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Anyone have stories of standing up to or disagreeing with clinicians?

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  • Anyone have stories of standing up to or disagreeing with clinicians?

    Background: Respectable clinic participation is often described as accepting criticism in stride (pun sort-of intended). I've always been taught to be open to different perspectives and to not allow (sometimes harsh) corrections to be taken personally. Unless safety and soundness is at stake, zip up.

    My greatest form of resistance was to cease to spend my dollar on a returning clinician.

    Question: However, for those of you that may be braver and stronger-willed than me, does anyone has experiences disagreeing with a clinician openly (i.e. during the clinic)? How did you approach the conversation and was the clinician receptive?

    For thought and discussion purposes only... Names need not be mentioned.
    Life and times of a mediocre amateur...
    www.another-bay.com

  • #2
    Good topic!! And BTW I love your blog!!

    You are very right about trainer and parents!!
    This happened to me when I was a kid, I thought I was imagining things and my parents never believed me, but always the trainer


    And about clinicians.. I had this experience with a pretty famous clinician who gives crappy lessons to persons he dislikes.. he even cuts lessons short..
    But it probably wouldn’t help to complain, the only answer is not to clinic with him any more...
    https://www.facebook.com/Luckyacresfarm
    https://www.facebook.com/Ulrike-Bsch...4373849955364/

    Comment


    • #3
      Clinics for us are a truly luxury item! Expensive to attend and time consuming!

      In this age of the WWW I think the participant has an obligation to research the clinician as to his/her methods and results. If the clinician's methods are unacceptable, don't spend the money to go! But don't pay the money, then waste the time of the clinician and the other participants by arguing with the clinician.

      There are a couple of exceptions ---first, if I paid my money and spent my time to attend a clinic, and the clinician ignored me, I would become more and more assertive until my needs were addressed. I would not complain or criticize, but put myself and my questions to the forefront. At the last clinic I attended --I was clearly riding at a level above the other participants. Again and again the clinician asked horse and me to "go first" and then told the others to watch certain aspects of our ride. He did not critique me or offer advice on how I could to better. He did suggest different equipment, which I have tried. And, subsequently, we have emailed back and forth where I have asked specific questions, and he, based on having seen me ride, gave me good advise that has helped with that problem. I didn't complain at the time because I was the clinic organizer and it was I who had accepted a group of riders that were, over half, at a walk-trot stage. While the clinician did have two other instructors (one who helped me more than he did) I felt that he should have divided his time more equally. And I hired the clinician!

      The only other exception I ever made was when I attended a clinic with a rider who (I think) had mental issues. She immediately set herself up as "junior instructor" ---when the clinician said, "Straighten your back!" She would shout --"Straighten up, Debbie!" and then when the ride was done, say, "Remember to keep your back straight!" As if she was the expert, Once, ok --but every comment to every rider was repeated. The clinician should have reined her in !!! I just avoided her as much as possible!

      [you can stop reading here --just an example . . .]

      One final thought ---a clinician is a teacher. As a former teacher of 41 years, there were times when a student would disagree with me --on a method or goal or material. Disagreements on subject matter were welcomed, but not on methods or goals. I would NEVER halt the class to explain what I was doing and why to the student. [think of the two year old --why, why, why] I would, however, always ask the student to see me ON HIS OWN TIME to discuss his pedagogical questions. It the student did not, I would find the student at his lunch or study hall time, and sit down and we would talk about what he/she had brought up.

      One time I assigned an essay on the Odyssey asking the students to write about what one item they would send back in time to Odysseus and how that would change the outcome of his story --if at all --a student began to argue that the assignment was pointless based on his knowledge of quantum physics this was not and never would be possible. I told him we'd discuss his opinion on his own time.

      I found the student at his lunch with his friends. I listened to him at length about how "stupid" the assignment was. I then explained that I chose the topic because it was not covered on-line ---each student would have to write an original essay ---then he understood. I also gave him the option of writing a paper on why the assignment should be changed. The student subsequently was accepted to Notre Dame University where he studies quantum physics!
      Last edited by Foxglove; May. 6, 2019, 07:18 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        I paid plenty to have a clinician not notice I was in the ring with the others. He never spoke my name, he never said a word to me (positive or negative), he never gave me an instruction; I was abjectly ignored. Though I ride jumpers, I do plenty of flat work and this was a clinic with a famous dressage trainer from Germany. After about an hour of that I simply went to the in gate, dismounted, took care of my horse and and put him away. I then spoke to the organizers of the clinic and they graciously refunded my money. They had been watching and noticed the exact same thing. Clinician never said a word to me about it, but he knew I was furious. And I am sure the organizers spoke with him.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have never seen that happen. And I have audited a lot of clinics. And I audit lots of clinics because I make it a rule to never take a lesson from someone I have not watch teach, at least. It'd love to think that no one making their money as a clinician would give instruction that was punitive or personal, ever! But i do my research to make sure that this kind of thing won't happen to me.
          The armchair saddler
          Politically Pro-Cat

          Comment


          • #6
            I have no spoken back to a clinician, but I have spoken back to a tester. This was maybe like 7 years ago.

            We were doing the OEF Rider Level Testing. It was in the jumping phase, and was in a group lesson format. My horse and I were doing great. But, a friend was having issues. Her horse was simply being a jerk. He kept refusing the jump, and the rider was getting flustered and frustrated. She would tap the horse on the shoulder with a crop, and the horse (OTTB) would just get faster and refuse more. When it was not our turn, I told the rider, "He's being stupid, but you know how to handle it."
            Well, the tester heard that, and said something along the lines of, "the horse is not stupid, how dare you call the horse stupid," So I argued, saying that I did not call him stupid, I said he was acting stupid, by refusing and running from the whip, Her response? A whip shouldn't matter, it shouldn't bug the horse, all horses are the same"
            So I told her, no, all horses are not the same, that's why there are the classifications of hot and cold horses!
            She failed me on the spot and told me to get out.
            I understand what she was trying to say: It shouldn't matter what temperament your horse has, you should be a good enough rider to handle it. But in the end, that was not what she said.

            Comment


            • #7
              I think oftentimes what could be mouthing off to a clinician can be a productive discussion if approached correctly, which is to say respectfully and tactfully. I had a very quirky mare. I rode in several clinics on her, and if the clinician instructed us to do something that I knew wasn’t going to work well for her, I would ride over, quietly explain her struggle and how I usually managed it, and asked if I could modify the exercise slightly to keep her from getting frazzled. No one ever took issue with that.

              However, if in that same situation, a rider were to make the modification without consulting the clinician or just loudly say “I won’t do that on this horse,” you can imagine it would come across very differently.

              Comment


              • #8
                There are more than two people that need to be considered in this scenario. If I were participating in a clinic and paying my hard earned money, I would want to hear what the clinician has to say. I would be very unhappy if I were forced to listen to someone argue with the clinician and take up valuable time. That isn't what I signed up for. I signed up for instruction, not arguments.

                Everyone is free to disagree. But if there is a disagreement, the dissenting party should try to hash it out on their own time. It isn't fair to the other participants to subject them to an argument with the clinician.

                Comment


                • #9
                  It is extremely rude to take up clinic time with your own personal opinions. You are using up everybody's time in a group lesson. People didn't pay money to hear YOUR opinions.
                  www.midatlanticeq.com
                  Mid-Atlantic Equitation Festival,Scholarships and College Fair
                  November 11-13, 2016

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Another-Bay View Post
                    Respectable clinic participation is often described as accepting criticism in stride. I've always been taught to be open to different perspectives and to not allow (sometimes harsh) corrections to be taken personally. Unless safety and soundness is at stake, zip up.
                    You already gave yourself the best advice when participating in a clinic. I feel if a rider is participating in a clinic, they have accepted the commitment to learn and listen to the knowledge and advice a professional has to offer. Not every rider "gels" with every professional out there or their training program. I agree with what Chunky Munky said. If you are not happy with the advice being given, zip it and just make sure you don't take a clinic from that professional again.

                    My personally feeling, I have to wonder about a rider who is argumentative or combative during a clinic. Why bother taking a clinic if you are not willing to learn from another teaching method? Is the rider there to learn or are they there to prove they are right? This type of rider would be better off just sitting in the stands and auditing rather than taking up everybody's precious and limited time during a clinic.
                    www.DaventryEquestrian.com
                    Home of Welsh Cob stallion Goldhills Brandysnap
                    Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals & Equine Expert Witness
                    www.EquineAppraisers.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I can’t recall who made the comment (maybe Mac?) in the recent George Morris clinic thread, but it could be applicable here too. If you have concerns about the quirkiness, greenness, or fitness of your horse such that you’re not confident that you or your horse can handle whatever exercises a clinician might throw at you, you may want to audit instead.

                      Which is different than going into a clinic on a capable mount and just being difficult. Don’t do that. Why would you even spend the time and money if you’re not interested in trying stuff that you can’t/don’t try at home every day?

                      And it’s also different than having a terrible clinician - lots of reasonable thoughts above on what to do if you get a clunker.

                      ETA - all “yous” above are the general you, not you, OP.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Arguing with a teacher/clinician is NEVER appropriate. It is immature and unprofessional.

                        Remember, a clinic is a snap shot of knowledge and a clinician will oversimplify things to fit into a short teaching schedule, leaving out sometimes important things.

                        If one disagrees with what is being taught, the better perspective is to look at if perhaps one is not understanding the concepts or the teaching methods. Thus, initiating a true interrogatory with the clinician can be a GREAT addition to the clinic, giving the clinician time to expound on their ideas as well as perhaps answering questions other riders may have but are afraid to ask.

                        I believe clinics should be open to an exchange between the riders and the clinician. To simply shut up and do is just as bad as arguing, especially if you don't understand.

                        In my experiences, many times I will ask a question using my background for context while explaining my understanding to the concept being taught, seeking clarification.

                        Examples:

                        Clinic with Bernie Traurig. I'm an eventer (reformed jumper) who was trying to understand why he was having the riders jam their heels down and throw their shoulders back before a turn. I explained my background (knowing Bernie's eventing history) and asked him to clarify the exercise. It turned into a very good conversation that we continued after the clinic for another 30 minutes. I learned he was oversimplifying to accommodate the lower level riders to get better results immediately so they could grasp the larger concepts being taught (balance on the ends of the ring).

                        Clinic with Gary Rockwell (Judge in Dressage at the Hong Kong Olympics): I asked why he had me riding more off the inside rein in on the 20 meter circle initially with my horse. He provided a very good explanation that he continued to discuss with the auditors while I continued the exercise.

                        In both cases I was always aware that I was there to learn and my ego needed to be checked at the door. In both cases my "disagreement" turned into a learning experience and a good conversation with the teacher. I even was able to to get multiple private lessons with Gary as time went on because he appreciated how I approached him. Bernie and I shook hands and he wished me great luck.

                        I have many more examples but those are the most recent.

                        Take from it what you will.

                        Reed

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Ok, I’ll bite. I’d like to add a disclaimer - I agree what I did was childish.

                          We had a dressage ‘coach’ come in for lessons where I board. I’ll call it a clinic because she wasn’t an in-house coach, and there were other boarders watching, but to be fair you could also call it a private lesson.

                          My OTTB was pretty consistent during the trot work but was weaker at the canter. She then had us do an exercise that consisted of *constant* walk/canter/walk/canter transitions on a 20m circle. Although it sounds simple enough, my horse just didn’t have the strength to do it. And, in typical chestnut thoroughbred fashion, he started getting hot and frustrated. You know when you’re on a horse a minute away from an explosion? That’s exactly what I felt like.

                          So, I stopped. I told the coach that the exercise was simply too much for him, mentally and physically, and we either needed to let him regroup or step it down.

                          To which I was told “you’ll never get better if you don’t push him”.

                          So, I hopped off the horse and handed her the reins. Suggested she get on and do it. Yes, I know. Childish. In my defence it at least was a private lesson so I wasn’t holding anyone up. However, I really regret what I put my horse through.

                          So, she got on him. Attempted to do the same exercise, and failed miserably. Took a handful of tries for her just to achieve a canter on the correct lead.

                          Her tune of course changed after this from “needing to push him” to “your horse knows nothing”. And yes, the words “your horse knows nothing, he doesn’t even understand a half half” came out of her mouth.


                          So that’s my sticking up to a clinician story. In hindsight, I should have just said that was enough and cooled out my horse.

                          I definitely learned my lesson that day though. I know my horse better than any clinician, and if I feel that the exercise is too much I can back out - and do it more gracefully than I did that day.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I don't think this falls under 'arguing' but I did approach a clinician that I rode with last fall and asked if we could not do a particular exercise. I was on a brand new horse that I didn't have a relationship with and didn't believe that asking him to do the question at hand would be beneficial to either of us. I was polite, I gave reasons and waited for his thoughts. Sooo the clinician being Irish said (paraphrased) "Oh go on and give a crack at it and see what happens."

                            So nearly 15 mins of really not good things and a near fall and scaring the baby horse later, then he decides to let me skip the exercises.

                            We did only do simple fences after that and I was able to regain the horse's confidence but I wasn't thrilled at the time.

                            But what can you do? I tried to explain why this was a bad idea and I was ignored. And even though I'd only had him a month I knew better where our limits were.


                            Em

                            "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Anna.m View Post
                              I have no spoken back to a clinician, but I have spoken back to a tester. This was maybe like 7 years ago.

                              We were doing the OEF Rider Level Testing. It was in the jumping phase, and was in a group lesson format. My horse and I were doing great. But, a friend was having issues. Her horse was simply being a jerk. He kept refusing the jump, and the rider was getting flustered and frustrated. She would tap the horse on the shoulder with a crop, and the horse (OTTB) would just get faster and refuse more. When it was not our turn, I told the rider, "He's being stupid, but you know how to handle it."
                              Well, the tester heard that, and said something along the lines of, "the horse is not stupid, how dare you call the horse stupid," So I argued, saying that I did not call him stupid, I said he was acting stupid, by refusing and running from the whip, Her response? A whip shouldn't matter, it shouldn't bug the horse, all horses are the same"
                              So I told her, no, all horses are not the same, that's why there are the classifications of hot and cold horses!
                              She failed me on the spot and told me to get out.
                              I understand what she was trying to say: It shouldn't matter what temperament your horse has, you should be a good enough rider to handle it. But in the end, that was not what she said.
                              I would have done the same as the tester...

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Group lesson with a BNT. Horse was a quirky but functional OTTB. Every exercise we did was worse for the horse than the last, and she was getting really wound up. I could feel months of hard work being undone one exercise at a time. Twice I suggested modifying things, and was turned down without explanation. I dismounted, said thank you but that's enough for her today, and left before he said a word.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Haylter View Post

                                  I would have done the same as the tester...
                                  What? Wrongly claim that all horses are the same and that they don't have thoughts or emotions? If so, you have not spent much time around horses. Of course your horse can 'act up' or 'act stupid' same as any human.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Anna.m View Post

                                    What? Wrongly claim that all horses are the same and that they don't have thoughts or emotions? If so, you have not spent much time around horses. Of course your horse can 'act up' or 'act stupid' same as any human.
                                    Of course horses can act stupid and so can humans. You should have just kept your mouth shut or at least used another word than "stupid" even though it was a friend you save such things to say in private and then you continued to disagree with tester out loud...

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by joiedevie99 View Post
                                      Group lesson with a BNT. Horse was a quirky but functional OTTB. Every exercise we did was worse for the horse than the last, and she was getting really wound up. I could feel months of hard work being undone one exercise at a time. Twice I suggested modifying things, and was turned down without explanation. I dismounted, said thank you but that's enough for her today, and left before he said a word.
                                      that is what I would have done...

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Xctrygirl View Post
                                        I don't think this falls under 'arguing' but I did approach a clinician that I rode with last fall and asked if we could not do a particular exercise. I was on a brand new horse that I didn't have a relationship with and didn't believe that asking him to do the question at hand would be beneficial to either of us. I was polite, I gave reasons and waited for his thoughts. Sooo the clinician being Irish said (paraphrased) "Oh go on and give a crack at it and see what happens."

                                        So nearly 15 mins of really not good things and a near fall and scaring the baby horse later, then he decides to let me skip the exercises.

                                        We did only do simple fences after that and I was able to regain the horse's confidence but I wasn't thrilled at the time.

                                        But what can you do? I tried to explain why this was a bad idea and I was ignored. And even though I'd only had him a month I knew better where our limits were.


                                        Em
                                        For this one, I have to ask - why would you bring a horse who you don't have a relationship with to a clinic? What did you think was going to happen?

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