How old are you?
I am 19 years old.
How tall are you?
I am 1.62 m which means that I am kinda close to dwarf size. Still taking advantage when the bus driver wants to sell me kids-tickets (it literally happens)!
How did you get so into medieval stuff?
I just think I was kind of born into it. My mother like medieval stuff as well so I was taken to medieval markets and other places with the ‘atmosphere’ of medieval and such. I remember myself buying a bowl and cup of clay as a little girl and demanding to eat from that at each meal instead of our usual plates and cups. I even decided to sleep with a deer hide instead of my duvet. I also went to a Waldorf kindergarten instead of a regular one where things work a little different and has more of the ‘adventure’ spirit and I am sure I has been affected by that. All in all I think it is the influence from my parents that made the big difference, but I also think I just was kinda born into liking it!
What is your favourite food?
I don’t really have any specific dish that a put above all, but some of my favourites are;
– Spinach pie
– A pizza with only carrots, beetroot and cheese (known as kindergarten pizza at my place)
Have you ever been to the states?
I haven’t been to the states – YET! I totally have to go there sometime and hopefully before long. I would love to experience the wild horses, walk through New York, go to Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Death Valley (and a 1000 other things)!
Where do you live?
I live in Denmark and I am located on Zealand.
Do you have a boyfriend?
Yes, I do have a boyfriend. We have been together for about 3 months.
What is your favourite breed of horse?
It is so hard to pick out one, but I must admit that a big part of my heart belongs to the iberian breeds – PRE and Lusitano. I am just melting every time I witness their pride, majestic attitude and beautiful movements!
Do you go to school? If so, what do you study?
I did go to High School, but I graduated this summer. I was studying biotechnology, mathematics and physics which I only did because I also thought I wanted to become a vet. I found out though that I didn’t want to either way, so the last 1,5 year of High School felt like kinda waste since I wasn’t so much into my studies…
What do you want to study next year?
I am not sure if I even want to study next year actually! It all depends on what I spend this year doing…
What do you do in your free time?
I spend a part of my free time working to earn some money since I have to horses to feed. Besides, now that I have finished High School I have gone into a bubble of studying by myself – horses of course! Therefore I am reading and researching a lot on training as well as education on horse treatment and training.
Where did you get your awesome dresses and cloaks?
The red cloak was made by myself and my mother. Afterwards I bought my brown cloak and linen dress in Visby during the Medieval Week on Gotland this summer. I love all of it to the bits and I literally wish that I could wear clothes like it more often! I need to attend some markets next year!
Where is your future headed?
Horses, horses, horses… I am not exactly sure about how horses are going to be a part of my future, but I am certain that they will be a part of it. I can’t even imagine myself working without horses taking a share in it. Maybe something with humans and horses together? Maybe some horse facilitated therapy? Or maybe just teaching and training horses full time? I believe time will show which way I should go!
Do you have any suggestions on books to read?
I have loads! At the current moment I am reading Carolyn Resnick and Linda Kohanov. They aren’t really training books or anything, but more like biographies.
How old are your horses?
Alvaro is 6 years old and Torrin is 3 years old.
How tall are your horses?
Alvaro is around 1.60-1.62m and Torrin is about 1.42-1.44m.
How long have you had them?
Alvaro came to me the 25. October 2013 which is almost 3 years ago by now. Torrin came to me the 25. September 2015 which means that he has almost been with me for a year now!
Are you sure they aren’t unicorns?
I am not sure AT ALL! I actually suspect them for sneaking around at night as unicorns and making trouble in town…
How do you motivate your horses?
Most of all I motivate them by trying to do things they like. When I see they are enjoying themselves in what we are doing, it is much more often that I find it rewarding as well! Doing things your horse likes is a great beginning when it comes to motivation. Secondly I use treats as motivation. You sure could do all the training without treats, but to me it works great as motivation and rewarding.
Do you have a trainer or are you more on your own?
I don’t have a regular trainer and besides 5-8 times I haven’t really got any instruction for the past 4-5 years. For some reason I am not really so much into instruction all the time, because a very much have my own idea of how I want things to be. Of course it is really nice to have another pair of eyes looking, but that is primarily to get some supervision on my own bodywork (most in riding). Otherwise I usually find myself solving the problem, researching a bit if I need knowledge or try different things out until I find a solution.
(Alvaro on his second clinic in his life. The picture was taken at June 2015, when we attended a clinic with Christofer Dahlgren. He hasn’t been on any clinics since because he afterwards had huge issues with the trailer)
Are you also riding dressage or do you make all by liberty?
I normally do practice academical riding and the academical ground/lunge work as well. I haven’t done much of it lately though as my focus has changed a bit after Alvaro became ‘sick’. I don’t ride dressage in the modern understand though – like what they do at competitions and so…
Who taught you all the things you know about horses?
No one specific actually. Most of what I do/know is something I have taught myself or figured out on my own while playing around. I have gotten knowledge from books, found some inspiration online from different places and used some of the things I saw, but in most cases I have been my own teacher (and the horses of course)!
When did you start doing horsemanship and liberty?
That is a long time ago. It already started when I for the first time saw a girl riding bareback – cantering around on her pony. I was so swallowed up and I knew I had to be able to do so one day. When I got a horse half-time I suddenly had the opportunity to do exactly what I wanted around her. I didn’t take lessons and therefore I could practice whatever I wished for. I believe that is when I started experimenting with liberty training and started throwing away equipment while riding. I believe that has been around the age of 10 or so…
What is your favourite thing to do with your horses?
This is a tough one… There are several things I love to do with my boys, but one of the things is our silent moments together. To stand side by side in total silence and enjoy the moment! On the other hand I really love to see them being happy, energetic and wild as well. The reason or context doesn’t really matter in this case. Whether it is in nature, in the arena or in the pasture – I don’t care.
Where did you get Alvaro? Did you buy him in Denmark or did you go to Spain?
Alvaro was born and bought by me back here in Denmark. His mother has been living in Spain as far as I am concerned, but Alvaro has never been outside the danish borders!
What is the coolest thing your horses can do?
Ugh that might be Torrin laying down on cue. Not because it is big or fancy at all, but because I have been dreaming about laying down with my horse ever since I was a little girl. Therefore it means a great deal to me!
When did you start riding?
I started riding around the age of 7 or 8.
(Dundee was the first horse I rode myself. I had some private lessons on him at the very beginning of my riding life and even though I was still a beginner, people always looked with huge eyes when I came full speed in gallop and did perfect slalom with him across the arena. Many asked my mother, while I was riding, for how many years I had been riding. She would usually answer “Actually she has just started”)
Do you ride classical dressage? And if you do – what does it look like?
I do ride from the academical principles (more or less), yes. Difficult to answer what it looks like over text… I will try to share some video when Alvaro gets fit for fight and we start riding again! Otherwise take a look back on my Instagram-profile. I believe there would be some pictures or videos from our riding?
How did you get to where you are today with horses?
Work, reading, experimenting and inspiration from others. I kinda just ended up where I am now. Not because I ever planned to, but because every single part of my heart and brain led me here without me even being aware of it!
Are you thinking about getting a new/extra horse?
I suppose you kinda always are when your whole life is horses and the thing you enjoy most in the world is to spend time with them. On the other hand (and I am not happy to admit it) I actually have a minimal sense of reason. Therefore I am aware that paying for 3 horses probably would be beyond my abilities at the moment. I do believe that I might would get myself one more horse if I had them living back home though!
How old were you when you rode for the first time?
Actually I don’t know the exact age, but I think I had my first ride (my parents was walking with the pony while I bumped around) around the age of 5 or so? I haven’t always been with horses so it was quite ‘late’ actually!
When did you quit your riding lessons?
That is not very easy for me to say because I never really had many riding lessons in the way most kids do… I think I rode like 5-10 times on a regular ‘riding school’ at the very beginning of my experiences with horses. It didn’t take long before I had a pony to look after a couple of times a week instead – I think riding schools are not really my thing. That would mean that I quit them like 3-4 months after I started them I believe?
How did you come to your horses? Where did you meet them first?
I have actually written 2 separate blog posts considering how I found both of my boys – I would recommend you to read them if you are interested in the stories! The real brief summary is that I fell in love with both of them from pictures I saw online – whoops….
Did you buy your horses or did you get it as a surprise?
I bought both of my horses, but with financial help from my parents since I didn’t have that kind of money myself. I was the one finding both of them though and afterwards showing them to my parents. So I was very aware that I would have them!
How do you teach the traver?
I start by teaching the horse to move his haunches in when I tap on the outside hip with the whip – while standing still. At the beginning one step at the time is just fine. Some horses get it within a few repetitions and others need more time to catch the point. So take the time needed! When the horse is confident with the task I ask for the haunches in while taking one step backwards (I am in front of the horse with my stomach pointing to the head of the horse). I keep the whip up to give the signal and ask for him to take a single step forward with haunches in.
When this is working fine you can ask for more steps at the time. At last you want to fix the head position. A cavesson is good to use here. You will kindly ask the horse to bend a little into the circle while walking (this should be taught before teaching the traver). And voila – a beautiful traver!
(Of course it is not as simple as that, but it is not an easy task to describe!)
How did you teach the weight shift and laying down?
Weight shift: This one I didn’t really teach. It was more like my horses taught themselves to do it from mirroring me! I simply placed myself beside the shoulder of the horse and leaned a little backwards. Within short they both leaned a little backwards as well – like REALLY tiny tiny weight shift! I immediately praised them and tried again and again. At some point they become more confident with the job and puts a little more weight backwards. I would say that both Alvaro and Torrin still are very much in the beginner phase!
Laying down: I simply exploited that Torrin is very fond of rolling in the arena. Every time he started showing signs of laying down, I sat down beside him and waited. As soon as he layed down I filled him with treats to make it clear that he was doing the right thing. After a lot of times he started understanding that when I sat down, he was supposed the lay down. When he was comfortable with that cue I started introducing a tap on the front leg instead of sitting down, because I found it more practical.
Why do you love horses?
Ugh, don’t even get me started. It is more like ‘why wouldn’t I love horses’! The reasons why I love horses can’t be counted, but here is some of the things I love…
- They are kind, big hearted animals who would go through water and fire for a human they love
- They make me the best version of myself by mirroring every detail of my behaviour and mood (on good and bad)
- They teach me about being patient, understanding and emphatic
- They teach me about relationships, friendships and compromises
- They introduce me to their world of living in the moment and stop worrying all the time (a thing that we as humans are very good at)
- They make me aware of my energies and help me use them in a constructive way
- They never judge you or anybody else, but simply meets everyone without prejudices
Have you always been around horses the way you are now or did you have to re-teach yourself to be so light and capable of liberty?
More or less I have always been around horses the way I am today, yes. Not completely of course because I have gained knowledge, experience and other views on training since I was a little girl, but I have always headed in this direction. I taught myself working with liberty years back, but still I feel like I am only in the very beginning of the process. There is still a long way to go for me!
I never found it a good way to punish the horses or be tough towards them. In that way I actually acted a lot different than many of my friends who rode because they were taught to act otherwise around the horses. I just took my distance to that kind of approach – probably because I felt in my gut that it wasn’t right?
How would you describe you relationship with your horses?
I don’t know even know if I am able to do that myself? It is always so hard to say something about yourself – or at least it is for me! I think I tend to overrule a lot of what I do because I know how I want it to be and constantly strive to go there. But if I for a moment should try to describe my relationship with my horses. Hm…
I would probably describe it as containing very much love and understanding as well as mutual respect.
What would be the best treats to use for a liberty training session?
I always use the Competition Wafers from Brogaarden since they aren’t very big and not full of sugar and other things. They are more like herb treats and my horses love them. Not to forget – they are pretty cheap!
How did you find out this teaching and riding method was the one working best for you and your boys?
Hm… I mostly followed my own gut feeling and of course looked at my horses – whether they were comfortable or not. Since I don’t really follow any specific way of teaching or riding much of what I do is just something that comes natural to me. Over the years the things that come to me has changed A LOT due to more knowledge, another perspective on horses and other dreams of mine. So it is not really like I found ‘the one thing working’, but more like something constantly evolving and transforming into something new and better.
Do you have a goal to reach with your boys?
I believe we all have some goals that we dream about reaching one day and so do I. I think I have many actually, but they are just a little abstract. I can’t really point out specific goals, but it is more like how I wish for our relationship to be. Most of all I dream of a relationship where none of us has to suppress any emotions or frustrations. I wish for my horses to be able to be creative when they are with me. That they dare to explore their own bodies and movements with me. That we can play together – not with a trainer/student relationship – but as dancing partners.
What might make on horse better at liberty work than another?
I don’t think there are some horses who works better for liberty than others (and I might be wrong – who knows). I think it is more about how the horse has been taught to behave that decides whether he is ‘good for liberty or not’ and not so much the horse himself. Many horses are taught not to express themselves, not to be creative, that saying ‘no’ is not allowed. Instead the are told to obey orders, behave as we find it pleasant and to always do what is asked of their trainer instead of being ‘stubborn or lazy’. I think much of the problem lays within the mindset I just described…
Often when the horse is raised to be submissive and pleasing all the time it ‘forgets’ how to act on it’s own. He gets so used to follow orders that he almost feels afraid when suddenly he has to take a little care of himself. When we play with the horse at liberty we let go of some of our control. We usually still ask for something, but we can’t just pull the rope or force the horse to follow if he walks away. When the rope is still on he doesn’t have to think so much or consider whether he actually want’s to follow you or not. He simply knows he has to and thereby he can put all responsibility off his shoulders, turn on auto-pilot and keep up the pace.
I think to do successful liberty work the horse has to feel himself – like really feel. Auto-pilot has to be shut off! He must have the courage to express himself. Say no if he doesn’t feel like being a part of what you are doing. Daring to be creative and show his full potential to you. He has to find pleasure in the task he is given – which means that he does it because he wants to and not because he has to!
Would you ever consider writing down or doing video tutorials?
Both yeas and no… Often I find it that being given the ‘recept’ to things isn’t a very good way of learning. I have experienced myself how I tend to expect things to go the exact same way as seen in the videos when I have tried following one myself – and trust me… It usually NEVER does! Instead of being a recept to a specific trick or something it more often become a recept to failure or frustration when things doesn’t work out. And it actually makes good sense when it doesn’t work out because it is not the same person nor the same horse performing. I would much rather invite people to experiment themselves and then you can always ask others for advice if you get stuck with the project!
On the other hand it can be a great help for people to watch/read how things can be taught in a good way. And it might even give the trainer a little more confidence in the task when him/her is going to introduce their horse to it!
If you could be a unicorn for 1 day – what would you do?
I would canter around all night long under the full moon and all the shiny little stars. And I would rear on the top of a hill so high that I anyone nearby would notice!
Do you keep your horses at home or do you visit them every day?
I wish with all of my heart to keep them home someday, but at the moment they are living elsewhere than me. We don’t have land to keep horses, but it is totally my plan to live on a farm when I grow older and have them at home!
Do you work-out besides riding?
Not really, no. I go for long walks with my dog, but due to shin splints I can’t run… I went to a gym once, but only a month after I started my motivation was like -10. I found it so boring. I would much rather work out by actually doing something productively or play around without the actual intention of training, but still working out that way.
Do you follow any training methods or trainers?
My greatest trainer in all of this is my heart and gut to be honest. That is what guides me through most of what I am doing! Training methods are not really my thing. I don’t like putting things into boxes and the idea that every one should be able to fit into the same way of training. Therefore I prefer to make up my own stuff and just ‘go with the flow’. I am more the kinda type who finds inspiration in many different places, mixes it all together and make it fit my horses and their different personalities.
Why a PRE and a Highland Pony? Did you see them, found them beautiful and that’s why you bought them – or because you like their breeds?
When I started looking for a horse almost 4 years ago I was not quite sure what breed I was looking for. I primarily thought about Quarter Horse and Haflinger at the beginning actually! At some point I got my eyes on the Iberian breeds and I feel completely in love, but I guess in most cases they were pretty much out of my league. One day I searched the internet and all of a sudden this picture of Alvaro showed up. I couldn’t help myself but fall in love at first sight. From that single moment I stopped looking for horses at all. I simply knew that he was the one… (You can read the whole story on an older blog post).
Torrin was a different story. I always wished for 2 horses, but I wasn’t looking for one at the time I saw Torrin on Facebook. I had never heard of the breed, but I just couldn’t get my eyes off him. So yeah – that was pretty much of a coincidence! (Torrin’s story is written in a separate, older blog post as well).
Do you always use a clicker?
No, not at all actually. Until a week ago I never even used a clicker during horse training! I just found to be more exact when I wanted to teach the weight shifts to the boys and now I actually find it quite nice to use sometimes.
What are your thoughts on rewarding your horse with food?
Well, I do it. I find it the be a really easy way of saying ‘thank you’ to my horses! I know many people talk about horses becoming dangerous/biting when they use treats, but I think it is a matter of the use. I am very consequent that I never ever give a treat if the pony tries to take it himself. Neither do I allow him to take it in any ‘violent’ way. I know it works for some people and others simply can’t manage it without getting stressed and getting a frustrated horse. It works for me though…
How do you deal with a horse who is stressed?
I start to pay attention to myself at first. Am I stressed or am I calm? Do I take deep breaths or am I even breathing. Are my muscles tensed or am I relaxing in all of my body? Usually that is a really good start! Thereafter I would figure out why the horse is stressed. Is it because of something the other horses are doing or because of the training I am putting him through?
If the horse is responding to ‘outside stimuli’ I must figure out if I am able to calm him down or will have to move away from whatever makes him stressed. If he is stressed because of the training, I would probably reconsider whether I am doing the right thing or if I should do something else or do things another way.
It is kind of a hard question to answer though when there is no specific case – it is a very wobbly question!
What made you start this way of training?
A wish of being able to be a friend of my horse instead of a trainer I think. It always amazed me to see people training in liberty, riding without equipment and having proud, confident and happy horses who seems to love what they do. I can’t say what exactly lead me this way when it comes to the crunch. It was more like life and my own wishes just guided me this way – and now I am here! You know… I am not even sure where I am going yet?
How did you start building your relationship with Alvaro and Torrin?
A great way to start a relationship is always to spend time together. Therefore I spend a lot of my time just hanging out with my horses in the pasture. I usually sit nearby when the eat – just being there. Or stand by their side when they sleep. You know just casually hanging out without expectations or purposes. I find this to be a very good way to start building a relationship!