your own colt
Problems, part 2
Actors, part 3
Cold Backed Horse
Sense, Horse Sense
to Work Carefully
your "Good Stuff"
Eyes on the Prize
the Unexpected, 1
the Unexpected, 2
a Better Color?
of the Herd
A Good Night's Sleep
Alternative Therapies, Part One
Alternative Therapies, Part Two
Get The Most Out
of a Clinic
Clinics have become a popular way to gain knowledge and
sharpen our horsemanship skills. In every discipline, and
ability level, today’s clinicians are experts at delivering
education to a group of riders, often people they have never
met or worked with before. Unlike a continuing relationship
with a trainer or instructor – who has in-depth knowledge
of, and a long term lesson plan for, the student and horse – a
clinician often offers a more broad insight or introduction
to new ideas or processes. Attending a clinic is usually
a great way to learn from a trainer who might not otherwise
be available to us as individuals, due to distance or budget.
But you can get a lot more out of the hours or days that
you participate in the clinic if you are prepared for what
will be presented, and have on your “learner’s
There are a plenty of clinics available – choose one
that has a particular interest to you for specific reasons.
I often go to clinics taught by trainers who I feel are especially
good teachers, no matter what discipline. This is because
I am always interested in becoming a better teacher myself.
You might be interested in starting your own colt – seek
out clinicians who are renown for colt basics. If you are
a novice rider, there are many clinics designed to build
your skills and confidence, and you will gain more from the
experience than if you attend a clinic for high-level show
riders, where you might feel intimidated by the other riders.
I also like to attend clinics, sometimes just to audit, in
disciplines other than the one I specialize in, as a way
to test the waters of a new event, and I often take students
to clinics because sometimes another trainer has a different
way of approaching a problem that solves something we have
been working on during lessons. There are clinics for everything
from first time riders to International level competition – pick
one that is appropriate for you and your horse.
Once you have found a clinic to attend, keep in mind that
while you are there to learn, not be judged, there can still
be stress and competition. There will be other riders and
students watching as you take your turns, spectators asking
questions, and very likely other horses in the arena with
you. Good clinicians are adept at controlling most of these
situations – it’s how they make their living
after all. But occasionally someone will have an unruly horse,
or be out of control enough that it infringes on the other
riders enjoyment and time. Don’t be that student! Make
your horse as prepared as you can for the situation. Of course
if it is a colt starting clinic, you will bring your colt
(and so will every one else!) but it is unfair to both the
clinician and the other attendees to bring your barely-started
colt to an upper level clinic. It forces the instructor to
either spend extra time dealing with you, or to banish you,
neither one fun for anybody!
Go to the clinic with an open mind. Be ready to hear new
ideas and to see different ways of handling training situations.
Some riders approach a group clinic as a way to show off – they
are not there to learn, but to “star.” They are
cutting themselves off from the opportunity to grow as a
rider and horseman. Even if you get to a clinic and find
yourself disappointed in the instructor, there will be something
to learn from how the rest of the riders respond to his methods.
And sometimes you might leave at the end thinking, “well
that was interesting, but not for me.”
Participating in a clinic can be an excellent
way to jump-start your training if you have reached a plateau.
A friend of mine who is an excellent trainer himself, was
frustrated that even though his cutting horses were extremely
well trained, he seemed to place third or fourth at every
contest. He correctly diagnosed his problem as inexperience
as a showman, and so he sought out a weekend clinic with
a famous cutting horse showman (traveling half-way across
the country to do it). Though he had confidence in his training
abilities, he went to the clinic ready to be critiqued rather
than planning on “wowing” the clinician. He had
cap” on. The first clinic helped a lot, but he was
then invited back to a trainers only clinic.
That intensive weekend kicked his showmanship abilities into
gear, and he went on to have the best year he’d ever
shown – winning instead of placing.
Get the most out of your clinic experience
by being prepared, choosing a clinician who teaches what you
want to learn, and go wearing that learner’s cap – be
ready to see something in a new way, and to accept constructive
criticism. Clinics offer the chance to work and learn from
trainers that we would otherwise never get to meet, and can
be a wonderful inspiration as we approach our horses and their
Eraldi of Eraldi Training in Potter Valley, trains horses
and riders of all ages. She specializes in Pleasure,
Showmanship and Equitation events. She can be contacted
at 707-743-1337, or by e-mail email@example.com.
to Rainbow Ag Horse Home Page