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Best and Worst clinics you've been to

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  • Sadly the only two clinics I ever attended would fit the worst category, I didn't waster my money after that.

    First one we all paid for a single private lesson, my lesson consisted of riding in a circle at the trot while the clinician and my trainer talked the whole time, I don't think she ever made a single comment to me about my riding. This was supposed to be a dressage lesson. I got nothing from the lesson.

    Second clinic was a group clinic with flat work the first day, then jumping on the second day. Clinician was a noted H/J trainer and judge. I was riding a QH which was a no-no I guess. He was a lovely jumper but didn't look the part I guess, though he wasn't a typical QH either. She actually told me to bring a western saddle for the second day if I wanted just to ride around on.

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    • Originally posted by Megaladon View Post

      My best clinic was with Walter Zettl!!
      Mine, too. I've been to 3 or 4 of his, and they were amazing.
      -- Member of the COTH Appendix QH clique and the dressage-saddle-thigh-block-hating clique.

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      • Best: Joe Fargis

        Worst: Linda Parelli (She lunged her warmblood over a picnic table with the lunge line wrapped every which way around his legs, over and over.)

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        • My best was with Volker Broman last month. He’s an exceptional teacher, great diagnostic skills and every lesson in the clinic is really targeted at the pair he’s working with nlike many clinicians who seem to give everyone the same lesson

          worst ever was a weekend clinic a few years back with Alfredo Hernandez. Inappropriate takes on a whole new meaning and it seemed he was either drunk or hungover for the whole thing ...awful drama

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          • Great: Charles de Kunffy
            Better: Tom Curtin
            Best: Buck Brannaman

            No worst, I always learn something!
            My favorite girl! http://monicaadams.com/ASC-1.jpg

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            • Best: Greg Best. I loved this clinic. Others don't love him, but I do. I had a ball. Plus I had an Olympic silver medalist tell me I have "very good skills." So basically I can die now.

              Worst: I won't name names, but I had a clinician show up drunk. He showed up late, tried to get into the ring by climbing through the rail, got stuck, fell, and rolled around laughing. Barn owner was apologetic, but I never got a dime back. I was on a well-schooled pony, so the ride was ok. The other gal (a junior) in my group was on a horse without a confirmed change. He had her gallop across the diagonal probably 20 times until the horse was a ball of nerves and sweat. It never resulted in a clean change. The kid and the horse were both wrecked for the rest of the day.

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              • Best - hands down = Ralph Hill
                Worst - one year auditing George Morris when he derided one particular rider the entire time - nothing constructive just berating her the entire time culminating in calling her a dumb blonde at the end. Listening to his barrage of insults towards her took away from anything you could glean from the clinic.

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                • Originally posted by gottagrey View Post
                  Best - hands down = Ralph Hill
                  I had the opposite experience. He was really snotty to me and said absolutely nothing that helped me or my horse.

                  I was in a BN group with riders on former Intermediate horses, former Prelim horses, etc. and we were the last group of the day. Everyone executed everything easily and perfectly except for my dodgy, difficult horse.

                  I got left behind, Ralph's advice: Let the dentist float his teeth.

                  My horse was tough to ride and a dirty stopper. His advice: Drink less coffee so you're not so nervous.

                  That's all I got for $300. Seriously. He's a "legend" and I was so excited to learn from this man.

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                  • Originally posted by BigMick View Post

                    I had the opposite experience. He was really snotty to me and said absolutely nothing that helped me or my horse.

                    I was in a BN group with riders on former Intermediate horses, former Prelim horses, etc. and we were the last group of the day. Everyone executed everything easily and perfectly except for my dodgy, difficult horse.

                    I got left behind, Ralph's advice: Let the dentist float his teeth.

                    My horse was tough to ride and a dirty stopper. His advice: Drink less coffee so you're not so nervous.

                    That's all I got for $300. Seriously. He's a "legend" and I was so excited to learn from this man.
                    What a bummer. The Ralph Hill clinic I went to was years ago, before his injury, and most of the group were repeat Ralph Hill attendees and I'm sure when everyone is familiar with each other it has a different dynamic. We have Joe Fargis clinics at my barn every year and those are a lot of fun. It's a very low key group, he's very patient with the AARP cross rail section.

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                    • Originally posted by madams747 View Post
                      Great: Charles de Kunffy
                      Better: Tom Curtin
                      Best: Buck Brannaman

                      No worst, I always learn something!
                      I love what Brannaman has to teach. Auditing him opened up a whole new world to me. But I'd never ride in one of his clinics... at least from what I have seen. I think he's got a chip on his shoulder that makes him mistreat people who are not good students (and who honestly don't know they aren't bringing the level of A-game preparation and attentiveness and kinesthetic skill to the ring). As a college prof who won teaching prizes at a legit Ivy League university, I won't pay to watch someone abuse students in a way that I know doesn't need to happen and in a way that would have gotten me fired. So, nope, not going to financially reward someone who doesn't at least as well for his students as I know I can do. He can pay me to learn how to get the very best out of each student, LOL.

                      I also think that the crowd of people Brannaman crams into a ring for the lower-level clinics I have seen, plus the 3-hour duration of those sessions is a bad plan. I think it's very, very hard on the horses and, I think, the people stop being so careful with their feel and timing somewhere around the 2 hours mark. So the structure of the clinic flies in the face of the level of concern and sensitivity to the horse's point of view that he's trying so hard to teach to the rest of us. And I think I'd give 50/50 odds of Brannaman ripping me a new one in public if, say, I got off at the 2 hour mark because I knew that my horse or I was out of gas. I never want to be put into that position, especially not for what I'd pay for that "privilege", LOL!

                      I have sought out some other guys who ride in the Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance vein, because of watching Brannaman. I think I would almost always go audit one of his clinics if I had the chance. I think there is something new I can learn each time.
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat

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                      • Originally posted by gottagrey View Post

                        It's a very low key group, he's very patient with the AARP cross rail section.
                        It's nice to know my people finally have a name

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                        • Originally posted by gottagrey View Post

                          What a bummer. The Ralph Hill clinic I went to was years ago, before his injury, and most of the group were repeat Ralph Hill attendees and I'm sure when everyone is familiar with each other it has a different dynamic. We have Joe Fargis clinics at my barn every year and those are a lot of fun. It's a very low key group, he's very patient with the AARP cross rail section.
                          Yeah I had heard such great things. This was "post-accident" so who knows. It really put me "off" of clinics for a long time though.

                          The BEST clinic I've done (2x now) was with Hannah Sue Burnett. Her patience was endless (not just me, everyone). She hopped on difficult horses and worked with them and then put the riders back up and helped them understand what to do. She not only addressed the behaviors, but also rider mindsets - emphasizing that it's our job to teach the horse - he owes us nothing. There were riders of all ages and abilities; the exercises were basic but really precise; it was hard but achievable.

                          Highly recommend.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by chaserider View Post

                            It's nice to know my people finally have a name
                            haha it's my group too and I'm sorry but I not fond of being called a "galloping geezer" lol,

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                            • Worst ever clinic I rode in was Heather Bender. I don’t even know if she’s still around!
                              Second worst was Mike Etherly.
                              Third worst was Debbie Spence. I rode with her numerous times and to this day I can’t tell you one thing I learned from her.

                              Best was Jec Ballou and other best was... name escapes me but she’s a well respected judge, came up from California by our local dressage society. Shoot that’s going to bug me the rest of the day!!
                              Another best is Ernst Herrman.

                              Best audited was Hilda Gurney.

                              I also enjoy watching Laura Graves and if I got a chance to attend a clinic of hers I’d jump on it.

                              Comment


                              • Best ever is Libby Lyman in Maine. We met at a Luke/Brian Neubert clinic at the farm she's based out of. She took pity on me and my mare, who was being... difficult (I agree with above about 3 hour sessions with lots of riders thrown together not being the most productive.) It's all about horsemanship but geared toward your average adult ammy who wants to enjoy their horse.

                                Linda Zang is a close second, mostly because the mare and I provided entertainment value at the end of a very long day. I was a newbie to dressage, the mare was NOT on her best behavior, and Linda was exceptionally patient and funny as we worked through the mare's absolute certainty that she was going to be eaten by a bear, *and* by the end of it had a lovely counter-canter going.

                                Worst was a "despooking" clinic with Bill Richey... one of those mounted police training clinics where they just keep throwing scary stuff at you seeing if you will break. Big group, lots of chaos, and one particular rider who decided to pick on me -- kept doing things to set off my mare, because he thought it was "funny." I think my mare slept for 2 days straight after that one. I probably did, too. The next weekend, I took her to an obstacles clinic where we had plenty of time to figure things out, and we both got over it. There is a local BO who keeps trying to get me to come to his clinics that she hosts, and just doesn't get why I keep turning her down. It's just not a good clinic format for me or my mare.

                                Second worst: Mary Wanless. Not because it was that horrid, but she told me to get hip replacement surgery if I ever wanted to be a "good" rider, and didn't have a lot to say beyond that.
                                You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                                1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

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                                • I have to chuckle, sort of, at the folks who don't enjoy the Bill Ritchey clinics. I did one, once. We did fine and I learned a lot from Bill, but not because my horse was difficult. I can easily see why people/horses get overwhelmed at his (and other group type) clinics, and I would never have taken a younger/difficult horse through it. Like QuietAnn said, work thru it on your own, quietly, with more time. I know someone locally who hosts him every year.

                                  Anyway, I digress.

                                  I finally remembered the judge I rode with, Paula Lacy. She was really good, to all the riders/horses. I was new to my SM and she was very kind to us.

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                                  • I've had some fantastic clinics with the following people, mostly with green or "difficult" horses (sometimes both):
                                    Stephie Baer, Lucinda Green, Denny Emerson, Eric Smiley and Eric Horgan.

                                    I found all of them had very good approaches, very patient too, with both me and the horse. Every single one of them was invested in learning a bit about me/horse, and then tailoring a program based around that. I've gone back to all of them and always have something new to add to my toolbox.

                                    Once, I told Denny "I can't" -- and boy did I get the talking to of a lifetime -- but I needed it.

                                    The only negative experience I had was as an auditor/bystander to a clinic at an Eric Horgan clinic; my young (at the time, 13ish) sister had taken over the reins of my old TB, and was learning to event. He informed her that "this horse hates you," among other things -- which surprised me because he had always been a wonderful clinician for me. I think maybe he was having a bad day as the comments were not what I expected. It was a new partnership and it rattled her confidence for a while. I don't think the horse hated her, FWIW - he loved his little girl and she did better with him than I ever did..
                                    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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                                    • Wow! My best and and worse are basically who I mentioned 6 years ago! That person was really the only bad clinician I ever rode with. Lots of good ones. That said, I do my homework and I'm picky!
                                      Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

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                                      • Glad this zombie is still kicking

                                        I read through the older posts & wanted to add that DH & I had a lovely weekend clinic with Ralph Hill.
                                        This was in 1996, and, as gottagrey mentioned, most of the group had cliniced with him before.
                                        Tom & I were newbs to Ralph & to Eventing in general.
                                        Both of us had next-to-no experience with cross country.
                                        We found him kind, helpful & able to gear advice to each rider & horse combo so everyone achieved success.
                                        With a dry sense of humor.

                                        Evenings he regaled us over dinner (clinic was at a B&B) with stories of John Henry, Burghley, etc.
                                        I recall him saying - of John Henry:
                                        "I'd rather have one horse to love on than a barn full of talent"
                                        This made me love him.
                                        That, and he compared my TB to a Fiat
                                        He was great with DH's very green horse/novice rider pair too.
                                        *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

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