Forever Green

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If you’ve competed much, you’ve surely seen the evergreen horse. At the start of each show season the same horse is trotted out at the same circuit of shows and pretty much produces the same sort of mediocre results. Year after year he never progresses beyond the baby hunter classes or the training level dressage tests. Why is the horse stuck in low gear?

Occasionally the evergreen status can be credited to a determined rider who has made it his or her life’s goal to refine the talents of a difficult horse. The rider simply won’t give up. And then there are the perfectionists who refuse to move their horses up the ranks until they’re absolutely perfect. But there may be an even greater reason why some young green horses eventually become mature green horses.

“I think the biggest reason a horse doesn’t progress is because his trainer or rider lacks the knowledge, experience and resources to properly bring him along,” trainer Lucy Stewart explains. “It takes a special ability to bring along a young horse. In the case of a so-called evergreen horse, in my opinion the problem usually has to do with who’s in the saddle.”

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Cindy Hale
Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.

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