George Morris gives instruction on day one of the George Morris Horsemastership Training Sessions in Wellington, Florida
Wellington, FL – January 2, 2013 – Beautiful South Florida weather greeted the twelve riders that were chosen to participate in the seventh annual George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session, presented by the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) and Adequan. The riding sessions began today at Ring 9 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. This year’s clinic runs through Sunday morning.
It’s a star-studded line-up of top young riders that are gaining valuable knowledge from the legendary George Morris and also from top professional in the industry, including Karen Golding, a member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, who will help the riders with barn management on a daily basis. Also on the teaching agenda is USET Team veterinarian, Dr. Tim Ober, noted farrier Dean Pearson and the famed Dr. Deb Bennett. In addition, U.S. Olympian Anne Kursinski will demonstrate many of the techniques and ideas she has learned from Morris and others over the years.
Group One riders include 19 year-old Gabrielle Bausano of New York, currently attending Harvard University. Bausano, this past season, was a top finisher in the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Championship Final, a top ribbon winner in a number of the fall equitation finals and a Team Silver Medalist at the North American Junior and Young rider Championships.
Bausano is joined by 18 year-old Meg O’Mara of Rumson, NJ, attending Rollins College this year. O’Mara was the winner of the USEF Pessoa Medal Finals and was a double Gold medalist at the USEF Jr. Jumper Championships at Harrisburg and a Team Gold Medalist at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships.
Also in the first group is Jacob Pope, 19 years old from Columbia, MD. He was the 2011 USHJA Emerging Athletes Program (EAP) Winner, the 2012 USEF Talent Search Finals East champion and the winner of the 2012 ASPCA Maclay Finals at the Alltech National Horse Show.
Dana A. Scott, 18 years old from Wilton, CT is also in Group One. She was the Individual Gold Medalist and a Team Silver Medalist at the Randolph College/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships in 2012. She finished 9th individually at the North American Junior Young Rider Championships in 2012 as well.
Rounding out Group One is Catherine Tyree, 20 years old, from Chicago, IL and 16 year-old Olivia Champ, home-based in La Canada, CA.
Tyree, who will attend Northwestern this fall, was a Team Gold medalist at the Prix des States in 2012, she finished 3rd in the ASPCA Maclay Finals this year and won the Style of Riding award at the North American Junior Young Rider Championships in 2010.
Champ, a sophomore at La Canada High School was the Reserve Champion in the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals West in 2012, the Champion CPHA Foundation Medal Finals 2012 and the Champion in the PCHA Medal Finals 2011.
Riders in Group Two include 18 year-old Claudia Billups of Oxford, MS. This past season she was 1st and 2nd in $10,000 American Invitational Welcome Stake, a Team Bronze medalist at the 2012 North American Junior Young Rider Championships and a top ribbon winner in grand prix events at Traders Point and at Equus Events.
19 year-old Abigail McArdle of Barrington Hills, IL, currently a Gator at the University of Florida was the Individual Junior Gold Medalist at the NAYJRC in 2012, a Team Gold Medal winner at the Prix de States and a Individual Silver medal and Team Gold medalist at the Prix de States at Spruce Meadows in Canada. McArdle also won the $50,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Championship at the Alltech National Horse Show.
Joining Billups and McArdle in Group Two is 18 year-old Stephen C. Foran of Lake Forest, Illinois. Foran was the 2012 USHJA Emerging Athletes Program Finals Winner in 2012, the USHJA Zone 5 Junior Jumper Champion and the 2012 Illinois Hunter Jumper Assoc. Junior Jumper Champion of the year.
Ana Forssell, twenty-two years old from Petaluma, CA and a student at Santa Rosa Jr College also joins the second group. She lists as part of her many accomplishments, Taking Kollette, her 1st horse from the 2’3 ring to showing in all of the 3’6 rings, turning Farmore Etched In Stone into a kind, willing, and successful large pony hunter after being written off as a naughty green pony. “He now teaches walk/trot to Child’s pony hunter lessons,” she notes. And, Teaching Calmo to jump the liverpool/open water after many other had tried and been unsuccessful.
Frances Land, 19 years old, from Alpharetta, Georgia, now attending pre-law classes at Emory University in Georgia is one of the nation’s most decorated young riders. Her first major grand prix win came in the $35,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Grand Prix on Merlin in Gulfport, MS this past season. Land was a Team Gold and Individual Silver Medalist at the North American Junior Championships in Lexington, KY, where she served as the anchor rider for Zone 4. She won the $15,000 Briarcliff Energy Barrage, Spruce Meadows Skyliner Tournament (Canada) and the $10,000 Sotheby’s International Derby Qualifier, at the Hampton Classic in Bridgehampton, NY. She won USEF Horse of the Year honors in two divisions in 2010, taking the Low Junior Jumper with Houston and High Junior Jumper with Merlin, the first time that has ever been accomplished.
Completing the second group of riders is 19 year-old Kilian McGrath of Westlake Village, CA, a student at Moorpark College. McGrath won the Individual Gold Medal and a Team Bronze Medal at this past season’s North American Junior and Young Rider Championships in Lexington, KY and took home the Style of Riding Award as well. She was 3rd in the West Coast USET Finals, won the USHJA High Junior Jumper Horse of the Year award and was the West Coast Show Jumping Hall of Fame Rider of the Month for April.
Enjoy our conversation today with George Morris, talking about the Horsemastership program over the years.
A CONVERSATION WITH GEORGE MORRIS
Morris’ first session with both groups today was all flatwork. “I never jump the horses the first day of the week, so today is all about flat work,” explained Morris. “I do with these riders what I would do if I had a horse here.”
“Today, we want to establish obedience, we want to establish condition, we want to establish suppleness first. Then we can move ahead to cavalettis and then to gymnastics,” he noted.
Morris spent both sessions talking about the use of steady hands, strong contact and especially communication through use of the legs.
“Today, I wanted to go over with them the little differences. And when you add up all of the little differences, it all adds up to big differences.”
"use the legs and the back....."
“The horse is collected by the legs,” he emphasized. “Not the hands, not the draw reins. There are a lot of riders that use some of those gimmicks successfully, but physically, for the horse, and mentally, it’s the legs. And when you’re talking about the great trainers, like Bert DeNemethy or Jack Le Goff, they used the legs for decades,” he told me. “I hope in time, we can get back to the classical way. There’s a movement now in European Dressage, and many of the Eventers are now getting back to it, the classical way. The jumper riders and the hunter riders here are the last to get that, because the other way is a quick fix. Draw reins, for example, are a quick fix, but it’s crippling to the horse and you’re not really making him, in his brain, submissive.”
“This is all nothing new, but it’s often forgotten,” Morris said. “So, at least for these few days, maybe I can help these riders get back to that. But it’s longer, it takes more time, and it takes real work.”
George Morris demonstrates flatwork
I asked Morris if he’s frustrated or worried that more trainers are not using his methods. He said, “It’s not my method, it very classical. And yes, I am worried about it. The problem is, there’s too much competition and to satisfy and keep up with that competition day after day after day, they have to resort to quick fixes. At the top of that list of course, is medication, over medication. But that’s a subject for another day,” he laughed.
Tomorrow and Friday’s sessions include the above mentioned gymnastics. Saturday, its work without stirrups, and Sunday morning will feature jumping.
ADDITIONAL PHOTOS FROM DAY ONE OF THE GEORGE MORRIS HORSEMASTERSHIP TRAINING SESSION
Abigail McArdle and Killian McGrath with George
Dr Deb Bennett
George and Dana Scott
George rides Claudia's
George rides Meg's horse
George with Abigail McArdle
George with Frances Land
George with Stephen Foran
Group 1 watches Group 2
Group 2 watches Group 1
spectators on day 1
PHOTOS BY: Kenneth Kraus