In Lars Petersen’s native language, Danish, the word “success” is shorter than the English equivalent because the final “s” is dropped. But for Lars, the road to succeeding with a complicated gray gelding named Succes was a long one.
The horse’s name, seen in lights when he won the Grand Prix Freestyle during Dressage at Devon in 2007, is an indication of what the Florida-based Olympian envisioned for him. To reach the pinnacle of the Devon victory, however, Lars had to use all his expertise and exercise patience during some discouraging years.
When he’s training Succes or his other horses, Lars doesn’t overstress them with long workouts.
“I don’t think I’m sitting on a horse more than 50 minutes in one session. I would rather take them out again in the afternoon,” he says.
“Let’s say I worked Succes pretty hard in the morning. I’d like to have (the grooms) give him a trail ride or, if I feel it’s necessary, I may take him myself.”
Another alternative involves stretching Succes in the afternoon for 10 minutes, a lot deeper than in the morning. “Or it could be a hand-walk. It could be one time on a treadmill and one hand-walk.”
But Succes’ program does not include any pasture time.
“I can’t risk turning him out; he’d go nuts,” said Lars, who also acknowledges, “The horse can’t be in the stall 23 hours and come out and work hard. In nature, they are out and walk and walk. We play a lot with our horses.”
The horses at his farm all have windows they can look out of toward the arena, and they can also stick their heads into the aisle to see what is going on in the busy barn.
To read more about Lars’ “secrets to Succes” and training strategies, read “Succeeding with Succes” in the September 2008 issue of Practical Horseman.