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  1. #1
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    Default GM's column in Practical Horseman, Mar. '13

    Even though George Morris is known for being tough and very harsh at times, I was a bit confused by some of his comments in this month's issue of Practical Horseman (March '13).

    He commented that one particular horse was "not very athletic, loose below the knee" and that he would "not want to ride the horse over a stiff vertical".

    I honestly didn't see what was so terrible about that horse. I'm not a judge, I don't do hunters (anymore) and am primarily an event and dressage rider now, but I still didn't think that one particular horse was a bad as GM described. The horse's knees were up and even, not pulled up to its ears, but the horse's forearm was at least parallel to the ground from what I recall. The legs weren't dangling or uneven. The hooves weren't tucked in perhaps as much as you would see in a fancy hunter, but they didn't look dangerous.

    What gives with him this month? Do we all have to look like runway models before we can be worthy of being looked at?


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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnicklefritzG View Post
    What gives with him this month? Do we all have to look like runway models before we can be worthy of being looked at?
    What does this have to do with the rest of your post? Somehow, to you, "horse doesn't jump well" = "riders all have to be runway models"?

    Or are you just bored and after a train wreck?
    "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
    -George Morris


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  3. #3
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    GM has been looking at and evaluating horses for...what...50+ years as an adult? He sees things as a professional rider, judge and clinician we sometimes miss because we just don't see enough horses. Plus we all can get a bit barn blind when we don't see (and get paid to watch and evaluate) 1000+ horses a year going around a course at shows and clinics for decades.

    If he gets a sense this horse is limited in athleticism, it is only fair he relay that opinion if for no other reason then to get the rider to tailor their program to what the horse can actually do easily...or at least think about that horse not being what they hoped it would.

    We had a similar thread recently about him pointing out a hanging leg-some said how dare he and others said he should because it may indicate an unsafe jumping style that can lead to a rotational fall over hight fences.

    He does not sugar coat but he is usually right and it is in the best interests of both horse and rider to point out any concern.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


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  4. #4
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    I don't know that we all have to look perfect 24/7, but I do think GM is pretty spot on with the majority of his comments. I am not a judge by any means and while I do still ride hunters, I don't begin to pretend that I have the knowledge to critique like he does. My best guess is because the angle of the legs is not flat or up, more like the knees are slightly pointed downward. I can't say that is exactly what he is thinking, but maybe?

    I don't think anyone should be taken back by the comments GM gives to any horses. By submitting a picture to him, we are asking him to say what he really feels and we know that he can be brutally honest. I'm sure he could find flaws in some of the worlds best horses and riders. That is his job and that is why we love and respect GM the way we do.


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  5. #5
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    I typically agree with GM, but I thought the same thing as the OP when I saw this comment. The horse was jumping a smallish fence and while he wouldn't win in rated company and didn't look like a super athlete his form seemed reasonable for a 2'3-2'6 horse. While he might not be a horse I'd want to take down to a 4' vertical he seems well suited at the level at which he's shown jumping.
    The horse actually looks like a horse I rode in the EQ as a junior.
    F O.B
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  6. #6
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    GM demands functional perfectionism. We've known that for years and I respect him for it. It's his job in this column to point out anything less than that.


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  7. #7
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    I haven't seen the picture.

    GM has a problem in that the fences in these pictures are much lower than in days of yore: The horses are stepping over them rather than jumping them. How can he judge the athletic depth of a horse in this scenario?

    But!

    I believe he's trying to give the under 3' rider a "heads up," especially with the cautionary "stiff vertical" remark. If we only jump little, we don't tighten up a horse's jumping style. That can invite a horse to get sloppy. And we might not know that until, say, we decide to take our 2'6" to a hunter pace and f-up at a fence where you did need a more careful horse.
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  8. #8
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    Eh, when you send a picture in to George Morris, you know what you're getting.

    If I sent him one of my favorite pictures of my guy loping rather adorably over a little oxer, he'd say "Not the type I want to take down to a stiff vertical, either." Not what he said about the horse in real life, but he can only judge what he's seeing in that one moment in time.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
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  9. #9
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    In comparing the photos They all seem to have that similar style. He does comment on them all, the third he says is not a natural jumper with a high head, loose legs, hollow back and twists his front end. I think the problem with this horse is that he is just on the edge of having his knees pointed down and isn't tight with his lower leg. I'm not GM but I don't see the "try" I guess in the horse? He isn't horrible of course and it's not one of those photos that you look at and say immediately "I wouldn't be jumping that horse!" But I think I get kind of what he is saying. I'd say the fence is at least 2'6" if not bigger.



  10. #10
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    i just went and looked at the pictures. i dont see the difference between horse one and horse 3 and 4. horse two looks rounder and higher over the fence.
    but horse 3 is hollow with to me same leg fold. and horse 4 is very flat backed and looks like it is reaching. why is it okay for him not be exerting effort, but not okay for the first horse. maybe the first horse is bored to tears of jumping 2.6ft and would show much more effort over 3.6ft?
    i dont get it, but i do like that george is educating people about horse style and the dangers of jumping. because it is dangerous to jump with a leg hanger. but i think alot of horses that leg hang in a picture were just put to a bad distance. that they can jump some very cute jumps if ridden properly to the fences. its a rare animal that jumps cute over every fence and every distance. and those horses are very expensive!



  11. #11
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    That comment is nothing new to the PH GM Jumping Clinic section. I've seen him write those exact words at least half a dozen times over the last decade or so.

    That horse looks like an unsafe jumper does not = that horse is ugly.
    Barn rat for life

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  12. #12
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    I think what I found confusing is that said horse #1 is "borderline dangerous" but I honestly don't see how it is any worse than the others. ??


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  13. #13
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    He might just be concerned that you don't end up like Bouvier , an advanced rider killed in an event by a rotational fall yesterday.
    I've not seen the picture but I do recommend that my students are partnered with animals who have enough scope & athleticism to compensate for their rider's jumping errors.
    I promote safety as a principal all of us rely on when taking the chance of sitting on an animal's back and soaring over fixed objects. Kind of like stacking the odds in your favor.


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  14. #14
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    I thought the same thing as the OP about the first horse. Is he on the road to hunter derby stardom? No. Does he look dangerous at all? I really didn't think so.


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  15. #15
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    I've not seen the picture but I do recommend that my students are partnered with animals who have enough scope & athleticism to compensate for their rider's jumping errors."

    This is such a good point,Alligory. And I think George is trying to educate his readers for just this reason. He wants to steer us away from "just okay" jumpers....because, honestly, most of us are "just okay" so we need a partner who is better than we are!!!
    "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ALLIGORY View Post
    He might just be concerned that you don't end up like Bouvier , an advanced rider killed in an event by a rotational fall yesterday.
    I've not seen the picture but I do recommend that my students are partnered with animals who have enough scope & athleticism to compensate for their rider's jumping errors.
    I promote safety as a principal all of us rely on when taking the chance of sitting on an animal's back and soaring over fixed objects. Kind of like stacking the odds in your favor.

    There is a massive different between jumping a 4ft solid fence and a 2ft vertical with rails that come down. I haven't seen the picture, and don't know the height of the jump. Ideally a more beginner jump rider would have an athletic and scopey horse who is also easy, bombproof, and has a great brain. Horses like that are frequently expensive and hard to find, so for safety's sake you might compromise in athleticism to get a better brain. I would rather put a beginner rider on an easy mount who isn't the greatest jumper. Doesn't mean I would send that same animal over a 4ft cross country fence.

    But I have seen similar comments from GM on pictures of what are appear to be more beginner riders on schoolie-types. I'm not saying he is at all wrong about the quality of the animal's jump...I just think sometimes he loses sight of the fact that those mounts might be the most appropriate mix of easy and athletic the riders can afford.
    Currently blogging for Chronicle of the Horse. Articles can be found here: http://www.chronofhorse.com/category...ryan-lefkowitz


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  17. #17
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    The jump is an Oxer maybe 3' in the back.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rabicon View Post
    The jump is an Oxer maybe 3' in the back.
    Oh ok, thanks! Then maybe my reply is more general to pictures I've seen before than this exact one.
    Currently blogging for Chronicle of the Horse. Articles can be found here: http://www.chronofhorse.com/category...ryan-lefkowitz



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rel6 View Post
    But I have seen similar comments from GM on pictures of what are appear to be more beginner riders on schoolie-types. I'm not saying he is at all wrong about the quality of the animal's jump...I just think sometimes he loses sight of the fact that those mounts might be the most appropriate mix of easy and athletic the riders can afford.
    Whether the mounts are "appropriate" or not, GM is critiquing photos people send in of those mounts. If they appear to be unsafe jumpers, he says so and well he should. I have read numerous times his critiques of horses that were not at all fancy yet were competent and safe jumpers, and he has said as much. If you (in the general sense of "you") don't want a truly objective critique of you and your horse's jumping effort, don't send a photo to George Morris.
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  20. #20
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    IME, a horse can hook a leg or fail to fold up in front and go rotational over anything be it 2' or 4', frangible (falls down) or solid and Lord knows I've seen enough of them do that over the years.

    The worst I ever saw injury wise was a klutzy youngster who couldnt figure out how to lift its knees somehow ended up upside down on the landing side of a grandiose 2'3" "fence" putting its pro rider out of commission with a broken collarbone and facial injuries. After recovering from suspensory damage, the horse became a Dressage horse.

    Whether the horse is just not built to do the job or the rider continually gets the long and weak spot or buries them, both can get hurt and the trainer/rider need to be aware of that risk and plan accordingly including limiting height and spread. But they can only do that if somebody tells them and they accept it.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


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