What we can learn from chickens for horse and dog training

Why on earth would you train chickens?

Participants in our courses often receive a mixture of amused disbelief, coupled with scepticism as to whether this person is not taking their love of animals too far. Yet everyone who has had the opportunity to train with chickens knows: they are incredibly good teachers and train our interaction with other animal species bluntly and precisely!

We have different ways and possibilities of communicating and interacting with animals. Let’s look at the level of behaviour: What do humans want collies and cobs, huskies and Hanoverians, dachshunds and tinkers to behave and move together?

Words usually don’t get us anywhere at the beginning. So the human being does something, he moves in order to achieve a reaction from his animal counterpart. If this reaction is a desired one, your animal will learn over time what is worthwhile and what is not. The more precisely you can make your “requests” to your animal, the more likely you are to get answers that please you. Chickens, because of their speed, help you to distinguish right from wrong promptly. So you are more likely to be able to fine-tune your behaviour to your animal’s responses. The speed also results in a high repetition rate, which also means: many opportunities to improve. To see, decide and react more quickly.

Clicked chicken on the little seesaw
Clicked chicken on the little seesaw

In addition, there is the missing cuddle factor with chickens. Everyone is much more attentive with a foreign species and an unknown counterpart because you don’t fall into the “old married couple knows how the other one ticks” trap. Transfer the attention you have gained for small signals to your animal in everyday interactions and you will be amazed at how much better you can understand your horse or dog! And you will also be understood and perceived by them.

The chicken modules were developed decades ago by the great Bob Bailey and his wife. I am happy and grateful to have learned so much about learning as a participant with Viviane Theby at the Scheuerhof and to be able to pass on this knowledge today.

Two horses bobbing in front of the mountain landscape of southern France
Two horses bobbing in front of the mountain landscape of southern France

One of my passions that grew out of the chicken seminars is horse bobbing training. Equipped with the theoretical and practical skills from these seminars, it was suddenly possible for me to work out unusual, small and fine movements. The results and effects on the musculoskeletal system will convince any osteopath, riding instructor or physiotherapist. You too can teach your horse or dog what is good for it and what inspires you.

The pony Wolfang climbs on the 2 metre seesaw
The pony Wolfang climbs on the 2 metre seesaw

Start your entry into a completely new dimension of training now: Module 1 with the topics “Timing, Criteria, Reward Rate” will take place near Göttingen from 07 to 11 October 2022. There are still a few places available! Take advantage of the rare opportunity that I have to travel back to Germany for a few courses and register for Chicken Module 1 in the Steigerwald.T online shop.

The first month of realising the Steigerwald.The Dream

It still feels unreal, we haven’t quite arrived in our new home in the south of France yet, even though we have already experienced an incredible amount. But such a huge upheaval also takes a while to metabolise.

The ponies will feel the same way: Some things are much more grand, some are not. On the second day we started to take down the intermediate fences to give them more space, let them get closer to the house and give them access to bushes and trees. Now they have three hectares at their disposal for the time being. Unfortunately, one open stable is a good 150 metres away from the house, the second one as well and this one is not suitable for a hot summer because it has a beautiful view, but unfortunately it also faces south. I definitely miss the view of my darlings from the kitchen window.

We have cleared the back of the barn of old straw and junk and put up fly curtains and an old trampoline net at the front to give the ponies more protection from the sun and insects. The variety and quantity of flying parasites is incomparably higher here in the midst of nature than in the agricultural steppe of Lower Saxony. Horseflies, botflies and deer louse flies are our biggest nuisances at the moment. For the latter, I have already developed a good technique to grab and crack them. Not pretty, but effective. I’m always impressed how quickly the beasts crawl even further if you don’t get the head, but only the body. Wolfgang in particular is really stressed when he senses that another attack is imminent. Fortunately, so far there are no more than five per horse when I do my inspection and grooming rounds.

I use a special fair for the botfly. This works quite reliably to strip the eggs. I go into an area where the ponies never graze and scrape off all the eggs I can find. Luckily there is medical training, because how else are you going to scrape anything off the legs of a brake-ridden yearling on your own? Especially when everything is itchy and they are constantly scratching themselves anyway or trying to fend off the horseflies and flies with their mouths, it is better to regularly reduce the likelihood of ingested larvae. The time until “Father Christmas deworming” is quite long and as the saying goes: prevention is better than cure.

What I find impressive is that Elvis has by far the fewest spots and bumps. Is it because he still drinks at Freya’s? In any case, there are good reasons to look forward to autumn. Three times we made a short tour of the property, but there were too many horseflies to enjoy it in its entirety. Otherwise, it was a very uplifting feeling to be able to ride with the whole group on our own property with an exhilarating view. The first time on the big, upper pasture, the free ponies also gave good gas. I was so glad that Mario, on his bike as a border collie, drove everyone back together and in the right direction.

Because of the horseflies, I have hardly ever done any clicker training with the ponies. But La Vida, my princess, has given me serious grief twice: In the first week she had a pharyngeal blockage, I had no hang-up to call a vet, but with a watering can of water and vigorous rubbing, Mario and I were able to help her. In the second week she got -the vulture knows how- into the power fence and galloped off pulling several stakes. Fate again arranged it so that I was nearby and we were able to prevent the whole herd from going out to taste real freedom after the fright. Apart from two marks on her chest, where fur had not even been scraped off, La Vida was lucky here too.

So now and then some bobbing training. That was the plan. But in the video you can see that there are always several ponies crowding around the horse seesaws. The two 3-metre seesaws are behind the house, the other gymnastic equipment we have brought up the slope with Mario’s little red tractor. Even though I want to concentrate on my ponies during training, the view is much nicer. But until then, the horse brakes have to be removed and I have to build a partition. We are not yet ready for the others to wait patiently on their ground targets while only one of them gets fun, success and oats.

It feels like there are twenty things on the agenda at the same time, and the memory of the first time at Steigerwald Farm in Ochtmannien helps us to look at the unfinished projects with more composure. The first two weeks it was also extremely hot, it hasn’t rained here since May, everything is dry as a fart and you have to plan your daily schedule of activities well. And no, we didn’t end up in a forest fire area and the house is pleasantly cool. Even when it was 38 degrees outside, the thermometer didn’t rise above twenty-five degrees inside. We live with chaos, improvisation and plans that change daily.

Well camouflaged lizard in the greenery
Well camouflaged lizard in the greenery

The variety of living things is great: lizards galore, fat toads, praying mantises, bats, grasshoppers of every kind and crickets, dormice and wild boars we have already encountered. Also unique are the owls – or owls? – which add to the great atmosphere of this place at night with their calls. We have even had a touch of rain in the meantime and the first green blades of grass are coming up between the withered yellow.

A big downer is the poor internet and mobile phone reception. I gave my last two webinars from Chalabre, luckily an acquaintance saved me. We have tried different SIM cards, routers and antennas, found out that free public internet at the post office or supermarket does not equal fast internet, got advice at a phone provider’s shop, talked to the neighbours and now got satellite internet. One can be curious! Finally, I have a weekly live via Zoom. The coaching of the Medical Trainer, the monthly Q&A session for all clients of a webinar in the Steigerwald.T Online Academy or a new live on new and existing topics. I have been offering learning from home for almost three years now and am happy about the opportunity to reach people from further away.

For those who would like to learn live and in person with me: the horse seminars regularly take place at different locations in Germany, the chicken camps near Göttingen. At the end of September I will leave our paradise here and be in Germany for the whole of October to teach.

Besides the friends and the seminars, I miss our son the most and I am really looking forward to seeing him again, even if it is in what feels like the grey and boring north. Until then, we will continue to build, tinker, enjoy, plan, admire the Pyrenees and celebrate the good feeling of having made the right decision.

The road and arrival in France

I have never experienced such a busy July in my entire life:

At the beginning of the month, the last seminar at Hof Steigerwald with a good portion of melancholy that the time at this wonderful place has its end, the eighteenth birthday of our son, then the clearing and packing marathon, another flea market, parallel to this already the first construction work of the new owners. Preparing the ponies for the long trip on the truck. The planned start date was constantly postponed because it became clear that we would not be able to pack everything up and move it.

Great friends supported us and then on July 27th it was finally time. From 07:00 in the morning until 22:00 in the evening we packed and cleared and then loaded the ponies.

Those who have been to Hof Steigerwald before will fondly remember the birch trees at the access road. Unfortunately, they were cut to horse trailer height, but not to truck dimensions… Anyone who has ever been in a trailer that drove along bushes knows what an unpleasant noise that makes.

We had specially bought our own horse trailer, because we had special requirements for the long trip with our small herd. For example, we wanted to be flexible in terms of date and time of day: This also proved to be spot on with the heat and the chaos of the preparation! Then the shetties needed compartments appropriate to their size to travel safely and comfortably. And of course, most importantly, we needed training time with the -in the meantime- yearlings.

Such a long distance means unloading and reloading, after all we have to make enough breaks for all fellow travelers. That means at least twice everyone has to get back into the van in good spirits. I have accompanied enough human-horse teams to know: The truth always shows up at the next inquiry after the ride. So it was a matter of extensively “loading up” the truck in a positive way. Around the adults I worried less, they have enough travel experience to climb also again with me into the swaying and rolling cave.

In order not to begin the journey immediately with the creepy strip of the branches and twigs of the birch trees, we decided to load on the access road – which we had trained only once before. In the meantime it had also become quite dark, my adrenaline level was relatively high, but everything worked out flawlessly.

Then Mario left with the 814 and the eight-meter trailer, and I followed behind with the Sprinter and the small five-meter trailer. Unfortunately, the camera for the horse area, which was purchased specifically for the trip, only worked when the engine was off, but there was no rumbling or pounding, everything was very quiet. So we rolled through the night, into a new life, leaving behind a very fulfilling one.

First stage and first break at the Scheuerhof of Viviane Theby
First stage and first break at the Scheuerhof of Viviane Theby

The first stage ended at Viviane Theby in the Eifel. She had warned me in advance that there would be a construction site in the village in front of them. This the Navi also indicated and guided us down from another highway exit. Only to then indicate on a country road, “You have reached your destination. You have 350 meters to walk.” So it was a case of finding our own way along the country lanes. Turning around twice because we missed driveways, then a hairpin turn a kilometer away from Viviane. So we unhitched the trailer from the truck and drove on without it, so that the ponies could finally get out after eight hours of driving.

They came to a meadow with beautiful grass despite the dryness and were clearly thrilled. Now it was time for a break!

We had planned a day, a night and another day to regenerate for everyone and we wanted to continue traveling at night. It was wonderfully relaxing to be at the Scheuerhof, admiring the agroforestry strips, eating pizza from the clay oven, and having good conversations. Also, on the side, Mario repaired the alternator regulator and a broken cable on the truck.

Friday evening at 9:30 p.m. the ponies all dutifully boarded their “rolling home”, but Elvis and La Vida would not back up into their compartments on hand signals. I was very sorry to pull on the halter, but fortunately that went flawlessly.

Another emotional goodbye came when we passed the border. Now we were no longer on our way to France as vacationers, now we came as new residents of the country. The 530 kilometer drive to a good bit before Lyon was also flawless. If you disregard gas stations that do not accept the card for payment or truck drivers who also honk when overtaking the slow team on the mountain… We still savored the sunrise, then the next destination was reached.

Break for people and animals in the shade of the trees
Break for people and animals in the shade of the trees

At the “Camping Terre Ferme”, which is idyllic but only 10 minutes from the highway, we were warmly welcomed in the morning.

After unloading, Freya and Elvis galloped me first over a stubble field and I held the other four ropes and prayed that I would manage to calm the excited four others and that they would come back soon. Which, thankfully, they did!

We were then able to make ourselves comfortable with everything in a tree-lined meadow, built a portable fence for the ponies, and opened a bottle of champagne before settling into the sprinter to recover from the night’s ride.

The two 36 hour long breaks helped a lot in processing this rather intrusive move. Even though we were really looking forward to France and the life on Le Matou, the soul also wants to be able to come along. It is not said for nothing that one should not travel faster than a swallow flies.

During the 3rd loading, the yearlings unfortunately had to be coaxed into their compartments with pressure in front of their chests. Understandably, they didn’t feel like the consequences of “parking” anymore, but then, as soon as the breast bar was hooked, they were calm and made no attempts to go against it.

The heat is even greater in the south; the stretch down the Rhone Valley was still twenty-five degrees in the middle of the night! Fortunately, as we turned inland it got better and even after sunrise we were only at twenty degrees.

Freeway exit: after a few kilometers the breathtaking view of the Pyrenees. Tears of gratitude and relief flowed. Gurgle over land, excitement grows. Five kilometers before Matou park the long trailer at the neighbor’s, two kilometers on a narrow road, park the truck, unpark the ponies, Elvis first drinks at Freya. Then we walk the rest of the way to our new home, Mario follows on his bike.

Because of all the stress with the four excited ponies in hand, I unfortunately can’t enjoy it as much as I would in a romantic vision of this situation. Checking the paddock fence, releasing the ponies, crying. But then, “Honey, we’re really there, we made it!”

As I write these lines, we are already five days in this incredibly wonderful area, enjoying nature and silence, the vastness, the mountains and the good feeling to have made the right decisions.

If you want to have some info about Le Matou, have a look at the previous blog post: Steigerwald.The Dream: Our new home in France

Steigerwald.T Dream: Our new home in France

“Why on earth would you leave a farm that you have lovingly built up over twelve years with a lot of heart and soul?”

Because it was simply time.

There are different types of people, and one possible division is into builders, keepers and breakers. Mario and I are definitely builders. The sooner you know in which area your strengths and fulfillment lie, the better you can live according to yourself. This is one of the keys to happiness in life.

There is still a lot to build on our property in the south of France, although we will take it a little easier this time. The total area is 67 hectares, 46 of which are mixed forest with oaks mainly and there is also an area of beech. I love the young greenery in the spring when the sun shines on it!

Sixteen hectares of meadows, half of which are already fenced for horse safety, and a couple of hectares of scrubland complete the offer for our ponies. My wish is a trail or walking and riding path once around the whole area, which would make it about six to seven kilometers round trip. A wonderful feature is the location. In the south, the border is mainly a creek. Here we will make accesses for the ponies to drink. Rising in the north, the entire southern slope to the ridge in the north then belongs to Le Matou, the residence is centered at five hundred meters.

The idyllic driveway to the new home
The idyllic driveway to the new home

The summers are not quite as hot as at the sea and the winters not as cold as “properly” in the mountains. Perfect! What also excites me very much is the length of the day in winter. A whole hour more light in the morning and evening! But the greatest thing is the breathtaking view of the Pyrenees from some places on the property.

For the ponies there are two open stables made of wood, which we only have to cover with strips of curtains or windbreak nets. And that’s it with the existing outbuildings. That’s why we put up a round-arched shed last winter. It will function as a barn, carport and storage.

From the buildings we are downsizing a lot, but fewer roofs, gutters, windows, cleanable and sweepable area can definitely be seen as an advantage.

The guest house with its twenty square meters is located about 30 meters from the main house and is freshly renovated. From 2023 it will be available for vacationers, educational leave on Le Matou.

Mario and I have 54 square meters available for living in the main house. Above there is again the same area as a shell. Here we could well imagine a seminar room. The right wing is a shell. Bare stone walls and a fortunately intact roof. One part will be a workshop or storage, whether the other will be a living area or not is still up in the air.

What guarantees us a lot of peace and quiet is the location at the end of a five-kilometer-long dead-end street. One kilometer the access road leads nicely up to the house already over the own area, after that is end. The nearest neighbor is 500 meters away as the crow flies, but there is forest in between. Even if he would start his lawn mower every day, it wouldn’t matter!

A mailbox on a tree in southern France soon contains Steigerwald's mail
A mailbox on a tree in southern France soon contains Steigerwald's mail

In the next post about the south of France, I’ll report on our trip there and how we got there. The plan is to do the 1600 kilometer route in three stages with a day’s rest in between each.

And now, full of anticipation mixed with farewell pain, I will continue packing and clearing, in a few days we are heading for the final tour with the ponies.

Horse Seesaws: Which size fits?

What are the questions that horse people who are concerned with sensible gymnastics through seesaw training ask? Of course, a lot is about how to get the horse to move on the seesaw in such a way that his musculoskeletal system gets the greatest possible benefit from it. But before the beautiful muscles can sprout, the right size of seesaw has to be chosen. In our seesaw shop

we offer the so-called full-body seesaws. We created the name because, on the one hand, the whole horse’s body is trained on it and, on the other hand, there is usually not much more space on such a seesaw than for a whole horse’s body.
In the seesaw shop there is a size finder that is based on the horse’s stature, but I would like to address a few other important factors.
An easily measurable parameter for the right horse rocker is the so-called “wheelbase.” There are square and rectangular types of horses, which come in different lengths for the same stick size.
To determine the wheelbase, I recommend the following procedure: You stop your horse from moving and measure the length from the tip of the front hoof to the ball of the equilateral hind hoof. Then let your horse walk a few steps, stop again and measure again. After five measurements, take the cut and find the length your horse needs for full body rocking.

Now, many equids often lie exactly on the border between two rocker sizes. We offer them in 1000, 1250, 1500 and 2000 millimetres length in the footprint. This is also the reason for the product designations, e.g. T-1500 of the Steigerwald.T horse saddles.
What if your horse has a wheelbase of 160 centimetres? Of course it can also bob nicely on a Steigerwald.T- 1500, if it puts itself together a bit there. But it can only bob in this way, because there is simply not enough room for all the other positions. The particularly beneficial effect of the loose swinging on muscles, fasciae, tendons, ligaments and joints cannot be achieved in this way. The reason for this is that your horse has to build up and maintain a certain tension in order to be able to stay on the reduced and unstable support surface at all. The stretching, relieving component of the “teeter-totter” movement is therefore considerably less.
Of course, the “rocking mountain goat” is a great workout and a real eye-catcher especially for people who find it hard to believe that you can get horses on such training equipment at all. Anyone who has ever sat on a horse’s back and felt the different types of seesaws will confirm that there is a lot of tension in the whole body when it pushes itself together on the little horse seesaw.
That’s why I recommend a larger size when choosing a horse rocker. You can place your horse sometimes more open, sometimes more closed, sometimes slightly sawhorse-like like a rocking horse, sometimes more at the front end, sometimes more at the back end of the seesaw. And then you have a much greater variance in the strain on the muscles.
Then, of course, there is the question of how old your horse is, or whether he has physical problems such as spavin or problems with his spine. In this case it makes sense to make the task easier for such a candidate.
Especially stepping on the seesaw is easier if there is more space. This also applies to horse-human teams that do not have much experience with ground work or clicker training. An experienced trainer can set the horse tricky tasks such as a shire on a two-legged see-saw with fewer mistakes and more success.

If the seesaw is to be used more on a trail and for riding over, the T-2000 is a good choice. Due to the longer overhang, it has a fixed end for stepping on and off. This allows horses that need to balance the rider in addition to their own body to move safely into instability. It is approved for up to 800 kilos in wood and up to 1000 kilos in stainless steel and can also be managed by less experienced teams with a little practice.
After all, gymnastics training should be gymnastics with fun! If the tasks are easy to understand and manage, especially at the beginning, the joy is greater on both sides. In the Steigerwald.T Online Academy you can find great webinars on seesaw training (LINK) and there are now some seesaw trainers who can help with questions.
But back to the size of the seesaw. Horses are known to be herd animals and it is possible that several horses share a rocker. The following applies here: Smaller equids can move any size of see-saw, my two Shetty geldings with their 100 and 105 centimetres of stature and 102 and 98 centimeters wheelbase respectively can move all horse seesaws well up to the T-3000. If you have a pony with a wheelbase of 115 centimetres, for example, it will be able to perform versatile seesaw training on a T-1500 or T-2000. A big advantage of a larger footprint horse rocker is that you can rock up and down together with your horse. There are three variations:
1. you let yourself move and let your horse do all the work.
2. you move your horse. This is wonderful for loosening up his muscles and strengthens your hindquarters 😉
3. you find a common groove of alternating activity and passivity. A wonderful way to move together with your horse!
There is no right and wrong, every seesaw moves differently, every hoof length change in position changes the whole balance structure. For transport, I always recommend using a handcart. This is a good way to move all the seesaws from A to B on your own and is easy on the back.
Whichever seesaw you choose and whichever one you are already using, enjoy the valuable training time you spend together with your horse!

Cooperation in medical training

nina horse injection coopertation

Today I would like to explain the topic of cooperation with horses in medical training and give you an insight into this form of training.

What does cooperation mean in dealing & training with horses?

“Uncertainty and helplessness versus self-determination”.

In many situations in everyday life with our horses we depend on the cooperation, trust and participation of our horses. In the life of a horse there are some scary or frightening moments and unknown situations. A very special unpleasant and difficult situation for many horses is the treatment at the vet.

It is tied up, possibly in pain. You, as his confidant, are agitated. In addition, there is the veterinarian, whose presence has often been associated with less than pleasant experiences for your horse in the past.

Your horse finds himself in a situation where he knows that he is in for acutely unpleasant measures and possibly also pain. The tension level rises and with it the stress hormones. Your horse’s instinctive behavior would be to flee or fight back. However, the more tense the muscles, the more intensely it will feel pain. Your horse is stuck in a vicious circle and the horse’s brain stores the situation under the heading “acutely bad”. Consequently, in the future, when it thinks it perceives indications of a comparable situation, it will react with defensiveness from the outset.

An animal-friendly way out of this vicious circle is to give your horse a say and control over the course of a treatment. In this way, he can actively give you his “okay”, knowing full well that it may become uncomfortable in a moment.

Your horse gets a say & self-determination and is willing to cooperate with you and the veterinarian. In other words, it cooperates and actively collaborates.

What goals do you achieve with this?

When we have worked out this willingness to cooperate in the horse, many fear and fright moments for your horse can be avoided. He does not store the visit & treatment of the veterinarian negatively and a possibly before always necessary sedation or nose brake is no longer necessary.

The bottom line is that everyone involved wins: your horse regains its self-determination, you gain more security and a smooth process, the vet gains an enormous reduction in workload and everyone together gains much more confidence in dealing with each other.

In addition, medical training does wonders for the relationship between you and your horse. Please have a look at this blog Medical Training works wonders in the relationship.

How you can develop this willingness to cooperate in your horse?

For exactly this development of cooperation and self-determination there is the so-called “Medical Training”. I have developed a whole training concept for horse owners, trainers, veterinarians and other professionals in the equine field.

This training is especially focused on health care and veterinary situations. You will learn methods to practice certain scary and frightening situations like the injection, a worming treatment, etc. and take away your horse’s fear of them.

In my Steigerwald.T -Online Academy, you will find a variety of educational content in the form of webinars under the section Medical Training.

With which you can build and develop this cooperation!

In medical training we work with cooperation signals.

A cooperation signal is a behavior established through reward learning that gives you information about your horse’s willingness to endure and even actively cooperate with subsequent manipulations.

The main use for cooperation signals is in the area of grooming or medical procedures. They enable your horse to control the course of such measures.

Thanks to the self-efficacy thus achieved and the positive link established through the training path, your horse can learn to endure the often uncomfortable, unpleasant or even painful procedures in the treatment in a calm and relaxed manner.

Examples of cooperation signals include assuming a certain posture or performing body targets with or without aids.

The most commonly chosen cooperation signals include:

  • the basic position
  • a hoof target (ground target)
  • lower jaw target on a cooperator (see photo)
  • stationary nose target
horse cooperation

There are many other cooperation signals, supporting tools and exercises in medical training.

If you want to learn more about Medical Training and get a taste of it, I have something for you in my store. The free webinar “Introduction Medical Training”.

In this webinar with me and veterinarian Samantha Krost-Reuhl, you will learn about the basics of medical training as well as the contents of the Steigerwald.T Medical Trainer training. In addition to the theoretical background, you will get an overview of the various possibilities of application on the horse as well as first ideas for your training at home.

In order to deepen and concretize these first ideas for the training as well as for your concrete questions, there will be the live webinar Cooperation in (Medical) Training | Live Webinar on 12.07.2022 at 19:30. Here you can register directly.

Variety in training with horse rockers – The rotary plate

With this blog I would like to introduce you to the Steigerwald.T turntable as well as its advantages for health-promoting horse rocker training.

A Steigerwald.T horse rocker in round or oval offers endless training possibilities for a full-body workout.

I have been using this innovative therapy aid and training device for many years. My very first turntable consisted of the edge of an old wagon wheel on which I had screwed planks and a rubber mat. From the bottom there was a stable screw supported by a hemisphere.

The second was made from an old cable drum from civil engineering 😅. In the meantime, we have practical and more manageable ones at our Steigerwald.T horse rocker shop.

On it, every movement opens up new incentives for more health through conscious movement. Fitness, mobility, safety – the turntable offers endless possibilities.

The charm lies in the variable simulation of tilting movements, which provoke corresponding balancing movements. A turntable can be used in as many ways as few other gymnastic equipment for horses.

  • Trains the deep muscles as well as the core muscles in the abdomen and back
  • Improves strength endurance
  • Develops cognitive and sensory-motor skills
  • Improves coordination skills and thus surefootedness
  • Strengthens concentration
  • Creates flexibility in the brain through new movement patterns
  • Perfect physical preparation for trailer rides
Variety in training with horse rocker

You should definitely introduce your horse to instability in small steps. After all, it has to cognitively process what you want from it. On the other hand, the many small muscles along the spine have to get used to their new task.

As preparation and for the introduction, I recommend my course “Starting with seesaw training” and then, building on this, the live webinar on training with the turntable on 30.05.2022.

In training you can encourage your horse with several options after getting used to it:

The compass needle: Your horse turns on the spot. Hoof by hoof, it finds its footing on the limited surface – or not, as each repositioning changes the entire balance structure. In this way, it learns to move on a small, unstable surface and to stabilize itself at the same time.

The rocker: Due to the absence of runners, you only have to be careful that there are no unsightly pock-pock impact moments. But if your horse stands on only one half of the turntable, you can train nice, even swinging back and forth. The same applies to rocking from left to right.

The king’s way: Your horse shifts his weight from the back to the front, to the right, to the back, to the left, to the front again… And this in a fluid loop, so that part of the outer edge always keeps contact with the ground and there are no floating moments. None of mine have got that far yet. But you have to have goals too 😉 .

The Shaker: Through a hula-hoop-like movement coming from the entire torso, the plate rotates a bit on its hemisphere. The plate is in a hover for a moment, but moves to one side. The longer the shake provides the rotational movement, the better.

The Buddhist: Your horse keeps the plate in balance as long as possible so that the outer edge does not touch the ground.

In this video you can see different training options with the turntable.

Would you like to teach your horse these highly interesting movements? The live webinar for the brand new training will already take place on 30.05.2022 at 19:30. Secure your place and register here.

Don’t dream your life…

TDon't dream your life

Part 1 – Le Matou – How it all began

What about your goals, wishes and dreams? Do you have a list of places you would like to visit one day, of experiences like walking with a herd of wild horses, of a very specific attitude towards life? Is there something you are specifically doing to get closer to it? For me, a long-held dream was to live on a farm with many animals and to have a seminar center. The realization began in 2010 with the purchase of a remaining farm in Lower Saxony.

We planned and worked, built and designed and received a lot of support from the universe and countless dear people. Over the years, Hof Steigerwald grew and thrived into an oasis for people and animals with a busy schedule. And why on earth would you give up something like that?! It wasn’t actually planned that way either.

In 2019, I finally wanted to take a real vacation in the summer again and browsed Airbnb. Since I had gone after the Abitur with two horses and two dogs on a five-month trail ride in the foothills of the Pyrenees and had lived there for 1.5 years, I also looked there for offers. Finally, this area had never completely let me go. The nature, the silence, the charm of the mountains, the relaxed attitude towards life….

I enjoyed every day of my vacation, reminisced about times gone by, and when my hostess told me about a uniquely beautiful place that was for sale due to age, I said, “Well, I’d look at it…”. The day before heading back to Germany, we drove to Le Matou, the name of the farm. In France, every individual farm has a proper name, which is very charming. Walking around the property I saw the Pyrenees and felt: this is it! ❤

No ifs, ands or buts, it practically jumped out at me. However, I had no idea where I would get the money and what my husband Mario and Richard, our son would say about it. Both thought I was crazy, of course. Correctly and completely crazy. A very exciting time followed and in April 2020 we sold Hof Steigerwald and bought Le Matou. At the end of July it finally happened and our dream became reality.

We move with Sheltie Jupiter and all six ponies. Richard stays in Germany to do his Abitur, the sheep are already housed somewhere else and the chickens move to the new location for the chicken seminars near Göttingen. Because there will still be me as a speaker in Germany! Due to family and friends, there are enough reasons besides teaching expert clicker training to get me on the road three-four times a year.

The horse seminars do not yet have a definite location as of October. In any case, I will work exclusively on farms with reasonable open stables. Fortunately, formats like the Steigerwald. T Medical Trainer or the Training Specialist Horse you don’t need a whole indoor riding arena.

For the seesaw trainer, on the other hand, you do need a bit of a selection of gymnastics equipment on site, as I won’t be bringing the seesaws from France.

So if you already own some Steigerwald gymnastics equipment and would like to have two seminars a year on the topic of horse rocker training at your yard, please contact me at info@steigerwald-t.de.

Apropos horse seesaws: The construction and shipping of everything from the two-hooves-rocker to the whole-body-horse-rockers to the rotary-disc-horse, balancer-beam and stepper will continue to take place in Germany. However, the wood of the runners will then be southern French.

With the time there will be also seminar offers there, on Le Matou.

We are already busy planning and the guest house is already ready for occupancy. On the 67 hectare property, the possibilities are endless! And for the women, who are thinking about how to convince their husbands to travel so far for advanced training: Mario wants to get a mini-excavator for all the work that still needs to be done, so the needs of many are taken care of 😉

More details about Le Matou will follow in the coming weeks. Subscribe now to our newsletter, then you will not miss any news and you can continue to follow our dream and especially the launch on Le Matou.

And now we take you a little bit with us and introduce you to Le Matou with the video.

The Heroes List

The list of heroes is a list of helpers and supporters who support us in making the Le Matou dream come true.

We would like to thank all those who have supported us so far and continue to support us in making the Steigerwald dream come true.

We are grateful and happy about every single supporter and wish our special helpers all the best for the realization of their own life dreams.

Would you also like to be on the list of heroes and be there when, in the face of the Pyrenees, a place is created where living, loving, learning is made possible? Then choose your own personal thank you for your contribution in our online store.

The Motionclick Trainer Network

The Motionclick Trainer Network

Growing together with horses

My colleague Sylvia Czarnecki has launched an initiative: The Motionclick Trainer Network. It is an initiative for trainings based on positive reinforcement as well as for non-violent horse training.

With this we want to contribute to the spread of non-violent training.

“Clicking” is so much more than using a clicker and stuffing the horse with treats 😉

In particular, the network is intended to help people looking for qualified trainers and continuing education opportunities. On the Motionclick Trainer Network page, you also have the option to search for a qualified trainer in your area.

The quality of the trainers is ensured through an admission process based on the Motionclick network guidelines.

Our goal and vision is to promote the understanding of methods based on scientific evidence as well as to make knowledge about these training methods easily accessible and centrally available.

Have you always wanted to learn or start learning about these training methodologies? But you didn’t have the time, or a suitable trainer or information was missing? Or maybe you just want to have a look at the topic?

Terms like “feed point”; “reward rate”, “operant conditioning” you might have heard before but had no idea what they mean in training with horses?

For that, we members of the Motionclick Trainer Network have started an info series on Facebook and Instagram.

Technical terms simply explained. From April 1 to 17, we will explain important technical terms from clicker training in a short and crisp way.

With the series “Technical terms of clicker training simply explained”, you will receive a special technical term from clicker training explained by qualified trainers every day. Since every day a different trainer from the Motionclick trainer network explains a technical term, you have the opportunity to get to know the trainers of the network at the same time.

Through this series of “clicker training terms” and the content of the trainers, you get the opportunity to get a taste of the methodology and training forms, to acquire knowledge in “small bites” and to integrate them directly into your everyday life with your horse, to try them out or to test them.

Here you get high quality knowledge and this for free. So join us and follow us on Facebook and / or Instagram.

And if you should have missed a day, this is not bad. You can also read all the terms or contributions in the aftermath.

On April 18, we’ll wrap it all up with a podcast episode of fair.strength – positive solutions for training with your horse, where we’ll summarize all the terms once again.

We are very happy to offer you with this initiative the perfect opportunity to familiarize yourself with the training form of positivev reinforcement.