Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Distaste For Clinics . . . . .

I was recently reminded why I’m not fond of clinics.  Don’t get me wrong, I think there are a handful of good trainer clinicians out there .  . . ones that keep their training in context, consider each horse as an individual, and put the safety of the horse and rider first and foremost.  Julie Goodnight, Craig Cameron, and Chris Cox are among the clinicians that I believe meet all three of these criteria.

Others, I sometimes have to chuckle (although it’s not really funny) at what they present at their clinics . . . Usually my first question is WHY?  Are some of these exercises valid, and really something a horse and rider can add to their exercise regimen, or are they just something new to try to wow a tired audience that may have been coming to see them for years.  Or maybe it’s more for the clinician groupies who have attended every clinic with a particular clinician  . . . so that they feel like they’ve done something new – assurance that they will continue to return and pay big bucks for yet another weekend clinic. 

Unfortunately I suspect that several of these clinicians have crossed the line from being a horse trainer to acting like a guru.

My first bad taste of clinic came while attending a session at a large national equine expo.  I wished the presentation came with disclaimers as I worried how many green horse owners would go home with the clinician’s training stick (of course they were being sold at his booth) and try to teach their green or untrained horse how to disengage their hindquarters.  I could only image how few people would be successful, and the larger number that would get run over by their horse. 

My best advice regarding clinics is to save your money and put it toward lessons with a good, reputable horse trainer in your area.  One-on-one training, rather then being in the ring with a dozen or more other riders, is the best, and safest way to learn good horsemanship!

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