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Who Has Put on a Clinic???

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  • Who Has Put on a Clinic???

    Another "clinic-related" thread...........

    Would be interested in hearing from those who have successfully or unsuccessfully put on a clinic with a well-known trainer.

    Can respond through a PM or here on the Board, but would like to understand the pros, cons, pitfalls, etc. DId you make money? How hard is it to make money? What would change if you had to do it over again and what have you learned from doing it?

    Any advice, suggestions, comments are greatly appreciated!!

  • #2
    Contact Seal Harbor on here--she is the owner of One Horse Productions, LLC on the west coast and has run a few clinics and has another coming up. She could probably give you some good tips.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

    Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
    Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.


    • #3
      The organization I was involved with put on a clinic as a fund-raiser/give-back to the community clinic a few years ago. The clinic was sanctioned as a learning event for people who needed hours for judging/coaching. We rented a local arena for the riding and booked a hotel conference room for the book learning. We had a fantastic clinician come in.

      We made a bit of money. The only downfall was that we didn't require people to pre-pay or make a deposit, just to sign up. The money issue was in the basically in the catering. We booked the catering and conference room size based on how many people signed up. When they didn't show up (in one case, seven people with one coach), we had LOTS of extra food. Not a huge deal, but enough to make a difference to the bottom line.

      Overall, as someone involved with putting it on, I loved doing it, and would do it again in a second if asked. Met a ton of neat people and learned a lot. Good luck with your clinic. It's great when people put these things on!


      • #4
        I have organized several clinics including some BNTs as well as few with trainers who did not have a recognizable "name." All made a modest amount of money.

        The keys, IMO, are:

        Making sure your date(s) do not conflict with big/popular shows in your area (however offering something shortly before such an event as a "tune up" can help.)

        Have at least a core group of riders who are interested in participating from your home farm so you are not starting from square one to find participants.

        Allow/encourage auditors for a modest fee, and allow clinic participants to bring an auditor gratis as part of their clinic fee.

        Limit class sizes to reasonable numbers. Even a truly great clinician is not going to be able to give much personal attention to the riders if there are ten in the ring at a time, and a reasonable amount of personal attention is one of the keys to rider satisfaction with a clinic. (Remember that often a clinic will cost more for a 1 1/2- 2 hour session than the clinician charges for a private lesson, so you have to be aware of the value/cost ratio you are offering.)

        Make sure that the riders are grouped appropriately so that the clinician doesn't have to deal with too diverse a group. For instance, it often makes sense to offer two sections at a given popular height - one for green riders, and one for experienced riders on green horses - because the needs of those two groups can be enormously different even though they are jumping the same height.

        Find out in advance what sorts of equipment the clinician requires. If possible, send them the ring dimensions and any relevant details ahead of time, and ask for an idea of what sort of materials they will need. That way, if you do not *have* something that they are planning to use, you can either acquire it or advise them that it will not be available.

        Have seating (sheltered if possible) for auditors/parents etc. It is a nice touch to offer modest refreshments in the clinic fee - coffee and bagels in the morning, sandwiches etc in the afternoon.

        Build in some time for questions, rest room breaks, checking vm, etc for the clinician between sessions if possible. They will thank you for it and it will help keep you on time.

        If you can offer stabling at a reasonable cost, it will often help draw participants from farther away. Decide in advance what you will offer in terms of amenities - can those who trailer in use your washrack, grooming stalls, etc?

        Designate a place to longe a fresh horse and/or for riders to warm up a little prior to their sessions if possible.

        Require payment in advance and have a reasonable cancellation policy (mine is that after the "closing date," I will refund a payment IF we can find someone to take that spot.) I define closing date as a day or two before we have to give a final count to the clinician.

        Work out ahead of time all the logistical details with the clinician and put it all into your contract. Will you be furnishing them with a hotel room or putting them up in your spare bedroom? Providing a rental car or driving them back and forth from the airport yourself? If there are minimums/maximum participant numbers, include that, etc.

        That's all I can think of off the top of my head... you can PM me if you have questions.
        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


        • #5
          I've been on the comittee for a few clinics sponsored by my GMO --

          They were fundraisers, but the clinics themselves pretty much just broke even -- It was the silent auctions we held in conjunction with the clinics that earned about $2K per clinic, and I think those took more effort to organize than the clinics --

          The previous posts give good advice -- I might add:

          Ask the clinician if they have any dietary requirements -- One petite dressage rider asked for a pound of M&Ms to snack on in her room -- A larger guy just wanted fruit salad for lunch -- Some include these sorts of requests in their contract -- Some want to do dinner with riders/volunteers, some don't --

          Investigate grants/sponsors to defray the cost -- The Dressage Foundation gave us a generous grant that covered the cost of renting a nice facility for a weekend -- I'm not sure if there's a similar organization for h/j -- USHJA does have some sort of clinic sponsorship program, but I think that mostly provides guidance, materials, and advertising, but not funding --

          If the clinician has a video, host a video night to give riders in your area an opportunity to get a feel for the clinician and encourage participation in the clinic --

          Line up reliable volunteers -- It's helpful to have a couple of extra people on jump crew if the clinician plans to set up gymnastic exercises -- Remember to thank each volunteer and ensure they get breaks too --
          "I never mind if an adult uses safety stirrups." GM


          • #6
            I've setup quite a few clinics with individuals such as George Williams and Conrad Schumacher which is in the dressage realm, but still similar. I agree with many of the points above in regards to definitely making sure you are not conflicting with any other events, I think that is something that will definitely make or break you.

            Covering costs for the clinician is usually done through the riders that have been selected for the clinic itself and their fees.

            My other biggest piece of advice is advertise. Find someone who is able to write a press release and then have them submit it to horse industry publications. This will give you a wider array of auditors and usually end up getting you publicity for your farm and/or organization. This small investment really gives you a larger return and gets people to your farm that are outside of your contacts.

            Also if you can work with any type of organization and offer discounted participation fees to their members, you'll usually end up getting more publicity.

            We've also been able to do a dinner night with the clinician which is a great way to sell tickets to and you can always make a big deal of it and donate some of the funds to charity.

            Last great draw has been have local businesses come and setup shop. If you can have a shopping area for individuals to browse, you're not only supporting local business, but you are giving everyone a little mental break and offering something unique. Usually you charge them 10% of their sales during the clinic so everyone benefits.


            • Original Poster

              Thanks. These are great suggestions. Appreciate it!!!!

              Another related question - you can PM me on this one.........

              Are there clinicians that you would NOT RECOMMEND using? Too demanding, participants did not like the clinic?? Just curious....


              • #8
                I'm in the process of getting my next clinic organized. Need to have the advertising copy in this week for the next issue of the regional magazine, the clinic is in March and I already have 3 horses in the 4' section and one for the 3'6" section. The clinician will tell you how many riders and sections they will deal with. They will also give you a day rate and most require that expenses be paid, which may include plane tickets along with hotel and food.

                I do 3 day clinics, and feed everyone lunch that includes auditors. We have coffee, hot chocolate, tea, bagels, cookies, candy, water (lots of water!), fruit, soda and whatever the clinician requests food wise. We do one big dinner with the clinician and a bunch of people from my barn, and of course feed them dinner each night they are there.

                I require a 50% deposit, to hold their spot, technically it is non-refundable but I have refunded in case of illness or injury. Then the rest of the money is due two weeks before the clinic, so everything clears and I can write a check that is good to the clinician. We offer day stalls and overnight stalls. We had a few open spots by the first day of the clinic and filled some of those for the next two days, but the clinician had no issue with doing that.

                We "showcase" the two higher groups around lunch, for the auditors sake, most everyone stayed for lunch and beyond. The clinician was available during lunch to chat with people and answer questions. We also made sure the participants were well matched in the groups, which makes the clinician happy.

                Have a decent audio system. My wireless mike didn't work this time, but one of the boarders saved the day with a portable system otherwise the auditors won't be able to hear. Get the jump crew organized, I had folks riding in different sections volunteer to jump crew when they weren't riding plus ones who weren't riding at all.

                Keep in contact with the participants prior to the clinic! I have a web site, I also emailed schedules to all the riders, sent their invoices via email and generally kept in contact with them. Their deposit didn't just disappear into the black hole with no communication.

                Advertise. The last one I did was in October so we took flyers to the horse shows the barn attended prior to the clinic along with doing a full page ad in the regional magazine. I also have the clinic as a USHJA affiliated clinic. You do have to get signed releases for the USHJA but they send nice gift bags of USHJA branded stuff. The clinic appears on USHJA web calendar and goes out in email updates.

                Have bathroom facilities - if a large number of people are going to overwhelm your septic system rent portable toilets and a hand washing station or have paper towels and hand gel available. Also have some kind of heat available if doing clinics in chilly weather, we use those propane patio heaters for the area where the auditors sit.

                If you are planning on riding in the clinic make sure you have help - to keep the food table organized, to be available to run for anything folks need, take money from auditors, check people in the first day, show people their stalls and answer questions about logistics. Have cash on hand to be able to make change for auditors.