Customer Feedback of Rocking Trainer Workshop 2019

Horse-rockers make you happy, and your horse, too.

I have often had the opportunity to look Nina Steigerwald, a pioneer of horse agility and gymnastics with horses, over the shoulder. So, I was all the more pleased that she devoted a whole weekend to a special workshop for holistic gymnastic training and therapy for horses with her special horse rockers.

The participants could familiarize themselves with the topic in advance, learning from two highly informative, free-of-charge webinars about whole-body and two-legged horse rockers and the necessary background knowledge.

Ernst Ferstl puts it in a nutshell when he states that

“The difference between theory and practice is in practice is much higher than in theory.”

That’s why most of the course took place on the well-equipped Steigerwald.T-Agility-Parcours with its numerable possibilities to train horses according to their current performance level. Five guest horses with none to medium rocker experience, from a 3-year-old mini Shetty to a 26-year-old Icelandic horse benefitted from two instructive and animal-friendly training days.

Rocking Trainer 2019

Ready, steady, go – rock! Of course, it was not quite that easy. For safety and physiological reasons, you first need to lay a solid foundation and develop movement and balance competence in the horse. Courteous waiting, safely mounting a limited space (mat) with all 4 (or 2) hooves on signal, correct axle alignment, shifting the center of gravity with firm hoof-ground contact, and again, safely dismounting from the mat are minimum requirements. We used several different types of gymnastic mats. As soon as a horse has mastered these basics it is ready to take on a rocker.

Starting with a fully stabilized rocker, the tilt angle was gradually increased. Even through the thick winter pelts of the Nordic races, it was easy to see how much the muscles and balance of the horses were challenged even by the slightest increase in instability.

Nina’s novel workshop concept of “speed dating training” was well received: all participants, regardless of their prior experience, became an active part of every training step. In each training session each of the participants trained for 5 minutes under the expert guidance of Nina. During this time, the bystanders were able to observe and receive valuable information on how individual coaching decisions directly affected the target behavior and, in addition, they assisted the coach by concentrating on the entire horse and help with valuable observations. Between change of coaches, the status quo was analyzed and the next training steps were planned to promote each horse individually, without overtaxing the animal.

Rocking Trainer 2019

One of the central elements in training health-promoting horse rocking is the so-called feeding point, which encourages the horse to make appropriate movements without physical or psychological pressure. This also requires some physical fitness of the trainers to be able to lure the horse into appropriately helpful positions. At the same time, a high level of alertness and lightning-fast decisions are crucial. The motto is “Click the horse and not the rocker”. The goal is either a dynamic rocking motion with a slight forward-downward stretch or initiating the rocking movement by a flexing of the haunches with plenty of abdominal muscle activity and appropriate top-line in order for a physiologically helpful joint, muscles and the nervous system stimulation.
Nina demonstrated with her own horses how these movements should look in perfection.

Particularly impressive was the development of Shetland Pony Wolfgang. I had been able to observe the very beginnings of his rocking career in the summer of 2018. Now the little guy proved a professional rocking specialist. He proudly presented a nearly perfect school halt to the amazed spectators, perfect with arched back, clearly set haunches and good load bearing. It was fantastic to see such a high performance level without the use of pressure or auxiliary reins, and have fun instead of stress.

One of the many highlights of this weekend was the opportunity to get on a rocker with a professionally trained horse and feel the rocking movements first-hand.
And even without horses, the numerous gymnastic equipment repeatedly invited people to climb onto them and find out how much balance, coordination and muscle activity is required on such a device, and how the joints are gently mobilized at the same time. There’s no experience like first-hand experience, is there?

This instructive and very motivating workshop was rounded off by wonderfully sunny spring weather and culinary delights from the farm’s kitchen. Of course, the traditional pancakes and the liqueur made from eggs from the farm’s own clicker-trained chickens were part of the show as well.

Steigerwald.T at the EQUITANA 2019

We are on tour for you, because …

…the Equitana – one of the most important global horse fairs – will open its doors in Essen for 9 days! We are very happy to help enrich the Equitana with animal-friendly Steigerwald.Training, our equine gymnastics equipment and horse rockers.

In Hall 6 at Equimondi at booth No K29, you are welcome to hammer us with questions, try out our various horse rockers, have a chat about animal-friendly training and any other horse-related topic might be on your mind!

You can watch our live performances at the Cavallo Ring and Hall 6. You will see True Horse Agility and Medical Training with positive reinforcement. Come and see my two own horses, Frieda and Amadeus, showing that they not only have fun at work on their home turf, but also in the unfamiliar surroundings of a show ring. We will also demonstrate that positive reinforcement is an animal-friendly and effective way of training, that can be implemented with any horse – you only have to know how. You can watch us train horses of other trade fair participants that we have never met before – that will be a particularly exciting part, even for me! Thanks again to all the Facebook friends who helped find volunteers for this challenge.

In addition, I really look forward to stimulating round table discussions about dominance with regard to horses. And there will be even more. In the Horse Health Forum you can watch me talk and demonstrate the importance of the cooperation signal.

For times and places please refer to the timetable below or on the Equitana home page.

meet us at the equitana

Upcoming events are online

calendar 2019, part 1

What lasts a long time – taking 80th birthdays, important events and everything else into account – is finally going to be good, isn’t it? We proudly present the Steigerwald.Training event calendar 2019! Compact horse clicker clinic, True Horse Agility day, horse seesaw trainer workshop, Medical Training, one-day entry-level chicken camp, the five original Chicken Camps, Open House on the first weekend of September including a True Horse Agility Tournament, the ongoing modules of Training Specialist Horse with a restart at the end of March, featuring the new seminar format “Training Professional Horse”… There are many inspiring events for you to choose from to enhance your training for the benefit of the animals. We look forward to seeing you!
Go to Steigerwald.Events 2019 or browse our web shop at the Steigerwald shop.

Horserocker webinar for free

horserocker webinar

The wide range of training options for horses seesaws inspire more and more horse lovers. Discover in this webinar, how your four-legged training partner can safely learn to master instable surfaces, the benefits to reap. Learn how physiologically correct seesawing looks like. We will put a focus on to achieve the specifics movements that generate the most benefit from the gymnastics equipment.  We look forward to meet many seesawing enthusiasts on all levels, newcomers or professionals.

With an Edudip account, you can participate in this webinar free of charge.

Medical Training: Cooperation Signal

Training animal friendly

When training is about potentially unpleasant or even painful procedures and manipulations on the body of our animal, we have to be particularly attentive.

A good training plan helps to visualize the individual training steps, to observe the behavior of our animal in constant comparison, and to react accordingly. The so-called cooperation signal is a great help for humans and animals. The idea is as simple as it is powerful: Only if my animal shows the appropriate signal I will start the procedure. No cooperation signal – no execution of what my horse considers uncomfortable.

The training is clearly structured: First, I teach my horse the behavior of the cooperation signal. This might be, for example, a lowering of the head, the touching of a nose target, a neck or ground target or, as for the mare Tequila, a feach.

 

For example:

  1. The horse lowers its neck – I touch the neck for a second – the horse is holding still – click+treat
  2. Repeat five times.
  3. The horse lowers its neck – I touch the neck for 2 to 4 seconds – the horse is holding still – click+treat
  4. Repeat five times.
  5. The horse lowers its neck – I touch the neck for 2 to 4 seconds and pinch its skin a little – horse is holding still – click+treat
  6. Repeat five times.

This means I get a direct feedback from the horse after each cycle on how the horse felt about the previous cycle. As long as the horse gives the coop signal, I receive the horse’s “go” for the next step. If my horse starts to hesitate or even quits showing the coop signal, I know that I overtaxed the horse and should adapt the next training steps. After that I offer a small aid to trigger the co-op signal, go back a few steps and apply a much lower stimulus, then click and treat again. Remember: the Great Moment of Truth always comes after the treat! If the training setup was solid enough before, I can get my horse back into the game and gradually forward to the area that initially got me a “No.”

The following video is about cooperation for mounting. Please note, the mare has received no riding training before.

Horse Rockers and Medical Training at the Pferd und Jagd

meet Nina Steigerwald at Pferd&Jadg

Horses seesaws and Medical Training at the “Pferd und Jagd”

At this year’s “Pferd und Jagd” Hof Steigerwald is represented at the Equimondi’s Horse Health Forum in Hall 26. We will demonstrate Medical Training and gymnastics equipment on-stage. At our booth in the Expert Village, we will share and discuss the Steigerwald.Ts: True Horse Agility, Training pet perfect, Training & Therapy equipment and paddock Trail.

On 6 December we will conduct a live demo of medical training at the symposium for horse health professionals in Hall 19 (Convention Center). And I have written an article for the exhibition’s magazine about this event with the veterinarian Ann-Kathrin Bäcker. Equimondi put together a great program featuring new insights, methods and therapeutic approaches. We look forward to seeing you!