Sunday, December 4, 2016

George Morris Clinic 2016

I mad the hour and a half trek north on Friday to watch Day 1 of the 2016 George Morris Clinic. It's hosted by Rich Fellers, so you get the added bonus of watching him ride.  And catch glimpses of Flexible!!  Honestly, I think I was more excited for that than anything else.  This clinic has a slightly different format that others I've heard about; it's a 3 day clinic with 3'6", 4', 4'3"+ groups and is geared more towards the jumper rider than the hunter/eq.
Started the day off by catching a glimpse of Flexi

George had all three groups do the same basic exercises, both on the flat and over fences.  Everyone started with shoulder in/out and haunches in/out at the walk and trot. George had them do lots of walk/trot and walk/canter transitions to sharpen the horses to their aids.  All groups did counter canter, with the the 3'6" group only doing a little in their warm up while the the 4' group had to land off a fence and counter canter the corner and short side.  The 4'3" group had to change direction in the canter and hold the counter lead going the new direction.

All three groups warmed up trotting a cavalletti to a trot fence.  As they went through, the fence got progressively bigger and the 4'3" group ended up trotting like a 3'6" fence. It was huge! They jumped right into the jumping (sorrynotsorry for the pun) and did a tight roll back to an oxer, direct short five stride bending line to a skinny plank, then a four stride bending line to a triple bar. This caused lots of problem, for all three groups.  The first group mainly wanted to over bend the first line, making the five easy or adding for six. The triple bar was set so the horses jumped directly towards the spectators, so they had to land and turn quick.  Some horses spooked at us the first time and there were a few that looked like they might not make the turn. The first clip in the video is Chris Fellers (Rich's son) on his 3'6" horse (he also rode in the 4'3" group), a lovely chestnut that could come home with me.  The second clip is Shelley (Rich's wife) in the 4'3" group. Shelley has been a pro and competing in FEI classes for a while now, but Chis just turned pro this summer and is now one of their assistant trainers.


The second exercise was a quadruple combination; a vertical two strides to an oxer, two strides to a vertical, one stride to an oxer.  Then it was around the ring and down the center line towards the "open water".  The 4'3" group then came around the ring and did the quadruple the opposite direction. Since it's December in Oregon the clinic was inside but Rich has a huge moveable liverpool that was set behind a plank. The 3'6" group had the most trouble with the water but luckily no one ended up in it!  The quadruple took its toll as well, with the 3'6" and 4' group being nailed on their straightness, or lack of.  In the 4'3" group Shelley's horse decided it was done and stopped out a few times with her.  She came off but landed very gracefully on her feet.  George had them lower the fences and she did it again going to the whip over every fence. They did it a few time till she didn't need to go to the whip.  Rich's horse had some problem with one of the oxers, a big airy fence with all white poles.  He knocked it a few times and George kept yelling out for Rich to do it again, and again, and again.  They did finally get it, but George told Rich to set airy oxers all over the place.
Rich's horse #noscopenohope

As far as Georgeisms, and his temper, there wasn't much to report.  He loved all the horses in the clinic; said this was one of the best groups he had.  He asked one of the girls in the 3'6" if she owned the horse she was on, and when she said yes, he told her that the horse has a major problem.  You could see her spine stiffen and she had a taken aback look on her face.  He then said the problem was that she paid to little for her horse, that no matter what she paid the horse was worth much, much more. The whole audience laughed while she relaxed.  There was one older adult ammy in the 4' group that had a few stops before falling off that George didn't let get back on.  He had his helper, Alex something (didn't catch a last name, I think he was from Canada?) ride the horse for the rest of the group.  George told her she needed to be in the 3'6" group and that she has hero syndrome.  Trying to jump bigger and better when not prepared for it.  He also made a few quips about having Alex or Rich show the horse while she sit in the VIP tent as owner. I felt sorry for her.

During the lunch break Flexi was in the crossties getting groomed.  If there weren't a bunch of people around I would have kissed that little nose.
 George and Alex each got on a horse for flat work during each session (and Alex got on the one horse from the 4' group to jump)  but George only jumped one horse.  At the end of the 3'6" group George rode Chris' horse.  He schooled him over a couple single oxers and then the water.  The horse didn't need schooling but it was obvious that George really liked him and wanted show that he's still got it.  Video below.


  1. Jealous! I wanted to go audit but dang finals got in the way.

  2. Great recap! I would have been like a little kid walking by Flexible in the barn!

  3. It's great that you got to go audit -- especially for such a talented group of riders!

  4. That sounds like a thrilling group to audit!

  5. Great clips - sounds like a day well spent!! Those are some intense exercises too!!!

  6. I am most definitely not a GM fan, but I think it's cool that you saw Rich ride, and saw Flexible up close!