• Alanna Flax-Clark

Clinic with Clive Milkins



The other week I was back in Maine at The Carlisle Academy where I was able to clinic again with Clive Milkins, leading international para equestrian coach from Great Britain. I was looking forward to going until I realized it was December in Maine! Luckily they've been having mild temperatures this Winter, but for this California girl it was still freezing!

Since it is winter, it is a pretty quiet time on the farm. This meant that the week was pretty relaxed and I was able to take in a lot of information. I got long ride times in the morning on their lovely Hanoverian mare, Zoe. I rode her when I was there back in August and we are a very good match. Her movements are very fluid and easy for me to feel. She's calm around my wheelchair and has a good rhythm and balance. This time we worked a lot on my trot work and the various parts of the Grade 1b test.


When I wasn't riding I was able to watch Clive work the other horses on the farm, and listen and interact with his critiques about their changes while I was there. We also spent time viewing winning rides and discussing my role as an athlete in relation to a coach/trainer. Both sports coaches and trainers help people achieve their goals, but their roles are different.

A coach can empower athletes to take responsibility for their own performances. They will seek an athlete’s feedback on how to improve. Sports coaches often coach athletes who already have a great deal of knowledge, and it’s their job to implement strategies to further build on that knowledge. Training is generally thought of as more instructive. The trainer imparts his or her knowledge onto the trainee. It’s more of a one-way process, with the trainer telling the trainee what to do. With a trainer-trainee relationship, the trainer is an expert, while the trainee has minimal knowledge. If I want to reach my goal and "win" I need to take responsbility for this entire process and work in more of a coaching environment so I can flourish and reach my full potential.

This definitely isn't something I can do all on my own. Talking with Lehua when I got back, I fully understand she is part of my team and I'm grateful for that. That is a big commitment, but she's here to help analyze my progress and performance, create training programs, answer my questions, and motivate me when I need it (which she's already done!). But I am the one in charge of my journey.

Thank you to Sarah, Clive, and everyone at Carlisle who made my time there a great learning experience and truly memorable! You guys are always so welcoming and make me feel like family.


#teamalanna #dressage #paradressage #alannaflaxclark #equestrian #paraequestrian #wheelchair #disability #boxwheelchairs

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© 2016 by Alanna Flax-Clark 

Califon, NJ, USA

Contact: aflaxclark@gmail.com 

U.S. ParaEquestrian