Tune in

Practical Horseman - - Editor's Note -

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.

Cheers,

Jo­ce­lyn Pierce As­so­ciate Editor

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