Hampshire, IL - Diane Carney and Greg Franklin hosted a George H. Morris Natural Obstacle Clinic on September 9th and 10th at Canterbury Farm in Hampshire, IL. The theme of "back to the future" was evident, where the concept of jumping natural jumps on various terrains like foxhunting, builds better riders and teaches horses to jump better, enabling our country to have better international teams in the future.
The clinic track set by Morris, was inviting and progressive, allowing horses and riders of all levels to learn how to ride the natural obstacles. Morris is an advocate of basic principles of riding and horsemanship.
"Dressage is the educated way to dominate the horse," said Morris. "Proper riding is the same at the walk, trot, canter, galloping and jumping." Each group began the session with basic flat work, preparing both the horse's brain and body for jumping.
"Not many shows in the United States have grass rings and natural obstacles anymore but the best shows in the world do like Spruce Meadows and Aachen, Germany," stated Morris.
"People need to get out of the ring and ride," emphasized Morris. "Bring the outside into the ring. You can't teach the same things in a ring that riding out of the ring can."
Morris began jumping with a serpentine exercise over the bank, educating horses to jumping on and off the bank. Once horses were comfortable with that, they progressed to the mound, again jumping up, down and across the hill, building confidence in both horses and riders.
From there, groups progressed to the grob, consisting of a vertical jump, two strides down the slope to a vertical over a ditch, then two strides up the slope to a vertical. Again horses were introduced slowly, trotting in until they became comfortable.
Then it was on to the water jumps, again emphasizing progression. Riders started over a Liverpool with cavalettis, then moved on to a larger black water with a take off gate and a rail, then moved on to the ten foot open water set in the ground with a PVC pole on the landing to teach horses to jump across the tape.
"There are two kinds of experience," said Morris. "Experience in the britches and experience in the brain. Experience in the britches is 'doing it'. Experience in the brain in learning to anticipate what the horse will do. Riders and trainers need both kinds of experience."
Auditors of the clinic were right in the mix as well with the spectator tent set in the middle of the field, offering the best views of the entire field.
"This clinic was a school similar to one you would do to get ready for Spruce Meadows," said Carney. "The Canterbury field was built from both Greg's and my experience showing in Calgary. All the natural obstacles found in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows are in the field at the farm. I appreciate the riders, horses, auditors and all involved that made this clinic a great learning opportunity with George. It's all about promoting better riding. Riding in the field makes better riders in the ring."
It was a great event on the heels of the 2013 Chicago Hunter Derby, which Morris judged, held at Rush and Carl Weeden's Annali Farm in Antioch, IL, just one hour away.
Morris helped design the course for the 2013 Chicago Hunter Derby with Bobby Murphy of Lexington, KY. One glance at the field would tell you Morris's concepts were present. The course was built using minimal ground lines and a variety of jumps reminiscent of foxhunting days. Natural coops, stone walls, hickstead fences and brush jumps provided the appropriate test for horses and riders to navigate with the up and downhill terrain.
Carney and Franklin plan on holding the clinic next year, once again offering the opportunity for riders and horses to 'get out of the ring' and to encourage better riding. Morris will be teaching another clinic at Canterbury Farm November 29-December 1, 2013. For more information go to www.telluridefarm.com or contact Diane Carney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-922-6167.
For a schedule of more George H. Morris clinics, please visit www.ghmclinics.com.