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Horrible clinic, what would you do??

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  • What I think is ridiculous is all this secretive gossip about who the clinician is...it's Brian Sabo. There...said it...

    A lot of inferences about both the clinician and the OP have been made, and the bottom line is...because of the many assumptions, no one can take anything away from this discussion in terms of:
    1. Determining if this is someone they would like to clinic with
    2. Determining why the OP did not have a positive experience
    3. Gaining knowledge about organizing clinics, in general and with this person, such as determining which participants are best candidates for a particular clinic, how to communicate teaching style in order to help people decide if the clinician is suited to his or her learning style, and why, in this situation, there have obviously been such difference experiences with the clinician.

    Now, let's carry on like adults!


    • I think the takeaway from this thread is just what many posters have said: Too bad it didn't work well. It's always hard to take a financial hit, but take the chance to learn from it and research teaching styles in the future. Perhaps also consider your own part in the learning experience and what you can do to learn better in the future.

      My personal view:
      I like to ride with clinicians who take a more philosophical approach and discuss issues and things to work on. I like to repeat rides with clinicians at future opportunities, and want things to work on which will take months. Lessons with a trainer can involve more short-term work. I have a clinician who I absolutely love auditing and have no desire to ride with - he works on things which should be worked on in lessons, but maybe a trainer is too absorbed in another problem, or that trainer is not insistent enough with students, or maybe he's just giving a different perspective on solving a problem the trainer and student already know. It's a pleasure to watch one horse after another improve, and it helps improve my eye and idea of how to fix various problems - but I don't see him making the changes and goals with someone which will keep them working for the months before he comes back.
      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.


      • "I have a clinician who I absolutely love auditing and have no desire to ride with." (netg)

        I think this bears highlighting.
        "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


        • Originally posted by secretariat View Post
          Couple of thoughts for you as someone who has some connections on both ends of the transaction:

          1. As a BN rider, DO NOT clinic with a big name rider unless you've seen them teach.
          2. Whenever possible, don't clinic with anyone until you've seen them teach. Does their style fit your riding? Do you need Germanic, supportive, or .............? What's the ratio of talking to riding (zero of either is bad).
          3. For N/BN stuff, I usually recommend a good local clinician. Cheaper, more attuned to the level, more accessible for "pre-qualifications."
          4. See if you can quantify how much the proposed clinician teaches the level you're at, whatever the level. Mark Phillips (and several other BNRs who shall remain nameless) was pretty useless (IMO) at Novice.
          5. I always like to see a clinician close out the clinic with personal remarks/advice to each participant.

          Some of the biggest names in the sport are awful clinicians, in my world, although they frequently get rave reviews. Relating to an inexperienced rider when you just ran Rolex must be quite difficult for many.
          This - most of the riders I know who have been around a while always audit a clinician before actually riding (paying) with them.


          • Originally posted by jenm View Post
            I should also add that in doing a search on this clinician's name, only one thread comes up asking about him as a clinician, and each response about him was positive.
            That may be, but a lot of times people will pm negative comments or reviews instead of posting them on Coth so as not to get shredded.

            I know nothing personally of this clinician. And when I read the first post I thought it was someone else entirely! I think that's common of clinicians - one is not great for all. And sometimes I've seen two riders from the same group and one thought it was fantastic and the other hated it. Go figure.

            I've gotten to the point that I will audit someone who interests me but probably will not ride in another clinic unless it's private lessons. The group dynamic just does not suit me. If I am getting good, regular instruction a group clinic does not help much. If I were so stuck with a regular trainer that I needed a clinician to fix things I would probably be looking for a new trainer!

            OP - unfortunately there's not much you can do except write to the organizer to let them know your thoughts, but you will not get any money back. Good luck with eventing!


            • Originally posted by Beam Me Up View Post
              But if saying a clinic didn't suit you opens you up to this sort of personal critique of your riding/manners, we aren't going to get that kind of feedback.
              The OP didn't say any thing of the sort that this clinic "didn't suit" her. She said it was "horrible." She was extremely critical of the clinician. Nowhere did she indicate that it was an issue of different learning/styles. Nowhere does she ever mention that maybe she had a role to play in the obvious lack of communication. It was all the fault of the clinician and she wanted to know who to complain to. People were buying her hook line and sinker with multiple asks for a PM with the name so they could avoid this person in the future.

              So yeah, come on here and bitch, bitch, bitch with no attitude what so ever that any of the problem could possibly be related to you in any way shape or form, while intentionally damaging the clinician with PMs and it isn't going to go over well...and quite frankly it shouldn't go well.

              I know people can come on here and gracefully have issues and negative critiques of a clinician without this response. I've seen it done on Wofford, by name, of all people!

              In my experience this type of a response to a clinic is always the result of something that is as much the riders' fault as the clinicians'...And that was my take on it BEFORE BlissTate joined the conversation.


              • Originally posted by hb View Post
                If the OP and BlissTate are talking about the same clinic, which it seems they are, the OP states she didn't feel she got to do much in the clinic and BT describes the groups as sizeable and bigger than the clinician expected. So that would be good feedback to the organizer, who is the person that decided how big to make the groups.
                This was the conclusion I ultimately came to as well, since it's the point that seems consistant from both sides of the story.

                And I think the OP asked the question and responded to criticism very tactfully and gracefully.
                "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                -Edward Hoagland


                • Wait wait wait: So Obama was not the clinician???
                  Proud Member of the League of Weenie Eventers
                  Proud Member of the Courageous Weenie Eventers Clique


                  • Originally posted by KellyS View Post
                    What I think is ridiculous is all this secretive gossip about who the clinician is...it's Brian Sabo.
                    After reading through this entire thread, it never crossed my mind, never once occurred to me, that this could be Brian Sabo.

                    I rode with Brian somewhat regularly for many years, on a variety of horses, and enjoyed his instruction, although I recognize that teaching styles are often a matter of individual taste and experience.

                    But I've never known him to be 'blatantly rude' (as described by the OP) -- or anything other than good-natured -- to anyone.


                    • I find it interesting that most people have access to a clinician TO audit before they can ride with them.

                      When a clinician comes to my area, get your entry in and listen up and ride your ass off, because we only get about 3 per year.
                      Big Idea Eventing


                      • Am I the only one who didn't even think of figuring out who the clinician was until reading the responses to the OP's description? Honestly, I didn't even venture to guess. Of course, after reading Blisstate's post, I did go to the USEA calendar and figure out that it was Brian Sabo. I don't know him and being from the east, will never clinic with him. I did read very negative comments about him in the thread on clinics that I referenced here a few days ago. But like others, I am not drawing conclusions since I I wasn't there.

                        I am another person who is lucky to be in an area with lots of trainers so I don't typically do clinics. I thin I've done one in the past 5 years. I've done group lessons with JW at Wayward Springs but those are weekly and I wouldn't call those clinics.

                        If I were to do a clinic now, I'd take my young horse. Rarely do clinics have a group appropriate for Mick, who is Int at this time. And doing a clinic is as much about the fun, food, and drink that can be part of the weekend. Being a single, horse-poor, horse-obsessed woman, it would be a vacation.

                        Area 2 Adult Riders are having a clinic with Carol Kozlowski (she is fantabulous, IMHO) this August and I'm taking Donovan. It's at Kelly's Ford which is a b&b so I'm planning on renting a cabin with friends and making it a big social event. It's only 45 minutes from my house, so staying over is solely because I can pretend that I'm out of town on vacation.

                        So clinics aren't usually on my agenda except when they involve fun, food, and frivolity!



                        • Originally posted by Wayside View Post
                          And I think the OP asked the question and responded to criticism very tactfully and gracefully.

                          Really? The first post certainly wasn't tactful to me.

                          To me tactful would have been. "I had a not good experience at a clinic recently---really, horrible for me and I'm pretty upset about all the money I just spent for what feels like nothing. What do you recommend that I do? What do you do to avoid feeling like you wasted your money at a clinic? Do you find clinics ever worth the money? How do you determine if a clinic will be good for you before spending the money?"

                          THAT would be tactful and start an interesting and helpful conversation.
                          ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                          • Something that we collectively missed the boat on here is that when OP was looking for "what to do," is that none of us suggested she talk to her trainer about it. (I think this may be because the fact that her trainer recommended this clinic was in a later post.) Even if the trainer wasn't there, she could be shown the video.
                            If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                            • Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
                              To me tactful would have been. "I had a not good experience at a clinic recently---really, horrible for me and I'm pretty upset about all the money I just spent for what feels like nothing. What do you recommend that I do?
                              Interestingly, that's exactly how I would have summed up what the OP did say.

                              The details about why the OP was disappointed were there to help us determine if the perceived experience was something that was worthy of writing about, and who to direct complaints to. Without any information, it would be hard to determine who the OP might consider discussing things with, since there could have been problems with the clinician, the organizers, or the facility. Or even the OP - if her gripe was completely ridiculous. Perhaps calling the clinician rude was a bit much - without having been there I can't say if that was justified or not. But I read the post and got the feeling that the OP was very upset, and that the primary complaint was that there was too much talking going on, and not enough riding. And while that may be a valid complaint, it's not a particularly inflammatory one.
                              "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                              -Edward Hoagland


                              • @Wayside -- exactly the way I read it. OP didn't just make a blanket statement "Clinician SUX" but made a statement and then offered the details to back up why she felt the statement was accurate. Sure, statement was strong -- but she didn't use any epithets or insults. Horrible is a strong word, but hardly name calling or mud slinging, to me.
                                If thou hast a sorrow, tell it not to the arrow, tell it to thy saddlebow, and ride on, singing. -- King Alfred the Great


                                • Originally posted by Jleegriffith View Post
                                  Some of the most popular clinicans are people that I would never clinic with simply because they talk too much and don't teach. I have seen this so many times that it has put me off most clinics. I don't have money to waste so I would rather have private lessons from somebody who is going to pay attention to me. I even audit instructors before I lesson with them because teaching style is so important to me. Some of the best riders are awful at teaching.
                                  this is so true! it gets really frustrating watching the clock fly by as someone is yacking away your lesson. the other thing i hate is when they want you to walk around to catch your horses breath and have you walking walking walking especially if its a half hour lesson! i have never been impressed with clinics. i watched a friend do a clinic. i think it was 500 for 2 days two hours. in my opinion she barely got to jump. when i arrived a bit late i saw them walking walking walking. i was kind of bored auditing this clinic. the best thing to me about the clinic was the nice food they put out!
                                  i just dont get the cost of a clinic for a group lesson. just not worth it to me!


                                  • Originally posted by horselover1117 View Post
                                    Thanks again for all the replies! I really do feel like he needs to be somewhat accountable for how the weekend went. It kills me to think that I worked my a@@ off trying to save up for this clinc and that he just out came and treated everyone like that. Makes me sick!! I think I will definitely email the organizer and let her know what Im feeling and see where that goes. I've definitely learned my lesson and will probably not do another clinic for a lonngggg time, if I ever decide to actually do another one!
                                    why didnt you say something to him during the clinic? i think if i saw the clock flying by and i was doing nothing but chatting, i would have said hey look i learn more by doing, not talking. can i repeat these exercises and make them a bit more challenging so i can come away from this clinic learning something. i dont think i could sit back and watch the clock fly by while i am sitting in the middle chatting.
                                    i spent alot of money riding with my friends trainer. i trailered out 2.5 hours to ride with him. he was really good but he likes to just do a little a day to make it nice for the horse. not over do. this is a great approach when i am lessoning with my trainer for my half hour lessons. but not for all the money i spent going out to ride with this trainer. so i told him that. hey listen i spent alot of money getting my horse out here, and normally i would do less, but i need to keep repeating the exercises so they become part of my muscle memory. my horse can handle it because i dont over do him on a normal basis. and i am glad i did, because i remember the round that i did again when the trianer wanted to quit, ended up being sooooo good and i finally had pulled everything together that he was trying to teach me. he even said he was glad i did it one more time.


                                    • Some of the most useful, take-home things I've learned at clinics have come from listening to the instructor speak or from asking questions of the instructor.

                                      'I barely got to jump' doesn't mean much to me, in terms of the overall value of the clinic. I can jump all I want at home but I only have a limited time to learn from the clinician's experience.

                                      Last year, I took an expensive private lesson with an Irish rider who was a top competitor in the 70s. I did some very basic flatwork, nothing more. But we talked a lot about horses and riding. The instructor and I are the same height, and he told me that when he was riding competitively, he didn't weigh much more than me (i.e., jockey weight). He said 'You want to know the best way for someone our size to hold a strong horse?' and he explained to me what he did.

                                      It was an invaluable tip, one I'd have paid $$$$ to learn 20 years ago (), and I probably wouldn't have learned it at all if I'd insisted on jumping rather than talking.

                                      Lessons and clinics are an opportunity to pick a more experienced brain. Jimmy Wofford's morning lecture is, IMO, the best part of his clinic.


                                      • dressage/stadium jumping. We all walked into the arena and talked for a little about our horses etc. and then immediately began to do four trot poles on the ground. After we went through that about two times, we stopped and talked in the middle for about 20min. Then they changed it to three canter poles to a teeny tiny vertical which everyone went through no problem. Again, stopped after this and talked for about 20min. After doing another vertical after the canter poles again, talked for 20min. My friend came to audit and to film my rides and when I got home that night, I watched the video. There was 6 TOTAL MINUTES of riding footage in the entire 2 and half hour lesson. The rest (and Im not even being sarcastic) was spent standing in the middle of the arena listening to the clinician tell jokes and make random references about things.
                                        While BT's version of the clinic sounded uneventful for the XC day, I fail to comprehend how one improves flatwork (dressage) without actually doing ...
                                        my expectation would've been ~ 20min actual ride time with the clinician even during a group 2 hour 30 min session.
                                        One cannot use unexpected participant numbers as an excuse, clinicians can/do set limits for the organizer.

                                        I'm not sure why the OP needed to be any more tactful than she was, she told the events from her perspective, revealing her feelings, she made no claims to dispassion.


                                        • Originally posted by TSWJB View Post
                                          this is so true! it gets really frustrating watching the clock fly by as someone is yacking away your lesson. the other thing i hate is when they want you to walk around to catch your horses breath and have you walking walking walking especially if its a half hour lesson! i have never been impressed with clinics. i watched a friend do a clinic. i think it was 500 for 2 days two hours. in my opinion she barely got to jump. when i arrived a bit late i saw them walking walking walking. i was kind of bored auditing this clinic. the best thing to me about the clinic was the nice food they put out!
                                          i just dont get the cost of a clinic for a group lesson. just not worth it to me!
                                          I agree. I would not ride in the clinics I've audited. I certainly won't be paying that kind of money for a group lesson. And if I want to know the "philosophy" of this clinician, I'll audit or buy his/her books! When I ride, I want a workshop, not a lecture. I get a lot more out of my 1 on 1 or 2 on 1 lessons with my local instructor.
                                          That said, I always have a lot of fun auditing!
                                          Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!