From April 28-30, world-renowned clinician and Olympian George Morris visited William Woods University last month to conduct a clinic for riders starting age 14 through adult, including William Woods equestrian students.
Junior Vonla Glassman helped organize and prepare for the clinic, and attended as well. She shared her experience with the Look into Equestrian blog:
How did you get interested in horses, and pursuing it as a career?
VG: When I was in 7th grade one of my friends forced me to take a riding lesson with her. She quit immediately, but I was hooked. I decided that I wanted to pursue it as a career because it is something that I know I would be happy doing for the rest of my life. I am very much of a hands-on, manual labor type of person so I knew that the normal desk job wouldn’t be my cup of tea.
Tell us about the clinic.
VG: There was a lot of work leading up to the clinic outside of riding. We sanded and repainted all of our jump poles and scrubbed our standards. This took quite a lot of work but was very rewarding when we got to see how nice everything looked.
Mike, the barn manager, and the men who work in the barns also did a lot of prep work to make the grounds and barns look great. All of the students riding in the clinic had practices every Saturday to prepare us. These practices were extremely helpful since Michele [Smith] let us set up our own exercises so we watched a lot of George Morris clinics to see what he had people do a lot. We ended up setting quite a few exercises that he used during the clinic, which was great.
What did you learn?
VG: I learned that I had been riding with my stirrups way too far on my foot and at the incorrect angle. [Mr. Morris] fixed this for me and my balance has definitely improved because of having my stirrup on my foot correctly.
I also learned that I needed to let the horse I was riding have his head more and loosen my reins. This was difficult for me because this horse stops at jumps pretty aggressively so I had become quite defensive while riding him. After loosening my reins and letting him move forward it really improved his jump and his confidence into jumps.
What did you most enjoy?
VG: Honestly, I really enjoyed the no stirrups day. [Mr. Morris] had us ride with no stirrups and with our reins in one hand. This really forced me to ride off of my legs instead of mostly my hands, which created a much more relaxed horse.
This day he also had us jump the Liverpool without stirrups which was pretty nerve-wracking because the horse I was on usually jumped the Liverpool pretty funky. After making it over the first time, my confidence went up and [my horse] went over it every time with only a small hesitation the first time. This day felt the most rewarding overall because I survived no stirrups with George Morris and I wasn’t sore the day after! I was happy that I prepared a lot by riding with no stirrups for a little bit every time I rode.
Did anything surprise you?
VG: Not really actually. Michele Smith, the Hunter Jumper instructor, really prepared us well so that we were definitely ready for the clinic.
Glassman just finished her junior year as a double Business Administration major with a concentration in Accounting and Equine Administration. She is also working toward a minor in Equestrian Science. She is from Glen Ellyn, Illinois.