Book Review: All hail, King George
Bernadette Kilcer is hanging on to every word in this collection of columns by George Morris, as selected and edited by John Strassburger.
I was recently given Because Every Round Counts by George H. Morris for my birthday and, at first, I was afraid to even open the book. Yes, I will fully admit that I am outright terrified of the man.
The book is a collection of columns from The Chronicle of the Horse spanning from the late 1980s through 2005, selected and edited by former Chronicle editor John Strassburger. The columns are organized into four sections: “It’s Not Like It Used To Be,” “What Good Teachers Teach,” “I’ve Always Been Devoted To The Forward Seat,” and “George On Tour.”
As I made my way through the book several themes emerged and popped me in the face, which are the same themes that are consistent through the writings of other greats. It is of little comfort to know that since the late 1980s very little has changed. We still, as a nation, haven’t figured out a way to tap into the United States’ pool of Thoroughbreds (despite the existence of tens of 501(c)(3) charities that specialize in exactly that). We still have a shortage of males in our sport. We have become even more ring dependent. However, the greatest travesty, in my opinion, is the loss of our history. “We should never forget equestrian history and the greats of our sport,” George writes. All of these issues were predicted in his columns, dating back more than 20 years, and I am not quite sure what that really says about the future of our sport.
One of the most interesting concepts he put forth is that horses only have so many jumps in them and every jump you jump is one less jump they have in them. I would like to take that a step further: I believe that we as humans also only have so many jumps in us. However, I will probably never have the opportunity to pose this theory to him myself, so, I throw it out to the interweb for thought/comment.
While I know that I am not Mr. Morris’ target audience (I am an amateur owner/rider who is just starting out and will never clear more than 2’6″ if I really work hard) and, yes, I am still afraid that he is going to jump out of the book smack me on the back of the head and tell me I am not worthy of reading it, I still find the book filled with incredible insight.
If I ever did have an opportunity to sit down and pick his brain, do you know what I would start with? A discussion of the Calvary riders he studied under. Perhaps someone who isn’t terrified of him should get him and Mr. Wofford together to write a book on the influence of Calvary on our modern sport. Me, I’m going just to reread his book again.
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