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Spin-off: Attending clinics without hurt feelings...

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  • Spin-off: Attending clinics without hurt feelings...

    I live in an area with a small horse community, but over the past few years the riders here have done a good job of bringing a few good/semi BN & BN clinicians every year. For those of you who are regular clinic-go'ers, how do you bring the subject up with your regular trainer to avoid hurt feelings?

    Personally, I love the idea of riding with a lot of different trainers. Whether or not I will like a certain trainer's method is, of course, established on a case by case basis, but I think it's good to ride with a lot of different eyes (and therefore experiences) on the ground.

    I have one trainer with whom I've been riding since 2004. He's a great coach and does a wonderful job with young horses (he bred my mare), and I will be riding under him as long as he's teaching/as long as I'm in the province.

    So I'm curious - do you sit down and talk with your trainer before you go to clinics? How do you explain that you aren't looking for "better", just "different"? This may not be an issue for a lot of people who have a trainer that is just a trainer, but I am quite close with mine. I consider he and "his" to be second family, and I know they feel the same about me. I do want to partake in clinics with my mare as she gets older, but I want to be sure I'm not unnecessarily offending my coach.

  • #2
    dude. what kinda trainer makes you feel like you need "permission" to go to a clinic?

    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


    • #3
      I asked my trainer about going to a couple of clinics that I did and she thought it was a great idea - she looked at it as hearing things phrased a different way and getting some additional [metaphorical] tools for my tool chest. She's like another mom to me, we're super close, but she's never had any issue with my doing clinics or even taking a lesson or two with another trainer.
      Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by Tamara in TN View Post
        dude. what kinda trainer makes you feel like you need "permission" to go to a clinic?
        Where did I say I needed (or felt like I needed) permission?

        Like I said, I care about my coach a lot and would like to make sure we are both on the same page and that he doesn't inadvertently feel like I'm attempting to replace him or that I'm not getting what I should out of my lessons. Hey - maybe he won't give a rat's @$$, but I'm not someone who won't be considerate of another person's feelings.


        • #5
          Its not like a clinician is going to take their business, I don't think I would want to train with someone if I didn't feel comfortable taking my horse to a clinic.
          I don't think it should be a problem at all, even the 'control freak' trainers I know off gladly send their students to clinics, and attend them for their own benefit too.

          edit: saw reply, I would just say youre going to a clinic, how it is exciting. Say youll take a video and you guys can go over the ride together. I don't think a rational person would have any reason to be upset over it.
          Last edited by DressageOverFences; Dec. 6, 2011, 01:46 PM. Reason: spelling


          • #6
            you feel like it would hurt his feelings

            somewhere along the line you have gotten the impression from him that he would be upset with you or would not be asking

            I'm not trying to offend you,really,I am asking you to look at the relationship you have with him and search and find why you think you need to get his permission/forgivness/ok to go and spend time with someone else

            that's all.

            Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
            I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


            • #7
              Any trainer worth a lick would encourage a student to clinic. I mean, who's bringing in these clinicians? Trainers, that's who.

              I really can't image your trainer being upset that you want to go to a clinic. Getting a taste of something different is kind of the definition.

              I'd go to him and say -- Did you hear about the clinic at X given by Y? I'm so excited to go! Were you planning on riding or auditing? Maybe we can car pool.


              • #8
                And I agree with Tamara. Anyone who would ask that question is implying that they think their trainer would be upset. Otherwise why would you even ask the question?

                So it seems that you ARE worried that your trainer wouldn't approve for some reason. Which is ridiculous.


                • Original Poster

                  I should have expected to get this kind of reaction.

                  Perhaps I'm not wording myself well... or perhaps I don't have a typical trainer/rider relationship.

                  I've lived in his home for three different summers when I was a teenager, and maybe that's one of the biggest reasons that we got so close. Either way, he's like family, and while I do not feel like I need permission, I do not believe I am expected to ask and I do not think it would be a big deal, I will still have the conversation with him.

                  I don't find it unreasonable to have this conversation with him. Just because I am paying him for a service doesn't mean I shouldn't be polite. I'm not afraid to ask him, I was just looking for people with similar experiences as they may have some genius way of articulating.

                  supershorty, Thanks for your input! I have a feeling the conversation with my trainer would go exactly the same way.


                  • #10
                    I have been in a similar situation before. I think that, in the back of my head, I am afraid of hurting my trainer's feelings because I have done that before. I think open, honest communication is the most important thing in a trainer-client relationship. You are putting a lot of trust in said trainer to steer you and your horse correctly when there are a million other trainers out there with a million other ways of doing it - and you picked him/her. In turn, your trainer is trusting you to learn and have a good attitude when you are in training and to communicate with them should there be any issues.

                    I brought up the subject of a clinic to my trainer and she jumped at the chance to go with me! I think that a good trainer is open to new ideas and improvements. I believe there is such a thing as too much clinic-ing - after awhile everyone's varying concepts start to swirl in your head and you start to wonder which theory is correct - but I also believe that clinics can be invaluable in what they teach, and trainers should realize this too as their education is also a continuing one.

                    Just my 2 cents. Be open with your trainer and except the same in return.
                    "Lord if we should fall, my horse and I, please pick my horse up first."



                    • #11
                      I've never had a trainer get upset - our old trainer was always very encouraging of it and would often call the clinician prior to us attending and talk about things my DD was working on so he/she would have an idea of specific things to look for/work on.

                      That said, I do know of some trainers that are intimidated by a student riding outside of their barn.

                      Also, since you are so close with your trainer - sometimes it's fun to offer to pay for them to ride in a particularly BNT clinic. Many of the younger trainers have not had the opportunity to ride with some of clinicians from "back in the day" and would love to have a customer offer that up


                      • #12
                        So I'm curious - do you sit down and talk with your trainer before you go to clinics? How do you explain that you aren't looking for "better", just "different"?

                        A) No, I don't necessarily talk to my trainer before a clinic unless it is to say, "Hey, I am going to XYZ's clinic on such a day."

                        B) See "A." No explanation is necessary. After a clinic I will then discuss things taught and learned or tossed with my trainer.

                        Now, if one of my trainers brings in a clinician, I will ask them if they feel I should attend based on where we are in our training program. Sometimes they say "yes" and sometimes they say "no."



                        • #13
                          I think having the conversation is not a bad idea at all, but I wouldn't worry too much as yet about having to explain anything. I would just say, "Hey, trainer, I was thinking it might be fun/interesting/useful for me to ride in a clinic or two this winter. What do you think?" and go from there. If you have a good relationship with trainer and if trainer is a reasonable person, the conversation should flow pretty easily.

                          I did raise my eyebrows a bit, though, at the "I love the idea of riding with a lot of different trainers" comment, not because that's an unusual idea to love or necessarily a bad one, but because it can if you're not careful about it be a good way to get oneself a little confused and going in seventeen directions at once. (There was a thread about this on the eventing forum not too long ago.) I know it works great for some people and if you're one of those, then fantastic and the more power to you! But for me it works much better to be in one (good, trusted) trainer's regular program and then do some other rides with folks whose teaching is compatible: still another set of eyes and a different approach, but fundamentally harmonious with my week-in-week-out work.

                          That may or may not be where you want to end up, but it's not a bad place to start when you're first dipping your toe into the clinic waters, and it can be a good way to target the discussion: not "trainer, I would like to go clinic, end of story," but, "trainer, I would like to go clinic, can you suggest some people who would be a good match for or complement to what I'm learning from you?"

                          "The present tense of regret is indecision."
                          - Welcome to Night Vale


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks for the input so far. I am quite confident that my coach will be supportive of me riding in clinics with reputable BNTs, but I appreciate opinions on the best way to bring it up.

                            Originally posted by Tucked_Away View Post

                            I did raise my eyebrows a bit, though, at the "I love the idea of riding with a lot of different trainers" comment, not because that's an unusual idea to love or necessarily a bad one, but because it can if you're not careful about it be a good way to get oneself a little confused and going in seventeen directions at once.
                            Oh - no worries there! I may have been a little ambitious with that statement; we have probably 5ish H/J clinics a year in my area, 2 or 3 I might want to ride in. So when I meant I love the idea of riding with a lot of different trainers, I more meant that I love the idea of some BNT from out of the area a couple times a year.


                            • #15
                              I love riding with as many good clinicians with methods I like as possible.

                              That said, I find the most important part of the clinics, for me, is talking about the clinic with my trainer afterward, and figuring out which parts of the advice to incorporate in my riding and our program.

                              "Outsiders" often see the things we're blind to in our tunnel vision, and that even includes the things our trainers see. They also can word things in a way that you understand something you have been struggling with. Clinicians are there to help you get new insight into your current program. What they aren't, is to replace your everyday trainer, and clinicians are most valuable to you if you are able to discuss what you learned after. I love when my trainer can be there for my rides in clinics, but if not, the clinics still wouldn't be worth a lot if she and I didn't discuss them after.
                              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.


                              • #16
                                I don't think it is a silly question at all. While I don't have a trainer just now, if I did I would want to be diplomatic about it. So I would go to Mr. Trainer and say, "I was thinking of taking Mr. Ed to the GM clinic next March, do you think he's ready for that?" or whatever. Then Mr. Trainer would (1) be aware, (2) have a chance to say his piece, if he had any issues with the clinician or knew something I didn't, which happens (see threads on AK as a clinician, etc.) and (3) help me get ready so as not to embarrass myself in front of some equestrian great.

                                My trainers have all been supportive of riding in front of other good trainers. The trainer I worked for most encouraged me to learn as much as possible anywhere I could. If he had a concern, it would have served me well to listen.

                                Plus, it is nice to have advice about what section to ride in and whatnot. I did a clinic last summer and I fretted for three months about the section I signed up for. It turned out fine but I was terrified I would start jumping and then have to pull out, or fall off, or otherwise look like a complete idiot in front of an Olympian. Better to have Trainer in on it so he can tell you you're going to be OK.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by mustangsal85 View Post
                                  I brought up the subject of a clinic to my trainer and she jumped at the chance to go with me!
                                  I think this is a good point. When you bring up the idea of attending clinics ask if your trainer is interested in attending too.

                                  Maybe write down a schedule of all the clinicians in your area and sit down and go over the list and decide which would be great for you to ride in, or maybe for your trainer to ride in.


                                  • #18
                                    I think it is perfectly legitimate to ask your trainer whether he thinks riding in a clinic with so-and-so would be beneficial to you at this time.

                                    Not all clinicians are wonderful for everybody.

                                    But if the answer is always "no" then I'd want to examine the motivation more deeply.


                                    • #19
                                      I would simply say something along the lines of Hey I heard X is coming to a clinic a X on X and I'm thinking of taking Bubbles. And then see how it goes. If trainer balks it might be because they might think the clinician is not that great - and that is a valid point. Just because a pro might be one of the best doesn't always transfer to them being a good clinician. Years ago my trainer and I audited a Ralph Hill clinic as we'd always heard how great he was. She said she learned more from him in 5 minutes than the past 20 years


                                      • #20
                                        I completely understand getting input from the trainer. It's not the same as asking permission; if you respect and work with this person you want their insight on the suitability of the clinician for your learning style, the stage where your horse is at, etc. Auditing never hurts.

                                        I'm not a huge fan of one-off clinics to be honest. If someone is coming to town a couple of times a year and you can build them into the overall program, or they're known for their ability to work through something specific you are looking for etc, great. But doing clinics for clinics sake? It can cause more problems in the long run (I'm thinking of a case where a rider I know was badly overfaced and it took a long time to resolve the issues that came out of it).
                                        "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."