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By Patricia Payne

Just like people, horses need a job they enjoy. Unfortunately, that often means changing their careers – a decision that can be difficult at best and heart-wrenching at worst, espe- cially for an amateur who loves both her horse and her chosen discipline.

A horse that is mentally and physically suited to his job, however, is going to stay sound – in both mind and body – a whole lot longer. After all, who wants to do a job they dis- like or one that causes pain or discomfort?

In order to find the right job, our experts explain, it’s impor- tant to consider both its physical and mental aspects. As hunter trainer Christina Major points out, a horse well suited to a particular discipline is one with the conformation need- ed to succeed. She describes her own horse, re-schooled as a hunter, as one who simply “fits the bill.” The long, low style of movement that was such a detriment for him as a dres- sage horse is now one of his best assets. For any horse in any discipline, she reminds, conformation plays a huge role in the horse’s comfort level. And that, she says, is one of the best reasons to give a horse a new job, no matter how difficult the decision.

But conformation alone is not enough according to well- known combined training competitor Nick Cwick. “Even if a horse seems physically right for a particular job, he may not be mentally prepared for it.” Dressage trainer Silva Martin concurs, describing a talented jumper who literally shook in fear at the start of each event’s cross-country phase. Today that talented horse is much happier competing in dressage.

As Nick Cwick’s story will demonstrate, sometimes a horse has to try more than a few careers in order to find the per- fect fit. His international-level event horse, which qualified for the prestigious Rolex event this year, had started out as

a dressage horse and was then reschooled as a hunter before finally finding his niche with Nick.

Warmbloods Today takes a closer look at six different horses that have successfully moved from one discipline to another. Their riders, owners, and trainers share the tales of how and why they made these changes, and what the outcome was. The results, horses that find unimagined success in a new dis- cipline, are inspiring and thought provoking.

Dressage to Eventing

the Oldenburg Asterix

“I would never have expected him to

be the one to get me to the upper levels of this sport. He looks like a dressage horse – but he loves eventing!”

Eventer Nick Cwick never dreamed he had an international quality horse in Asterix, a youngster he took on as a reschool- ing project. Originally purchased for an adult amateur rider, Asterix had difficulty with the discipline demanded in the dres- sage ring. “He is very forward thinking and really kind of hot,” Nick says. After being schooled in dressage, then as a hunter, Nick introduced him to eventing.

Originally Nick was hired to reschool Asterix so he could be resold. That plan quickly changed, however. “He took to eventing really, really well,” he says wryly.

At his first event, Asterix competed at Training Level and immediately showed his talent with a very respectable finish. In fact, Nick says, the 16.2 hand Oldenburg placed first or second at each of his first six events. Best of all, the horse

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