I've signed up for a clinic with George Morris when he comes here to Ontario in October. My mare, Tea, and I will be doing a one-day, two-hour 3' hunter section with him, and the clinic is now getting close enough for me to start dithering over details!
Tea is a bit green for her age, but is a good girl with a good foundation - I think (as long as my butterflies don't flap into hyperspeed!) she'll be fine for what he asks of us. I've watched a number of his videos on line and gone through his books again to make sure that we can at least do the basics of his favourite exercises - before we signed up for the clinic, for example, I don't know if I'd jumped many bounces with this horse. GM seems to really like his bounces, so I've made sure that she's now pretty darn comfortable with them.
I do have some questions about turnout for his clinics though, as I really don't want to be the one who sets off a turnout lecture that cuts into riding time! I do turn my horses out well, I think, but am more worried about committing a cardinal sin in the details (i.e. if the soles of my boots aren't polished!). Is George alright with synthetic girths? Mine will be clean, clean, clean, and I would prefer to use it over a leather one, as Tea is a bit sensitive, skin-wise, at times and will be freshly clipped.
I know Mr. Morris prefers conservative turnout, but would it be alright to wear brown boots and a brown GPA? If it would be safer to wear black, I do have black boots and a charcoal GPA that I can use instead.
The clinic organizer was initially going to arrange braiding for all the hunter sections, but has since scrapped that idea as he was finding it too difficult to get it all set up. Does GM like his hunters braided for clinics? If so, I can certainly do my own and look quite presentable, but I also don't want to be the only pretentious one that's braided... Especially if I then go do something like promptly fall off!
I rarely ride with a stick or spurs at home, and my mare is really good off the leg. My plan is to carry a stick, but to just have someone hold the spurs at ringside in case he insists I need them. Does this sound alright? I've also heard rumours that he occasionally asks for bit changes - Tea goes nicely in a mullen mouth D with a slight rise in the middle (to comfortably accommodate her short teeth and big tongue), but is it good practice to bring a few spares? If so, what are his go-to bits?
Does anyone who's ridden with him have any other tips, suggestions or words of wisdom? Am I just really overthinking this out of nerves as the clinic gets closer??? I guess what it comes down to is that I don't mind a lecture as to how I ride or how my horse goes, but I don't want to be on the receiving end because of something that's easy to fix before I even get to the ring. Any thoughts will be much appreciated.
I have not ridden in his clinics but I cannot imagine he's going to have an issue with what color boots and helmet you wear as long as they're dark/traditional colors. Brown boots were the original field boots I don't think he'll have a problem with conservative looking full seat breeches (i.e. not hot pink). I really don't think he cares what brand your helmet is.
I have seen photos of horses with boots in his clinic and without. As long as they're traditional looking and well fitting I think that's okay. If you usually ride without I'd ride without.
I have seen plenty of photos of his clinics and don't generally recall seeing anyone braided. I don't think that's necessary unless you want to.
I don't recall synthetic girths being a pet peeve of his, but I'll let someone more knowledgeable pipe in on that. I don't think he's going to FAULT you for not brining an assortment of bits, but I'll default to someone else on his favorites.
I think he will expect you to have your stick and be wearing your spurs, not have the spurs ringside. That I think he's a bit of a stickler about and you don't want to hold up the group or miss out while you're off getting your spurs. So as long as your horse tolerates them, I'd wear them.
No firsthand knowledge but here is what I've read.
I think it is the fuzzy girths he dislikes. They are the ones that always draw negative comments in PH. As for the spurs and whips, I think he'll send you out to get them - whenever I read his clinic replays in PH, he sends the riders out even if they say they never need/use them, something about never going to battle without a gun/never ride without whip and spurs. If your horse doesn't need much, maybe you can get by with little stubby spurs. And gloves and belts - I think he really likes belts - they not only hold your pants up, they also can be used as an emergency lead/reins - he actually wrote that in an article once.
Very jealous. Hope you will give us a full report!
Thanks very much everyone. None of my sticks have loops, so I'm safe there. As far as the spurs go, I guess I'll pick up some nubbie ones this weekend and then start riding in them. No sense in holding up the clinic if it's a given that he'll make me put them on. I think Tea will tolerate them, but might be a bit surprised if I do poke her (my leg is quiet enough to ride with spurs even if I don't need them, I think, and I do ride others with spurs, but I've just never had reason to even consider putting a pair on with this horse.)
Belt and gloves, check. I don't normally ride in gloves either if it's not cold, but will definitely have them for the clinic.
What about martingales? Tea normally doesn't wear one, but if he prefers his hunters fully dressed with a standing, I can certainly pull hers out.
Savannah Blue - Definitely watched those videos, but I'm hoping he'll be a bit gentler with a 3'0" Adult Ammy hunter group. I'm sure the expectations as far as a foundation and basics will be the same, but here's hoping realizes I'm no Lillie Keenan!
2113 - I'm still excited to do the clinic with him - I'm not looking for a new best friend, I'm looking to learn all I can in a short time from a superb horseman and teacher. If you really were his nurse, I'm not sure you want to leave your post up... I don't know what all the rules are for you guys practicing in the US, but as an RN up here in Canada, I sure wouldn't be comfortable posting anything about a patient of mine!
It's been a few years since I've seen George but the last time I saw him he was all hung up on making everyone jump water - even his 3' hunters. Maybe he's loosened up about it since then, but that was his mantra for the day.
If you wear a martingale make sure it's the correct length. Don't wear anything "blingy" or he'll be snarky.
When I went, I don't think anyone was braided. Be ready to work a long time without stirrups.
Have a great time! I hope you have a lot of fun and report back!
I've ridden in quite a few of his clinics. Wear your spurs, even if they don't have a neck or are super little nubs, under your spur rest ... Is better than having to hold up the group to put them on. His favorite bit is a full cheek snaffle, but as long as its metal and not a rubber bit or a happy mouth. He doesn't really care about martingales as long as your horse isn't Going to be throwing his head around. Don't need to be braided, brown stuff is fine. The boots he was wearing this year were brown he will choose his exercises based on the level he sees in the group. More so exercises than coursework and looking at whole picture.
Hope that helps
Just wanted to make sure - UNDER the spur rest in general is what he prefers? Is wearing them on top of the spur rest a no-no?
Maybe I am totally wrong, but I think that was suggested so that the OP isn't really using the spur, yet its there if necessary. Sounds like her mare doesn't generally need a spur, so this is perhaps a solution to appease GM while not upset the mare.
Leave the butterflys at home! Just tell yourself it's just another lesson which it is! To many get wrapped up in the " star" factor. He's JUST Geroge....
The BEST person to ask advice from is LaurieP!!
I've ridden and trained with him and this is what I'll suggest.
1) Impecable horse turn out.... like you were showing in hand at Devon..DO NOT BRAID.... coat glistening, tail tangle free NO FAKE TALES!!! hoofs painted no flashy saddle pads. If you are using leg protection make sure it's CLEAN!!
2) Your riding attire sound just fine!.. Make sure you hair is NEATLY tucked under your helmet with a hair net, wear spurs, wear gloves, I'm sure it will be chilly there and a turtle neck with a sweater is appropriate, carry a crop, have a second bridle with a stronger bit ready if needed. Your tack must also be glistening clean.
3) Make sure you have/ know your "hack" stirrup length and jumping stirrup length.
4) This is KEY advice......LISTEN like you've never listend before.. be preparred to start the exercise as the one in front of you is finishing... don't wait for them to get back to the line up to start the exercise he's asking for.
It sounds like you've done your homework...GREAT FOR YOU!! make sure you know the speeds of walk,trot, canter, shoulder in/shouder out/ tracking diagonaly/turn on the haunch/turn on the forehand/counter canter/ impulsion at the walk/ shortening and lengthing/engaging your horses honches..
"IF" he insults you...it's because he wants the BEST from you...or you weren't LISTENING!!!"IF" you are a timid shrinking violet check it at the ingate before the clinic starts.
And finally.... take a deep breath and HAVE FUN!!!
I think this give you another idea what to look for and notice the riders turnout!
Andrew got it almost perfect! Only change is that he does NOT care if you wear gloves. Your choice. He rarely wears them himself.
Neatness and cleanliness are of utmost importance. He couldn't care less about brands or fads. Most of his stuff is vintage. No braiding, but a neatly pulled mane.
He dislikes loose ring, hollow mouth bits. Makes their mouths dead. Full cheek, D rings are ok, no rubber. Plain, heavy Fillis irons. Flat length and jumping length. Either kind of martingale but MUST be adjusted properly. Stick and spurs. He doesn't want to hear your reasons why you can't, but will quickly decide if he thinks spurs are too much and have you take them off. He never has you lose the whip.
Listen AT ALL TIMES. Don't get flustered if he singles you out. It is usually a good thing!
Most of his clinics have a wide range of riders, from juniors, to eventers, to fox hunters to pros wanting to brush up their rides. Watch and learn from all. And audit the sections you are not in. He will notice.
He dislikes loose ring, hollow mouth bits. Makes their mouths dead.
I am having difficulty reconciling this particular line of reasoning with the demonstrated practice of the great majority of DressageLand, and also Europe.
Personally I would be cautious taking a green horse to one of his. A clinician who is HUGELY respected by this board mentioned once that in a GM clinic they rode in, GM asked the riders to put one stride in to a 12' bounce and they "didn't like being asked to do that." Personally I would agree with that sentiment, especially on a greenie. What training purpose does struggling with that kind of excercise really serve? For WHAT? Stuff like this is how to undercut the confidence of horse and rider. I don't get it.
George is so much fun to ride with in my opinion. If you don't have his book, get it! (And he will sign it for you)
Brown stuff will be fine, do wear spurs, and just make sure you, your tack, and your horse are clean!
"You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"