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Dancing With Dressage Stars

It's important for all trainers to keep training with other trainers. Stagnation is the enemy of progress and it can also just be hard to keep yourself motivated as a trainer or clinician. You need fresh material and fresh knowledge to bring to your students and you always want to keep improving both your own training of horses and the training of those under your wing.

Over the past 25 years or so my husband Paul and I, a duo of Grand Prix dressage competitor/coach/clinician and trainer, have always kept busy continuing our education so that we can share that wealth with others.


Access to the top echelon of dressage riders worldwide, is not available to all and by taking part when invited to special symposiums, or hosting Olympic level clinicians for our regular students as well as to our own benefit as riders, we are very happy to provide some added value to our valued students.

Our annual, 'Ride With An Olympian' clinic is a prime example of how much fun it can be as a clinician to take some of your earnings and reinvest them into your business and fund the sometimes hefty bill to bring a big name to your own arena.

This doesn't happen easily. You can't just call up and expect these busy stars of the sport to drop everything and come to you. Proof of the level of the riders that you anticipate will participate is required, your own background as a rider and achievements must also be validated. The facilities you expect to use to host the event must be top notch and you are also acting as host. This means that the hotels, transport and other entertainment while visiting your city or town must be undertaken.

At Willowview Hill Farm we have had the privilege to host some super talent who have openly shared their deep level of experience with not just Paul and I, but with all those that attend. The evenings are not spent chatting on about horses. As a clinician I know all too well that at the end of the day you want to talk about anything but equines. Travel experiences are shared, tips and helpful notes on places to stay and things to do in different cities. Many top trainers have a second passion other than horses that they love to share. It is always refreshing to hear about other interests and to connect on a level outside of horses.

If you are offered the opportunity to ride in a clinic always try and find a way to say yes. Of course you must value the clinician, whether they are a superstar or not. Sometimes you may not align completely with their methods but that is O.K. There is always something to be learned from everyone and you should attend with an open heart and a hungry mind. 

Don't overdo your schooling beforehand and exhaust your horse. Keep to your regular schedule and leave any new stuff out for those few weeks before. Consolidate the strength and fitness of your horse's training and deepen his level of understanding and ability. Two weeks before a clinic is not the time to introduce something new. 

Remember to always act professionally, not just with those above your 'pay grade' but also those below. Treat everyone with kindness and respect. Too often I have seen people's emotions hurt because the trainer thinks they can shine better by blowing out someone else's candle to light their own.

Be humble. Be reverent. Enjoy yourself!


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