Through coach’s eye: Reflections Before a Clinic

I know of trainers who can just turn up and teach 20 riders over couple of days without much preparation and I do envy them! 😉 Although I could do it, I always think that a little reflection and some thoughts on the riders I only see twice a year helps me do my job better. Perhaps it’s an illusion and perhaps I run the same content I would have if I didn’t prepare at all but somehow looking through videos from previous clinics and my notes on each rider gives a peace of mind and a feeling that I have done what I could to offer best coaching help I am capable of.

Tomorrow I will hop on a plane to Poland to see some lovely riders whom I last saw 27-28 September 2014 (see photos from the clinic HERE) and meet some new riders who joined the livery yard this year. I can’t prepare much for the new riders since I will see them for the first time but I am spending today re-watching the video footage from September (another great bonus of filming riders! I don’t trust my memory so much to remember what I worked on with each person in detail!).


Here is what I make mental notes of: 

1. How each rider and horse worked over the weekend – general overview (were the exercises useful, was the horse relaxed and content with work load, was the pair challenged enough/too much, what homework did I leave them with etc etc)

2. Skim through details of each exercise so I can see what improvement have been achieved when I see them this weekend

3. Rider’s seat – what did I work on with each rider, what effect it had on the horse. This again lets me compare with the now and make sure I don’t make assumptions.

4. Main training issues of the horse – many a time riders describe a plethora of issues and problems they want to work on but it is not possible to help with them all in one or two sessions so I normally focus on 1-3 aspects that I think have the biggest bearing on other problems. When I re-watch I look with a fresh perspective so when I go now I might have an idea if we focused on the correct thing at the time.

10648431_10152446397027659_5638156908634626799_o5. Main issues of the rider – as above in horse’s case but although I listed it as fifth, this is the most important focus of all of my clinics. I believe strongly that it’s the rider who needs to know what to do and how to do it in order for the training to have much meaning once the weekend is over.

6. Riders’ goals, ambitions and training needs. Although I have fairly good overall memory of riders’ I teach and once I see them I can recall the core training stuff we did in the past, I do like to reflect on the fact whether MY coaching met their needs and if not, how I can change that.

If you run clinics yourself, how do you prepare for them? If you attend clinics, what are your motivations on joining them? Always curious of your views and ideas 🙂 Please comment away!

All the best,


4 thoughts on “Through coach’s eye: Reflections Before a Clinic”

  1. I have attended a couple of clinics, two with local professionals and one with an Olympic eventer, and the main reason is to gain a third party opinion. Sometimes with training it is a good, and refreshing training source to receive input from a third party. To have a fresh set of eyes that has different experiences and level of training provides new ideas of approaching problems.

    1. The clinic I was not impressed with was with a Olympic dressage rider who will not be named. She was more concerned about selling saddles for her sponsor than for coaching.

  2. I’ve only just started having lessons on my boy, as when I got him he was still very much a racehorse and I have spent the last year building up correct muscle and doing some basics to make paying for lessons worth while. (I rode for years having regular lessons before I got him!)

    But my biggest drive to go to lessons and clinics are to give me a different way to address problems we have schooling and correct any bad habits I am getting into. And sometimes just being given a new thing to focus on or a few more exercises to do when riding alone is really worth it. I had my lesson about 2 weeks ago, and I still feel I have plenty to work with for another 2 weeks, especially as my instructor keeps her horse my yard and will ask how its going or make comments if she sees me ride. Very helpful!

  3. Thank you for your thoughts 🙂

    Eventing4Life – I had that “Olympic experience’ too…10 years ago I went for a lessons with an Olympic dressage rider on her schoolmaster. For 40 minutes she sat in the corner and smoke while telling me what movement to do. In the last 5 minutes I started asking questions and got some helpful answers but that was a very expensive 5 minutes. A friend of mine who also went with me got even less for her money as she wasn’t feeling confident enough to ask any questions.
    That thought me to only go to trainers who actually want to teach not to those who win/stay on top all the time.
    It also taught me how not to run lessons and how much disappointment can be created by a lousy session…

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