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The horse's physical preparation . Part 1
Horses are just like us, it is possible to mould and improve them to reveal their real potential. A good rider must be capable of taking his horse to one, two or three …levels above its current possibilities. And, as with human beings, there is no age limit for achieving this. A 15-year-old horse can still improve its suppleness and progress. One must simply do things naturally.
Unfortunately, we are provided with many opportunities for “ruining a horse”. I am above all alluding to ill treatment, and to misinformed riders, vets or carers.
To improve a horse it is necessary to “have faith”: to believe in it, to believe in its potential for making progress.
I remember Sissi de la Lande; despite of her undeniable qualities, her temperament and irregular paces at times made her a difficult horse. And yet, together we won two silver medals at the World Championships. She was so sensitive that I worked with her practically by thought transmission. This was in fact quite hard, because I had to keep a very clear mind, or she could become very disagreeable. She needed constant rebalancing. Once again my strategy was to teach her to work on her strong points to relieve the weak ones, all this, of course, without resorting to any medication.
The system worked well and I still remember her perfect paces when she trotted up for the vet before the final round of the World Championship. And yet, that week, she had already jumped a speed class, two team classes and the last qualifying round!
There have been many other success stories; I remember my beginnings in Béligneux when I managed to win show jumping classes with the last horse left in the stables... the one nobody else wanted.
At times, believing in one’s horse allows one to do things previously considered impossible. To do this, it is necessary to bear in mind that the horse’s physical preparation - and the same applies to riders - is a crucial element in succeeding.
With a well-trained horse on the flat and in good physical shape, a jumping show becomes a game in which all that remains to be done is progressively work on the height and variety of fences.
Extract of the book "secrets and method of a great champion"