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Best and Worst clinics you've been to

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  • Best and Worst clinics you've been to

    My Best clinic ever was one of Mike Matsons musical clinics. Everyone smiled and had a wonderful day. He made the people and horses happy.
    My Worst ever clinic was a JP Giacomini. I'm not going to say more.

    Tell me of your best and worst.

  • #2
    A Pony Club clinic where I was riding a horse that was not mine and the trainer and I were working on some issues with him, trainer asks the barn owner "does this thing jump?" And one of the PC moms said in a real loud voice "The horse or the rider" and laughed hysterically. Nobody laughed, and the crowd was kind of silent because I was one of the club's best riders and she was thinking of joining or had just joined, basically she had no idea who any of us really were and was making an a$$ out of herself.

    My best clinic was with Walter Zettl! No peanut gallery watching or commenting, I was the last rider, the horse and I got along wonderfully (again, a borrowed horse), we did upper level stuff I had never done before, it was a great summer day!
    I LOVE my Chickens!


    • #3
      I audited a clinic this was not good. Every horse but 1 in the group I watched had totally lost its confidence and was stopping at every single fence. They day before they started out jumping fabulously.

      WAY too much jumping, wayy too tight turns in a tiny arena, wayy too big fences. Just too much with no purpose. Was very glad I didn't ride in it!
      Boss Mare Eventing Blog


      • #4
        Up until this year, I'd never ridden in a clinic. Switched to dressage and had an opportunity to ride in two locally by the same trainer, Richard A.G. Watson. One word: Awesome - both times.

        He's a Teacher, not just an instructor. Treated every horse/rider, regardless of experience or horse, as if they were the only ones on the face of the earth. His character & integrity came through and not one rider left his 3-day clinics without raving.

        I'll let you know if I ever ride or audit a bad one
        <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


        • #5
          Jeff Ashton Moore - every single team of horse/rider improved over the 3 days.
          No breed snobbery. Period.
          I brought my TWH the first time I rode with him - into DressageLand! <this despite some of the YouDon'tDARE Naysayers who posted on here.
          Both the 2 clinics I was able to ride in and the 3 I audited had the same results.
          Would sell my eyeteeth for another chance to ride with him.

          Many years ago my trainer brought his personal friend and BNR - Bodo Hangen - to our little school barn for a clinic.
          Three of us Dressage Newbies, mounted on school horses were asked "So? These are the horses you compete on?"
          Then treated to 45min of Bodo concentrating on one rider while the others stood on the rail.
          I was a WS at the time and when the poor horse came out BH had tightened the flash down so hard I had to get one of the men present to unlatch it.
          This was over 25yrs ago, so you can see what a bad taste it left.

          To be even minimally fair-minded, BH did come back another time to do a demo ride (for charity) on Edith Kosterka's Trakhener stallion Troubador who was (at the time) short-listed for the Olympics.
          A much better experience for all.

          Some can ride, some can teach, few can do both.
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


          • #6
            Originally posted by blueeyepaint View Post
            My Worst ever clinic was a JP Giacomini. I'm not going to say more.
            No surprise there.
            Visit Sonesta Farms website at or our FaceBook page at Also showing & breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.


            • #7
              Babette Lenna. She was so fabulous and my horse and I improved so much that I now lesson with her whenever possible. Her approach sets horses and riders up for success while still being challenging. She explains things in a way that "click" for me and I feel good about myself and my abilities while still realizing all the things I need to improve upon after a lesson with her.

              Not going to name names since I think it was just a bad fit, not that the instructor is subpar in general. I was paired with a very young beginner novice rider (I ride at training level), which set an unhappy tone with me from the get-go. The exercises were not what my pony and I needed and he was crashing through (small) jumps left and right. This is a horse who rarely touches a rail. I wasn't understanding the point of what we were doing and felt unable to succeed. My pony was confused and very agitated.
              Last edited by mg; Apr. 10, 2013, 06:02 PM. Reason: typo
              "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"


              • #8
                I audited a Michael Barisone clinic over the winter, and it was AWESOME. He really got great results for every pair and he's hysterical!

                I can't think of any clinic I've been too that's horrible...


                • #9
                  The worst I have seen, I know some will be mad at me, Ray Hunt.
                  It was his first year on the road, Western Horseman had just written an infomercial type article praising him to heaven and he was a friend of the local college equestrian director, that had talked to him when he went to the Bishop Mule Days, was asked if he would want him to come give a clinic and he agreed and asked many of us to come support this new clinician just getting started.

                  The first morning, Ray spent some time starting a black three year old colt that was halter broke and very gentle to handle, but had never been saddled.
                  He did a beautiful job of getting him saddled, then turned him loose in the panel round pen he was working in, didn't keep him under control, so the colt untracked with Ray hitting him on the behind with his leadrope and went to bucking wildly, hitting the panels and falling down and kept that on and on.

                  I was surprised that Ray kept after the colt, not by getting behind the colt, but kept running at his middle with the leadrope swinging at and hitting it's behind, so the colt kept jumping sideways, seeing the man after him before he felt the lead rope hit him, crashing into the panels, with nowhere to go and getting more and more frantic.
                  Ray spent 1 1/3 hours and never could get the colt to quit bucking and go forward more than a few strides, or from running into the panels frantic.

                  It really was so bad, some of us left then, didn't stay for the discussion session afterwards, after Ray gave up and said "the colt was tough and would be better tomorrow".
                  We knew that the Ray Hunt of that time just didn't quite know what he was doing, was winging it and had too many holes in his own understanding and that colt had to pay for it.
                  We were there the next morning and again, he started the colt, now much more alert and watchy/jumpy and, once saddled without fireworks, again turned him loose!
                  Yep, we had a repeat of the day before.
                  After that going on and on and on, our group just left and we heard later that Ray never did get that colt to quit bucking at all.

                  The first day, in the afternoon was two hours of "horsemanship".
                  There were five riders.
                  There, it definitely went downhill.
                  One lanky cowboy on a big lanky horse asked Ray how to get his horse to take the right lead, he just would not.
                  The horse had terrible feet, probably the kind that had never been touched, they just let them break off and right now looked like trying to grow slippers.
                  That horse needed an upgrade.
                  Ray didn't say anything about that.
                  He kept the fellow doing circles and kicking the horse on, pulling it's head to the outside and hurrying it more and more and the horse kept trotting faster and faster and then again, cantering on the wrong lead, almost falling in the small circles.
                  He never did get him to pick that right lead.

                  Then another cowboy with a three year old filly in a hackamore, with a few weeks of riding on her, asked how to teach her to back, she just would not.
                  Ray told him to take a good hold and, spreading his arms wide and flapping them, ran at them going "sshhhooo-shhhoooo!".
                  The filly switched ends and sold out, the cowboy almost fell off, then got her stopped down the arena and turned around and here comes Ray again, playing his mad bird routine.

                  They went around with the same rushing the filly for four or five times, the filly never did take a step back, but she also was not letting Ray within half the arena from her, the cowboy could not get her any closer, so Ray told him that he didn't have enough control of her, to keep working on her and she would eventually learn to back when she had more of a handle.

                  Those were the most salient of a very puzzling and strange and right down crazy, unsafe and absurd clinic.

                  It is good that there were no more clinics after that for several years, because I don't think anyone would have gone to them after that disaster.
                  I have heard over the years some of his clinics were better, some not so good, none really too safe hearing what all went on there.
                  His following got to be so great, the mystique of him being one of the first ones and who knows, maybe he did end up being a great teacher after all, that he is considered one of the great ones.
                  Guess that all of us have started somewhere, some of that start rough at times.

                  One of the best clinics I saw was when Pat Parelli started certifying instructors, one of the first ones was Dave Ellis and someone got him to come to our area.

                  He had two days to teach a really large group of people and horses, some barely beginners, some better, some with problem horses, how to play the 7 games on the ground.

                  In the first 30 minutes, he had the most organized class you ever saw, everyone busy and doing their thing, no one interfering with others and at the end of the second day, the whole group, humans and horses, worked perfectly like a drill team, horses under control and humans having learned to be effective in how they asked their horses to do what was requested.
                  Some were better than others, but all were getting the job done, smiling and their horses not hurried or worried, but playing along.

                  The auditors, all were mesmerized, there was silence, much note taking and I think all learned much, from what to do to how to teach it, if you were looking for that.
                  That fellow was what we call "an instructor's instructor", that could teach anyone to do anything very well and professionally.
                  It was a treat to have seen that, a wonderful learning experience on several levels.

                  For many years after that, any time some were critical of PP I wondered and said what I had seen was rough around the edges in their techniques, that could be improved in practice, had seen it myself, not something to be too critical of.

                  Then I got to see the Barney video and realized where their program had gone, much, much worse than with their somewhat rough beginning, not better and smoother.
                  That such as what was being shown in that Barney and other similar videos was now being taught as a proper way to train was right down wrong on several levels.
                  Live and learn.


                  • #10
                    Nick Karazissis is the best one I have attended (as auditor).

                    Local dressage clinician Shelly Reichart is the best I have ridden with - she has a knack for assessing a horse quickly and accurately and giving the rider exactly the information they need to succeed with the horse. She is also very constructive, respectful, and willing to work with all levels (and h/j people like me!). She helped me improve my horse's flatwork SO much, and her lessons really stick with me.

                    Worst was also a more local person - Connie Curtes-Stevens. I thought she was absolutely awful. A huge waste of money, and could not even remember my name...kept confusing my very green gelding with a friend's very broke/made mare. She was also, in general, more focused on puffing up my then-trainer and telling everyone that they should not ride their own horses except for at shows or very infrequently at home right after professional rides. Yuck. Really disliked her as a person and as a clinician.


                    • #11
                      I was decidedly unimpressed with the Mindy Bower portion of a MB/MST clinic. I thought her attitude and tone were ridiculous, and that she also misread the horses and got stuff flat WRONG while making her pronouncements.

                      1.) She asked the lowest level group, "Why do you guys let your horses be so DULL?" I hate when clinicians do this. Nobody wakes up and says, "I think I'll deliberately suck today!" Why not just say, "OK guys, here's some ways to brighten up your horses!"
                      But these sorts of comments persisted throughout, despite the fact that they are completely unhelpful and totally unnecessary.

                      2.) She claimed that one horse in the clinic was "not ready to jump in this environment with all these horses around yet," and thus didn't allow it to participate in the MST jumping sections of the clinic ($500.00 fee was still charged, though.)
                      Same horse had HORSESHOWED the open baby greens in exact same arena and gotten ribbons three weeks prior, videos of a completely sane (if green) performance duly available on youtube. Whoops!

                      3.) She claimed (and pronounced to the world at large) that another horse in the clinic was "the only horse here that doesn't know how to collect." That particular horse/rider combo was probably the only pair in this hunter/jumper clinic that had also been selected by Jane Savoie to demonstrate flying changes in a dressage symposium at USEF HQ at Gladstone.
                      I'm not sure what definition of collection we're using here, but I think perhaps it knows how to collect.
                      Also, are we saying that the 5 year old that is contemporaneously zooming around at Mach 90 in a gag bit with the rider waterskiing on its face DOES know how to collect? Since the 3rd/4th level dressage horse is apparently the "only one" that doesn't???

                      So, if you want to spend $500.00 be talked down to and listen to COMPLETELY INCORRECT pronouncements about the horse you have brought in for her to help you with using her powers of accurate diagnosis and carefully tailored training responses, go to a Mindy Bower session.

                      Melanie Smith Taylor was great, but unfortunately not great enough that I will endure another session with Mindy just to ride with Melanie.

                      Best clinics are the ones I have taken with Eddo Hoekstra.
                      The Noodle
                      Boy Wonder
                      The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!


                      • #12
                        The worst clinics I've been to are those where all the emphasis is fixing problems with horses.

                        The best clinics I've been to are those where the primary emphasis is fixing problems with riders

                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo


                        • #13
                          Worst was in December when my horse showed how much better his body feels on a magnesium supplement by showing how quickly and violently he can buck, leaving me in a mud puddle. I was told at times all four hooves were 3' off the ground, and if I had seen video I would have been impressed with myself for staying on for about 40m of it.

                          Best was this weekend with the same clinician (Julie Leiken, biomechanics instructor) where everything I've been working on since December came together for one of those magical rides where everything just feels perfect. We didn't work on any upper level movement, since physically for me my hardest thing in recovering from an injury is leg yielding right, but I felt like the half passes and pirouettes were just waiting for me to ask for them.

                          My horse is known for blowing his stack when trailers with whinnying horses pull in or out near the arena he's in, and trailer #3 pulled in right as we were finishing up. He got alert and tense, and worked through it in one transition, back to well behaved, forward and relaxed. After I got off and put him away he went bonkers playing in reaction to everything happening, so he certainly had a lot of energy - he just restrained himself and used it for good under saddle.

                          Prior to this weekend my best clinic was with Jeremy Steinberg who really helped me learn a lot about tension in my horse and getting the relaxation I want from him.
                          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.


                          • #14
                            When I was much younger I took a few clinics with Chris Kappler, and really learned a lot...things that have stuck with me 20 years later.

                            I also like riding with Dale Irwin. Great teacher and doesn't seem to need to make people cry like so many h/j coaches seem to need to!

                            Randy Roy (many years ago!) was my most useless clinic: all I remember is learning to drop my body and release to the ears. Might have been having an off clinic though, as I do think it is a skilled/knowledgeable horse person.
                            Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                            • #15
                              Best to Audit: Eddo and he worked well with our group.
                              Best to Ride with: Pam Grace, she'll work with the tots to the seniors from green to GPs and is positive to them all. Really helped DD get both ponies collected up and on the bit. Even managed to get the saintly pony to do lateral work without the protest.

                              Worst to Audit: Jamie Amian(sp). Not sure if he was having a bad day or if the ladies he was instructing were used to that kind of verbal abuse. Now put him in the saddle and you learn something. Watch him teach others is just not my idea of time well spent.
                              Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
                              Originally Posted by alicen:
                              What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.


                              • #16
                                Best: Linda Tellington-Jones

                                Worst: Mike Plumb


                                • #17
                                  Both clinics I audited...
                                  But the best is Stephen Clarke, every single horse was transformed to be more forward, more through, just wonderful.
                                  Worst was Arthur Kottas...his instructions to riders was to 'ride Good' they were trying to ride poorly.


                                  • #18
                                    Best Buck Brannaman (audited)
                                    Noel Clark - best young horse/young rider


                                    • #19
                                      Worst one, I can't even remember the trainer's name, was a dressage private lesson. I was 15 years old and had only had my green horse for a year, and never ridden him with another trainer. Also, I had absolutely no experience in dressage and the trainer had a suuuuuuper thick German accent. I couldn't understand or even hear the guy!

                                      He proceeded to yell at me for little things or "not listening" (dude, I can't understand you at all...). He berated me for my horse's lack of training, who at the time was 5 and has only ever been ridden by me, no professional intervention under saddle. I got absolutely nothing out of it except stress. I had tears on my face the whole time but tried to suck it up and ride for the whole hour.

                                      At least it was cheap. Free trailering since the barn was only 15 min down the road.

                                      Best clinic I did was with Don Sachey. I was put in the BN group. The other two groups were green horse and training level. It was a good fit: the green group got held back by one horse and training did high level flat work. I rode with two preteens on their ponies, and Don took extra time at the end to school me.

                                      He got me to ride a lot more "jumpery", which helped get my horse lighter up front and easier to adjust. What I liked most were the parallels between his training and the training I was getting at home; it really solidified the idea that we were doing something right. He even complimented my trainer (not present) just by seeing two of her students ride. He liked my horse too and fed him treats while waiting for the young girls take their turn. I thought that was kind of nice, most clinicians seem standoffish.


                                      • #20
                                        Worst: A Lucinda Green cross country clinic. I was a green bean to jumping (or riding a super sensitive horse) and had been leasing a catty little TB mare who could barely ride in the outdoor arena, let alone in a field, over jumps. She was the kind of mare who needed an on point rider and I was just a fumbly newbie at the time. It was NOT a good combination. They had 3 jumps set up across the length of a big hayfield we were supposed to gallop. Lucinda was at the beginning. I tried, I really did, but I was so nervous with this big name clinician and the mares owners and EVERYBODY watching, and the mare was being her usual "one little mistake and I will destroy you" self. Let's just say it was such a trainwreck that when we reached the other end of the field, Lucinda herself came racing all the way down the field in the car and yelled "What the HELL was that?!??!" And proceeded to tear me a new one. I could have crawled into a hole and died right then and there.

                                        BEST: So mare from the above clinic caused me to be terrified of jumping, especially cross country. I even quit riding for a year because I was so broken up over it. I got a job chaperoning a bunch of girls going to an eventing camp/clinic, and the trainer (I can't even remember her name) invited me to ride along for the fun of it. I was so afraid, I hadn't jumped in years, since that mare put me through hell. She put me on her 18h warmblood who would jump anything you pointed him at without flaw. For the first time, I was actually able to relax and stop worrying about my horse slamming on the brakes at the last second or ditching sideways. I could let myself go and have FUN! And I did! I couldn't have smiled any bigger. I ended up jumping a 4ft oxer by the end of the first week which was so far beyond what I'd ever jumped before. The second week I rode a Saddlebred who was very good but not quite as push button as the previous horse. He ended up hitting the brakes at a coop jump and I landed on my knees on top of the jump-then started laughing! Because I wasn't afraid anymore and it wasn't a big deal. I hopped back on, jumped it and had a blast the rest of the week. It was such a great feeling, to not be under pressure, to not be panicking and praying to god my horse didn't kill me and instead of approaching each fence thinking "this is gonna hurt", I was thinking "this is going to be awesome!".