For 25 years, world-renowned trainer, rider and Chef d'Equipe of the United States Show Jumping Team, George H. Morris, has conducted his annual clinic organized by Diane Carney in Chicago. This past Thanksgiving weekend riders and instructors from the Zone 5 area gathered to experience Morris' expertise and invaluable knowledge first-hand. Chicago-based trainer Diane Carney of Telluride Farm, based out of Canterbury Farm, organized the entire clinic, and with the help of Greg Franklin, as well as Rush and Caroline Weeden, the George Morris Annual Clinic and USHJA Trainer Certification proved to be nothing short of a success.
A world-renowned horseman, Morris has played a crucial role, not only in the growth of countless prestigious horses and riders, but also in the development of the current equestrian sport. He has often been referred to as the "founding father" of hunt seat equitation. Second to none, his teachings, technique, and style are admired around the world. His clinics are a rare and exceptional opportunity for riders of all levels and ages to learn from the finest. Over 200 auditors attended the event.
"George is the best," Carney commented. "He is the best riding instructor and most professional horseman that I have ever encountered. He is certainly one of the very top, even internationally. I think professionals who are eager to continue their education will look for a professional who will expand their knowledge and horsemanship. It is always a continuing conversation-we are never done learning. George himself is never done learning and he passes that along with his passion in every clinic."
Each year, one rider has the opportunity to earn a sponsorship to attend this prestigious clinic, a rider who would not have otherwise had the opportunity to participate. Along with the sponsorship, raffles are held at the IHJA Year End Banquet for auditors to place bids for the opportunity to attend. This year Showplace Productions, Barrington Saddlery, Queenie Productions, Ann K. Hubbard Tack, ChicagoEquestrian.com, USHJA Zone 5 Committees and Abba Vet Supply sponsored the clinic.
Carney organizes the clinic in a very careful manner, speaking to trainers and riders across the Zone 5 area, and discerning whether or not they have the same philosophy as Morris. The purpose behind the clinic is for riders to gain direct knowledge for success in the sport by going back to the fundamentals. Morris focused on the quality of contact, and suggested Dr. Deb Bennett's book Conformation and Function in the Riding Horse.
"I have known Diane for over 30 years," Morris remarked. "I first met her when she began going to my clinics in Colorado. When she moved to Chicago and asked me to host a clinic out there, I was honored. She has great organizational skills-she runs a tight ship. Everything is meticulous."
Held November 23-25, 2012, the clinic consisted of 23 riders and 200 auditors. The students were separated into three different sections: 1.10 m, 1.20 m, and Grand Prix. When Carney first began riding with Morris, she rode in all three sections to be able to get the most out of the clinic.
"The clinic focused on three days of problems under saddle and over fences," Carney explained. "All of the problems were solved through correct riding, and all of the horses and riders achieved more by day three than was even imaginable on day one."
Top riders joined the clinic to seek Morris' instruction first-hand including: winner of the WIHS Equitation Finals Elizabeth Benson, previous USET Maxine Beard Award winner Richard Rinehart, Show Jumping Hall of Fame Champion and USEF Talent Search Gold Medal winner Caitie Hope, 2012 USHJA Emerging Athletes Program winner Stephen Foran, and IHJA Horse Person of the Year Lisa Goldman.
"This is really one of my more difficult clinics," Morris stated. "It is one of my more difficult clinics because there is such a high caliber of riders. There are higher standards, lines and exercises. It is a lovely place, a great place to hold a clinic, and I keep coming back because I am so comfortable with it."
Morris continued, "I am very close with Diane. She has a real passion for what she does, and I enjoy doing clinics with her. I am always very careful with new clinics, Diane shares my same point of view."
Morris is an avid supporter of the USHJA Trainer Certification, and the clinic offered the opportunity to professionals seeking certification. In an effort to assist trainers with the program requirements, CPR Certification was offered each day after the conclusion of the George H. Morris clinic. Juniors and Professionals from Zone 5 were the demonstrators for the USHJA Trainer Certification at the George H. Morris/Chicago Riding Clinic.
"When teachers are looking for education, I enjoy including the certification in my clinics to help them continue to expand their education," Morris said. "I was brought up by Americans, with the traditional American-style of riding. It is important for young teachers to grow from what I was taught-that is what I teach-what I was taught. It is very old and very traditional classic riding. I don't cater to the era of fashions in riding."
Along with providing riders with an irreplaceable experience to learn from the best, the George H. Morris Clinic graciously accepted donations throughout the three-day clinic to raise money for the ASPCA and USET Foundation. The clinic raised over $500 for each non-profit organization. The Zone 5 Scholarship fund also received a $500 donation.
"To be brave enough to take his clinic is a huge factor. You have to be bold-you have to be bold on a horse, you have to be a bold thinker," Carney concluded. "I think that one of the greatest relationships with George is that the better I got, he could do more with me. Once you have that foundation you are able to progress and go in so many different directions, but it all goes back to the fundamentals. To remain curious about the sport, now we are talking about passion, but it is the driving instinct that makes it all work."
Carney, a USEF "R" Hunter/Equitation and "r" Jumper Licensed Official, is based out of Hampshire, IL, at her hunter/jumper show stable, Telluride Farm. She has been both an active participant and influential trainer in the hunter and jumper community for many years. Her contributions to the industry extend to the many clinics that she teaches every year, in addition to those she hosts annually for U.S. Show Jumping Chef d'Equipe George H. Morris and top hunter/jumper trainer Don Stewart Jr. Carney is also Zone 5 Jumper Committee Chairperson, and is a director on the Illinois Horseman's Council. For more information about Diane Carney and Telluride Farm please visit www.TellurideFarm.com .
All photos courtesy of Brenda Mueller of Chicago Equestrian. These photos may only be used for free in relation to this Phelps Media Group press release.