Group 2 riders at the 2015 George H. Morris Training Session listening to the Master

Group 2 riders at the 2015 George H. Morris Training Session listening to the Master

It’s that time of year again!!  No, not the holidays, something much better!  It’s time for the 2015 George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session in Wellington, FL.  The time of year where horse junkies all over find themselves glued to their computer screens with the sound on low as they surreptitiously watch while at work. (C’mon, I’m not the only one that does that, right?  It’s just not the same when you watch the replay.)

Twelve lucky young riders will have the chance to learn from the Master during the five day training session, currently in it’s 9th year.  The sessions, which will run December 30th-January 3rd,  will be broadcast live on the USEFNetwork.  You can find the schedule of events here.

George Morris showing the aids for a leg yield

George Morris showing the aids for a leg yield

One of the riders participating in the clinic is 20 year-old Cody Wooten, an Equine Science major in his junior year at Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ. Cody started riding at age 8, and credits his parents’ desire to have him experience a wide range of sports as the catalyst for what he’s doing today.  He tried jazz, baseball, and soccer, but riding, he says, is the only sport that stuck, largely because he loved the horses, time spent in the barn, and the friends he met there. His first pony, Hank, was an all-arounder that Cody did some eventing with, in addition to showing in the hunters and equitation classes.

His goal is to become professional, and he’s given great thought to how he intends to accomplish that goal.  The Equine Science major, normally a pre-veterinary track, is to give him a more in-depth knowledge on the health, physiology and psychology of the horse. Learning how to manage a barn and becoming proficient in riding instruction and training is something he intends to focus on while working with industry professionals during school breaks.

Although Cody has never ridden with George, he has audited several of Morris’ clinics.  He admits to some nerves, but says they’re the good kind of nerves, the kind that keep him polished and focused on doing his best. Cody’s hoping the training session will give him another perspective on riding and training, and he’s looking forward to hearing what Morris feels he’s doing right and what he needs to do to improve.  He’s prepared for the sessions by riding as much as possible at school, and getting additional riding instruction from Michael Dowling, an Assistant Professor of Equine Studies at Centenary and the Co-Coach of the school’s ANRC Intercollegiate Equestrian Team. He’s also logged hours watching past Horsemastership Training Sessions.

Perhaps his best preparation for the Morris Training Session was his experience as a finalist in the 2014 EAP National Training Session held Nov. 13-16, 2014 at the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio. The EAP program was led by Olympian Peter Wylde and Anne Thornbury, and during the clinic finalists were asked to ride and care for a horse provided by Findlay. They were schooled in flatwork, work over fences, general horse care and stable management and at the conclusion of the program riders participated in a Nations Cup style competition that determined an overall champion.  Wooten rode brilliantly, placing 2nd out of sixteen and therefore gaining himself a spot to ride with Morris in Wellington.

Cody will be riding VDL Adessa, a 9 year-old Dutch mare generously loaned to him by Amanda Flint of Volition Farm.  He’s spent the last few days prior to the start of the session riding the mare and trying to form a bond with her. He’s looking forward to learning all he can from both the mare and George, and feels his biggest challenge will be to take whatever insights Morris offers and immediately implement them.

Cody has very kindly agreed to share some of his experiences during the sessions with HJU, and we look forward to watching him and learning along with him.

Amy