Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dog and Pony Show

I mentioned in a recent post my idea of hosting a clinic, or riding in a clinic (or both.)

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?

 Ranch Girl


fernvalley01 said...

"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 laughed at this , because it is soo true. I attended some reining clinics in years past , very good and practical , clinician was horseback, however he was there to teach not to show off , and we got a lot out of it Pat Wise was his name and he did really good work. Also interested in attending a few clinics in the next while

Brenda@ **Dragonflys and Stars** said...

Take your horse to a clinic and ride! I have been to a handful of clinics and always learn something and come away more confident. You really will get more out of riding... At the clinics I have attended both the instructor and other riders were helpful and supportive. I know it was quite scary the first times I loaded up my horse and hauled someplace by myself, but practice makes it a bit less nerve wracking. There is on 'brand' of clinic I wouldn't attend because I think they do become 'dog and pony' shows with little practical value--I audited once and left early.

Kate said...

I would always audit a clinician before taking my horse to a clinic - that way, no surprises. I've had great luck with Mark Rashid's one-on-one clinics - no large groups. He's completely focused on each horse and rider and what they need - no fuss, no muss and no flash. I've been riding with him for years and will be riding two horses this June in a clinic in Wisconsin.

Reddunappy said...

I rode in a Pat Wise clinic when Emma was 5. Found out my mare isnt a reiner! LOL She doesnt like to go fast with a rider. I leaned a lot, a few new things and had a good time. My horse put me in the beginner group, so didnt ride as much. I think there were 4 groups of 6-8 riders, big group. By the end of 4 days Emma was push button though! LOL opening gates and stuff. She still doesnt like arenas! LOL so we are going to do some tail stuff this year. ACTHA and I really want to make it up to Mark Bolenders, in Silver Creek, Wa.
For the most part, the ride in clinics are way to pricey for my pocket book.

Reddunappy said...

Hey, Silver Creek is right by Mossyrock and Lake Mayfield. Halfway between Portland and Tacoma.
Marks clinics are really affordable, so far! Visit his website, they have a ladies night,(which it sounds like they will do anytime, for a small group) that sounds like a blast! only $175.for 3 days!
I so want to go do it!!!

Grace's Mom said...

I have ridden in a couple of clinics and I have a couple of guidelines that might help you (or might terrify you). First of all, TRY everything. You are paying these people a lot of money to tell you what they think you should do, so DO IT! Even if you think your horse won't or it's not something you want to continue to do, commit to doing it that day. Second, don't make excuses for your horse! I have learned more about what my horse is capable of by ignorantly trying what clinicians have told me than by riding every day. "My horse is an appy, she doesn't have a floating trot so why would I work on that for hunt seat? Oh, shoot...look at that, she does have a floating trot!" That seriously happened when I was about 17 and had had my mare for 6 years. Lastly, don't make excuses for yourself. Clinicians don't care if you're scared, out of shape, or haven't ever been on a horse. Try your best, commit to doing what they advise, and see where that takes you! You won't regret it! :)

Desert Rose said...

Do you have specific goals for your Boy and your self??? Knowing you my little neice...I think you should save some of your pennys this summer and JUST DO IT!you both will get tons of knowledge and confidence...which goes a long long way ;)))

Crystal said...

I have been to a few clinics, actually one just a couple weeks ago. It was only for cutting and I don't think I would go to a horsemanship/riding clinic, but a specific one is way different. I learned so much in a short time (2 days) way more than I woulda got out of a few lessons for the same $$. But I agree with what Grace's Mom says, try everything, even if you don't like it, you will know what you don't want to do.