Work-in-hand is not for entertainment but forms an essential element of classical dressage training. Scientific studies have shown that horses, who were started from the ground and in-hand first, showed fewer signs of distress and lower heart rates (stress indicator). Consequently, they learned faster than the control group. Therefore, training classically means teaching a horse the majority of dressage movements in-hand first, beginning with the basics of 'halt' and 'walk on', later adding lateral movements - shoulder-in, travers, renvers. Why do we train lateral movements at an early age? Because it will strengthen your horse's hindquarters and bend its entire body, making him supple (engage his back) - ultimately, helping your horse in becoming straighter and more balanced, enabling him to carry the rider's weight without compromising his health. This has and is still being practised at all classical riding institutions. We start work-in-hand using a cavesson, which is milder than bits and will protect a horse's sensitive mouth.
Trick training can break through any boring training routine, increases your horse's confidence, and positively impacts the human-horse relationship. We apply the principles of equine learning theory in our training approach, which will be tailored to meet each individual horse's previous experiences, talents, and motivation. Almost all horses are food-motivated and we use treats to reinforce desired behaviours and speed up the learning process. Some horses will show more interest in learning certain tricks than others. Trick training can enhance the quality of your horse's life (i.e., happiness) and also improves the relationship with and communication between you and your horse as you will need to become very clear when using commands and always reward the desired behaviour timely. Tanja's own horses currently know a few tricks such as fetching dog toys (or dropped gloves ;)), halt when the handler whistles, rear and step back on command, come to the handler when being called.
No matter your or your horse's training level, we will pick you up at your current knowledge and training level and start the journey from there. Tanja is known for being a very patient, knowledgeable and compassionate instructor, who always puts the horse and
safety first. Learning theory and classical riding and training principles form the base for Tanja's
training approach. Also academically trained in client-centred conversation and psychology, Tanja is very communicative and empathetic in her lessons. She has taught a vast variety of students of
all ages and various nationalities, including anxious and traumatised riders, special needs riders, seniors, children from the age of five and show riders in dressage, eventing, and show-jumping.
Her horse experience varies from training high-strung breeding stallions, to preparing and showing youngsters in young horse classes in dressage, show-jumping, and cross-country, to restarting
OTTBs. All horses learn the same way and deserve to be trained according to their nature.
Having been raised in 'horse-country' Germany and being a life-long equestrian with more than 25 years of active experience in 'English-style' riding, Tanja has successfully prepared and competed her own and clients' horses in dressage, show-jumping, eventing, and breeders' cups. She is particularly interested in dressage and Iberian/Baroque breeds, and has earned a national dressage championships title on her young German warmblood mare. We also offer special packages and arrangements to horse owners and breeders who would like their horses to be prepared for shows and/or shown. Contact us for availability and rates.
Would you like to learn more about evidence-based horse training and classical dressage? You can book Tanja for mini-clinics, presentations and demonstrations at your stable or you can arrange a visit to see Tanja work her own horses in-hand and under saddle - applying equine learning theory and classical dressage principles. On an academic level, Tanja has presented her research findings at international scientific conferences, and was invited to speak at the second equine research day at the University of Guelph. She continues to conduct research in the field of equitation science and horse welfare. We truly enjoy educating riders and trainers about sustainable and evidence-based horse training - helping improve horse welfare is our main aim.
We can take a limited number of horses in full-time training (minimum 30 days). Contact us for availability and rates.