How-To Guide for Equestrian Hosts Just Starting Out
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to attend a horseback riding clinic, you know what a great experience it can be—if done well.
Horseback riding clinics are an incredible way to learn from professionals, improve your skills, and network with your fellow equestrians. Hosting a clinic may seem overwhelming, so we’ve created this handy guide.
A well-run clinic has several components, so planning and excellent organization are key to success. Choose a clinician with experience in the skill or topic you want the clinic to focus on. A few things to plan for when setting the cost include the clinician, facility, and food.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help so you can enjoy the clinic you’ve worked so hard to put on.
Horseback Riding Clinic
Clinics are a fantastic way to learn from some of the top professionals in your field. To get the most out of hosting a clinic, here are some of the things you’ll need to consider.
At the simplest level, you’ll need a clinician, participants, and a facility where the clinic can take place.
The clinician will likely require lodging, for both her and her horse. You’ll need the appropriate paperwork for the participants and auditors (a registration with horse and rider info, a liability waiver, and a clear policy about refunds).
Creating an advance packet for your participants can be a great way to make sure you’ve organized everything you need to.
This packet should include things like:
- Payment receipt
- The clinic schedule
- Any info about lunch/snacks (if lunch is included or offered at a separate cost)
- Barn rules
- Parking info
- A map of the area (if you anticipate non-local attendees)
Strengths of a Good Host
A good host should be friendly and polite. You should post clear signs with important info like parking, stall use, clinic schedule, etc. It’s a good idea to keep water on hand.
Be sure to engage with the participants: thank them for coming, and ask what they enjoyed or if they have feedback.
Making a Business Case
|Pros of Hosting a Clinic||Cons of Hosting a Clinic|
|Monetary||Clinics can help you gain new boarders or lesson clients||New hosts may struggle to break even or make a profit|
|Social||Meet new riders in the area||Lost of participants and auditors can feel overwhelming|
|Networking||Great way to meet new riders and see what skills participants/auditors are most interested in (for future clinics)||With a busy day, it can be easy to miss opportunities to network and connect|
|Educational||Perfect way to learn new skills||It’s easy to focus on hosting and forget to enjoy the clinic yourself|
Selecting the Clinic Topic
Clinics often work best when they focus on a specific topic. It could be something you’re interested in or a topic your boarders have expressed a desire to learn more about. A few ideas include:
- Lateral movements
- Dressage foundations
- Learning your distance (for beginning jumpers)
The topic will also help you narrow down the type of rider you hope to attract (both in terms of discipline and skill level).
Selecting a Clinician
When selecting a clinician, bigger isn’t always better. While it would be amazing to learn from an Olympic gold medalist, their fees are likely to be exorbitant and they may require screening for the participants.
A clinician who’s less well-known, but who has a reputation for kindness and providing a great experience, will be more beneficial (and more affordable).
For example, if you want to focus on improving your dressage foundation, a bronze medal rider may be the perfect choice.
Setting a Schedule
To respect the clinician’s time and make sure attendees get what they paid for, it’s best to set a schedule and stick to it. If there are one-on-one or group sessions, schedule times for those as well.
Provide all participants with a copy, and keep the schedule posted around the barn or venue.
The facility you need will depend on many factors, including the type of clinic, the clinician’s requirements, and how many riders will be participating.
An indoor or covered arena is always a good choice in case of weather, and there must be ample room for trailer parking.
Here are a few of the other items you’ll want to consider when organizing a clinic.
- Food and beverages
- Waivers and liability
- Trailer parking
- Restroom access
- Water access
- Backup plans for weather
- Cancellation policy
- Clinic schedule
Clinics can be expensive, and not every host makes a profit (or breaks even). Let’s take a look at some of the expenses you’ll need to consider.
- Clinician (fees + travel, meals, and lodging)
- Venue rental (if your barn or arena isn’t large enough)
- Food for attendees
- Promotional materials
- Marketing expenses
- Facility upgrades (flowers for jumps, paint on jump standards, etc.)
- Bathroom (porter potty rental)
- PA system (so auditors can hear)
When deciding how much to charge participants and auditors, it’s helpful to know what your breakeven point is. Many clinicians can help you determine an appropriate cost if you’re not sure.
To get a rough idea, take the cost of the clinician (including her expenses), and add in any facility and food costs. Divide by the number of expected participants. This number would be your breakeven point.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a horse clinic?
A horse clinic is when a stable hosts a clinician for one or several days. The clinician is usually an expert, like a top show-jumper or an expert in starting colts. Riders can either participate in the clinic or audit it.
Q: How do you prepare for a horse clinic?
Attend a clinic or two in your area to get a feel for what goes on. Then, read this article as many times as necessary 😊
Q: Do you need insurance for a horseback riding clinic?
Absolutely! The clinician should have liability insurance, but it’s best to double-check. If you’re hosting, you’ll also need insurance. Chances are good that the commercial liability coverage you have for borders will cover a clinic, but check with your insurance provider to be sure.
If you take the time to plan and account for expenses, hosting a clinic can be a fun (and even profitable) experience you’ll treasure for years to come.
Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
- 3 Tips for Overriding Your Horseback Riding Fears
- Horseback Riding in College: Tips from Alexi Neilsen
- 10 Best Stirrups for Jumping Clear (and Staying Safe)
- Shelby Dennis: Best Horse Riding Advice & Rookie Mistakes
- Horseback Riding: What to Wear (With Pictures)
- Equestrian Media Guide (Vlogs & Podcasts)