I've been lucky enough to have had horses in my life since birth and I have always been extremely passionate about horses. The plastic figurines and My Little Pony's that used to have the run of my room have now become porcelain statues and paintings. The Saddle Club books and Horse and Pony stories have now become a collection of dvds and books from the horse trainers around the world who inspire me most.
After competing extensively in Showing, Dressage, Equitation and Show Jumping throughout my riding career, in 2010 I bought and read the book "Tug of War: Classical versus Modern Dressage" and it opened my eyes to the physical damage that is done when training is forced or rushed and when healthy biomechanics are ignored. I started exploring classical methods of training; buying dvd's and books by Anja Beran, Richard Hinrich, Sylvia Loch, Mary Wanless, Heather Moffet, Jenny Rolfe, Philippe Karl and Bent Branderup. At the same time I came across a dvd called "Path of the Horse" and it opened my mind and my heart to something more than just doing exercises. It showed a way of being with horses that was artful - empowering horsed to really dance with their riders. I explored the dvds and books by Mark Rashid, Carolyn Resnick, Linda Kohanov, Imke Spilker, Jutta Wiemers, Alexander Nevzorov, Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, Liz Mitten Ryan, Karen Rolf, Leslie Desmond, Karen Musson and the work of Robin Gates, Frederic and Jean-Francois Pignon, Farah DeJohnette, Mosie Trewhitt and many more. I attended a course in Cape Town that same year with Vanessa Malvicini and her herd of horses, who challenged my ways of thinking and being, showing me how to let go of the control of the ego and create new pathways of spontaneous thought and feeling. It broke through all my preconceptions of horses, the horse-human relationship and what horses have to offer us in our emotional and spiritual journey. It changed my relationship with horses forever. I attended two courses with Loesje Jacobs, Body Talk for animals and Linking Awareness. It was an incredible experience and opened my eyes even more to the subtle connections and communications that are possible when our hearts are open with awareness.
In my search for a balance between the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, I finally found Marijke de Jong® and the Straightness Training® Academy.
In 2011 I enrolled in Marijke de Jong®'s Straightness Training® Home Study course because I had finally found a program which was holistic in its training pillars- educating the horse and human in Groundwork, Longeing, Work in hand, Riding, and Liberty- as well as encompassing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual areas of both horse and human.
In May 2012 I attended training with Petra Halder in Germany, who works with Classical dressage but also explores liberty work on the ground and in riding. It was so wonderful to see such advanced and beautiful training with horses who are relaxed, confident and willing! It was such a positive confirmation of the path I had chosen with my horses.
In 2013 I excitedly enrolled in Marijke de Jong®'s very first Straightness Training® Mastery Coaching course to really dive into the world of Straightness Training®. My horsemanship journey has been on a rocket ship of growth ever since!
In June 2014 myself and two other ST students invited Carola Beekman, an Instructeur Rechtrichten, to South Africa for our first ST clinic which we enjoyed a great deal.
At the end of 2014, I had the amazing honour of being invited into Marijke de Jong®'s 2015 ST Instructor Program® in which I am now a Licensed ST Instructor®.
In March 2015 I attended my first Instructor's clinic with Marijke de Jong® in the UK. I also attended lessons before and after the clinic with ST Instructor®, Rebecca Gilbert and one day of training with Marius Schneider. It was 2 weeks of immersion and inspiration and I came home with pages and pages of notes and tips and insights. It was an unforgettable experience!
In October 2015 I attended my second Instructor's clinic with Marijke de Jong® in the UK as well as attending private lessons with Rebecca Gilbert and her two beautiful school mistresses again. As an extra bonus, after my time in the UK, I flew to the Netherlands and spent 3 days of training with Marijke and her herd of professors! It was life-changing and I brought back so many wonderful feelings and insights to share with my horses and students.
In 2016, I was then invited into the ST Evaluator® program in which I am now a licensed ST Evaluator® and was later was also invited to become the manager of the ST Evaluation® program. The ST Evaluation® program is an integral part of ST Academy® and is an exceptional tool for students to get detailed feedback on videos (Touchstones) that they submit.
In 2017 I attended two 5 day ST Instructor workshops which were a combination of a lot of 'squeezing' in lessons with Marijke de Jong and some 'study-buddying' with my fellow ST Instructors. IT was amazing to be able to spend quality time with my colleagues, getting to know them all better and progressing with them in our lessons with Marijke. We all left each workshop with a wealth of new insights and feels to take home and 'lick and chew' on!
During 2018 myself and my colleague Rebecca Gilbert have been coached by Marijke de Jong to start evaluating Grade 2 and Grade 3 Touchstone in the ST Evaluation Program. We also both graduated Grade 4 in the ST Evaluation program.
I have learned so much and am thrilled to be a part of this ever-growing program!
On this path to self-mastery, I have experienced over and over again with horses how authenticity and intention along with an understanding of heart, mind, body, and spirit are the way to dancing in harmony. So this is my focus when I am with my own horses or when I am with a student and their horse. Everything starts and ends with communication. Then with an understanding of the essence of the exercises or 'dance steps', we deepen, widen, and broaden the horse's and our own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects.