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January 6, 2010

Day 2 At The Horsemastership Training Clinic: Flatwork

Hi guys,

Day 1, flatwork, was finally here. The wind was blowing, and it was very cold. The horses were wild, and all wanted to gallop free as if they were in the wild.

The morning started very early, as I always like to start my mornings early. Laurie Pitts, who is the general barn manager, keeps us in line and makes sure everything is orderly. Everyone was asked to be there at 6:30 to get all the horses groomed and fed, as the first group began at 8 a.m. sharp.

I participated in the second group, so instead of getting there at 6:30, I decided I would get there at 5 a.m. just to make sure I had everything in line.

The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center is a magnificent show facility. We are lucky enough to be able to use the International Ring so that we could have a lot of space for riding and spectating.

When everybody got all saddled up for the first group, George was, of course, on time spick and span to start the day. He drove out on his golf mobile, ready to teach.

The first group flatted and worked on lateral movements and suppling. They also focused on longitudinal work, such as transitions. George got on Jackie Lubrano’s horse and really worked on getting him supple and attentive and accepting of the aids.

After the first section came section No. 2, which I was a part of. We started out galloping around the whole International Ring to let the horses loosen up and unwind.

Horses were bucking, leaping up into the air, running around wild. We soon got everybody and everything under control and proceeded to have a really great flat session.

George told all of us to line up, and he got on Chase Boggio's beautiful gray horse Perfekt. His horse was not accepting of George's aids to begin with, so he went on to explain the take and give theory, and that you must take the horse's mouth before you can give.

By the end, Chase's horse was on the bridle, not over-bent, but accepting, and ready to do anything George asked. What I learned for myself was that I need to carry my hands more in order to create a straight line from my horse’s mouth to my elbow.

Flatwork is so important—it's what makes every successful rider successful. I am fascinated by flatwork and those who have perfected it. I love watching videos of riders such as [Michel] Robert, [Marcus] Ehning, and [Jos] Lansink because I am a visual learner. I try to emulate what they do, and if I have the wrong idea, then I always have Karen to put my back in my place! It can sometimes be challenging, because every horse is different, and you can't ride them all the exact same way.

After the riding, we gathered our binders and listened to a true champion speak about her journey to success. Anne Kursinski made us all feel like we had known one another forever. She spoke in a tone that made everyone feel comfortable, and she was very modest.

The moral of her speech "The Heart Of A Champion," was that if you have goals, you need ambition and drive, and, above all, good work ethics. Anne's mindset growing up was to get to the Olympics, and she did just that. She is a great rider that has not only perfected flatwork but has also won a Grand Prix dressage class! It's very inspiring listening to someone speak about their adventures and their ups and downs.

Following this was a session with a veterinarian for the U.S Equestrian Team, Dr. Tim Ober. A very intelligent man, he thoroughly went through all the horse’s body parts and explained that the relationship with your veterinarian is very important in maintaining a good system and, most importantly, a sound horse!

Communication is a very important key, which is lacking in a lot of areas today. Horsemanship is for the horse, horsemanship is for the well being of the horse. In order to be a horse master, you cannot let a piece of dust be on your horse. You need to know your horse inside and out in order to be truly successful.

The bond with your horse is most important—grooming your horse and spending time around your horse allows you to understand his or her attitudes and behaviors. Especially riding your horse, you need to understand it physically and psychologically.

After learning about veterinary relationships, all the riders went out with George onto the International Ring to set the gymnastics course for tomorrow's session!

That's all I'm saying for today. If you want to know more, you'll just have to find out in tomorrow's blog... :)

Stay tuned,
Theo