What a day, what a cold day! Due to wind and cold rain, Saturday had to be pushed to Sunday. It was better that way, because the conditions were very difficult to ride in.
On Sunday, we started at 7 a.m. instead of 8, and began jumping the course that we had set on Friday. The course began with a three-stride line off the left lead shaping in the eight to a red gate. After that was a right turn to the open water, and an easy five strides, turning left and jumping a natural triple bar right off out of the turn, left to a triple combination. Then there was a short double of verticals, to a long one to a shaping in nine strides to the last vertical.
It was a very cold morning, so the hardest part was just pretending like it was warm. George stressed the importance of the automatic release or “jumping out of hand,” like riders such as Bert de Némethy, or Frank Chapot absorbed and practiced.
It was imperative to be in a two-point, or even a three-point contact out of the saddle while jumping a course, because it allowed the horse more freedom to jump.
“I scratch my head why people ride their horses downhill, when they jump uphill,” said George. Jumping out of hand is a classic technique which people like Anne Kursinski have practiced and mastered. It is the most practical release (which I try to apply to my riding). It’s better because you follow the horse’s mouth, and it’s more beautiful.
“So many riders today overdo the crest release, it’s overused,” George told us. In order to be a great rider you must be able to use any type of position or release, however if you chose to only use one in particular, that’s fine. It’s OK as long as it works for you, and you’ve chosen it rationally. I say rationally because so many people make decisions, and base their ideas off their whims and emotions. There are no emotions in riding!
“My great trainer Gordon Wright taught me that there are no emotions in riding. Riding has to be subtle, it has to be smooth, and you must be patient!” said George.
I regard patience as a lost virtue in many trainers’ philosophies. Anytime something goes wrong in my riding, if I’ve had a bad lesson, I ride through it and try the next day. I agree 50 percent with George Morris’ famous phrase: “Practice doesn’t make perfect, it’s perfect practice that makes perfect.”
I agree to some extent, but we all learn through trial and error. I cannot approve of this saying. I practice to be perfect, and I think we all want to get to the point where we are perfect all the time, but even the greatest riders make mistakes even though they are great.
Through this clinic, I have gained even more respect for George, and he has confirmed in my mind that he truly is one of the greatest teachers of all time. He’s not just a teacher, but a rider himself, and therefore he really understands what the rider has underneath him or her. He is able to detect what you feel, and what you should feel. He is a perfectionist, and I will do my best to continue to practice his techniques, along with trying to discover a little of my own touch. Every great has his or her touch.
I am back home now. It’s taken me two days to defrost and be able to type. I will miss riding with George and spending time with the other riders. However, I’m very excited to be at home with my horses, so that I can practice what I learned.
Thanks so much again for all those who really made that clinic happen, and I hope it’s something they will all continue to do, because I think it’s a great thing. It teaches riders about riding and, more importantly, horsemanship. To be titled a good horseman, hard work is necessary. Ambition and hard work are key ingredients in success. All those who are successful had ambition, drive and have worked hard. Also, I think good things happen to good people.