What to look for & questions to ask

Recently I got into a discussion about clinicians with some friends. It brought to mind some things I have learned from both sides of the industry- Attending clinics on one side and running them on the other. 

Some tips on choosing a clinician

Always audit a clinician before riding on a clinic for the first time with that Clinician. It doesn’t matter how famous or what country he/she comes from. Audit first. More on that later. 

Just because the clinician comes from some exotic destination doesn’t make them amazing. Here in NZ as in any country of the world we tend to believe that professionals from other parts of the world must be better than our own, right, well maybe or maybe not – A little-known fact is – NZ took up Natural Horsemanship and flew with it before most other countries in the world. We have produced some very talented professional clinicians.

Is the Clinician able to teach you at your level or will you be lost out there on your horse? Are you personally, up to riding at that skill level? If not maybe look at a local Clinician who will teach at your level and can be there for you more consistently.
Most internationals only come once a year, it is hard to make steady progress following these clinicians – because they simply are not here enough.  

The role of these teachers should be new ideas, combined with an extremely professional and successful teaching technique in order to get new systems and concepts in place quickly and effectively.

Evaluate the Clinician, don’t be fooled by reputation- when you audit a clinician be objective – how well is the clinician teaching, how well is he/she communicating ideas- how much progress are the students making. How much help or individual attention is each student getting. If you go to world famous clinicians, apply the above advice, with some, you will be very surprised at what you lean.

Abuse- yes abuse. There is a culture among some clinicians, that it’s okay to verbally lose it with a student. By this, I mean a full on rant and personal attack. Believe me, it happens. But why ??? My thoughts are, you have fronted up with your horse at a clinic. You are prepared for a couple of good positive days of learning. You organized everything at home so you could be away for two days. You paid a considerable slice of your earnings to be there, Expecting a fun-filled weekend and to come home feeling empowered and with a host of new skills and knowledge. You did not go to all that trouble and expense for the clinician to tear strips off you and leave you feeling like crap.

I simply don’t get why that happens? I fully understand all the trouble a rider goes to, to get to a clinic, at no point should any Clinician tear strips off their students. At no point, nada, not ever!!. You have paid good money to be at their clinic. You deserve to be treated with respect and at all costs, you must go home feeling good about yourself and your horse. 
So if you see that abuse happen – you deserve better than to go to that clinician. I mean for heaven’s sake, horsemanship is about understanding the other beings point of view, whether it be horse or rider. 

An interesting fact – the standard of riding and horse training skill with the average international rider is well below that of our riders here in NZ, this is an observation I made personally. When you add the fact that there are a huge pool of these riders, And bearing in mind that at the very least ,to teach -you really only need to know a little more than the people you are teaching, you can see that it is not hard to make it as a travelling clinician on the international scene. But and it is a big but!!!! Does that qualify that person to teach here, are they good enough ? Are they even good enough to deal with some of the Ass kicking horses that we have here ? food for thought. 

Having said that, where would we be without the influence of the better Clinicians that have visited our shores. I know personally I have some of them to thank for where I am today. Others I am grateful I audited before committing. 
So there it is folks, I am a Clinician and as such this may seem a little biased. Remember though I am also a student and have spent countless days attending clinics. 

My intention in writing this article is to get riders objectively assessing who they learn from. I do feel that our riders deserve respect and value for money.