Since I got back into horses around six years ago, I have attended many clinics. You might not have heard of some of the clinicians-(insert sarcasm here......).... Parelli, Buck, Clinton..... Those are like household names in the horse industry, whether you like them or not. I have also seen Ken McNabb, and a little of other smaller, lesser known-clinicians such as Chuck Kraft, Kathleen Lindley, Barb Apple, Steve Rother.. among others whose names I can't recall. I actually really enjoyed Kathleen Lindley and the book which I have been reading and wrote about in this post. Okay....I just realized that I'm starting to look a little like a clinician junkie....
I primarily attend and audit clinics because this is affordable to me. Riding in a clinic can be quite pricey. And, I didn't always have a good way to haul my horse to a clinic. And truthfully, I am a bit nervous and timid about riding in front of a group and an "expert." This is also the reason I most want to do it- I think the experience itself will be a huge confidence booster for me. I have also decided that since riding horses is something I am going to be doing frequently, hopefully for the rest of my life, and because I am primarily "self-taught", it will not hurt me to get some feedback and work on my horsemanship.
One of the issues that has surfaced for me as I have watched clinics as how so many of them spend a lot of time showing you what their very well-trained, fancy horses can do. While I admire the fact their horse can climb a ladder, balance on all four legs on a large rubber ball, and spin for an hour on their nose when you point at them with your pinkie finger, I need practical, real-world help. While it is inspiring to see what you could possibly end up with (I particularly am interested in a ladder-climber) when you get back home to your own needs-to-be-dragged arena and groom your own fuzzy pony, those flashy dog and pony shows just don't really take you anywhere.
I only got to see a small bit of a Barb Apple clinic. I think she was working with four riders. She was on foot, she wasn't on a horse. I liked that right off the bat. I could listen to her better, because I wasn't just watching her horse. I spent more time watching the other "regular" riders in the clinic on their horses of assorted breeds.
She made a comment (somewhat jokingly) about how all she does is train riders (not horses) and I love that theory because I think it typically is US that needs the training and skills to be a better horseman and help our horses do the things we'd like them to do and the horse we'd like them to be. So, I am going to audit another one of her clinics (I know, here I go auditing again!) to confirm for myself that coughing up over $400 (gulp) and signing up for one of her clinics makes good sense for me. The great thing about her is that she is local for me, she has a ranch here in Washington so she feels very accessible in terms of needing additional support after a clinic.
Have any of you ever participated in a clinic? What were your thoughts, and any advice you have to offer me?