It is our vision that sport horses can both, be healthy and achieve the best results in competitions – even in the long term – by keeping and training them in a horse-friendly way.
In the Netherlands and the countries around us, we have been breeding sensitive and particularly hypermobile horses for years: unprecedented looseness, especially in the foreleg and neck. As a result, the horses are also less stable and strong. Therefore, modern horses are more prone to injuries.
However, training methods which might include forceful training and even damaging methods like “Low-Deep-Round”, have not been adjusted: in fact, the current methods are actually counterproductive. In addition, most (sport) horses are still kept in individual stalls and are being fed three times a day, while by their nature they are herd animals and should live on steppes: continuously in motion, with the availability of food throughout the day and being able to have social contacts.
We live in a prosperous country and in modern, and rapidly changing times. We and many others believe that the time has come to take equestrian sports and the way we keep our horses to a new level. Fortunately, that development has already been set in motion, in the Netherlands and especially abroad. We gladly contribute our part to changing the world into a horse-friendly environment.
We breed and train ‘sustainable’ sport horses. While that sounds popular, our intentions are very sincere. We keep our horses in groups, and in paddocks with shelters and special ‘beds’ where they can comfortably lie on. In addition, they receive unlimited roughage through ‘slow feeders’. Our horses are therefore constantly in motion and mentally in balance, calm, happy and social. Moreover, when training our young horses, we already focus on getting them physically in balance.
Even our foals are already treated once or twice by a physiotherapist or osteopath. At that age they often already have some sort of crookedness, either by birth or just because of playing. If necessary, the foals are checked and treated more often, even in the following years and throughout the rest of their time with us. This way they physically and mentally get the best start into a successful career as sport horses.
In general, we gently start training our young horses from the ground at the age of three. The scope is to train their muscles and to get them vertically and horizontally in balance. We usually start riding them when they are five years old, only a few of our horses are being ridden a very limited number times at the age of three and/or four.
We do so, because horses are fully matured at the age of six or seven, and riding them too early often causes damage. On the other hand, it is beneficial to start riding them at age five, because it improves bone density. We therefore monitor the maturity level of each horse and start riding according to its developmental level.
We train in a horse-friendly way: The horses are trained in a long frame (not low, but nose down and out, in front of the perpendicular, and at the height of the hip). Therefore, they really can place their hind legs under their body. Actually, they have to, due to the leverage effect caused by the withers as fulcrum. Riding like this leeds an elongation of the top line, while it shortens the under line. Our method therefore creates the result you are really looking for, which is the opposite effect to riding ‘low, deep and round’.
By training in a longer frame and in balance, the body is not being compressed and no contorted movements are created; the horse does not have to compensate. This prevents injuries and therefore keeps the horse in good health in the longer run. Of course, exceptional events causing trauma can happen at any time, but at least we can be sure to not provoke any injuries through our training.