'm sitting on. The man has a scary good eye and can pick up on the smallest of detail.
I do occassionally ride in clinics with other trainers who do not know me as well.
For those, I'm typically looking for an outing for my green horse at a different venue....a pressure/show type situation without it being a competition. I'm looking for some control in the environment. I'm a confident rider so I do not worry to much about overfacing my horse....I've no trouble speaking up if something seems too much for my horse (never needed to though---well, only once with Boyd and he was my trainer at the time....made him get on the horse). I do not go looking for a magic fix...or even a quick fix. Just go to hear what they have to say, may be take away a new exercise or two and hopefully knock some more rust off or gain a slightly deeper understanding to something I already know. Most of all...it is just another experience for my horse too.
Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Oct. 23, 2012 at 11:11 PM.
** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **