Kelley Williams discusses Didi Callahan's green mare at the clinic. Photo by Holly Covey

Kelley Williams discusses Didi Callahan’s green mare at the clinic. Photo by Holly Covey

Here’s the old model: buy a horse, keep it at a stable with others who own horses like you, train with one person who is headquartered at that stable. Regular lessons with riders of similar level at the stable; then go compete at shows and competitions, trainer at the ready to keep you on track.

Here’s the new paradigm: Keep your horse at home or a self care farm, throw your pony in the trailer to go school cross-country with friends and buddies; keep your eye on your Facebook feed, and email, and check all the various club websites once a week for clinics and schoolings; when one of your friends schedules a “clinic”, email your RSVP, and show up ready to ride!

It’s just that easy to arrange a clinic with an outside professional rider or instructor to visit and provide some good education to riders like me in a remote location a bit far from a lot of teaching choices. By keeping up with friends’ activities on Facebook, creating an email list, and keeping an eye on local horse-related dates, I was able to schedule an afternoon full of riding with advanced level eventer Kelley Williams, from A Bit Better Farm, Brookeville, MD. We emailed around, got a group together, sorted ourselves into three hour-and-a-half sessions and had a great time popping through a superb gymnastic exercises.

The good news about the flexibility of once a month clinics is that it allows an instructor time to schedule a block to visit, drive back and forth, and creates new contacts and clients for the professional. For the remote group, it gives us an alternative to local instructors, exposes us to new techniques, gives us plenty to work on yet doesn’t overly stress the budget or require long trips for the horses in the trailer. It’s a win-win!

Learn with your friends at clinics. Photo by Holly Covey

Learn with your friends at clinics. Photo by Holly Covey

Concerns: pick a good location as central as possible to all the prospective attendees. Don’t make your instructor travel all day and all night to get there; arrive early to help set up and find some volunteers to set jumps if you are riding.

Make it affordable to as many as possible and make sure everyone knows what the costs will be up front. Collect your funds if possible ahead of time or accept deposits for spaces; this insures you’ll have minimum cancellations at the last minute which hurts everyone.

Find out about parking, bathrooms, stalls, lighting (electric) and jump availability beforehand; and make sure that any liability releases are provided and signed as well as insurance concerns handled previous to any mounted instruction.

And have fun!

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