Thoughts on Training Horses and Riders
Teaching horses ‚Training‘ a horse is possible only on a basis of mutual trust.’
The first step then is to develop and strengthen trust and to work in such a way with the horse that the trust can continuously deepen. I try very hard to understand the horse – how does the horse tick, what is her attitude towards people and life in general, what are basic structures of her character, what are learned ways of responding based on previous experiences? When we do take a horse and want to ride it there is development necessary so that the horse can become competent, strong and durable with the rider on her back. It is up to me to formulate the tasks I set up for this horse in such a way that she can do them happily and successful. If a horse cannot comply I search for the reason. Is a part of the basic education missing or does something need to be more clarified? Is the horse able mentally and physically to do what I think she ought to do, or do I need to change my idea? What are the possibilities today? How can I help her more effectively?
This way of thinking about the training, together with mindfulness, mutual respect and consistency in my handling them allows the horses to more often than not find a ‘yes’ to my requests and so it is possible for them to almost always end the day’s work together with feeling good in their bodies and receiving lots of praise. Learning is only possible – and this is true for four-legged as well as two-legged beings! – on a firmly established basis of relaxation. Undue stress and pressure create an environment in which learning cannot take place. (Research on brain chemistry and its influence on learning supports those ideas we have held by gut feeling for a long time). In such a learning environment the horse can find a solid physical and emotional balance to develop abilities as a riding horse – no matter what the focus of its riding career is going to be.
Classical teachings offer different techniques for the further dressage education of the horse: lunging, double lunging, work in hand or – based on that – work on the long rein.
In addition there are other ways of spending fruitful time together – be it in liberty work or shared adventures on the trails.
It is my heartfelt desire to create an atmosphere that allows for joyous learning.
Horse and rider in balance together - this is the goal but also the path to follow..
And this holds for starting the green horse as well as for the mature upper level horse. . . ..
Nuno Oliveira said: 'Ride your horse to happiness.' This is a wonderful guideline I like to follow.
This joyful atmosphere that is so important for the horses is just of equal importance for the riders’ quest to be a good partner for their horse and to develop a cultivated cooperation with their mount.
I do meet my students where they are at – be it beginners or people with more experience. My goal is to point out effective ways for them to continually optimize their riding. And it is my pleasure to accompany them on this often rather individual path.
For the riders that means to develop over time a supple seat and from there riders’ aids that truly communicate with the horse.
To me it is so important to not use forceful measures to push horses into specific movement. This would only be (ab-) using their innate talents. Rather I like to create situations in which they explore and expand their possibilities of movement. Development from the inside out. And so it is important to me that the riders I train are assisted by me in developing a toolkit that is their own. To formulate their own questions and over time develop their own solutions to problems - that is my goal for my students.
Mistakes, detours and sometimes wrong turns in the road should be seen as learning opportunities and chances for improvement. Out of that a culture of riding can develop that finds joy in the shared explorations of horse and rider and is not solely intended for achieving measurable end results. As we are living creatures there is no such thing as an end result anyway. All is in constant flow - always. And out of this movements arise that shine with harmony and lightness.