Clinic Value

As riders I think we can be categorized one of two ways. Some of this may be due to discipline. Some of this may be geographic location and accessibility. Whatever the reason it seems to me that people are either for or against clinics. For the record I am not stating that there is a wrong or right way to feel.

Eliza Wallace Clinic-6I personally never participated in many clinics and still wouldn’t say that I am a frequent flyer. Now I am in an area that can be a veritable waste land of quality instruction for my discipline. The instructor I do ride with is gone frequently either competing or wintering in FL. This leads me to finding myself more intrigued when a clinic pops up with a BNT/R due to my current circumstances.Eliza Wallace Clinic-13

I am not one to talk myself up. I am capable generally speaking and I acknowledge that as a pair Annie and I still need help. I am also able to “keep the lights on” so to speak when I find myself going months without regular instruction. Obviously in a perfect world I would get to lesson 1-2x a week and would be making all sorts of continuous progress. As I do not live in such a world there are times of the year where I find myself riding sans instruction for months on end. Maintaining and improving are not the same thing and right now we could use some finesse.

Eliza Wallace Clinic-38There used to be a time when riding with a new instructor gave me serious anxiety. Or worse showing with a trainer I didn’t know. If last year taught me anything it’s how to go with the flow. No trainer no problem. New trainer? Still no problem. More often than not the money spent on a clinician is better spent getting 3-4 (depending on the clinic cost and your regular lesson prices) lessons at home than 2 group sessions with a trainer you have never worked with. Sometimes though having a fresh set of eyes on you and your horse can be very helpful and for that reason I think I probably land somewhere in the middle. I want regular lessons but I also see the value in an outside opinion or a successful rider and instructors feedback. Riding with Elisa Wallace (Day 1 & Day 2) for instance. Definitely plan to do that again! Eliza Wallace Clinic-56

Lainey Ashker is well known for being great with OTTB’s. After multiple suggestions to ride with her I am taking the plunge. Here’s to a fun weekend with my favorite red head. Bonus: getting to see Lauren and Gus!

What about you guys? Do you like clinics? Only go to audit? What are you willing to pay to ride with a BNT?  

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  1. I have a hard time with this. On the one hand, I have found some past clinics to be extremely valuable. On the other hand, I have a really hard time paying the amount of my monthly board bill (w/o lessons) to ride for two 45 minute sessions with someone, like my trainer’s current favorite clinician du jour charges. Like, at some point, you really do have to think hard about the ROI.

    Enjoy Lainey! Can’t wait to hear what she says about the redhead. That’s one of my dream clinicians to ride with.

    1. I agree with Jen. Depending on the clinician and the price of the clinic, I can have a hard time taking the plunge, though I have participated in quite a few clinics. That said I think you will LOVE Lainey! She is a fantastic instructor, quick to praise a job well done, and is nothing if not intense and demanding of you and your horse’s best. If I were mounted on a younger, more competitive horse at this point in time, I would ABSOLUTELY ride with her again! But for me right now, it’s better to spend that money on more frequent lessons with my regular trainer, who has done so much to improve my riding and my confidence, and has the full picture of where I’m at. That said, I’m also looking into doing a Centered Riding clinic next month, but that’s more about teaching me more body awareness skills than really testing my riding mettle.

  2. I am a little circumspect with riders that I do not know well from watching them ride in person/on the internet or who I have not heard good things about from trusted sources. Even if they have accomplished a lot, that does not tell me how they are as a teacher, which is what I want to pay them for.

    There is a fairly BNR in my area who I will probably never clinic with, as I have seen and heard of him being a little too rough on students having a challenging time. There is also an olympian in my area who I wasn’t interested in riding with as she didn’t seem like she had much of a record other than the olympics. After I saw her coach recently, I decided it would probably be worth it.

    So I go both ways too! But if I didn’t have access to a regular instructor, I would probably clinic a lot more. I don’t do well without any instruction!

  3. I love clinics, I have participated in some but not a ton. I’ve paid a lot and generally I would like to audit a clinician before I ride with them so I know what i’m getting into but that doesn’t always happen.

  4. If I know what I am getting into, like I know the clinician personally or by reputation and I know it could be a good fit and doesn’t cost more than a local show, then I am open to it. But that’s a lot of criteria already that rules out a number of people, lol

  5. I love clinics and would be much more interested if my area sponsored those types of events. That said, they are few and far between!

  6. i’d love to write that i’m pretty open minded about clinicians. and in fact there are a few dressage and bio mechanics clinicians that i try to see whenever they’re in the area. but i’ve also had some crappy dressage clinic experiences….

    for jumping, i’m definitely less outgoing. mostly bc i can struggle with nerves and don’t like to be pushed by ppl i don’t know / trust. also i just plain really like my jump trainers, and feel like my money is typically best spent on them, as they’re best positioned to really help me, knowing my own weird set of issues.

    it’s funny tho – i feel like i’m more educated about jumping (not that you’d notice from how i ride lol) so i can get a lot out of just auditing a jumping clinic (and have LOVED doing so with david oconor and boyd martin). but dressage still feels less familiar to me, esp anything beyond first level. so watching alone doesn’t teach me as much as experiencing it, if that makes sense.

  7. I haven’t done tons of clinics but I have enjoyed the ones I’ve done.
    That said, I’m not sure how worth the money they really are. My trainer and I kind of agree in that it’s nice to get another opinion, especially if you’re having something you’re kind of stuck on. On the other hand, that person is seeing you ride likely for the first time. They can’t possibly figure you out in that one session. For me, most clinics I’ve done, while fun, have felt more like being told nice things by someone semi famous. I tend to rise to the occasion. I can lay down a great trip in the show ring, but probably not at home when the pressure is off. So at a clinic, I can get my shit together and be told how great I am. Bill Cooney once called me an artist! Lol, but really, all just luck. I’m a disaster the other 90% of my time in the saddle.

  8. I have never ridden in a clinic-I had a chance maybe 6-7 years ago to ride in a Chris Kappler clinic (loved him) on my birthday (fate!) but I only had my young horse at the time and he wasn’t ready so I sat it out. I did sign up to ride with Daniel Stewart because he is known for being great for building confidence but it got canceled.

    At this point in my riding, I dont know that I would get enough out of a clinic to justify the cost. I would rather take the money and take extra lessons because quite frankly, my trainer knows me well and my horse well and I get a lot out of our lessons. Maybe someday I will try a clinic but after two failed attempts, I find myself passing them over.

  9. I think you will really enjoy Lainey. I enjoyed the couple of clinics I did with her, both flat and jumping. I know she will LOVE Annie!

  10. I enjoy clinics and have had mostly good experiences with them. I’m a nervous nellie jumper so a xc clinic isn’t something I go for. I tend to stick with a trusted trainer on xc, but for dressage, horsemanship or sj I think clinics are fun! In recent years I’ve only done clinics with a not BNT local dressage person and then Hawley. She was rad, pushed my to my limits over fences but made me realize my horse and I had more in us then we thought. Dressage clinics at the lower levels I find tedious honestly, usually you’re on a20m circle for an hour and they pick at something really basic and boring you suck at, LOL…like stepping under with the left hind or something 😉 yawn.

  11. I absolutely think clinics are valuable. GHM is coming to my area in October ($950) and I am STRONGLY considering it. The only reason I haven’t signed up yet is because I don’t know is my greenie horse will be ready by then. But yes, I’d often rather spend the money on a good clinician then on a horse show.