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Has anyone ever ridden in a Laura Graves clinic?

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  • Has anyone ever ridden in a Laura Graves clinic?

    I'm riding in one next month and am pretty pumped - I've never been to one before but have heard good things. Trying to get an idea of what to expect - is she the type of clinician that will often get on to ride herself a bit? Is there anything I should know ahead of time to get the most out of it?

    I think there may be a fair number of auditors - it's been a while since I've ridden in a clinic with people watching. Is there anything I should know in general on the etiquette of these things? Are there rules against taking video or pictures of my rides? I haven't really done clinics since I was younger and in Canada. Do people typically braid for clinics in the US? Are white polos/white saddle pads the standard?

    Mr. Sandman
    sand me a man
    make him so sandy
    the sandiest man

  • #2
    I audited a clinic. I ride in a lot of clinics and audit a lot as well. Laura was fantastic. I learned a lot just auditing which isn’t often the case. You can find some videos of her teaching on you tube to get an idea. She does not tend to ride.

    Folks generally do not braid for clinics unless they are large symposiums. And in general you don’t have to be too fussy with your attire. White polos or white boots will help the clinician see the legs, also light colored breeches rather than black will help them see you.


    • #3
      I have only seen her in larger Masterclass/Symposium settings and have not seen her get on a horse in those settings. She is a sharp clinician and will push you. Plan to work on doing exercises rather than movements.

      Don't say anything unless you are asked a question, or are really confused. Try everything she suggests - 100%. Mistakes are expected, so don't let them fluster you, just move on.

      People were well turned out - horses braided and immaculate. Outfits were not necessarily white pads and polos. There were a few super-gorgeous coordinated sets matched to the riders outfits that look like photo shoots for a tack store.

      For the video/photo question, definitely check with the organizer - there may or may not be rules. The organizer may also give you suggestions for turnout as well. I hear lots of people say that clinicians want horses and riders in white polos and breeches so they can see you better, but I haven't ever heard that from clinicians directly.

      This article from earlier this year may be helpful:
      "So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit." Crash Davis; Bull Durham


      • Original Poster

        Thank you!! The main person I used to clinic with was a grumpy German dude so I am definitely used to shutting up and working hard. He did have a tendency to jump on my horse and one time rode her way too long/ too hard and it was uncomfortable (I'm talking nearly 2 hours and others told me to tell him to get off). I definitely don't expect that from Laura but was curious - this is super useful.

        Also good to know about attire. Maybe I can use this as an excuse to buy some fancy matching stuff from PS of Sweden for me and my mare that I've had my eye on. (As if the actual clinic fees weren't already a huge expense lol).
        Mr. Sandman
        sand me a man
        make him so sandy
        the sandiest man


        • #5
          I didn't attend, but saw photos from a recent clinic and fwiw I didn't see braids, most had white pillows and pads, and there was a photo of Laura on a horse.


          • #6
            Our GMO brought her in last year for a clinic. We've had a plethora of good clinicians over the years--including some big names--and she was one of the best. She did not ride any of the horses but worked from the ground with quite a few of them to help with sitting, half-steps, piaffe, passage, etc. She has a lot of stuff in her toolbox and is the real deal. I would go audit her again in a heartbeat.

            Edited to add that my two friends that rode in the clinic also thought it was a great experience and would definitely jump at the chance to do it again. She was businesslike but kind and pushed horses and riders just enough by giving them really effective exercises to address various issues. She was also personable and down to earth and very easy to talk to. She is not a prima donna like a lot of BNTs.
            Last edited by DownYonder; Sep. 20, 2019, 08:39 AM.


            • #7
              I have nothing to add regarding Laura but fully encourage you to go matchy matchy! PS of Sweden or Lemieux...both have really nice horse/rider collections!


              • #8
                I ride with her a few years ago in Ocala. Enjoyed it and got lots from it. It was all fairly casual but that was the tone of the farm and there were not many auditors. Have fun!!


                • #9
                  I will add more after her symposium here! It's created for viewers more than riders, but I suspect I will still get a lot of info what she'll be like as a clinician from it!
                  If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                  • #10
                    She has a number of videos on Dressage Today. You can watch the clips for free. One of my favorites to watch and the clips are not all formal either.


                    • #11
                      I did two clinic rides with her. I felt very neutral about the lessons, very average instruction. I didn't come away with anything new, or particularly inspiring but it wasn't a bad experience either.
                      I basically feel like I can tick off the ”Rode with Laura Graves" box now and I don't need to do it again.


                      • #12
                        I rode with her about two years ago. It was really great. She definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone during our ride. She had a great eye and could very easily see our weak areas. It was right before our Regional Championships so she was able to work on thing that would come up in that test. I have a little 15 hand palomino Paint (who's a struggle because of his conformation) and the best thing she told me was that with the correct training, there's no reason my horse wouldn't be able to do the FEI movements and that she had a little Quarter Horse just like him at home which she had trained and shown up to GP. Also I would say braiding isn't necessary, but for sure a white saddle pad and white wraps.


                        • #13
                          Are you doing the one at Iron Rock? Laura has done several clinics there. It is a very private facility so no braiding. Wynne is the hostess with the mostest and the food will be great. It can get very windy. I guarantee it will be quite the fashion show. The auditor group has grown but it will still be very small.

                          BTW - her working student has written several articles in the on-line Chronicle. Wynne coached her to her bronze on her mustang pony.
                          Last edited by Brown Derby; Sep. 26, 2019, 12:59 PM.


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by Brown Derby View Post
                            Are you doing the one at Iron Rock? Laura has done several clinics there. It is a very private facility so no braiding. Wynne is the hostess with the moistest and the food will be great. It can get very windy. I guarantee it will be quite the fashion show. The auditor group has grown but it will still be very small.

                            BTW - her working student has written several articles in the on-line Chronicle. Wynne coached her to her bronze on her mustang pony.
                            Yep it is - that's good to know! And yeah ladies in this area really know how to bring out the bling I've noticed.
                            Mr. Sandman
                            sand me a man
                            make him so sandy
                            the sandiest man


                            • #15
                              I've ridden and audited some BNT clinics. Not every uses white polos, but most will use a white saddle pad or at least try to match. I normally use boots with my horse but he didn't need them, so I just stuck with bell boots at times. Kept it simple.

                              Sometimes I will either wear a colorful pair of breeches, a white polo and white saddle pad. Or I will wear a colorful shirt that matches my saddles pad and polo wraps with white breeches. The trainer loved the white breeches look and the color matching of the other tack made it fun, but still very well put together. But she is also known for being fun and personable.
                              Other more classical trainers, I kept to white breeches, black/blue polo shirt (or something not "loud"), and white saddle pad.

                              I love the white breeches look even though it isn't required for clinics. I just think it looks sharper.
                              Last edited by mydogs; Sep. 26, 2019, 05:50 PM.


                              • #16
                                Never ridden in one but audited one before and it was great. She really pushes but is kind and fair and is interested in each horse's background and personality and their rider's take on the situation. She took a lot of people back to basics on the training scale to build a better base for their upper level movements. She made a point of explaining that she is there to help people with what they are stuck on or struggling with and seemed a bit annoyed when one guy appeared to be just trying to show off what they were good at rather than being honest/humble and open to learning. To be honest he was pretty arrogant and she delivered her advice politely, kindly and professionally despite that. She was a wonderful teacher and class act.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by palominopaint200 View Post
                                  I... and that she had a little Quarter Horse just like him at home which she had trained and shown up to GP. ....
                                  I don't have access to show records to confirm, but I believe the first horse Laura showed at GP was Verdades. I think she may have been referring to her first horse Sunny. I have read articles that specify various levels of achievement, but I am certain when I was taking lessons on/with him (he was certainly a great teacher), she told me he showed 3rd level, but schooled higher.

                                  So, FWIW, I took lessons with her several years ago, before her international debut. She definitely pushed rider limits (with the help of her trusty Sunny), gave me specific skills I still recall and use today, and was mostly very kind. I would definitely audit a clinic if she was in the area.


                                  • #18
                                    So after watching the symposium here... you should ride out of a clinic with Laura with a very strong grasp on how to help your bagging leg/behind the leg issues! She puts responsiveness above a pretty picture and smoothness, as I believe is appropriate. She kept repeating that if the horse reacted to a correction that was nothing to worry about - it was a problem we created. Lack of response was a problem.
                                    If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                                    • #19
                                      She is awesome! We had her as a clinician and riders ranged from GP to Training Level. She stresses the basics for everyone. She fine tuned the lessons to each horse. It was really great to watch!


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Post-clinic update - it was absolutely incredible and worth every penny. I can't believe what a breakthrough I felt like I had with my young horse. I thought she was a push ride but I just wasn't emphasizing the right aids to really push her through her back. Once we unlocked that shoulder control and outside rein contact, it was bananas - she literally felt like a different horse (very forward thinking and responsive). I could actually feel real collection and hind end power that I didn't even know my horse had in her. Laura has an amazing eye and is such a precise, effective coach. It was by far the best clinic experience I ever had.

                                        Of course this weekend I think has gotten really scary in Northern California again - a really sad ending to the week.
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                                        Mr. Sandman
                                        sand me a man
                                        make him so sandy
                                        the sandiest man