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PA Morgan Club Holds Clinic

by Suzy Lucine

The flyer headline read “How to Pick Your Next Winner and Be Your Own Best Exhibitor” for the clinic held by the Pennsylvania Morgan Horse Club on March 24. Hosted by Broadmoor in Kutztown, PA, owners/trainers Mike Goebig and Dwayne Knowles were the clinicians for the daylong event.

Sharon Picus, a longtime Morgan breeder and club director, handled the hospitality aspects of the clinic with coffee and donuts during the morning check in, and hot pizza during the lunch break.

After welcoming remarks, Knowles and Goebig suggest that when you are looking for your next winner, you need to determine the job that the specific horse will need to perform (park, pleasure, western, hunter). To accomplish that goal, they suggested you keep your eyes open to what is available in the division most suitable for you, and also consider a horse in another division that may not be successful in their current division.

They continued by asking if this horse you are looking for is for an amateur or junior exhibitor, beginner or seasoned rider? Does this horse suit the personality and body type of the individual?  Will this horse babysit or give the rider/driver a challenge?  Is this horse able to continue for several years or is this a starter horse to get to the exhibitor next level?  

When looking for a beginner horse, they said tractability is very important, and don’t turn down an older experienced horse if it suits the individual. Remember if the horse is older and sound to the eye it may not pass a strict pre-purchase exam if one is required and this might be your trade off to safety.
Owners have different goals in showing or enjoying their horse. The trainers’ job is to help make that goal happen whether it is to be a world champion or a winner of a year-end award.

The two horsemen went on to share tips and guidelines on how to be the best exhibitor. Practice as often as you can (does not have to be on your show horse), practice does make perfect. Be aware of your physical limitations and then attack them as best you can, if it means exercising, doing yoga or balance training.
Over the years, some things trainers have encountered with their clients is: pre-show nerves, inability to focus on your ride and horse once you’re in the gate, overthinking that canter lead that was a problem one time ten years ago (or walk, or line up, or…), losing spatial boundaries for you and your horse by not paying attention to “the rest of the class.”

They suggested to know your horse’s strengths and weaknesses -- no one but you and your trainer need to know what might happen if you are fully aware of your ring and horse. If your horse is sticky on a lead, don’t put yourself right in front of the judge to do your transition. If your horse does not like other horses in his space, place yourself in the ring and pace yourself to be by yourself. It is not “their fault” if your horse does not like traffic. If your horse gets nervous (or more likely your rider/driver) on the victory pass, why not practice that at home, after all it is practice.

Be sure to have clean tack that is adjusted correctly. Also, have your personal appointments clean, tidy and organized long before the start of the show. Try to be rested, both mentally and physically, before the start of the show.

In preparing for the show, your horse needs to be clipped and clean when going in the gate.  Have you had the farrier out to reset or tighten shoes? Make sure you have all the proper required health papers and information for the horse show secretary.

When clinic-goers registered, they were encouraged to write down questions or suggested topics on a piece paper. These were collected and given to the clinicians. Several questions were related to training, so Knowles and Goebig added another topic to the day’s agenda. Using horses in the barn, they showed various stages of training from putting a young horse in a bitting rig for the first time, through long lining, hitching, first time under saddle, and finally, introducing a curb bit. During these stages, they talked about the benefits of using a bullpen, as well as the importance of having one or more assistants when introducing the horses to new experiences in training.

Before the clinic ended, attendees thoroughly enjoyed the presentation of the stallions, Stand And Deliver GCH, Astronomicallee and Ingate’s Eye of the Tiger. Turned loose, Astro put on a world champion at liberty performance, snorting and blowing while trotting around the indoor arena.

“Mike and Dwayne did an outstanding job with the clinic,” said Gary Shenk, a long-time Morgan exhibitor and club board member. “They went above and beyond with sharing tips on how to bring our young horses along in their training to help them become A-rated show contenders.”

“Dwayne and Mike did a fantastic job with the information they shared during the clinic,” said Kristina Corder, President of the Pennsylvania Morgan Horse Club. “Everyone loved the clinic and we all learned a lot too! We look forward to holding additional clinics in the future.”

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