Thursday, April 24, 2008


For years, when I am tired, frustrated, or broke, (yeah, yeah, most of the time) I have been known to say, "I'm going to do learn five things really well, and then I'm going to become a clinician."
When I first started training full time I realized I was woefully behind the times. While I was still using the Monte Foreman techniques I had learned in high school, Round Pen Reasoning was hitting the scene. Go ahead, look up old Monte, I dare you.
Anyway, a horsey friend showed me a grainy, cheesy video of a guy running a horse around a round pen, and eventually getting that horse to load itself into a trailer.
I was intrigued.
That was my introduction to John Lyons.
I played with the little bit that I picked up with our ranch horses. I got them to "join up", it was pretty fun.
Soon, I was told by another newby trainer that John was full of crap (I don't feel that way personally) and I needed to see Ray Hunt. So I did. Whoa baby, did that guy open my eyes. To this day, I bow down in awe to Ray Hunt. He shows you his philosophy, if you pick it up, cool, if you don't, he doesn't care.
I really paid attention to what he said and did. Tried it on my horses. Liked what I was getting.
So now I was hooked on these clinicians. I was going to go see whoever, and pick up everything I could. If I couldn't see them I was going to read their stuff.
I threw away everything I thought I knew before. I decided I had been an ignorant fool.. I knew nothing. I completely opened myself to the clinician experience.
Then I went to see a few that made me pause. They all seemed to be doing a variation of what the other guys were doing. They ALL insisted they had discovered this method through their own experience. I noticed a preponderance of special equipment that had to be bought in order to properly implement each training method.
They wore cool hats, had great mustaches, and their horses had tassels hanging everywhere. Don't let me forget the mecate'.
There seemed to be a lot of women following them around.
Everybody wanted to write them checks.
I think a good clinician begins by wanting to share information. They see a need for the knowledge they have. They are able to improve a group's horsemanship within a short amount of time by sharing their technique.
They are able to get a pay check while sharing their knowledge. More power to them.
There are a lot of people out there who bought the horse first and asked questions later. They want to get along with their horses and can't.
A good clinic can start you on your way.
It's only a start. It's only a stepping stone.
There isn't a single method that comes from a clinician I saw that is the only way. If that clinician tries to tell you so they are wrong. There isn't a single clinician that knows all the answers. None of these people actually invented these methods. If they tell you they did they are lying. If their clinics smack of an old fashioned medicine show be very, very careful.
Beware of clinicians in cool outfits.
On the other hand, you can learn to be safe from a good clinic. You can learn how to listen to your horse. You can improve your riding and handling skills. You can have your eyes opened to the amazing world of working with your horse.
I think everybody should go to several. I still go to clinics.
Be critical. Be judgmental of the clinician and yourself. Trust your gut.
I still use lots of what I learned from those clinics.
I also find myself often going back to what I learned in the old days. What do you know, it wasn't all crap.
No information is, if you think it through.
No information is gospel.
Except what I tell you.
At my clinics.


  1. When I'm not feeling cynical and jaded, my philosophy is that every person you meet is a gift. They're there so you can learn from them, be it positive or negative.

    In my preferred line of work (dog training), I'm not a big fan of the Dog Whisperer. I watch him use flooding as a common training tactic which can cause problems of it's own later down the road. However, I still watch every episode because I learn some little tidbit from it. Maybe I improve my ability to read body language of the dogs, or maybe Ceasar says something that makes sense from a psychological standpoint. Or maybe I think he's a total idiot this time around and I'd approach the problem pooch differently.

    You are so right. There's always something to learn.

  2. LOL! I have had so many of these same thoughts. It's amazing when you see clinicians doing something that you do, and making money, you wonder why you don't do the same things? Get bigger, do more, ride more horses, do more lessons, and be even busier. Yes, the best way is to start by what you know, do a clinic, and who comes, comes! Maybe it isn't the number of people that you help, but just helping those that want the help. Maybe that will be my next blog! lol Thanks for sharing. Brenda

  3. LOL...excellent...beware of the dog and pony shows...*rolls eyes*

    Absolutely take what you can and use what works.

  4. Really love this, had a very similar experience.


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