Bill Moroney holds an impressive list of credentials in the equestrian world. He is currently the president of the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association, sits on the U.S. Equestrian Federation Board of Directors, and is a past chairman of the USEF Pony Committee. He also has a heart for youth and for philanthropy.
An avalanche starts with a few errant flakes of snow. This adventure begins with an email from the local 4h announcing two remaining openings in their upcoming hunter/jumper clinic with Bill Moroney. I send in my application and examine my circumstances.
It all starts here.
I’m going to take Gideon, our young Quarter Horse pony hunter in training. He has never had any formal jumping training. Between the weather, my farm commitments and busy teaching schedule, he has had barely any saddle time to speak of.
The clinic is in about 2 weeks. According to the clinic guidelines, he is expected to be jumping courses with simple lead changes (changes leads in the canter through the trot, the walk or the halt.) He needs to be fit enough to handle the two hour session. And of course, he needs to cope with a strange venue, colorful show jumps. unknown horses, and all the challenges such adventures bring.
It’s my responsibility to plan a fitness and training program that will take my winter-soft pasture potato and make him pony hunter extraordinaire. He needs to have enough of a jumping foundation to be confident over strange fences with all the added distractions of a public event. I need to prepare him for the demands of the clinic without over-stressing his body, his mind or his emotions.
I also look at what I need to do to prepare. I think about long-standing weaknesses in my equitation, and old limiting injuries. I’ve been so focused on training and retraining on a foundational level I haven’t jumped seriously in years. Nothing is too trivial to account for, not even getting used to riding in my high boots again (I am the world’s biggest fan of paddock boots and half chaps!)
This will be a stretch for both of us. My goal is to prepare for and ride in the clinic as well as I possibly can, to highlight the relevance of natural horsemanship in the hunter and jumper arenas, to learn new skills… and maybe even find Gideon’s happily-ever-after person. Above all, my commitment through the process is to maintain and even increase Gideon’s dignity, confidence, skills and soundness.
It all starts here!