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GM and verbally abusive coach?

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  • GM and verbally abusive coach?

    I know I am starting the HUGE TRAIN (if not the biggest one ever set lose on this thread) rolling on this one! So feel free to PM me if you dont want to post Keep in mind this info is not coming directly from my mouth! It came from multiple people! And this post is simply me trying to get more information on something that may be biased.

    I was at the World Cup and talking to some people (4) that either 1) knew/met GM (through some sort of connection) or 2) Have taken multiple clinics with him. They all said the same thing: "He is a grumpy diva who is a very demanding almost abusive coach who is very set in his ways". The basically told me that in order to ride with him you need to have a VERY thick shell and be able to take lots of verbal abuse with a grain of salt. They all told me that he does not like blondes and that they know multiple people that dye their hair before they do clinics with him. They even said they saw this one "slightly" big in the hips girl who he called, during the middle of the clinic and everyone I might add, a "butchers daughter" and he said that "she needed to loose weight before she got back on her horse" .

    Does any of this sound like him? I have heard about people that think of him as god and others that think he is what I described above. I just wanted to know what others thought about this.

  • #2
    God complex...?

    An interesting subject...

    While I appreciate GM tends to get results, and never say never, I can't say I'd rush to have lessons with him (if I ever moved to the States, or he came here) as I don't see the point in paying for abuse.

    Some people like his teaching style. Each to their own


    • #3
      My son loves to ride with him. He does well, has never been ridiculed, and he works hard before the clinic to keep it that way. I no longer go to watch because I don't find demeaning people funny or instructive.


      • #4
        Strange phenomenon. I don't get why anyone would tolerate any level of abuse. It reminds of how many people excuse and tolerate certain corrupt politicians because they're "effective" and bring home the bacon, or the criminal acts of certain sports stars because they're "effective" and win the game.


        • Original Poster

          So is everyone above nicely saying he is indeed like I described above? It seems like everyone is scared to say a solid "yes" or "no", trust me I dont blame you.


          • #6
            What are you looking for?

            You want to know if you should die your hair? That is one of the stupidest things I've heard of.


            • #7
              If you pay attention, follow instructions and look serious about being there, you will not have a problem. He does prefer you fit, but has pretty much given up making weight comments unless it is obviously affecting your ability to do something. He makes blonde jokes IF you do something you shouldn't and IF you are a blonde, but he is not serious. Does the name Katie Monahan Prudent ring a bell? Blonde, great rider.

              He IS set in his ways because they work, and have stood the test of time. It is all about good horsemanship and classical principles of riding with him. He doesn't like gimmicks or gimmicky bits. He doesn't like all the new types of stirrups because he thinks they interfere with your ability to keep your heel down. He doesn't like filth or untidiness. If you do something UNSAFE, you will incur his wrath. That he cannot tolerate. But if you make riding mistakes, he is fine. Do you need a tough shell? No more than you do for just being in the horse business in general. And if you get a word of praise, you will remember it as something very special.

              He has been at the top of the game for a very long time. He has produced equitation, hunter and jumper champions. The riders that ride on our current teams admire and respect his abilities without question. I have known him for 35 years, and he is a cherished friend. He has mellowed a lot over the years, but his message has never varied.


              • #8
                Well. I am an overweight blonde and was riding a VERY green TB and I personally had a wonderful experience. That said, a friend of mine brought her daughter out to ride with him this year on my horse and the daughter didn't try very hard the first day and GM was pretty tough on her...but she deserved it by not making an effort to do what he said. I find him very fair, with the horses' welfare being his priority.
                Can you stress-fracture your brain?


                • #9
                  While I have never met the man and can not comment on him personally, I would think that the comments he makes in ph would be enough to tell the story.

                  On another note - I would love to be a fly on the wall when richard spooner rides for him. The way richard puts his legs back must just make gm have a cow!!!


                  • #10
                    I have taken 2 clinics with him and taken students to another.

                    The clinic we took students to we took a BLONDE on a PONY! GM is notorious for hating blondes and ponies. Guess what - he loved our blonde and our pony. He made an example of both of them- He came up to the blonde rider and us and made a point to ask if the pony was for sale and say that he would be the first to know when it was!
                    The blonde wrote a thank you note to him afterward and received a very kind handwritten note complimenting her and her pony!

                    The two clinics I have ridden in he has been tough but never unfair. He has a system! He believes that everyone should have a system. He has the my way or the highway idea about his system! So do we.... you ride with him (or what ever trainer you want) but you subscribe to their system.....

                    You don't go and ride with Frank Madden, or GM, or any one and say "I like you, I respect you, I want to ride with you in your program, but I am going to ignore you and do things my way. Please just stand there and pretend to teach me."

                    As for the weight issue- people don't go and clinic with GM if they are just a backyard trail rider. You go if this is your SPORT. If this is a serious sport for you and your weight is hindering you or your horse (horse is the whole reason we do this remember) wouldn't you want to change. If you had trouble putting your heels down and it would help you and your horse to put your heels down- wouldn't you go home and work on putting your heels down? If losing weight would help you and your horse wouldn't you go home and try to lose weight?
                    My recent horse is smaller than my others and I lost a few pounds and toned my body so that I would look more slim and it would be a better "look". It is my sport and it is about the whole picture. I didn't need to lose weight but I worked on it so that in the show ring the whole picture would look better.

                    Aside from the ring- We sat and talked with him before dinner beside the fire- he was the nicest man! He is very polite, informative, and a real person! I also wrote a thank you note after the clinic and received a very personal, hand written postcard.

                    "The harder you train, the luckier you get!"


                    • #11
                      I do not know GM but I do know that I will not pay for anyone to ridicule or treat me with anything other than respect. I will respect them by trying hard and showing up on time and putting 100% effort into doing everything that's asked of me but I also am an Amateur Adult over the age of 45 and have a husband, four kids, two dogs and two not-for-profits to deal with. I am serious about my riding and it is my "sport" but it does not consume my whole life.

                      I do expect any clinician to treat their clients with courtesy and realize they are being "paid" to help me improve. I do not like the "God" aura that surrounds some of these people these days. It almost is cult like.


                      • #12
                        I my best friend rode with him while he was at Hunterdon...She's blonde...And rode a horse that was just about as small as a pony. He loved her. Want to know why? Because she listened to everything that he said and tried her best to achieve exactly what he was asking for.
                        He, like an good teacher should, gets frustrated when a rider doesnt put in the effort and basically wastes his time.
                        A friend of mine traveled with him a bit this past winter and went to clinics/was his "rider" and he really loved it.


                        • #13
                          George Morris does NOT think he is God.
                          He is a more than seasoned veteran of the sport who has been extremely successful in his career doing things in a very particular way.
                          He has certainly paid his dues and has plenty of accolades to back up any comment he makes at any time during a clinic, lesson, interview, article, or what have you.
                          No, he doesn't like overweight people, but if they can RIDE, he compliments them on their abilities.
                          The blonde thing is just a long-standing "dumb blond" joke for him. Remember, he taught Katie Monahan Prudent back in the day, so he most certainly WILL put up with blondes.
                          Actually, his comment to me, on meeting him at a clinic, was that he hoped I was the exception to the rule about blondes. (I am one..... a blonde AND an exception!)
                          IF he's harsh in the delivery of a comment, it's usually something to do with either uncertainty on the rider's part in making a decision or correction with their horse, or something to do with safety, tidyness, or inattentiveness.

                          In all, I would say that the four friends the original poster chatted with have it pretty much right..... even if slightly exaggerated.
                          He has earned the right to his behavior and his peculiarities. Deal with it.


                          • #14

                            You don't need to ride with GM in person if you want to get somewhere.

                            He has published books and articles and has produced many students (well-known and obscure).

                            Even better, what he preaches is not rocket science. If you ride in order to train and improve your horse, you are half way there. If you have a clue and commitment to the kind of flat work done in the dressage world, even better. The rest is just trying hard and keeping your eyes peeled.

                            As to condescending teaching style, rude (not matter-of-fact) statements about riders' fitness, and guru status. Now that I'm accomplished enough (and thick skinned enough) to benefit from an expensive two days with this guru, I'm also unwilling to pay for the privilege of being abused.

                            Finally, I'm not a fan of his (and other BNT's) worried articles about the demise of the H/J world and loss of general horsemanship....during your generation and your watch! Hello? If you have that much power, dedicate it to fixing the problem, not bitching about it. I know GM thinks he has done his share of that remedial work. It just ain't working, and one more clinic offered to those at the top might not go far to do more. His basic "trickle down" view of the world tends to divide rather than unify people.
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat


                            • #15
                              Quartergirl, I'm confused. Ridden in one of his clinics? Audited? Or was that all based on hearsay? I have audited GM clinics forever. Not ridden in them (dressage horses), but I go because each time I will learn more from one of America's finest horsemen. There is no better teacher. He doesn't just bring his A Game, he IS the A Game.


                              • #16
                                I didn't need to lose weight but I worked on it so that in the show ring the whole picture would look better.
                                I find this very disturbing. Athletes don't lose weight so that "the picture" looks better. Athletes lose weight (add muscle, increase cardio fitness) because it benefits their performance. If you don't need to lose weight, then from the standpoint of physical health and healthy body image, you shouldn't.
                                "Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?" Sun Tzu, The Art of War


                                • #17
                                  Weight and pictures. I understand that the stick figure "looks good" on a horse by current standards. But, when the more muscle-y of us come off, we usually don't get quite as hurt. We also can lift the ramp of our own trailers.

                                  So, GM's aesthetic tastes aside, I don't see the benefit of being a tall drink of water (preferrably young and male) on horseback.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat


                                  • #18
                                    I think its like anything; different teaching styles work for different people. You need to figure out what works for you and go from there. GM isn't the kind of guy that suits me...so I do other clinics.

                                    I know that if I needed to lose weight and a clinician blasted me for being fat in the middle of a clinic, I'd shut down. I think that kind of thing is better handled by taking someone aside; but again; to each their own. And with the weight thing - when he's critical of someone's weight, is it a cosmetic or positional thing? If someone is heavy but riding beautifully its different than if someone can't even hold a two-point because they aren't strong enough.


                                    • #19
                                      You have to remember GM is from an earlier era and he no longer matches his earlier reputation-although he admits many still expect him to unload on somebody and, toned down some now, he will oblige if he feels somebody deserves it. Usually based on their attitude.

                                      Back in the 50s and early 60s when he learned and earned his reputation as a rider, coaches were 98% male and many of them had Cavalry roots or learned from former Cavalry officers. International teams were Army officers for many countries, selected and trained by Army officers for others. Few women, not even allowed on some teams, no place for "sissies".

                                      I started riding in the mid 60s and never had a female trainer until about 10 years later. Those that were out there were trainer's wives and their names went on the bottom of the logos, if on there at all. Just a different environment. One that changed for good reason. Not all berated their students but they were sure tougher then what you see out there today and did not worry about hurting self esteem or seeming not so polite.

                                      GM is kind of a relic of that earleir, almost all male environment. But times change and he has changed somewhat but people skills were never his strong suit. Never were.

                                      That's no secret, he is what he is. You know that going in.

                                      Not to defend some of it but he is a product of the time he learned and still somewhat stuck there.

                                      I've met the man a couple of times, quite polite. Watched him teach a few lessons and a clinic at a major circuit over the last 10 years or so. Only one outburst. No weight discussions. Solid and well explained theory...the one outburst was a Junior-who talked back. Several times. She was certainly the only one that didn't see it coming, everybody else was just waiting for it. Even then he just asked her why she was wasting money taking the clinic instead of teaching it herself.

                                      He is still the very best teacher if you want to go to elite levels in the sport. More casual riders really are better off auditing and selecting a different clinician.
                                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                                      • #20
                                        I didn't bother to read all these but I've taken at least 5 or 6 clinics with GM and have found him to be wonderful to work with. If you deliberately don't listen or do the opposite of what he says he'll get after you for sure but if he can tell you're trying and making an honest effort he's really great. I only have good things to say about him and he has an awesome sense of humor. Very sharp and quick witted. I don't think you'll find another clinician that you can learn so much from in such a short period of time. His eye for a horse and zeroing in on exactly where the weaknesses are in a matter of minutes is amazing.