Training horses is a bit like raising kids—you must bring a fine combination of love, understanding and patience to the party each and every day. In addition, those doing the training/raising must acknowledge that every individual—be it horse or child—develops differently, therefore, the combination isn’t always one of equal parts. I’m sure I’m not the first to use this analogy and probably not the last.
I thought of this comparison while reading this month’s cover story by U.S. Olympian Lisa Wilcox, in which she describes her system for developing her horses mentally and physically from their start as young horses to the Grand Prix. Wilcox pays close attention to her horses’ mental and physical development. “Sometimes the horse’s body may develop when the mind is still immature and then the mind catches up to the body or vice versa,” she says. “As you go up the levels, be aware of where your horse is mentally as well as physically. This will help you understand that patience may be needed if your horse is more immature mentally than he is physically.” She also reminds us that horses find comfort and confidence in the patient, quiet rider. “The longer you take, the faster it goes!” You can read her article on p. 22.
Following her training article, we read about Wilcox’s relationship with her protégé, Hannah Michaels. It’s one that began just a year ago and has grown into a mutually beneficial partnership. For Michaels, the reality of working with Wilcox has been a dream come true, and for Wilcox, the young protégé has been an inspiration. “It’s been fun to have someone come in and understand the horses like I do,” says Wilcox. “It’s lovely to have a soundboard, and she’s got an exceptionally good eye that I can trust. And that has given me renewed energy. She’s been like a 27-year-old battery that I’ve just plugged into. She gives me energy and motivation.”
Today, Michaels is riding the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Denzello (“Dino”), owned by Betty Wells. Dino is one of Wilcox’s Grand-Prix mounts, whom she competed extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe. He is a sensitive horse, and Wilcox knows that Michaels understands the kind of riding that brings out the best in him and believes the pair has a bright future on the international stage. Don’t miss this inspirational story on p. 32.
Our other stories this month include “The Look of a Champion” (p. 44)—one-on-one interviews with some of the world’s top grooms—and a close look at what the Rio de Janeiro Games in Brazil hold in store this summer. Writer Nancy Jaffer sheds light on some of the challenges that are expected in her “Olympic Outlook” on p. 54. We hope you enjoy this month’s issue.
Until next time…