Antioch, IL - June 19, 2015 - Day five of the United States Equestrian Team Foundation's George H. Morris "Gladstone Program" at Annali-Brookwood Farm was review day in preparation for the Grand Prix of Brookwood. The participants of the training session have had daily riding sessions with Morris entailing flat work, gymnastics and no stirrup work. Morris continues to emphasize the importance of impulsion first and then straightness of the horse.
The first group worked on three basic turns, the turn on the forehand, the turn on the haunch and the turn on the center. Morris emphasized the placement of the hind legs in relation to the front legs.
Morris demonstrated the different turns on Caroline McLeese's horse. The first group also worked on the rider's position using a cavaletti to practice riding with the motion of the horse, and not ahead or behind the motion.
Rider Kelly Smith of Portland, Oregon, was a key demonstrator in the session with her difficult mare. Throughout the weeklong session, Morris worked with Smith to get the mare to accept her aids without fussing. Morris had Smith canter the cavaletti on a large circle over and over, switch directions and canter it the opposite direction over and over. The repetition and the constant contact with the mare's mouth had her cantering and jumping with her neck and body in perfect flexion and no head flipping.
"That is the entire clinic right there," said Morris. "This is what we've been talking about all week, getting the horse to accept us."
|"This is what the clinic is about," said Morris of Kelly Smith's ride.
"The basics are the cake, the flat work and the stable management is the cake," summarized Morris. "Competition is the icing."
Morris talked about how the top horses are treated well starting in the barn. They are the ones that are barefoot in the snow for a month before shipping to Wellington. Good horsemen like John and Beezie Madden and Jennifer Alfano do this.
Morris also suggested riders striving for higher levels of competition get technical advisors. Technical advisors are more than trainers and can advise as to showing schedule, strategy, what stock might be needed to achieve goals and barn organization.
The second group worked on position of the rider.
"Beezie is the most technically correct rider in the world," said Morris. "Her base is so excellent, she can concentrate on the horse."
The group continued to work on position as they executed downward transitions, tracking and counter canter to counter canter flying changes.
Then Morris drew a box in the sand in front of the cavaletti and told riders to put the horse in the box at the take off to the jump to practice collecting the horse's stride.
He then demonstrated the exercise on Brianne Goutal's outstanding horse, Bizette B, who Arial Black was fortunate enough to have for the training session.
|Morgan Dickerson learns how to pull a shoe from farrier Tim Liggett while Brandie Holloway's Lucky Strike helps with the demonstration
Morris emphasized the importance of classical dressage for both the physical well-being of the horse and conditioning, and second, for the mental well being.
"When the flat work gets better and better, the jumps get better and better," said Morris.
After lunch the group participated in a lively discussion on conformation and soundness as Dr. Marvin Beeman of Littleton Equine Medical Center in CO, continued his presentation from yesterday. Dr. Beeman answered numerous questions from the group on conformation defects, soundness and treatment options. Dr. Beeman offered the group years of expertise as an Olympic caliber veterinarian. Not only is his resume impressive, but also his devotion and love of horses is even more impressive. Dr. Beeman has dedicated his life to horses and the opportunity to speak with him is inspiring.
Riders had the opportunity to hear from DiAnn Langer, the Young Rider Chef d' Equipe. She gave them FEI information and was available for individual strategy sessions.
The training session moved into the barn and continued with farrier Billy Liggett and his son Tim of Woodstock, Illinois. Liggett has been the farrier of choice for many Grand Prix riders in the Midwest and shared years of his experience with the group.
Riders then took a quick break to feed their horses and then headed to the outdoor arena to set the track Morris designed for the final day.
|Everyone participated in the course building and course walk for the Grand Prix of Brookwood
The training session continues tomorrow with the Grand Prix of Brookwood and a farewell luncheon with Morris.
The "Gladstone Program" is an intensive week of training and education for exceptionally dedicated and talented show jumping riders who are serious about their interest and desire to pursue a path that will prepare them for international competition. The training session continues through June 20, 2015. Auditors are welcome 8:00am to noon daily.
The United States Equestrian Team Foundation is the non-profit organization that supports the competition, training, coaching, travel and educational needs of America's elite and developing international, high-performance horses and athletes in partnership with the United States Equestrian Federation.
For more information on the USET Foundation, please call (908) 234-1251, or visit USET ONLINE at www.uset.org.