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Photos used with permission from Shannon Peters

I’ve been thinking a lot about patience and perseverance in training when it comes to horses recently. How rewarding it can be to see the progress your horse is making and how disappointing even the smallest setbacks can feel.

As riders, we are simultaneously managing our own bodies and emotions while directing a thousand plus pound animal to move on command. It’s a daunting task under the best of circumstances. And it’s one that the Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer, Shannon Peters, seemed ideal to speak about.

A USDF bronze, silver, and gold medalist, Shannon has successfully competed at the National Championships multiple times. While she teaches at clinics and symposiums around the country, sharing her expertise on correct rider position, Shannon also has a passion for bringing young horses up the levels.

So, I decided to see if she would be willing to share some of her thoughts on what keeps her going when the training gets tough and how to handle the bumps along the way.

Shannon kindly agreed.

Q: It takes a lot of patience, perseverance, and courage to train a young horse, what motivates you and keeps you motivated when things get tough?

A: The learning process keeps me motivated. Each horse presents new opportunities to learn how to be a better trainer and partner in the process.

Q: You are competing your horse Disco that you’ve trained from foal to GP. What have been the greatest challenges moving him up the levels?

A: Well, for him I would say his temperament. The movements of the GP are quite easy for him, but mentally he has always been a challenge.  

He was gelded at 3, and still very much has stallion tendencies. So, he has a difficult time focusing. He has a tremendous work ethic which balances this out most of the time. He is still quite young (11). I think as he matures things will come together more with him.

Each horse presents new opportunities to learn how to be a better trainer and partner in the process.

Q: How do you decide when a horse you’ve been training, especially one that’s been particularly challenging, can move onto the next level or needs to take a step back?

A: I always let the horses tell me. Sometimes it is better to just school for a while at the shows if its one that needs exposure, or confidence away from home. Really having a confirmed training philosophy with the horses, being mindful of their attitudes, the look in their eye, and their confidence about the work usually helps to make those types of determinations on training.

“It’s our jobs to make them the strongest, healthiest athlete we can while respecting them as individuals.”

Q: What sort of advice do you give your own clients when they experience the inevitable ups and downs of their horse’s own training?

A: That each horse has its own limitations physically and mentally. It’s our jobs to make them the strongest, healthiest athlete we can, while respecting them as individuals. We need to remember to always have the best interest of the horse in mind and evaluate our own reactions and training when needed.

Q: What inspires you to get into the saddle every day?

A: That’s simple!! The horse!!!!!

You can follow Shannon @shannonpetersdressage on Facebook or learn more about her training facility with husband Steffen.

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