Summer in the South of France

Life here on Matou is improvisation on all levels. And it is beautiful! Fortunately, at Hof Steigerwald in Ochtmannien we have had the experience several times of going round in circles when planning activities and to-dos, and then one or two times preferring to tackle a completely different project.

For example, we would like to build a composting toilet and have decided on a place. But there are still things there from the previous owners. Just put them to one side? That’s stupid, too, because then they’ll be standing around. So we need an empty cage so that we don’t have to pick it up ten times and Mario can move it somewhere else with his little red tractor if necessary. But there isn’t one free at the moment…so first we have to clear out the boxes…but what’s in them and where to put them? And when the box is finally filled with the things and you are already on the corner of the plot, you can immediately take the other things out of the shell and put them in the cage box as well.

Pony Amadeus looks at Mario with his red tractor, his herd and the mountain landscape of southern France
Pony Amadeus looks at Mario with his red tractor, his herd and the mountain landscape of southern France

Eventually, it will become a cosy living room or seminar room. Since almost everything is made of clay and ceramics, we need several boxes and upholstery material. It’s a pity, we recently made a tour to the rubbish dump and, full of relief that some of our stuff has finally found a place, disposed of cardboard boxes.

The deeper we get, the more unpleasant the smell becomes. It seems that rats lived there a long time ago. So we got the hoover, gloves, EM (Effective Microorganisms) to spray against the smell and cleaned everything thoroughly.

Window in the renovation area with beautiful view of the driveway of Le Matou
Window in the renovation area with beautiful view of the driveway of Le Matou

This photo sums it up wonderfully: The view out of the window unquestionably compensates for everything that still needs to be done “around it”! In addition to and during all our duties, we enjoy the feeling of living here in the south very much, have the support of an intern and can slowly do more with the ponies again, because the pressure of horseflies, deer lice and botflies is finally easing. Amadeus in particular needs training, he has lost weight and I hope that he will soon adapt well here and look better again.

Pony Amadeus and dog Jupiter in front of the sunset at Le Matou
Pony Amadeus and dog Jupiter in front of the sunset at Le Matou

A real highlight was also “Vendange a l’ancienne”, an event in Roubichoux, two kilometres away. Julie and Jean-Luc, who live there, are such great neighbours, they introduced us to some people, took us “newcomers” and another newcomer from Belgium to their table and in the afternoon showed us around the privately restored church and an old little fort.

I’m freshly back in Germany and that means saying goodbye to everything I’ve grown fond of in France for a whole month. I’m visiting our son, family, friends and giving some seminars.

If you also want to enter the world of positive training, I can highly recommend the Chicken Camp module 1 from 07 to 11 October 2022. This way of dealing with animals not only changes the way we interact with our beloved four-legged friends, it also has a positive effect on all areas of life. Especially in these times, focusing on the good is very beneficial and helpful for everyone.

Or are you already part of this world and want to deepen your knowledge? The Chicken Camp module 3 will take place from 19 to 23 October 2022 and there are still a few places available.

Feel free to contact me if you have already done these modules and would like to repeat them, because in this case you will receive a special offer! Just send an email to: Of course I’m also available for questions if you’re still not sure whether the modules are right for you. Take the plunge, it’s worth it!

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.

Steigerwald appointments 2021 – exciting seminars

Steigerwald appointments from January to June 2021

The Steigerwald appointments for 2021 are fixed, can be booked in the shop and are available here as an overview in pdf format for viewing and saving! Our offer is suitable for all people who are interested in a well founded approach to clicker training. For a clear and fair communication with our fellow beings! The proven Chicken Seminars according to Bob Bailey, the Training Specialist for horses, the Seesaw Trainer and Medical Trainer are our training and continuing education offers, which give you a unique access to your animal. Of course there is also a beginners’ seminar Chicken Clicking, because not everyone can imagine what this initially very exotic-looking seminar format is all about. Here you can find a report about chicken training.

As an alternative to face-to-face training, many coaching sessions and lessons 2020 took place in the Online Academy. Except for the chickens, this is a wonderful opportunity to train from home despite distances or other adversities.

We are looking forward to 2021 and also especially to the open day on the first weekend in September when it is time to celebrate 11 years of Hof Steigerwald!

Steigerwald appointments from July to December 2021

Seesaw training international and other seminars

(Deutsch) Termine 2020 auf Hof Steigerwald[en:]dates 2020 at Hof Steigerwald

Now it’s already high summer and the planning of the 2021 dates is in full swing. There have been some important changes for the next seminars in 2020, the good news first:

Due to increased demand, I am holding an English-language seminar on horse seesaw training on October 3rd-4th at Hof Steigerwald. After my presentation “Benefits of seesaw training” at the annual conference of the ABMA in March had to be cancelled, this is a nice opportunity to bring this great topic closer to horse lovers outside the German speaking countries.

Horse seesaw and osteopathy with Antje Wirtz from Pferdereha Friesland will take place on October 24th. A one-day seminar for all those who want to learn more about the effects of bouncing training on the musculoskeletal system of our horses. Which seesaws are suitable for what? Which musculature is used in what? How to train it sensibly? are among other things questions that Antje and Nina will answer clearly.

Chicken module 1, the introduction to another dimension of clicker training, takes place from November 21st-25th. This seminar is open to all people who want to improve their training skills. The proven mixture of theory and practice provides deep insights into the laws of learning.

And now for the regrettable part: Our open house is cancelled. Even though it has always been great to spend the first weekend in September in a spirit of positive reinforcement, we will have to be patient until next year. Then it will be “11 years Hof Steigerwald”, which is also a good reason to celebrate in a very special way.

The Steigerwald.T Online Academy continues to grow and delights and teaches from the comfort of your home computer. The constantly growing offer ranges from “Ninas Basics” to “Delfis Weg” and individual topics such as “Training Plans” to “Training Specialist Horse” and the “Steigerwald.T Medical Trainer”. Check back from time to time, new contents are added regularly and we#re on the way to translate our webinar content into English.

Feuer und Flamme für Hühnertraining

Training atmosphere at the chicken seminar

Hühnertraining ist eine hervorragende Voraussetzung für die Kommunikation mit positiver Verstärkung. Hierbei spielt es keine Rolle, ob Ihr ein einzelnes Pony glücklich machen wollt oder einen ganzen Zoo.
Damit Ihr von den neuen Seminarformaten Steigerwald.T Wippentrainer und Medical Trainer optimal profitieren könnt, bieten wir Kombipakete an:
Hühnermodul 1 + Wippentrainer  für 999,-€ anstatt 1089,-€ und
Hühnermodul 1 + Medical Trainer 1. Praxiswochenende für 999,-€ anstatt 1089,-€.

Für viele ist es verständlicherweise immer noch nicht so klar, warum wir so gerne mit Hühnern trainieren. Zur Erklärung ist der Erfahrungbericht von Judith aus Münster sehr hilfreich:

„Hühner trainieren?! Na, du warst ja schon immer anders!“
Es hört sich zugegebenermaßen für die meisten Menschen zunächst kurios an. Viele, denen ich erzählt habe, dass ich „Hühner trainiere“ oder „Hühner clickere“, reagierten mit einem ratlosen „Aha….“
Ich erkläre es so:
Warum trainieren Fußballspieler? Um besser zu werden, um die körperliche Fitness zu optimieren. Der Spieler, der am schnellsten laufen kann, ist der erste am Ball. Und um die Reaktionszeit zu verbessern und die Technik, den Ball so weit und so gezielt wie möglich zu spielen. Der Spieler, der es am Besten kann hat die meisten Erfolge. Beim Üben eines Instruments, z.B. Klavier, ist es nicht anders: Ein Pianist ist nicht so erfolgreich und herausragend an „seinem“ Instrument, weil er so begabt ist: Er übte schon immer außerordentlich viel und sicherlich übt er immer noch täglich viele Stunden!
Nebenbei haben Fußballspieler und Pianisten gute Trainer bzw. Lehrmeister, die die Fähigkeiten ihrer Schüler mit Übungen gezielt verbessern!
Deshalb trainiere ich Hühner: Um besser zu werden als Trainerin!
Beobachtung und Timing sind wichtig, ebenso auch die Schnelligkeit. Und Hühner sind schnell, glaubt es mir! Training mit Pferden oder Hunden ist danach wie Training in Zeitlupe!
Es geht also nicht darum, eine „Hühnerdressur“ zur Auftritt-Reife zu bringen. Für das Hühnerleben außerhalb des Trainings ist es nicht wichtig, einen Kreis von einem Dreieck zu unterscheiden.
Mit dem Huhn „Formen unterscheiden“ zu trainieren ist für mich und meine Qualitäten als Trainerin jedoch eine wichtige Übung und verbessert meine Trainerfähigkeiten! Es gibt viele weitere Gründe, warum gerade Hühner hervorragende Trainingspartner sind. Neugierig? Ihr könnt es herausfinden!
Der Pianist übt und übt, um im entscheidenden Moment, im Konzertsaal vor Publikum, fehlerfrei zu spielen. Nur dann ist dem Publikum der „Hörgenuss“ garantiert und dem Pianisten der Applaus sicher.
Ich trainiere Hühner, um im entscheidenden, wichtigen Training, z.B. im Rückruftraining mit dem Hund oder dem Höflichkeitstraining mit dem Pferd keine Trainingsfehler zu verursachen. Je weniger Fehler, desto besser und schneller lernen Hund und Pferd!
Es gibt 5 Hühnermodule, die jeweils 5 Tage dauern. Das mag eine Idee geben, wie vielfältig und vielschichtig Training ist. Und welche Fähigkeiten auf Trainerseite so alle trainiert werden können.
Eine wirklich sehr sehr gute Trainerin sagte: „Ich trainiere nicht brillant, ich mache nur weniger Fehler als die anderen.“
Training ist keine Zauberei, sondern Handwerk! Und dieses Handwerk ist bei der großartigen Nina Steigerwald zu lernen und zu optimieren! In ihren Seminaren wird viel Wert auf das Wohlbefinden von Mensch und Tier gelegt. Und in so einer entspannten und komfortablen Atmosphäre, wie Nina sie zu schaffen vermag, sind persönliche Weiterentwicklung und Fortschritt garantiert! Ich werde auf Hof Steigerwald weiter üben, üben, üben!
Für ein „Reinschnuppern“ werden kurze Einsteigerseminare angeboten. Ich bin schon einen Schritt weiter und werde mich für das Hühnermodul 1 anmelden! Vielleicht treffen wir uns! Bis bald auf Hof Steigerwald!!!

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.

Spontaneous Beginners’ Seminar Clicking Chickens

There are some seminar places still available in our one-day Chicken Camp for beginners on Thursday, 11 October 2018.

This is a workshop for anyone who takes an interest in training with positive reinforcement and clicker training. You do not need to know anything about chickens in order to have a go at training with them ?

Chickens are perfect training partners: they are fast and direct in their responses and help us develop our skills. Chicken Camps are designed to improve the vital training skills in order to become a better trainer for whatever animal species you work with in your daily life. By solving various training tasks, the participants enhance their timing and observational skills. Trainer games and theory are an integral part of the workshop, because only if you know what you do, your animal can do what you want.


  • Definition and effects of positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment
  • The A: B-> C in operational conditioning
  • Manual training skills: How to effectively click and feed
  • Learn how to carry chickens stress-free
  • Timing: Why is it fundamental to the learning process to know exactly when to apply a primary and a secondary reinforcer?
  • Rate of reinforcement: Training task ‘orbiting an object’
  • Criteria: Training a target


10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Price: 120 Euros, VAT included

For lunch, please bring something for the buffet. We take care of drinks and snacks during the day.