Whether you’re new to dressage or you’ve mastered Grand Prix, it helps to have eyes on the ground when you ride, and the more experienced those eyes, the better. Even top clinicians learn from one another. But not everyone has regular access to top riders, trainers and judges. So, what’s a rider to do?
Accumulating information helps. With the plethora of books, magazines, DVDs and online training opportunities—everything from ebooks, videos, webinars and virtual classrooms—it’s easier than ever to obtain information, even excellent information, about the time-tested principles of dressage.
But it takes more than information to succeed in this sport. Most riders need help applying newly acquired principles as they move up the levels in dressage. Even seasoned riders need guidance and reminders on a regular basis. And since every horse is different, the same seasoned riders may find themselves in a training quandary when what works with one horse doesn’t work with another. Even riders who have regular access to excellent trainers benefit from the new perspective of another trainer.
That brings us to the dressage clinic.
Observe an Expert at Work
At a dressage clinic a clinician is brought in to teach six to 10 riders (and horses) who might otherwise never have opportunity to learn directly from someone of that caliber. The clinician may be a current or former top rider, judge or trainer. Clinicians are generally well-known for their talent at the local, national or international level. Clinics offer an excellent opportunity for riders to experience a higher level or new approach to instruction.
Before You Arrive
• Define one or two trouble-spots in your training that you hope to get answers for and write them down.
• Read up on the clinician to see if it’s realistic to expect he or she might provide insight for the kind of challenges you’re facing.
• Make arrangements so you can leave your dog and young children at home.
• Know the start time and plan to arrive 15 minutes early.
• Convince a friend or two to join you.
• Find out if preregistration is necessary or walk-ins are welcome.
• Have cash on hand or pre payment organised
• Bring a notebook and pens.
• Pack a chair, lunch, snacks and water.
• Consider: Hand warmers, blanket, umbrella, sun screen.
Once You’re There
• Register—sign waivers, pay fee
• Locate refreshments and restrooms. Coffee van is on-site for Hot and Cold drinks, Bottled water and snacks.
• Get settled in your seat.
• Silence your cell phone.
• Do not talk. Be quiet and respectful so your fellow auditors, the clinician and riders can all enjoy and get the most out of the clinic.
• Take notes and draw exercises you like.
• Record questions and save them for appropriate Q&A time.
• Be careful to avoid spooking a horse.
• Look for simple ways you can pitch in—remake coffee, pick up manure, help a rider, etc.
When It’s Over
• Gather your belongings.
• Properly dispose of any trash.
• Encourage and thank the riders.
• Thank the clinician, organisers and volunteers.
• Go ride your horse.
• Review your notes with your friends and trainer.
Characteristics of Savvy Auditors
• You have a real love for life-long learning.
• You have an open mind.
• You want what’s best for your horse.
• You’re kind and encouraging when dealing with others who are less accomplished than you.
• You’re considerate of horses and humans.
• You like to take the time and money you set aside for your horses and invest it wisely.
• You learn well with others.
We look forward to seeing you at Kings Park Equestrian Centre on your equestrian journey :)