I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.
Like so many kids in Germany, I started riding at the age of 13, in a traditional riding school with lesson horses. That meant that I was thrown into a group with several other 12-16 year old kids once a week, and we had to ride single file around the arena in various standard arena patterns. The horses all had to wear side reins or standing martingales to keep their heads down. The lessons were held by an apprentice in his or her late teens or a young Bereiter in their twenties, who were NOT especially well-educated themselves, and who didn’t care about us or our progress.
The point of the lessons was not to teach us how to ride, but rather to prevent us from getting a swollen head. Public humiliation was the favorite didactic strategy. Nothing was explained, but there was a lot of yelling and shaming if we made a mistake. Since we were all kids from non-horsey families, without our own horses, and without obvious parental support or guidance, and without apparent talent, nobody considered us capable of learning how to ride or worth bothering to put any effort into teaching. We didn’t look like a lucrative source of income, either, and so nobody cared. Nobody put any effort into educating us.
If any of us actually learned to ride, it was in spite of these lessons, rather than because of them.
It was a cop-out.
Riding lessons at the time were very strict, hierarchic, and authoritarian in general, with a somewhat antagonistic mindset of the instructors towards the students… as well as the horses.
Nobody seemed able - or willing - to explain the underlying principles of riding and training to the students.
How to do something. Why to do it. When to do it, etc. All the nuts and bolts were missing.
The most common excuse was that it was all a “feel thing.” And “you can’t teach feel.” The student “either gets it, or they are hopeless” - which is a cop-out… as I discovered much later myself. It is an excuse that relieves the teacher of all responsibility.
There is a lot the teacher can do to help the student develop feel, but that takes some mental effort and genuine consideration on the teacher’s part.
Can you relate?
This is not to bore you with details of my early riding days, but to show you that I can relate very well to the struggles and frustrations YOU are going through in your riding journey, the feelings of despair and hopelessness that overcome us from time to time.
I managed to learn to ride in spite of all the obstacles, and I can assure you that if I could do it, you can do it, too.
And I’m here to help you.
My own arduous path is to your benefit
Through sheer determination, reading all the books I could get my hands on, as well as some good teachers, I was eventually able to figure out not only how to ride in practice, but also the over-arching theoretical framework behind it: the HOWs, WHENs, and WHYs.
Many super talented practical riders have always been able to ride well through feel alone. They never had to analyze anything, so that now they are able to ride everything… but unable to explain anything.
That was not MY path. I learned to develop feel and technical skill by analyzing these things and then experimenting with them in practice. Because of this arduous path, I am now able to explain very precisely how, when and why to do something. I can relate to YOU, the student, because I remember very well what it was like to be you.
How this “riding thing” works
When I was young, there was no good description of the system of gymnastic horsemanship. I had to:
- distill the information that was scattered all over the classical literature
- add the information I received from my teachers in lessons
- integrate my own observations and thoughts
From this I was able to design a useable outline of a training system and this has formed the foundation of my books, my teaching and coaching, and the online courses we are producing.
You have it easier. You can save several years by using the information I have gathered together.
I really, REALLY want to help you.
When I was younger, my own riding was the most important thing for me. All I wanted to do was to figure out how this “riding thing” works.
Ironically, now, I actually get MORE joy out of helping others on their journey by sharing what I discovered along the way. It gives me the greatest joy and satisfaction when the student and their horse are happy and have a new sense of accomplishment as a result of their new insights.
Are you like me?
If you are anything like me…
- you need to understand exactly what you need to do, how you need to do it, and when to do it.
- you are constantly looking for better explanations and descriptions of the root causes and their effects so that you learn to trace symptoms back to their origins.
- you want to know the specific gymnastic function of each movement.
- you want to know how the different parts of the horse’s body interact with each other.
- and… you want to know how it all works together.
And even if you ARE one of those lucky riders who were born with a great amount of natural feel and talent, you likely STILL appreciate highly detailed descriptions and explanations of the aids, movements, and exercises.
I have become the teacher I wanted to have.
These are things that were not written in any book when I was young. They were certainly not taught in any systematic fashion back then.
I had to figure them out on my own, and I wrote about them in my first book “Dressage Principles Based on Biomechanics” (Cadmos, 2011). Very much structured around this understanding of equine biomechanics, these have formed the core principles of my teaching and coaching.
By breaking it down to you in a structured way that is easy for you to learn and understand, I want to hand to YOU the knowledge you need so that you can become enabled to make your OWN decisions and find the right solutions to any training problems that arise.
Because I didn’t have this kind of teacher when I needed it, I have tried to BECOME the teacher I would have liked to have had. Over the years I have tried to become the teacher for my students that I wanted and needed SO MUCH when I was young.
I try to provide the information that I was desperately looking for when I was younger and present it in a way that:
- makes sense. It is systematic, easy to understand, and works for all horses and riders.
- doesn’t confuse or convolute the issue further. The last thing you want is more confusion or frustration.
- is immediately actionable. I give you the tools you need RIGHT NOW to put it to work.
- builds your confidence as the chief decision-maker over your horse’s training. YOU are in charge. I am your guide along the way.
It is time.
I have BECOME the teacher I wanted to have.
It is time for you to finally become the rider you want to be. Are you ready to finally understand how this whole “riding thing” works?