It was a frigid Sunday morning as the riders trotted briskly around the arena, while two of the riders from Group 1 stood in the middle of the ring, wrapped in wool coolers in an attempt to stay warm.
As they warmed up, he scowled about the two most common (and his most despised) jumping faults that are seen in the ring today, which are jumping ahead and ducking over the fence. These faults only serve to hinder the horse’s natural balance, which is enhanced by the rider staying in position and having a soft, automatic release over the fence.
There was an outside line that was set up with offset poles at first, so the riders could warm up over the smaller vertical and oxer. George decided to school Chase’s horse over the fence to correct his form by creating more impulsion to the fence and giving him more freedom with his head and neck (which allows the front legs and shoulder to lift up and over the fence with ease).
Once everyone had warmed up over the individual fences, the jumps were put up to their true height. As the riders jumped the line one by one, he reminded to make sure the quality of the canter was established well before the first obstacle.
The next obstacle was to work over the water jump, which the riders had already schooled over extensively earlier in the week. Once all the young riders had successfully completed the exercise, the fences were put up to approximately 3’9″ – 4′ and it was time to jump the full course. George commented that while it is important to have impulsion created from the leg, a rider should not be chasing the horse to the fence or unnecessarily kicking him at the base of the fence unless the horse has a history of stopping.
As each rider completed the course, George dismissed them and they trotted back to the barn, to avoid getting chilled in the cold morning air. It was Theo’s horse that started having difficulty at the gate, as it was an exaggerated rollback from a vertical. While coming out of the turn from the left, the horse was drifting to the right and began drifting sideways right past the fence. George barked at him to be aggressive, and make Theo repeat those two fences at least 10 times until the horse was correctly jumping both fences. George insisted that a horse must be schooled and repeat the exercise until it is accomplished, provided it is a simple disobedience.
Chase was the last rider to complete the course, as all the other riders had already gone back to the barn. Once he had successfully ridden the course, George addressed the audience and repeated his high opinion of the riders that were in the clinic, and thanked everyone in the audience for attending the final session despite the bitter cold.
It was a great experience to watch George work with such talented young riders, and he truly is a great horseperson.
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