3 weeks with Liesbeth Jorna – All about doing less and getting more

Fenja Täuber - Recommended Trainer Sport & Horsemanship United

by Fenja Täuber, Recommended Trainer Sport & Horsemanship United, May 2019

A clear starting point

Liesbeth welcomed me and my two horses Conrad & Charlie for three weeks at her place in the Netherlands. Right at the beginning, Liesbeth and I defined my goals for the stay. I wished to improve my riding skills with Conrad, especially in stepping up to more collection. Furthermore, I was hoping to gain more confidence with my 5-year-old Charlie towards riding him. We started with a checkup session with both of my horses online (= on a line) to get an impression where we are at.

Searching for a “next level” of Healthy Biomechanics

In these first lessons, I learned how to bring them in a real Sweet Spot on a circle. They were both stretching but aligned on a straight line while walking on circle. So Liesbeth taught me how to really see the difference.
Understanding where the Sweet Spot on the circle really is made it easy for me to support them to sustain it. And furthermore, learning how to change the alignment while travelling without disturbing their forward movement was very important to me. Liesbeth gave me an idea of how little I have to do to change their movement when I really go in an active neutral state in between.
My horses gave me the best feedback because they started moving way more free, supple, energetic and engaged. In a short time (2-3 days) their way of moving really improved. Wow! I was impressed and it made me realize that everything needed was already underneath the surface.

I was blown away by the number of things I already learned about myself and my horses in the first two days and was curious about the progress in my remaining time with Liesbeth.

Learning smart exercises to improve Conrad’s alignment

We focused on finding the Sweet Spot and a straight horse during the first ride with Conrad.
I figured out that my horse should be wanting to maintain the SS by himself. I thought I would be doing this already but noticed that I always had helped him a little tiny bit.
Through exercises like Drunken SailorLittle Serpentines, Best Symmetrical Me, Thinking of Hindlegs and Opposite Reins (give the rein the horse takes and take the rein the horse gives) Liesbeth showed me different ways to find this alignment without compensation.
In a few lessons I was able to find it quicker and quicker. The key was to be very precise about what I want without micromanaging. So it was time to go on.

The training “Menu”

Liesbeth introduced a really nice image for a training session to me.Take it like a menu with a lot of different dishes and ingredients. There is a main dish – the part you really like to work on – and a starter and dessert to prepare and finish it up with. You can have several main dishes in one session and in between you give your horse a break. For example: relaxed walk or just standing still, a fast run for fun, getting off, some jumps or something silly he likes to do.

An independent Trainer’s Mindset and choosing my own patterns

To be able to make progress it is important to have a plan for each day. Well, your plan can always change because of different circumstances but if you focus on your goals then you can go on very fast. I like that Liesbeth was pushing me to my edges. Next to guiding me within my lessons, she supported me in sharpening my trainer mindset.Meaning that I took main responsibility in deciding the goal for each day and training.In that way, I can continue with that mindset in my own training at home by myself, without anyone guiding me all the time.  I learned to think in patterns to create the main dish of the menu and got a lot of ideas for exercises from Liesbeth to invent more patterns. So that in the future I will be able to make wise choices for my training plans. „When you choose the right pattern, the pattern will do the work for you“.

You can choose different patterns that will all help to improve one topic. For example, for Conrad is was all about collection. Within the short breaks between the patterns you have the possibility as well to reflect on the last round and to look into improving the upcoming one. And very important, choose to finish at the best try of the day. I needed to remind myself to make smart decisions.

Riding Charlie appeared much easier then expected!

Finishing at the best try makes my horse put even more effort in the upcoming day and helps him stay motivated and myself as well. It´s worth it. This was also a very important point for riding my young horse Charlie. Together with Liesbeth we were able to make huge steps forward. Listening carefully to what he really needed gave him enough space and time to progress and grow. We could become confident with each step together.

The Dream Aids

In the first riding lesson with Charlie, Liesbeth started to explain how she would do the first steps. At that moment I was thinking: “I know what to do, I have been starting so many young horses.“ My ego came in my way and the moment I noticed this I got really sad and emotional. Liesbeth handled this situation great. She encouraged me and made me see that I already had been doing a lovely preparation with him so far. She told me Charlie is like a white sheet of paper. Right from the beginning, I am able to teach him my dream aids.
And this was so worth it to listen to! Three days later I was able to start cantering him just from intention and stop him by exhaling plus stop riding. Charlie was very relaxed from the start and able to do walk trot and canter on straight line and do a trail ride in the end. 

Thank you so much Liesbeth, that you opened my mind at this moment, by simply asking me about my dream aids and the phases afterwards.From now on I will always keep the following phases in my mind:(1) intention,  (2)seat, (3) slight leg, (4) leg „Ping“, (5) voice or (6) stick. I had to be very precise and focused so my dream would come true. This reminded me again that everything with horses is about reflecting yourself.

Liesbeth told me that my basics are really really good and showed me how I can go on and build on them. She gave me a new feeling of how little I have to do to improve things and how important it is to know in each moment exactly what I want and to always praise the YES-Moments.

Positive training

I really appreciated that I could participate in all the lessons and courses Liesbeth gave these three weeks.  I could gain lots of new ideas for myself and my teaching. While being an auditor I had the exercise to train my positive mindset. Meaning when you see somebody working with a horse, first ask yourself what you like about them. Second, think about adjectives you would also like the horse to have in his movement.

New theoretical insights

I loved all the theoretical background I got. For example: To get to know how to train the physical shape of the horse while staying in a positive training scale. I also got a real clear picture about lateral movement, how they work, what they can improve and how horse and rider have to move.

Finding the feel of exercises

Very important I find the active exercises without a horse. They help to understand an exercise better or to just find the right feel for a movement. That is something I want to involve in my own training. One picture is stuck to my mind: let the water keep flowing while it runs through a tunnel underneath you. That means don’t let you and your horse’s energy get stuck in an exercise, be able to flow freely through it.

An amazing experience

Liesbeth I am so happy that our trails crossed. Thank you so much for telling me, that I am on the right way. No Trainer before was able to give me such a clear feedback about my own skills. You helped me seeing more clearly where my strengths are and what I still need to focus on to improve. I have seen you helping so many different riders and horses to become a better team. You are able to not just give them a concept about what to do but also bringing their biggest challenges to the surface and helping them through it. For me it is very valuable to have somebody on my side with a lot of horse knowledge, a long term teaching experience, a very powerful didactic, an open mind, really being authentic, living with positive vibes, and having so much fun while you do what you like.

 

You brought me a huge step further and I would always do this intensive training again.

When telling me that you will recommend me as a trainer, I felt so honored and would have never expected this. Liesbeth, thank you so much for this support.

Learning is a lifelong journey and I want you to be part of mine!

Fenja

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From Liesbeth:

It was a total joy to share 3 weeks with you Fenja and thank you so much for your beautiful words! You proved to be such a skillful horsewomen and rider and your horses clearly love you. It was amazing to see how quickly you and your horses developed in this short time. I credit this to your positive mindset, the high level of communication and wonderful relation with Conrad and Charlie that you already had to start with, and of course to your Dressage Naturally studies. You are very welcome to come again and then we’ll start where we left of: with zig-zag halfpasses and flying leadchanges :o)

Everything comes from and returns to relaxation. Thank you Conrad and Charlie

P.S. Does this sound like something you would want to do too?

Are you an ambitious learner, trainer, rider or educator and do you want to boost your knowledge and skills in (sort of) the same way as Fenja did? Study with me for a few weeks and bring you own horse? I do this only very occasionally and only with highly motivated students, but if you really want this, then let me know!