They travelled from far and wide, overcame various ordeals, long flight times and political obstacles in order to be there in 2014: the participants of the "Get the Spirit" International Workshop. For five whole days they stayed with Anja Beran and her team to undertake training in classical dressage. There were over 40 participants, many of whom had been there numerous times before. They came from Italy, Holland, England, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, the USA, Dubai, Russia, Ukraine and even from the Philippines. "In Ohio there are lots of horses but almost just as many terrible trainers" said one participant from the USA as a reason for her decision to travel so far. In the training of her horse, she wanted to find a different, more respectful method - i.e. the classical method.
The international workshop was conceptualised by Anja Beran to give experienced trainers and interested leisure riders the opportunity to gain training in the area of classical dressage, and also to be able to share and exchange classical dressage methods well beyond the limitations of national borders. The lack of good trainers who are able to teach classical riding - both theoretically and practically - as well as well trained "schoolmaster" horses is not only a problem in Germany. The demand for trainers for courses at their own yards is increasing around the world. Over the last few months alone, Anja Beran and her professional rider Vera Munderloh have given courses in Sweden, Dubai and the USA.
The concept of the workshop is to present the individual stages of the training of a horse all the way to the most advanced haute école movements. The respectful manner of handling and perceiving the horse as an individual with strengths and weaknesses in character as well as conformation is in the foreground - just as it is in the day-to-day work at Gut Rosenhof. Even in the first steps with young, inexperienced horses, it is the small details that often have the greatest impact and prevent difficulties in the later stages of training. It is crucial to train the horse according to its potential - physical as well as mental - as well as on the basis of feeling, good sense and experience. This contrasts with the stereotypical methods, often based on force, which are frequently applied in equestrian sport today.
"How can I explain to people in Holland that a head held high is not damaging to the horse?“ was one question from a workshop participant - which is symptomatic of the wrong direction that thinking has taken in equestrian sport around the world. "The horse's back should always be the main focus, the head is then a natural consequence" said Anja Beran.
Over the course of the workshop a number of topics were dealt with; firstly fundamental principles of training for young horses, work in hand, gymnasticising and keeping the horse healthy by riding lateral movements. Moreover, the workshop covered cantering work and to conclude haute école such as piaffe, passage and levade.
The practical implementation of theory was illustrated with different horses from the foundation and alongside this, on the subject of the correct seat, participants were able to feel for themselves the consequences the wrong saddle can have on communication between horse and rider. Physiotherapist, Veronika Brod, also gave individual tips and suggested corrections for the right body posture on the horse.
In a relaxed atmosphere, participants had the opportunity to ask questions about each individual horse in order to understand the details of the various processes. Or as Anja Beran put it: "Pay attention to the details and take your observations back home with you because it is the details that form the bigger picture".
Due to high levels of enthusiasm for the workshop, the next date was arranged straight away - it will take place from 20-25 July 2015.