The Horse Owner – Stable/Arena owner/Manager Relationship

The Horse Owner – Stable/Arena owner/Manager Relationship

By Dr. Mike Guerini (

This is the fifth and final blog in this series on how we as owners interact with the different professionals in our horse world. Some of these interactions include:

Horse Owner – Horse Trainer

Rider – Riding Instructor

Rider – Clinician

Horse Owner – Veterinarian/Farrier/Chiropractor/Body Worker-Massager

Horse Owner – Stable/arena owner/manager

In the last blog, Dr. Mike discussed the Horse Owner – Veterinarian/Farrier/Chiropractor/ Body Worker-Massager relationships as being critical to the health and well-being of your horse. 

For those who do not have the opportunity to stable a horse at home, the boarding facility is critical for the care and well-being of our horses.  Many times for shows or events, we ride at an arena and have to work with facility managers.  By following these guidelines, you can establish a very positive relationship with your Stable/Arena owner/manager.

Boarding Facility Relationship

1) Understand and follow the rules of the boarding facility.  Those rules are in place for safety of you and your horse and for other stable occupants.  One of the rules is likely to tell you when board payments are due each month.  Be on time or speak to the facility manager if there is an issue.  Do not make them chase you down for your board bill.  If you are trading help around the facility for a reduction in your board costs, make sure to do the work you have committed to for the facility.

2) Appreciate that many times the facility is also home to the family/person that runs the boarding stable so it is important to respect their private spaces/homes.

3) Be respectful of common equipment.  If manure carts and rakes are available for all to use, replace them in the appropriate place after each use.

4) Take care to show consideration for other boarders, their equipment, and their horses.  It is nice to be helpful but do not be intrusive.  If the person you are trying to help does not seem to want your assistance, then leave them alone. 

5) Clean up after yourself both in the arena and around the facility.

6) Keep your personal contact information up to date with the facility manager so that you can be contacted easily if your horse is in need of attention.

7) If you bring your children to the facility, make sure they stay out of harms way and are not disruptive to other boarders or horses.

8) If the facility manager offers to help you by taking care of your horse during veterinary, farrier, chirporactor, or massage/body-worker visits, make sure that the health care professional and the facility manger both know exactly what you want done and that you are reachable by phone during the appointment. 

Riding Arena Relationship

1) Understand and follow the rules of the riding arena.  Those rules are in place for safety of you and your horse and for other stable occupants.  Know where you can tie up your horse and know if you can lunge or do other work with your horse in the arena.

2) Take care to show consideration for other riders in and around the arena. 

3) Clean up after yourself around the facility.

4) Park only in designated parking areas.

5) Make sure that as you drive through the facility you are watching out for riders, horses, and pedestrians.

6) Sign the release of liability that all facilities need to have on file to allow you to participate in events.

As always, I look forward to your additions and comments on this essay.

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (

The Horse Owner – Veterinarian/Farrier/Chiropractor/Body Worker-Massager

The Horse Owner – Veterinarian/Farrier/Chiropractor/Body Worker-Massager

By Dr. Mike Guerini (

This is the fourth in a series of blogs on how we as owners interact with the different professionals in the horse world. Some of these interactions include:

Horse Owner – Horse Trainer

Rider – Riding Instructor

Rider – Clinician

Horse Owner – Veterinarian/Farrier/Chiropractor/Body Worker-Massager

Horse Owner – Stable/arena owner/manager

In the last blog, Dr. Mike from Dun Movin Ranch and Kimberly Bench ( discussed the Rider – Clinician relationship and things you can do to help this interaction be a success.  

The Horse Owner – Veterinarian/Farrier/Chiropractor/ Body Worker-Massager relationships is critical for the health and well-being of your horse.  Thirty or forty years ago, this relationship included the Veterinarian and Farrier with very few people using Equine chiropractic or Body Worker-Massage.  In recent times, the health care team for your horse has expanded to include chiropractors and body worker-massage practitioners yet the basics of the relationship remain the same.

1) Most important of all is that your horse needs to be prepared for treatment by these professionals.  As an owner, you either need to train your horse or have a trainer work with you and/or your horse to help your horse behave correctly for these professionals.  This is very important for the safety of your horse, your equine health care provider, and you.

So what is needed — your horse needs to be able to be caught easily, stand still (at least stand mostly still and quiet), be touched all over the body, and pick up his/her feet with ease.  These professionals are not hired to train your horse, they are employed to provide health care.  If your horse is difficult for you to handle, have a trainer or other qualified equine professional there to assist these people. 

2) Both the owner and the equine health care professional need to be respectful of each others time.  If either is going to be late, notify the other person.  If you need to change the appointment, do so as soon as possible.

3) Develop a relationship  — this goes both ways.  Understand what services the health care professional provides and what he/she is willing to do for you and your horse.  The health care providers also need to understand what the owner is seeking in a health care professional and if this is not something they want to provide, recommend another colleague for the job.

4) Respect the knowledge of the health care provider – but always ask for clarification.  As an owner, once you have selected a professional, trust him or her to do the job correctly but make sure you are satisfied with the answers and the continual care of your horse.  There may be a time that you do not understand or think what is being done is correct — immediately ask for more information because you as the owner, need to make informed decisions.If you decide the health care provider is no longer doing what is best for your horse, select another caregiver.   If you want a second opinion, tell the health care provider you will be seeking a second opinion and tell him/her why.  Often times, especially with lameness, it is a good idea to get a second look but be open about it with the health care provider.

5) Ask for an estimate of charges, anticipated outcomes, and approximation of time involved. Nothing ruins a relationship with your equine health care provider than surprises in the amount being charged.  Your health care provider should be able to give you an estimate on routine work and be pretty close to that estimate.  Often, you must ask for estimated costs, frequency of necessary treatments, and expected outcomes. Nothing is ever guaranteed in health care but anticipated outcomes can be discussed.  The amount of time to complete a treatment or achieve healing can be estimated but exceptions do occur.

6) Follow the treatment instructions.  If you are given a prescribed treatment, make sure you follow the instructions because this will help in keeping the treatment/healing process on time.

7) Know who your equine health care provider recommends in the event that he/she is out-of-town or unable to assist you.  Ask them who takes their calls when they are away and how best you can get ahold of the person who will provide temporary care.  This is important, especially for emergency medical situations.  You do not need to be surprised and have to pull out the yellow pages to find a veterinarian who will assist you.  Most often equine practitioners have their answering service refer you to another available veterinarian.

Thinking about these seven items can help you to build a successful relationship with your Veterinarian/Farrier/Chiropractor/Body Worker-Massager. 

As always, I look forward to your additions and comments on this essay.

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (


The Rider – Clinician Relationship in Horsemanship

The Rider – Clinician Relationship in Horsemanship

By Dr. Mike Guerini ( and Kimberly Bench (

This is the third in a series of blogs on how we as owners interact with the different professionals that we rely on in the horse world. For this blog, we have brought together Kimberly Bench and Dr. Mike Guerini. Some of these interactions in the horse world include:

Horse Owner – Horse Trainer

Rider – Riding Instructor

Rider – Clinician

Horse Owner – Veterinarian

Horse Owner – Farrier

Horse Owner – Stable/arena owner/manager

Dr. Mike discussed the Rider – riding Instructor relationship in the last blog. This time we are looking to the Rider – Clinician relationship and things you can do to help this interaction be a success. Many thanks to Kimberly Bench for adding her expertise to this discussion.

Kimberly Bench comes from a classical dressage background and Dr. Mike comes from a western performance background, so in this blog you are getting the advice from two distinct backgrounds — but you are also getting to see that we have many similarities and shared perspectives.

The rider – clinician relationship is different from that of a rider and riding instructor. Often, the relationship with the clinician occurs only once or infrequently. The rider – riding instructor relationship is one built for the long term with goals and objectives.

The importance of the clinician/owner relationship and how this compliments owner/trainer relationship.

Many riders have successful careers by taking weekly lessons, formulating plans with an instructor, and following through on those plans. Other riders learn from multiple/different instructors and/or a clinician(s) visiting the area that can provide an opportunity for additional learning. For some riders, learning from a trusted trainer and clinician is the optimal combination.

It is important that you take the time to evaluate different clinicians and choose those who will challenge you as a rider, teach you something new, or help you overcome an issue with your horse. If you are working routinely with an instructor, discuss with him/her why you feel that you will benefit from attending the clinic.

Kimberly Bench describes in detail how her farm operates with respect to continuing education and advising students on clinicians. At our farm, continuing education is a big focus so I try to provide outside educational opportunities for both my students and myself regularly. Last year we had an FEI coach/rider come in monthly – this spring we are lucky enough to be hosting her as a guest instructor for weekly lessons.

I pick clinicians that will compliment my program and enhance what my students are learning at home. Continuity is important, especially in newer/less-experienced riders. I try to go be as involved as possible with my students’ education, and I find that attending clinics with them not only allows me the opportunity to learn as well, but also helps me further explain and reinforce the material at home.  I will also often speak with the clinician about “homework” for my student after the clinic, which helps make the clinic beneficial to the rider longer term.  More seasoned riders may feel confident trying many different clinicians who will offer them a broader perspective, but I find that often times the newer rider is overwhelmed and confused by too many different approaches when it comes very early in their education. It is a great benefit to the rider if the at home instructor attends the clinic with the student, either as a participant or as an auditor. 

It is also a good idea to observe (audit) a clinician before participating as a rider. Often times a clinic sounds good but when you get there you realize the ideas presented are completely contrary to what you believe or perhaps the instructor has a teaching style not suited for your learning abilities. It also gives you the opportunity to be introduced to the material and have a little time to prepare yourself mentally for what you may learn. See how the clinician interacts with the students, the auditors. Is he/she willing to get the horses? Does his teaching approach compliment your existing educational program, your goals? Is the clinician open to questions about why they want you to do something and is he/she willing to break it down if you need further explanation? Is she patient? Does he work well with all levels of riders or is he better with specific groups?

Dr. Mike says, “As an instructor, I encourage my students to attend clinics with other clinicians a few times a year. This helps my riders grow in experience and reinforce or deepen what they are learning at home. After a student attends a clinic, we speak about what he or she learned and how it applies to what is happening on our regular lessons.”

One of the benefits of the rider – clinician relationship is that the rider gets to hear the clinician discuss principles and concepts being spoken about and taught by the regular riding instructor. There is a true harmony between the clinician and riding instructor if the clinician is chosen wisely. As is often said “There are many roads to Rome” but you need to find professional horsemen and horsewomen who will compliment your goals. A clinician may do things differently or discuss something from a different perspective but it is important that it make sense with respect to what you are doing with your horse.

For example, Kimberly Bench recently attended a clinic that presented some material that contradicted what she believes about classical riding.  Several of the horses became increasingly tense and resistant during their sessions. Kimberly determined that some of this clinician’s techniques may have worked for certain horses and riders, but overall it was not an approach she would adopt in her own training/teaching. She was, however, still able to find some valuable insight and a few good idea’s to take home, reinforcing the idea that everyone can teach you something – sometimes it’s what not to do – but even that has merrit!

Both Dr. Mike and Kimberly want to share a moral of this story. As professionals, we often attend a variety of clinics and can find something to learn from the experience. New and less-experienced riders can be caught up in something that doesn’t/won’t work for them but can’t get past the “but I saw it at this clinic and…”.   Having an educated professional with you at your clinic can help you sort through all of the information and incorporate what is appropriate for you, your horse, and your goals. 

Dr. Mike says, “As a clinician I present in areas I have never visited and have no connection to any of the riders or trainers in that location. Because of this, it is very critical that I spend time on the phone or on email with riders or auditors so that I can share my philosophy and approach and let them know the goals of the clinic. I also welcome, at no cost, local instructors to audit my clinics. I want the local trainers, many of whom might have a student attending my clinic, see what I am doing, and ask me questions — it enhances the learning for all. My Dr. Mike’s Horsemanship series highlights what I teach and these books, along with my website and blogs help people understand who I am as a clinician. It is also important to ask EVERY student throughout the day — “Do you follow what I am teaching?

How to be a successful rider in a clinic (preparation and how to be active and learn there).

Be prepared for the time commitment of a clinic. You and your horse both need to be physically able to take part in whatever clinic format (discussed later) you have chosen to attend. You and the horse must be up to the demands of more difficult work, therefore, if you have serious goals, you must dedicate the time necessary to reach the level of fitness required to reach those goals in the clinic.

Talk to the clinician about the warm up policy. Some clinicians like to observe the horse and rider in warm up because it can give valuable insight to the horse and rider relationship. Other times a clinician may expect that you have already warmed up and are ready to work so it is important to discuss this with your clinician or clinic organizer before the start of the clinic. Also, ask if you will be allowed into the ring for your warm-up while the rider before you is finishing up. (If you need to lunge your horse also ask about opportunities to do that.)

For your attendance at the clinic, minimize the number of distractions during your lesson time. When you cannot pay full attention to the lesson, you and your horse are not optimally prepared for learning. Distractions can keep you from focusing on the task and this leads to a situation where you or the horse can get hurt. Also consider the other riders – bringing young children, pets, or other distractions may not only distract you, but the clinician, horses and other riders as well.

Make sure you take the time to email or communicate with the clinician or his/her team about your background and goals. A good clinician should be able to help you grow as a rider and push you to excel and you need to accept or discuss with them how much they might be pushing you. Be honest with yourself as well as the clinician as to your level of commitment to reach those goals.

Clinic formats and how to decide what works best for you.

Multiple clinic formats exist and are utilized throughout the US and the rest of the world. We will discuss three formats most commonly encountered.

In every clinic, regardless of the format, it is important for the clinician to adapt to the needs of each rider on that particular day.

As Kimberly Bench said,

The clinic plan needs to be flexible. I always have a rough idea of what I’d like to work on, however, I have to work with what is in front of me that day. Perhaps the horse is a little distracted because snow is sliding off the arena roof. Maybe the rider had a tough workout at the gym and has a stiff back and is having difficulty sitting the trot. A few weeks ago I taught a clinic; one of the riders had emailed me in advance to tell me she wanted to improve her horse’s connection at the canter.  I believe she thought we would spend the lesson in the canter after the warm up. What I found when I began the lesson was that the horse was not forward and therefore was behind the bit and on the forehand. He was also dull to her leg aides. We went back to the basics of sending the horse forward into the contact, we worked on leg yielding in and out on a circle and then on a parallel line. I also adjusted her position as the way she was sitting had her seat bones facing backwards, restricting the horses desire to swing through in the back. The majority of the lesson was spent in the walk and trot. However, near the end of the lesson when I asked them to canter again the connection problem had resolved.

If I had restricted myself to a detailed lesson plan, we could have spent 45 minutes of cantering poorly. Cantering itself does not improve cantering, just as asking for 100 flying changes does not fix a problem with the flying change. It is my job to identify what issues need to be addressed; guide the horse and rider through exercises that help improve the work and instruct them on how to achieve the desired results. It is also my job to help the rider understand the bigger picture and strict lesson plans are often detrimental to the overall goal.

Similar experiences have been encountered by Dr. Mike who says, “It is the job of the clinician to adjust and adapt to accommodate each student’s learning style and to help make sure a strong foundation exists. Once that foundation exists and is the basis for good fundamentals, many problems are solved.”

Format #1 — Multiple riders over a single day or multiple days — the group option.

In the group format, anywhere from 5 to 30 riders may attend a clinic and take instruction. For some people this works well because they have frequent break periods while the clinician is working with someone else on a particular issue. Also, for some people, learning is easier when they see everything done by someone else and can process what they are learning   simultaneously. This type of clinic may run 1 to 4 days and can be a lot to take in for some riders and horses.

Format #2 — Riders scheduled one at a time with auditors — the one-on-one option.

With private sessions, one on one time is set and the clinician works with riders independently. Other riders and auditors may watch and learn. Often times the clinician will stop and ask if the auditors have any questions about what was covered in between riders.  This format allows the clinician to give more focused feedback and works well for rider who want a more detailed, intense lesson.

Format #3 — Group lesson in the morning and then private sessions with each rider in the afternoon.

This format can provide the benefits of the two previously mentioned formats where the group session introduces the concepts and then the individual sessions can fine tune the application of them.

In summary:

1) Find a clinic and clinician that will help you move forward with your goals. Make sure the clinic format works for you and that you and your riding instructor (if applicable) have discussed the right clinician for you.

2) Be prepared to learn. By this you need to be physically fit, not distracted, and devoted to the learning opportunity.

3) As always — have fun and practice safe horsemanship.

Kimberly Bench is a clinician, instructor and horsewoman specializing in Classical Dressage. She owns and operates Benchmark Farm in Hudsonville, MI. She has developed a program she calls “Practical Dressage” which is designed to teach riders of any discipline how the classical training scale can work for them. Find more information at

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (