A trip to the Schoeneich ARR Centre in Germany

In February of 2016, Sarah Braithwaite and Jo Ellis of Forageplus travelled to Germany to visit the Schoeneich ARR Centre where one of Sarah’s horses was spending four weeks in straightness horse training.

This report is a short account of  watching and being taught the Schoeneich techniques for correct movement in horses.

Klaus Schoeneich will be visiting the UK again in 2017.

Horse Straightness Training at the Schoeneich ARR Centre

When watching both Gabrielle and Klaus work horses in the round pen one of the first things you are struck by is the calm confidence they exude which seems to reach out to even the most compromised of horses. At the ARR centre a round pen is used to teach the horse to find balance and correct posture, using the outside rail to help teach the horse to work with the outside hind in a supporting position.

At the beginning of the training most of the horses we watched were quite panicked looking at the prospect of moving in the way that was asked of them. Quietly and carefully the Schoeneich’s felt their way through skilled flexing of the horse’s neck so that the horse was better able to travel in a circle with increasing balance.

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Each session was short and intense, perhaps as little as 10 minutes but it was incredible to see the enormous difference in the horse just the next day. We have seen Klaus change a horse’s way of going radically in three days many times on his clinics in the UK but overtime it remains astonishing to witness the profoundness of the change.

Horse Straightness Training Schoeneich ARR Centre

One horse who had come in lame and unable to be ridden (inspected by vets first, of course) was by the end of one week able to trot both ways in a reasonable balance and looked sound and less anxious.

The work allows the horse to find a balance in its body where the inside shoulder lifts and transfers weight across the diagonal to the outside hind – their so called “diagonal shift”. When this happens the horse’s inside hind leg is freed to step further under the body and carry more weight. In turn this allows the wither to lift and frees the shoulders.

Correct horse movement at the Schoeneich ARR Centre

What is obvious is the development of an up-swinging back, strength and flex in the hind legs and an opening of the shoulders. The amazing part is the speed at which this happens. For some horses it only takes days before they have completely changed their posture and only need strengthening work before progressing to riding. Others which have been more severely compromised take longer but by no means what could be called a long time.

We watched an international show jumping stallion, who had stopped going forwards to the extent that he could no longer compete, start to go freely forward in a better balance and start to keep this new balance and posture with a rider. Just three weeks of work.

To the observer the technique looks simple but that is very deceptive. The Schoeneich’s have years of experience and every moment are correcting and helping the horse to find a way through it’s difficulties. Having had a go we can categorically say it is simple in theory but pretty tricksome in practise!

Learning to Lunge at the Schoeneich ARR Centre

Developing rider balance at the Schoeneich ARR Centre

While we were at the Schoeneichs we were able to watch riding (‘sitting’) lessons which was interesting since we had only seen the beginnings of this in UK. The horse needs to be fully prepared in the round pen and fully understanding the diagonal shift before a rider is introduced to its back.

We watched one rider at the start of the riding journey being lunged on her horse in the round pen. A western saddle was used as the horse had had difficulty in an English saddle and the memory could be a problem. The use of a western saddle creates a different load pattern, changing the sensation for the horse allowing the Schoeneichs to cut through memories which may be unpleasant for the horse.

The teaching was exceptional. The rider was taught how to sit to the trot using the image of a wheel and a cog. The horse was described as the wheel rotating forwards from the hindquarters and the rider the cog rotating upwards and backwards on top.

Ridden Exercises for Rider Balance Schoeneich ARR Centre

This image and teaching had helped another rider who had spent three months on a three day a week basis being trained with her horse, especially the ‘sitting’ lessons. We watched her riding in beautiful posture, at one with quite large moving warmblood. She and the horse were very impressive and looked to be at a high level of training.  When asked, however, she said she had been unable to sit to the trot three months earlier, her horse unable to be ridden without rearing.  She said the ‘sitting’ trot had been difficult to master but when we saw her ride she looked very much at ease and sat well. We both thought that was very encouraging for us!

 

Sarah will be sharing video footage of the progress her horse has made, from lame, pre-purchase vetting to a balanced level horse moving with an upswinging back, in the next few weeks through the Forageplus Horse Talk community.

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