It’s that time of year. Goals are being set; fitness schedules are being formed; diets are being (let’s not talk about diets) and clinics are happening everywhere in anticipation of the upcoming show season. Time to shake off last year’s dust and get down to business. But what if there is a unbelievable clinic opportunity in your area with your absolutely favorite event rider of all time, and BLAST IT: you just. can’t. ride.
Don’t fret! There is an easy and often free (or at least cheap) answer to this dilemma! When you can’t ride: AUDIT! I know that probably sounds like a big “Duh!” statement, but I am always amazed at how many riders don’t take advantage of all the awesomeness auditing a clinic has to offer.
I am a huge fan of auditing. I learned to appreciate it’s benefits several years ago when I was injured and couldn’t ride. I became the queen of auditing and volunteering. A couple of weeks ago I audited a Boyd Martin clinic (you can read all about that one here.) Besides being an amazing clinic to audit (Boyd is a great teacher and is very entertaining,) it really got me thinking about why I am such an auditing nerd.
1) Checking out the instructor and their teaching style is easy. Auditing is a great opportunity to see how a clinician teaches, and figure out where that style fits with your needs and riding goals. Are the instructions easy to understand? Do they nitpick you to death or focus on the bigger picture? Will you ride at the level you signed up for or be pushed to advance to the level? Did you learn something new or did the clinician just recycle the same old grids and ideas? Are the ideas presented in line with what your own trainer teaches or did you feel like your head was going to explode trying to understand what was being taught?
These questions may seem pretty basic, but …
2)Riding in a clinic can be expensive. Clinics seem to be getting more and more costly, especially if you are attending one given by a recognized name. Most of us are on a budget. Sometimes you need to choose between going to an event or attending a clinic or even just saving that hard earned cash for a new pair of boots. Knowing the answers to the questions I listed above BEFORE you ride can make the difference between wishing you had stayed home versus wanting to ride with the clinician again or the next chance you get. Auditing can also help you answer those questions without breaking the bank because a lot of the time auditing is free. And if there does happen to be an auditing fee, chances are it isn’t much.
3) Making friends is a bonus! Eventers are awesome. What better place to make some new friends than at a horse show or a clinic? Friends who you can look for at horse shows, get ideas from, or lament your latest elimination with. When you are an auditor, you don’t have a horse to take care of or a schedule to stay on. You can chat, listen, socialize and connect. I know theoretically you are supposed to be learning something, but it’s great to be able to have a good time while doing it. Each time I have audited a clinic, I have made new connections and started new friendships. I have even reconnect with folks that have moved out of my area that I was thrilled to see again. Auditing is a way to meet people and listen and and learn talk horse all day. For an adult amateur like me who lives in a somewhat isolated area and does not work in the horse industry this is heaven!
So the next time the clinic you wanted to ride in is full or your horse is lame or your bank account is empty, go anyway and audit! I bet you will be glad you did!