One of the most important things I learned during my year as a working student with my trainer is that every horse should have impeccable manners. Don’t get me wrongÑI’ve always known that horses should be well-behaved, and all of my family’s horses have had very good manners, stood well for the vet and farrier, and been easy to handle, lead, tack, and medicate.

But there’s nothing like seeing, on a regular basis, 1,000+ pound event horses giving their riders trouble with even the simplest of tasksÑboth at competitions and at homeÑto reinforce the notion. As a result, my trainer and I instilled impeccable ground manners upon Dorado, and even today, he rarely (if ever) sways from what he’s learned is acceptable.

Because he’s proven to me that he’s very well-behaved, Dorado gets some leeway in departments other horses might not…like taking his sweet time getting up from a nap.

Photo: Erica Larson

But because he is so well-behaved, and because he’s getting up there in years, I often find myself letting him “push the limits,” so to speak. But the only reason he’s allowed any leeway is because I know that if I tell him no, or he knows it’s time to behave, he snaps back into shape before I even have time to think about it.

For instance, I admit that I let