Best:Katie Prudant. Learned so much both riding and auditing!
Worst was when I decided to open my mind and go to a dressage clinic. Spent the entire hour ride, bending my horse to the outside at walk and trot. BORING!
Worst: Lucinda Green I really liked her otherwise! But I was in the host barn's owner's group, so the other 3 of us were ignored while she told the owner how great she was and how awesome her horse was. Also, even though I agree with her method of not having perfect striding and letting the horse figure it out, she put two verticals on the edge of the shade from a big tree, offset from each other (angle or bending line) and then didn't understand why my horse ran into the second fence! If I can't see the second jump, there's no way my horse can.
Best was Ed Dabney (western/natural horsemanship/classical riding) and the Intro to Ranch work, complete with cows! My horse and I had a blast, and we usually do dressage/evening. We did borrow a western saddle for the roping part on the second day though.
Worst: I've written about it before.
I broke my ankle a few weeks before a certain clinic and had to cancel. Same clinician was going to be back in 6 months so riding in that clinic was my goal for rehab.
It was a big deal because it was about a 3 hour trailer trip, needing a hotel room, stall and farm sitter. I signed up for both sessions.
The clinic was at a beautiful facility....however our stall was in a converted dairy barn about a mile down a very spooky gravel road. For much of the time Miss Virginia was the only horse in the barn.
She was, needless to say, on edge.
As was I.
Our usual warmup was to trot using a half halt every time she got to quick.
This was not to the clinicians liking, she repeatedly gave the same one sentence of instructions and for six days I tried to comply. Needless to say it was a disaster, clinician, horse and rider were increasingly frustrated and it turned into quite the rodeo.
I left in tears and it took several years to get my confidence back. I retired the mare....our trust in each other was shattered.
Best clinician EVER, Jane Savoie though thanks to the above incident I doubt I will ever have the nerve to RIDE in one of them
I wasn't always a Smurf
Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
"I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.
Worst: Michael Matz, shortly after he won gold at Atlanta.
There were to be 6 riders in my group, jumping 3' and instead, there were 9 riders, 2 of which were very green.
Michael spent most of the 2 hours giving the 2 greenies what were almost personal lessons...one horse, he rode for over 30 minutes, while the rest of us walked. And walked. And walked. The 2nd horse he devoted about 20 minutes to. While the rest walked. And walked. And walked.
Our flat work pretty much consisted of going around and around the ring. Nothing really instructive.
When it came time to jump, he set up a grid. The last jump was a bit bigger than what my horse had been jumping. As a former jumper rider, I tended to be a bit vocal and coming over the last jump, which I felt my horse sucking back a bit, I growled at him. Michael yelled at me for being vocal!
The only ïnstruction" I received from him was not to be vocal and he didn't like my leg position....the horse I was on tended to be lazy at home and was a tripper, so I rode him with my legs slightly in front of the girth, mainly for self preservation.
Nothing positive was said, no instructions, nothing to do to improve ourselves!
I (and several others) were fuming, and I was having a really hard time at the end of the clinic, that we were being dismissed without any words of advice. I kept prodding him, and finally, all he could say was that I didn't have the most talented hunter in the world, but he was a trier.
I paid $200 for this???
After the clinic, several of us were talking and we all wished that we had had the guts to excuse ourselves from the clinic after it was obvious that the 2 greenies were getting private lessons and we were just walking. I even bought the video, because I could not believe that we were really walking for that long and being ignored....yep, the video confirmed it.
The funny thing was, in the session before our group, there was a boy on a really nice horse, but the horse was a handful. After the gridwork, the horse would bolt. But Michael never saw it because he immediately turned to the next rider. Anyhow, at one point, Michael asked the kid who his trainer was. Michael then went on to say how just because some people can ride, that doesn't necessarily make them a good trainer! And the kids trainer was of course right there in the audience!
After the clinic, I thought ÿeah, Michael...just because you have a gold medal, doesn't mean you can teach!"
I was pretty upset...I had idolized Michael, had really looked forward to the clinic, and it was absolutely horrible.
Jon Holling. He was super positive, lots of fun and I received lots of instruction. This was Tucker's first or second outing cross country and he made it such a super positive experience.
My daughter did several clinics with her mare. The best was with Peter Gray at the Holling's. They were a new pair at this point, and Peter had tried to buy the mare years before we got her. Peter remarked that Imp was a "rolls royce." Jen, who was 14, had no idea what a rolls royce was, and thought it was an insult! I had to show her what a rolls was, and now every time we see one, we laugh about that comment!
Best: Dr. Reiner Klimke clinic at Bernie Traurigs farm in Wisconsin. I was a dressage newbie and drove 300 miles to audit. I wish I'd known enough at the time to really appreciate what I was seeing, but one thing really stuck with me. Dr. Klimke asked to get on a horse who's rider was having trouble with the right to left lead change. He rode the horse for a few minutes then came around the corner on a counter canter. I was sitting at the corner so he was now riding directly away from me and I saw him put his right leg on the horse as he bent him to the left. The horse went about two feet into the air and came down at least four feet off the track on the left lead like it was no big deal. My impression was that he had physically lifted that horse, placed him exactly where he wanted him and it was that simple. Beautiful to watch.
Fast forward many years and I am just getting started in western pleasure with a wonderful old packer who had taught many riders through the years. A barn owner friend was having a NH guy in for a clinic and asked me to let him use my horse in a session. (I can't identify NH guy because he still clinics at friends barn). Anyhow I agreed, guy starts chasing my horse around swing a rope at him, making him rollback at a gallop, poor horse breaks out into a lather. I took it for too long then left my seat, went to the round pen gate, my horse ran to me and I removed him. Heard a lot of "we'll some owners just can't face what needs to be done". Really guy? No horse needs to be scared #%*+ less!
I'm not going to name names, but my best and worst clinics were with the same instructor. She helped me TONS with my old horse, helped me get his first flying changes, etc.
Then I got a new horse, much better mover, but young, hot/hyper and explosive. I was SO excited to sign up for a clinic. Had to trailer a couple of hours, pay for hotel/motel, stabling, meals, etc. And then, in a strange arena, on a hyper, excited horse away from home for the first time, she set up GROUP lessons (I had been told semi-private), plus yak-yak-yoga-mystical dismounted seminars, and then expected me to ride on the buckle, in a group, at all gaits, and "ride him into the contact." Ummmm....yeah, I totally understand riding him into the contact, not pulling, etc., but I spent most of the "lesson" grabbing the reins to avoid running into another horse, get him under control after he was leaping 15 feet sideways when someone dropped a bucket in the aisle, spooking away from the other horses, etc., etc., etc. It was a frikin' rodeo and I learned nothing except to be scared of my horse. The second day I REFUSED to ride him on the buckle and was reprimanded for that. Sigh. I've never cliniced with that clinician again.
The most pleasant part of the weekend was heading back to the motel to watch a ballgame on the tv. Nearly $800 for NADA.
Last edited by Sandy M; Apr. 11, 2013 at 04:17 PM.
Worst are ones I audited. Peter Campbell - he was condescending and arrogant. He made a HUGE deal out of helping someone after the clinic was formally done for the day, stating he was doing it "on my own time". My friend, who was riding in the clinic, went up to ask him a question about what he was helping the lady with (to get a little clarification because he was being very "mystical" [vague] and he told her,"I could tell you but you wouldn't understand." He yelled at his assistant during this time who was not anywhere near where Peter was that he guessed the assistant "didn't have anything more to learn" so could just keep talking. Part of the clinic was on ranch roping - there was little safety with ropes discussed and I was amazed no one was hurt as there were several very close calls with people who were not skilled with ropes.
Another was Dennis Reis - not really a clinic but an infomericial-demo. He had his minions on display showing off his program, which you too could have for a modest investment. Nothing they were doing even made me mildly interested in his program. Everything about the demo was geared towards buying his stuff. You thought the Parellis were bad, Dennis was giving them a run for their money. His wife was also there and he was mean and nasty to her. She has an Arab (stallion?) who she rode bridless over some barrels. But the horse was fresh and feeling good and sassy and she was scared to go over the barrels. Yea, Dennis berated her so much, she finally did, but you could see she was scared and upset. And she busted her buns to do everything for him and all he did was bark orders at her. Never did see him ride anything more than a walk and when ever he wanted something - whether getting a horse tacked up, a lead rope, whatever - he'd bark at his wife or one of his minions to get it and they'd scramble like scared rabbits. This was a two day demo, I had free tickets and met up with some friends there (we all came from 3 hours away). They left at lunch on the first day. I managed to squeak it out a little past lunch on the first day, hoping it'd get better. Nope. So I left.
Some of the best clinics I've been to were the Greener than Grass National Stockhorse Association clinics. There I was with top NRCHA riders/trainers with hardly any knowledge, riding a half trained 1/2 ARAB mare and not knowing what lead I was on, let alone how to ask for a flying lead change. They were ALL extremely nice and patient with both me and my horse and really tried hard to help us out. I'm sure they thought we were a lost cause, but you'd never know it by the attention we got. That was about 4 years ago. 2 years ago, my friend overheard one of the top guys tell a friend at the gate at a show when I was going in that he wanted to watch us since we had improved so much, "you will not believe how far they have come!" That really made me feel great!!
I audited a Ray Hunt Clinic (probably the year before he passed). Can't say I would have enjoyed riding in it, but I did meet and talk with him and enjoyed the clinic. Audited a Buck Brannaman Clinic too - gosh, it's been about 8-9 years ago?? Got some awesome pixs and alot of information that kept my brain busy for quite a while. I think with what I know now, I'd love to ride in one. At that time I would have been totally clueless.
Best: Sarah Martin - well, that's why I kept going back to her. Non-nonsense. Tough. Straight to the point. Great eyes. Extremely informative. I also love Eddo Hoekstra but he is not coming this region any more so....
Worst: ummm not sure.... There were some that aren't as good but I won't say them "bad".
Been to quite a few clinics with clinicians with good reputations as teachers. Several have been "big names". Got something out of all of them and would have said each was "good", except perhaps one.
Best - Mary D'Arcy O'Connell, former coach of the Irish Olympic team. She 'gets' horses and riders in a unique way and is your lady to sort out a problem. I have watched as well as ridden in her clinics, and riders and horses finish with skills and confidence above where they started. Have seen several horse-rider pairs come out *knowing* they can do something *well* that they hadn't thought was even in their skill level at the start.
Worst - Won't say the name, but it was a clinic with a 4* rider I had clinic'ed with quite successfully several times before. Unfortunately this one clinic ended badly. She set up a last jump exercise that rapidly became clear was beyond my horse and myself, in spite of repeated tries. The clinician began pushing hard that the horse and I HAD to do this, right now. Without going into the gory details that included her trying to scare the horse into jumping, it ended with a horse shaking with fear at the point of every refusal. I told her that and she wanted to push harder, although I also told her I was not prepared for this, either.
It's the only time I can remember in over 20 years of riding that I politely & calmly said that I needed to call it a day, I'd work on all her pointers and I knew things would improve with a time and work (I did truly know that). My tone was calm and very neutral to diffuse the situation and give everyone an out. The clinician blew her stack. She had been working herself up and she flipped into shouting abusively at me for "quitting". As she continued shouting and ranting the spectators and other riders looked shocked and no one knew what to say or do. When she did not wind down for some kind of final closure conversation, I finally just walked my horse back to the trailer as if she were not shouting.
That was the last time I clinic'ed with her. She has a record as a top instructor of some top riders. I've heard that at times she has had problems with her temper, but that in most clinics it isn't an issue. She's entered in this year's Rolex.
Fwiw ... The clinic was very close to my home barn and I knew I wanted better closure with my horse for that day of riding. He didn't deserve to end on that note or to be so afraid. I needed a different last memory of the day's ride. The minute we were home I reconstructed the problem jump very small, got him out of the trailer and tacked up. In 10 minutes of quiet riding I gradually built it back up to where we had left off at the clinic when he was so terrified. He was popping over with no problems at all. Of course he was home in a different setting, but also he was being asked in a different way.
So that one was not a good clinic, and I left with a problem bigger than any I had when I came, although it was resolved soon enough afterwards. But it was a great learning experience for me.
As time went on the horse and I were still a bit inconsistent on this jump problem. The clinician who gave me the final clue that fixed it for good was Mary D'Arcy O'Connell.
Best: George Morris. I've audited a few, he's entertaining & informative, and he really puts the riders to work.
Worst: Like prior poster, I rode in a Michael Matz clinic years ago and was very disappointed. He really just doesn't seem that interested in teaching (or maybe in teaching someone at my level, lol!). A trainer I know had a student ride in a Bernie Trauig clinic recently and felt it was a waste of time. Much talking about hiimself, little attention to the riders' problems in front of him. Anyone else cliniced with him?
Worst clinic (audited): Dominique Barbier. After getting over my surprise at the fur lined cape and Dali-esque "moustaaaache", I observed him long line a horse and flip said horse over backwards THREE times. All three times the group I was with all saw it coming and wondered how close to "the edge" he was going to go before backing off. Well, he just proceeded right over the edge every time. I had grown up watching Maj. Lindgren long line and that man was a MASTER, so I was really looking forward to seeing some great long lining. . I couldn't take it any more and left. Why the horse's owner did not step in is beyond me.
Derek Huget, Dressage: I am a jumper, but I had terrible flat work and the mare I lease was not exactly the softest ride. After 2 days with Derek, I was stiff in places I didn't even know I had muscles, but almost a year later the mare and I look pretty great on the flat, and it has improved our jumping a ton. I actually ENJOY flatting now, which I never thought I would say, because I understand the purpose of it.
Dayton Gorsline, Jumping: He gave me confidence in my ability, and got me off the mare's face in our approach to the jumps. He jacked the fences up almost 6" from where I had been schooling, and because he thought I could do it, I just did it! Super fun, lots of different lines and corners than we usually did, and he spoke loudly enough that when watching other riders I could follow along with what they were doing. Really hope he comes back next year!