byErin Gilmore| Jan 5, 2017
Early was on time on Day 1 of the George H. Morris Horsemastership Session in Wellington, Florida. By the posted start time of 8 a.m. Thursday, January 5th, 2017, all 12 participants had already been seated in a neat row along the rail in the main arena at the Global Dressage Festival grounds for over 20 minutes. By that time, clinician Anne Kursinski was well into her mounted flatwork demonstration.
While Mr. Morris has taken leave of teaching the clinic for the past three years, his name and his teaching style live on through his former students and riders, one of the closest of whom is Kursinski herself.
Before diving into two coaching sessions, Kursinski demonstrated her flatwork routine aboard a horse of her own: Caspar’s Lasino, an 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding that Anne has been working with for one year—and gave her plenty to talk about. She narrated her entire ride, during which time she handled everything from spooks and rears to total elasticity and softness. More soft-spoken than Morris but just as direct, Kursinski has her own set of “Anne-isms.” Read on for just a few that she shared for those in attendance:
“If you can’t control your own body, good luck controlling your horse.”
Control your position. Proper flatwork is like going to the gym for your horse, so be fit enough to do it correctly.
“You can have flexion without collection, but you can’t have collection without flexion.”
Get inside the horse. What makes them tick? Whether it’s jumping, fitness, straightness—all of that pays off.
“Lateral work is a mental game.”
His brain is with me. And I promise, this helps your jumping. You can solve so many of your jumping problems on the flat.
“Like a dripping faucet on a rock, with repetition, they’ll get better.”
You get results through repetition.
“I can sit, but I don’t have to.”
I love my dressage, but I really love cantering in my two-point. To appreciate the systematic training of a horse, really, do dressage. But know how to it all in your half-seat.
“When I wiggle my big toe, he’s got to go forward.”
…And he does, because he’s obedient to the leg. He’s listening to the rider’s desire and intention.
“The sign of a great rider is a happy horse.”
How is the quality of the work? How is the quality of the riding? Be happy with a little and reward often.