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Adults and George Morris clinics

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  • #21
    The only other thing I'd add to the good advice here is to be conscious of what horse you have under you. If you have an unconventional or tricky sort that isn't going to fold in to the very traditional approach and setting, it may not be as good of a fit. Make sure your horse is very fit as well. I knew of a horse that really struggled with the heat and GM did not relent, and the horse ended up getting sick as a result. In all ways, just be prepared. There's a lot of clinicians I would take a tricky or unconventional horse to to get their help; I'd think a while before I'd do that with GM. I'd personally want to go in feeling as prepared and as ready to execute as possible. I think of a GM clinic as a way to truly test my abilities and see where we hang in - not as a clinic to go work on a specific problem.
    Jennifer Baas
    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

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    • #22
      Others have given good advice so do take it all into serious consideration. That said, I rode with him for three days in 2017 in the 3' division and it was the experience of a lifetime. I wrote a clinic report on it to give you an idea:

      https://www.chronofhorse.com/article...-with-a-master

      Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N67YsPhPMc&t=564s

      General tips:
      • Prepare: If you are not willing to work hard physically, be fit (note, that does not equate "thin"), and do the homework months beforehand, I would strongly recommend you just audit a clinic rather than participate in one
      • Traditional tack/attire: Polished boots, clean tack, the simplest set up bit/bridle wise that your horse will go in, and leave the martingale home if you can. If you can't, it had better be a running martingale, not a standing
      • Hunter Seat Equitation: read his book. Study his book. Know basic school figures, and absolutely do know the difference between half turn and half turn in reverse. Lateral work is a must and be prepared to spend an hour without your stirrups if you are doing a multi-day clinic
      • Be respectful: No talking back, no leaning lazily on jump standards GHM or an assistant is riding your horse
      • Pay attention: Listen for exercise direction and don't make him repeat. Be prompt in your execution of the exercise
      • Forward seat: he loves it. If you tend to have more of a European/deep seated style, he will expect you to adopt the more forward seat style for the duration of the clinic. Don't waste his time if you are not willing to try it


      Some people still are on the "George Morris is the devil" train, but after auditing several of his clinics and riding in one, he is anything but. As others have said, he is very to the point and will not hold your hand. If you like hand holding and lots of compliments and flowers, then by all means please ride with someone who will do that for you. He will yell at auditors who are being disruptive (seen that twice!). Some would say he's callous, but in several instances he had every opportunity to be mean and was actually extremely tactful in some bad situations. One riders was overweight but a very good rider...he did not make a single comment about her weight or picture (she was well mounted and the pair was good). The pair did crash a fence on the last day because she got ahead of the horse and he just couldn't get his front end up...George had every opportunity to destroy her then, but he simply stated what I wrote above and that rider fitness (not a specific body type) is important as this is a sport.

      Then there was the woman in my class, who was European, rode with a very deep seat, and was not even trying to ride with a more forward seat. She continually punished the horse over the fence by sitting up and down in the saddle over the top of the fence and not releasing. He repeatedly corrected her, she repeatedly ignored him, and seemed to be enjoying ignoring him. The horse was stopping because she was done getting her head ripped off, and the rider ended up being demoted to the lowest level class the following day. By the third day she was applying herself and was doing what was asked, the horse was jumping better for her, and there was improvement. George was even complimenting her by the third day. But it was two days of fighting with her to get her to just listen. So listen to him from the start, and you'll be fine.

      During that first day with that woman, George was very upset and did tell us (and the crowd of auditors) that if you're going to show up to his clinic, to not waste his time by not doing what he asks. He admitted his style is not for everyone and that he does not expect everyone to use his methods. However, he also said that if you are paying the money and committing to the clinic, to put aside your preconceptions and try the exercises, do exactly what is asked of you, and at the end of the clinic use what works for you, and forget whatever doesn't. Perfectly reasonable request.

      It was absolutely a wonderful experience and I highly recommend it to anyone who is willing to put in the work. There is a lot of work that goes into preparation and a lot of work during the clinic. But you will walk away a better and more knowledgeable rider, one way or another. More importantly, I think you will walk away a better horseman. Horsemanship is always first with him. I personally found him to be delightful to talk to and a generally very pleasant human being, and an undisputed wealth of knowledge on riding and horsemanship. No telling how much longer he will be doing this, so if you're willing to commit to it, do it and have fun!
      Last edited by GoneAway; Apr. 30, 2019, 09:48 PM.
      War Horse Blog
      Blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse

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      • #23

        If you are an auditor, do NOT come back late from lunch, interrupt everyone getting to your spot while carrying a big container of french fries. That did not go over well...

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        • #24
          I rode in a 3 day clinic with him a year and a half ago. I was 67, on a TB mare whom I event at Training. I was in the 3'6" group. I loved it and my mare and I came out of the experience improved. I had practiced w/o stirrups, a lot of counter canter, shoulder in, leg yields and other flat work. but hardly jumping 3'6" at all (I think only one course.) He said I rode the old fashioned forward seat. Told me a couple of times I was a good student and made very helpful corrections. I had ridden in a clinic with him once before but 50 years ago. I was most impressed with how much riding he did and the extent to which he improved each horse he rode. He would mount a horse and from the first step have it in front of his leg. My horse and I have progressed quite a bit since the clinic and I believe the clinic itself as well as the preparation for the clinic set us up for where we are today. It's a serious workout and you'd better be prepared but totally worth it I think. I actually found him to be very fair. The first day he gave a lecture on bits in which he mentioned that he dislikes gags. I was riding my mare in a gag with 2 reins. At the end of the 3 days, I asked him if he could recommend another bit and he said no, the gag was fine for her. She is big and I'm little and she could get strong so the 2nd rein came in handy from time to time. Some months ago, I was able to retire the gag proving the progress we have made and a million transitions later.

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          • #25
            I think most of what I would contribute has already been said. I didn't see anyone mention that heavy riders might want to think twice about being seen in breeches around GM, let alone on a horse in his clinic. If that applies to you...you may want to just audit. Auditing might be a good idea anyway, as others have suggested. I do know three adults who have done GM clinics in the last year; one at 1.00m, and two at 1.40m, and all of them loved it and learned a TON. All three went into it with a very solid flatwork foundation, which helps to navigate his exercises and minimize the harsh criticism. If you have the money and you have thick skin, I say go for it. He won't be around forever, and it would be very cool to say that you rode with him...

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            • #26
              Originally posted by evilc123 View Post
              I think most of what I would contribute has already been said. I didn't see anyone mention that heavy riders might want to think twice about being seen in breeches around GM, let alone on a horse in his clinic. If that applies to you...you may want to just audit. Auditing might be a good idea anyway, as others have suggested. I do know three adults who have done GM clinics in the last year; one at 1.00m, and two at 1.40m, and all of them loved it and learned a TON. All three went into it with a very solid flatwork foundation, which helps to navigate his exercises and minimize the harsh criticism. If you have the money and you have thick skin, I say go for it. He won't be around forever, and it would be very cool to say that you rode with him...
              This is why I wouldn't consider doing it. While I'm a very educated rider who is fit enough for my level (3' jumpers) I am markedly overweight. My self esteem is shaky to begin with so intentionally avoid clinicians who are known to go for the jugular.
              Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
              My equine soulmate
              Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

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              • #27
                I rode with him as a child (on the very low end or possibly younger than he’d accept now) and then again in my 30s.

                I do not think he made the best choices for my more quirky horse that I was riding the first time. We were practicing use of the crop, and my OTTB started to melt down. He was very hard on me, but I only really got the brunt of it if he felt I wasn’t paying attention. You must pay attention and LOOK LIKE YOU ARE TRYING TO DO WHAT HE SAYS. He wants to see an actual physical change happen even if you do it wrong.

                I had had a very different mount the second time around and a thicker skin. And I had more appreciation for his approach. I mean, if I’m coaching someone it drives me batty if I say something 500 times and it doesn’t appear the rider is making even a tiny effort to do the thing I’m telling them to do. I got a lot out of the second clinic, and it was a nice break to lease something rather than ride quirky green beans all the time.

                I had one other opportunity to ride with him but my horse was not ready. He might have been passable in the flatwork, but he was not ready for even the lower level gymnastic exercises. Far too green and spooky and reactive. Rather than experience another meltdown and bad experience, I audited and helped some as ring crew.

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                • #28
                  Originally posted by dani0303 View Post

                  This is why I wouldn't consider doing it. While I'm a very educated rider who is fit enough for my level (3' jumpers) I am markedly overweight. My self esteem is shaky to begin with so intentionally avoid clinicians who are known to go for the jugular.
                  This issue is honestly one of the things I will never see eye-to-eye with GM on. One of the video clips from a friend's clinic has him saying something to the effect of "why are you even bothering with this sport if you aren't in it to be the best and go all the way to the top?" He means that from a physique standpoint and also from a competition level standpoint. I, for one, couldn't afford my own horse until I was close to 30yrs old even though I was obsessed with horses from as early as I can remember. I shouldn't be judged for the fact that I don't have the money to compete (at all, let alone at the highest levels) without working a very demanding job--which also does not allow me to ride enough to realistically ever get to the highest levels of my sport. Same thing goes for body type. You can be extremely successful at many levels of riding without having the physique of the elite athlete that GM insists on.

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by evilc123 View Post

                    This issue is honestly one of the things I will never see eye-to-eye with GM on. One of the video clips from a friend's clinic has him saying something to the effect of "why are you even bothering with this sport if you aren't in it to be the best and go all the way to the top?" He means that from a physique standpoint and also from a competition level standpoint. I, for one, couldn't afford my own horse until I was close to 30yrs old even though I was obsessed with horses from as early as I can remember. I shouldn't be judged for the fact that I don't have the money to compete (at all, let alone at the highest levels) without working a very demanding job--which also does not allow me to ride enough to realistically ever get to the highest levels of my sport. Same thing goes for body type. You can be extremely successful at many levels of riding without having the physique of the elite athlete that GM insists on.
                    Bingo. I honestly don't have the time or the money to ride at a higher level. I have a safe but older horse who is stepping down the levels. She was affordable because of that. Being a working adult means I can only ride 3-4 days a week at the most. Sure, I'd love to show at the top levels but until I stumble across $1 billion that will allow me to quit my job and focus 100% of my time/energy on a string of horses, fitness, etc it's never going to happen.
                    Fils Du Reverdy (Revy)- 1993 Selle Francais Gelding
                    My equine soulmate
                    Mischief Managed (Tully)- JC Priceless Jewel 2002 TB Gelding

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      I've seen several "heavier" riders in his clinics and never heard him say a word about it. Of course they were fit and more than capable of doing all of the activities he requested. They were also very aware of what he asked and participated in the clinic (meaning not talking back, making excuses as to why they couldn't manage his requests, or doing their own thing).

                      If you're a good, aware student who really tries, he's a supportive trainer. My best advice is to think about what kind of student you are before signing up.
                      "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right." -Henry Ford

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by SolarFlare View Post
                        I audited the clinic that Small Change rode in (can you believe it was back in 2012?!?) and took fairly extensive notes from the 2 days I was there. I'd be happy to share them with you OP if you'd like. I tried to capture the exercises and GM's comments for all sections.

                        The only times he got snippy were when one rider did an exercise incorrectly, and GM told him to pay attention and watch the others, and then that rider came through and did it wrong again. There was also another rider (adult) who was riding in a full seat, who he kept telling to get out of the tack more and free up the horse's back. She didn't, at all. I'm not sure if she was willfully ignoring him or if she was trying, but she didn't make any change at all and I didn't see that she tried to explain herself to him (ie. if there was a reason she couldn't/wouldn't). In my eyes, her saddle also didn't fit her well so that might have been contributing, but the impression was that she was outright ignoring his instructions. He tried to teach her but as she wasn't making any changes as requested, he ended up pretty much letting her go through the exercises without feedback. Apparently on the final day, he brought the thumbtacks to put on her cantle to force her to get out of the saddle (unfortunately I wasn't there that day so I missed it)!
                        This was in Ontario correct because I heard about the thumb tacks. Was this the last time he was in Canada/ Ontario?

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                        • #32
                          Originally posted by lovezehorses View Post

                          This was in Ontario correct because I heard about the thumb tacks. Was this the last time he was in Canada/ Ontario?
                          You are correct! The 2012 clinic in Ontario was at Iron Horse. GM was actually back in Ontario in 2013, although for a different clinic format. The 2013 clinic was at Angelstone, and featured a "Grand Prix" group (pros) and a "Promising Professionals" group (up and coming younger pros). No ammies in 2013.

                          I have notes from 2013 too
                          I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.

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                          • #33
                            There was the 2013 clinic at Dee Walker's too. I think Angelstone was in August (but freezing!), and the one at Forest Hill was in October. 2016, he was in Ottawa. I can't remember any others...

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                            • #34
                              Originally posted by Small Change View Post
                              There was the 2013 clinic at Dee Walker's too. I think Angelstone was in August (but freezing!), and the one at Forest Hill was in October. 2016, he was in Ottawa. I can't remember any others...
                              Totally forgot about Forest Hill's clinic in 2013 - I didn't audit that one.

                              And look at me! I checked my auditing notes for 2013 Angelstone and I noted that it was August, and about 20 degrees (Celsius). Although apparently I didn't think day 2 was worth noting
                              I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.

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                              • #35
                                I have to ask - how much does it cost to ride in a GM clinic?
                                Shut up, brain. I'm trying to sleep. (Courtesy AirsAboveNC)

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                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by m&m View Post
                                  I have to ask - how much does it cost to ride in a GM clinic?
                                  It’s usually in the neighborhood of $1000 for his 3 day format.

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                                  • #37
                                    He rode my ass hard but I learned a whole new concept of "contact" that has become a huge part of my training.

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