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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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