Building Confidence with Laura Kraut

© Taylor Renner: Laura Kraut & Gracie Marlowe
Laura Kraut (pictured with Gracie Marlowe) encouraged riders to be confident and to never give up during the mock Nations Cup on the final day of the 2017 George H. Morris Horsemastership Clinic on Saturday.

Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 7, 2017 – After two days of intensive lessons focusing on flatwork and gymnastics with five-time Olympian Anne Kursinski and four-time Olympian Beezie Madden, participants of the 11th annual USEF George H. Morris Horsemastership Clinic switched things up on the final day of the popular three-day educational series with a little friendly competition. Participants worked with show jumping Olympic gold medalist Laura Kraut, who has represented the United States at Nations Cups around the world on many occasions, learning how to effectively ride and be part of a team in a mock Nations Cup class on Saturday at The Stadium at Equestrian Village, home of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.

Saturday’s competition divided the 12 young riders into three teams with four on each team, while Kursinski, Madden and Lauren Hough served as chef d’équipes.

Madden coached the red team, consisting of Michael Williamson, Gracie Marlowe, Taylor St. Jacques and Brian Moggre. Caroline Dance, Emma Marlowe, Coco Faith and Cooper Dean made up the white team, instructed by Hough, while TJ O’Mara, Maya Nayyar, Halie Robinson and Madison Goetzmann came together as team blue, trained by Kursinski.

The stakes were even higher this year as the winning team would be awarded tickets to the 2017 World Cup Finals to be held in Omaha, Nebraska, in March.

Conrad Homfeld returned as this year’s course designer. The tricky course consisted of technical and demanding fences reaching 1.30m in height and proved to be challenging for many. Some riders were loaned unfamiliar green horses for the duration of the clinic, and this proved to be an additional test of riding skill.

© Taylor Renner: Madison Goetzmann
Madison Goetzmann enters into the final double combination in the first round of the mock Nations Cup.

The water jump was a problematic obstacle for the majority of the riders as some of the participants had little experience jumping open water. The triple combination and the final double combination to a wide oxer on a bending line also proved to be difficult elements within the course.

During the first round of the mock Nations Cup, Kraut emphasized having an energetic and determined ride.

“A great lesson for you, and for your horses, regarding a difficult course is that you’ve got to attack it and be aggressive,” Kraut told the riders. “You need to create energy and you have to put leg on to help your horses out in order to give them that reach.”

Kraut delivered an educational critique of each rider’s performance during the first round and this gave riders the opportunity to fix any mistakes before returning for the second round. Kraut also focused her attention on what riders should continue doing and what aspects of their course could use improvement.

© Taylor Renner: Laura Kraut Teaching
Clinician Laura Kraut discussed each round with riders in detail and offered tips for improvement during the mock Nations Cup at the 2017 George H. Morris Horsemastership Clinic.

After the first round, the blue team led the way with only one point, thanks to clear rides from O’Mara and Goetzmann and 1 time fault from Nayyar. The white team followed in second with nine points and the red team returned to the second round in last place with 24 points.

The track for the second round was exactly the same as the first round in addition to the water jump being made slightly wider with an added rail.

The teams returned in reverse order of their standing, with Michael Williamson kicking things off for the red team.

© Taylor Renner: Michael Williamson
Michael Williamson

During the second round, Kraut revealed her two biggest pet peeves from errors made by riders: circling in front of a fence and looking back at a fence.

“This clinic is about gaining experience, it’s a little bit of a competition today, but it’s really about learning and one of the things you learn is you don’t give up,” harped Kraut. “Circling is never an option unless death is staring you in the face. Go ahead and wipe it out but do not circle. Secondly, never, ever look back to see if you’ve had a fence down. Those are my two biggest pet peeves.”

Even after Taylor St. Jacques’ horse refused at the water jump in the second round, Kraut praised the young rider on remaing steadfast and focused on getting her mount over the obstacle on the second attempt but also educated her on how to react to a refusal in order to not collect any additional penalties in a real Nations Cup competition.

© Taylor Renner: Taylor St. Jacques
Taylor St. Jacques tackles the water jump in the second round.

“This was a great lesson for you, for your horse and for the people watching,” said Kraut. “You knew your horse was very careful at the water — he was a little sticky yesterday and he jumped it so well the first round and then we made it a little more spooky with the rails on it. Technically, you didn’t re-approach it because you were walking but you sort of aimed at it again. If you were in a real competition, that would have been counted as two refusals; to approach is to refuse. Even still, you turned right around and he went to it so confidently. You’ve done him some good and you really learned that you can be tough and make something happen so that was great.

“A great lesson for all of the young riders is that when something goes wrong, particularly when they are afraid and they stop, is to not give up,” continued Kraut. “Re-approach it, give yourself confidence and give the horse confidence. It was possible that he might have come back and stopped again, but Taylor took that risk and dug in and made it work. I’m really proud of her for that.”

At the end of the day, it was the blue team who remained victorious with a total of 13 points, while the white team finished in second with 17 points and the red team finished in third with 30 points.

© Taylor Renner: Blue Team
The blue team were the winners of Saturday’s mock Nations Cup class and received tickets to this year’s World Cup Finals in Omaha! Left to right: Halie Robinson, Madison Goetzmann, TJ O’Mara, Maya Nayyar and Chef d’Équipe Anne Kursinski.

Kraut summed up the day by saying, “Overall, the second round was a huge improvement from the first round. Nobody went in and made the same mistake a second time, which is what we were here for.”

Miss any of the action from day two or one of the 2017 George H. Morris Horsemastership Clinic? has you covered! Read the full article from day two with Beezie Madden here and day one with Anne Kursinski here!

Photo Gallery:

© Taylor Renner: Brian Moggre
Brian Moggre

© Morgan McClelland: Caroline Dance_MM
Caroline Dance

© Taylor Renner: Coco Fath
Coco Fath

© Taylor Renner: Cooper DeanCooper Dean

© Taylor Renner: Emma Marlowe
Emma Marlowe

© Morgan McClelland: Gracie Marlowe_MM
Gracie Marlowe

© Taylor Renner: Halie Robinson
Halie Robinson

© Taylor Renner: Maya Nayyar
Maya Nayyar

© Taylor Renner: TJ O'Mara
TJ O’Mara

© Taylor Renner: Laura Kraut
Laura Kraut

© Taylor Renner: White Team
White team: Chef d’Équipe Lauren Hough, Caroline Dance, Emma Marlowe, Cooper Dean and Coco Fath (second place).

© Taylor Renner: Red Team
Red Team: Gracie Marlowe, Brian Moggre, Taylor St. Jacques, Michael Williamson and Chef d’Équipe Beezie Madden (third place).

© Taylor Renner: Group Photo
2017 George H. Morris Horsemastership Clinic participants and clinicians.

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