Someone recently asked me about clinics. If one person asks the question, many more are thinking it! Here is how I approach the idea of a “clinic” and why my approach is dramatically different then the traditional approach.

We all know what a clinic is. An expert in their area of knowledge runs a one or two day learning session. Generally limited to 5-10 individuals, generally expensive enough, each day lasting 4-6 hours depending.

This situation just doesn’t work for my style of training/teaching for a number of reasons.

Firstly, in my vast experience training horses, I have found the optimal learning window is approximately 1 hr 20 min. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. In a clinic situation, the horse is generally wrecked by the end of the day, and in some instances begins to actually go backwards in their learning. Granted, you are only getting 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there of intense training, but I have seen many instances where everyone (horse and owner) are too tired to really take in all they have paid for.

The problems get the attention. We’ve all experienced this. In most clinic situations, the horse and/or owner with the biggest issues or least experience gets the majority of the clinicians attention. This is unfair to the other students who paid the same price, and unfair to the clinician who is trying to equally share their time between students with unequal needs.

Teaching a set curriculum. Most clinicians have a general idea of what they are going to teach prior to a clinic. This can help the flow of the day, however in this scenario, not everyone gets what they need. If you have a problem horse, for example, you may go home and find you are still unsure how to move forward. In a one on one teaching situation, you and your horse always get exactly what you need to progress.

Clinics are costly. I’ve attended clinics that cost several hundreds of euros, and although I find every learning experience worth its weight in gold, it can be very expensive. If you can only afford one or maybe two clinics a year, you won’t progress very quickly. In most instances, the cost of just watching can equal a fair bit. And if the clinician spends a lot of time with individuals, the spectators may not be able to hear enough to benefit.

All these reasons are why I personally won’t run group clinics. No two horses are the same, no two horses or owners need the same help. No two horses or owners are going to progress at the same speed.

When I book with someone, I will have a bit of an idea about the owner and their horse. I may know age, breed, gender, possible problems. I like to ask an owner their goals. But truly, until I walk into that arena with that horse, I have no idea what that session is going to entail.

Every horse needs something different, every horse needs to start somewhere different.

I am lucky. Very lucky. My gift in life is reading horses. I wouldn’t trade it for all the money in the world. In 5 minutes I will know your horse inside out. His fears, her motivators, his likes and dislikes. Holes in his training. Behaviours you may or may not have ever noticed. This is my gift. I can not do it with 5-10 horses in 1 go. I need one on one.

I do however like to group students. An ideal day is doing 4-6 horses and owners individually while everyone watches each other. Each owner will see similarities, and get a chance to watch someone else from the outside. It helps the lessons sink in. This also means everyone can help each other when I can’t be there. There is strength in numbers, and horse training can be hard. Its very easy to keep doing what you have always done. A little support goes a long way!

If this sounds interesting to you (and your friends!), give me a call, send me a message, or contact me on Facebook. And remember questions are always free and always welcome.