Quite often new organizers are a bit stressed by arrangements. I often get the feedback of how difficult it is to set up a seminar. As a former professional event manager, I would like to give you a few tipps for a relaxed preparation and a great seminar. They also work for setting up an online course, if that is what you wish for. Use the tips as a basis. They are based on my experience as a course organiser and event manager. You will have your own experiences, and I would be happy if you share good tips for expansion with me. Even if it’s exciting the first time: It gets easier and easier from time to time 😉
Each beginning has its own difficulties….
Therefore, you should have at least 3 months to organize a course. Right at the beginning you have to overcome the hardest hurdle: You need a farm / arena that is available for your course. If you are not the happy owner of a farm, this is an obstacle that should not be underestimated. It is a good idea to ask facilities with 2 riding halls or clubs. They are often used to foreign riders and offer one arena for rent.
At least 6, better 8 people and horse teams should come together for a training day, day seminar or two-day course. If you cannot fill all the places within the stable, think of enough guest boxes or paddocks.
For the theory part there has to be a blackboard or a white board so that everyone can see something. If a projector is available, I like to use this luxury. Just let me know and I’ll prepare a proper presentation.
There is no professional solution available? A good piece of wallpaper or paper tablecloth that you can attach to the wall with tape also works as an emergency tip for the small budget.
Also check the toilets and don’t forget to ask if you can use them for the event. Dixie toilets are an economical solution to problems with the sewage system.
If you have all of these key data together, look for the speaker of your choice. You are of course welcome to ask me, I am always happy to receive seminar inquiries.
Take well care of yourself and think about what you wish for. Weekend course or better two days a week? A seminar for beginners in academic art of riding, or an advanced topic? A special topic, such as the seat, secondary aids or bodywork? Make arrangements with your speaker. You know yourself and your customers best. Every speaker wishes to pass on knowledge and will do his best to put together a super interesting seminar for you. Of course, this is only possible if you also communicate your wishes.
Please note that appointments are binding after confirmation. Being a speaker is a job, we don’t do it out of boredom, but because we earn our living with it. From here on, you are responsible for ensuring that the date takes place and, as the recipient of the invoice, you are financially responsible to the speaker.
Of course you have to advertise. Facebook, Instagram, your own website and of course the relevant online forums for horse stuff should be maintained on a regular basis. Nevertheless, it doesn’t work without the very classic advertising: An advertisement in the local newspaper, maybe an article somewhere or a blog? Put out posters or flyers in the tack shop, the local food shop or at a fair. It doesn’t have to be horse specific, it can also be the local supermarkets. Word of mouth is priceless and you have to do it well. A post on Facebook has rarely filled a course, but the stable gossip has often. So inform the right people who are well connected early on and get them on board.
Prepare a written or online registration, so that interested parties can turn into real participants. Payment is due upon registration. People, even the best friends, are unfortunately not reliable. This protects you from spontaneous cancellations and financial loss. In addition to the seminar costs, calculate a bit extra for catering and travel expenses when thinking about the price. If you have many Theorie participants, that might lower the coasts for the riders.
Travel organization: In preparation, clarify with the speaker who is organizing the trip and the accommodation, and which requirements may be important (e.g. I am allergic – cats in the house prevent the course the day after because I get really sick).
If you get a speaker like me, I’m relatively undemanding and don’t need a 5* hotel room. Nevertheless, there are some important key data.
I avoid driving the car myself. After courses, the speaker is really tired and that can get pretty dangerous. After all, the speaker has put all his energy into imparting knowledge. As an alternative, however, anything works for me – car-sharing, taxi, train, flight. Most important is that the travel is efficient. Long waiting times and long transfers, on the other hand, flights with 20 transfers or in the morning at 5 a.m. only to save 10 euros on the ticket are really bad style. Make sure that the speaker is picked up at the train station or airport. The same applies here: As speakers, we would like to invest our energy in our students, not in organizing the travel.
Some food for everyone involved is important and adds the athmosphere. In Scandinavia, it is common to bring your own “matpake” but a shared, organised lunch really makes a difference. It doesn’t have to be fancy menus. A simple soup already does the job. Quality not quantity should be valued. Note that there are a lot of vegans, gluten and lactose intolerances. If I arrange things myself, I cook something simple with a lot of love that meets these criteria. A salad, a curry or a stew are always great! A simple electrical stove keeps the food warm, and can be set up even anywhere where you find a plug in even if there is no professional kitchen around. Something sweet for dessert guarantees to have happy participants. Pro tip: If you have little time, buffets which are stocked by the participants, already enriched many courses and are super easy to organize.
I believe in responsibility for the environment. Organizing plastic-free courses is part of my philosophy. I also love it when my organisers are doing it. If the event is too big for washing dishes, or if you don’t have a kitchen with a dishwasher on site, there are still clever plastic-free solutions. For example, you can ask all participants to bring their own cup and plate. This also saves you a lot of work when tidying up and washing up. Prefer unpackaged fruits and vegetables over sweets or bought cakes. Plastic spoons, napkins and blankets don’t have to be at all. Tap water is much healthier than a plastic bottle. Environmental awareness is important. We deal with energetics and sustainable horse training. A sustainably organized seminar fits in much better into this philosophy.
Countdown: 3 Weeks before the course
Do you need a mikrophone for the speaker? If so, the speakers are usually grateful for a lavalier micro. Headsets often give the speaker headaches after a few hours.
Is there enough chairs on side? If not, it might help to ask the riders to bring their own chair.
Everyone healthy? Did you make a schedule? Send out all necessary information via email.
Don’t worry: So far not a single course has been started with the original line up. If there are illnesses or other emergencies, a waiting list has proven useful to support the riders to find a step in person. It’s nice if you can support them as anorganizer. Nevertheless, every rider is responsible for himself and his appearances and thus also for re-arranging the place in case of doubt.
Then you are ready to start!
Make sure that the schedule is kept well – and that there is one! Participants should be well informed in advance. Talk to your speaker here too. If there are a lot of “first-doers” in the course, it can occasionally be tight with a regular schedule. This is again important for travel planning, because usually there are follow-up appointments.
With experienced speakers, the timing goes without saying. Prepare your riders to be ready in the riding arena 5 minutes before the start of the lesson. That guarantees a smooth process.
A sufficient supply of coffee and tea keeps everyone happy. If there is no kitchen, the basic solution is an electric kettle and instant coffee /tea bags, or a giant thermos!
And now there is really only one thing left: to enjoy the days and the input!
In this sense:
Enjoy the journey!
PS: That works of course also for Online Courses.