The master, the legend, the icon
George Morris on Smashy
The master, the legend, the icon.
The one and only George Morris!
And somehow I was lucky enough to score three lessons with him!
On the 1st of January I flew over to Victoria again but this time lugging 10 days worth of horse gear ready for the clinic! Smashy travelled with Tasmanian Horse Transport and I left my car with the lovely Michelle Nichols in Victoria after Adelaide so I was able to get around.
The clinic ran on the 7th, 8th and 9th so I had a few days of downtime while going back and forth between Melbourne and Michelle’s place where Smashy was lucky enough to be staying. I then borrowed a car and float from new friend Andrea Dumbrell who was so kind on late notice and headed off down the Mornington Peninsular with Smashy’s owner Carmen ter Rahe.
There has been quite a few articles done about the Victorian clinic so I will write this blog as my experience as a rider in the clinic.
Going in I was really apprehensive, not because I doubted his system but because I knew his reputation as being tough! But I think if anyone went into a clinic with George and expected to be praised and patted then they were soon bought quickly back down to earth. And this doesn’t only apply to the riders I might add! The audience was also expected to pay him avid attention the entire time. If someone glanced at a phone or drank coffee or even ate food he would notice from the middle arena and they would be sharply reminded who they were watching. This was one thing I found remarkable (one of many things I might add), was how observant he was. Nothing escaped his notice. Also demonstrated in him seeing a twisted rein or twisted stirrup from the other end of the area!
George focused quite a lot on the warm-up and we did basic lateral work and arena craft. This is where the benefit of watching the lesson before helped immensely not only for educational purposes but so I had an idea of how my own lesson would run. The jumping exercises involved tome tricky curving lines and combinations where we were asked to play with our striding a little bit. I found this particularly tricky on Smashy as it isn’t his strong point and he tends to charge down lines a bit on his own terms and turning is especially hard for him so I found these exercises particularly useful.
Another concept that he worked on was the lowering of the hands down beside the neck at the base and over the fence to help promote the shape of the jump and relaxation over the fence. Smashy went from jumping well to jumping like a cat! We also worked a bit on changes and general rideability between fences.
Cavalletti were used a lot to help promote and test that rideability and it was set in various exercises depending on what George deemed most appropriate for the riders. He was fanatical about equitation so the main undertone of the entire clinic was a light seat, high hands, heels down, stirrups straight across the ball of your foot and dead accuracy over fences, poles and on the flat. There was not to ever be a hair out of place unless it was going wrong, but then you corrected and it was back to being beautiful again.
It was a fascinating clinic and the improvement in Smash was huge. Not because of some trick or bit of gear, but simply taking an idea that we have been told for years or just makes anatomical sense and taking it further than you thought you could.
I enjoyed the clinic immensely and I was so grateful to my wonderful family for supporting me, Smashy’s owner Carmen ter Rahe for letting me have the ride the big monster, Horseware Australia and Prydes Easifeeds for helping us with the costs of the clinics and Michelle Nichols for hosting Smashy for that week. Tasmanian Horse Transport for caring for him so well on the trip over and back and everyone else i have forgotten but am so grateful to because it really was a clinic of a lifetime!
(Above) Smashy at the Vicki clinic jumping so well! (Below) Schnapps, owned by Emily Hirst, at the Vicki clinic. He is a cute little horse! Photos: Sarah Walker
I came home and backed that clinic up with a Heath Ryan clinic with some young horses as Smash was still in Vic and Sizzle and Will were still only just at walk trot stage but it was still very beneficial and it was a much needed catch up after Adelaide to see where my horses were at and what my plans were.
Then the Tasmanian Eventing Squads ran a clinic with Vicki Roycroft. This was a wonderful way of backing up what I learnt at the George Morris Clinic as Vicki follows the same philosophies and Smashy felt like he progressed even more and this was shown in the events following.
L to R: Lexi (owned by Alison Campbell), Daisy (Owned by Emily Hirst) and Smashy (Owned by Carmen ter Rahe) all got ribbons at their first event (for Lexi and Daisy) and Smashy's first event back after a 9+ month spell
The Tasmanian Eventing scene was in full swing at this point so I had lots of babies out and about doing the little classes as well as Smash competing in the EvA 95 and EvA 105 at Fairlands ODE and the North West Eventing Champs respectively of which he won both from start to finish!
Smashy at Fairlands ODE
Sizzle and Will are now both back in work and feeling amazing! Will won a 1.15m class at a local show with a clear round for our first event back after Adelaide and Sizzle (and Smash) had a great clinic with Heath Ryan for the Tasmanian Eventing squads. How lucky are we to have access to coaches such as Heath and Vicki!
Will feeling fantastic at Exeter Show in the 1.15m
The plan now is to do quite a few trips this year with my three super stars and hopefully start looking at some bigger heights! How exciting!
Until next time,
(Above) Smashy at North West Champs Photo: Georgia Van Der Drift (Below) Ribbons all round for Smashy and Charlie!