I’m a new boarder being pressured to ride with a visiting clinician.
Is it important that I agree to ride with her?
BILL– It depends on what kind of barn you have moved into and what the barn owner’s expectation is of your relationship.
Were we not to be cynical for a moment, she may only be looking out for your best interests and thinks the clinician will be helpful. Clinicians aren’t usually brought in unless someone in charge of the facility thinks very highly of their work. In a less charitable vein, she is also undoubtedly trying to fill the spots and be sure she isn’t on the hook for the clinician’s hefty fee.
If the place where your horse has taken up residence is a regular boarding operation, your responsibilities to them are fairly limited: pay your bill on time, follow the rules, and don’t make a fuss.
If you go into the situation with a particular allegiance to the trainer there and she expects you to follow her advice, your proper behavior may have to be different. Always remember, however: it’s your money, so unless the understanding specifies a given number of lessons per month, how you spend it is up to you. If the proposed clinician is new to you, it’s almost always acceptable to say you’d like to audit the first time to see if her approach fits in with yours. If you do ride with him/her and everything works out, you are golden.
If you try a lesson and it turns out not to be your taste, the next time around there are always polite ways to avoid taking part. “The dog needs elective cosmetic surgery.” “My husband wants me to get my tattoos removed.” Or “Vinny says we better pay off our gambling debts or else!” Any excuse other than announcing that you thought the clinician was a total idiot is preferable.