Organizing a Clinic: An Amateur’s Perspective

The lovely site of this year's clinic, Evadi Farm. The lovely site of this year's clinic, Evadi Farm.

I am by no means a made, professional, career-in-horses equine business owner. I define myself as a motivated 20-something amateur eventer. I go to school full-time, work 30 hours a week and find time to ride my Hanoverian mare at least five days a week, even if it’s under the lights at 8 p.m. while the wind is blowing outside in the dark.

Last winter, I got the notion that I should organize a clinic. I emailed Colleen Rutledge, and a clinic came together for two days in February of 2014. There were glitches galore, from a last-minute venue change to me spilling soup that was meant for lunch all over the backseat of my SUV at 6 a.m. on the morning of the clinic.

This year, I wasn’t planning on organizing anything. One crazy, stressful organizing experience was plenty, right? As the fall months grew colder and the days grew shorter, I quietly continued riding and working and going to school, all the while keeping an eye on social media for a clinic or two to go to in the early part of 2015.

I kept expecting to see an announcement from someone local, but it just didn’t come. I looked at my calendar, and thought I could probably find the time to organize something during January. A lot of my friends on the East coast have had the opportunity to ride with Dom Schramm and have raved about everything they learned in a few days.

So, I sent an email to Dom asking about available dates and started the crazy ride of organizing a clinic again. While emailing someone in the upper levels of eventing may seem intimidating, it’s the smallest challenge when it comes to organizing (and they’re all pretty friendly!). Here are my six handy hints to hosting a clinic as an amateur without a farm of your own:

1. Decide on a date as early as you possibly can.

The longer participants have to plan and budget, the more likely you are to get entries. Make sure to create a Facebook event, send emails to horsey acquaintances, get it posted in every Facebook group you can find that’s relevant and let big eventing websites like Eventing Nation know about your clinic!

2. Establish a system of organization.

For me, this meant multiple things. First, I made an Excel spreadsheet of costs and possible income (entry and auditing fees). Expenses include things like airfare, clinician’s fee, hotel, a rental car and facility rental fees.

Next, I established an email address exclusively for clinic correspondence. I get a lot of spam in my regular inbox and didn’t want to accidentally miss a question.

Finally, I made clear entry forms and posted them on a website I created. I ask for an email so that I can send them a confirmation letting them know I’ve received the entry and what level I have them down for. This prevents any miscommunications and surprises when the schedule is posted.

3. Visit various farms offering their facilities to see if holding a clinic there during the time of year you’re hosting is feasible.

Things I don’t recommend are covered, but not enclosed, arenas when there is a possibility of rain, wind and snow, along with no stabling. Offering a viewing room with heat or A/C is a big plus.

4. Confirm exact dates with your clinician.

Email them often with any questions that arise. They are much happier working out kinks as you go, rather than arriving to a mess of disorganization.

5. Communicate with your host farm’s owner often.

They want to know what’s going on, if there’s anything they can do to help you, and often can answer any questions about the facility you may have. Be sure to confirm the number of stalls available for out-of-town riders; this is an absolutely vital component to attracting riders from a wider area.

6. Breathe!

Remember that you’re doing this so that you can learn, provide an opportunity for friends to learn and make new eventing friends! There’s nothing better than a successful weekend filled with hot chocolate, good company and a great education.

Organizing something like a clinic may seem like a daunting task, especially when you haven’t done it before and have no idea if anyone will sign up (they will, trust me).

Breaking it down into a couple of months of slow, gradual and organized work makes the entire process of advertising, getting entries and scheduling 20 riders into two chaotic but seamless days relatively simple.

It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to see new and old friends work through problems over two days and come out more excited about the eventing season ahead, and I’d encourage everyone to give organizing a clinic a try!

Dom Schramm will be in Paris, KY (just outside of Lexington) at Evadi Farm on January 17th and 18th, 2015. This two-day clinic will offer both private 45-minute dressage lessons and 90-minute group flatwork lessons on Saturday, followed by 90-minute group jumping lessons on Sunday. Evadi Farm offers a beautiful indoor complete with mixed sand and fiber (dust-free!) footing and lovely skylights. Ample lights eliminate scary shadows as it gets dark outside. All levels from tadpole (18″) through Advanced are welcome, and auditing is encouraged if you don’t have a horse to bring (lunch is provided both days in heated viewing room). Limited stabling is also available. To find more information or entry forms, visit this website.

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