During this year’s competition hiatus, Peter Gray continued doing what he does best — helping horses and riders improve — via his Remote Centerline Workshop series, in which he virtually judged dressage tests. Now, as the sport begins to emerges from its shell, Peter has been helping horses and riders find their way back into fighting form with a series of clinics on the east coast.
Peter’s resumé as a rider is impressive enough: three Olympics, Badminton and Burghley, two WEGs, individual Bronze medalist at the Pan Am Games, the list goes on. Not every great rider is also a great coach, but Peter is an exception, having served as a High Performance Eventing Coach for Canada, Venezuela, Guatemala and Columbia. He’s also a five-star eventing judge, manages horse shows, always seems to be working on about a million side projects, and promptly replies when you text him a question at 5:30 a.m.
If memory serves, the first time I encountered him in person was 10 or 15 years ago, and it was twice in one day: in the morning he was giving a cross country lesson to a Canadian team rider at Jon Hollings,’ and later in the day he was passaging a pure dressage horse around the ring at his farm. I was like, “Is this the same rider? Eventers aren’t supposed to be that good at everything.”
Alas, he is, and the best we can do is benefit from his experience.
Samantha Morse, a 17-year-old young rider, was among the participants at Kay Slater’s True North Farm clinic in Harwich, MA. She shared the following comments:
“I was thrilled to be able to ride with such a well respected and intellectual individual who I knew would focus on precise, positive and elastic work for not only myself and my mare, but also every individual who rode with him,” Samantha says. “My mare came out better each day, clearly happy and proud of herself through Peter’s thoughtful instruction.
“Through shifting the focus to training the horse, my riding improved and thus my mare’s suppleness, mood, and relaxation improved. Not only did she feel happy to work, relaxed, forward-thinking and ready for more after each set, but so did I. I felt confident, pleased and excited for more while also very satisfied and thankful for such an opportunity from Peter and Kay.
“After the past weekend with Peter, I am looking forward to this year’s training with my mare, future clinics with him and the rest of the competition season. A deeply felt thank you goes out to Peter for the extraordinary instruction that left myself and my horse feeling proud and pleased, and to Kay for always putting thought into who she brings into the farm, what they offer for the riders and horses, as well as creating a positive training environment through constantly encouraging others to always be learning, work hard, and provide correct, thoughtful care for their horse.”
Katherine Cooper is another who has recently benefited from Peter’s instruction: “Coping with the COVID has been hard for us all, so having the chance for my friend Peter Gray come for a quick clinic at Beniah Lane Farm in Epping, NH, was a very happy occasion! We had several really helpful dressage lessons, where Peter shared his wealth of knowledge and sense of humour to get horses and humans to lower their heads and move forward! We then moved to the jump field for lessons that started with elevated trot poles and progressed to turning exercises emphasizing a soft, following hand.
“We then headed to Pinetree Equestrian in Beverly, MA where Peter took over my usual Thursday clinic. The kids were so excited to host such a highly qualified trainer that they painted all the jumps and turned their ponies to the max! There was a party atmosphere with friends and family coming out to watch a socially-distant learning opportunity. Peter used his keen eye to help a variety of horses and riders improve their connection and his wit to keep everyone laughing. We were sorry to send him off to the Cape at the end of the day but hope he can make it back again!”
Peter is a tricky one to keep up with — he’s teaching in Boston this week then off to judge at Fair Hill, then … TBA. He’s teaching a clinic at L’Esprit Equestrian in Woodstock, Illinois, on Aug. 15-16 (view information about that here) among future dates, I’m sure. Should you happen upon an opportunity to ride with him, don’t hesitate!