Horse & Pony Letters Nov 2017-Jan 2018

Bouncing back from bullying
HP: I started the August – October 2017 issue by reading Lisa Hines’s editorial in Sweepings called “Bouncing Back.” I read the paragraph pertaining to the George Morris Clinic and Lisa’s comments about his “pointed personal insults.” I then went straight to Jana Hemphill’s article were I read words like “suffered the sting of his sharp tongue,” and some of the insults he called out to people. 
    I have been in an academic teaching situation for a great part of my education years, and also into my working years. I have met many a clinician like George Morris and I am not at all impressed by their teaching methods. While I am not a proponent of the whole “good job!” statement that one hears so commonly nowadays, I do believe in criticism that is done in a constructive and non-personal way.
    The comments produced by Mr. Morris could easily upset a young rider and make them shut down and then who gains from the experience? I have seen this happen in so many disciplines, not just horse riding.
    Lisa is right in saying that we have a tendency to “pass off this type of behaviour from an adult with celebrity status.” It’s about time that we stand up to these “teachers,” regardless of the consequences.
    Mr. Morris is not someone who should be asked to come back this way again. There are too many good trainers out there who have just as much knowledge to pass along and who can do it in a much more pleasant learning environment.
    I did not go to Mr. Morris’s clinic but if reading the article made me feel as incensed as I did, then I can only imagine how I would have felt being there and listening to him.
    I would not have been able to learn anything from what he had been teaching as my anger at how he was dealing with the riders would have superseded anything else.
    I have stood up to these types of so-called “teachers” over the years and I am glad that I did. It paved a better road for those that came after me.
Margaret Bond
Mount Uniacke, N.S.

(Thanks for your note Margaret. It was a great learning experience – and maybe the lessons run deeper than just horsemanship and riding? Perhaps this generation will grow up with more sensitivity in regards to the damage words can do. LH)