Henry and I are headed to an Ashley Adams clinic this weekend at my Trainer’s barn. Well… I have a private SJ lesson on Friday, and then Trainer is riding him. She’s mostly back in the groove from her post-baby/riding-hiatus, but all of her horses are green, so who better to gallop and jump big fences on than Henry? Plus I’m still planning on making her run Prelim on him so they may as well start getting re-acquainted.
I think it’ll be fun, and since I’ve heard nothing but good things about Ashley (especially regarding her experience with OTTB’s), I’m willing to give it a go. Normally you have to twist my arm a lot for the clinic thing… by the time all is said and done most of them end up costing about as much as a horse show, or a lot of lessons with your regular trainer. When your budget is tight, it becomes a matter of priorities and choices. Clinics don’t usually win.
I have been to some good clinics though. I’m lucky in that I’ve never ridden with a truly BAD clinician, although some have definitely been better than others. I’m not sure that I’ve ever walked away with any huge revelations though. Except for that little steeplechase lesson we got from Hawley Bennett as part of the 3-Day at Coconino… that one little lesson, and applying what we learned at the subsequent event that weekend, really made cross country riding “click” for me in a way it hadn’t before. Maybe the Classic Format in general should get the credit there (the whole event was set up as a semi-clinic, with jog up lessons and everything), but Hawley’s advice still echos clearly in my memory on cross country.
Granted, I haven’t ridden in a ton of clinics… only 5.
I’ve audited a lot more than I’ve ridden in, plus participated in a couple un-mounted ones (the YEH judging and FEH ones). Some were great, most of them decent, and a couple were just uncomfortably bad. Auditing Charles de Kunffy was a particular highlight in the “great” column, as was the YEH judging clinic with Marilyn Payne, both of which I ended up writing about here.
The bad ones that stand out in my mind were mostly bad because of the clinicians’ attitude toward some of the riders. There’s a difference in constructive criticism and just plain meanness.
So that got me thinking: what were the best clinics you’ve ever been to, and what made them so great? And on the flip side: what were the worst clinics you’ve ever been to, and what made them so bad?