A chance to ride with a fabulous internationally known dressage clinician can be worth the cost; or are you getting good training value for your money?
It depends. I can make a case against riding in clinics with a different clinicians. Firstly clinicians usually charge more than a regular dressage coach or instructor. They need to cover their flight, accommodation, and lesson fee. You have to ask yourself how riding with “so-and-so” will benefit you and your horse. Usually these are isolated occasions where an “expert” is contracted for a day or weekend to quickly assess your riding, the level of training, talent etc. in 45 minutes of clinic time. You may have three sessions with the clinician over the course of the weekend for anywhere from 150.00 to 400.00 and up for each lesson.
The best clinic situation is when the expert clinician is invited back to teach on a regular schedule. Continuity in training and riding your horse over a series of lessons increases the value of the experience. Good clinicians involve local coaches and instructors to help raise the bar for dressage at the local level.
Another good reason to attend clinics is when you have a very specific issue in riding or training that needs to be addressed. There are clinicians that specialize in teaching passage and piaffe, or flying changes. Keep in mind that a series of lessons will be needed to master the more advanced technical aspects of dressage.
Reasons not to clinic include trying to show the clinician how much you already know. This is a waste of their time and your money.
The best value for your lesson dollar, is to find a riding coach or instructor, who will work with you over time to improve your skill, aids, timing and confidence as a rider. It takes 10,000 hours over a span of about 10 years to reach a certain level of competency in dressage.
Certified, professional coaches are trained to critically observe your present skill level and methodically work with you and your horse to incrementally improve your communication through the acceptance of the aids. Regular lessons are usually much less expensive than a clinicians rate. You may find the need for reinforcement of weekly lessons with homework to advance your riding.