At the beginning of the year, I traveled to Florida to cover the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session and to attend some photo shoots for upcoming training stories, including Selena O’ Hanlon’s on cross-country banks (page 38). Over the five-day whirlwind trip, I learned from six Olympians and headed home with fresh ideas and inspiration.
On the second day of the training session, Kent Farrington taught a gymnastics masterclass (page 30) and stressed training the individual horse and improving the weaknesses of both horse and rider by working on exercises that are difficult for them. He also emphasized “going off feeling” and analyzing how your horse is doing on a particular day, adjusting your plan accordingly.
Similarly, in her story about fixing show-ring mistakes (page 22), hunter rider, trainer and USEF ‘R’ judge Keri Kampsen agrees that knowing your horse’s personality is critical to planning your approach to a course and anticipating trouble spots. She also cautions, much like Kent, that horses are like people and behave differently on different days. It’s up to you to pick up on that and alter how you will ride them. “You have to be in tune with what your horse is telling you every moment of every ride and be ready to react however necessary to comfort your mount and build his confidence,” Keri says.
Jim Wofford also talks about building your horse’s confidence in his column about cross-country terrain (page 12). He touches on the adjustments you need to make in your position to help your horse when jumping up or down banks, echoing Selena’s approach to riding them.
While Jim’s column gave me something more to think about with my own horse on the cross-country course, what resonated most with me was Jim’s love for “across the country” riding and the natural world. “When I can bend over and let the speed of the horse carry me out of the saddle and into the natural world, I feel most in tune with the natural world,” he says. “I am much happier outside than indoors and much happier in the country than in the city.”
Jim’s sentiment sums up the main reason why I’m drawn to the Mongol Derby, a 600-mile race on 25 different semi-wild horses in Mongolia which I will be competing in this summer (page 66). On this adventure I’ll be heeding the advice of the experts in this issue on horsemanship, tuning in to the individual horses and helping them as much as possible with my position.
Jocelyn Pierce Associate Editor