Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day Two at the George Morris Clinic

 Windurra welcomed legendary rider and instructor 
George Morris 
to the farm for a two-day clinic, August 27th and 28th. 

Morris greets auditors while schooling Gloria Callen's Welcome Shadow

Boyd says:

I think it was an honor and an absolute treat for some of the eventing riders of our area to partake in the clinic with George Morris here at Windurra over the past couple of days. Without question in my mind George is the most influential coach in the United States. His methods, whilst very strict, are brilliant and he’s got an amazing sense to motivate and inspire riders through the highest standards. 

Boyd on Welcome Shadow

I’d also like to thank Joanie Morris and David O’Connor from the USEF for getting behind what started as a private clinic. I thought it showed wonderful sportsmanship from David for coming up to watch the clinic and also join in the talk on Saturday evening along with George. They sat down with all the riders and basically talked about all the bases of training and even went a step further and talked about the psychology of being a world-class rider, what they look for in coaching a horse, and the most interesting to me when George said natural talent was the most important ingredient for a successful rider. 

Welcome Shadow
I rode two of Gloria Callen’s Irish Sport Horses, Welcome Shadow and Finn McCool. They are both green but quality jumpers and were a very good choice for the clinic. George hopped on both of them and schooled them up a bit for me – I think he did this more to improve the horses quickly, so I could feel the difference, and for me on the ground to have a visual display of what he wanted. 

George Morris on Callisto

I think the most important lesson that I took away from the clinic is the importance of simplicity in the flat work and jumping. It wasn’t rocket science; it’s absolute correctness, discipline, and the technique you need to be a good jumping rider. I hope to get George back to the farm next year because I think all the riders benefited a great deal, and I hope the USEF will also utilize his coaching in their training program.

Enthusiastic Supporters
 A few quotes from the clinic:

“Check that your stirrups are even – this should be a habit. Don’t sit too deep, especially on a high-headed horse. Stay forward and keep the outside leg on.”

Morris adjusting Dom Schramm's stirrup length and leg position
“Cantering a figure-8 over a vertical is a super exercise for learning lead changes, teaching the horse to accept the bend, and encouraging the horse to accept half-halts. You can take the jump on a long or short distance, and make wide turns or tight turns. It’s helps the horse for both stadium and cross-country.”

Boyd practicing a Figure 8 turning exercise
“The fashion today is “behind” the horse, but I don’t see Beezie Madden, Laura Kraut or McLain Ward “behind” the horse. Watch riders like these – done correctly it’s fabulous and for the horse it’s nicer.”

Sharon White, praised for her consistent position, and Wundermaske

“Each horse is different, but all horses have to have the basics. That’s why I’m so picky about things like circles, and how to hold the whip. When you practice correctly and repeatedly, these actions become automatic.”

“In leg-yielding, head to the wall and tail to the wall are the first lessons from the outside leg. You want to get a horse yielding from his quarters. First I flex him, I don’t bend him; it’s not a bending exercise. Then I keep him straight – ultimately you can school travers, where the horse is flexed slightly in the direction he’s traveling.”

“Resist, but don’t pull. As the horse stiffens, my hands go higher – when he relaxes, I release. When he raises his head, he meets resistance. After a few days of this schooling, when I make a half-halt the horse drops his head. Any head-shaking and I close my fingers.”

“In rein-back, if the horse makes any step back I release. What teaches the horse is that reward – after you close your hand, RELEASE.”

Boyd looks on as Caitlin rides HH Lancaster

To Caitlin, who was riding a big horse: “You want the steps more active but not faster. Activate the horse with your inside leg to outside rein. You don’t want the tempo to feel rushed.”

“When you are teaching horses anything, they can get “hot”, they can get “nappy” – but when they understand the lesson, they’re not that way any more.”

"When you are jumping, if the horse is hesitant: 1. Ask 2. Tell 3. Make 4. Force. My ultimate goal is to go through first, just allowing the horse; one is passive, four is maxiumum driving."
"I was always a naturalist, no side reins or other auxiliaries. The horse will tell me what he needs. My system is based on the natural mechanics of riding.”


Also read Dom Schramm's excellent Blog on The Chronicle of the Horse


  1. Excellent blog
    What a great experience
    Thanks for sharing

  2. In photo #4 George Morris is riding Callisto.

  3. Great blog. One question, in the Chronicle article rider talent was the 'most insignificant' with ambition being the most important - just wondering which comment is correct, as he has generally mentioned ambition over the years...Again, Thank you for the great coverage, looking forward to future GM/Eventing collaboration.

  4. Love GM and all he has to offer to the sport! Thanks for sharing!