Sally Cousins’ Weekly Training Tip: Building New Partnerships

We are delighted to host Sally Cousins as an expert guest blogger, as she shares her wealth of knowledge with us in the form of weekly training tips. We hope these nuggets of information can be integrated directly into your program at home and can influence the way you ride and train your horses. Be sure to check out both the Sally Cousins Eventing website and keep up with her on Facebook.

Photo by Kasey Mueller

Photo by Kasey Mueller

This has been a frustrating year for me. I have worked hard to develop new and younger horses. Because these horses are new to me or very green, I don’t yet know what equipment works best or how to train and manage them. For many years I rode upper-level horses that I had partnered with for six or seven years.

They weren’t always easy, but I knew exactly what they would do. I knew what equipment worked best, and I had all of the adjustments down to a science. I was reminiscing about how much I missed the “reliable old campaigners” when a friend reminded me how long it took me to turn them into “reliable old campaigners.”

For example one of my favorite horses, Joule, was very hot and had a bad tendency to run out to the right early in his career. I drove him to the other side of Chicago trying to get a qualifying ride, but couldn’t even get over the third fence. It took months to get that sorted out.

He was hot by nature, but there were certain times I could hardly do even light work in my own ring without him rearing and plunging. After many months of this, we finally figured out he couldn’t tolerate the sugar in the grass in the spring and fall. One tiny bite of alfalfa and I could not ride him for two days.

I had another horse that was intolerable until we finally figured out he needed glue-on shoes because he was uncomfortable with the nails of regular shoes. Another horse went best in a double bridle in dressage with a very large port. One horse only jumped three fences before going into the show jumping; any more than that and he would not jump clean.
All of these horses won a ton of events. It took two years in some cases to turn them into horses that were so good. It helps me to remember how hard I struggled and how long it took to build these relationships. When reminiscing about the “reliable old campaigners,” I was clearly looking back through rose-colored glasses.
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