Exercises to Better the Horse
Olympian Kent Farrington shares a series of gymnastics during the 12th annual George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session.
Asizable group of auditors, bundled in parkas and gripping steaming cups of coffee in the unseasonably cool southern Florida morning, gathered before 8 a.m. to see the world No.1-ranked jumper. Kent Farrington stood before the crowd in dark sunglasses and a hat, exuding confidence and giving off an air of star quality. He answered questions calmly and completely as one hand after another shot up to ask about everything from training methods to competition schedules to building confidence in his mounts.
The impromptu Q & A session was part of the 12th annual George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session—a multiday clinic designed to identify and develop the next generation of U.S. Equestrian Team talent—in Wellington. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist, who as a kid began riding at a Chicago carriage stable, talked of the endless hours of hard work and shared another of his secrets to success—studying other riders. He explained that when he got the rare opportunity to go to bigger competitions he would stand by the warm-up ring and watch.
“I would know what equipment they were using. What bridle they had on. What kind of warm-up they were doing,” he rattled off. “Were they wearing spurs? Did they carry a stick? How short were their stirrups? Did they finish with an oxer or a vertical? How many fences would they jump? I would notice everything. So by doing that, I was gaining a lot of knowledge and free lessons, as I call it.”
Kent’s belief in the importance of attention to detail and the power of observation was evident throughout his gymnastics masterclass as he asked the 12 participants to study not only their own horses and think about what would make them better individually, but also to take advantage of free lessons by watching other riders work through problems with their horses.
Kent encouraged riders to take their time in the warm-up and likened it to human fitness, emphasizing the importance of letting the horse stretch to become loose while feeling for any soundness issues before asking the horse for more.
“I ride a lot off of feeling,” Kent stated. “It’s important for me to feel what is right for the horse and not a matter of robotic routine. Go with what feels right for that particular horse on that
Participants in the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session set jumps while clinician Kent Farrington gave his demonstration from the saddle.