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June 26, 2014

Gymnastics Test Riders During George H. Morris Gladstone Program at Annali-Brookwood Farm

Adrienne Dixon

Antioch, IL - June 26, 2014 - Day three of the George H. Morris Gladstone Program at Annali-Brookwood Farm, organized by Diane Carney, brought more experience and knowledge to the ten riders selected by Morris to participate in the prestigious program. Today's session included a review of flatwork, more difficult gymnastics for horses and riders, continued education on confirmation, and learning and understanding an FEI jog; as well as a discussion with Young Rider Chef d' Equipe, Diane Langer.


In Morris' sessions today, he emphasized contact with the horse's mouth and raising the hands to meet the horse's mouth. Horses ridden correctly have no need for draw reins to get the horse on the bit. Morris said gadgets and trendy gimmicks have no place in proper riding. He also made the point that riders should make sure the horse go forward, and then come back and listen to the leg. The horse should always be in front of the leg and behind the hand.


"If you teach a horse something they will use it against you," said Morris. "If you teach them to go forward they will run away. If you teach them to stop and back they will rear. That's why the counter canter is so helpful to discipline the horse."


The groups moved on to a trot jump and a bending line to a 4' wide oxer and 20' to a vertical and did the exercise back and forth. The jumps today included a triple bar over the 12' water, the USET oxer with a liverpool, a single narrow wall with a picket gate and a three-oxer triple combination.


"A gymnastic can be any arrangement of jumps," said Morris, "they don't have to be in a straight line to be a gymnastic."

For the afternoon session, G. Marvin Beeman, DVM of Littleton Equine Medical Center in Denver, CO, continued his presentation on conformation. Dr. Beeman, the key veterinarian behind the successful career of the Olympic horse, Calypso, spoke about the dynamics of locomotion - where the horse lands, turns and puts pressure. Then he gave examples of diagrams used to study the conformation of the horse, speaking to the fact that about 60-65% of the horse's weight is supported by the front end.

"Horses can tolerate poor conformation but it eventually catches up with them," said Dr. Beeman. "It's also usually not one defect, but a combination of defects that can limit the horse's ability or soundness."


He continued to teach riders how to evaluate conformation. Dr. Beeman broke it down into five categories; Head, neck, body and balance; front limb; rear limb; type of horse; and way of going. He explained the details of each category.


He also discussed the affects of altitude on horses and navicular, the foot and shoeing and the skeleton and muscle attachment. Dr. Beeman's presentation encouraged conversation and questions from the riders. It was clearly evident he is a true horseman who has dedicated his life to horses like Morris. Morris then emphasized that to be the best it takes dedication and ambition.

Riders fed their horses and then sat down to listen to Diane Langer talk about applications and information considered for a United States team competitions. Langer was a wealth of information and opened the floor for discussion about the Young Riders competition. She also discussed with riders the need for them to create a plan and a map of competitions, allowing their horses to peak at the right times and which types of classes riders should be striving for.