I know from what people tell me—either before or after the clinic—that they were very nervous to ride with me. This always surprises me, although I’ve heard it enough to know it is a common theme—not just in my clinics but for everyone. It surprises me because I know how hard I work to make sure all the riders are safe and satisfied during one of my clinics and I think that most people who have ridden with me would agree that there’s no point in being apprehensive about riding with me. I’m actually a pretty nice person.
I always tell the riders at the beginning of every clinic that nervousness is a wasted emotion, because I’m here to make sure they have fun and learn something and no one is under any pressure. But still, I know people are reticent and I know there are some that will never sign up to begin with because of it and I wish I knew how to alleviate those fears. So what is it about taking a horsemanship clinic that is so frightening? Maybe if I can understand it better, I can get people to relax quicker. Is it fear of the unknown? Fear of riding around other people? Fear you’ll lose control of your horse? Fear of riding in an unknown place? Based on a previous bad experience? Horror stories heard from others?
On one level, I totally get it—riding in front of a group with a bunch of strangers can be nerve wracking. Riding and horses is such a voluminous amount of information to master that it can be overwhelming at times. The unknown quantity of how your horse will respond in an unknown situation is a little frightening. On the other hand, the opportunity to learn, grow, explore new concepts and master new skills is quite compelling.
What about you? Do you like to ride in clinics? What do you get out of it? Does it make you nervous? Why? How many clinics have you taken and what did you like the most? What advice would you offer to someone who has never taken a clinic and how would you choose what clinic to attend? I’ll be interested to hear.
Enjoy the ride,