Through the years, many of us have ridden with clinicians or attended clinics as an auditor. It’s fun! It’s a time to get together with like minded riders of the same discipline to expand our knowledge base. If you look at your local USDF chapter, you can find a clinic you can attend at least once a month. The resumes of many clinicians is long. Former Olympic stars. FEI riders. Eventers. Internationally qualified trainers. Some have been around for years, their name well known in the dressage world. Some are the flavor of the month, fresh from the world of high level riding and ready to share their knowledge with the world.
It’s not cheap to ride with a clinician. In this area, the average cost is $100 to $150 per ride. Then of course, you have to trailer your horse there, rent a stall and often times find a motel. So how do we pick and chose which clinician to ride with? Here are some questions to ask yourself before investing.
- Do they line up with your riding philosophy? Not all dressage training is cut from the same cloth. Are they classical? Competitive? German? French? Have you searched through the archives of youtube and found videos of them teaching and riding to be sure that they line up with your mindset?
- Are you going for another notch in your headboard or do are you going to truly improve your riding? Riding with a certain clinician may look good on a resume, but if you don’t come away with something that will improve your riding, you have wasted your money.
- Are you willing to communicate? You are riding with someone who doesn’t know you or your horse. If there is something specific that you need to work on, you must articulate your desires otherwise you may spend $150 just reviewing the basics.
- Is this clinician willing to be invested in you? This is the most important to me. Am I just a pay check or is this a clinician who is committed to being part of my journey? I have known both kinds. They give you a lesson, take your money, smile and go on their way. Whereas the ones that are willing to be part of your journey, will give you the tools to keep you moving forward.
- Will they be available to you if you have questions or if you get stuck? Clinicians who are invested in you, want you to continue to improve. They are sending you out there into the world with their name and reputation attached to you.
Riding once or twice with a certain clinician is fun. It gives you a different perspective and gives you a chance to get your horse out to a different barn. But examine your motives and try to see the big picture. Many of us have trainers we can turn to, but many don’t and clinicians are in reality, their trainers. In the big picture, are you going to stay with this clinician? Will he/she be around for the next few years to keep you on your path? Moving from clinician to clinician is like starting over every time. If you have unlimited funds, that’s not a problem, or is it? Are we being fair to our horses: and ourselves: by trying something new and different every few months? Horses love consistency. And I think we owe that to them.