First let’s take a look at a couple questions you might want to ask yourself when seeking the help of a professional.
*Are you looking for a quick fix for a specific issue you are having with your horse? Maybe your horse is prone to bolting on the trail.
*Is your goal to become a better horseman? The all around betterment of your personal abilities with horses
*Is it specific skills you are trying to perfect? An example might be that you would like to become a better barrel racer.
*Do you as a rider need help with particular issues? An example of that might be building confidence in yourself on the ground with your horse. Perhaps you want to become a better rider.
I am a clinician. And I have personally participated in and or audited many clinics, and still do today. During my horsemanship journey I have ridden with many good clinicians and some who were not so good. They were not approachable. It was obvious they wanted to collect their money and go home. Some of the clinicians didn’t know how to make a student feel successful even though much of what the student was doing needed correction.
A good clinician does not have a quick fix for any particular issue with a horse. They have several strategies. They understand that not one particular strategy is good for all horses. A good clinician will be able to assess the horse’s innate characteristics and be able to use strategies according to what the horse needs for support. They are not quick to grab a piece of mechanical equipment to “make it happen”.
A good clinician will automatically make you a better horseman by helping you understand and apply strategies to help your horse. They will teach you horse psychology. They will help you with riding dynamics, teaching you how to be soft with your hands and effective with your seat and legs, there by teaching you to ride in a manner that stays out of your horse’s way. The clinician will spend time sharing safety tips with you for general handling.
All of the above is as important as learning a specific skill. There are several clinicians who are good at one specific thing. An example is barrel racing. Can this clinician successfully look at the horse, see his troubled areas, then look at the rider and make the adjustments with the rider first? Can they break down to the very basics if necessary, according to how the horse feels about it, protecting confidence in the horse and rider in all three aspects of horsemanship? Those three aspects I’m referring to are mental, emotional and physical for both horse and rider.
Next, and most importantly, can the clinician relate to you and your needs as an adult learner? Can they see where you are and build your confidence while you are learning? Can they praise you for your strong points and gently help you gain confidence where you lack it without making you feel uncomfortable?
When I search for clinicians to help me in my horsemanship, I know through experience what I am looking for.
* I want someone who can relate to me where I am in my horsemanship. Be able to assess me as a rider, help me with strategies to overcome any confidence issues I may have.
*I want them to be able to assess my horse and do right by him by putting him first in training. By using strategies that help my horse gain confidence while he is learning. It is extremely helpful if the clinician I choose can use my horse’s natural abilities to accomplish the goal rather than suggest mechanical devices to make things happen.
*I want my clinician to be approachable. I do not want to be afraid to ask ANY question.
I hope this article gives you a baseline of things to consider when looking for a clinician or trainer to help you in your horsemanship.