Throwback Thursday: American Excellence—George Morris Rides Winyamaro

Oct 31, 2011 - 11:08 AM
Catherine Haddad Staller made riding Winyamaro look like so much fun that George Morris decided he'd like to try. Photo by Anna Jaffe.

Dear Rita,

Just before we left the good ole USA for Germany last week, one of the highlights of our American tour took place at the USET. George Morris, U.S. show jumping chef d’equipe, rode Winyamaro! Now, how cool is that?

I kept my horses stabled at the team headquarters in Gladstone for the entire three months I was in the USA. For the last week of that time, the U.S. show jumping team was also stabled at the USET as they prepared to fly to Guadalajara for the Pan American Games, and I had the great pleasure of riding alongside some of our country’s best horses and riders for a few days.

Brief tangent: CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR MOST EXCELLENT RIDERS FOR YOUR SUCCESS AT THE PAN AMERICAN GAMES!!! No less than THREE team gold medals, a sweep of the dressage individual medals, two of the three jumping individual medals and two of the eventing individual medals made it back to America on the wings of our fabulous horses and riders. Love it, love it, love it!

Which brings me back to George and W. Now Mr. Morris looks 65 years old, but when I asked, his riders insisted that he is in his mid-70s. So I thought that if I offered him a ride on my horse, he would hop up there for 10 minutes, canter a little bit, try a few flying changes (all jumping riders can do flying changes) and then call it a day.

But to my surprise and immense pleasure, Mr. Morris rode W for a full 45 minutes and tried everything from the Grand Prix. He rode one- and two-tempis, half-pass zigzags, canter pirouettes, and piaffe and passage! I was not only impressed by the fact that Mr. Morris is so fit, but I was also very flattered that he so obviously enjoyed his time in the saddle on my horse.

FYI, Mr. Morris says that I ride in a “wonderful” saddle. Kudos to the Stuebben Genesis Special. Hee, hee.

Rita, you are probably wondering how this inter-discipline foray came about….

There I was in the crisp fall mornings, schooling W with a passel of jumping horses in the main arena at Gladstone. The sun was shining, leaves were blowing across the arena, and W was DELIGHTED to frolic with a bunch of jumpers who get airborne on a regular basis, as getting airborne (without the help of a jump) is a favorite pastime of his. Needless to say, he was way beyond his normal exuberant self!

Mr. Morris watched me ride W every morning, and if I might brag just a little bit, W was SMOKIN’ during those training sessions, which would make any good rider itch at the palms. I could tell by the comments of our U.S. jumping coach that he was fascinated by the power and expression my horse was offering with such obvious enthusiasm every day. So just before our show jumping team departed for Mexico, I offered Mr. Morris a ride on W. And he accepted! With delight!

I was a little hesitant when he asked me to explain some things to actually help him with my horse, because I thought: “Dude, you are the one who should be teaching me.”

But it just goes to show you that a true horseman never misses the chance to learn from a great horse when given the opportunity. And if that means sharing the owner’s manual with a test rider, then so be it! W, I might add, took very good care of our jumping coach.  I was proud of him.

I can’t tell you how much this meant to me. The equestrian disciplines are so different from each other, and yet we have so much in common. Suppleness, elasticity, fitness and rideability are vital to any successful horse in any sport. A good horse, a well-trained horse, a talented horse, should be appreciated by any and all riders. Mr. Morris is a true horseman, and it was an honor for me to hand over the reins.

Here a few clips from George Riding W. Enjoy!! 

I’m Catherine Haddad Staller, and I’m sayin it like it is from Hooge Mierde, The Netherlands. (Yes, The Global Dressage Forum: More On That Coming Soon.)

Training Tip of the Day: A good training job is universal amongst the disciplines. A well-trained jumper speaks the same language as a well-trained dressage horse.

InternationalDressage.com

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