‘Tis the season of the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session. Five days of the Equestrian God himself teaching a clinic to hand-picked, outstanding riders on their gorgeous horses. It almost makes you wish you were one of them…that is, until he starts breaking out his infamously sharp tongue. It is no secret that good ‘ol George isn’t shy about telling his riders exactly how he feels.
Thanks to the USEF Network‘s live stream and on demand coverage of the clinic, you too can feel like you are right there in Wellington watching George chew up the twelve lucky riders and spit them back out as effective, disciplined equestrians.
On day one of the clinic, after the flat work sessions, there was a riding demonstration given by Beezie Madden. She came into the ring on a drop dead gorgeous, dutch-bred stallion named Winston and went right work. Throughout her ride she narrated and explained her exercises to the auditors, including the clinic participants and all of us watching at home. Like George, Beezie had a few “isms” of her own.
“Nothing I do here is something you have never done.”
“When I start I want to start with something simple, like transitions.”
“If you can’t do something well in the trot, go to the walk. If you can’t do something well in the canter, go to the trot.”
“Take and give. When I give, I get a little more relaxation from him.”
“He has to feel like he’s ready to jump a big fence at any moment; otherwise I’m just kidding myself.”
“That’s why you carry a stick on the flat. Always be ready to take on what you’re going to take on.”
“When I feel him cutting in, I go back to my original exercise. Left leg puts him onto my right rein, puts him light to my left rein.”
“He can get very stiff in my reins if I don’t have a reaction to my leg. So when he is stiff my first thought is, is he actually listening to my leg enough or is he too dead to my leg.”
“You should always be able to stand with your horse…test that now and then.”
“You can see the difference in a horse that is upside down and a horse that is actually working in his back. I think in the equitation you can get away with not really an upside down horse in the neck, but in the back. They all jump flat; they have long, big, slow strides. Now you’ve got to create a horse that has power behind.”
“Every now and then you see the horse burst forward. When that happens, I am attacking him with my spur. He’s got to be ready to react to my leg.”
“Our game is a game of concentration. The horse has to be able to concentrate. Every horse can jump the fences or you’d be an idiot to put him in the class he’s in. But what it really comes down to is the horse that can concentrate on the fence the best. If he’s getting so much input from the rider, that it’s hard for him to concentrate on the fence, that’s a disadvantage. If you can do it with very little input, they can concentrate on the fence. That’s the whole reason for making your flatwork excellent.”
“What is counter-canter an exercise for? It’s an exercise for listening to my inside leg.”
“Right leg, left indirect rein, straight neck, hold the haunches on the outside.”
“We all deal with horses that aren’t quite good enough, but you can make them better. You can bring out the strong points in a horse and diminish the weak points in a horse with all your training.”
“I want to be able to touch him with leg and have him ask ‘how far should I go?’”
“You have to develop a relationship with your horse where you can tell him that was good. That is maybe one of the biggest differences between good riders and great riders. Great riders, their horses know, they have a way of being able to communicate with them when it’s good. Everybody can communicate when it’s bad.”
You can watch the live stream or the on demand coverage, here.