Former Olympian teaches young athletes at Columbia equestrian clinic

Sunday, June 10, 2012 | 7:46 p.m. CDT; updated 8:53 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Former Olympian Greg Best has teaching an equestrian clinic at Fox Run since Saturday. The clinic, which ends Monday, has been at Fox Run for the past six years.

COLUMBIA — Fox Run has been housing an equestrian clinic since Saturday, where former Olympic athlete and silver medalist Greg Best is the instructor.

The clinic, which ends Monday, has been at Fox Run, owned by Lora Blair, for the past six years, and it has been in Columbia for the past 13 years.

People from across Missouri and even a pair from Tennessee have come for the 2012 clinic at Fox Run.

Best competed and won the silver medal in both the individual jumping and team jumping events at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. He currently lives in New Zealand and travels to the U.S. for clinics about six months a year and enjoys it.

"This year there’s a very enthusiastic group of people," Best said. "It’s a good opportunity."

Best teaches a diverse group of riders, from the very basic riders up to Olympic riders. In the past two Olympics, he helped coach the New Zealand team.

Best said he likes teaching the clinics and seeing the athletes improve in confidence and knowledge of techniques.

Teaching is nothing new for Best since he's been doing it for so long. Blair said he has not only improved the riders, but also his teaching skills.

Blair said he has really improved "the combination of the rider and the horse."

Best agrees that his teaching strategies have improved and are unique. Many instructors have "preconceived plans," Best said, but he teaches differently because he teaches day to day, without any planned structure.

Morgan Gehrke, an employee at Fox Run, has been riding since she was 4 years old and has been around horses all her life. When Gehrke’s family moved from Delaware to Columbia in 2000, she took some time off from riding and was "miserable."

This clinic is Gehrke’s third clinic with Best, and she said she loves it.

"It’s great," she said. "Greg’s amazing."

This year, Gehrke is attending the clinic with her horse, Cat, and thinks it’s a great experience to learn about her horse and fix problems that may be in her technique.

"He really does a good job feeding the knowledge and teaching the information to riders and horses of all ages," Gehrke said.

Blair said the riders "need to know every bit of it (taking care of horses), from the horses' supplements to cleaning the stables."

This is something that is promoted in Pony Club, an international club for people 25 and younger who are interested in learning more about horse-riding techniques. Blair said she feels that it's important for the riders to be fully educated and that Best is a great person to teach them.

"He has really perfected the art of teaching," Blair said.

When Best was asked why he teaches after competing at a high level, he said it’s not about the paycheck.

"There’s a real passion to get them to do what they need to do to be better people and rider for having been here," Best said. "I want to feel I've done the best job I can do to get them to walk away feeling like they accomplished their goals."

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