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  1. #1
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    Default Clinician fees - why so many in the stratosphere?

    So as a spin off on the thread about the Centerline Scores analysis of show trends (http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/sh...en-the-article), and the thread about the new USEF task force focusing on AA's - let's talk about clinician fees.

    Specfically, why are so many BNC's charging $2500-$3500 per day (or more), plus expenses, to teach clinics? Seems most of them will not accept more than 8 rides per day, and it is really difficult for many AA's (and other professionals, too!) to come up with $500 - $1000 plus to ride in a weekend clinic. Oftentimes, the rider can only afford one ride, and they don't seem to make as much progress during the clinic as riders who do both days.

    IMHO, if USDF and USEF wanted to make dressage more accessible for AA's, they would do more to help keep clinic costs down. Not sure HOW they would go about doing this, but I'm sure COTH folks have some ideas.



  2. #2
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    The immediate possibilities I can come up with are the USDF somehow trying to make clinicians charge less, and subsidizing clinics or rides in clinics.


    I think if the USDF tried to force clinicians to charge less, they simply wouldn't do the clinics and stay home to teach instead, on top of course of the "You can't DO that!" uproar it would create since it's very anti-free market.
    I don't know what they charge for lessons at home, but if you take into account two days of travel plus the two days of teaching the clinic, time lost on their own horses and possibly paying someone to ride them, lessons not taught at home, etc., why would they bother if they get paid a lot to teach at home, too?
    The price and availability of the trainer reflect what the riders are willing to pay - and it theoretically will balance out. A trainer who wants more clinics will consider lowering prices, and trainers I know of who are *too* busy end up raising prices to try to reduce number of clinics and bring in the same amount of money.


    Option 2 seems more doable to me.
    I think that making those expensive trainers available to riders in the more average funding level is one of the goals a lot of folks have when discussing what they think the USDF can do - so looking at grant options, sponsored clinics at lower prices where GMOs, USDF, or some other organization help pay cost are all options to help that happen.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

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  3. #3
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    Agree that one of the biggest things the USDF could do to help improve Dressage in the USA is help defray the costs of clinicians. Use those USDF dues to give GMOs, or whomever, grants to people organizing clinics.

    We used to host clinics at my farm, but its $2000/day, AT LEAST. And the farm not only does not make $, we often are covering up a short fall of many of hundreds, if not more.

    Heather Blitz was in my area before and after London, but, Gad Zooks, lessons were $250/pop!! I know she has to finance that international career, but not many folks can afford that kind of dough. Jane Savoie was $2000/day when we had her. Mary Wanless is $2000+/day when we factor in the costs of transport/feeding/housing and organizing lunch for participants. I don't know what BobbyD and CDK are/day, but it's gotta be more than $2k.

    It's not that I don't think these folks are worth that. But it's just more than people can really pay. And unless you have someone who can afford to cover the shortfall, then you're out of luck.

    Yes, I think the USDF is missing a huge opportunity to support dressage education by not focusing on this issue.


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  4. #4
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    It is a simple case of demand and supply. If people want fancy names, they will and should pay for it (the name). On the other hand, there are great clinicians around that charge far less, and provide outstanding instructions for serious amateurs. These will be the ones I go to because for about the same money I can afford 3 days clinics, which provide far more benefit to me than random one hour ride under one BNC.

    If USDF and USEF wanted to make dressage more accessible for AA's, they need to make sure "more" qualified instructors are available for AA - these are the ones that will make impact on AAs, not BNCs. How much BNCs charges is so trivial in the grand scale of things. There are only a handful of BNCs, and a handful of them won't make a dent on how much education an average AA is getting.

    Those BNC should be reserved for tough cases where they are the last resort to make a breakthrough: they are not for general daily progress that we AA needs.
    Last edited by Gloria; Dec. 11, 2012 at 06:49 PM.


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  5. #5
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    When I had 2 great trainers I just skipped clinics - my trainers knew my issues better than anyone else could and at the cost of a clinician I could take MANY lessons with one or both of my trainers.

    But I always vote with my pocketbook BNTs can be great - but sometimes so can lesser known people - so investigate and fins a good one to make it worth the money and travel time/expense.
    Sandy in Fla.


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  6. #6
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    I have yet to see semi-private or group lessons in clinics. While I really appreciate personal attention, I and my horse also need breaks! My horse needs more then 30sec to stretch and relax and I need way more then 30sec to process, consider and help retain new info/ways, otherwise, I DID but did not LEARN.

    I for one, would be quite happy to share a slot with 1+ other riders and the costs as well

    This IS commonly done in hunterland and from what I have seen works out well for all.
    Horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
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  7. #7
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    Having attended quite a few "big name" clinics, I do think that paying more than $250.00/lesson is highway robbery. For one thing, most lessons are only 45 minutes and when you figure out that the rate per minute at that point is somewhere around $5.55, you almost don't want the clinician to say things like "good, good, let's do that again!" You want more substance..... I understand that your lesson fee pays for travel and other expenses, but when I hear that clinician X will only travel 1st class, I'm starting to be resentful.

    In the end, the economy is going to regulate some of that to a point where the really expensive clinicians just won't have enough clients to fill up a weekend. Not sure that that will be a terrible loss for the riders who will find a less expensive solution to their training needs.
    Siegi Belz
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  8. #8
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    Agree that many BNT clinicians are out of the reach of many riders. Our GMO went through its first attempt this past year to get a grant from the Dressage Foundation (separate from USDF) in order to bring an expensive clinician at an affordable price. The process was fairly simple - GMO prepares a budget and describes the clinic in response to the questions on the form. The DF reviews them fairly quickly and gives back their response, or asks some more questions.
    The major requirement is that the clinic must include lecture time as well as riding time. We were lucky enough to get somewhere around $1200, which allowed us to charge about 60% of the clinician's going rate and to fill a clinic that otherwise COULD.NOT.HAVE.BEEN. DONE.

    I generally do not do clinics because I'm comfortable and learning much from my trainer. But occasionally I will give one a try, but I'm pretty fussy - lol. And yes, two days is definitely better than one IF the person is good.
    We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........



  9. #9
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    Speaking of which... who's up for the Susan Jacoma video lesson project? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbBLpLYuE8I

    I'm in. Gonna try to get the video up on Thursday.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
    Speaking of which... who's up for the Susan Jacoma video lesson project? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbBLpLYuE8I

    I'm in. Gonna try to get the video up on Thursday.
    Thanks, I'm not uploading a video but I'll keep watching
    I wasn't always a Smurf
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  11. #11
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    They charge what they do because they can. Remember that "clinicing" with so and so popular trainer is a "must do" for many - so trainers are not stupid - they charge as much as they can because who knows when they will drop off the popularity chart

    I personally think those kinds of fees are highway robbery. I just dont see the benefit at this point in my riding to pay that kind of money. Heck i ride with a European trained trainer who came up under some of the best in the biz and he charges way less than $100/lesson.

    I think what many AA's need is access to good training at a price they can afford. Most folks dont need to ride with a BNT or even an FEI trainer. But they do need to ride with a good, well experienced trainer who can help them with the building blocks to reach whatever goal they have.


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  12. #12
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    I think it is important to separate BNT clinics which are private enterprise vs a Forum like clinic/seminar sponsored by a GMO or the USDF.

    Most private enterprise weekend clinics at barn are just that. Private. Auditors / observers may be welcome. If the clinician comes frequently it is a great way to gain knowledge over time by observing their method.

    Most clinicians will have to give over at least 1 day to travel to the venue, and perhaps a second day for the return trip. They also are self employed so those fees are further taxed.

    Now large scale GMO / USDF forum/vents are a different thing. The group may defray cost by charging an observation fee. If you can pull a large enough crowd to such an event, then the cost to the riders may be lowered.

    In the case of large forum like set up, the focus is on educating the audience, not the rider. There needs to be audio system in place.

    I think we use the term clinic for all of these situations. To me, clinics are private / semi private lessons at private barns to which observers may be welcomed. Typically the clinician comes on a regular basis.

    To me, Seminars and Forums are the larger venue, audience focused events and for those, I would like to see Sponsors gain some funding support from USDF.
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  13. #13
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    OK I'm past the point where a clinic with a Big Name is of any value to me personally. But I have audited many. I have found few worth the money. I have found by careful observation lesser known clinicians who charge far less and are far more in tune with the participants.

    Those are the ones I want to audit!!
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.


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  14. #14
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    They can charge what the market will bear. I just did a BNC clinic last weekend. It was full. 10 riders a day. Farm owner took two spots, I don't know if what I paid subsidized those rides.

    I have ridden with a couple of different clinicians over the years. The one I rode with last weekend was by far the most effective I have ever audited or ridden with. Every single horse made noticeable and substantive improvements in each session. And the clinician specifically said that ideally people have a regular trainer that they work with, but a clinic occasionally is good as clinician is seeing you & your horse with fresh eyes. For me, he immediately pinpointed a couple of habits I need to break that my regular trainer has gotten used to seeing, so does not notice as much.

    And FWIW, there was no charge for auditing.



  15. #15
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    Clinician can only do so many private sessions in two days. Consider travel, accommodations, etc. I think charging 130$ just about breaks even for the clinicians that come to our place. That isn't considering lost time training at home, either.



  16. #16
    DownYonder is offline Schoolmaster Premium Member
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    To be clear, I am talking specifically about BNCs who charge $2500 and upwards, per day - with "expenses" added on (airfare, hotel, meals, some want a rental car, and yes, quite a few seem to want fly first class these days). And this is for a CLINIC - not a symposium or seminar!

    That equates to about $800-$1000 per rider (assuming 8 riders per day, and the riders do both days). And riders have to add stabling charges, fuel and trailering costs, and probably hotel and meals on top of that, so expenses for a weekend riding with a BNC can easily top $1000.

    That is quite a chunk of money, and many riders have to sacrifice something else to make it happen. A lot of them end up skipping a show or two here or there - and maybe, given the economy, that is part of the reason competition entries are down in most of the country. The rider has to decide whether to spend that $1000 going to a couple of out of town shows, or riding in a clinic with a very BNC, so it really comes down to the rider's specific goals and needs. If the rider has been stuck at 2nd level, say, with scores in the mid-60's, does she go to another show where she may get more mid-60's scores, or does she instead go ride in a clinic with Mr. (or Ms.) BNC?


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  17. #17
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    I don't know the specifics of the financial arrangements that the one I rode with made with the organizer. It was a clinic, not a symposium or seminar setup. We had 10 riders a day, and as I said, I don't know if the per ride fee I paid was funding the organizer's two rides or not. The riders were paying $300 a ride. So his fee was probably in the range of $2500 a day.

    I absolutely am giving up a show for a clinic weekend. And I consciously make that decision. I like showing, but educationally speaking, a great clinic gives me more bang for the buck.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mzm farm View Post
    I have yet to see semi-private or group lessons in clinics. While I really appreciate personal attention, I and my horse also need breaks! My horse needs more then 30sec to stretch and relax and I need way more then 30sec to process, consider and help retain new info/ways, otherwise, I DID but did not LEARN.

    I for one, would be quite happy to share a slot with 1+ other riders and the costs as well

    This IS commonly done in hunterland and from what I have seen works out well for all.
    Bo Jena did semi-private lessons two weeks ago at Half Halt Stables. I shared a 45-minute slot with another woman who had a young horse.

    Not only am quite certain I could NOT have (physically) survived a full session on my own, I felt like I got great individual personal attention, he also created/guided some exercises that had us working together to mutual benefit. (Her horse was much greener and didn't navigate figures so well. Following me/mine allowed her to work on more consistent gait forward (half halts) and I needed the support to encourage my horse to move more forward (without Bo having to shout about it ... We did a couple other exercises that required becoming more adept at ... well, riding! )

    Of course, we also had our 1:1 time and both got to experience his famous "just one more time" (which really means "again and again until I tell you you're done")

    I'm looking forward to riding with him again and would be happy to share again.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by mzm farm View Post
    I have yet to see semi-private or group lessons in clinics. While I really appreciate personal attention, I and my horse also need breaks! My horse needs more then 30sec to stretch and relax and I need way more then 30sec to process, consider and help retain new info/ways, otherwise, I DID but did not LEARN.

    I for one, would be quite happy to share a slot with 1+ other riders and the costs as well

    This IS commonly done in hunterland and from what I have seen works out well for all.
    Charles de Kunffy comes to our farm regularly and regularly does semi-private lessons. He has also done group longe lessons. When our GMO brought Jane Savoie in, she did group lessons. So it does happen in dressage, but not often.

    The main reason it's common in hunterland is the jumping. It would be very hard on a horse to jump for 45 minutes or an hour. You can learn a lot when you're watching other horses/riders navigate fences, plus it gives horses/riders a break while they're watching the others.
    Quote Originally Posted by SuzieQNutter
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  20. #20
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    Seems to me like having a central forum where clinicians and organizers could post clinic dates, prices, and locations would be really handy.

    I know when I see notice of a clinician I haven't heard of, it doesn't lodge in my brain as well as when I see that VeryBigNameClinician is going to be 2 states away. Being able to look at a calendar and see that SmallerClinician will be in the next town over in 6 weeks gives me time to ask around about SmallerClinician.

    There is someone out there with the knowledge and teaching style each of us needs, at a price range we can at least occasionally swing - it's just finding that person that can be a challenge!


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