The All about Wetzlgut Event -first insight

The All about Wetzlgut event was such a unique experience for me and I still cannot believe how many of you came and how much fun we had. This video by Dressage Team KK is a first insight for all who could not be there as well as again a huge Thank You to all of my family, team, sponsors and supporters who came from far abroad to be there in person. And just once again a very special Thank You to my trainer and the two wonderful tutors.

Hope you will love the video as much as I do -thank you Antonia & Lena ❤️

Get to know my favourite brands & sponsors part 6: Winderen Equestrian

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In this 6th part of presenting my favourite brands and sponsors it is all about a very new and exciting company I got to know last autumn: Winderen Equestrian produces very innovative and technical saddle pads and as I am always looking for ways to improve the well-being of my horses I was happy  to test the pads over a few months. I felt that especially the young horses did not tire as fast in the back. I then had the horses examined by my vet and physiotherapist who too came to the same conclusion. The pad definitely had improved the horses during training and helped avoiding to much stress in that sensitive area of the back.

I thought it would be exciting to read a bit about the history and even more so about the future plans of Winderen Equestrian.

 

How did you come to build up a company for equestrian equipment, and why (what drives you)?
We are a group of people who combine their work with passion. We are coming from fields of technology, design and industrial manufacturing but privately we are horse riders. Riding has always been our greatest passion and a way of life.
Winderen brand was created from linking professional experience with real needs of horses and riders that we experienced. By observing the world around us, we noticed that there is a room for innovative products that can make horses and riders life easier, more comfortable and – most of all – safer.

Our driving force is satisfaction of the people who notice (usually quite fast) the difference in their riding comfort and horse behavior while using Winderen’s products. And for us it’s just amazing to witness it working and bringing joy!

 

What is the company’s philosophy?

In Winderen we decided to focus on creating products that have real and noticeable impact on the riding issues we are aware of. Each and every one of our products helps riders, horses or both in the same time.

Moreover, our brand aims to bring new technologies into the equestrian world and by that helps to increase the comfort of riding in a new way. We also care about design!

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What materials & technology do you use and how do you test it? What is your policy concerning environment and recyclable materials?

Our production process starts from identifying the need – once we know what kind of issue we want to solve we start to build prototype and search for material that we can use.

Finding the right components is the first step. We test solutions that are already on the market and consult our partners from different fields, e.g. chemistry or physics. Sometimes we find out that there is no known component that we can use and in that case we move on to creating unique material only for our usage. We collaborate with global manufacturers and we make sure all of the materials are safe for horses and riders.

Once the materials are in place we’re moving to phase two: prototyping. First prototypes are always tested on our own horses – we know them best and we can easily observe the impact of the product on them. Prototyping phase is the most important and also most time-consuming. It means constant iteration: making materials better, shaping product differently, testing, applying corrections. In that phase the product changes constantly both visually and functionally.
Later on, we’re expanding our trail groups with Winderen‘s Ambassadors and Consultants – it’s a group of people we trust when it comes to honest feedback on the product. All of these people work with horses on daily basis (as professional riders, vets, trainers, physiotherapists) and they just know how to “hear what horses have to say”.
Throughout entire process we have just one thing on our minds – the product has to work. It has to solve issues we are addressing and serve horses and riders. In reality in means months of work and endless trails. But it’s all worth it!

In the moment when we are sure the product has all the functions needed we’re moving to phase three: design. Here we’re focusing on visual side of the product. We’re selecting shapes, colours and adding finish touches, also creating packages and accessories.

Although we are using components from around the world, we decided to focus our manufacturing locally – in Poland. We wanted to make sure that we have an impact on factories and vendors we collaborate with, making sure it’s all done sustainably and with the respect to environment. We know each and every single one of our producers personally. We see them face to face and they understand the philosophy behind Winderen.

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What are your plans & goals for the future? Are there new products/lines/etc planned?

In the nearest future we’re launching three new products: stirrups, bits and tack lockers. Every single one of these product bring new quality to the market.

First, Winderen‘s stirrups are designed to have double absorbers system – something eventers and jumpers can truly appreciate as the main purpose of the stirrups is to reduce the excessive forces on riders legs and joints. Next, our synthetic, resilient to the bites bits with interchangeable shank were created to suit even the most sensitive horses. And last but not least, Winderen‘s electric drive tack lockers with it’s own power supply, electric dryer, freezes, music player, phone charging slots, electric saddle pads dryer and many things that every rider can make a use of during competitions.

Once all of these three product are on the market we’ll be back to working on more prototypes. And we can assure you – our heads are full of new ideas!

IMG_1107IMG_1062IMG_1076IMG_1070IMG_1036IMG_1024NB_hr-162 (C) Manuel Marktl

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All about ‘All about Wetzlgut’

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One week ago on January 20, 2018 the ‘All about Wetzlgut’ event took place. What at first started out as a small idea grew into a proper event. As it was the first time ever I opened my stable doors to the public I wanted to offer a full insight to everything that is important to me.

So I made a list, that started with young horse training and ended with gummy bears…

At 12am guests started to arrive and Bad Gastein showed its most beautiful postcard-winter wonderland-sunny weather-face. Just perfect for welcoming everyone in front of the stables with a cup of hot glogg and a photo wall to take first pics.

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Gastein at its best

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welcome to Wetzlgut!

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Glogg, sun & snow

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I am still overwhelmed everyone came -most traveling really far (Norway, Sweden, Italy etc). Also almost all my sponsors came and we finally had the chance to meet in person and chat.

We started the afternoon’s programme with a tour through the stable, so everyone could meet all the horses. When planning the event’s schedule I had wondered how the horses would react to such a crowd of people in their usually very quiet home and I learned that they had the time of their life.

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Introduction

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meet Keksi

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…so many people!

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meet Nessie

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meet Santi

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Next was showing some of the horses in training together with my trainer Jochen Rothleitner. Since we started organising ‘All about Wetzlgut’ I was thinking how I should do it and what I wanted to show and communicate. We discussed it a lot and finally decided on not doing the usual ‘display’, like on stallion shows or auctions but to try to make it an interactive dialogue with the audience. I wanted people to ask as many questions as possible and me on horse back and my trainer would answer.

This turned out to be (I believe not only for me) really interesting and good fun. We were discussing topics from how to lunge correctly and what we focus on doing so, how to adjust the side reins and why, etc. How to develop first piaffe steps and why it is a good exercise to not only enhance the horse’s health but also the communication between horse and rider. To how to sit smoothly and correctly on a horse, with me ending up explaining & showing whilst trotting Harry one-handed in front of the stands… lol.

Most amazing for me was to see how my young horses, like Harry or Santi for example, managed the whole situation. It was not only the stands, displays, buffet and many people but also the sound system, lighting  and the whole atmosphere which they had to cope with and they handled it like true future champions.

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the stalls

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seating with goodie bags

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everyone is seated

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explaining while riding *lol

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how to sit

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piaffe in hand

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After this ‘practical’ part we had two lectures. Nina Hammarstrom, equine nutritionist with whom I am working since May 2017 talked about aspects in nutrition especially for sport horses. Vet Antonia Zanker, Pferdeklinik Wolfesing -my trusted vet clinic, spoke about tendon injuries and how to deal with and heal them. Although we had installed some heaters on the stalls and provided blankets and hot drinks -it was rather cold, but no one could be shied away from following the lectures with keen interest. Again it was not designed as one way communication but an open discussion and if it had not been for the dinner to be served I guess we would have never stopped talking! Once again a display of what a tough bunch of people we equestrians are (as long as we can talk about our favourite topic…)

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Nina Hammarstrom

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Antonia Zanker

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After the lectures during dinner my sponsors Back on Track and Acuswedemat had prepared surprise lotteries, so two lucky guests had the chance to win a set of my favourite Back on Track PK Scandic bandage wraps (underlayers) and a new Acuswedemat that I indeed use almost daily to relax my back muscles. -Special thanks to both companies for that!

But also all my other sponsors and cooperating brands provided displays of their newest and signature products and a separate blog story on all the exciting new tack will follow!

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During dinner I finally had the time to sit (at least briefly) with everyone and have a little chat and for me it felt as if we all had known eachother for ages. The truth is, that thanks to all the social media we indeed do know eachother -even nicer it was to meet in person!

So what’s left to say is: THANK YOU everyone for traveling all the way to the mountains and for making my first event such a wonderful lovely experience I decided we will for sure do another ‘All about Wetzlgut’ event in the nearer future…

xxx Nicola

 

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all pics by awesome Marktl Photography, Manuel Marktl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just for you: Stall Wetzlgut homestory part 1

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As my Instagram has reached incredible 99.7k followers yesterday I really wanted to give you something very personal. For the first time in German, but don’t worry I think you will be able to follow, and we are already planning an English version too 😉

The idea & all the filming, music & creative work was done by Antonia Koch & Lena Kaindlstorfer aka Dressage Team KK.  Their YouTube channel is called Dressage Team KK and I will link them also on Instagram so you can follow them and their amazing videos ❤️

Und hier ist Teil 1 meiner Homestory -als eines meiner großen ‘Dankeschöns’ für all Eure Unterstützung, Interesse und lieben Kommentare und dafür dass Ihr meine Liebe zu den Pferden und dem Sport täglich mit mir teilt!

xoxo Eure Nicola

Young horse training part 3: getting on

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It has been quite a time since part 2, so we really have to catch up now, because if you are following my Instagram you for sure have already seen what a model pupil Nessie has become.

Last time I told you how we started the communication while lunging, how I start doing small transitions with the young horses and mainly already implement all basics that would be needed when riding.

Since Nessie loves to work and is such a clever boy, he improved rapidly so I felt save to start getting on. Since he had a break since spring and also behaved rather green we started once again from the very beginning.

This means after I lunged him, Anita held him and I started getting on, first just leaning on the saddle and when he seemed to be ok with it slowly getting into the saddle. Still standing, still being held. What I like to do is while in saddle cuddling and talking to him, also Anita was feeding him a little treat to avoid any tensions and make this the most wonderful experience.

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After he was fine with me in the saddle we proceeded with walking in hand. Again with lots of appreciation and talking. What I also like while doing these first exercises with young horses is music and various other distractions -no I am not talking about heavy construction works or other bucking horses in the arena 😉 but I find it easier if the environment is not absolutely sterile but as ‘normal’ as possible. In our case this means music, the clicking of the camera, noises from the grooming place, the tractor, etc.

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While walking in hand I try to build a little connection to the bit and also see how the horse reacts to my legs, to slightly adjusting the weight etc and I ask to widen the distance between the person leading and the horse so that in our next step we will be on the lunge. And if this feels right I prefer trotting to walking, so the young horse can move forward and needs to concentrate on moving rather than on its environment.

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Even on our first cautious rounds Nessie gave a wonderful feeling. For his young age he already is quite balanced and has this natural ‘go’. Although I also had a super nice connection to the bit I preferred to have him on the lunge for a couple of times, as our arena is quite big and I really wanted to avoid any misunderstandings or miscommunication steering wise. As I said before, for me it is all about building trust and therefor I gladly accept progressing a bit slower than perhaps usual. In my opinion (and experience) the time and patience spent in these first training units is easily saved later once you trust and know each other.

So after a few times on the lunge we finally removed it and did our first rounds ‘free’. It was a very proud moment, as proud as you probably are when doing your first three or more one-tempi changes…and I can tell you Nessie was proud too (at least he behaved like he was) and very tired… although it was just a training unit of 30 minutes and the actual ‘riding’ time was for sure less than 10 minutes it takes all his mental strength and concentration. I am always overwhelmed of how hard our horses try to please us and what a privilege it is to train these amazing creatures. So I always try to ‘listen’ hard and feel in order not to exhaust the young horse, because as I said before if you end your unit right both of you will look forward to the next one.

And if we are talking about ending a training unit: I always try to do one correct transition to walk and see that the horse proceeds in medium to extended walk with longer reins and again lots of vocal appreciation (yes indeed you can shout ‘good boy, super boy, such a gorgeous boy’ (or girl) I swear they will understand 😉 …) and cuddling, then I will do a correct halt and see that the horse really stands still for a bit, again high praise and only then I will get off.

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Ride Against Cancer

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It’s pink October and you know how much I love pink, but besides all fun there is a very serious cause to it.

Ride Against Cancer is a cause that is very close to my heart, as I had cancer myself when I was 15. Throughout my whole chemo and radiation therapy I was riding or on worse days at least spending a bit of time with my horse (although the doctors did not love the idea) and still I believe that one of the reasons I totally recovered was because of the horses.

When I read Mika Thalén’s quite similar story I knew that I wanted to join or at least do a little something.

Read all about Mika’s Ride Against Cancer and please make sure to follow the cause on Instagram or even support it in any way you can!

Love, Nicola

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Get to know my sponsors and favourite brands part 5: Back on Track

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In this 5th part about my sponsors and favourite brands I am proudly presenting Back on Track. A brand I was introduced to ten years ago when Dondolo’s former owner gave a set of underlayers for stable bandages to me and told me that these were the best for recovery after intense training… Since then I loved and used Back on Track products on all my horses. When Back on Track asked me last winter if I would like to join the bot-family you can imagine how happy I was! What I did not know until then was how incredibly wide the range of products is and how many new developments & innovations there are.

Who founded Back on Track (who stands behind the brand) and why (what drives you)?

The brand Back on Track was founded by the Swedish scientist, Dr Erland Beselin, who developed Welltex® fabric which has minute ceramic particles infused into it. The ceramic gives the fabric its unique property as it reflects infra-red energy when heated by your own body. This Welltex® fabric has been used to create a range of Back on Track products.

Erland – whose background is in 35 years of medical research – discovered the benefits of longwave infrared energy in China, over two decades ago.

“We were given a gift of a pair of infrared knee wraps that had a very primitive design,” he reveals. “The wraps were tried by a member of our group who had a prosthetic knee following an ice-hockey accident as a teenager”.

“He had suffered from discomfort for many years, but said the knee wrap gave him relief after a few days. When he stopped using the wrap, the discomfort came back – the relief returned when he started using it again. “This result caught my interest and I decided to investigate further.” After a clinical trial together with veterinarians we decided to believe in what we heard people saying about our Welltex® fabric.

What is the company’s philosophy?

Prepare, perform, recover. With addressing these three we think we can make the difference in many horses, dogs and humans life. To set the mind towards a vision is the first step towards making it happen. Please join us by creating your own vision and start to take care and prepare better, perform in the same excellence as your own thoughts and if things go wrong we are there to help you to recover. Use our products to come prepared for your feat’s, performing at a new level, and to recover swiftly. To have products like we have enriches life. Just think of it, to be part of a journey that moves somebodies life a step further towards having a rewarding and enjoyable life. We have brands that create team spirit and involves the employees, co-workers as well as suppliers and customers.

What materials & technology do you use and how do you test it? What is your policy concerning environment and recyclable materials? 

Materials are always a concern. It is a difficult balance between for example durability and easily recyclable. The choice of material is connected with working environment for our supplier, their families and their children. It is a steep learning curve and lots of traps to fall into. You need to learn, listen and ask questions and not count on that people will tell you if you have made a wrong choice. For example we learned that a nice and clear plastic package often contains the heavy metal cadmium, and that removing it makes the packages dull and not so interesting for the customer. Also our customers need to learn much more to understand that their buying pattern makes the difference.

We have tested our Welltex® the same way as toys are tested to secure that children can chew on them and that there are no heavy metals.

It is good when a product is recyclable but please also note that some countries forbid the filling inside the product to be made of recycled material. In Canada you need a tag stating that it is free from recycled material.

Trading products makes people talk about risk for environment and how to protect nature. I also believe that trading is one of the best ways to create peace between countries since we work for the same goal and you get to think about other people’s concerns and culture.

What are your plans & goals for the future? Are there new products planned?

Our supplier says that we never make the same product twice. We have an obsession to improve and make better. It is an art and it is joy. The end of the journey is perfection. We are crazy about developing new fabrics and brainstorm for new details. We like to look into products used for completely other purposes and to bring inventions from a total different product to add value to our fields of interest. The answer is yes, we plan new products every day and select a new one every week. We love to be curious and push any lead or development that eventually has the potential to improve quality of life. Please join us on this journey.

http://backontrack.com

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Get to know my sponsors & favourite brands part 2: Accuhorsemat

IMG_4995The second part of this series is about a company I am very happy to have found and now to be able to collaborate with as I use their product as daily routine on my horses as myself and meanwhile even take it with me where ever we travel. It is the acupressure blanket for horses by Accuhorsemat and the same product as mat for humans called Acuswedemat. This is what the company’s founder Max Hoffmann told me about his brand and product:

 

Who founded Accuhorsemat/Acuswedemat (who stands behind the brand) and why (what drives you)?
Accuhorsemat started in 2011 in Sweden by Max Hoffmann with the ambition to find an all natural equine therapy product based on pure acupressure. No batteries or electricity was in our plans. Together with well known equitherapists and riders within various disciplines we developed the Accuhorsemat. Before we got the Accuhorsemat out on the market we tested different solutions, weights etc in a clinic outside Stockholm for almost a year so we would get the exact right effect on the horses as we wanted.

What is the company’s philosophy?
We are a small company but our ambition is to grow and corresponding to our vision ´make every horse in the world to feel better´.
The most debated topic of today is the horses well-being and we will continue with our development and researches to meet that demand. The same goes for all horse riders out there. Through our new acupressure mat for riders – the Acuswedemat– we will work also for the riders well being. Accuhorsemat works from an evidence-based standpoint and we have co-operated with equitherapists, veterinarians and chiropractors when developing the products. We have done Infrared Imaging studies in cooperation with veterinarians and chiropractors in the U.S. The Accuhorsemat and the Acuswedemat is recommended by vets in a rehabilitation purpose f.e.

What materials & technology do you use and how do you test it? What is your policy concerning environment and recyclable materials?
The mats are made of neoprene and the acupressure roses are made of plastic. Both materials holds the EU standard for environmental friendly/recyclable materials.
We constantly try to find ways to improve our products and we work very tight with both riders and our factories.

What are your plans & goals for the future? Are there new products planned?
We have some exciting cooperations going on that will soon be announced that goes according to our plans. We have some new products that will be out on the market by the end of this year we hope.
The future looks good and we are very happy to be able to work with something that we believe in and love.
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Young horse training part 2: next steps

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Now Nessie has been to the farrier and the vet checked his teeth which was quite funny, because while just rinsing his mouth before having a look inside, one babytooth (or what was left of it) fell right into our hands. He got his own brand new PS of Sweden bridle which fits him perfectly, so we were ready to start the training.

When I start lunging youngsters I usually use either a caveson where I can attach a bit or the bridle and caveson in order to connect the side reins to the bit but the lunge to the caveson so the young horse does not get too much unnecessary pressure on the bit. Also I use a lunging girth in the beginning and after a few times change to saddle.

As I said in part 1, it is all about baby steps, about building up trust and getting to know each other.

Depending on the horse and how it reacts to our big indoors (and as I do not have a separate smaller place for lunging)  I use in some cases some poles or cavaletti to fence off a part, sometimes it is enough to have just one person standing there, functioning as natural kind of barrier. In some cases I also have to close the curtains which I have to cover the mirrors. (If I have the horses running loose indoors the mirrors are always covered in order to avoid that someone tries to jump through or to play with his ‘friend’ =image.) Also I close the entrance door which I usually love to be open as I extra seek for distractions for the horses, like people (and dogs) walking in and out, etc. but as long as I do not know the horse and its reaction and the horse does not know me and the place I prefer to make it as easy as possible (#babysteps).

Nessie behaved like a pro from minute one -neither the big space nor the mirrors have been worth more than one look. And as he has been broken in spring he also knew all the lunging tack, from side reins to girth.

I try to keep our first lunging sessions in a frame of about 20 minutes because I want to finish every training unit with a happy, in no case exhausted horse -physically and mentally. So that the horses indeed are looking forward to their next training. And believe me, if you yourself are really concentrating very hard  for 20 minutes, it is a long period of time.

I love lunging as a first step, because both -horse and rider -can learn so much about eachother. The horse can get used to the rider’s voice as well as to the aids which will make the first rides together so much easier.

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In Nessie’s case I seemed to be blessed with a horse that loves to work and tries to please even on the lunge. So quite quickly we could work in all three gaits and do transitions, like walk-trot-walk and vice versa, trot-canter and even walk to halt and walk again. These seem to be very easy exercises, but the truth is, that it needs a lot of concentration and discipline from a young horse.

Speaking of young horse training we also have to talk about being flexible: There is a classical scheme as well as correct equipment which should be executed, but as we are dealing with individuals and personalities, we also have to seek for the best solution in order to achieve a harmonious and trust-building schooling. Sometimes you have to adjust your training scheme or your equipment. In Nessie’s case I had to switch from having the lunge adjusted to the caveson (which would be correct and which is my usual practice) to having him on the bit, because after our first two units I learned that he just would not react to the caveson but pull as if I was not there at all. When I connected the lunge to the bit I suddenly needed not more than two fingers to communicate! BUT and this is a big but: this is just a path leading towards and back to the correct way of lunging. Meaning, that after a few sessions with the ‘bit-solution’, when we know each other and there is no need for pulling anymore we go back to lunging on caveson. I wanted to tell you anyway, as it is just one example showing that the utmost importance is a good and working communication, to build up trust in order to have fun on the way to become a young dressage horse.

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