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“They get off the farm. There’s more to their training than just discipline. They discover there’s another world out there where they can just chill out,” he explains.

He points to the three horses he is currently working with as examples. Cody, Rivage, and Wiley are all owned by his long-time sponsor Natasha Grigg. All three had behavior issues when they arrived. “They didn’t have a job to do and they needed one. Now they all switch back and forth,” he says. “It’s sort of a juggling act.”

He found Wiley, Larry says, at the end of a shed row on a visit to look at prospective hors- es for a client. The horse stuck his nose out and Larry says he simply felt drawn to him. The Hanoverian gelding, now 11 years old, had “lots of issues” under saddle so Larry immediately taught him to drive. “He really came around. Now he’s very willing,” he says.

the horse settled in and has since performed willingly and beautifully, both in harness and under saddle. Even his uncle, renowned dressage rider and trainer Michael Poulin, will send a horse to Larry when he feels that the horse needs a change of pace and scenery.

As a final note, Larry Poulin himself is also planning a career change. He and his horses are retiring from international driving at the end of 2009. Having com- peted at this level since 1985, he says he is ready for a change. Moving for- ward, he plans to focus on ridden dressage with Cody, Rivage, and Wiley.

Larry Poulin competes with Rivage and Cody at the Lexington CDE in 2008.

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

–William Shakespeare

A sensitive and compassionate

Cody, a 13 year old Swedish Warmblood, also benefited from the buddy system. He came to Larry struggling in dressage. He tends to be hot, Larry explains, “with so much motor.” In addition, Cody was very nervous at the start of his training with Poulin. Earlier this year, however, he competed under saddle and earned a 70% at Prix St. Georges!

Rivage, the third of the trio, is a grey Holsteiner. Like Cody, he is by the well-known Riverman.

Because of the horse harnessed next to him and the breaking system on the carriage, it is almost impossible for a horse to either run away or refuse to move forward, he explains. As a result, they quickly relax into the routine of in-harness work. For any horse, he says, he can only offer a new opportunity. “There’s only so much you can do and so much they simply have to figure out. Part of the training is just being there to tell them it’s okay. They don’t forget what you teach them.”

He recounts the story of one young horse that would try to throw himself down in harness to resist going forward. With full harness and an experienced horse next to him, this was clearly impossible. There was no need for punishment, Larry says, only reassurance. After a month of this daily attempt,

approach to each horse can solve many problems. The open mindset these riders and trainers had with their horses demon- strates hope for unhappy sport horses. Every example achieved a new level of success, both competitively and in the general well being of the horses.

Sometimes, eventer Nick Cwick explains, the key is finding a way to make the horse’s job easier. Many times, that can help you avoid an unwanted career change. “Horses can adapt to almost any sort of work if it’s done in a way they can enjoy. The key is really understanding their minds and presenting the job correctly. If they don’t enjoy the work, you have to find a way to help them enjoy it – or simply give them a different career,” he explains.

There are so many reasons to change your horse’s discipline, continues hunter-jumper trainer Christina Major, both good ones and bad ones. “The bad reasons come into play because of human ego, because of what you want to do with your horse,” she adds. “With wisdom and maturity, you come to accept that there are good and bad matches, both between horses and riders and between horses and their jobs. It’s just so important to take an overall look at your horse’s conforma- tion – and then feed in their attitude – as you consider the careers to which they are best suited.”

WT

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