Practice Your Guts

George Morris: the huntseat equitation god. Us horse people know who he is and as much as we would LOVE to ride with him, he is TERRIFYING. Besides his teachings, George is famous for his “George-isms”. Little things he says in his clinics to riders that make you laugh, cry, or be inspired. There is a George-ism that is my favorite by far, and it has been a source of inspiration for me over the past few months.

“A bold rider is a good rider. Beezie Madden. Whatever problem confronts her, she doesn’t have temper, she doesn’t have excitement, but she practices boldness. Leslie Burr Howard, at the Lake Placid show before the Atlanta Olympics—it was raining, and she was in the preliminary jumper division. It was a few months before the Olympics and I said ‘Leslie, what are you doing riding that horse? It’s raining, it’s muddy, it’s up and down that Lake Placid hill.’ She said, ‘George, I’m practicing my guts.’ Yes, Leslie was practicing her guts. I admire her practicing her guts because we have to practice guts. I always had to practice guts. I used to go with him (Frank Chapot) in the back of the bleachers in Wiesbaden, Germany, and I said, ‘Frank, I can’t do this. I can’t jump those jumps.’ He said, ‘George, you got good horses, we’re over here. You’ve got to do it.’ I always had to practice guts.”
– George H. Morris

Though it is a long George-ism, the part that replays through my head is to practice guts. As an timid over fences rider, this is just the thing that I need to think about. I practice my guts everyday I ask a horse to go over a fence.

Since I am preparing for the show next weekend, I rode over Thanksgiving break and we rose the fences a bit to help decide which division would be best. Angel thought that it wasn’t necessary and, again, she went over everything without hesitation. I love my little pony.

This is where the guts come in. Our next door neighbor, Jess trailered her horse over and did a few course with me. When she offered to let me take Smoke around the course for a confidence boost, I was not about to say no. What I did say was “I can’t do it! I’m scared! No! No! No!” Then I remember my George-ism and knew I needed to test all that guts practicing. Up went to fences and off I went. I quickly learned that once I was pointed at a fence, we were going and there was no saying otherwise. Smoke knew his job and was getting it done whether I wanted him to or not. That is something I was SOOO thankful for because some of those fences I did not think we were going to go over. 3’3″ may not be considered big by some people, but to me it was like jumping a mountain. Smoke gave me just the boost of confidence I needed. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t horrible, and it’s a start.

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Although I had already made the decision to bring Angel to the jumper show, I still had to to decide about the Prince. We brought him home from college Friday and gave him a day to settle back in before riding. Saturday afternoon it was time to see how three months of strictly flat work would affect our jumping. I must have done something right because he was perfect…almost. One fence in particular was a horse-eating monster and Axcent decided that I should meet it head first before he should be expected to jump over it. He gave me a very informal introduction to the pipe before I could convince him that it was a very nice object the jump over and not dump me on top of. He must have felt bad because he was his usual Prince-like self afterwards.

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My unwelcome introduction to the pipe.

Looks like we are bringing a Princess AND a Prince to the show.

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