In this edition of Riders & Rein Sensors we’re talking to Jenny Veenstra. Jenny is a Grand Prix rider. Her favorite breed is the Friesian horse, but she also trains warmblood horses. With her Friesian stallion Wolter she competes at GP level and gives lots of shows and clinics in Belgium and the Netherlands. She also teaches on a regular basis in South Africa, Australia and the USA.
In Lichtaart (Belgium) Jenny has her own dressage training stable. She trains horses and riders up to GP level and her goal is to achieve that in the most honest and friendliest way possible. Therefore she is always looking for ways to develop herself and she is very open to new methods and innovations. Jenny trains with Tineke Bartels and Imke Schellekens-Bartels at the Academy Bartels, Johan Rockx and previously Alex van Silfhout.
Equal contact on a snaffle
Jenny says: “My own experience with the Rein Sensors as a rider started at Academy Bartels quite a few years ago. Menke Steenbergen had us ride with the Rein Sensors. I decided I wanted to make a comparison, so I rode my two horses, a Sandro Hit gelding (owned by Ingrid Evers) at Prix St. Georges level and my Friesian stallion at Grand Prix level, both with a snaffle as well as a double bridle. When I realised I could get a better, more even contact with a snaffle, I decided not to train with a double bridle anymore and have competed at Prix St. Georges and Grand Prix level with only a snaffle ever since. This is allowed in Holland, and I hope the FEI will make this possible internationally too!”
“Research from Hillary Clayton showed that a double bridle is never completely in the center of the horse’s mouth, which might be the reason why my horses were more even and in better connection on just a snaffle. Until that day I presumed riding in the double bridle was better because my horses were less strong in a double bridle. In the snaffle they would sometimes get a little strong, but the Rein Sensors made me realise I needed to be more clear in my half halt. This solved that problem and they are now lighter in the snaffle then they were in the double bridle. That’s what I love about the Rein Sensors, you get a better understanding of how to train the horse to become lighter on the aids.”
Making riders aware
Jenny trains not only horses, but riders as well.. Jenny: “I use the sensors in the training of my students and it has proven incredibly helpful. It definitely helps to get horses to be more straight and to respond better. For me, the best part of it is that it makes my riders much more aware of how they can train horses to respond better to their aids, with a light but steady connection. It also helps them to adjust their feeling to reality, because often what they think is even pressure in both hands, actually is not. Usually their hand of preference (right/left handed) is stronger, so what FEELS like an equal effort with both hands, actually makes them get more weight in their strongest hand. This is because they don’t notice weight difference, but they instead try to make the same effort with both hands. And if one hand is stronger, they will then get more weight on that rein.”
Driving on a snaffle
“My partner Marc van Vlasselaer and me also teach driving, from one-in-hand to four-in-hand. It was interesting for us to use the Rein Sensors in that as well, and with some amazing results. The current Belgian Champion Sven Tinlot e.g. made incredible progress in one year, making his Haflinger pony Kitty obey so much better to half halts he could drive her on only a snaffle. He became Belgian Champion and won an international competition last year.”
It’s all about awareness
“It is my experience that people do not need to ride with the sensors all the time. It is all about awareness, and when they develop the feeling because of the constant feedback they get during the lesson, it is possible for them to go back to that feeling when they just concentrate on it at a later moment. If I check them at a later time, they have always improved a lot, had horses that responded better to their aids and most of the time, were much lighter in their connection and more in self-carriage.
Jenny Veenstra is a Grand Prix rider and trainer giving clinics all over the world. Her website is www.dressuurstal-jenny-veenstra.com.
Have you ever ridden with Rein Sensors? What insight did they give you? Do you want to share your story with us? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org