It's Clinic Season!

Winter and horses go together about as well as a peanut butter and mustard sandwich.  Sure, the weather is cooler and Pinterest has some beautiful photos of horses in the snow, but the reality of my winter riding tends to be muddy paddocks, lost shoes in said mud, hooves packed solid with said mud (or the wet arena footing), and hyper horses that have been stall bound due to inclement weather.
But the upside of the winter riding season is that it is clinic season! 

Summer is for showing, and winter is the time to improve techniques and prepare for the next show season ahead.  In winter I work on riding without stirrups (helps keep me warm too!) and repetitive exercises to work on my horse's responsiveness.  This is why clinics are so perfect for winter, particularly if the clinic is held at a facility with an indoor!

I love to ride in clinics that give me specific homework for the dreary months ahead, or I love to audit clinics if I can't ride in it (and I always bring a thermos of hot tea because auditing always seems to be freezing!).

An important part of a clinic is the Clinician Agreement.  The Clinician Agreement can work in a couple different ways:
First, between the facility host and the clinician
Secondly, between the facility and the clinic participant

The facility should always use Clinician Agreements to help protect itself from liability.  Liability can arise if the relationship between the clinician and the facility isn't clear.  For example, does the clinician have aspects that make him/ her appear as an employee of the facility? Or an independent contractor?
How is payment made (or not made) between the facility and the clinician? What are the expectations of profit sharing (which can look like a default legal partnership if you aren't careful!)?

The facility should have also have a Clinic Agreement with the participants to clarify who has the legal duty of care.  If the clinician instructs a rider to ride a grid that the clinician should know far exceeds the rider's capability, and the rider falls and dies (legal examples are always better when they show worst case scenarios!), then the facility wants to have a signed Agreement on record in which the participant has relieved the facility from any liability arising from the clinician's instructions or teaching style.  And in this example, the Clinic Agreement should also clearly state that the participant understands and accepts the risk of harm or death from participating in equestrian activities.
If a facility uses a standard Release of Liability for the participants, then the Release should specify that it applies to clinics or lessons with independent clinicians on site.

This weekend my barn is hosting a clinic this weekend with Rob Gage, a hunter/ jumper rider who has been Rider of the Year four times and has won over forty Grand Prix show jumping events throughout the world.
I encourage you to seek out riding in or auditing as many clinics as possible this winter- it will help inspire your training for spring riding and showing!

Any fun clinics coming up for you? Let me know if you ever sign a Clinic Agreement!


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