Archive for the ‘Clinics’ Category

Over the winter you may consider taking a clinic to brush up on your skills. Even if you have a regular trainer, it can be helpful to have someone else’s opinion on your riding and your horse’s skills. It’s not “cheating” to go to another trainer’s clinic (though you should mention it to your trainer before you go!) it’s just learning. Sometimes the secret to your brain-block regarding lead changes or stops may be just a clinic away.

But make sure you are prepared to take full advantage of the clinic:

1. Double-check your horse and tack. Check your horse’s shoes before you go. Before you arrive in the morning to take your horse to the clinic and discover a ‘clink’ in your horse’s ‘clip clop’, ensure that the shoes currently tacked on to your horse will last. You should also check to ensure that your equipment is in prime working condition so that your ride is not delayed by equipment malfunctions.

2. Bring a buddy. While you are riding, it can help to have someone watching the clinic who can give you feedback after your ride. A clinician may give you several different exercises or pointers to work on and it can be handy to have a buddy in the stands to jot them down for you for reference later.

3. Ask the clinician if someone can video tape your ride. Clinicians will have different rules regarding audio or visual recordings of their clinics, ask before your ride if it is possible to have an audience member record your time in the spotlight.

4. Arrive at the clinic with three questions or areas to work on. A clinician may have areas he or she will want to work on, but it will help if you have specific areas of concern to focus on. Setting a goal to ‘ride better’ by the end of the clinic is not specific enough to gauge whether or not you’ve improved by day’s end. Single out specific problem areas (lead changes or departures, cadence at the lope, posture or seat issues, collection…) and ask the clinician specific questions during and after your ride.

5. Watch, listen and learn. If the instructor breaks the participants up into groups, it can be tempting to show up for your group and then leave for lunch or to hang out in the (often warmer) barn. Once your horse is put away and taken care of, head back into the arena and take notice of the other participants and how the clinician is guiding them. If you have not yet experienced the problems he’s helping them with – you may at some point in your riding career.

6. Make sure that you are choosing a clinic that is relevant to you and your horse’s skill level. It can be exciting and thrilling to attend a clinic taught by a world champion, but unless the clinic is geared towards green horses, you may not want to bring your colt with just 30 days riding on it to an advanced clinic. Phone ahead to clinic organizers to find out what the clinician will be covering and what the pre-requisites may be.

Have fun!

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