He doesn’t like dressage

Even if your horse does understand what you mean with your aids, it is possible he’s not very eager to react. It happens when you give aids constantly, without demanding an answer. Or when he’s bored.

Think about it: how would you be if you have to go into a sand school every day, walking round after round, doing the same all the time.


It is very important Lees meer

Yes, but…

‘Yes, but he….’ I think most instructors hate this phrase. Someone told me once that ‘yes, but’ actually means ‘no’ and I’d have to agree.

Saying that, I do believe instructors have a task explaining what and why. Gone are the days in which drill sergeants just told you what to do and shut Lees meer

Be humble

Patience is required in working with a horse. Now a lot of people say that they are patient, but then there are competitions, ribbons to be won and ego gets in the way. Every horse has its own learning curve and it varies. They don’t know anything about our plans, expectations or the economic value they might have.

Loving your horse is very important. Even more then the ability to ride him. There are many examples of maybe not so good riders who did really well, Lees meer

He fools me


‘He fools me and therefore I have to tell him who’s boss’.

No, he’s not. Horses can be playful, excited, bored or tired. But they don’t make fun of people. They like to cooperate. If they only knew Lees meer


I had the privilege to interview the famous French horse trainer Frédèric Pignon once. By then I was an accomplished rider and trainer myself. But that interview changed my  perspective so much.

The key word was patience. Losing it means all the work you’ve done before has been useless, he said. And you might be even further back, as the horse Lees meer

The importance of management

What has management to do with riding problems. Well, a lot actually. There is a difference in the way we keep horses worldwide. In small and wet countries like the Netherlands a lot of horses are stabled 24 hours a day during wintertime. Which is like locking you into your bedroom and only allowing you out once a day. And then you have to work hard for an hour. Can you imagine what this does to a body, let alone a mind?

Horses need three things to be happy: freedom of movement, a constant supply of fiber rich roughage for the health of their intestines but, most of Lees meer

Dressage problems solved

A lot of articles and books about dressage explain how a movement should look, how it should be done and why you should use it. But I found out that a lot of the times I go out in the school with my horse, it never happens the way it is described. He’s not in that perfect outline, bending how he’s supposed to do or going straight when I want to. So what then?

As a rider and instructor, but mostly as a writer for Dutch horse magazines I had the privilege to talk to a lot of different trainers and riders at Lees meer

Mirror, mirror

Busy at work, hard day at the office, traffic was hell and now you are racing to the barn to ride your horse, for which you only have one hour… He’s having a lovely day in the pasture with his friends. All of a sudden you come rushing in, surrounded by an aura of stress.

Different scenario. You love horses, you want to ride, but deep down you are quite scared. But you really want this and you don’t want your friends Lees meer

Is it you or him?

Deep down we all know this. If something doesn’t happen the way you want it, it is almost certain because of you. A horse is by nature a prey animal that lives in a herd. All his reactions lead back to this. If you scare him, hurt him or you make him uncertain, he wants to flee. If you restrict him in any way to do so, he wants to run even harder and will panic if he’s not able to. In that state he is certainly not open to learning anything, let alone improve what he’s supposed to do.

If this is done over and over and he’s got no way of getting away from it, he’ll go into a dull, switched off state, which is referred to as ‘learned Lees meer

Why dressage?

Some riders think dressage is not for them. They think it’s boring. But the fact is, if you want to enjoy your horse more, you can’t do without it. Dressage is useful. A supple horse is more fun to ride. What’s the fun of hunter trials or even a simple hack if the horse pulls your arms out all the time? Or he doesn’t react to your aids?

Eventers and showjumpers are doing dressage all the time, only they call it flatwork. Actually, it is very much the same. In the end it helps them to Lees meer