Feb 13, 2017

'That Was A Bit Wibbly Wobbly' and Other William Fox-Pittisms

Photo by Devon Olivier.

Stable View Farm is an incredible training facility located in Aiken, South Carolina. Over the winter months this facility is home to all kinds of events for riders to enjoy, the pinnacle of which has to be the William Fox-Pitt clinic held over three days in January. Stable View was kind enough to let several members of the UGA Eventing Team volunteer as William’s helpers for the weekend. I jumped at the opportunity to learn from an absolute legend in the eventing world and so I packed my bags and made the trip to spend my weekend in Aiken. What I didn’t know prior to attending the clinic was how entertaining a William Fox-Pitt clinic can be.

UGA team members Devon Oliver, Johannah Crumpton and Madison Riebock posing for a photo with William Fox-Pitt. 

If you’re prepping for a clinic with this man don’t forget to bring a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at your mistakes. Within the first ten minutes of the clinic, it became abundantly clear that he was going to keep us laughing the whole weekend. I quickly realized I should be writing down all of William’s sassy moments and thus the WFPisms were born. With all that in mind I give you what not to do at a William Fox-Pitt Clinic.

  1. Don’t ride with bad posture.

If for some reason you decide that sitting up straight isn’t for you, William will most likely hit you with a comment like “

  1. Don’t skimp on your geometry.

During the dressage portion of the clinic William had the riders preform movements from their tests. If you’re feeling like your geometry isn’t up to par maybe take some time to practice at home first; unless you want to hear a comment such as “There aren’t many 18 meter circles in a test.”

  1. Don’t forget your diagonals.

Definitely don’t forget them multiple times. Unless you just like hearing William mutter “You’re on the wrong diagonal… again.”

  1. Don’t forget who’s to blame.

“That was rubbish and totally your fault.” Was a phrase I heard a few times over the weekend. William was quick to let the riders know when they needed to ride better. So whatever you’re thinking do not try to blame the horse when the rider was at fault. If the rider error was really bad you might hear “Sorry that was pathetic start again.”

  1. Don’t forget to practice suppleness.

Well only if you want to hear comments like “She goes around like a plank.” Or “She goes around like a stick”

  1. Don’t forget the difference between circles and corners.

Make sure your circles don’t have corners and definitely make sure you go deep in your corners when you’re not on a circle. If you continue to not ride your corners you’ll probably hear something like “Yeah, that corner was rubbish as well.”

  1. Don’t let William drive you around in his ATV.

Someone made the mistake of letting William drive an ATV around the property at Stable View. If for some reason you find yourself in said ATV please buckle up and hang on; unless you want to get accidently flung out as almost happened to me.

  1. Don’t try to run over William Fox-Pitt with your horse.

As it turns out William is a lot harder to run over than Boyd Martin. If your horse does try and run over William make sure you use that stick to try and deter said horse. If your horse is still determined to run him over be prepared for William to grab a jump flag as his own stick and tell you something like “You’ve got a stick it’s not a decoration, use it.”

9. Don’t fall off.

It happens to the best of us, and sometimes for no particular reason. Nothing seems worse than falling off at a clinic in front of an Olympian, but should it happen be prepared to be asked “Why’d you fall off then?”

  1. Don’t ride like a grandmother.

In William’s opinion a few of the riders were looking a bit stiff. In typically William style he decided to let them know by telling them “You need to loosen up, you’re looking like an old granny.”

  1. Don’t forget how to ride straight lines.

Occasionally riders would forget what a straight line looks like and would ride something more like a zig zag pattern. If you do this just be prepared to hear “That was a bit wibbly wobbly.” If it’s really bad you may just get to hear him say “That’ll do. Lots of work to be done there.”

  1. Don’t let your horse hang on the bit

This might have been the weirdest comment I heard all weekend never the less, if your horse makes a habit of hanging on the bit you just might get to hear William say “He’s not allowed to hang like a banana.”

William is the first to admit he might be a bit mean, but he’s also quick to praise if you do something right. If you ever get the chance to ride in or audit a William Fox-Pitt clinic I highly recommend going. You’ll not only learn an awful lot from one the greatest riders eventing has ever known but you’ll also get a few chuckles at his comments throughout the day.

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