Sully's Hard Knock Life

"Y U make me do these terrible things you mean laydee?!" :( :( :( 
Sully is an amazing field hunter.

He knows the rules of the field and is game to do his job out there, whether it's leading second flight or following behind the first flight master. He watches the hounds with intense focus, and always carries his rider safely home at the end of the day. This horse is made for the hunt field, and there's nowhere he'd rather be.

However, because Sully's Mom also likes to take lessons in dressage and jumping and compete in schooling horse trials and other small shows, he must learn to do ringwork like a good show horse as well.

Sully thinks this is the worst idea he's ever heard.

As such, I've been tasked with giving Sully as many dressage schooling rides as I can. We want him to stay flatwork-fit and tuned up for his mom for when she wants to play in the sandbox. With Dino on the bench, I'm getting to ride Sully a lot more than usual, and I'm pretty sure he's ready to call the humane society and report me for horse abuse.

Dressage is so, so hard for a Sully.

I'm asking him to do a lot of things that he normally isn't required to do, like hold his own body up and use his butt muscles and stay straight and go on the bit and, you know, respond when I put my leg on. This is all very difficult. It's very taxing for a Sully, and I usually have to work him through quite a bit of complaining, which usually starts at about five minutes into the ride when he realizes that he has to KEEP DOING WORK!!?1?1!?! The horror!

The thing with Sully is that he had a very good start in life when it comes to training, and he generally knows what I'm asking, but he just Doesn't Wanna. And because his primary job is foxhunting, he usually doesn't have to do this terrible dressage business! So he tries to find lots of naughty, sneaky ways to get out of work.

Like dropping his back out from under you and flinging your body out of balance when the work gets more challenging than he'd prefer. Or just... not going when you put your leg on. Or making excuses about the deer that is SOMEWHERE IN THE FOREST AND MIGHT BE PLANNING AN ATTACK. Sully spends quite a lot of unnecessary energy trying to get out of work.

But despite his long-suffering, Sully is actually coming along quite nicely. His walk and trot work has been very consistent, with Sully reaching reliably into the contact and staying there throughout the ride. We've been working a lot on him stepping up under himself in the transitions, and he's really catching on to bending his hocks and lifting his shoulders between gaits. It also helps that this horse has a GREAT half-halt installed, and responds so, so well to a 'lifting and sending' type of aid in that regard.

The canter has been hit-or-miss. Like I've mentioned before, Sully's long back and history as a foxhunter make anything that looks even a little like collection in the canter quite hard for him. It's easier when he has the arena rail to help keep his body straight, but he does need to learn to hold himself together in canter eventually, so I've been trying to alternate where we school so he both gets the idea of where I want his body using the fence, and also has to take responsibility for himself outside the arena.

It's a challenge, and usually results in the most complaining from Sir Sullivan. It is just SO HARD for him to use his butt and do the work, and he hasn't quite caught onto the fact that the torture will end a LOT sooner if he just does what I ask! We've had some really good moments where Sully sits down and lifts his withers into and out of the canter and holds the position, but he also tries at least once per ride to throw me off balance and see if he can muscle me out of trying to get him to work. It's a work in progress!

Poor Sully. Life is rough when they make you do dressage.


  1. OMG I love him and his 'tude. Although, as someone who has spent lots of time foxhunting, I can understand where he is coming from. Why would you want to do anything else??? lol

  2. This reminds me of when I taught my mom's fox hunter dressage!!! I even took him to a show were he proceeded to fall flat on his face in the first halt. It only got worse from there 😂

  3. Poor, poor Sully :) Its funny how hard they'll work to not work!

  4. Awww, poor poor Sully. He sounds quite a lot like my horse Jamp! But Jamp could never be a well trained field hunter either (see above story regarding imaginary deer).

  5. such a pitiful existence, oh how he suffers!

  6. It sounds like Sully does, indeed, have one of the toughest lives I've ever heard of! Haha


Post a Comment

Popular Posts