Training a young horse is a lot like parenting—and clinicians Lilo Fore and Hans-Christian Matthiesen want to help the riders and trainers at the Adequan/USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference be better parents.
“Every horse has its strengths and its weaknesses—we don’t want to only drill the weaknesses,” said Fore, a retired five-star Fédération Equestre Internationale judge. “We want to make sure he also knows he’s a great horse.”
Never give up: it’s good advice for everyone, and clinician Laura Kraut gave it time and again to riders at the George H. Morris Horsemastership Clinic on Saturday. Whether that meant committing to get a horse back in time to fit strides in a tight line, galloping them up and across the open water, or schooling them back over a fence after a stop or fall, Kraut reminded riders the importance of perseverance in the sport of show jumping.
If you thought flatwork would be contained in Thursday’s flat lessons, think again. Before Olympic veteran Beezie Madden began her gymnastic work demonstration on Friday at the George Morris Horsemastership Clinic, she took a moment to remind everyone that all jumping stems from great flat work.
“I want to feel, whether I’m galloping or I’m counter cantering or I’m collected, like I could jump a big fence with this canter,” Madden said. “That’s the goal of our flat work.”
Winning equitation championships is what qualified a lot of the riders for the USEF George H. Morris Horsemastership Clinic, but Anne Kursinski reminded them during Thursday’s flat lessons that the buck doesn’t stop with a blue ribbon in the Maclay.
“Equitation is important, and not in terms of being frozen for a judge,” Kursinski said. “It’s not about being a mannequin up there—it’s about being supple and elastic and in the right place at the right time.”
In a crowd of leggy bays, the 7-year-old pony gelding’s paint coat caught everyone’s eye as he entered the dressage ring for the five-day clinic—Hannah Irons was one of 18 riders selected for the clinic, and has spent the past two years competing Charmer in the FEI pony divisions.
Bacardi has been turning heads since he first burst onto the hunter scene five years ago with professional rider Havens Schatt. He was champion his very first time showing in the baby greens at the Winter Equestrian Festival in 2011, and over the next four years he accrued no fewer than 46 championship titles (we counted).
There’s an elusive moment all dressage riders are searching for when they swing into the saddle. A space within the movement where their horse is producing as animated and perfect a gait as he can without slipping from the extended trot to the canter, from the piaffe to jigging backwards—the tipping point.
On the final day of the Robert Dover Horsemastership clinic, trainers Dover, Debbie McDonald and Michael Barisone encouraged their riders to boldly fall to the wrong side of that tipping point—they invited their riders to make the mistake.
The riders and auditors at the Robert Dover Horsemastership Clinic expected to watch and learn from top caliber instructors such as Olympians Dover, Debbie McDonald and Michael Barisone, but Dover had another vision in mind.
“I’ve asked a lot of the riders here, I say, ‘What are you seeing?’ And they say, ‘Nothing,’ ” Dover said. “If you’re only seeing with your eyeballs you’re just seeing what’s happening. You need to use your inner vision to see what you’re about to ask for.”
What do you do when someone makes a negative comment about your horse or pony’s suitability for a sport in which you hope to compete? If you’re 13-year-old Gina Pansari, you turn that comment into a show name.
“This lady at our old barn said, ‘Morgans can’t jump,’ ” Pansari said. “So when we found out that he actually could jump pretty awesomely, we made his name Morgans Can’t Jump.”