Thursday, January 26, 2012

Continuing the Dressage Clinic Etiquette

There are a lot of variables in clinics, which can make defining the etiquette on the day of the clinic a bit difficult.

But here are some standards:

If you are riding--

You and your horse should be in top shape, able to execute a 45 minute rigorous workout.  Please don't show up out of shape, or out of condition.

Of course, your horse should have his coggins test and shots up to date, his teeth floated, and his hooves/shoes done within 3 weeks prior to the clinic.

You and your horse must be groomed as if you are at a show.  You may or may not braid, but the horse should be clipped, bathed and groomed to his finest condition.

His tack should fit him well, be in good condition, and be clean and conditioned.  The bits should be clean and polished.  The saddle pads should be washed and sparkly clean.

You should be wearing an ASTM approved riding helmet, classy breeches, tall boots, a fitted shirt (short or long sleeves), belt, and gloves.  Everything should be clean and in good repair.  You should carry a regulation whip and wear spurs if your horse is used to them.

Determine well before your ride time whether the clinician wants to see you warm your horse up as part of the lesson, or whether you should warm up before the ride time.  Give yourself plenty of time.

Be in the arena on time.

Listen to the clinician.  Your ears are only open when your mouth is closed.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't give feedback, but be open-minded and try what the clinician tells you, even if it is a foreign concept.

That said, if the clinician asks you to do something that you fundamentally disagree with, or that you feel is not in the best interest of your horse, you MUST be your horse's advocate.  It is okay to refuse to do something that you do not feel comfortable with.  Explain to the clinician why you feel the way you do.  Chances are they will find another way to deal with an issue.

If you are auditing--

Pay the auditing fee as soon as you arrive.

Bring a chair.

Bring your own concessions (lunch is sometimes included in the audit fee, but don't assume--ask; and additional refreshments are almost always your responsibility).

Turn off your cellphone before you enter the clinic area.  If you must keep your phone on, at least turn it on vibrate, and GO OUTSIDE if you absolutely have to answer it.  Make sure that you are well out of earshot of the clinician, the rider, and the audience if you need to have a conversation on the phone.  And remember, if you are talking on the phone, you are not learning anything from the clinician, whom you have paid money to!

Enter the clinic area as quietly as possible if there is a lesson going on when you arrive.

Don't carry on a conversation with your fellow audience members.  Not only are you not learning, you are preventing those around you from hearing as well.

Don't ask questions or interrupt the clinician unless the format is specifically including the audience (this type of clinic is usually called a "symposium").  It is okay to talk with the clinician in between rides if there is time and the opportunity.

When you leave, make sure you clean up your space and leave it better than it was before you got there.

Can anyone think of anything else?

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