It’s Clinic Season!

Tamie Smith teaches at a clinic to benefit Amy Barrington. Photo courtesy of Hillary Whitt.

My least favorite day of the year — the day where we adjust the clocks back — has come and gone. Everyone else sang out in joyous triumph about the extra hour of sleep while I wept quietly about my lost daylight. The small bit of good that comes from this stupid clock-changing tradition is that shortly afterward the whispers about who’s coming to town start popping up. Clinic season can be just as jam-packed as show season. As an adult, I can no longer run off to multi-week summer camps; it’s hard enough to get the time off work for horse shows. But clinic season lets me enjoy that hyper-focused learning environment without losing my job.

Clinicians have a limited window in which to assess horses and riders and to fine tune the exercises so that they benefit from them. It can be quite magical to watch. Some of the most educational moments I’ve had have been at clinics where I’ve served as ring crew and watched the upper-level riders work an exercise in the morning, with the exercise scaled down for the lower-level riders in the sessions that followed. It can also be quite nice to spend some time with the friends that you only run in to at shows when they stop in for a clinic!

This year, the clinic lineup for the West Coast is looking absolutely stunning. I am going to be logging some serious road miles. In January alone, Buck Davidson will be in Southern California and Lucinda Green will be at Fresno County Horse Park. On Facebook, there’s talk of trying to set something up with Andrew Nicholson at Twin Rivers. Traditionally, Hawley Bennett comes up to Dragonfire a couple of times in the winter as well. As if all of that wasn’t exciting enough, there’s also a whole gaggle of dressage clinicians and hunter/jumper clinicians on a West Coast tour.

I must confess that one clinician causes my palms to sweat and my heart to pound more than others. Despite leaving the hunter/jumper scene behind, George Morris is still the clinician in my book. He drops in every year at a few barns up and down the West Coast, one of which isn’t too terribly far from me. Earlier this year, I wrote GM a letter, but I’m not sure he ever received it. This leaves me with only one option. Go see the man in person and ask him face to face. This winter will be very educational indeed.

Go Team DF. Go Learnin’.  Go Eventing.

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