Clinics offer an opportunity to get out and about with your horse, try out and learn from different trainers and use facilities you probably don’t have at home, as well as meeting like-minded fellow riders. Follow these simple rules to get the most out of a clinic — and to ensure you don’t spoil it for everyone else.
1. Check out and follow any instructions you are sent in advance. If you’re asked to warm-up before your session start time, make sure you arrive in time to do so. Which leads us on to point two…
2. Be on time. There’s nothing more annoying than a whole group having to stand around waiting while a late arrival catches up. If you do end up being late (and we all know sometimes it’s unavoidable), apologise and try to get with the programme as quickly as possible.
3. Respect other riders’ space. Know and follow the etiquette for riding in a group in an arena, such as passing left to left and circling away if you get too close. Don’t stand your horse right on top of someone else’s while you’re awaiting your turn.
4. If you need to dismount and take off your coat or adjust your tack, try to time it while someone else is taking a turn at the exercise rather than when it’s your go, so you’re not wasting time.
5. Be realistic about your own and your horse’s experience and skills so you book a group at the right level for you. If you underestimate yourself you’ll be frustrated, if you overestimate yourself you’ll be frightened and probably hold the whole group up.
6. Respect the yard where the clinic is being held. Use the designated arenas for warming up, don’t muck out your lorry onto the car park, don’t go wandering around in the stables and tack room or assume you can borrow their washing off kit. And clear up after your dog!
7. It’s acceptable to ask the instructor politely to film you doing perhaps one or two exercises near the end of the lesson. But if the technology won’t work (or the trainer can’t work it), give up and don’t waste a lot of time on it. And don’t expect the instructor to film you every time you move — how can they teach you if they’re staring at a phone screen?
1. Don’t be greedy. We’d all like to do a few more jumps or have a bit of extra time with the instructor, but do what you are asked and don’t start jumping random extra fences or involve the instructor in a lengthy discussion about all your individual problems.
2. Don’t think you know best. You’ve booked this lesson to learn, so follow instructions, even if you feel like spending 30 minutes doing trotting poles or perfecting your outline in walk is a waste of time.
3. Don’t book a clinic as your horse’s first experience of jumping coloured poles or tackling solid fences. Take some individual lessons and/or introduce your horse to these experiences on your own — it’s not fair to the rest of the group to spend most of the lesson watching you refuse the first fence.
4. Don’t let your horse get cold standing still between turns at an exercise. If it’s a chilly day, keep him walking around. But make sure you’re not walking in front of a fence someone else is about to jump!
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