When I was ten and a half, I started taking riding lessons at a neighborhood barn. I loved everything about Eaton Canyon Riding Club, including my trainer, but honestly, the quality of instruction wasn't very high. After three years, I knew my leads and diagonals and could steer around a basic hunter course. Beyond that, I had no clue. There wasn't any subtlety or sophistication to my riding.
I spent the next few years riding problem horses, mostly without adult supervision. What I lacked in technique, I made up for with bravery and persistence. This worked for a while, but eventually I got frustrated with my own limitations.
Looking for help, I headed back to Eaton Canyon Riding Club, where a new trainer was in residence. When she offered me a position as a working student, I couldn't accept fast enough.After my first lesson, Roxanne told me that I needed to buy George Morris' book, Hunter Seat Equitation, and read it in its entirety.
I knew who George Morris was, mainly because I liked reading his column in Practical Horseman.
Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that Hunter Seat Equitation was not an expanded version of Jumping Clinic. The book was almost entirely text, with only a few line drawings...
and black and white photos to break up the monotony.
It wasn't the sort of book I usually gravitated to, but I was serious about wanting to be a better rider. I read the entire thing cover to cover, and with Roxanne's help, I was able to start putting some of George's theories into practice.
Years later, I took a job on the A show hunter/jumper circuit.
I met a lot of the people whose photos I'd studied in Hunter Seat Equitation...but I never met George Morris himself.
This is probably just as well, since I'm sure I would have been much too intimidated to actually talk to him. Also, I strongly suspect he would not have been very impressed with my un-tucked, un-hairnetted self. Still, I owe the man a debt of gratitude for the part he played in my riding education.
Now, thanks to Breyer and the Chronicle of the Horse, I can finally pay tribute in the way I do best: 1:9 scale.
Oh, I'm going to have so much fun with this!