Sydney was bred and born in April 1994 in California as a thoroughbred racehorse named "Conquero". He was retired as a three-year old and showed up at my barn as a seven-year old belonging to a horse broker. He was significantly underweight and skittish. He became a "school" horse. Once I began riding him, I took an immediate liking to him and bought him one year ago. We train in both dressage and jumping. Does he have a preference? My only training issue is his bucking.
Sydney was abused in the past. Someone drew his girth too tight, then pulled and pulled even more. This same person used food as a weapon as well, denying Sydney adequate meals. I don't believe this was the owner, but rather someone who was a caretaker. This man had severe problems dealing with his masculinity. He felt that if he could control an animal several times larger than himself, he would establish his own masculinity. Sydney was also whipped along both sides, shoulders and hips, with a short branch stripped of its bark. To remove the trauma stored in his physical and astral body, when you brush him, tell him you are brushing away past hurts and that he can let them go. Use a steady stroke from shoulder to buttocks, lifting your hand up and away from his body when you reach the end. Visualize yourself using the same stroke just an inch above his body to remove the negative energy from his aura. Give him the Bach flower essence Star of Bethlehem to support his releasing the trauma of the past in which the humiliation hurt more than the physical pain and discomfort.
Your friend didn't much care for being a school horse. That role did not fit well with his self-image. He is not a communal horse. He is very glad to be a one-person horse, but also insecure about his role in your life. He has some doubts about your husband and sees him as potential competition. You need to have a heart to heart talk about why you chose him. He did in fact ask me point blank: "why did you pick me?"
Sydney sees himself as your partner in the show and foresees winning a trophy, if not in this show, in an upcoming one. He wants you to be Ginger Rogers to his Fred Astaire. Give him the Bach flower essence Rescue Remedy at least one day before the event and the day of the event. This essence helps with little shocks to the system. Prepare him for the show mentally and emotionally by telling him what to expect and what will be expected of him. He is already antsy with anticipation.
"Good gentleman" is what he wants you to say when you're pleased with his performance. He needs for you to recognize his regal nature. "Good boy" is all right if you also include the occasional "good gentleman". "Sir Sydney" is an appropriate form of address, "Sir Syd" for more casual moments.
Sydney prefers dressage. It shows off his skills and requires more skill than jumping. Jumping to him is a no-brainer and can be painful. The knee joints of his two front legs receive an intolerable jolt on landing once he goes over a certain height. Ask him to turn right and walk away instead of bolting before the jump. He tells me that his first teacher was a kind man. He liked getting apples from him. Sydney especially appreciated that the teacher visited him in the evening. That was a special quiet time and broke up the many hours of being alone in the stall. This column was originally published in the Waterfront Journal