By Ambassador Allison West Hughes
It’s 8 a.m. and I am in a folding camp chair I have fished out of the horse trailer. There is a soft breeze, bright blue skies, sunlight filtered through swaying trees. The smell is unmistakably horse show; hoof oil, fly spray, show sheen, freshly shampooed horses and faintly, coffee. Through a perfect set of happy accidents I am at the George Morris Clinic at Smoke Tree Ranch in Scottsdale.
I am in the very abbreviated break in between two demanding sales leadership roles. One ends today with the termination of my email access at 10am and a new one begins Monday at 8am. And then, the clincher, I happened upon a free 3-day audit ticket: a gift given in exchange for housing a junior rider who lived 40 minutes away and wanted to trade windshield time for sleep.
The first group of the clinic is assembling in front of George’s golf cart. He faces them from the back seat with a few general instructions on stirrup length and overall horsemanship. For once, I have no email to check, nowhere to be, and the second half of the day to deal with my own herd. This group would learn quickly and ride beautifully.
Three days later he called this group “a very good group”. They tackled the challenges he presented them quickly and were able to advance again and again to the next exercise.
So what did I learn from the audit rail in 3 days of watching him teach?
I took a lot of great horse tips, too. My bay gelding needs a consistent “nip” with the bit to elevate the pole and balance his heavy front end, my super sensitive chestnut mare needs me to stay. off. her. back. or her jump will stay hollow and flat, my huge gray mare needs is lots more lateral work to make that enormous stride adjustable. I also ate bagels, said hello to a lot of friends, and thought maybe, just maybe, if I can get a break on the vet bills I would have the courage to do the clinic from inside the rail next time.