Attending Horsemanship Clinic Tips

 Attending Clinics Tips:  

When to attend, why should you go, and with whom should you participate or audit?

Below are my general thoughts on attending clinics. I feel that sometimes there are clinic trends, and so people wind up participating with inappropriate clinicians, and in hindsight realize that it really was not a good decision for either them or their horse. 

Here are suggestions to help you decide why you might clinic, with whom you might clinic, and what to do to get the most out of your clinic time.

When To Clinic

When training with the same person for a long period of time.

As a tune-up, if you work with your horse by yourself.

To polish-off finishing touches before a competition.

To gain new perspective and solutions for issues and problem areas.

Why Should You

New ideas and training methods

Different perspective about ongoing issues

To avoid pitfalls of oversights by a familiar instructor

To hear things said in a different manner

To get another opinion

Potential exposure for horse in new location in a safe manner 

With Whom

Suggestions from trainer or someone who's approach aligns with your horse ethics

After Auditing a previous clinic with the clinician

After watching videos of the clinician handling and working with horses

Assessing the Clinician’s Training Approach

Find out the background of the clinician. Not just in their accomplishments or popularity, but their experience and demeanor as an instructor.

Assessing the Quality of Instruction of a Clinician

Do they treat participants individually?

Are they quick to make judgmental or degrading statements?

Are they open minded?

Do they listen to the rider?

Does their teaching style adapt to the level and experience of both horse and rider?

Do they teach using detailed and clear explanations?

Do they want to hurry and “fix” the problem by getting on the horse immediately versus teaching the student?

Getting the Most out of a Clinic- 

Arrive early

Be clear on facility rules

Dress in light colors (all black is hard to see).

Do not use new or different tack on the day of the clinic.

Find out if you should be tacked up or warmed up before your session.

Remember to eat and hydrate.

Bring a pen & notebook to take notes.

Bring a chair.

Bring layers for weather changes.

Do not make excuses…

Get plenty of sleep the night before.

If driving to a new location get clear directions ahead of time.

Give yourself plenty of time to load if hauling to the facility.

Pack your trailer before the day of the clinic.

Bring any feed or supplements for your horse to not suddenly change his diet.

Getting the Most out of a Clinic: Hints

Ask if the clinician uses a PA system. If not, and you use a hearing device, bring it. 

It is a waste to spend the money and to not hear half of what is being said.

Clear your mind and be present before the session starts.

Be on time. 

Clarify ahead of time when and where your session starts.

Pay all clinic and facility fees BEFORE your first session.

Watch other people’s sessions if possible. You can learn so much by watching other people. It can be easier to watch someone who is having the same issues as you and see how they fix them, as opposed to when you are in the saddle and are trying to address multiple issues as you are learning new information from the clinician.

Getting the Most of a Clinic

Ask if filming is an option. Recording your session can help you in the future see what you may have "missed" in the real-time session.

Immediately after the Session write down a few main focal points, how they were addressed, and any other "new" concepts, tips, or tools.


Be aware that one clinic lacking in quality and respectful instruction can easily cause traumatizing experiences for the human and horse.

It is okay to not agree with everything being said.

Take what you want and leave what you don’t like.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, fearful, or concerned for your horse's well-being, you have the right to say "NO" and remove yourself from the session. I cannot emphasize this enough. I meet far too many people who've been hurt with now traumatized horses because they were bullied into doing things at a clinic.


You should always feel safe, comfortable and positive with what is being asked of you.


Trust your instincts- don’t do something you do not want to do- you are your horse's advocate.

Most people who have had bad experiences did not stop when they knew they should have.

Potential Positive Experiences to Gain

New ideas, perspective, and techniques to improve you and/or your horse

Ways to strengthen the equine partnership 

Better understand the horse's behavior 

Possible changes in tack and equipment

A reality check on perspective 

Goal re-evaluation

Improved self-esteem

Problem awareness, explanation and clarity

Have fun!!!

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