Lessons Learned From George Morris

“If riding were all blue ribbons and bright lights, I would have quit long ago” – George Morris

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Whether you idolize him or just have a passing interest, George Morris is a driving force in the Hunter/Jumper community. And today the esteemed Horseman, Trainer, Author and Judge turns 79 years old! In the past I have been very fortunate to clinic with George Morris, not once, but three times. I was also able to audit his clinics long before I rode in them, and the years in between riding with him. With that experience under my belt, I share with you three big takeaways:

  1. You can never be too prepared – Whether it’s reading his book before the clinic (Hunter Seat Equitation) so you can accurately and quickly answer his questions. Or being armed with the proper equipment and knowing what it is and why you use it (i.e.: knowing which bit you use and why, if you are short having stirrup leathers that taller people can use etc.)
  2. Be an Active Listener : If you are auditing or participating in one of Mr. Morris’ clinics remember why you are there. This isn’t a social hour for you, your friends, or someone you remember from a show 2 months ago. You are there to learn. So being awake and aware of what’s going on around you is important. If you think you misheard something, ask George. Trust me, on my “been there done that horse”, he asked me to jump the course first. I have a hard time remembering courses and wasn’t sure how to approach the jumps. I trotted up to him, asked a clarifying question and he happily gave me the answer and shooed me to jump. It helped relieve my anxiety.
  3. Know Your Horse – The first two times I rode with George I took my older “been there/done that horse”. He was well schooled but he had a naughty streak and an aversion to Liverpools. In the clinic environment, he did really well and I was able to work on the exercises presented, improve some, and appropriately tackled that longtime nemesis, the Liverpool. After two days my gelding no longer cared about the blue plastic tarp. The last time I rode in the clinic, I  rode my young green horse. He was a mild mannered trying kind of horse; the flatwork in the advanced group was not a problem but the obstacles and exercises over fences were a bit much for him. At the end of the day he wasn’t over faced by the height but it may have been overstimulating for him and we wouldn’t reap the rewards of the experience until months later. In retrospect, the horse needed another year under saddle before going to a clinic of that caliber and that was a valuable lesson.

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At the end of the day, if you’ve never participated in a clinic with him before, definitely audit a day or two first. Pay attention to the exercises and practice them at home. Discuss with your trainer and listen to your horse about whether it’s the right opportunity for you to take at this time.

MDC Stirrup Irons GIVEAWAY!

We’ve got Olympics FEVER, friends!  Oh yes we do.  And so do the good folks at MDC Stirrups, who have so kindly agreed to give away, absolutely free, a brand new pair of MDC  stirrup irons to one lucky Mary’s Tack and Feed reader.

Winning!  MDC irons!  For free!

You can check out all the styles on our website by clicking here

Entering to win is so, so easy.  Just hop over to their facebook page to find out which Olympic riders ride in the fabulous MDC stirrup.  Then leave us a comment here on the blog with the names of at least 4 of those riders.  That’s it!  You’re entered!

For additional entries you can:

Be sure to leave a separate comment for each of your entries so they can be counted individually.

So what are you waiting for?  Let’s do it!

Entrants must be 18 years of age or older with a delivery address in the continental U.S. to be eligible to win.  No purchase necessary. Contest will end at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, August 14th.

Horse Camp Essentials: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Summertime is in full swing and so are the horse camps that many of our children will attend.  While some kids are seasoned veterans who have the experience but lack the horse, others are first timers and for their parents this poses some challenges.  Many of you out there, for example, are wondering “How much money should I spend on riding equipment for a child that may never ride again?”

It’s definitely a real concern, especially when funds for just about everything are pretty tight these days. So here are some honest facts and tips on how to get the most for your money.

  • Horseback riding is expensive.

This can certainly be a daunting sport where there are simply varying degrees of expensive ranging from “pricey” to “why didn’t we just buy a yacht with a helicopter pad instead?” And a horse crazy child can easily morph from someone perfectly content with watching The Black Stallion and playing with model horses into a soul obsessed with achieving the Olympic dream. Enter horse camps- a great way to test the waters with your kids to see if they still truly enjoy everything (from picking hooves to cleaning stalls – not just riding) about working with horses.

  • There are LOTS of options.

Horses teach many wonderful lessons of responsibility and the rewards of hard work. And the bond formed between horse and rider is a wonderful thing for any child to experience. But don’t break the bank when outfitting you child for a two week horse camp! Helmets run from as low as $39.99 and riding pants (without those pesky inner seams that can rub a leg raw)  start at just $24.99 with paddock boots (the short kind – no need for tall boots yet!) being moderately priced at 34.99!

That means for under $100 you can outfit your child both safely and stylishly for his or her foray into horse camp!

  • The helmet is key.

Seemingly calm, quiet school horses can still be spooked or frightened and inexperienced riders can fall off of even a stationary horse. This leads me to the most important thing I’ll tell you in this post.  Are you ready?  Here it is:

THE HELMET IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN BUY.

Please do not use helmets that the camp provides. It’s tempting, we know, but not worth the risk. You have no idea how old the helmets are and the protective materials inside degrade over time. You also don’t know if the helmet has been involved in a fall which seriously compromises the ability of the helmet to protect the head (helmets should be replaced every 3-5 years and always after every fall). For the reasonable prices brand new helmets start at there’s no reason to not invest in one.

For affordable options that will keep your camper safe, try the Troxel Legacy or the Deluxe Schooler helmet from Ovation.

  • Bike helmets are not the best choice.

Some people ask, “What about my child’s bike helmet? Can’t I just use that?” It does seem reasonable, but the two types of helmet are designed much differently. Typically, riding helmets cover more of the head and offer more protection to the back of the head, an area that statistically riders hit when they fall. A fall from a bike is different than a fall from a horse and equestrian helmets are specifically designed to protect for those circumstances and conditions.

  • Upgrading might actually save you money.

Lower priced things tend not to stand up to a lot of use so consider how much your child will be using things before they outgrow them. For the more experienced child that will be spending all day, or more than one day a week, at the barn, it would be wise to consider purchasing slightly nicer, more durable pants and boots. If your child is on the brink of stepping into the show ring, pants and helmets that could make that leap are often worth the bit of extra money. For this stage, try the Ariat Performer breech  or the Euroweave Side Zip for riding pants and the Ariat Devon III for an upper level paddock boot.

So whether your child is just starting out on this great horse adventure or is ready to try for that blue ribbon in the show ring, let us take care of your “what to wear?”.

The Jeans Scene at Mary’s Tack and Feed

Mary’s Tack and Feed has been offering our customers quality jeans for years, and we’ve loved watching the selection transform from purely functional, to jeans that are comfortable and fashionable as well.  It’s great to know that riders can look good whether they’re in the saddle or out!

We’ve all noticed that different shoes fit differently depending upon the manufacturer, right?  Well the same principle can be applied jeans, which is why Mary’s is careful to carry a wide variety of manufacturers so that you can find jeans that fit just right.

From the perfect riding jean, like Wrangler’s Q baby or Cruel Girl’s Georgia, to the fashion-forward like Adiktd, Cowgirl Up, and the Lindsay from Cruel Girl, Mary’s Tack and Feed offers something for everyone.

jeans, pants, riding jeans, cute jeans, cowgirl jeansAnd if you’re tired of trying on a hundred pairs of jeans that seem cut for juniors but not for women, then give Cowgirl Tuff a try.  We know you’ll be hooked!

From the early traditional riding jeans made of heavy cotton for durability, which were so stiff it was sometimes a struggle to get them on and ended up feeling sticky and hot after hours working in warm weather, the amazing Vista jean from Cruel Girl was born.  Offering a light-weight cotton jean strengthened with just a smidge of polyester and lycra for stretch, the Vista was the #1 best selling jean at Mary’s Tack and Feed for years.  Since then, so many great manufacturers have created fabulous, comfortable, breathable and flattering jeans and Mary’s is proud to offer them to our customers!

Whether you’re in the saddle or out on the town, Mary’s Tack and Feed has jeans, from the affordable minimalist to the super embellished, that you will absolutely adore.

Shop with us online at www.marystack.com or give us a call toll free at 1.800.551.6279 (MARY) and let us answer all your questions.

Why do we have a Sale Right Before a Sale?

For the past few years, Mary’s has promoted a January “Pre-Season Show Sale”, featuring fantastic discounts on tall boots and Charles Owen helmets. Some of our veteran customers, who know we also hold our major, store-wide Tent Sale each February, have been asking us “Why have a January sale before your February sale?”.

Well, if you’ve attended our Tent Sale, you know that the savings are great and the atmosphere is exciting.  But if you want to get fitted for a tall boot, it can be a little nutty.

Sure, we can do it. We do have great Sales Associates at Mary’s, after all! But if you want to sit, ask questions, walk around leisurely in your prospective boots, and get as much enjoyment as possible out of the whole tall boot fitting process, then the Tent Sale sometimes just isn’t conducive to that.

So we started our January sale – featuring a discount on tall boots that’s as good as the discount we’ll have at our Tent Sale. And then, because we know that the only thing better than one great deal is two great deals, we added the premium helmet line of Charles Owen to our January sale line-up.

Charles Owen does control their pricing, but allows Mary’s Tack & Feed to discount their helmets substantially just one time each year: January.

We’ve also added in a few other things over time. Heck, if we’re already having a January sale, we might as well make it fun, right?

This year, our January sale ends on the 23rd. Until then, save 20% on Charles Owen helmets and tall boots (excluding custom boot orders).  You can also save 15% on English bridles, coolers and scrims, ratcatchers, hunt coats, Ariat Quantum Paddock Boots, and more. Just click here to visit our website and see everything we have to offer.

And remember, our store-wide Tent Sale is February 17, 18, 19, 2012. It’s always a great time with lots of fun sales, auctions, and prizes! Be sure to put us in your reader or subscribe by email so you don’t miss any updates about this fabulous event. More information coming soon in our next post!