Who does not dream of it? gallop across the beach without saddle or saddlebags, to conquer exciting situations and build a bond for life. However, the truth is often something else. Janet Martins of Equestrian Prowess is a horse training, behavior and fall coach. It helps people and horses gain more confidence in themselves and in each other, both on the ground and in the saddle. How do you deal with that?
Janet once started out as a stable rider with Annemarie van der Thurn and then trained to become a trainer and behavior horse. Its mission is to help people improve communication with their horse and strengthen mutual bonds. It starts with sharing knowledge. Janet: “First of all, I teach people the natural behavior of horses. It is important for people to know how horses learn, so that they understand why horses sometimes exhibit certain behavior. This immediately increases a sense of security and communication can be better directed at what the horse needs .
Sometimes people call Janet because they faced a difficult situation. Then Janet goes to find the reason for the horse’s behavior. Janet: “First of all, I want to rule out physical discomfort as much as possible. I also include housing and food in my analysis. Then I work with the owner to break any outdated patterns. For example, with horses that have a step problem, I see if I can minimize the steps.” Sometimes it pays to go a different way, or if the owner hasn’t already done so, hit a chair. There is no one recipe. The solution is always tailor-made.
If she can help with a new formula, Janet always starts with the “confidence building” part. A horse can only learn if it feels secure enough and this requires mutual trust and a certain rider. In contrast, people can only be good leaders of their horses if they feel safe. So safety is the key word. Janet: I use hurdle training a lot. Owners learn how their horses react to exciting situations and how they can handle them. This gives a feeling of security. After all, you don’t want to just be a passenger.
According to Janet, fear appears to be taboo, while it is very common and it is very important to pay attention to this feeling. They provide fall training for the riders, on the one hand from a safety standpoint and on the other hand to increase the rider’s confidence in the saddle. Janet: I make sure riders collect all sorts of tools they can fit in their toolbox. This way, there are very few situations left where they don’t know what to do.
When the rider and horse have done enough “confidence building”, it’s time for the “team building” part. In other words: from basic trust to partnership. According to Janet, it is important that this be an equal partnership: “You cannot expect from a horse what you cannot give yourself.”
The goal of team building is to overcome challenges together. This strengthens the mutual bond even more. For example, many clients of Janet dream of running on the beach at full speed. This is an achievable goal, provided you do many things with your horse and teach it to handle different stimuli. In addition to obstacle training, you can take your horse to different places, such as the clinic or the forest. This can be done in the saddle, but also alongside your horse or in long, double lines.
posture and sitting
According to Janet, the effect of a rider’s posture and sitting position should not be underestimated. You can only be a good partner if you don’t get in the way of your horse and communicate clearly. Ultimately you want to move together in harmony and balance. This also gives a lot of confidence. Body language is just as important in the saddle as it is on the ground. The goal is a light aid and independent seat. Control and awareness of your body are of great importance here.
Janet: “Always keep improving yourself and looking for new challenges with your horse. Perform new exercises first in a safe and controlled environment. You will then also have that knowledge and experience available in the event of a panic outbreak.
On July 16-30, Janet Martens will present the “Trustbuilding & Teambuilding” clinic at Distelhoeve in Helvoirt.
Text: Paula van der Geest