Even though March was completely insane I somehow managed to attend two clinics. One was fantastic and the other was a huge waste of time and money.
Clinic #1 was intended for horse owners who wanted to learn more about diagnosing lameness, saddle fit and stretching.
Clinic #2 was a saddle fit clinic from my good friend (with the proceeds going to her horse rescue organization). I’m really curious to learn as much as possible about saddle fit and with the weather being so lousy I decided to devote some time to off-horse learning opportunities.
Spartacus is feeling much better (although he is annoyed to be on a diet)
I had taken a First Aid clinic from the same ladies who ran Clinic #1 and I absolutely loved it. I learned so much and still refer to some of the reference materials I received at that clinic. I felt it was a little pricey at $75, but since it was a full day 9-5 I felt that was fair. I probably wouldn’t have paid that much if I hadn’t already taken the fantastic First Aid course.
I was incredibly disappointed in this clinic.
I felt like the whole thing was really rushed but I didn’t learn much. We watched slides in the morning in a cold shop (thank goodness I have multiple coats and blankets in my car) from about 9-12. This was just to give us basics on anatomy and common saddle fit issues but there was very little time for questions or discussion. I didn’t learn anything new but I was hopeful the hands-on portion would be more in-depth. I also thought for $75 they could have provided lunch/snacks for us but there wasn’t anything. I did bring a lunch just in case as I didn’t think there was any food provided at the First Aid course either. There was no lunch either :(
Please put foods in my bowl
I probably enjoyed lunch time the most (although my lunch I brought was from a gas station... not exactly fine dining). The other women in the clinic were mostly in their 40s and 50s and they were super interesting. Three of them had just bought acreages and I loved hearing their stories about finding the right place. They gave me a lot of suggestions for my acreage hunt too.
In the afternoon we examined a few horses on the property, at static and moving. This was sort of interesting. None of the horses were majorly lame or anything so I gained a bit of experience noticing subtle unevenness. Is it wrong that I wished we looked at some super lame horses? Or even watched a video of lame horses...
Then we zipped through the basics of saddle fit and tried a few saddles on the horses at the facility. I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know here. The clinician sells treeless saddles and seemed to always circle back to how treeless saddles are the best for all horses. I think treeless saddles work great on some horses and riders but they are not for every horse and rider combo. This kind of annoyed me. I consider myself pretty open-minded but I will not drink the natural horsemanship kool-aid that all horses should be barefoot, bitless and treeless. And that was the only thing served at this clinic...no food or anything (clearly they let me get hangry).
I don’t drink the traditional horsemanship kool-aid either that all horses should be shod, bitted and treed either. I think each horse and rider team needs to figure what works for both of them and their goals. So yeah… the treeless thing kind of put me in a grump.
I was the most excited about the stretching section. I do a few stretches with Apollo post-ride that I learned years ago from a lady I rode with in my teens. I was looking forward to adding a few new stretches to our repertoire, as I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot of them. I did learn a few new stretches but we spent very little time on them. The clinician and two other students ended up kind of going off away from the group to discuss something for like 20/30 minutes and I was pretty close to just leaving.
They went around and asked if we had any more questions. I couldn’t really think of anything…. Just like… where is the rest of this clinic…? (I didn’t say that but was tempted). So they let us go early at . And on my way out the clinician said: “Don’t forget to pay the remainder of your clinic!”… Turned out $75 was the deposit, the clinic was $150 (plus GST) total. WTF. No food… no helpful resources materials (they “forgot” to do any hand outs for the stretching exercises)... UGH. What a waste of time and money. I was livid by the time I got home. I guess I’ve learned my lesson and won’t be taking any further clinics. I stopped and rode Henry on the way home and I think that prevented a ragey e-mail to the clinician, demanding a refund.
The great shed has begun
Clinic number 2 on Saddle Fit was $30! It ran from 11-2 (it actually ran until … and would have kept going but I had to leave unfortunately). All the funds raised went to a local horse recue. And it was AMAZING! We all brought our own saddle(s) and evaluated eachother’s for various things like flocking consistency, unevenness (in wear, shape, and stitching).
I brought Henry’s new Amerigo and Mystic’s western saddle to share with the group. The Amerigo is a little uneven in the flocking towards the back but I’m planning to get it re-flocked shortly anyway so that doesn’t bother me too much. One lady did get a little upset because her flocking was quite lumpy. Everyone was super nice and supportive about it (not judgey), we were all like “well now you know, and you can fix it! don't beat yourself up!”.
We learned how to make our own templates which was super neat, I actually might do a post about it in future if anyone is interested. We also learned which behaviors on the ground and under saddle could mean there is an issue with saddle fit.
We evaluated the conformation/muscling of three horses, we made templates for each of them and then tried their own personal saddles on the horses and against our new templates. SUPER INTERESTING.
I was also able to geek out over a lady who had a barnsby dressage saddle. It was in beautiful shape and I love barnsbys, so I said something like “Oh my gosh, your saddle is lovely. I love barnsbys. Do you know what model it is?” She said “Oh thanks. I’m not too sure what model it is.” I asked “Does it have the Schleese tree? Because if it does it’s a Barnsby Crown.” And she said “Yeah I think it does.” When she flipped the flap up later I saw “Barnsby Crown” written clearly and I was like FUCK YEAH I AM A GENIUS.*
*This knowledge is thanks to Jenn The Saddle Geek ;)
So that clinic was awesome. I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for another one in the series! You win some you lose some I guess J