Clinic Musts!

I’m hosting a clinic in a couple weeks, and its my first.

Anything I haven’t thought about that would make or break the clinic experience for both the clinician and the attendees?

Anything you have seen at a clinic that you would love to be more common? Or anything that we should make sure we don’t do?

Thanks!

Ensure parking is ample and someone is either there to direct people or signage everywhere.

Free coffee and snacks (warm if its cold there) for riders and guests and of course the clinician.

Give time between groups so they can cool out/warm up without having to disrupt the lesson before.

Advise riders of the dress code and expectations before hand.

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If your auditors are paying (or even if they’re not!) make sure they can hear the clinician (speakers etc), and that chitchat from spectators doesn’t prevent them hearing. There are few things more annoying than a clinician who takes the rider(s) to the faaaaaar side of a huge arena so you can barely hear, and the audience chatter is so loud you have no chance of catching the stray words that make it your way.

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First thing to do would be to message your clinician and ask them if there is anything in specific they like their organizers to know or provide for the participants. Some clinicians have expected attire and/or tack (thinking of Lucinda Green, who famously wants bats and martingales for all riders) that need to be communicated to participants.

Have organized, clear parking with ample space to tack up. A communal place for riders to get on (mounting block, etc) if they are shipping in is nice too, as well as wash/water amenities if you are in a warm climate. I agree with signage and a helpful person directing traffic.

Structure your timeslots by competition level, not rider’s confidence/perceived level. Get to know your participants ahead of time; you may find you need to move participants around depending on horse/rider pairs. Is the horse green to the level, is it a new partnership, is the rider a pro on a greenbean or is it a timid re-rider? Etc. It is no fun being the only BN rider in a Novice-Training group and it’s also no fun being ready to move up to Prelim and being lumped in Novice.

Bring a spare bat, spurs, martingale, and lunge line to wherever the riding ring is.

Advise your riders to warm up 10-15m prior to start times. At their assigned time they should be warmed up enough to pop over their first fences (assuming jumping).

Building on above, allow 10-15m break between sessions so clinician can go to the restroom, grab a snack, or even pull a rider aside to discuss how the session went, etc.

If you have auditors make sure they have chairs and that the riding ring is accessible and the audience is set up near the clinician. If the clinician is to be mobile, give them a loudspeaker.

Coffee and snacks are very nice but not expected/required. Many clinics here put on a bagged lunch and riders are encouraged to watch other sessions.

Hope you have fun. Good luck. :smile:

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Top quality audio is imperative - auditors need to be able to hear the conversation between the clinician and the rider - particularly if the rider has an earpiece and the clinician is using a headset. We ultimately went with a Comtek system that can reach 300 feet so rider can hear wherever they are in the arena, plus we purchased a receiver that plugs into a portable speaker that we set behind the auditors. So, the clinician’s comments are piped to the speaker and to the rider’s earpiece simultaneously. No one needs to shout. Because it is outfitted for just one way communication, the clinician cannot hear the rider huffing and puffing, nor can the rider “talk back”.

That said, I continually gnash my teeth over the auditors who show up to socialize and watch, rather than learn. The “whispered” conversations - multiple ones going on at the same time among auditors - are hugely distracting and disrespectful to the clinician. So, I find myself putting on the barn b**ch face and squashing those in the nicest, most polite way I can think of. Be prepared to do the same.

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The worst. I’ve even asked nice, “hey, that’s my horse being ridden, can you lower your voices at tad?”, but nope. Blathering on about the movie they saw last night. I’ve also witnessed, shockingly, the clinic host herself yacking away while the clinician is teaching. I’ll hand it to GM, no phones, no chatter, and if someone did, they’d be singled out and shamed.

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  1. Find out your clinicians way of running the clinic. Equipment, tack, groupings, scheduling, etc. Make sure requirements are clear to participants before signing up.
  2. Try to recruit more than enough people to help. At least one knowledgeable person should be available to troubleshoot or fill in. Offering free auditing can help. (also helps if you know who can back up a trailer if someone has an issue!)
  3. Info beforehand and plenty of signs for everything from parking to sign in and snacks.
  4. Specify if there is seating or BYOC.
  5. Test out all the audio, lights etc.
  6. Find out if videoing is allowed by clinician and specify if not.
  7. Specify beforehand if food and drink is provided free or to purchase and type.
  8. It is just a bunch of riding lessons. Set it up safely and be prepared for people to have issues (real or imagined) and roll with it.
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Good directions and signage, volunteers at the beginning to direct parking, an pre-clinic email explaining expectations of the clinician, clear contact info (including a number to text if participants run into issues the morning of), ideally a close warmup ring and a second warmup area (for horses that need more space to decompress pre-clinic).

Someone to monitor the timetable and if necessary break in and hurry things along.

I think a breakfast and lunch is useful and important, especially for volunteers. Bagels/doughnuts, nice sandwiches, chips, fruit, and in the winter hot drinks.

I audited one clinic at a barn with homemade chicken soup and very nice bread I still think fondly of!:joy:

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Will the clinician need overnight lodging? Are there accommodations nearby? Who’s picking up the tab?
Will there be other riders/boarders at the barn on the day who are not attending the clinic but will want to have access to their horses and an arena?
Is there room in the barn fridge for enough bottled water for every attendee to have plenty to drink, including the ones who will lose their bottles, pick up someone else’s by mistake, etc.?

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Most things have already been mentioned above, but I’ll add a few:
-print copies of the waiver and have pens
-check with the clinician if they are using communication devices for the riders, and whether riders need to bring earpieces
-prior to setting the schedule, check with the clinician how often they need a break
-if its a multi day clinic, arrangements for a group dinner

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Also, the money stuff. If there is an auditor fee figure out what forms of payment you can accept and have cash/change available if applicable. (My last one the auditor fee was $20 and I offered cash or venmo. Almost everyone chose venmo.)
Be prepared with amount due for each rider.
Have check ready for clinician, facility if applicable.
Event liability insurance if you’re not otherwise already covered.

You’re my hero.

I love auditing clinics, they can be an amazing education, but only if you can actually hear the clinician.

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I’ve offered clinics before that went off like clockwork; I have little to offer that hasn’t been mentioned above. I will add I was once asked to host a clinic by someone else. I did not know the clinician but was happy to oblige. This particular clinician spent over 2 hours w the first participant, who was apparently a friend. They gabbed for the first hour. Gentle reminders that others were waiting were ignored. I was really amazed by this behavior.

The biggest complaints I’ve ever had at clinics were:

  1. Group sizes too big - sorry, 8 people in an hour and a half lesson is too many - i don’t care how good the clinician is, somebody is getting left out/shortchanged. 4-5 max seems to work out, but no more.

  2. inappropriate group levels - I get it, you can’t possibly know the history of every person who signs up for your clinic, but if there is a clear mismatch, don’t be afraid to shuffle around the groups for day 2!

Good clinic experiences:

  1. One clinic i went to was very very cold, so the organizer had hot chocolate by the gallon ready all day both days (including on a truck driving around cross country), and they had a fire pit going near the stadium area - I wont forget the hospitality there!
  2. I always really enjoy the dinner/cocktails/breakfast chat with the clinician when it is offered - gives the opportunity to ask more detailed questions, hear the clinician tell stories, etc.
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I totally agree with all of this (although I tend to blame the clinician for lopsided group levels and a lack of equal attention more than the organizers).

Hot (or cool) beverages and seating/heat/shade do make a huge difference regarding how pleasant auditing is or isn’t!

Great points everyone!
I’ll add…
~ assign a helpful person to check in with the clinician during the day between groups to get them a coffee, hot chocolate, water, tea, tissues, different bit, crop, their helmet, a chair, their jacket, hand warmers and/or etc. as needed
~ have a good lunch plan for the clinician so that they are not standing around wondering what to do, where to go during lunch break. Check in with them ahead to have a lunch/food ready to go. Some folks are gluten free or vegetarians or have allergies so plan ahead with them. Get a sense if they want some peace and quiet time alone or if they might like company - and choose that company carefully.
~check in with the clinician a few days ahead and have the arena set with the equipment they request
~ have extra equipment ready - extra poles, jump cups, standards
~have a helper or two to be jump crew and have them be ready to jump right in and fix a dropped pole or take direction from the clinician to move/set equipment
~drag the ring on lunch break if possible
~and if you have a school program…think about a spare horse that could be used in case a rider’s horse comes up lame or is unsuitable. I know - this is above and beyond of course…we have often had this happen though at my establishment with our big clinics and the riders were beyond grateful (and they paid us a horse lease fee).

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We have an annual /bi-annual clinics at my barn and agree with the above posts. One thing that wasn’t mentioned is that most clinics allow 1 “groom” per rider to audit for free. At a recent clinic, there was 1 rider and 4 auditors, so we charged 3 audit fees

As far as food, no matter what the function, people remember food, and if its good they’ll remember good food (and worse remember bad) So IMO it’s a good idea to have a pretty decent spread. That doesn’t mean it has to be fancy. We’ve gotten Costo soup and chili to throw in crock pots if the weather is cold; sandwiches if warmer weather, along with some snack foods, sweats. Beverages can also be simple, coffee, hot water for tea, hot chocolate and bottled water. IMO having food/lunch break is a positive add to the overall clinic experience which helps if planning to do more clinics. You might be able to get someone to help sponsor lunch/refreshments to offset the cost some.

For 2 day clinics it is fun to have dinner w/ the clinician but I’d check w/ them to see if they’re agreeable as some might just want to get to chill for the night.

Also it’s important to make sure you have enough people to do ring/jump crew lined up for the day(s). At my barn clients usually volunteer and trainer gives them some perk in exchange for their help

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I love love love a potluck clinic!! Especially if it’s something warm from a crockpot on a cold day… :yum:

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Definitely extra poles needed as I broke one with my back during a clinic with Bruce Davidson when I was in 7th grade.

I would also add to discuss what heights the clinician is thinking with regard to each level. That pole broke when the Novice group in our clinic with Bruce was doing 4’.

My pony and I had never jumped above 2’6". Knowing expectations on both sides is a VERY good thing.

Em

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Ugh! I feel that happens with every clinic. Either people complain they don’t feel they get their money’s worth because the stuff is so basic (if they’re put in with underprepared riders) or the clinic feels like pushing the clinic participants way past their edge.

Broke a hard wooden pole with your back when you were 12 or 13? :face_with_head_bandage: