The George H. Morris Gladstone Program wrapped up this weekend, and as always there were plenty of nuggest of Morris knowledge handed out. What will we ever do with ourselves when Mr. Morris is no longer teaching? I'm beginning to think that we should have him record himself saying every training phrase imaginable a la Morgan Freeman so that he will always be a training presence in all disciplines. Horse Nation's Carla Lake took some time to pull five important takeaways from this year's Gladstone Program. Thanks Carla for this great summary!
This Sunday marks the end of this year’s George H. Morris Gladstone Program, an annual opportunity for talented young showjumpers to learn how to develop their skills for team riding on the national and international level. But you don’t need to compete at Maclay to benefit from Uncle George’s (often delightfully cantankerous) teachings:
Pick up a book: Dang kids with their cell phones and their Insta-chats!
“People are too busy these days to study,” Morris said while shaking his head. “They go to horse show after horse show. Everything we learned at Gladstone so many years ago is extinct. Everybody should read and learn everything that they can. I was fortunate enough to start and stay at the top of the sport. I am 76 years old, and I had one great teacher after another throughout my career, but I supplemented my knowledge on the horse with knowledge in the books.”
Don’t over jump. On the third day of the program, riders were faced with several different jumping exercises (details here). However, once the horse “got it,” George didn’t drill.
“Horses need to jump for a reason,” Morris said, “When they have learned, stop jumping. Do not over jump. ”
Drop those stirrups! As is his custom, George focused an entire day of the program on no-stirrups work. His bag of tricks included everything from posting the trot without stirrups to lateral work and scissoring the legs to stretch the adductor muscles.
“You can never grow out of these exercises; they not only help to make you supple, but they allow the horse to trust you. It is important that the horse always trust its rider,” Morris said.
Want to know the rest of Carla’s takeaways? Head on over to Horse Nation for the rest!