Help Me Prep For a Clinic!

I decided a 3 day clinic (one day semi private, 2 day group) with Bernie Traurig in March with the 5 yr old is going to be our first big outing (this year/ for her, since buying as a 3 yr old/ for me in a while). It’s been a while since doing a clinic, and my first one on my greener, younger mare so now I’m anxiously studying up on Bernie and trying to remember everything to bring to or prep for clinics (acclimate pony to spurs and a crop, start riding in my jump saddle after spending the past few months in the dressage saddle, etc). So far from what I’ve read BT is big on sharp transitions (both up and down), mild bits (hopefully a Mullen baucher is okay), and moving the shoulders with an indirect rein + open outside rein. What else can we work on to prep? We will be in the 2’3 and below group as the horse is green.

Also am I crazy not to clip? (Clinic is late March) I’m worried it will come off as “unkempt”, but with no indoor and horsey living outside I don’t want to clip unless I really need to.

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I organized and rode in a clinic with Bernie just over a year ago. Some general thoughts:

  1. Clean, workmanlike tack and attire is fine. He brought his bit box, but I think only made a change for one horse in our entire clinic.
  2. Practice a steady lower leg!
  3. For green horses especially he likes to keep it simple (one aid at a time). Don’t worry about lead changes if your horse isn’t ready.
  4. Thoughtful approach - generally you want to be straight towards a jump 3 strides before (unless it’s a specific exercise like slicing etc). But if you have a large arena don’t waste time going all the way around / into corners.
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I personally would clip—at least a neat hunter/trace clip.

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I would check in with the clinic organizer and make sure that whatever group you’re in is a suitable match. I’ve ridden in several clinics with BT – the first was great, the second not so much because the levels were wildly different, and the third a complete waste of money because although all three of us were competitive 3’3" riders, he gave attention only to the junior and was not interested in the adults.

  1. I’d haul off property as many times as feasible between now and March to build confidence schooling off property. Even better if you can stable somewhere overnight.

  2. Ensure both you and your horse have the fitness to do a robust hour ride 2-3 days in a row. You both will get less out of the experience if you’re sore and crabby day two.

  3. If your horse has a short neat coat I don’t think you have to clip. If he’s wooly, I’d do at least a bib to demonstrate tidy turnout and reduce the yak sweats. I’d make sure fetlocks are cleaned up, mane is tidy, etc. and do a deep bath the day before hauling out.

  4. Focus on responsive but active transitions. A prompt transition where the horse dives into the walk or hollows and leaps into the trot creates more issues than a sluggish one. Schooling within the gaits and almost transitions are great for maintaining push for up/down transitions and will get recognized by BT.

  5. A complaint that has surfaced over the years on COTH is that there can be down time in group lessons. I’d bring a quarter sheet and practice standing around on the buckle. It is one of those skills that is great for a 5 year old to practice regardless and will make it more enjoyable to watch other riders go if you aren’t having to discretely pick at a squirmy young horse.

  6. He is known for being a bit prickly, so I’d come with thick skin and take a bit of a George Morris - it’s not personal or my problem to fix, type of attitude.

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I rode with him several years ago and got so much out of it. I didn’t find him George Morris like at all but he’s certainly not warm and fuzzy. He’s fairly direct and to the point and I could imagine him getting a little curt if the situation was right. As others I believe mentioned, he’s a big stickler for properly fitting simple tack. If you aren’t totally sure if your cavesson (or something else) is adjusted properly then I would ask someone before hand to help you sort that out.

I strongly second the fitness point another posted mentioned. It’s probably a two hour session and while there will be breaks, it won’t be useful if you both aren’t fit enough.

I really got so much out of my clinic with him on a borrowed horse I had never ridden. His instruction was simple and clear. As always, watch the whole clinic, it’s getting free lessons after your paid portion!

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On the topic of fitness, yes you and your horse should be ready to work but Bernie is quite conscientious about not over-jumping a horse - especially a young one and especially if you are doing 3 days. He may occasionally raise a jump, but expect most of the jumps to be kept fairly low and several exercises may be cavaletti or even ground poles.

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Thanks guys!

I have 2 weekend shows planned in Feb (would like to do one in early March too if one is available) to get out and about and “sleep over” as she hasn’t done a whole lot of that (though her second show was Wed-Sun at the KHP and she did well with that).

I am a bit worried about fitness for both of us as we are currently, and will continue to, lose days of riding due to weather (nothing productive will haven when the real feel is 5degrees, I promise). I’m making sure to work on my core and be active outside of riding but struggling to think of ways to keep her active when it is this dang cold.

Thankfully she has a shorter coat and shedding a ton. I am holding off on deciding whether or not to clip until our show at the end of Feb. that gives her time to shed out more and a better place for me to clip as the show facility is heated with heated wash stalls (which we don’t have at home).