Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pleasant Surprise

Like many equestrians, Mom and I have slowly been watching the George Morris clinic. Although I have heard of him over the years especially his critiques of jumping pictures, I really did not know his methods or beliefs. Now I can say I am impressed.

"Carry your hands"
He promotes the French style of hand carriage and explains why in such a way any one can understand. Low hands can cause pressure from the bit on the mouth. By carrying the hands you relieve that pressure and have room to give and take with the horse. George also addressed hand position over fences, which I admit is a pet peeve of mine. I really hate seeing people doing a huge crest release. His correction was to follow by releasing downward, the same way the horse's head goes. Some of the riders really took his advice and a difference could be seen in the horses.

"Don't pull the inside rein"
A fact we all know, but sometimes bad habits die hard. Nice to see riders at their level having the same habits. Always got to remember inside leg to outside rein.

"A martingale is for safety"
I was glad to see him have a martingale removed because it was too short. He stressed that martingales are for rider safety if a horse throws its head. If it is adjusted too short it can cause pressure on the horses mouth.

"Impulsion does not mean more speed"
George asked the riders to get their horses moving with more impulsion. He was quick to slow the riders going fast. Impulsion is forward energy contained with in movement. When a horse goes too fast the energy is lost. In the case of these horses the lost impulsion could mean the difference between making the distance to a jump or through a gymnastic.

Mom and I had to laugh when he talked about having the horse listen and work for the time he rides because the horse has 20+ hours to do what what he wants the rest of the day. Clinton Anderson made almost the same comment. The horse world is such a small place.

In addition to what George teaches, I was impressed with his guest speaker Dr. Deb Bennett. She helps people understand how to read the horse's body and improve their training. I recommend watching her sessions as she has a great way of explaining and describing what she has learned over the years.

Finally I have to say one of the rider's surprised me in a good way. Out of all the rider bio's I looked at, one rider stated her personal achievements were how she rehabilitated and competed her horses. I sensed that she really was happy how her horses have improved. It was refreshing after reading so many others achievements that were show ring successes. Riding is so much more than the ribbons or money won. A happy horse at the end of a day is the highest level of success.

We have a few more sessions to watch, but that will take a little bit. One big thing I can say after watching...I hope I ride as well as George when I am in my seventies :)

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