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January 10, 2010

Day 5 At the Horsemastership Clinic: No Stirrups!

Day 5 was very hectic! A little more on our schedule, but today was going to be a great one.

No stirrups day came, and to my surprise, it was certainly not a terrible thing. George made all the exercises very simple, and, by the end, we and our horses were very supple.

Training is slow work, and I believe everything should always be taught in moderation. Drilling is something that has a time and place, but drilling all the time is not good for the rider or the horse. George's way of riding is very classical, and his system seems very basic. Who knew that basics were so complicated!

Working on the flat was very interesting. We did a lot of loose work, along with collecting and extending the horses stride. We incorporated lateral work and also body movements such as sticking one hand perpendicularly out and rotating it in both directions. Along with this was moving the head in a circular motion to loosen us riders up.

In the second group, George mounted Jessica's horse Vornado and really worked on engaging the hind end. He made him step up and underneath him, so that he would be pushed into contact.

One thing that George really disapproved of was the overflexing of the horse's neck. He said that today it was a fad to have the horses overflexed. A lot of people simply copy others and think that it may work. It may... However, that's not George's approach to the classical way of riding.

In this sport, there are no shortcuts. No shortcuts exist in riding, and tricks don't work either. People forget the real fashion of riding a horse. In order to have good flatwork and good basics, you must understand it and practice it the right way. Like anything in life, perfection is not obtained by cutting corners—you must take time and practice these skills for it to all melt into place.

Our last session of the day was the ASPCA All Star anti-cruelty summit and panel discussion led by ASPCA president Ed Sayres.

The panelists from the ASPCA were: Ed Sayres, Dr. Melinda Merk, Dr. Pamela Corey and Josef Pentangelo. Also on the panel were world class and Olympic riders such as: Beezie Madden, Brianne Goutal, Anne Kursinski and George Morris.

It was a very heated discussion between the spectators and the panels. Everything that they discussed I had already been informed about, however when you hear it in depth, it makes you want to act right away. I think there are a lot of issues in the world today, huge issues. However the difference between animals and humans is that they don't have a voice. They can't tell us whether they are sick, hungry or sad.

What the ASPCA really did, and does, is make us aware of all the cruelty going on with the animals. There is hope for the animals in need, and thank you to the ASPCA for doing an amazing job in doing so. Also thank you John Madden for conducting the clinic so well, and everybody else who were a huge help—Connie Sawyer, Laurie Pitts and, of course, George Morris.

Tomorrow is the last day of the horsemanship clinic, which is jumping a full course. I'm looking forward to it very much, however I’m sad that it’s the last day. That means that I have to say goodbye to all the other riders and George.

Until tomorrow,
Theo

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