Clinics are a fantastic, immersive way to enhance your equine knowledge. From grooming clinics to riding clinics, opportunities for learning are endless. I personally love to ride in and audit clinics! Depending on the clinic, the cost can be anywhere from $30 or $40 for a local clinician to well over $2000 to ride with George Morris. Clinics can be anywhere from an hour or two to a full weekend, even a full week!
Even if you’re on a tight budget, clinics can be a valuable way to add to your knowledge base – it just takes a little bit more planning and creative thinking! Here are some ways to clinic on a budget, as well as ways to get the most out of clinics that you do attend!
Plan your clinic schedule early!
Most clinic organizers schedule their clinics months in advance. Keep track of when things are happening and make a plan to save up money for entries. If you find out about a clinic in April that is happening in October, you have several months to find the money! I try and put aside money from my various braiding jobs and small odd jobs, instead of trying to pull from my existing budget.
Planning my season far in advance gives me the opportunity to plan for my budget accordingly!
Apply for grants and scholarships!
Some riding organizations offer grants and scholarships to help riders advance their educations! For example, the United States Eventing Association offers scholarships for Young Adult Amateur riders and Adult Amateur riders. These grants provide funding for riders to use for clinics, lessons, working student positions, or other educational opportunities.
Make sure you follow the instructions carefully if you’re going to apply for a scholarship! Pay attention to deadlines, and get all materials in early. Don’t leave things to the last minute!
Have someone take videos of your rides!
If you have a friend at the clinic with you, have them take videos of your rides. Having that footage can be invaluable later! It always helps me to be able to see what I was doing in the clinic.
Some clinics even offer videos as part of the entry fee to the clinic! If you’re lucky enough to have that as an option, take advantage of it!
Ride in a group lesson instead of in a private lesson!
Private lessons are always more expensive than group lessons or semi-privates. If the clinician offers groups or semi-privates, choose that option. Not only is it more affordable, but it can be great to watch other people doing the same work at the same time. It’s easier to learn, at least for me, when I have someone else riding too.
If you’re going to ride with someone else, make sure that you’re on the same skill level. Clinic coordinators generally assign groups based on skill level and experience. Be honest about where you and horse horse are – it’s the best way to get the most out of the clinic experience.
Pick a local clinician!
It sounds great to audit with a big name trainer who has come in to town for a clinic, but oftentimes local clinicians are just as helpful for learning! Don’t knock someone local just because they aren’t a national big name. The prices for local clinicians are often much less expensive because they don’t have to travel. Plus, if you’re riding with a local trainer, there’s no need to haul long distances and stable your horse overnight!
Ask your barn friends and other people in the area who they ride with and clinic with. The best way to find a good clinician is by asking someone who has ridden with them! Local directories are also a great idea – Central Ohio is working on one right now called the Central Ohio Stable Directory that will list everyone in the local horse community! Check online message boards, Facebook groups, even Twitter. Social media can be a powerful tool for marketing these kinds of events. It can’t hurt to ask around and see what is going on!
Maybe you’re really interested in a clinician who is coming to a farm near you, but you don’t have a horse to ride. Maybe you can’t afford the clinic fee. There a host of reasons that riding in a clinic isn’t an option, but that shouldn’t stop you from learning!
Auditors are spectators that come to a clinic to learn. But take auditing seriously! Bring a notebook and pens or pencils. Take notes. Record the clinician on your phone or with a video camera. Absorb as much knowledge as you can!
Auditing fees are generally much much less than the fees for riding in a clinic, but it’s easy to get just as much out of either experience!
Clinics can’t run without volunteers. Make yourself invaluable and help out! Be prepared for a long day if you’re volunteering at a full day or full weekend clinic. Volunteers usually get to see the clinic sessions, but it depends on where assigned to help. Don’t count on getting to see everything, but take the opportunities that are given!
The behind the scenes of a clinic is just as invaluable as what happens in the ring. As with auditing, learn as much as you can! Write down notes when possible or take notes in another manner.
No matter how you end up at a clinic, ask lots of questions. Ask the clinicians questions. Ask the coordinators questions. Ask the riders questions if possible. Ask the other auditors or volunteers questions. Take every chance you can to soak up a new piece of knowledge. I always say to learn something from everyone you talk to or watch ride or ride with! It may be that you learn something you never want to try or that won’t work for you or your horse, but that’s still learning something!
These are only just a few of the ways to get the most out of clinics on a budget! What ways have you used to further your education through clinics? Leave a comment and let us know!