Throwback Thursday: Sage advice

From the expert himself, and famed curmudgeon: George Morris.

In his article from 2006, he discusses a lack of horsemanship in today’s riders. The article really resonated with me, because, chiefly, I am guilty of these things! I love showing, love winning ribbons, and wish I had more ‘guts’ as a rider.

Focused

Focused

I still do things like gallop my pony in the field, jump ditches, go up and down hills, ride in the outdoor arena when other riders refuse to (I do put front shoes on my pony when we transition to the outdoor because he is tenderfooted) and I take risks.

BUT

Not that many. I hate trail riding in our area because it scares the bejeezus out of me. I’m afraid of getting hit by a bus or motorcycle, of which there are tons and tons. The roads are too busy and too frightening.

Yesterday, I went to the outdoor and messed around with the little teeny tiny baby fences set up. We cantered them, trotted them, angled them, cut in and out of lines and generally did…Whatever we pleased!

A few years ago- playing over a liverpool

A few years ago- playing over a liverpool

I had a BLAST! I felt so free! Even though the fences were beyond small, it was just the most engaging feeling to do whatever I wanted. I do the ‘discipline’ work of dressage on Tuesdays, but i also feel like the ‘me time’ of weekend rides and Wednesday rides are necessary. It’s not a ridiculous free for all, trust me, but we just kind of messed around and I didn’t feel worried, or anxious, or anything.

It’s a nice feeling, ahhh…

It’s not perfect- the issues with his right lead (collapsing, falling in and struggling to maintain it) reared their ugly heads AGAIN telling me he is having a hard time with the footing and needs his shoes on- stat.

But, I didn’t let that derail our ride, we just moved on and I didn’t make a big deal of it. We enjoyed our small fences and i focused on finding my distances, and pace and sort of straightness.

It was nice to experiment a bit, without fear.

The Great George Morris

I know I posted some funny (and snarky) memes of George Morris last week, but let me tell you- I really enjoyed his sessions- but woooah he is a tough one.

He is also personable and has some funny stories- did you know he was the gas station attendant in the film ‘Psycho’? And he was involved in acting (after his father, the Wall Street stockbroker, called him a ”horse bum” for his equestrian career)? Well, I guess I should add that he ‘was’ involved in acting, and did perform in a few Edward Albee plays where he was onstage naked!

Psycho

Psycho

His dad asked him about that horse career, anyways…After that performance, I guess horses didn’t look so bad!

I don’t want to write and write about the clinics- I filmed a few clips, that I will share instead. I think it’s better to hear it from his voice anyways.

Check them out here

They were great, it was good to watch nice riders actually having issues with their horses- not just perfect, by-rote horses and riders. So that made it a bit more interesting, watching them overcome challenges- they all did, by the way. Riders fell off, got refusals, had bucky/hot/rearing horses and they all got over themselves and figured it out.

Good coaching!

I was lucky enough to attend a Q&A session after with George Morris and Jan Ebeling, which was funny and interesting, and gave me some hilarious insight into the life of a professional equestrian.

Oh and a quick Oats update- rode yesterday after Oats had three days off- he was a bit pissy/balky when I got on, so I immediately rode him forward and went straight into my ‘eye’ exercises (counting down to poles and then x-rails) and that woke him up. We didn’t even do any trot really…He was too pissy, so I went straight to canter, and cantered over poles. We moved back down to trot/circle/transition work once I felt like I had him more cooperative.

All in all, a fairly good ride.

Lessons learned from the Mane Event! (Part 1 of many)

So this past weekend I attended the Mane Event in Chilliwack- mostly because George Morris was going to be teaching a clinic, and you do NOT miss a George clinic if he comes to your area (or near you at all, as it were).

Was it worth it? SO much!

I’ll probably break this down over a few days, as I do have some Youtube videos I want to upload to add to my posts.

Because I don’t have them uploaded yet, I will start with the one that I didn’t video- the Trainer’s Challenge session that I watched with Brandi Lyons, the daughter of famed horseman John Lyons.

The Trainer’s Challenge gives the trainers a young, mostly unhandled and unbroke colt, and gives them three days to work their magic for the audience in 1-hour sessions each day. At the end of the three days, the judges watch their demonstration of what the colt can do, and tallies up the points awarded to them throughout the weekend to determine the winner.

This was day 2 (I didn’t watch day 1 or day 3- have to work) and I was pretty impressed. She did some basic groundwork, leading, slapping around the saddle, hopped up and worked on getting bend and response. The colt was definitely one of the fussy ‘make me’ types.

She said something that really resonated with me- shared a story she heard:

One woman who was having a baby said ”I really hope my child and I can be friends. I hope they like me when they grow up.”

The other woman said, “When my baby grows up, I hope I like THEM.”

And it’s true, so true for horses. Train the horse you want to ride, want to see, want to be around. Don’t train in hopes the horse will ‘trust’ you and ‘like’ you. If you are very clear with what you want, the horse will like AND respect you more.

Horses like boundaries. Keep a horse around that does what YOU want. Goes when you want it to. Stops when you want it to. Bends when you want it to. Is nice, friendly, doesn’t bite, doesn’t say ‘no’ to you.

After all, you’re nicer to someone that is nice to you. You’re not nicer to your husband, friend, or parent after you’ve had a fight with them, are you? Horses are like that too- you’re not nice to one that you’re fighting with.

I really liked what she was saying and as an owner of a sassy pony that definitely has a big NO button and knows how to use it, it only reminds me more that I have to work on developing him as a pony I WANT to ride, enjoy and have fun around. And that means consistent handling, fair treatment and fair expectations. He works when I say he works, he is done when I say he’s done–not when HE says he’s done.

So even from the most basic colt-handling lessons, I’m learning from them. It was a looong day but man, did it fly by!

More tomorrow! Maybe George Morris or Jan Ebeling?

Friday Fun- Halloween, and the Mane Event!

Yes that’s right- THE George Morris is going to be teaching a clinic at the Mane Event in Chilliwack this weekend, and yours truly gets to attend! (note: not ride in. I do not have the money, talent or pony appropriate to not get a serious strip torn off me by George, hah).

George Morris

George Morris

I am SO looking forward to it! The trade show, watching the clinics (Jan Ebeling is presenting as well) and meeting up with the horse girls at the barn too. Yeah!!

It is also my husband’s 30th birthday tomorrow- so happy birthday to him! hahah.

Oats was very good for my lesson yesterday and pretty good for my ride on Wednesday (though a bit spooky I don’t think he liked the hammering-down rain!).

We worked on canter poles (10ft) and then to a small course, then back to the canter poles- it was all about maintaining a rhythm and letting him ‘figure out’ what to do when things went sideways (and boy sometimes it was clumsy! And awkward!) but I’m learning to ‘sit chilly’ and let Oats figure it out. He can, he is well capable of it when I don’t get grabby and interfere. I am pleased to say our canter rhythm was very good and we met our spots nicely (except for a tricky left-turn, which is our nemesis- you can get pace OR straightness- not both!) aha. It was mentally exhausting for me though, to ‘let go’ so I wimped out a bit early –but yet having felt pretty good about how the exercise went for us.

I hope to do more work like that next week, and really build on my ‘mental toughness’ and also my ability to let go and let Oats handle more of the work, as he well capable of.

It’s hard feeling like I am ‘giving away’ control to Oats.

Mr. Oats as 'himself'

Mr. Oats as ‘himself’

I feel like sometimes I reach a stage in my riding with him that I get ‘too successful’ and then start failing immediately (usually in jumping. hmm). It’s like I’m afraid of success, and let myself fail spectacularly.

Some things to ponder!