Horsin' Around: 'Founding father' returns to Carroll

On the weekend of May 30-June 1 Carolyn and Mike Krome will be hosting the spring edition of the George Morris Clinic at their Persimmon Tree Farm on Bloom Road in Westminster. For the uninitiated, having George Morris teach a clinic at your farm is like having Cal Ripken in his prime giving a baseball coaching session in your back yard. It is a thing to be very, very proud of.

The Wikipedia entry for George Morris reads:

George H. Morris is an American trainer and judge of horses and riders in the hunter/jumper disciplines, and is considered a "founding father" of Hunt Seat Equitation. Morris has represented the United States in many international competitions as both a rider and coach. In 1959 his team won the gold medal in the Pan American Games, and he won a team silver medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics. ... Morris' students have medaled in the 1984, 1992, 1996, and 2004 Olympic Games. Morris' book, "Hunter Seat Equitation," is often recognized as the definitive work on the subject. Morris has also authored several other books and videos on riding and judging, including George Morris Teaches Beginners to Ride, A Clinic for Instructors, Parents, and Students, and The American Jumping Style. ... Additionally, Mr. Morris serves on the USEF National Jumper Committee and Planning Committee.

Morris is in the U.S. Show Jumping Hall of Fame. One would think that the foregoing would be enough for one man for one lifetime.

Luckily for the equestrian world it is not.

George Morris has never stopped in his quest to promote the sport of riding and to increase the knowledge of the thinking rider. He is one of the most celebrated and respected clinicians in the modern equestrian world.

To ride for Morris is an adventure in horsemanship. Morris has one criterion for horsemanship: "It's about the horse and that's it." Everything that a rider does is supposed to make it easier for the horse to do what it must to advance itself in the sport.

Under this simplistic-seeming phrase comes a world of necessary changes for the rider to understand. The changes involve not only modifications in the rider's way of riding and of thinking but also serious distinctions in the timing of the communications the horse receives from that rider.

Morris is not wishy-washy. He is demanding, uncompromising and sometimes truculent. His standard is straightforward: on any given day, at any given time, he wants only your best.

Right now there are only spots open for those who wish to audit this Morris clinic. The horse/rider openings in all three of the sections have been filling with calls from riders since January of this year, long before the clinic was even advertised.

George Morris teaches because he sincerely wants people to ride better. He also teaches because he is aware that he himself is the end product of a great tradition of teachers. A look at the dedication to his book, "Hunter Seat Equitation," tells the story of that tradition when he thanks the following people: Margaret Cabell Self, Richard Watjen, Bertalan de Nemethy, Gunnar Anderson and Gordon Wright.

For those of you who are still in doubt as to whether it would benefit you to audit the Morris Clinic, you might go to the Internet and take a look at You Tube. There are many small clips which show George Morris in operation with this horse or that one. On of the most impressive shows him working with a very high strung horse and, within something under three minutes, helping that horse to learn to trust Morris' stewardship and to relax into Morris' hands and legs. I use the term stewardship intentionally as Morris does not overwhelm the horse but encourages it quietly to learn to trust him in that very short time.

If you would like a little humor (very little) read the comments by horse aficionados beneath that short video. The remarks are like watching a giant being nibbled by gnats - an irritation but certainly not an annoyance.

The auditing experience at a Morris clinic is uplifting. You leave wanting to go apologize to your horse and ride better. The auditing experience at Persimmon Tree is especially pleasant with a pickup breakfast and a lunch provided as well. I could go on, but one of the secrets of good riding is learning when NOT to do things to excess. Oddly enough the same applies to writing. If you want to watch an American icon in action you can call Persimmon Tree Farm at 410-876-8645 for further information.