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Making "First Contact" with a BNT...share your stories!

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  • Making "First Contact" with a BNT...share your stories!

    Under the George Morris Clinics thread, I posted that if people want to know when his clinics will be, they should call Hunterdon, or GM himself. Then I remembered how ridiculously intimidating it is to do that!

    My first phone conversation with GM was certainly less than stellar. I stumbled over asking about lessons. When he said, "What level rider are you?" I went blank. I said, "well, I'm not sure..." (duh ) GM said, "How high do you jump?" Me: "Well, I've gone up to 3' before, but I don't usually do more than 2'6"." He called me an "intermediate" rider, which kind of threw me for a loop because I was used to people considering me an "advanced" rider...not realizing that, to GM, "advanced" means you are jumping REALLY big stuff.

    So then we get to the horse. I told him I didn't have a horse to bring. Did he have a school horse? "I don't really have school horses. Right now I just have one I could use." So then I thought of a great icebreaker: "Well, what's he like?" GM: "What do you MEAN, what's he like???" Ooops. What WAS I thinking? Would GM have a school horse that was less than a beautifully trained, high quality animal? Silly me.

    Somehow, I managed to get back to business and schedule a lesson, despite that faux pas. And in so doing, I learned how to best handle dealing with the most pro of pro's: get down to business, and don't try to be overly conversational. (After this insinuous phone call, I got a job where I was on the phone with various people almost constantly...now, I am great on the phone...even with GM. But I still go blank when someone's answering machine beeps. ).

    SO, what have your initial interactions with BNT's/BNR's been like? Ever dial the number, then chicken out and hang up? Ever say, "Sorry, wrong number," and THEN hang up? What about at shows? Just how ridiculous do you get when someone famous is walking towards you, or standing behind you in line at the food tent?

    If you've got a story...do tell!

    ~Sara
    *Member of the Dirt Divers 78th Airborne Unit, ATH Squadron*
    *T-Minus 3 Weeks Until My Beval Devon Arrives!*
  • Original Poster

    #2
    Under the George Morris Clinics thread, I posted that if people want to know when his clinics will be, they should call Hunterdon, or GM himself. Then I remembered how ridiculously intimidating it is to do that!

    My first phone conversation with GM was certainly less than stellar. I stumbled over asking about lessons. When he said, "What level rider are you?" I went blank. I said, "well, I'm not sure..." (duh ) GM said, "How high do you jump?" Me: "Well, I've gone up to 3' before, but I don't usually do more than 2'6"." He called me an "intermediate" rider, which kind of threw me for a loop because I was used to people considering me an "advanced" rider...not realizing that, to GM, "advanced" means you are jumping REALLY big stuff.

    So then we get to the horse. I told him I didn't have a horse to bring. Did he have a school horse? "I don't really have school horses. Right now I just have one I could use." So then I thought of a great icebreaker: "Well, what's he like?" GM: "What do you MEAN, what's he like???" Ooops. What WAS I thinking? Would GM have a school horse that was less than a beautifully trained, high quality animal? Silly me.

    Somehow, I managed to get back to business and schedule a lesson, despite that faux pas. And in so doing, I learned how to best handle dealing with the most pro of pro's: get down to business, and don't try to be overly conversational. (After this insinuous phone call, I got a job where I was on the phone with various people almost constantly...now, I am great on the phone...even with GM. But I still go blank when someone's answering machine beeps. ).

    SO, what have your initial interactions with BNT's/BNR's been like? Ever dial the number, then chicken out and hang up? Ever say, "Sorry, wrong number," and THEN hang up? What about at shows? Just how ridiculous do you get when someone famous is walking towards you, or standing behind you in line at the food tent?

    If you've got a story...do tell!

    ~Sara
    *Member of the Dirt Divers 78th Airborne Unit, ATH Squadron*
    *T-Minus 3 Weeks Until My Beval Devon Arrives!*

    Comment


    • #3
      I work in a tack shop, and during one show weekend, a rider came in and was asking directions to the bathroom. I gave him directions, and when he gave me the confused look, I replied, there's 30odd stalls in the barn, go nuts! He laughs, thanks me, and heads off down to the bathroom (or stall, I never did find out!)The show seceretary is standing there trying not to laugh. I aske her what the deal is. SHe replies, do you know who that was? Nope, says I. Hugh Graham she said. Wow, I must have turned 15 shades of red, especially when he came back in later to pick up his passport and smiled at me. Oh, god. I never recognise them without their helmets on!!!!!!

      Founder of the Tall People Clique!

      "eat the pudding, eat the pudding, eat the pudding, eat the pudding, eat the pudding, eat the pudding"
      -Homer Simpson
      ~**Unofficial founder of the Tall People Clique**~

      Member of the Klutz Klique, Thread Killer\'s Clique, and the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

      \"Private Pyle-What is your major malfunction?!\"
      -Full Metal Jacket

      Comment


      • #4
        Hubby arranged the first lesson with BNT for my daughter, so I managed to slide out of that unnerving task, but it still took several weeks before I could get out anything more than a "hi, nice day isn't it?" when we crossed paths at the barn (ooops, sorry, training facility). Meanwhile, my daughter continually pesters BNT with questions like "do you ever get sick of signing autographs?" and "what do you have to do to get a red (team) jacket?". The first time I heard her ask one of these frivolous questions I was struck by the desire to run over and put my hand over my daughter's mouth. But this unbelievably patient BNT answers every one of her questions in the same careful and thoughtful manner that she would use to respond to an intelligent adult inquiry. Feeling bolder, I decided to try to come up with something that would better show off my vast horsey acumen. But when my comment that "it must be tough getting a grey horse looking spotless for the cameras" was met with stony look, I reverted back to my old "nice day, isn't it?".

        ~~Forget about fleece pullovers, down jackets and long underwear...just get me a long extension cord so I can wear my electric blanket down to the barn!~~
        Sentinel Hill Farm
        Home of VDL Windsor H

        Comment


        • #5
          Several years ago, I was watching the big USDF Dressage competition that was literally across the street from my house. I lived in a really small town (3000 people) with a great equestrian facility that hosts USDF Olympic qualifiers all the time. Being an HJ person, I decided to go check out the best of the best...and loved it.

          After the show, I went to the local grocery store (think Mom and Pop with like 4 checkout stations). I get in line behind a guy wearing white breeches and high boots...obviously a competitor from the show. He hands the woman his money, and I catch a glimpse of his face, realize who he is, and in my usual foot-in-mouth routine, I gasp:

          "OH MY GOD YOU'RE GUENTER SIDEL!!!!"

          He looks at me and my slack-jawed expression and chuckles. "Last I checked I was," he replies. I then proceeded to babble senselessly about how much I adored his horse Graf George and how I thought Grand Prix dressage was awesome and how I would love to try one of those super-balanced horses over jumps...and on and on. He was incredibly patient and chatted with me for a bit, then left.

          It was then that I realized I had forgotten the most important question: "Can I have your autograph?" Oops! I did however request that the store hang a sign in the window saying "Guenter Sidel shopped here!" but they politely declined...haha.

          _______________________________
          *"The English country gentleman galloping after a fox - The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable." - Oscar Wilde
          ______________________________

          *Formerly known as Seabiscuit*

          Comment


          • #6
            Luckily I didn't make a fool out of myself too much , but...

            After showing at my first "real" jumper show, I was hanging out watching the GP. We were all standing around chatting when I look up and see Mr Greg Best, cutie that he is. HuntJump and I ball up enough nerve to wander over, then finally enough nerve to speak. Can I just say he is one of THE nicest people I think I've ever met. He stood there and chatted with us for the longest time. (Unlike one of the OTHER big name riders that made it apparent she wouldn't be seen in the commoners tents , lol.) We asked about Gem Twist and what it was like to ride him, what life was like in NewZeland (I think it was), if he ever did clinics, etc. I babbled about how I didn't think I would ever be able to jump those "big" fences (yes sounding VERY dorky); To which he replied "Why not, it's only a few more holes". Anyway, to make a long story short, we enjoyed EVERY minute of it. The only thing I wish would have been different would have been the fact that I had just had my son 4 months before and felt fatter than hell still. Oh well, guess that didn't matter too much. It still was a great experience.
            Man, I still wish I knew what happened to MY picture with him Suz. I know you still have yours~ Oh well!

            Nat

            "A horse is a horse of course of course"...This person obviously never met MY horse!
            www.kimballphotography.smugmug.com
            ~*~Mom of the wonderful Nikolas aka \"Niko\"~*~
            **Proud member of The Colorful blinb-bling helmet, SCgirls, BGSGand the EquinePhotog (do we have one yet?) cliques**

            Comment


            • #7
              A good friend went to audit a GM clinic and I went to watch. So I brought along my copy of his book American Jumping Style or something like that. At the end of the day he was standing there talking and answering questions and I asked if he would sign it.

              GM: Sure, what's your name.

              Me: Gayle

              GM: How do you spell that?

              Me: G a-y-l-e.

              GM: Oh, that's different.

              He signs and I go maybe 10 feet around the corner and my friend looks and starts laughing. It says To Ayle, something about style and good luck with your riding. GM

              Not realizing he is still only about 10 feet away she says to go tell him it's wrong and ask him to fix it. I said "NO WAY, I am not telling GM he is wrong! YOU go tell GM he is wrong. I am going home to check my birth certificate and see if I have been spelling my name wrong for the last 3hmmgf years!" We heard roaring laughter, looked around the corner and there he was.

              Since he appears to remember everything if I ever get the chance to ride with him like I would like I am sure he will bring that up.

              "I drank what?" Socrates
              \"The credit belongs to those people who are actually in the arena...who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions to a worthy cause; who at best, know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, fail while daring greatly, so that their

              Comment


              • #8
                I have two stories to share with this. The first one happened to me in college. It was not too long after the 1984 Olympics and we were given an assignment to interview someone that was in the field that we wanted to work in. I had a friend that worked for Joe and Conrad and she got me the phone number so that I could interview Joe. Well needless to say my stomach felt like I was on a huge roller coaster and I was very nervous. Joe was very accomadating and allowed me to do the interview with him. I am sure that I sounded like an idiot through the whole thing!

                The second on happened to a student of mine about 5 years ago at Harrisburg. She had a great junior year wining everything there was to win. We were Reserve Champion in the ASPCA regionals that year so when we went to indoors thought we should get a BNT for some political pull. I went and talked to Don Stewart who is and was a good friend of mine. I told him him about my student and he said he would watch her, from the stands, in the first Large Junior class that day, and would let us know after that. So we are waiting in the tunnel to go, there are about three horses ahead of us and Don comes down from the stands and finds us, starts chatting with me and my student, she turns white as a ghost, we have to go into the ring, and needless to say she rode awful. She turned the corner by the in gate for the long gallop to the single oxer and ran from 20 strides away and chipped so awful that she almost fell off, then down the next line she left a stride out. There were a few tears after that, more embarrassed then anything else. We spent the next three weeks with Don at Washington and New York and she certainly grew to love him. We laugh about it all the time.
                I have to say that my experience with BNT's ha always been great. What you come to realize is that they are just people too. They put there boots on one leg at a time just like the rest of us. I do not get a that nervous when I approach them and usually they are so humble that they really enjoy it too. Ian Miller is the nicest most approachable person I think I have ever met, and even GM is too. He has become a friend and I look forward to the time I get to spend with him. Although it may be a little bit different next spring when he comes to MY farm to do a clinic but I will deal with that then.
                www.canterburyfarmchicago.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  I've known, befriended, and competed against and with Olympians almost all my life (in another sport, of course) but I get positively slack-jaw stupid if I'm anywhere near an equestrian at that level.

                  I mean good gad, I've had world record holders and Olympic medalists to my home for dinner but the mere thought of asking David O'Connor to autograph my Rolex program last year sent me hightailing it to the bar in the opposite direction.

                  I can't explain why, but there you have it.


                  Pax et Bonum - Inverness
                  ___________________________
                  Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I was Guenter's office girl (doubt he'd remember me) when he was "the dressage guy" at a hunter barn in Del Mar. He was a beautiful rider, but not famous at that time. I just remember marveling at how cute he was...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My first "real" encounter with David O'Connor was when he nailed on my horse's shoe for me, the morning of an event. He could not have been any nicer, but I was absolutely agog at having someone like David touching my horse's feet. I'm sure I looked the complete idiot, babbling away, but thank goodness the Spotted One stood like an angel. Later that day, after we'd had the dressage test of our life, he gave me a thumbs up and teased me that it was all because of the shoeing. Wonder if I could get that hind foot bronzed...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Inverness, what other sport were/are you so involved in?
                        www.laurienberenson.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I *love* this thread ... MORE MORE MORE!

                          (I clinicked with Sally O'Connor, David's mom and she's a darling and signed her books for me. But I don't think that counts.)
                          *=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            David O'connor was doing a clinic at a barn in Tucson about 5 years ago. He was walking towards me and my horse, he reached over to give him a pat and my horse very impolitely stole the can of diet Coke out of his hand.
                            That horse loved soda...quite embarrassing.

                            http://www.pelosanimais.com/pages/free_me.php
                            \"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a wand and a strip search.\"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I was in a clinic once with Hugh Graham- it was the second one that our barn had hosted but my first timp riding in it. I had been a bit intimidated the first time but since I wasnt riding, it didnt matter too much. For the second clinic though, i was quite nervous and didnt say much to him. However, when he got on my little 15.2 hunter and she proceeded to throw him off at an X (very dirty stop mind you), i realized that even BNTs are like the rest of us- they really do fall off. After that, talking to him was considerably easier.
                              * * * * * * * * * *

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                By LaurieB:
                                "Inverness, what other sport were/are you so involved in?"

                                I was/am involved in swimming. I swam competitively from age 9 through college and then again in U.S. Masters Swimming till I was about 39 - then I discovered horses .

                                My hubby is a professional swimming coach and has had the privilege of coaching some great ones over the years, including Tom Dolan, Mike Barrowman, Michelle Griglione, Wendy Weinberg, Roque Santos, Jeff Kostoff, Susan Rapp, and Bambi Bowman.

                                I'd intended to start competing in Masters again this year but I can't seem to balance the practice times with my morning commute into DC. Thank heaven I can ride after rushhour!


                                Pax et Bonum - Inverness
                                ___________________________
                                Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  This winter in FL I rubbed shoulders with a lot of BNT/Rs. At first I was so awestruck... then reality sets in. They're normal people, like the rest of us!

                                  Last weekend I was at an event, Poplar Place in GA. Somehow a baseball game got started Friday night outside the barn; Karen's team vs. David's team . Anybody and everybody was encouraged to play, though most were so shy they just watched. (Karen: "Hey you! Get out and play outfield! NOW! You over there, grab that bat, somebody's gotta hit!") Eventually I summoned my courage and went to bat at Karen's bidding. And I made it on base, too!

                                  Oh, and for those who are scared to approach David O'Connor... picture him singing kareoke to the Grease soundtrack. That was by far the BEST competitors' party I have ever attended!!!

                                  ~AJ~
                                  I've been there...that's why I'm here.
                                  “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
                                  ? Albert Einstein

                                  ~AJ~

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    My daughter Dede worships the ground Richard Spooner walks on. Before Indio this year she was afraid that if she got to meet him she would just stand there with her mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water, and no sound coming out. Fortunately for her, the great moment came when she was standing in the ingate on her little 15 hand Arab getting ready to go into the GP field for the high Jr. Jumpers.

                                    Spooner: Are you going in this class with that horse?

                                    Dede: Yes.

                                    Spooner: Isn't he a pony?

                                    Dede: NO, he is a HORSE, he's 15 hands and 1/2 inch tall!

                                    Spooner: You're really going in this class?

                                    Dede: Yeah.

                                    Spooner: This I have to see!

                                    She is a little sensitive about her horse's height, and so had no trouble whatsoever talking to him. After the class, she rode out, and there he was, he was really impressed and congratulated her. What a nice guy! A memory she will treasure forever.
                                    Second place is first loser.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Well, back when I was a kid I remember the one time my Mom indulged my horse passion and got tix to the National at the Garden (we were just a quick train ride away in NJ). I was dazzled, but remember most seeing Ian Millar ride. In the years since, I've continued to watch him ride and been really impressed by his quiet presence.

                                      Fast forward a bit. My husband and I both do PR. Thanks to one of my former clients, I get to present trophies at the Columbia Classic and WIHS -- Ian Millar wasn't there, it was all quick, but VERY cool to be there with the riders. Some of the riders attended the sponsor events, and I get to tell Margie Goldstein-Engle how much I've always admired her nerve and Anne Kursinski how much I love her style. Both were nice, but obviously distracted by the competition. No biggie.

                                      Then this year my husband's bank sponsored one of the big classes at Harrisburg. Again we get to present the trophy. This time, we got to watch most of the class from the judges booth where I sat next to Richard Jeffries, the course designer, and learned more about riding to big fences than I could have dreamed. He even kindly told me some of the "traps" he'd set along the way.

                                      Then, the big deal...we gave out the award, and were walking back through the stables, when Ian Millar was walking toward the ring. I stopped him and stumblingly told him I'd been a fan for a very long time and that his quiet persistance was one of the things that motivated me to return to riding. He very politely asked what I rode and was just so kind and encouraging! What a nice guy!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Ummmmm....

                                        Where does having my boots pulled off by Karen O'Connor in her pre-O'Connor days fall in the humiliation scale?

                                        My boots were a little tight when I finally managed to get them on. So I head to the ring for my ride time in the clinic that she was teaching. I don't make it 20 minutes into the warm up before I can't even feel my leg anymore, at all As I am trying my best to pretend that I don't need sensation in my leg to ride, Karen asks what is wrong. I admit that my boots are way too tight, but that I'll survive. She asks if I paddock boots or something else that I could ride in at the barn and if so, to get off and put them on instead. I say 'yes, I have another pair' and hop off to start to run to the tack room. Except I couldn't walk. She has me sit down on the mounting block and pulls my boots off, after much effort, in the "push on the person's butt" method. (do those combine for dying of embarassment?) I get back and finish the clinic, but I was so embarassed that I remember nothing else of the clinic.

                                        "No time to marry, no time to settle down. I'm a young woman and I ain't done runnin' around." - Bessie Smith

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