|Lessons and Training
„My method is simply to work with empathy and intuition,
to change my actions from moment to moment according to necessity
and to work more with the horse’s brain than with its legs.“
Whether you call a Frisian your own and want to uncover the secret
of the piaffe or whether you have a PRE with whom you strive for
“Losgelassenheit” – my lessons concentrate on
the autonomy of my students. You yourself are your horse’s
trainer; hence it is you who define your own way together with your
horse. My instructions give you ideas and suggestions for your own
equestrian education and consequently form a proper basis for your
horse’s training. This is the only way to ensure that you
will be able to sustain and expand the results you achieved during
training. For these reasons it is very important that the training
does not correct you when a mistake is about to occur but rather
gives you the opportunity to notice and correct your mistakes yourself.
All of the horse’s training does not aim at preventing mistakes
but allowing them. Only if your horse is allowed to make mistakes,
you have another chance to explain what you want and encourage it
to learn. This will bring you closer to your ideal: your horse moving
almost by itself in a healthy state of Losgelassenheit.
The horse should be so well educated and attuned to its
rider that it moves completely on its own, as if it were a miracle
of nature. This is true harmony between horse and rider.
The second vital ingredient of my training is what I call positive
reinforcement. When the content of the training is communicated
quietly and positively to the horse, it will be able to understand
them much better. This refers especially to the different ways of
rewarding a horse, so it will realise that we are happy with its
progress and work with us as avidly the next day.
It is important that the horse enjoys following our commands. The rider achieves this by often rewarding it and bringing it back to the stable whenever he thinks it appropriate.
Positive reinforcement however also includes not to ask too much
of the horse during training, to explain new and difficult tasks
with patience and to test them for a few minutes only. It is also
important not to expect perfect results straightaway but to allow
the horse to assemble the pieces of the puzzle on its own.
I have to recommend the attitude not to demand more than
half of what the horse is actually able to achieve... Horses resist
not only because they lack skill or goodwill but also because they
do not have sufficient power or stamina.
You can visit my stables together with your horse and for instance
take morning lessons from Monday to Friday. (Weekday lessons are
half an hour long.) On top of that you will have the opportunity
to watch me working with my horses and other students during lessons.
It is up to you to come for a week, for two weeks or longer. I also
teach single lessons on weekday mornings or afternoons to students
living in my vicinity.
Training is particularly recommended for young horses that have
not yet been trained. I also educate horses that are used to a rider
who (for professional or private reasons) is currently not able
to work with them. Horses in need of correction, whose problems
cannot be solved by its owner alone, receive specific, problem orientated
treatment. Horses with physical defects are subjected to an appropriate
gymnastic training that will try to solve their specific handicaps.
Gymnastic training on the ground and on the longe
Regardless of age and training level I will use ground and longe
work to approach our educational objectives.
The principal goal of ground work is to be able to lead the horse
as an alpha animal. You will learn the body language of a higher-ranking
horse and how you can lead it on the right and left hand at a
range of 1.5 meters using only body language, a cavesson, a longe
line and a whip. Stopping and resuming by using body signals and
cavesson will be the next step.
We build upon ground work when starting longe work. You will learn
how to form your horse by bending and positioning of the neck so
that it will find a good equilibrium and be able to put weight on
the inside hind leg. Moving forward the horse can be taught with
a cavesson to perform the side movements (“versal” and
“traversal”) so that its hind legs will be trained to
move up underneath toward the centre of gravity. This particular
training will be given to all young horses which have not been trained
yet. Horses in need of correction will receive ground and longe
training specific to their issues.
Gymnastic training for horses used to riding
(second training phase for young horses)
This program will allow the horse – or horse and rider during
training – to learn the side movements (“versal”
and “traversal”), thus forming a basis for an efficient
collection until expanding the work to include the half steps from
which the piaffe later results. The piaffe is the key to the art
of riding. By training the bending of the haunches (piaffe) one
is able to perform a number of additional disciplines: the school
canter (collected canter), the passage and the airs above the ground..
How did Steinbrecht put it so aptly? It is the bending of the haunches that constitutes the poetry of the art of riding.
Gymnastic training of physically handicapped horses
Depending on the horse’s specific issues we will start a gymnastic
training to build up muscles enabling physiologically appropriate
movements for damaged joints, thus relieving them.