Here's the STory of ST Mastery student Heleen van Tongeren-Bouman, were she tells about the touching journey she made with her horse Vlex:
"How humble can one be facing so much greatness?
In the 9 years that my horse Vlex lives with me, I have been over the moon with him.
I have done many clinic's and lessons with well known instructors with him and he always performed well.
However...... I always felt he didn't use his back properly and he has always been very flexible in his body, like a snake.
I felt like a very untalented rider as I didn't achieve the light feeling I dreamed off, couldn't control his flexible body and I was disappointed in all the force and gear I had to use. Despite of all the books I have read, all the clinic's and lessons, it didn't feel good.
Suddenly in May 2015 Vlex went lame and is diagnosed with side bones in his left front foot. He was 13 years old and the vet told me to forget about working him, he would become a nice company horse. I was flabbergasted as my older horses Soizic and Saturnin were 31 years old and I was never confronted with injuries. My farrier however, told me to give Vlex a lot of training in walk, twice a day for 15 minutes and keep him moving. I could relate to the farrier: having some osteoarthritis myself I know that moving is the best way to keep fit and supple. I wanted to concentrate completely on work from the ground to avoid my extra weight on him, and in November 2015 I changed from the ST home study course to ST Mastery: dreaming of working in lightness and balance with my horse.
After all these years, only now I really start to understand about centre of gravity, balance, bend, stelling, asymmetry, crookedness, leaning on the shoulder, stepping under, centrifugal and shear forces, forward down... and so on. Only now my horsy knowledge starts to make sense and sinks inn and I can see myself grow.
A few days ago I rode my horse after 15 months. I rode without a saddle which I am not very comfortable with (yet). But... for the very first time he carried me with his back up, like a bridge and he offered me a very natural LFS and trotted forward with a very active hind-leg: THIS made me so proud! I immediately felt this was right, I didn't do much, just asked the trot with my voice, little half halts on the cavesson, no pulling, no bouncing on his back: I sat like a queen! And...he was not irregular in his movements, not lame!
Because of the logical order of the exercises in the ST Mastery, the videos (very important for a visually oriented person) and the pdf's, I found all the tools to start being my "own" trainer in my own tempo and I can live my own dream: work with horses in balance and lightness.
I am humble because after all these years of well-intentioned advises, not relying on myself, not making the best choices, using gear that restricted Vlex's movement (fake it till you make it) all those different bits in his mouth (I feel só sorry) signals I didn't hear. After all these years my horse is still very willing and always motivated to work with me, a joy to travel with, athletic, sweet, soft in his mouth, sensible, humorous and very forgiving.
How humble can one be, facing all this greatness?
I sincerely have apologised to my horses about all the bad choices I made, and promised them to keep developing myself in ST to become the best possible trainer!
P.s. I don't have to tell you how deliriously happy I am with the Straightness training Academy?!"