George Morris Doesn’t Disappoint at Windurra Clinic

Photo by Lisa Thomas, Mid-Atlantic Equestrian Services.

Photo by Lisa Thomas, Mid-Atlantic Equestrian Services.

“That’s it. That’s it.” I will have the sound of George Morris’ voice ingrained in my head, repeating this encouragement as his clinic participants followed his instruction and earned his praise.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to attend a George Morris clinic, you will identify with that tone of voice, knowing that the master of hunt seat equitation is known for his sayings, quips and occasional sharp tongue. Yesterday was no exception, as he came to Windurra USA for the second year in a row and did not disappoint the spectators or riders who took part in today’s education.

As always, George’s teaching style continues to be clear, straight forward, demanding and consistent. He requires repetition of the basics and has high expectations of his students. No room for the unmotivated in a George Morris clinic, and if you come with less than your A game, expect to hear about it.

There were three groups of riders who took part in his instruction today, and attendees ranged in rider and horse experience levels. There was representation from our local upper level celebrities (Boyd Martin, Phillip Dutton, Erin Sylvester, Kate Hicks, Molly Kinnamon and Amy Ruth Borun), while Matt Brown showcased why he’s become the talk of the West Coast.

All the groups had a nice mix of talent with up and coming event riders and fortunate working students who held up well under the pressure of riding in front of the Father of Hunt Seat Equitation. The dark horse of the day was jump jockey extraordinaire and Maryland Hunt Cup champion, Mark Beecher.

Here are a few snippets of “George-isms” that bear repeating and repeating.

George on contact:

“Constantly check that the horse accepts contact with a short rein and closed fingers.”
“Shorten the rein, close your fingers, raise your hand till he starts to accept the aid.”
“If the horse raises his head, raise your hand.”
“If the horse lowers his head, lower your hand.”
“Raise and close your hand if the horse gets heavy.”
“Subtle him. It’s leg/hand, leg/hand, not hand/leg.”
“Your horse’s mouth should be white.” :)

George on transitions:

“It’s the frequency of the transitions.”
“Canter/walk transition every eight strides if your horse is too fast.”
“It’s supposed to be active but slow.”
“Your horse should sit into the walk.”
“To halt, sink, stretch, leg on, then hand.”

Back to contact:

“Raise your hand.”
“Raise your hand.”
“Raise your hand.” (you get it)

George on jumping:

“Do not worry about your horse’s head being too high.”
“Once you see your distance, lower your hand.”
“Allow your horse to hit the poles. Don’t carry him over the jumps.”
“If you fall off, don’t pet him. Get back on quick and ride!”
“I love to stop in a straight line.”
“Horses hate corners, so stop in the corner.”
“Jump crew, hurry up!”

George on use of stick and spur:

“Make it quick, don’t nag or repeat.”
“Don’t be too intense. You’re not the Statue of Liberty!”

It goes without saying that having George Morris as a guest clinician at Windurra USA is always a true privilege for the riders and the spectators. His pension for blatant honesty is always balanced with proper praise and brilliant assessment of each horse and rider. We are thankful to everyone who took part in today’s clinic, including all the auditors and our sponsors from Purina and Stubben North America.

The clinic continues today, and auditors are welcome. Click here for more information and to see the full rider schedule. You can view a full gallery of photos from Day 1 on Boyd Martin’s Facebook page.

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