Clinics & Workshops
Covid19 Update: Clinics are not a safe option this year. So many of us fly and planning far enough ahead was risky for organizers. I opted to make the leap to online lessons and virtual clinics. It's been fabulous, a much more intimate way of learning and sharing. Go take a peek at the Relaxed & Forward School and let me know what you think.
I’m available for traditional clinics and Concept Clinics (such as Calming Signals, Dressage Rhymes with Massage, and Rhythm and Dance, as well as Contact, Bend, and Writing Workshops), in the U.S. and internationally. I’m happy to design the day to suit your group’s requests, whether individual lessons, group riding, or a combination. I require dressage-legal bits or safe bit-less bridles, and helmets for riders. All saddle types are welcome. Clinic day-rates discounted to non-profit groups. Contact me for more information about hosting or attending a clinic and please mention your location.
Scroll down for more Concept Clinic descriptions and the upcoming schedule.
Private Consultations with Anna: A telephone consultation or online lesson could give you a new perspective on a current challenge, as well as creative ideas going forward. Share a video of a ride or behavior; we can live chat or talk on the phone. Sessions are US $80. per hour, CONTACT ME for more information.
Join us at the R&F Barn, an online membership group interested in Calming Signals and Anna’s affirmative training methods, using podcasts, videos, Q&A, and live chats about all things equine. Start anytime, this is not a time-specific course of study, but instead an ongoing group, following wherever the group leads, committed to learning, supporting each other, and doing our best.
Available for public speaking engagements, book-talks, and workshops on topics related to horses or writing. I’d love to hear your questions and ideas.
CONTACT ME to ask for more information, prices, and a calendar date.
Concept Clinics: A different approach
Concept Clinics give participants an opportunity to explore a related group of ideas with exercises designed to clarify and deepen the awareness and practice of fundamental principles of communication and training.
Calming Signals. If you are standing next to your horse and he looks away, do you think he’s distracted or even disrespectful? When your horse yawns, is he sleepy or bored? If he moves slowly, is he lazy? Calming Signals is a concept clinic on the ground and/or mounted. We’ll learn to read and respond to calming signals with special attention to comprehension (active listening, intention, and complacency). It’s an equine-focused approach to haltering, leading exercises, and your body language. I’ll say breathe a few thousand times. On day two, we move to the saddle and review calming signals while mounted, as well as ways of encouraging your horse to be a willing volunteer who likes the arena. We’ll also spend time doing horse agility, where the conversation is the most fun.
Calming Signals for Humans: Do our bodies give horses cues that we might not be aware of? Do we give contradictory messages? This day is human-focused, honing a personal physical clarity in what we "hear" and what we "answer." Body language is our shared dialect with horses. In this clinic, we focus on how humans can best communicate using our own calming signals. This clinic may be added to a Calming Signal clinic or given with Calming Signals as a prerequisite.
New! The Fine Art of Saying Yes: Affirmative Training. How many times have I heard people say that they didn’t like the old domination training methods, but it was all they knew? It’s time to update those old-school techniques. This clinic marries the brain science of how horses think and learn with affirmative training techniques. We’ll deepen our understanding of Calming Signals from our horses, with a focus on encouraging confidence and connection for both horse and rider. This clinic is human-focused, training the rider a forward-thinking philosophy and nonviolent techniques that pair clarity and kindness, resulting in a responsive partnership. We prioritize the horse’s welfare, especially young horses and those horses who have suffered harsh training in the past. Affirmative Training is the art of understanding each unique horse.
Dressage Rhymes with Massage. If your horse is young, sound, and has had all the advantages, it takes twenty minutes for the synovial fluid to warm his joints. And that same twenty minutes for you. Warm-up is by far the most important part of the ride for strength and a positive attitude. This is a relaxed and forward Concept Clinic, using warm-up methods designed to help a horse be physically and mentally responsive. We’ll start with exercises to systematically warm-up each part of your horse physically, as well as engaging him mentally. When a horse is properly warmed up, he literally feels good and that creates a positive connection and a willingness to work. This clinic makes young horses steadier, midlife horses stronger, and elder horses more supple.
New! HORSES AND MEMOIR (a Calming Signals ground clinic.) No clinic close to you but you’re interested in Calming Signals and delving into a deeper understanding of horses? This is it! We’ll start with a presentation and discussion of calming signals; the body language horses use to communicate their emotions. Listening to their non-verbal communication gives us a quiet moment to slow down and become consciously aware of the environment using all our senses. The goal is sharpening our awareness of the body language of horses and humans, followed by cementing the experience by journaling about it. It’s sensing the world that horses and humans share, with a focus on descriptive writing with the in-the-moment presence of a sentient prey animal.
This is a small group intensive, part horse clinic and part writing workshop with horse time in the morning and writing assignments each afternoon, along with group sharing and discussion interspersed. It’s the perfect intimate “more-than-auditing” learning opportunity. The host must have a small herd for passive groundwork. No horse experience required. No writing experience required. Can be an in-depth weekend event or one-day add-on to another clinic.
Contact: Holding Hands with Horses. “Contact is like holding hands with someone you are so comfortable with, that there’s an overlap where they begin and you end. Good contact is moving forward through space without gravity or dependence on anything more concrete than the flow of movement that is oneness.” Rather than conversations about which bit is kinder, we’ll explore a lighter approach to kind contact on the reins. It’s the most subtle and challenging work a rider can take on; learning to maintain a neutral seat and soft hands, moving in rhythm and balance with a horse. Learning to quiet our instinct to control a horse’s face and instead, ride the entire horse, relaxed and forward. There is simply nothing more important to your horse. Can be an add-on to Dressage Rhymes with Massage.
Bend: Like the soft edge of a crescent moon, is relaxation and strength in fluidity. Bend refers to that sweet outside arc of the horse, encouraged by a body to body conversation. We’ll address the idea of a ‘stiff’ side and a ‘soft’ side and do exercises to create supple balance in the horse and the rider. The clinic goes on to include light lateral work and riding strong circles, on a long rein as well as on contact. Can be an add-on to Dressage Rhymes with Massage.
Rhythm and Dance Clinic. Rhythm is the foundation of the Dressage training pyramid. Rhythmic movement promotes relaxation (walking, grazing, trotting) and bad reactions always include a loss of rhythm (spooking, bucking, bolting.) We’ll use ground pole exercises to balance transitions, with a special focus on the use of seat and legs to encourage rhythm and alter stride within gaits, using half-halts and lengthenings. This clinic includes Riding to Music and finishes with a quadrille or group ride.
Writing Workshops: An evening book talk can be added at no charge during a clinic.
Half or whole day workshops are available. We'll dive into writing exercises and depending on participant requests, we may also cover topics like practical information about helpful writing software, methods to create a writing habit, and exploring wordplay- getting words to work for you. Whether your goal is journaling, writing for work, or starting a book project, this is a day of communication and inspiration.
- Writing for Riders: The Passion of Horses and Words (Writing the Legend: The Story of your horse. Journaling about your riding as a method of deepening learning. Plus, fun writing exercises in the horse world.)
- How to Write and Publish a Memoir When You’re Nobody. Ever thought of writing a book? This is a how-to process for writing, editing, and publishing.)
- Making Friends with Readers: How to use a blog to hone your writing skills, create a book, and build a reader base.
Anna Blake is the author of five books. Stable Relation, a Memoir of One Woman’s Spirited Journey Home, by Way of the Barn, (a Peoples’ Choice Gold Medal Winner,) Relaxed & Forward: Relationship Advice from Your Horse, Barn Dance: Nickers, brays, bleats, howls, and quacks: Tales from the herd, Horse Prayers, Poems from the Prairie, and Going Steady: More Relationship Advice from Your Horse. She blogs at AnnaBlakeBlog: Relaxed & Forward, a Horse/Life blog.
The first step is to CONTACT ME to ask for more information, prices, and a calendar date.
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Upcoming Clinic Dates
The 2020 Clinic Season has been postponed.
Concerns about Covid19 have cast a shadow over the year, major events have canceled, and questions about testing and best practices are daunting. The simple answer is that it's better to be safe.
Virtual Clinics are available for groups of 6 or more. Contact me for a test in your location.
Online courses in Calming Signals, Affirmative Training, and other topics are available now, see the Classes tab above.
For more information, Contact Me.