If I can find a judging job or some other means of paying for the transport, I would love to help you guys out. Of course I am in Ohio now, but not sure thats too much farther than the coast of SC...lol
Always remember that "perfection" is the mortal enemy of "excellence."
I have heard reports that Mroades is an excellent clinician, and would be more reasonably priced than some of the big names that have been suggested. She has an impressive resume and is an R judge as well.
I'm in the Deep South as well and actually have already spoken with J. Michael. I used to clinic with him regularly as a kid and second everything you said. That, and I just audited GM at Blackjack and cannot say enough good things about the entire Blackjack staff.
Unfortunately, he is unsure if he'll be able to fit in a clinic with his show and judging schedule. I'm hoping it will work out, but am trying to feel out a "Plan B", just in case.
I really hope he can work with you guys. I have always been very fond of J. Michael. He was there for me at a time when no one else was and I'll always remember that.
You can have the up and comer provide you with a resume, some results and a photo or link to a toutube video so they are not a total unknown...I would not just post a name and expect anybody to sign up at all.
But you can get somebody who worked for a BNT (since most don't stay forever that's a pretty deep pool there) for about 1/3 of what that person would charge-at most. Just make sure they did not work for BNT as a mucker for 3 days before getting fired. There are hundreds who say "I used to work for George Morris" and they did, but didn't even make that 3 day mark.
Maybe you can look around the Houston area? About the nearest major metropolitan area. Check a website for a regional H/J affiliate for names and just contact them if they sound decent. Or call your area trainers and ask if they know somebody. Looking for trainers whose students do well more then an accomplished rider. Clinicians are often not the worlds greatest riders but are wonderful teachers.
Look to a more Eventing oriented person too. Same basics and most have more Dressage background.
Or mroades...probably a 14ish hour drive depending on where she is in Ohio and few or no direct flights without going thru a hub.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
I highly recommend mroades! My DD did a clinic with her last summer and really enjoyed herself and learned a lot. Mroades is very detail oriented and had some challenging exercises but was very positive and encouraging.
Would also recommend M O'Connor. While we've not done a clinic with her, I know several people who have and have excellent things to say!