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Do you have your copy of UNRELENTING, the George Morris autobiography, yet? This is the book everyone is talking about…and it’s only just been officially released in stores.

“Enlightening and inspiring. And insight into [Morris’s] human failings—his struggles and doubts and worries—made for a much more complete picture of him than has ever been painted. … An unprecedented look into the life of a legend.”—The Chronicle of the Horse

“A sensational, behind-the-scenes history…a surprising, refreshing and sometimes harrowing examination of the man with high standards but a desperate need for ‘wild nights.’” — Horse Nation

“Deliberately no-holds-barred…what lies between the pages of UNRELENTING is very, very good reading. [George Morris] reveals both the vulnerability and strength that made him into the icon he is today. It is perhaps his bravest move yet.” —Street to Stable

“This compelling portrait of one of America’s most renowned horsemen will appeal to anyone who is entranced with the horse-show circuit and high-society culture. Even readers who are less familiar with horses may enjoy the glimpse into life with the rich and famous.” —Library Journal

“People will be talking about this book, so I wouldn’t pass up your chance to get your own copy.” —The Plaid Horse

 

You CAN get your own copy, and have it signed by George Morris himself and his ghostwriter Karen Robertson Terry at two upcoming UNRELENTING book release events:

 

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Saturday, March 12, 2016, Beginning at Noon

The Absolute Horse, 2221 NE 3rd Street, Bend, Oregon

Come enjoy a short talk by Karen Robertson Terry, Bend resident and George’s right-hand-woman in the writing of UNRELENTING, in conjunction with the unveiling of the painting of one of George’s great horses The Jones Boy by artist Kimry Jelen. Enjoy light refreshments as you browse the store and visit with Karen. Copies of UNRELENTING will be available for purchase and signing.

GHMWEF-Signing

Sunday, March 27, 2016, 11:30 am to 3:00 pm

Derby Field

The Stadium at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, Florida

Catch the $86,000 Suncast 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic and meet George Morris at this special WEF-sponsored event. Copies of UNRELENTING will be available for purchase and signing.

We’ll be announcing more events in honor of the release of George’s autobiography as they are confirmed—stay tuned! And if you can’t wait, you can order UNRELENTING from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small company located on a farm in rural Vermont.

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As we leave the past weekend’s World Cup competition in Las Vegas behind and close in on Rolex Kentucky 2015 (April 23-26, 2015), it stands to reason we’d spend a little time in awe of the world’s top riders and the horses with whom they conquer massive jump courses and dance intricate dressage steps.

But there’s more to these successful partnerships than what we see in the spotlight. Outside the competitive arena, beside every great horse, stands a great groom (damp rag and hoof oil in hand). These hard-working individuals are often the earliest to rise and the last to leave the barn. They travel in the back of trailers and the underbellies of planes to keep watch over their charges. And they master the ritual, labor, and indeed, the artistry involved in ensuring healthy, happy horses that shine like the lucky side of a new dime, inside and out.

With the first jog at Rolex on the horizon (scheduled for tomorrow at 3 pm), Emma Ford, head groom to gold-medal-winning event rider Phillip Dutton’s string and co-author of the season’s must-have book WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES, stole a few precious minutes from her busy day to tell us what life is like on True Prospect Farm.

WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES and MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON are both available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

 

Photo of Emma Ford by Amber Heintzberger from Modern Eventing with Phillip Dutton.

Photo of Emma Ford by Amber Heintzberger from Modern Eventing with Phillip Dutton.

For those of you not familiar with eventing, every work day for the event horse varies. Day 1 might be a hack day, Day 2 jog and flat, Day 3 flat and jump… For the purpose of this blog, I am going to tell you about a gallop day. For me there is no “typical” day at True Prospect. With so many horses in work, plans can change hourly, and who knows what is waiting around the corner to surprise us. Being flexible and being able to cope with last-minute decisions is a must.

6:00 am  Whilst I’m making my coffee and feeding my faithful sidekick Charlie, one of the working students feeds the barn of anywhere from 30 to 45 horses. We have a rotation for AM feedings and late-night check, that way no one person gets stuck doing it multiple times.

7:00 am  Arrive at barn. Immediately I go to check the legs of the three horses heading to Rolex. For me, I feel every day is primarily about the safety and care of the horses; however, after the Rolex horses have run their last prep run at the Fork Horse Trials in North Carolina, I become ultra-paranoid about the possibility of missing a small abnormal cut or swelling that could alter the horses’ chance of getting to Kentucky.

7:15 am  Horses on night turnout come in, and it is about now I start to hear, “EMMA!” called from numerous directions. The usual question: “What blankets are the horses to wear?” If I had a dollar for all the times I am asked that question, I would be a very rich groom!

7:30 am  Tack up Happy (Mighty Nice) for Phillip to go galloping. Phillip reminds me that NBC is coming to film at 9:00 am. Shoot! I do a walk through the barn, getting the guys to muck a little quicker while I tidy up—have to make sure those blankets are folded just so!! [Editor’s Note: Find out how in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES!]

8:00 am  Need to run to buy ice. Phillip will be back by 8:45. I always wonder what the local gas station attendant thinks I am doing, buying 12 bags of ice every four to five days. He never asks, so I don’t tell!

9:00 am  Phillip returns, the NBC crew arrives, the training log book has been done, so the first set of horses get tacked up for their riders. NBC wants to film in the tack room, so I grab as much tack as I think we might need in order to avoid disturbing the interview…Oh…and, “Everybody keep the noise level down!” Meantime, Happy is standing in ice for 20 minutes. He only tries to jump out once…that’s good going for him.

10:00 am I head to the feed room to make up lunches and dinners…Must remember to call in that grain order. That’s odd, Caileigh is jogging up the path. I ask what’s up and am told the neighbor’s pigs are out and Fred jumped out of his paddock.” GREAT!! Grab a bucket of grain and get everybody on the ground to put horses in stalls, grab halters, and head out to catch Fred! Luckily for us, Fred cleared the fence and stayed near the next paddock. However, I say, “Bacon anyone?!”

Emma feeding.

Emma feeding.

11:00 am  Feed lunch, bring in all horses, switch those round pens…”Everybody has been out…correct?” NBC want to film Evie and Phillip galloping the other Rolex horses, so I say, “Okay girls, they need to be show-ready in 10 minutes…hoof oil please! I’ll grab the sponsor pads.”

12:00 pm  I ice Happy once more and put him on the Vitafloor for half an hour, then groom him, check his legs, and turn him out to the paddock for downtime. Phillip and Evie arrive back from galloping, cameras in tow! I really want to clip their horses this afternoon, so they get full shampoo baths, and I ice twice.

1:00 pm Make up morning feeds. I then take a horse to the vet clinic to get evaluated. We are extremely lucky to have Dr. Kevin Keane’s practice located literally next door, so if I need medications, have an emergency, or have to get that passport stamped, it is all at my fingertips.

2:00 pm I check Jack’s (Fernhill Fugitive’s) legs. They feel nice and tight. So I start the clipping session. Whilst doing this I have to organize my team for the afternoon. Changes to night turnout, what horses still need grooming, and let’s not forget about soaking Jackson’s foot and re-wrapping it. I rely heavily on my team to let me know if any horse has a slight abnormality that needs attention. With the number of horses we have in the barn, I do not get a chance to personally check each of them over every day.

3:00 pm  On a good day, most of the riding is done by 3:00 pm. Then everybody shares in the afternoon chore duties.

4:00 pm  Jack gets his post-clip bath with apple cider vinegar to try and prevent his skin from breaking out. I get Happy in, check his legs, and they feel great, so I wrap him up for the night. I use Stayons Poultice Wraps, which have made my life so much easier. They are much more time-efficient and have put an end to clay poultice all over myself and the horse!

The barn is fed dinner around 4:00, so I let Cuba (Fernhill Cubalawn) finish his meal before starting his Rolex clipping session. It takes me over an hour to get him done. By this time the barn is hopefully cleaned, but I maybe still have to wrap, roll, fold, and put away that laundry pile!

Emma washing socks.

Emma washing socks.

6:00 pm Bathe Cuba, and groom and wrap Jack before turning him out for the night. I do a walk-through of the barn to ensure horses are happy and correctly blanketed. I put Cuba on the Vitafloor and this helps to dry him quicker. (It is a vibrating plate that helps with circulation.) Then, time to groom him, check his legs, and wrap him for the night.

7:00 pm I’m done for the day, so home to shower and have a little downtime with friends before heading to bed, hopefully by 9:30 to rest up for tomorrow. I wonder what that will bring? Hopefully sound, happy, healthy horses and no more escaped pigs!!

 

Get hundreds of grooming tips from the pros in WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES by Cat Hill and Emma Ford, with over 1200 color photographs!

 

And get find all you need to enjoy the thrilling sport of eventing in MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON by Phillip Dutton with Amber Heintzberger.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE GREAT HORSE BOOKS

 

Be sure to read the other installments in the TSB “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series:

JOCHEN SCHLEESE

HEATHER SMITH THOMAS

LYNN PALM

DANIEL STEWART

DOUG PAYNE

JANET FOY

CLINTON ANDERSON

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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“I do not believe in ‘singing with the choir’ to be popular or stay in the game,” says FEI/USEF Dressage Judge and former Technical Advisor to the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons. And it is this, Anne’s forthright honesty, hinged noticeably on her ability to sandwich the matter-of-fact between insight and humor, that has gained her respect and stature in the international dressage scene.

We caught Anne between clinics and following the release of her new book COLLECTIVE REMARKS, and asked her about her impressive career, as well as some of its highs and lows. COLLECTIVE REMARKS is available now from the TSB online bookstore (CLICK HERE).

 

TSB: You grew up in Sweden. How did you end up riding dressage horses in the United States?

AG: I had been riding since I was six years old, but my passion was jumping and combined training, and those were the sports in which I first competed in the United States. Of course, getting my basic training in Europe, I had a lot of dressage training “built in.”

I earned a scholarship to CW Post (now LIU Post) on Long Island, and there I met my husband David. On his parents’ property we started Knoll Farm, which became a large riding academy and training facility. However,  on  Long Island the opportunities to train properly for eventing proved a challenge because of the flat terrain and lack of appropriate courses. When Colonel Bengt Ljungquist (later the coach for our 1976 Olympic team) arrived in the United States, I went to him for training with my Thoroughbred Tappan Zee, and then continued to work with Bengt as often as I could for about eight years, until we lost him in 1979.

The more I concentrated on dressage training, the more fascinating it became, and eventually I focused on it completely. Once hooked, I became involved in work for various committees, both in our National Federation and the USDF, and also internationally, serving two, four-year terms on FEI dressage and World Cup committees.

Anne Gribbons' riding career began over fences. Photo courtesy Anne Gribbons.

Anne Gribbons’ riding career began over fences. Photo courtesy Anne Gribbons.

 

TSB: Your equestrian career has included owning/running a riding school, running a breeding establishment, riding competitively on the international level, judging here and abroad, and coaching the US Dressage Team at three different Games, including the Olympics. What parts of your “horse life” do you remember most fondly? Which were the most challenging? The most rewarding?

AG: The most rewarding of all is the moment when a horse in training “gets it,” when a student has a revelation, and when either one suddenly reaches another level of understanding and capability. Luckily, this can occur over and over again, which is why I am still doing this! The highlights of a career sort of blend together after a while, but the horse and/or student that learn, advance, and succeed in their endeavors is the greatest satisfaction of all. Unfortunately, people tend to have a short memory when it comes to remembering who helped them along the way, but horses signal their appreciation and make your day, every day, by simply demonstrating what they now know.

The most challenging point of my career was leading up to the 2012 Olympics, being well aware that the United States did not have what it took in horsepower or depth to have a chance to medal. The preparation was frustrating, especially since I had seen and judged most of our competition and was well aware of the odds.

Before London, we were not able to send a number of  horses to Europe to compete because we had to protect the very few precious candidates we had and could not risk sending them around the world. It was quite a catch-22, and although our team riders were well prepared and did a fabulous job, it was difficult to maintain a “We will win this!” attitude without looking like an ignorant fool.

I loved working toward the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky where we performed better than expected, and of course the Pan Am Games in Mexico were a total triumph for the US team. That made the work toward London even more difficult because I knew what we could accomplish when we had the right opportunities! In the end, our Olympic team ended up in a respectable sixth place, and that was as good as it could have been.

 

Anne with the 2012 Olympic Dressage Team. Photo courtesy Anne Gribbons.

Anne with the 2012 Olympic Dressage Team. Photo courtesy Anne Gribbons.

 

TSB: Although you trained a horse (Metallic) who made it to the Olympic Games under Robert Dover, and you coached the US Dressage Team at the 2012 Games in London, you never rode on the Olympic team yourself. Do you feel regret when you look back that you experienced what for some is competitive riding’s pinnacle, but not in the saddle?

AG: Leasing Metallic was the toughest decision of my life, and I often regret it. It was, however, driven by a medical issue. Right after the Pan American Games in Argentina (1995), I discovered a tumor on the inside of my left thigh. I had two horses that could have qualified to be on the Atlanta (Olympic) team: Metallic and Leonardo II, a Holsteiner stallion who had a successful show season at Grand Prix in Europe in 1993 and in the United States the two years following.

We had a partner in ownership of Leonardo, and when I realized that the tumor was growing and might cause a problem for the Olympics, I had to tell our partner, who then wished to sell the horse. A student of Robert Dover’s bought the stallion, and I continued in semi-denial to work toward the Olympics on Metallic.

By January, the horse was doing fine, and I rode him in his first “official” Grand Prix while getting help from Robert, who had been fond of Metallic for many years. Shortly before our first CDI Qualifier, my leg would sometimes go numb and not react. Of course, I should have dealt with it sooner, but an Olympic dream is hard to give up—and I was also afraid to find out about the nature of the tumor.

Jane Clark had offered to lease Metallic for Robert, and when my fear of malfunction of my leg overcame my ambition, I agreed. Jane was a generous and upbeat co-owner, but waiting until the last minute to make up my mind was not fair to Metallic, and it did not give him and Robert enough time to bond before Atlanta, barely six months away. Standing on the sidelines was emotionally taxing, although I was very happy to see the team get a bronze medal. Of course, I got Metallic back after the Olympics, but I could not ride him for a long time since I finally had the leg operated on and was recovering.

The whole thing was an unfortunate accident of timing…and as we all know, timing is everything in life!

 

Anne riding Metallic in Argentina. Photo courtesy Anne Gribbons.

Anne riding Metallic in Argentina. Photo courtesy Anne Gribbons.

 

TSB: You often write and speak to the subject of American riders needing to train their own horses up through the levels, and for the US to support young talent in an effort to build new teams who can compete internationally. Laura Graves and Verdades have appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, to be strong contenders on the international dressage scene, and they were once students of yours. What about Laura’s work over the years, training her horse from a weanling, has led to her current success? What would you tell other aspiring young riders as they strive to reach their own riding goals?

AG: Like several of our new generation of competitors, such as Adrienne Lyle and Katherine Bateson-Chandler, Laura paid her dues as a working student, exchanging services for training she otherwise could not afford. She arrived at our stable in Orlando in May of 2009 and spent three-and-a-half years total as my student. While I was Technical Advisor and did not judge CDIs, I coached Laura through the small tour. When Laura left to start her own business in late 2012, she and Verdades were working all the Grand Prix movements.

Laura had more than talent and determination plus honest and experienced help in her favor: She had a top quality horse, and that is what truly propelled her out of “nowhere” onto the team. As soon as I saw Verdades, I knew he was special, and although he was green, there was no doubt the combination could go far. There were a few hiccups on the way, but even when Verdades was confused, he always let us work through it because he trusted his rider, and we went about the training in a logical and kind way.

Forever, I have preached the gospel of “You have to train your own for ultimate success.” During the first decades of high performance dressage in this country, it was rare to see an imported ready-made horse. American stars like Keen, Gifted, and Graf George were all “made here” from scratch, and that is the only kind of horse that will ultimately impress abroad and give our team sustainable strength. We have to get back to that kind of thinking, in spite of the fact that it takes time and effort and there are many obstacles in the way.

What I would say to young hopefuls is:

  1. Find as good a young horse as you can get your leg over, and in the best of all worlds, you should own it.
  2. Find a trainer who is knowledgeable, consistent, and makes her/himself available when you need help.
  3. Suffer whatever financial and emotional hardships are required, as long as the horse and you are making progress.
  4. Do not expect immediate success in the show arena; it takes time to become ” noticed” and consistency is part of the game.
  5. Believe in your horse, because he knows when you don’t.
  6. Stay honest and fair to the people around you.
  7. When you reach a goal, remember to give credit where it is due.
  8. The horse business is no peach, and if you aim to make a living training and teaching, you will have “an interesting life,” as the Chinese say. The triumphs are short lived, and you are never any better than your last performance, but if you love horses and cannot live without them, you will never be bored!

 

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.

AG: I was barely six, spending time with my grandfather in Southern Sweden. He was a cavalry officer his whole life, and his idea of teaching riding was bareback on his remounts—their average age was three! I learned a lot about “bailing out,” which is a good thing to know.

 

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.

AG: See above! I fell off almost every day, and then I would have to go catch the horse and get back on, and so on. It was like parachute training and came in handy later when breaking young horses or getting in trouble cross-country.

 

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

AG: Loyalty.

 

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

AG: Ambition.

 

TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?

AG: Ride in a real race.

 

TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?

AG: The horse would be like Let’s Dance, the one I am blessed with right now: powerful, tuned in, very intelligent, a bit  cheeky ,and convinced he is the greatest horse on earth. He has me convinced, and that is a good start! My horse is a German-bred Warmblood, but any individual horse that turns you on is a good breed!

The book would be The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (Dial Press, 2005).

 

"Any individual horse that 'turns you on' is a good breed!" Photo courtesy Anne Gribbons.

“Any individual horse that ‘turns you on’ is a good breed!” Photo courtesy Anne Gribbons.

 

TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?

AG: Yoghurt and blueberries. And champagne.

 

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

AG: Health for me and my husband David, and everyone we love. Without health, nothing works. Being able to spend time riding quality horses and having time to read and write.

 

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

AG: Cooked by my husband: Plain, healthy, and delicious!

 

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?

AG: Short , busy, and educational.

 

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

AG: Alan Alda.

 

TSB: What is your motto?

AG: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

 

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

Take a journey through the American dressage evolution with Anne Gribbons in her new book COLLECTIVE REMARKS.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

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