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

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  • #41
    In my experience the clinic organizer can help prevent gross mismatches by screening applicants. I helped with the set up/running of two clinics with a nationally known BNT. The clinic host/organizer required a reference from each attendees trainer regarding the appropriate qualification/preparation of each person signing up. And if he didn't know the trainer either personally or by reputation, then they were required to send in a video of the rider (and they had to be on the horse they planned to bring). This was a really expensive multi day clinic and this process ensured that everyone in a given group was riding at an appropriate level and was suitably mounted. The trainers were expected to attend with their students (either as riders or auditors) and the clinician would not only address the rider but also their trainer with suggestions for continuing exercises etc to address specific issues. This system wasn't 100 percent perfect but it went a very long way towards ensuring that everyone received maximum benefit from the opportunity.

    Comment


    • #42
      Originally posted by Happyhooves View Post
      My kid was in a clinic with other young people a few years ago. The clinician was a BNR/BNT, kinda legendary, and everyone was so excited to be there, riders and spectators. Problem was, the BNR didn't seem excited to be there at all. Pleasant enough, just stood there pretty dully going through the motions with hardly any interaction. Just watched on the flat, then when it was time to jump, said only things like, "do it again" and "fine." Pretty much that was it. The kids were all competent and respectful and trying their best, studying and trying to decode body language and tone and read between the lines.

      I kept waiting for things to step up and figuring maybe there would be more discussion and instruction. The clinic lasted a couple of days and it never changed. I didn't know anyone else there so didn't have anyone to bounce off my puzzlement. My kid just kind of shrugged afterward, had just enjoyed riding, so I left it at that. But I always wondered if the BNR didn't want to be there, didn't like working with lower level kids, or was having personal problems or what. I was so disappointed. It was expensive, work to get horse and rider there, carve out the time, and I'd had such high hopes, and it was a missed opportunity. Luckily there were other great instructive riding experiences for my kid with knowledgeable people who didn't disappoint, so I just kind of filed it under "I'll always wonder what that was about" and put it away till this thread.
      I'm tempted to PM you a name and ask if that is who the clinician was. But I won't do that.

      Clinicians develop reputations and some are well known for their particular style. I second the suggestion made up-thread to research the clinic style of any clinician being considered, regardless of their stature and name-recognition as performers.

      Winning a ... well, winning some important international competitions does not make one a good teacher. There are some clinicians who are trading on their name and success, rather than their abilities as instructors. Apologies for the bluntness but there it is. There are some hugely BNR's who are also brilliant instructors, but there are others who can "do", but not explain how one does it.

      Likewise, there are some clinicians that lack widespread name recognition who are excellent teachers in the clinic format, and give riders and horses significantly improved skills and confidence. They too will have a reputation among those who know their clinics, and it will reflect their success as teachers.

      Some time invested doing homework on the clinician before registering is as worthwhile as preparing for the clinic itself.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #43
        Originally posted by Manni01 View Post
        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...
        You are too kind! I will start reading yours as well.
        Life and times of a mediocre amateur...
        www.another-bay.com

        Comment


        • #44
          OverandOnward, you're right that it's important to research the clinicians first before signing up. I had checked out other clinicians before, esp. if they had a reputation for being harsh so I could prepare the kid ahead of time as to what to expect. Didn't occur to me to check out this one beforehand as I'd never heard anything to give me pause. Oh well, no harm, just a letdown.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #45
            Originally posted by OneTwoMany View Post
            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.
            Originally posted by Daventry View Post

            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.
            Agree on the second point, but I think there is room for interesting dialogue if the approach is curiosity-driven rather than pursuing a feeling of righteousness!
            Life and times of a mediocre amateur...
            www.another-bay.com

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #46
              Great discussion by all. Seems the themes are whether to ride green or "problem" horses, mismatch in abilities / group homogeneity, the role of clinic-managers, and performing adequate research of our clinicians before agreeing to ride.

              And, of course, coming with the right attitude. But when does that not play a role with horses?

              Excellent points brought forward thus far.
              Life and times of a mediocre amateur...
              www.another-bay.com

              Comment


              • #47
                I’m a big fan of “Thank you, but I think we’ll end with that.”

                When I was 17 I flipped my horse over a big telephone pole oxer at a CT clinic with a BNT. I knew my horse was too tired. I was too tired, but I was 17 and not used to advocating for myself. Miraculously my horse was fine, but I landed on my FACE, broke my nose and that was the beginning of the end for my back.

                30 years later I’m only just now thinking about eventing past BN. Never again will I let manners or embarrassment compromise my or my horses safety. If I even think I see it coming I’m out.

                Comment


                • #48
                  Originally posted by Xctrygirl View Post

                  Ok let me try to restate this. We had as much of a new relationship as one can after a month or so. Horse was experienced beyond baby stuff. I am experienced with young horses and bringing them along. ALL of my Tb's that I have brought up off the track have done their first shows inside of 6-8 weeks off the track, that includes learning to jump in that time. Now those were small level courses but I personally believe it helps to go and do things while seeing the world.


                  Chad went to the lowest level clinic group because he was more than capable of jumping courses at 2'6" (Coming from doing courses well over 3'3" abroad ) As you can see on the video he was totally fine. Even over the Chevron that I didn't think was a good idea. Mind you I don't like jumping chevrons either, so 50% of the problems were yours truly. But that said I will always take a horse to an outing that offers the opportunity for education, whether it's for both of us or it becomes about only 1 of us. Sitting at home patting myself on the back is not how I or the horse will improve in life.

                  Video is here:

                  https://youtu.be/AkXj35Au0bc

                  Em
                  Yes, going out and doing things is how they learn. But entering a clinic where other people who paid money will be impacted by your choice, either by you taking more time than the others or by making the clinician simplify the exercise or come up with alternatives, is a little inconsiderate. You look like a capable rider, so maybe it wouldn't be so bad for you. But so many times I've seen the opposite, where someone shows up with a totally not-ready horse (can't even canter consistently/correctly type) and it ruins the experience for all involved.

                  If you want baby miles, go enter a schooling show. Clinics are for improving existing skills, not developing new ones.

                  This is my .02, and it's worth the paper it's written on.

                  Comment


                  • #49
                    I rode in one of those Mindy Bauer/Melanie Smith Taylor clinics that combined a western horsemanship trainer with a hunter/jumper clinician. MST was fabulous, but the western trainer had a dim view of every last one of the English students and clearly thought we were and would remain hopeless idiots. She had us all doing a one rein pirouette type deal endlessly around the perimeter of the arena. By the time I had asked my sweet horse to do this same spin turn 8 times, and he had answered to the best of his ability 8 times, I was done asking him to do this any more, so I just walked around the perimeter behind everyone else while everyone else drilled and spun their horses 25, 30, 35 times. Great horsemanship, there.
                    (I did enjoy the time where she asked us all to canter “the smallest circle we could”, phrased as a complete gotcha question since she clearly felt nothing in the arena was remotely broke, so I sat my horse down and did a canter pirouette right there on the spot. Same trainer later explained to an auditor that “nobody here knows how to collect.” Omfgggggg lady...)

                    I was also selected to demo ride the same horse (that did not know how to collect) in a teaching symposium for Jane Savoie, and drove my horse from Buffalo to Gladstone to attend. However hurricane Sandy was sadly also rolling into town, so I turned around and went home. Jane was not particularly pleased with my decision. My horse would have soldiered on through, but I don’t ask my horses to work for me in hurricanes, don’t put them in the eye of the storm if I can help it, and I try to avoid any possibility of creating more work for first responders. Jane was very impressed with herself for still proceeding with her clinic during the hurricane, and sent several self congratulatory promotional emails about “The Clinic I Taught In A Hurricane”, including details of how clinic participants ***disregarded and drove around road blocks to attend day two.*** Yeah ok, assholes, emergency response put those there FOR A REASON. Really excellent horse/sports/citizenship in my opinion that while NJ was reeling from one of the most destructive storms to ever hit it, and in a state of emergency, these people just *had* to move roadblocks etc to attend their all important DRESSAGE CLINIC, and then bragged about it on top. Apparently getting the horses out of the storm and not making more work for emergency response didn’t occur to anyone there.

                    Some horse people really need need to be whacked with a clue by four.
                    Last edited by meupatdoes; May. 7, 2019, 08:52 AM.
                    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                    Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                    Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
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                    Comment


                    • #50
                      meupatdoes --- Yeah, those marathon sessions that the Western "horsemanship" guys choose for their clinics is a toughy for me. I have ridden in just a pair of very local versions taught by guys who are acolytes of the big gurus. And of course, I had watched both of them first. I rode in those smaller-time clinics because I wasn't sure I wanted to ask a horse to spin around, or even focus on repetitive tasks, for 3 hours. After all, I don't usually sit on them that long, so they haven't been taught how to take that kind of work assignment in a clinic. I wanted a place where I could go and learn, but also ask to be excused or just politely stand aside if/when I thought my horse had done all he could do in that day. I think I'd give myself 50/50 odds of having a new one ripped for me if I did the same in one of the Big Famous clinics. My horsemanship might be the Guru's disrespect or quitting.

                      Don't get me wrong-- I'll go watch one of those and get stuff out of it. But I'm also glad I'm not riding in it.

                      Incidentally, when I asked one of the guys how he thought the 3 hour experienced looked to the horse and why it was OK (since I was sure that no one did that much with their colts doing ground work), he said "meh, horses endure."

                      On one hand, I think that's bad horsemanship and I don't need to put my animal into that position. (Yet, I do think they should have a work ethic that, say, means they know they have to try even if their classes at a horse show are several hours apart).

                      On the other, I understand that the nature of making a good living as a horse trainer often means the clinic format, and that means longer sessions that what any of us would do with horses at home. That 3 hour marathon is often for the *people* who need lots of supervised repetition in order to develop the body awareness, timing and feel required. It's not different than the Big Eq kids having to buy a "practice horse" to just the snot out of because it takes more than one horse can do in order to teach the rider what she needs to know.

                      No comment on a DQ who is sure that the rules of weather and road blocks should not apply to her and other bona fide DQs.
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat

                      Comment


                      • #51
                        Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post

                        Yes, going out and doing things is how they learn. But entering a clinic where other people who paid money will be impacted by your choice, either by you taking more time than the others or by making the clinician simplify the exercise or come up with alternatives, is a little inconsiderate. You look like a capable rider, so maybe it wouldn't be so bad for you. But so many times I've seen the opposite, where someone shows up with a totally not-ready horse (can't even canter consistently/correctly type) and it ruins the experience for all involved.

                        If you want baby miles, go enter a schooling show. Clinics are for improving existing skills, not developing new ones.

                        This is my .02, and it's worth the paper it's written on.
                        Ok so I have slept on this, mucked and thought about this and just generally tried to think our opposing views on this out a bit.

                        I think we could possibly come from different cultures and as a result may have different view points.

                        In my life riding experience, as an eventer for the longest time and a jumper and fox hunter for a considerable time, all of my clinic experiences were choices of going to ride with a different set of eyes. In the eventing world we didn't 'prepare' for a clinic. It was more of "oh hey I have a clinic with Bruce Davidson next weekend so I'm doing that instead of a show." Most all of the people with me came in and rode as they would in a normal lesson with their trainer and the only difference of note was possibly a bit better turnout. (Polished boots etc)

                        What I have seen, heard and in fact discussed with the clinicians I have ridden with most is what they think when someone has a bad day and takes extra time. Nearly universally the event trainers don't mind since we have all been there and in fact can be there again at any moment.

                        I recall a clinic I went to with Karen O'Connor in 1994. It was a sheet of ice everywhere and my trailer was literally frozen to the ground. I spoke to the clinic organizers and they were kind enough to offer me a sales horse of theirs to ride if I could get there. I did and I took them up on their kind offer. We had a bit of a rough ride, but nothing awful. Karen knew the arrangement and was fine with it. One of the other girls riding in the group got pissy because Karen took her time with me. Karen turned around, called the whole group of us in and gave that girl a serious stink eye and explained that it was important in any group setting to be understanding when someone was having a bad day. She explained that she would always take the extra time and work with a horse and rider so that they were never set further back by being rushed through a question that wasn't clicking for them. That beware the toes you step on today, they can be connected to the butt you have to kiss tomorrow. (My paraphrase)

                        Sure enough the next day I sledghammered my frozen wood chocks out from under the trailer tire spots and took my own horse to the clinic. And guess who had a bad day and needed Karen's time that day.....not me, the complainer from the day before. It was awesome because when Karen got the girl back on the right track she looked right at her and asked aloud, "Aren't you glad no one complained and allowed you and I time to work through this?" (Karen 1 Girl 0)

                        My point is that none of my clinicians have great panty wringing moments when someone needs help. Likewise nor do my fellow riders and if they did I would feel like they weren't understanding that it could happen to them. Horses are not cars, they don't just do what we tell them without weighing in on the thought process at times. I've seen stellar show horses have melt downs in clinics in strange places because something bothered them. I don't hold it against anyone. The fact that you do endlessclimb is just a bit of an example how I believe we are coming at this from different vantage points.

                        But then I am almost 48 years old. I have been riding since I was 11 and with 35+ years I get it now. I can't ride everything, I will always make a mistake somewhere and it will bother me. I don't know everything and I do appreciate kindness, given and received. I figure allowing others their bad days and commiserating and praising them after when they have done something well is a small price to pay for being a decent person.


                        Emily
                        Last edited by Xctrygirl; May. 7, 2019, 12:11 PM.
                        "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


                        • #52
                          Originally posted by OneTwoMany View Post

                          I agree with this. While auditing a GM clinic, a local trainer brought a green horse that was clearly not up to the task. After much personal attention, George excused the horse from the clinic and the trainer was invited to return the next day with a more suitable mount. All the extra attention was a huge time suck for the other participants.

                          While auditing an AK clinic, a horse and rider team were clearly over faced and somewhat clueless. AK exhibited incredible patience. The rider received 2-3 times more than their pro rata time and AK had to "dummy down" the exercises for this particular horse and rider pair. Having said that, if I paid ~$500 for the clinic (or whatever the going rate is these days), I would have been PO'd and I probably would have taken my future business elsewhere.
                          I agree, it appears that in Emily's defense, she knew that this exercise would take too much of the clinician's time. I can't defend entering a clinic with top caliber trainers on a horse incapable of doing the level (not the case in Em's example) but if you feel an exercise is going to be counterproductive based on what you feel under you, I don't have an issue with you speaking up.

                          That said, there is in the HJ world a sense of a clinic as some sort of "event" rather than what it really is, a lesson. Most trainers feel that their riders must be perfectly prepped to attend a clinic so that they never fail or look less that ideal in public. The point of the clinic is to be taught something. I think that clinic groups should be kept small enough that should a horse have a moment, that others aren't left idle for too long and honestly, sometimes it's not worth fighting the fight. I rode in a clinic some years ago where one of the horses in my group was a youngster, ridden by a very capable rider. A particular jump, going toward the auditors really seemed to bother him but he was good otherwise. The clinician found alternatives for that rider and offered to work with her one on one at the end of the session. The rest of us got our full time and attention and the rider got some pointers on overcoming issues but not at our expense.
                          F O.B
                          Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                          Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

                          Comment


                          • #53
                            In clinics, i will always go and speak to the clinician before the lesson starts. Ill give them the disclaimer, that with my recent injuries (broken back and ankle) there are some things i cannot do for too long, Sitting trot for example. Ill explain that i will try for as long as i can, but if it becomes too painful, or if i feel myself falling apart, i will take a break, and move far enough away that i am still able to hear, but am not in the way. I will rejoin the lesson as soon as i can. So far, no clinician has had an issue with this, and are usually happy i explained it before we got started, and didn't just peace out during the lesson.

                            Comment


                            • #54
                              Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post

                              Yes, going out and doing things is how they learn. But entering a clinic where other people who paid money will be impacted by your choice, either by you taking more time than the others or by making the clinician simplify the exercise or come up with alternatives, is a little inconsiderate. You look like a capable rider, so maybe it wouldn't be so bad for you. But so many times I've seen the opposite, where someone shows up with a totally not-ready horse (can't even canter consistently/correctly type) and it ruins the experience for all involved.

                              If you want baby miles, go enter a schooling show. Clinics are for improving existing skills, not developing new ones.

                              This is my .02, and it's worth the paper it's written on.
                              I think you're barking up the wrong tree. Clinics are about expanding your riding skills. That involves learning new things.
                              AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                              Comment


                              • #55
                                FWIW - Just realized the wrong video was linked. Here's the correct video of that clinic.

                                https://youtu.be/-TtBQhsYK8k

                                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


                                • #56
                                  Originally posted by beowulf View Post

                                  I think you're barking up the wrong tree. Clinics are about expanding your riding skills. That involves learning new things.
                                  Yeah, I've seen people want to attend $400 dressage clinics, but only if they can ride in a western saddle and do western dressage. Everybody else showed up, and paid money to ride and audit traditional dressage, but could we please make one of the hours all about western dressage. Of course if the clinician objects then we get all in a huff and say dressage is so exclusive.

                                  Or, everyone else in the group lesson wants to learn about riding courses better, but we have the one remedial person the whole clinic ends up revolving around who needs basic assistance with establishing control. Everyone else is there to develop their skills, not learn how to fix one horse's baggage.

                                  And, mvp, the business model exists because people support it with their dollars and attendance. Enough people pay to attend three hour drill sessions that they remain economically viable. Enough people are willing to drive around rode blocks. And someone else was perfectly willing to ride my slot. Some other riders backed out, but not enough.

                                  If every other demo rider had taken THEIR horse home, too, there wouldn't have been a dressage clinic in a hurricane.
                                  The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
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                                  Comment


                                  • #57
                                    I think sometimes it can be really good to have a problem pony in there, too, as long as it's not too disruptive. A number of years ago, Scott Hofstetter did a clinic out in MN and I was auditing/helping to set jumps. On day 1, one of the ponies in one of the lower groups was being extremely naughty - just challenging her rider beyond what the kid was comfortable/capable of handling at that time. Kiddo's mom (also the owner of the barn hosting) called me that night and asked if I would ride the pony in the second day of the clinic.

                                    It went a lot better the second day because naughty ponies are kind of my thing, but Mr. Hofstetter really used it as a teaching moment for how to train/retrain a green animal testing the boundaries. I don't think it was disruptive other than when the pony put me in the dirt 30 seconds after I got on (but no one else was mounted and in the ring yet), but it was a good learning experience for kiddo, pony, auditors, and it was fun for me to catchride one and do some challenging exercises with a new perspective.

                                    Comment


                                    • #58
                                      I was always taught to enter a clinic one level down from your actual level. so for example, when I rode my A/o hunter in a clinic, i picked the 3' section. if the clinician is good, you still get a lot of out of the exercises, but at a very comfortable level. therefore, you can focus on doing the exercise correctly and not worrying whether you can do them at all. My old day (90's) experience with clinicians is that they always pushed you. so a 3' section would possible be built big, etc. my recent experience was more that the clinician only built the courses to 3' max. That could be a nuance of clinicians vs. year but those are my thoughts. not answering the OP question, but just responding to the thoughts about capabilities and entering clinics. That said, i also do this knowing the clinicians and not wanting to be overfaced.

                                      Comment


                                      • #59
                                        My favorite clinic story -

                                        When I was first dipping my toe into eventing, I audited as many clinics as I could to ground myself in the sport before riding in one. I audited a 2 or 3 day clinic with a VERY BNT who was a wonderful clinician. Started each day with a very on-point lecture, encouraging and supportive during the jumping sessions, personable and funny.

                                        On cross country day, in one group, there was THAT horse and rider pair. We've all seen them, some of us, if we're honest, have been them. They got by okay in the flat work and stadium sessions, but out on XC, it was clear that there was a trust and confidence problem. The rider would start picking at the horse's face from about 6 - 8 strides out, and the more she picked, the more the horse inverted and ran at the fence. And it just kept getting worse. Horse and rider appeared miserable. Clinician tried pointing out what was happening, encouraging her to leave the horse alone in front of the fence and just keep what she got, etc. At one point, because she wouldn't stop picking to the fence, he took her reins away, crossed them over the horse's crest and buckled them under the horse's neck. Essentially, she couldn't pick her hands up or back more than 2". She could still steer, but she couldn't pick or grab hold.

                                        I was *horrified* and thought it was a huge safety issue.

                                        And I politely asked the clinician, while we traveled between XC fences, if there wasn't a safer way to achieve the same result.

                                        I won't paraphrase the whole conversation, though every word of it was golden, but the meat of it was: This wasn't a lesson, and she wasn't his client or student. She was entered in a horse trial in two weeks time, and he doubted anything he could say would lead her to scratching. His job as a clinician was to give her something, anything, to make her safer, and more successful at the next competition. Not the way he would handle it with a client or student, but the way he had to handle it as a clinician, because he wanted to give her something to take away from the clinic.

                                        I still protested a little - why not have her grab mane, give her a neck strap? He looked at me and said "You teach, right? In your experience, when it gets to this point, do they hold the mane or strap? Or do they pick their hands up out of fear or habit and interfere anyway?" I had to concede the point.

                                        So anybody want to guess how this worked out? The horse rushed the next couple of fences. But after that, he started to drop his head, focus on the fences, set himself up and back himself off without the rider's interference. The rider's panic level dropped and she started to look happier about the work.

                                        Was it perfect? No. Did it look like a hunter round? No. Did the clinician achieve his stated goal of making them safer and more successful at their next competition? Yes!

                                        So that sort of set my expectations for clinics. Good ones are different than lessons. They should have a clear agenda and some clear takeaways for the horse and rider. Not a substitute for regular lessons or eyes on the ground, but an opportunity to try something new, get a different opinion and learn new techniques.

                                        ETA: I also thought the clinician was incredibly gracious in speaking to me, an auditor, and giving me his time. He didn't owe me an explanation, but it was a good one. I was a paying auditor, but the fee was tiny.
                                        The plural of anecdote is not data.

                                        Comment


                                        • #60
                                          Originally posted by McGurk View Post
                                          My favorite clinic story -

                                          When I was first dipping my toe into eventing, I audited as many clinics as I could to ground myself in the sport before riding in one. I audited a 2 or 3 day clinic with a VERY BNT who was a wonderful clinician. Started each day with a very on-point lecture, encouraging and supportive during the jumping sessions, personable and funny.

                                          On cross country day, in one group, there was THAT horse and rider pair. We've all seen them, some of us, if we're honest, have been them. They got by okay in the flat work and stadium sessions, but out on XC, it was clear that there was a trust and confidence problem. The rider would start picking at the horse's face from about 6 - 8 strides out, and the more she picked, the more the horse inverted and ran at the fence. And it just kept getting worse. Horse and rider appeared miserable. Clinician tried pointing out what was happening, encouraging her to leave the horse alone in front of the fence and just keep what she got, etc. At one point, because she wouldn't stop picking to the fence, he took her reins away, crossed them over the horse's crest and buckled them under the horse's neck. Essentially, she couldn't pick her hands up or back more than 2". She could still steer, but she couldn't pick or grab hold.

                                          I was *horrified* and thought it was a huge safety issue.

                                          And I politely asked the clinician, while we traveled between XC fences, if there wasn't a safer way to achieve the same result.

                                          I won't paraphrase the whole conversation, though every word of it was golden, but the meat of it was: This wasn't a lesson, and she wasn't his client or student. She was entered in a horse trial in two weeks time, and he doubted anything he could say would lead her to scratching. His job as a clinician was to give her something, anything, to make her safer, and more successful at the next competition. Not the way he would handle it with a client or student, but the way he had to handle it as a clinician, because he wanted to give her something to take away from the clinic.

                                          I still protested a little - why not have her grab mane, give her a neck strap? He looked at me and said "You teach, right? In your experience, when it gets to this point, do they hold the mane or strap? Or do they pick their hands up out of fear or habit and interfere anyway?" I had to concede the point.

                                          So anybody want to guess how this worked out? The horse rushed the next couple of fences. But after that, he started to drop his head, focus on the fences, set himself up and back himself off without the rider's interference. The rider's panic level dropped and she started to look happier about the work.

                                          Was it perfect? No. Did it look like a hunter round? No. Did the clinician achieve his stated goal of making them safer and more successful at their next competition? Yes!

                                          So that sort of set my expectations for clinics. Good ones are different than lessons. They should have a clear agenda and some clear takeaways for the horse and rider. Not a substitute for regular lessons or eyes on the ground, but an opportunity to try something new, get a different opinion and learn new techniques.

                                          ETA: I also thought the clinician was incredibly gracious in speaking to me, an auditor, and giving me his time. He didn't owe me an explanation, but it was a good one. I was a paying auditor, but the fee was tiny.
                                          Jimmy has always been this kind. That's why he's been my most frequent trainer for the past 25 years.

                                          He believes in education through and through and has been known to explain to pearl clutching parents what their progeny are doing well versus needing more work on.

                                          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

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