Is it worth it for amateurs to take clinics with big name riders?

[I’m in Italy this week, likely stuffing myself with pasta and gelato, and probably with questionable internet access, so please forgive me for not responding to comments.  Your regularly scheduled Murray programming will return next week.  In the mean time, there’s an EGUS post coming and re-features of some of my past content that I hope you will enjoy.]

When I was first offered a spot in the Hawley Bennett clinic at my barn, I was ready to say yes.  Then I looked at my bank account and frowned a little — there wasn’t going to be much room for clinic money.  There wasn’t any room for clinic money.  So I thought about it a lot, and ultimately decided that Murray and I needed to get out and about and used to showing in new places more than we needed to ride with Hawley this weekend, and I regretfully gave up my spot.

This led me to wondering if it would even have been worth it for me to ride with Hawley.  I’ve ridden in a few different clinics, and while I’ve always gotten something out of them, I’ve also always wondered if I was getting enough out of them to validate the expensive.  Two days with a big name clinician is basically a full month of lessons, or a couple of field trips, for me, and so the quality over quantity question is a big one.  Would the lessons Hawley had to give be useful on my baby horse?  I don’t always want to pay to just be told how awesome we are (cuz that happens all the time!!!), I want to problem solve.  Would I be problem solving at such a low level?  Would I provide fodder for Hawley to correct?  Was it worth it?

I’m sure many other amateur riders have had this question, and after auditing with Hawley for two days, I’m pretty sure I know the answer: YES it is definitely worth it for you to ride with them!!  For lots of reasons.  Read the full article on Horse Junkies United!

8 thoughts on “Is it worth it for amateurs to take clinics with big name riders?”

  1. I think it absolutely depends on each individual circumstance (the horse, the rider, the clinician, and the timing). If you have a specific problem that needs addressed that you haven’t been able to fix, I think that’s always beneficial. But I have run into issues where everything is going well enough at a lower level that I felt that I didn’t see any huge light bulbs, just some things to tweak here and there to improve what I was already doing for the level that I was at.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. this post is incredibly relevant to my current interests lol, as i just signed up for my first true clinic (details next week) – and asked myself all the same questions you just posed. do i really need that high level of a trainer to help little old me? how will i measure the value of this outing? etc etc…

    but i’m gonna give it a whirl anyway… so i guess we’ll see?? anyways hope you’re loving italy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Also a great point! I’ve not yet been to a clinic where I felt like I didn’t get the quality of instruction that I needed for my level, but I can totally see how it would happen.


  3. You pose an interesting question. I’ve audited clinics with household name equestrians, but have never ridden in one. You make a great point about one clinic being the equivalent of a month’s worth of lessons. Just because a trainer is not a big name doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastic explainers of riding wisdom.

    In the world of swing dancing (which my husband I do quite a bit of) there are some big name fantastic elite dancers who will mesmerize you on the dance floor. That doesn’t mean they know how to communicate HOW to do something well. I’ve been in lessons with some top dancers and for whatever reason they did not mesh with my learning style. I’ve walked away not feeling like I improved anything. On the other hand I’ve taken lessons from local dance instructors who do this on the side (they have day jobs) and I’ve been energized and learned so much.

    And one other thing: ITALY!?!?! Please enjoy some gelato on my behalf. My husband and I are looking to go there to celebrate our anniversary this summer. Sadly my 200K United miles don’t seem to be enough to get 2 free tickets. That is a total bummer. Please share trip details later. 🙂


    1. Susan, you’re totally right that not everyone who can “do” well can also “teach” well. However, I think in riding there is a much stronger selection process for good teachers, as good riders tend to need a bevy of assistants to help them with their duties — including working students, who need to get some instruction. If riding clinicians don’t really teach, they just don’t get called back for clinics, whereas I know plenty of professors and professionals in other fields where they do amazing work but just don’t teach well and still keep getting called back!


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