Empathy and Polish: A Clinic with Chris Burton

Chris Burton and Quality Purdey. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Australian speedster Chris Burton is currently on a tour of North America, teaching clinics on both coasts to eager riders ready to learn his tricks of the trade. Sara Kozumplik Murphy was one rider who participated in this past week’s clinic organized by Arden Wildasin in South Carolina, and the takeaways from Chris, who is well-known for his efficient, smooth, and quick style of riding across the country, abound.

“He is empathetic to the horses, doesn’t jump the legs off them by jumping too big or too much, and is extremely fair in how he presents the lines to the before adding difficulty,” Sara wrote in a Facebook post recapping her experience. “He allows the horses to travel the way they like to go naturally and is insistent on the riders finding a jumpable distance, then staying out of the way.”

Chris’ riding philosophy is evident when he teaches, focusing mostly on balance, riding with empathy, and putting a bit of polish on the top. And in some instances, going slow means going quick, taking more efficient turns in order to cover more ground.

One exercise that Chris used was a simple line of ground poles, in between which he challenged riders to get a variety of strides. Take a look at Sara piloting Devil Munchkin through this exercise:

The coolest little Kermit was one of the few horses able to stretch out to do a very long 3 in the poles yesterday during the Chris Burton clinic at Fox Nation in Aiken. He also did 10 strides 😊💗 Huge thank you to Arden for organizing this wonderful opportunity at your beautiful facility. All of us had a great time learning 🙌 #DevilMunchkin

Posted by Sara Kozumplik Murphy on Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Riding responsibly and with a responsive horse is an important step to increasing speed safely and laying down a smooth round. “What makes great cross country riders great is their ability to adapt to a sudden change in situation, even when things go quite against plan,” Sara wrote. “However you MUST be married to the fact that it is your job (and your job alone) to present your horse in balance to a realistic distance. You MUST understand when you have failed to do so. You MUST also take full responsibility on figuring out how to prevent it from happening again.”

You can read Sara’s full recap and watch more videos from her rides with Chris below:

For those of you who asked what I thought of Chris Burton’s clinic that Arden was cool enough to organize this…

Posted by Sara Kozumplik Murphy on Thursday, February 6, 2020

Chris Burton next heads to the West coast for a clinic at Galway Downs in Temecula, California this weekend, February 8-9. Auditing is available, and more information on doing so can be found here.