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HELP! How do I convince folks this is a good clinic?

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  • HELP! How do I convince folks this is a good clinic?

    Big sigh.... this is a service I love to provide, but convincing folks that Eric Smiley is an awesome clinician seems like a bridge too far. This is the second year we've had him out and everyone raved about the clinic last year, BUT.... I am way short of entries, can't cancel cause we are committed to pay him regardless and we are going to lose our shirts and not be able to have him back if we go broke on this clinic.

    So sad. He's fabulous as anyone who's ridden with him can attest. I know he's not Lucinda, but he's not meant to be. He has sooooo much to offer, so why am I failing at this? Is Area 2 just saturated and jaded or am I missing something?

    I will be prepping this weekend regardless. It will be fabulous for those who come... more info? www.mdcta.com

  • #2
    Our GMO is experiencing the same thing. I think it has to do with timing and where people want to spend their money in this economy. It is show season now and those doing recognized horse trials spend their money on an entry vs. a clinic. We have had to cancel a clinic with a very well-known clinician and also a dressage clinician a month or so ago.

    Wish I had the answers. Plus, people are sending in their entries to shows and clinics at the last minute. Our schooling show series (dressge, CT and mini-events) continue to do well.


    • #3
      I just saw one where the first X people who submitted money got a $10 certificate to the local tack shop.

      I have had the same problems as you -- but I couldn't commit to the clinic without either firm numbers beforehand, or someone willing to back the clinic to the tune of $1000-1500 so that it could run regardless. Unfortunately I don't have $1000-1500 myself to do it - so the last clinic I tried to organize I just never booked the clinician.

      One thought is to advertise it outside of the usual eventing crowd - sometimes your local riding club, pony club, hunt or hunter/jumper crowd would be interested.

      You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng


      • #4
        Oh my gosh, JUST this morning a girl at my barn was telling me about how scribing for Eric Smiley was such an educational experience. I'd LOVE to take a clinic with him, bring him to Louisville!
        Team Awesome fo sho!


        • #5
          Blugal's idea about Poly Club is a good one.

          Eric Smiley is a PC instructor in Ireland. He is very good with kids. (I've watched him on several occasions.)


          • #6
            I'd contact everyone who rode with him last year (hopefully you still have the full list) - let them know that there are spaces still & that this will be the last year you'll be able to do this due to poor attendance ... hopefully some who were thinking they'd catch the clinic next year will decide to come out now instead ...

            Personally chat up all the local tack shops & try to get a fabulous "door prize" or series of "baskets" that will be won (entry form numbers automatically go into a draw) ...

            Make sure you have posters everywhere (have you put the word out every forum you can think of?) - also let people know that it's not just "top" riders but (almost) any level rider that will benefit from this experience; can you sort out some horses that people can ride??? (if they don't have a suitable horse or lameness issues etc etc - just make sure you have liability sorted)

            Are you allowing daily auditing for a fee?
            Do you have someone lined up for photos (photographer & club share proceeds)?



            • #7
              He was a speaker at the USEA meeting a couple years ago. He was on a panel with 3 other riders doing a question and answer session on training. You could tell that the other 3 riders loved riding, but Eric loved horses. His answers were about the horse. I thought he was amazing.

              I hope your clinic fills! I am sure it is because he is not a BNR in the US.


              • Original Poster

                Well, I'm sad that I'm not alone on filling clinics and events. It seems last minute entries are the norm any more. I know the economy has been rough the past few years too. We did advertise all levels and are holding it on the grounds for our fall HT and I don't think I can offer it any cheaper than I have. I was hoping to slowly build a following, but this is a little too slow!

                Kcisawesome, I'm sure he'd love to come to Louisville. He has a super soft spot for thoroughbreds!

                I like the ideas... keep them coming. Also love that some have heard him or watched him teach. He really is great. Some of the folks from last year (which was also under-subscribed) are coming back but a couple are on vacation, another has a broken nose and fresh out of surgery and another has horse issues. sigh...

                I first heard him speak at the USEA convention in Colorado too! He just blew me away and I knew I needed to bring him here. However (unlike Field of Dreams), I built it and they are not coming!


                • #9
                  I think it's hard because it's weekdays, people work, and it's hard for a lot of us to do horsey things away from home during the week. Best of luck getting it filled, keep advertising everywhere!


                  • #10
                    It's a tough economy and a tough time of year. In so many parts of the country, the "season" is short - 4-5 months - so everything is crammed into a short time. Eric is wonderful. Good luck. I hope it fills enough to at least break even!


                    • #11
                      For mid week clinics, most of us need to be planning at least 4 months ahead.

                      I would suggest getting someone who is a good writer (whether a rider or auditor) to write up an extensive article about how great the clinic was. Or several articles with slightly different focus. With pictures.

                      Then, next winter, when everyone has cabin fever, submit the article as many places as you can think of- Affiliate CTA newsletters, Area II newsletter, general horse related newsletters in your area, Pony Club newsletter, etc. Even the USEA magazine and the Chronicle. That time of year thy are usually desperate for articles.

                      Then, when people start seeing your announcements about the clinic it will be fresh in their mind that it is something worth going out of your way to attend.

                      I know that if I had found out about the clinic earlier, I would have rearranged things so I could go.

                      Also see if you can have someone do an article about his presentation at the T3D- to keep reminding people how great he is.

                      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                      • #12
                        The reason you can't fill the clinic is that it is scheduled at a time when those of us who have to work for a living can't come. You need to remember that many of us amateur riders who would take such a clinic can't just waltz about doing horse stuff all the time. I'd love to be there -- but sadly must pay the mortgage instead as me living in a dumpster would not bode well my horse's future. If you want things filled, schedule them when people can actually be there. It's all about knowing your audience.
                        Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                        Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                        We Are Flying Solo


                        • #13
                          Eric Smiley is one of the few clinicians for whom I would miss work. That said, we have had many outstanding clinicians at our barn during the week, and many of us of the "worker bee type" often do not ride in the mid-week clinics.


                          • #14
                            Since it's mid-week, try to arrange for lessons that go into the evening, e.g. 5:30-7 and 7-8:30. You could add another 6-8 riders - worker bees or the kids of worker bees - that way.

                            You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng


                            • #15
                              Blugal's idea about timing is excellent. I can finegle coming in late or leaving early (basically taking half a day off) but taking a 5+ hour lunch? That doesn't fly at an office. I wish more clinics would offer "day job" times.

                              ALso, allowing people to do 1 day is far easier for weekday times than committing to 2 days. I completely understand that clinicians have a "program" and most want to built day 2 around waht they've seen on day 1, but for the more experienced teams maybe we don't need a day of gymnastics to get to do XC? If we had a bye from a regular instructor?

                              I'm just throwing ideas out - my friend just rode with Eric last weekend and had a really really great experience.


                              • #16
                                If you can't get enough eventers,try finding some dressage riders,and have him give some dressage lessons.
                                I'm saying this because I took a clinic with him quite a while ago,and somone just showed up at the clinic to take a dressage lesson with him on an upper level dressage horse.
                                He really is a wonderful teacher,but I am way to far away!


                                • Original Poster

                                  Thanks very much for the feedback. We did break it down so folks could literally pick a discipline and ride for one day. I think that has helped some. I get it about week days, but was unable to schedule a weekend and I know that Lucinda shows up on week days and fills. I think folks are very choosy and it it a tough time of year and all.

                                  I can still schedule late in the day, times have never been set and are flexible, but I probably haven't made that very clear so also good to figure in. All good things to consider!

                                  I hope we get a little closer to breaking even and are able to have him back. Very good points about the publicity Janet!


                                  • #18
                                    I just want to say thanks for having such affordable audit slots.


                                    • #19
                                      The mid week thing is tough....I know that with the exception of our teenagers, most of our riders would not be able to do it (especially since it first came on our radar just a couple of weeks ago). I know sometimes scheduling time with clinicians forces mid week dates, but it is really hard for the average ammy to be able to afford to take time off (especially without lots of notice)...and during the school year, kids rarely have parental units that would let them skip school for three days. That doesn't help much for THIS clinic...blanket the area with flyers and emails...make sure people know you are still taking riders. If you can, offer some later afternoon/early evening slots (that's a great idea).

                                      In all honesty, I seriously considered the clinic...it sounds like fun. But, when I thought practically, I knew it was just going to be too much...between now and the 1st we have horses at Waredaca and Surefire (practically half the barn there) AND, on top of that, we are packing up the current barn and preparing the new one for our move in date of July 1. Spending 3 days at a clinic (not to mention the three days of Beltway driving) was just NOT practical. That has nothing to do with why it isn't filling, but at least there IS interest....maybe more people will pull through this week.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Thanks Amanda! I can edit the info I have in the events section of the forum and make clear that late afternoons are available. They always were, I just didn't stamp my feet like I did last year.

                                        I also want to say I appreciate everyone's support and hope we can squeak through on this one.

                                        It's official: your clinic, your way. No reasonable offers for timing refused!