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BLOG: A Little Cluck

 Jane Riley and Sirspotalot at the George Morris Clinic - © Katherine Jamison

Jane Riley and Sirspotalot at the George Morris Clinic.

© Katherine Jamison


By Kerry Mack

We had the opportunity to attend the George Morris Clinic in January. In this month’s magazine, I have written about the general principles he focussed on. I thought you would be interested in some of the details, so I will write up some of the exercises here in the blog.

An intriguing little lesson was to ‘train your horse to little cluck’. Now I recall George teaching us this 30 years ago when he first came to Australia. Since then I have become very committed to the principle of “legs mean GO and reins mean STOP”. I hate the habit of clicking your tongue to get the horse to go forward; it is too generic. If someone else clucks to their horse, your horse may respond. I only have been using a clicking tongue to help the horse keep rhythm in the piaffe and passage.

However, on reflection, I do agree that training jumping horses to respond to a ‘little cluck’ as a ‘go forward’ aid does make sense. It allows you to encourage the horse to make a distance up, and encourage him if he is spooky without altering the balance or the contact. It is a very quick aid, no need to change the reins to one hand to use the whip. It is a very intuitive aid to use. George Morris says ‘the cluck makes the leg stronger, the spur makes the leg stronger …and the whip makes the leg stronger’.

But for the cluck to be really effective, the horse must be trained to understand it. So in training you must take the time to use the cluck and the whip at the same time. You can do this at a simple little fence. Just bridge the rein coming in and when you get to the fence cluck and tap with the whip (properly, behind the saddle), at the same time. You don't have to be very strong with the whip. Just a tap. A few repetitions (5-7 repetitions for maximum efficiency in training) and he will have become conditioned to associate the cluck with the whip — and will therefore understand that it is an aid to go forward. To keep the response to the cluck reliable you should remember to remind him from time to time in your training. Take the time to use the cluck and the whip together maybe once a week in your training to keep the response fresh.

Stay tuned for Kerry’s next blog, where she will discuss some of the exercises taught during George’s clinic!

You can read more about George Morris' recent Australian clinic in Issue 35 of EQ Life.







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