For this edition of Riders & Rein Sensors we had a talk with Grand Prix rider and instructor Laurien van der Meer. Laurien runs her sport and training stable “Het Podium” in Starnmeer with a strong focus on performance but also on the welfare of the horses. With her team she trains riders and horses up to GP level. Her ambition with her horse Het Podium Wesley is to increase their performance in the Grand Prix even further and possibly to compete at some international competitions this year. To inspire and educate her students she organizes clinics on a regular basis. After she saw some clinics on Facebook about the Rein Sensors, she contacted Menke if she would give a clinic at her sport stable.
Laurien herself also took part in the Rein Sensors clinic she organized with Menke at her stable. Laurien tells: “With my GP horse Het Podium Wesley the biggest challenge is to get a correct contact on the bit. He can get a little bit short in the neck and sometimes he opens his mouth. At the same time he’s very light on the reins. Maybe too light? However, the light contact has consequences; my horse is very forward and it’s hard to control that forward motion. Also, it’s difficult to keep my horse over his back, really using his topline. This creates an image that my horse has a lot of tension. But in reality he is not that tense. I really wanted to improve that because at competitions the judges also (understandably) conclude that my horse is too tense.”
Measuring is knowing!
“In the clinic with Menke the Rein Sensors showed that I had a very light and constant contact on both reins and when I collected my horse, the contact was even lighter. In a forward motion I had a little bit more pressure on the reins. But with an average of 0.5 kg on the reins the contact was very light. This confirmed my thoughts. The Rein Sensors made clear that the problem of getting too short in his neck and opening his mouth is not caused by riding with too much pressure on the bit. So to solve this problem I had to find another way; by getting just a little bit more pressure on the reins to create a more constant contact. This we achieve by riding with more impulsion from the hind leg and keeping a constant contact on the reins until my horse accepts the contact. My horse is very forward by nature, so it’s a big challenge to ride a forward horse more forward to improve the contact on the bit and the length in the neck. With my trainer Patrick van der Meer we’ve already made a lot of progress solving this problem.”
“For me the clinic with the Rein Sensors made clear that I wasn’t riding with a lot of pressure. At some point I started to doubt myself about that; I can think that my contact is very light, but maybe another rider thinks it’s way too much. If you measure you know!”
That horse isn’t lame! Or is he?
“The clinic with the Rein Sensors also was an eye-opener for my students. It gave them insight in the way they communicated with their horse. From some of my students I know that they don’t have a equal or constant contact. This causes problems like horses not moving straight, loss of impulse, loss of contact and communication problems with their horse. The Rein Sensors gave my students insight on different aspects, like how a normal contact feels, how to communicate with their horse with the half halt or how to release the pressure at the right moment. At one moment Menke concluded that one of the horses was lame. At first I thought she was wrong, as well as my student. When we looked at the horse, the horse wasn’t lame. We could not see anything. But Menke told us: the computer doesn’t lie. A few weeks after the clinic the horse was visibly lame. The Rein Sensors detected it in a very early stage!”
It’s all in the basics
“My vision on how to train a horse properly is that you always start with the correct basics. The right way to develop a horse is to ride it from the hind legs, over his back, to the hand of the rider while the horse is accepting the bit. That’s the biggest challenge! When the basics are correct, the exercises aren’t that hard anymore. The Rein Sensors give riders insight in how much pressure they should have and if the pressure is equal. It can measure if what you say or think you do, is what you actually do. At sport stable “Het Podium” we take this very seriously! We want to train our horses and our students properly. In general we would love to see more focus on the correct basics.”
“We’ve had a lot of students that didn’t have the correct basics and it demands a lot of creativity to restore them. To create good basics on a horse takes time, but when you miss important steps to get there quick, it only takes longer. Riders should not be afraid to use Rein Sensors. Only if you have enough self-reflection you can develop yourself. The Rein Sensors help you reflect on how you communicate with your horse. It can be very confronting, and the truth hurts sometimes. But you have to go through that and work on it! Your horse will be thankful.”
Laurien van der Meer
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