Tips 'n Tricks - Some thoughts and ideas that may help.
Here are a few thoughts, suggestions and ideas that I hope will help you with your horsemanship.
Home Page

  Visit Often?

Site constantly updated...
or hit
  How To Get The Most From a Horsemanship Clinic
The number of horsemanship clinics being offered is on the increase and this raises the questions:

1. - "How do I know which clinic to attend?"
2. - "Is the clinician or instructor any good?"
3. - "Shall I register as a rider or will I be a fence sitter?"
4. - "How can I get the most out of the clinic?"

Before we can answer the above questions we must try and define HORSEMANSHIP.

-Horsemanship is a philosophy. It can't be defined or applied by the "do-this-and-get-that" cookbook approach.
-Horsemanship is about two-way communication.
-Horsemanship is about forming a partnership with the horse, with you as the senior partner.
-Horsemanship is about getting the horses cooperation without using fear, force or bribery.
-Horsemanship is a state of mind.

These days we often hear the term 'natural horsemanship' used to describe this philosophy. I don't believe you can qualify horsemanship. It's like 'excellent'. It is or it isn't. There is no good or bad, natural or unnatural in horsemanship. There is only HORSEMANSHIP. It is journey with a destination but no end - an endless journey of endless satisfaction.

1. Which clinic? Is this person any good? Ask around, but remember; we are all individuals and what one person sees as good may not suit another. Be prepared to make up your own mind. Visit their website, if they have one. If possible, talk to them on the phone or in person. If you like what you see and hear, then you will probably get some worth from the clinic. Beware of someone who uses the buzz words but doesn't actually practice what he preaches. Try and read between the lines. Don't let what you hear deafen you to what's actually being said. There is no 'one true way'. Beware of someone who tells you that his is the only way. In fact, a horseman has the ability to be flexible and adapt himself to suit the horse and the situation and not get bogged down in a cookbook scenario. However, you can always learn something from any clinic, even if it's what not to do!

2. Do I ride or do I watch? It has been my experience that if you ride in a clinic, you tend to stay focussed on your own particular horse and issues and you may get less benefit from the issues of everyone else in the clinic. However, if you are relatively inexperienced or need to deal with particular issues with a particular horse then riding in the clinic may be the way to go. On the other hand, if you go along as an observer, you can have a broader view of the proceedings and can more greatly benefit from every riders situation and issues. And then, of course, there is the financial angle. It costs less to observe and, in any case, is better than not attending at all.

3. How to get the most out of a clinic?
-If you are a rider:
Get there early. Walk your horse around. Go into the arena area if possible. Let your horse check things out so you'll both be more relaxed when the clinic starts. Have a clear idea of why you are there and of particular issues that you may want addressed during the clinic. Bring an observer friend with a notebook and camera. It is always useful to have another 'take' on the day. Your friend will notice and hear things that you don't. He can also pass you a drink on a hot day! Pay attention. Often I see riders in a clinic so engrossed in their horse that they are ignoring the clinician. Why are they there? Watch and listen to the other riders as much as possible. It can give another perspective to your situation. Ask questions. Don't be shy. At least 90% of the others are waiting for someone to ask that very question. During breaks, talk with the other participants and the clinician. Make some contacts. Again, this can give you another slant on issues. When you get home, go through it all as soon as possible with your horse and your note taker/photographer friend. This will tend to reinforce things for all of you. If you feel you may have missed out on something, contact the clinician if possible and or contact another participant.

-If you are an observer: Get there early. Pick a good spot so you are in the shade during the hottest part of the day. Bring a deck chair, hat, sun cream and cool drinks. Watch how others are managing their horses. You can learn plenty, both about what to do and what NOT to do. Bring a notebook and a camera but don't be so obsessed with notes and photos that you miss the action in real time. Watch and listen. Ask questions. Don't be shy. At least 90% of the others are waiting for someone to ask that very question. It is up to you to ensure you get what you want from the clinic. Remember who is paying whom. Don't just take everything for granted. If something doesn't sound quite right or you don't understand, keep asking questions until you do understand. A good clinician will welcome a good question every time.

Above all, RELAX. Like the horse, if you are uptight you're not thinking and if you're not thinking you can't learn.
© Copyright Chilcotin Services Pty Ltd 2003