I think without reading the book first I would have been quite lost since there was not much theory. But that might be down to me being a total beginner in horse-work...
I am quite crap in learning anything which has to do with body movement from a book. So yes, it was important for me to go to a clinic and anyway her book + DVD are no step-by-step instructions.
I totally agree it would have made sense to go to one clinic as a spectator and then decide to go to another one with horse. But there was a tiny money and time issue here and since I can't (and wouldn't) take a horse to any clinic it was a good opportunity to work with one of the tourist ponies. Btw. that won't be possible again since this is a quite intimate work where you form a connection and it is not fair on the horse to open him or her up to a human and then walk away never to be seen again... or for the human to be in desperate need of buying that horse you developed such a deep bond with and be disappointed. So it was decided that it won't be done this way again.
So lucky me, I had 2 sessions with 2 different ponies before I decided not to continue to work with a horse.
However I don't think it is possible to learn the skill of free lunging just by theory, human-human exercise or watching - it is so subtle. And I was told it takes years to get perfect but once you got it
it is amazing!!
Best would be to have weekly lessons....
Sabine did only about 3 short sequences herself (she has a health issue with her knee), but her husband Dan worked with the dominant horses to start them off. It would have been too difficult for the beginners. Her other assistants did a bit of work too.
One problem with clinics I think is that there is a certain amount of pressure to give everyone the same time in the arena. But the horses had different issues, a traumatized pony I thought should only have been in for ~5 minutes each time with lots of positive experiences and then go out again - while another one needed meditative lunging in order to relax and to realise there is no agenda, no goal to reach. But both owners paid the same money so they tried to work on the lunging with the traumatized pony.... there was a psycho session with him too which was very good but got a bit spoilt by the lunging attempt afterwards.
One important thing I forgot to mention before: except for the traumatized, depressed pony all the horses looked very proud and happy after each session. So that is quite a big achievement in my book!!