Here's the STory of ST Instructor Meg Brauch, where she puts into words how she found the true art of horsemanship:
"Almost 3 years ago now I came across the world of Straightness Training. It was not by accident. I was on a quest to improve my horsemanship and find the missing links in my training.
When I found videos of Marijke de Jong working with her horses, I was blown away by the beauty, softness and connection she had with them. I knew immediately that she was the person I wanted to learn from.
I read through all the free material I could find and then promptly joined the first ST Mastery course in 2013 and I haven’t looked back.
I sometimes feel as if I live in my own world here at Narnia Stables, having disconnected from the competitive scene and focusing all my energy on developing my own skills while working with a group of clients, most who are also now ST course members or found me through the world of ST. It’s funny because even though my contact with many people in the local horse community has diminished, I have connected with so many folks from around the globe that have the same passion for finding connection, lightness, and the true art in their horsemanship. Many of my students now come to me from out of state.
Those that are not connected with the ST community often wonder what exactly it is that I do here in Narnia so let me tell you why I love ST so much and why it has completely changed my life.
ST allows me to gymnastically develop my horses on the ground and under saddle. I have seen horses that are chronically lame and sore go sound and be healthy again. Horses that are tight in their back become soft and elastic. Problems like bracing on one rein, tilting the head, nervously chewing the bit all seem to disappear with ST work. ST takes time and patience, but that’s the beauty of it. You learn to fully embrace the journey as the process of training. It’s never about the end goal. My horses are light and soft. I used to never ride without gloves because my hands would be sore or blistered. Now I only have the weight of the rein in my hand. I never wear gloves, except for in the winter when it’s cold. Bareback work has developed my seat and balance so much more than work in the saddle and I have such a better feel of the horses body and feet underneath me.
My horses have completely changed in their mental and emotional state. Horses that were once spooky I can comfortably ride bareback and even bridleless. My Morgan Rogue has always been an aloof and independent horse. When he was younger he wouldn’t be easily caught in the paddock. For many years he would then let me catch him, but he would never volunteer. I always had to go to him. Now, regardless of time of day, weather, or where he is in the paddock, he comes right over to me and will put his head in the halter. He and Renfrew actually compete over who gets to go first.
My horses will quietly stand in the aisle and wait for me without being tied. They are confident and relaxed. Liberty work challenges me to figure out how to connect with them and deepen our relationship. Rogue is now 20 and I feel that I am just starting to figure him out and work him correctly through his body while allowing him to express his high spirit and clever mind. He is light, soft, and willing and beginning to use his back and body so much more correctly. He still remains my greatest challenge and my greatest teacher and each time I work him I am thankful of that. The program gives me a systematic approach to training exercises as well as a deep understanding of equine behavior and motivation. I understand fully why we do all the exercises we do and the theory and history behind them. With each day, the knowledge becomes a little deeper as I continually return to the theory and books to widen and broaden my understanding.
In addition to the changes ST has made in both the physical and mental state of my horses, it pushes me to become a more physically and emotionally balanced person myself. This journey has had its fair share of challenges. I have made many mistakes along the way, both before my ST days and since I have found this work. Trying to train in a way that is so different from all the training that is going on around me was very difficult in the beginning. I felt very alone and lost, but worked hard to connect with other ST folks around the globe and I have now helped to build an ST community locally that is able to work together and support each other. I am able to push myself to become physically fit and flexible and to stay grounded and calm in all situations with and without horses. I don't care what others think of my work and what I do because I know that my horses are thriving in a way that they never have before and I know that I am in a better place in my life than I have ever been and I will continue to always seek self improvement as that journey is never ending my eyes.
I want horses that are happy and motivated in their work. I mean truly motivated and looking to perform for me, not just obedient. I want them to be proud and happy in their daily life and exercise. I want horses that are alert and thinking and mentally stimulated. I want horses that are doing gymnastic work that will keep them fit and sound long into their 20s or even 30s so they can carry a rider without damage to their joints and backs. I want horses that are connected with me and seek out my company and attention. I want lightness and softness in the work. I want to find the true art of horsemanship and that is was ST allows me to do. I am both proud and honored to be an instructor and member of the ST community and I will work tirelessly to be a good representative of this work and to help change the lives of horses and humans alike."