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#24 Mastering what it means to be "horse-first" with Alizée Froment

Alizée Froment is a former international Grand Prix rider turned show performer, now known for her artistic and beautiful performances, bitless riding, and horse-first philosophy.

Alizée has six courses with us on the wehorse platform, with everything ranging from bitless riding to liberty training to flying lead changes.

On this episode, we chat about having individual programs for each horse, the benefit of bareback pads, pre-and-post-ride care routines, transitioning to bitless, mastering the basics of groundwork and liberty training, and more!

Podcast Transcript

This transcript was created by an AI and has not been proofread.

This transcript was created by AI and has not been proofread

[SPEAKER 1]Welcome to the Equestrian Connection podcast from wehorse, the online riding academy. My name’s Danielle Kroll, and I’m your host. On this episode, we’re talking with Alizée Froment, a former international Grand Prix rider turned show performer. Alize is known for her artistic and beautiful performances, bitless riding, and horse-first philosophy. I’m very excited to welcome Alizee to the podcast, but she’s certainly no stranger to wehorse. Alize has six courses with us on the wehorse platform, with everything ranging from bitless riding, to liberty training, to flying lead changes. We’ll be talking about all that and so much more, so get ready for another great episode. Alize, welcome to the Wee Horse USA podcast. We’re so excited to have you here. And as I mentioned in the intro, you’re certainly no stranger to wehorse. But for those that don’t know you, would you just give us a little bit of your background and how you got started with horses?

[SPEAKER 2]Well I’m Alizee, I’m a French 35 years old woman. I live in Belgium now. I’ve been traveling a lot with horses lately and I was a former jumping rider, then a dressage rider, both in the French team. Jumping it was in the pony and junior team, then dressage and the young riders, U25, and then the senior team. And then I decided to quit competitions to focus on shows with horses and working on Liberty shows mainly, but still with my classical background, which is the basic of all my work, of all my daily work. So, yeah, that’s it.

[SPEAKER 1]And what were your first few years like as an equestrian? Like, how did you get started? What inspired your journey?

[SPEAKER 2]Well, I started, I think, nearly when I was born. My mom said that just straight back from the clinic, she showed me a pony in the garden, and I just wanted to climb on the pony. I was super, super, interested. The first real rides were when I was two. We had a pony called Pilpil. It was a chetland and he was living free in the garden and while my mom was working in her office I used to take a bucket to turn to climb on the bucket and then to climb on Pilpil. He was free and I could just do whatever I wanted. We have some cute picture because at that time we didn’t have so much the videos, you know, but I have really cute picture when you see how much I was just trying to do my best to get on him. And that’s how it started. And then, yeah, all my basic comes from my mother. We had a pony club which was working only during holidays times. So we were living in Paris and during holidays we were in the south of France and that’s where the ponies were. So I used to do quite everything. The pony camps, jumping, dressage, cross-country, going to sleep outside with the horses. Yeah, quite everything. We tried Horace Ball, Amazon. Yeah, I mean, my mother made me discover absolutely everything. She wanted me to just give it a try and have fun and enjoy and yeah.

[SPEAKER 1]I love that. It’s like a very well-rounded, um, like equestrian experience. And it really allowed you to start to decide, okay, I like this. I don’t like this as much. Where do I want to go from here?

[SPEAKER 2]Well, I think I always had a choice and a voice. But to be honest, I liked quite everything. Maybe vaulting and horse carriage. These two were the disciplines I didn’t like. But for the rest, I liked everything as soon as I was with the ponies and having fun. And yeah, we also, we were used to make some little theater parts with the ponies. Altogether, we had to make up a story and to put some costumes and just play the story. Yeah, that was a lot of fun. And I think I was more into just being happy with the ponies. I mean, my best memories are when we were just going hiking and bark back and eating the fruits directly on trees. Yeah, that’s basically my best memories ever.

[SPEAKER 1]Mm. Sounds like a dream. And you had mentioned. Like creating stories and costumes and that, and it really makes me think of your performances now and Do you find that you look back on your childhood and those happy memories and that’s something that inspires what you’re currently doing? You know, it just it really it stuck out to me when you had said that.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, everything comes from my childhood, even the liberty work. I think the roots from my liberty work come from my childhood. So most of the things are coming from there. I know it from my adulthood or coming from the childhood. Yeah, it’s very strong roots that I had the chance to get.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah. Now, you went quite far in terms of the competition scene with horses going to the Grand Prix level. And then, you know, all the other different disciplines, like you had said, the show jumping. What inspired you to transition away from competition and focus more on show performances?

[SPEAKER 2]Well, like I said, I think it was in my roots. I mean, when I was a child, my mom, we had a pony called Chappati and we already did this liberty. I mean, I was on her completely free, barked back with nothing. And she was following my mom and we were playing like hide and seek and jumping some little fences and stuff like that. So It was just a need at one point, so I didn’t realize what I was doing. I also didn’t make it with an idea behind it, or it was just something inside me, it was an instinct. had the need to switch to this or to try this and then you know step by step day after day it brought new things but it didn’t came from I wasn’t inspired because I went to a show and I wanted to do the same thing than this one. It was really something coming from inside, yes. And with no goal, no purpose, just living the moment.

[SPEAKER 1]Why do you think it’s important from a spectator perspective for you to do these performances? They’re so beautiful. It really represents a sense of freedom. both for human and animal. And from the spectator perspective, why do you feel it’s important to put on these shows, you know, so people can see your work?

[SPEAKER 2]For me, you know, I always wanted to be an actress. I always said I will never work with horses because I wanted to keep the horses as a hobby. So I always said I will never be a professional rider. This will never be my job. So, well, I didn’t really succeed on this one. But it has always been a part of me. So at the very beginning, I had the chance to be offered to do a performance. It was in Tarbes. I met Fabien, who was the organizer, and he offered me to do it, which was a big dream for me. And then from this, it started and it grew and, you know, it all happened. But at the very beginning, it was just something very, how do I say that, selfish. It was for me, it was not for the audience. But then I had this feeling, it was just being at the right place, right time with my horse, feeling all this kind of communion with the audience, with the crowd, because You know, during a competition, well, the people around are not really here to wish you the best of luck and the energy is not exactly always super positive. While in the show, the people, they come, they just want to leave their problems and their life, their job, just to have a good moment, share a good moment with friends, with family, dream for a little while and you’re part of it. And that’s an amazing feeling to be, or at one point to be able to offer them this part of dream and of escape, you know, from the daily life and Yeah, all the difficulties that we all have to face every single day. And I really liked this feeling to get to offer. That’s exactly why I wanted at the beginning to be an actress, because in the movie you can tell stories and you can offer to the audience some emotions, dreams. And this is life emotions, so.

[SPEAKER 1]I think it’s so nice to have something that’s a sense of beauty and wonder and freedom. And like you said, to escape from your problems or the outside world for a little bit. Now more than ever, it feels like to get away from, like you said, the sense of competition and tension and just go somewhere that it’s just everything. It just brings that childhood sense of wonder. That’s a nice a nice thing to give to the audiences.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And that’s something I mean, when you come home, it also makes sense because then you offered something to others and you have the feeling that you also you’re also doing something good for the others in competition. You are doing something good for yourself. You know, and that’s completely fine, that’s completely okay. But for me, I feel more at my place or more okay with myself when I do something like this and when I have the feeling when I come home that I offered a bit of dream and shared some emotions with people at one point. In competition, I mean, you also give some emotions because you have so many people coming and watching. But that’s not the same. It’s a different emotion. During the shows, it’s peaceful emotions. During the competition, you give adrenaline. It’s different emotions, different things.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, absolutely. And now, what inspired you to try bitless riding? So here on the WeHorse platform, we have a lot of courses with you that talk about bitless riding and liberty training. And what inspired you to take off the bit and look at not only riding with a bitless bridle, but also riding with a neck rope?

[SPEAKER 2]Well, it was a step by step. So like I said, in my childhood, I was already riding bit less to go hiking and to go swimming with the ponies in the lake. So this was part of my childhood. It was just normal. And then you have the competition coming and it becomes professional. And it’s complicated to keep the same I mean the same naivety, can we say this?

[SPEAKER 1]Yes, that works.

[SPEAKER 2]The same innocence or then you know you have some goals, you should be there, you have to, it becomes professional so you don’t have the same freedom in what you do with your horses and then you can lose a little bit these amazing feelings that you have with your pony when you just go to swim in the river and eat some fruit and you don’t need anything else.

[SPEAKER 1]Would you say the same goes for the bareback pad versus the saddle?

[SPEAKER 2]No, that’s something different. The beatless came just because one day I was just doing the Grand Prix, I mean not doing the test of the Grand Prix every single day, but working on improving each movement from the Grand Prix in order to get Misral to be stronger and that we would be better in the competition and I I just had enough. I was bored to do that. I felt him bored as well and I was just needing some fresh air. I was just needing to have some fun. That’s why I just said, okay, now today, we keep the halter. It was just to have fun, it was because I was needing to escape from this and to find back my roots. I think this day that’s what probably really striked me at this moment. And then I felt some things I would not, it was for fun and then I felt, oh but With the beatless, I can improve the quality of the cantor because it’s a different way. And then I started to play with both. And that was really a great feeling. And then I removed the saddle. First, it was also to be back to my childhood sensation. So you first remove the beat, then you remove the saddle. But with the Barkback, it’s very technical today. I made my own Barkback pad. And I have to say that first, all the horses, and we tried with some of my students, with different types of horses, different breeds, age, level of education. And we always see on each of them such a difference in the way they move, because we don’t realize how much the saddle are not built to be on the back of our horses, or how much the horses are not meant to have a saddle on their back. Because whatever we do, the tree is putting pressure on the muscles and the shoulders. It’s like the woman when they had to wear a corset. I was wearing a corset two or three times for costumes. And of course you can do everything you have to do. but you feel way more pain because you’re stuck in it and everything gets more complicated and with the BarkBag the horses can move the way they are meant to move normally so then they are free from this pressure and we always see an enormous difference and we never had One was just that you couldn’t see a big difference. And that’s the reason why I really wanted to work on a special one, because that was for the horses. I really could feel on my horses how much it was improving their way of moving and how much better they would feel. But then I had to find a way for the rider because the problem with the bar back is that then you go, I mean, the way you would sit normally is more with your shoulders back a bit round and because your hips are not able to stand in the same way than in a saddle. And then the rider couldn’t be as precise enough. And so I wanted to have both. I wanted to have the rider being able to be as in a saddle, but as close to the horse as in a barkback, because then you can feel, you can feel the muscles moving. So you can understand way better where it is not working, where it is working, why it’s not working, where you have to reinforce. And so you can be way more, you’re so much closer that your feelings are completely, you feel everything like hundred times more. So you can understand what’s working, what’s not working. It’s a different world. And now we have both. We have the horse and we have the rider. So I am super happy with it. And it helps so much to understand. You know, sometimes you have something, I mean, I don’t know, you have a horse on the half pass to the left, he will be stuck and you don’t know why. And then you’re on the bark back and then you see you feel that’s just where is the angle because with horses it’s all about having the right angles it’s like a codex from da vinci you know as you you turn it in every sense and then you find exactly the right place where the horse feels comfortable and then everything makes sense, everything is easy. And with the bag back, sometimes with the saddle you’re struggling, struggling, and with the bag back you’re so much closer that it’s easier or quicker to feel where will be the right angle, where you can bring your horse so the exercise will get easy and comfortable for him.

[SPEAKER 1]And now, do you ride with a bareback pad, the same movements, the same amount of time as often as you would be riding with the saddle, or do you kind of switch it up?

[SPEAKER 2]With the previous pads, no, I had to because I couldn’t handle my body the same way I would. First, it was more painful for me because then I would not sit in the same way. So it would give a little bit more sore muscles or stuff like this. And I couldn’t be as precise as I would like in my work. So, but now I am struggling to get out of my bare back pad. because I just feel so, now I’m riding my horses half, half, half with the pad, half with the saddle, but I also have some times, for example, at the moment, Tungo, he’s only with the backpack pad because he’s growing. So I said, okay, he’s growing, then I need to put as less pressure as possible on his back. So he goes only with the backpack pad. And I work completely normal, like I would do with a saddle. It’s nothing changing. I have the backpack or the saddle, it’s the same work.

[SPEAKER 1]Would you do the same for a horse that, let’s say they’re not necessarily growing in terms of being younger, but they need muscle development. Would you look at it the same way that, you know, the saddle could be slightly restrictive for them to really develop the muscles and the full range of motion versus the bareback pad?

[SPEAKER 2]Yes, I think so. But then there is one point which is a key point and very important. If the rider cannot sit properly on the bike, then it will be super harmful for the horses. So you also need a rider who is completely aware of his balance and who will be able to sit in a relaxed way and to follow the horse. Otherwise, this won’t work. So that’s a very important point.

[SPEAKER 1]That is a very good point to make. And now if you were to give advice to someone transitioning from a bit to bitless, so going back to like the bit and the bitless bridle, what would be your recommended steps? If somebody was riding their horse consistently with a bit and they wanted to transition to bitless, what would you recommend?

[SPEAKER 2]Well first you have to know that some horses are really good beatless and you have some horses who are not feeling comfortable with it and that’s okay. So you have to accept that for some horses it is stressful and not so comfortable to have some contact on the nose. For example, Sultan, he’s amazing on the rope. He’s never been really happy with Bittler’s bridle. So he is more switching from snaffle to the rope. But the beatless, okay, my daughter rides him with the beatless a little bit, but it’s not the way he feels the best. When Mistral beatless, he goes better, even better than with the snaffle. So you always have to give it a try, but if you have the feeling that the horse doesn’t feel safe or he doesn’t feel comfortable with the beatless, You have, of course, to give it a try, because it’s not about, OK, I take it, it doesn’t work, I move it. Because, of course, they need to understand, they need to feel it. But if you try on small circles and everything, and you have the feeling that the horse is pulling, trying to find his way out and struggling, then maybe it will be more a horse feeling safe with feet and with the rope later if ever that’s the plan but they are not all meant to feel comfortable with it and and that’s not a problem. I mean all horses are different physically and mentally and you always have to take this into consideration and I think that’s where most people are making the confusion because now it’s about bit or bad and bit less is good. No, that’s way more complicated than this.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, I have two horses and one loves the bitless. She actually seems kind of restless if she has a bit in her mouth and prefers bitless, but my gelding, he prefers a bit. When he goes bitless, it almost feels like he’s confused and he wants the security blanket of like a nice soft snaffle.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, and that’s fine. The point is, you always need to find the best way for your horse. And this is not about having pictures with angles. I always laugh at these lines. No, because each horse is different. Each horse is having different angles. Each horse is having different angles in the right and in the left, and these angles will change along the way when the body changes, when they get more muscles, when they get more advanced. So the only rule is the moment your horse is telling you with his body because everything starts to feel easy, soft, relaxed, like you’re suddenly on a cloud and then everything works. That’s the only rule. And this is only your horse. That’s not a line that you will draw with some colors. This is, for me, with my way of thinking and what I learned during my journey, this can’t work because they are all different. And I have, I mean, at home, I have 10 horses. I don’t have two horses who have the same angle. I am always adapting. And the only answer I am looking for is when they tell me that this is the place they feel good, safe and comfortable.

[SPEAKER 1]You have a really good wellness routine with your horses. You sometimes post on social media of pre-ride and post-ride and it just looks like there’s a lot of care involved. Can you tell us a little bit about your pre-ride routine with your horses and your post-ride routine?

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah sure, so we are also here as well we’re adapting the pre and after ride routine to each horse because they are all different but what remains is during winter they have the heating rug Before riding, in order to warm the muscles softly before we get on them, they have a massage with heating cream as well. So on all the top line, hamstrings, tendons and shoulders, and the wheezer of course, but it’s part of the top line. Then most of them are getting the light therapy before, some are getting it on the back and the legs, some are getting it on the neck. The one on the neck is more for example for the horses a bit stressed, then you put the one in the head and it’s really you can always see that they start to sleep and to relax completely so they can feel peaceful and good before riding. They have a stretching so we call it the carrot stretching because we take the carrot and we do some movement in order to stretch them before. Then we ride and we also now it’s new but since 10 days we’re trying the Bemer technology which is also super efficient. It seems we have very good results on all the horses and even the pony because he also gets the Bemer. So that’s for before. And after work, they have normally cooling cream on the tendons. They can also have it on the top line, hamstring, shoulders. They get a neck massage, sacroiliacs and lumbaria massages with the ONH cream. And then if they had the biggest effort or if I feel they would need some clay, we get some clay. They get the ice straight after. Sorry, I forgot this, but they get the ice. That’s the first thing after work. They get the ice on the forelegs for 10 minutes. and the light therapy again. We also normally we do the full body in the light therapy after work for 10 minutes when we are in show it’s 20 minutes and Then they get back to the field and in the afternoon coming back from the field they have again some massage routine and everything that we do according to how was the work. Then I discuss with my team and I tell them that in the afternoon they really need to get the stretching again or to get the ONH massage or to have some clay and so every single day we adapt the routine to what we felt in the horses because my team also tells me in the preparation before I ride they in the stretching and in the carries if they felt a part that was a bit more stiff or mentally if what is the mood of the day and it’s a really a teamwork and according to this then we’re adapting the schedule on each horse every single day.

[SPEAKER 1]And now the clay, when you say what the clay is that you put on their body, what’s that that you reference?

[SPEAKER 2]The clay is like some, well, it’s called clay. How will I explain this?

[SPEAKER 1]Maybe it’s a product, it’s a certain product.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, it’s a product, but it’s like you also have it on some grounds. I mean, in the south of France, You have it, it’s the ground, you know, it’s this special mineral stuff that you put. You can also make some manual activities out of the clay, actually. And I have different ones. I have some cooling clay. I have some warming clay. I have with essential oils, with floral oils. So also with the clay, we have at least 10 different kinds of clays. So we also adapt these. to, yeah, what I feel.

[SPEAKER 1]And so you just put it on their body, like parts of their body?

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah. So most of the time on the legs, but that can also be on the top line or on the hamstring or on a shoulder. If I had the feeling that one shoulder was a bit more blocked that day or so, yeah, we can just, it’s like cataplasm that you put on a part and they just keep it for three, four hours and then you remove it.

[SPEAKER 1]And now some people listening may think, like, wow, what a routine. That’s quite a lot to do before and after. Yeah. And why do you think it’s important for you to spend that amount of time on your horses before and after riding and then also later in the day?

[SPEAKER 2]Well, because I think that We decided to make them do what they do, but they haven’t decided. And I think that then my job is to bring them to their best. So I am asking a lot of work from them. I mean, I work them normally between 25 and 35 minutes per day. It’s not a long session, but it’s a lot mentally and physically. In return, I think that I owe them to feel their best. Sometimes they are a bit like a spoiled child. I know, but guess what it is? No, and it’s also because I want to bring them to their best version physically and mentally and for this I need to listen to them and I mean, the top sport people and the footballer and all this, I mean, they have a lot of cares every single day. They have the physio, they have the massages, they have the sonar and blah, blah, blah, blah. So why the horses wouldn’t have it?

[SPEAKER 1]You’re right.

[SPEAKER 2]And then I treat them in advance. It’s only with natural things. But the point is then, I mean Mishal he’s 23, Sultan he’s 17, they have been doing a lot in their lives and they are still feeling young and they hadn’t infiltrations and stuff like this but because We do all this in a natural way with natural stuff and we are trying to avoid the problems up front. Of course, it can always happen, but at least we’re doing our best not to. And I think they also know at home how much we’re listening to them, to their body, to their mental. And that’s also part of the trust they give me and they give my team as well, because I have a top team.

[SPEAKER 1]behind.

[SPEAKER 2]And yeah, because with horses, it’s a it’s a team effort. It’s not only one person.

[SPEAKER 1]Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah. It’s like preventing before. Yeah. To treat the problem.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, and also understanding, I mean, it’s not just, ah, he was in a bad mood today, he’s been doing a shit job, yesterday he was amazing, and today I can’t do this anymore. Most of the time, the day they can’t do it anymore, there is a reason behind. When you do all these cares, then you get used to feel the bodies and then you can find from where the problem is coming. So it’s also not just saying, ah, well, today he was just in a bad mood. And then the horses, they also learn that when they feel not comfortable, we are here to help and not here to put them even more in a struggling position because we keep asking when on that day it’s difficult.

[SPEAKER 1]And now I want to pivot in and talk about liberty training as well. So not only do you, I mean, have a fabulous writing resume, but you also are wonderful at liberty training and have beautiful. I mean, that’s a large part of the shows as well. And what inspired you to start liberty training? And then what advice would you give to those who are looking to get started or maybe are dabbling in a little bit and want to advance their liberty?

[SPEAKER 2]Well, this was actually this was a I would say face meeting because I had Sultan and I had to castrate him because he was In the work he was okay but in the stable he was a super super strong stallions and he was getting dangerous for himself and I’ve been trying for two years and a half uh from he started to be very very strong stallion in the stable with other horses at six yes end of five beginning of six and i’ve really been trying to keep him as a stallion and then at eight and a half i had to take the decision because the vet told me that at one point he would kill himself because he had no break So I took this decision. It was a very hard moment. And after that, he got completely depressed. I thought I lost him forever. From one day to another, I had no horse anymore. I would bring him to a field and leave him there. And two hours later, come back and he would be at the same place, haven’t moved. Yeah, he was completely In his bubble, nothing was there anymore. He was scared of everything before he was a warrior. Yeah that was a real disaster and I went to Spain actually to see some horses for a friend who was in the US and looking for horses for a client but he couldn’t fly to Spain so he asked me to go and I met Ismael and I saw the way He was training the horses and I thought I have some things to understand and to discover because this was something new and I thought that this was important. I felt that it was important on my journey and I thought that this would maybe be a way to bring Sultan back, so I asked to go there. He said no because at that moment it was only him, his table was closed to foreigners or other people and then I convinced him and I went there for one week and indeed it helped me but it helped me generally. I mean the groundwork is not only about groundwork, it’s It’s about energies, about learning to feel, to understand deeper, and that was a big first step. And then, yes, we came back home and tried. over and over and we built ourselves like this with Sultan and I still keep on trying sometimes I just feel no I’m not sure it’s not like in dressage I have the technique part In The Liberty, I feel like I am always trying, exploring, discovering, but I am never really sure about what I do sometimes. You know, Sultan, the Spanish Trot, the Spanish Cantor, it’s not like I was researching to build it. It’s, you know, we were working and One day I was doing the Spanish walk and he made the mistake to get into the trot. I saw these big steps. I thought, wow, I want to do it. And then we’ve been searching and that was the same for the canter, you know? So, yeah, I always feel like it’s just luck. But yeah, whatever it is, I mean, I’m doing it with, I did it with Pirate, with Peter and with many others. And it’s always super interesting, but it’s really about energies. And now I am exploring new ways. You know, it’s always about searching. It’s with horses, it’s searching, searching every single day.

[SPEAKER 1]It’s like keeping that sense of play alive as well. Yeah. You know, I think which is important for us as humans and also for the horses is to associate, oh, OK, when I see the human coming, it’s not just work, work, work like we can have some play.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, yeah, that’s important but I would say before playing in the Liberty work you need to put some very strong basics because that’s where people are mistaking most of the time they want to play so the horse plays but then he’s a bit lost because then you become a friend in his field then it can get dangerous because of course two horses playing together can’t be the same than a horse and a human playing together for safety reasons and then they also don’t understand the boundaries anymore so they play with you and sometimes you ask something they don’t want so they just leave and for them it’s normal because you’re just playing So I would say first you put some basics which are very clear to the horse so he can feel safe and he can trust you and he can respect you and as soon as you have this then you can start playing but don’t play before having this. I see this very often and then it way too often come to a point where their relationship is ruined because then the horse starts to misunderstand the human, the human starts to get uncomfortable because the horse comes on him too much, and then the horse doesn’t understand it anymore, then he gets angry, and then it’s over. And that’s really the biggest mistake. If you want to respect your horse, you have to give him some clear boundaries. That’s how you respect and you love him.

[SPEAKER 1]That’s very good advice. And is that what you would say if somebody was looking to get started in Liberty, like master the basics and set those boundaries from the get-go?

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, exactly. I would say it’s not fun at the beginning because it’s very easy stuff. It’s walking from the right, from the left, hold, going backward, putting the neck deeper. go again, and trot, and walk, microtransition, small circle, it’s super easy, super basics, and sometimes you have to stay there for three, four, five months, but you don’t care because as soon as these basics are super smooth and easy and relaxed, then you can start to play and to do whatever you want, but your relationship will be there and Then you can really have some fun, but it will be some fun with a horse that can be also very relaxed. I had this with one of my students, and the horse was really, really rough at the beginning. He was angry, so he was attacking her. and now his eye totally changed and he’s happy he’s always coming to fetch her but in a nice way like hey i did it that’s great but we had to come back to the basics for six months And now when I see them, they are happy. And you can see this on both of them. They have fun, but they have fun in a safe way.

[SPEAKER 1]I heard a quote once from a trainer that is clear as kind, that you need to be very clear with what you’re asking and clear in your boundaries because you know, if we’re not, if we’re, you know, a little wishy-washy or, oh, that’s okay today, you know, or something like that, and we’re allowing horses in our space and then the next day saying no, then it’s getting confusion. And then that’s where we do see, you know, horses that are frustrated and can be perceived as angry and, you know, and things like that.

[SPEAKER 2]Absolutely. And there is another thing very important. I see too often, we are very quick at saying no to a horse, that this is not right, that’s not what he should do. But most of the time, the people forget to reward and to say, this is good, great. And the horse, he needs to know, of course, when it’s no, but he needs to know when he’s right as well, because then he can understand and he can think, ah, that’s why. And most of the time we say no, and when the horse does it great, then we just think, OK, that’s normal. No, that’s not normal. That’s great. You have to tell him.

[SPEAKER 1]Mm hmm. Absolutely. That’s, that’s a really important point to add. And now, when you’re when you’re focusing on working with the horse for their improving their gait, so their their way of going and, you know, we kind of mentioned a little bit about like looking at the bareback pad and things like that. But do you have a general plan for all of the horses? And I’m going to assume that it’s no based on the fact that, you know, we we kind of mentioned that all horses are different and we have to look at them as individually. But what’s your your kind of go to things you focus on when you’re looking to help the horse improve their way of going?

[SPEAKER 2]Well to me it’s always about the balance and the balance in my opinion and in the journey I’ve been through is about the freedom from the wither and the shoulders. you always need to unlock the shoulders and when the shoulders are unlocked then the horse can work through his body from the back to the front and that’s where he can carry the rider in the best way and in the most comfortable way so I am always focusing a lot on unlocking the shoulders and getting the hind legs quicker because when they are quicker and stronger in the hind legs that’s of course the motor always need to be in the butt and not in the front and as soon as they start to work from the front then they are out of balance so that’s where they start to be or slowing down or running away it’s all Not always, let’s say most of the time, but I would say 95% of the problems when I have clinics and horses who are behind the legs or running away, it’s always about being out of balance. And as soon as they find their balance, then they are fine and they feel safe and good and comfortable. And then you don’t, the problem disappear. it’s really often a balance problem because of course naturally the horses they are not made well I can’t say that because they are with humans since ever they have always been part of the history of humans but they are on the forehand so when you get the rider on top we really put them out of balance So we need to teach them and to put the muscles behind so they can handle our weight, our body in the best way.

[SPEAKER 1]Do you have any exercises that are your go-to for helping with unlocking the shoulders?

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah I do a lot but like really a lot of leg yield. Small leg yield, big leg yield, zigzag, that’s really one of my main ones and then a lot of small circle, getting on a bigger circle, small circle again, playing with micro transitions in and out just to help them to always move, keep on finding the motor from behind and trying to remain stable in the upper line.

[SPEAKER 1]So pivoting away from horses for a second. What is it? Is there anything that’s inspiring you outside of horses and outside of riding that you then take into your horses and take to your performances?

[SPEAKER 2]I think it’s a lot the beauty you have in the nature, the beauty of the music, the beauty of art in general. I’m very sensitive to the art in every single form that can exist, up to the kitchen as well, because I really love to cook everything myself in an organic and healthy way. That’s the style that I have with the horses, because also we’re also very much involved in the food that we give to the horses, the composition. And so, yeah, it’s art is is really a part of me that I always, of course, that has a big impact in our daily life at the stable.

[SPEAKER 1]Mm hmm. Is there anything that If you could share anything about like your philosophy with horses and your training inspiration, what would it be?

[SPEAKER 2]Well, I would say that you have to be ready with horses to wake up every single day with a fresh start because with horses, it’s a permanent self-question journey. If you’re not ready and open for that, then I think that you will be in trouble, because with horses, every single day you have to ask yourself new questions, you have to find new answers, and what worked yesterday might not work anymore today, but might work again in one week. And the only way is to, when something is not working, to ask yourself, OK, what can I do? Why is it not working anymore? And how can I make it work? And most of the time, it’s physical. But it can also be, I mean, they also can have a rough night or can have a bad neighbor. you just need to question yourself all the time in order to find the right answers and that’s the reason why it is not an easy journey because it’s full of doubt and you will make mistakes along the way and it can happen that’s okay because We don’t always have the answers, but you need to keep searching all the time. And for this, you need to keep your open mind.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, I think that’s very important with everything we do with horses is have an open mind.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah.

[SPEAKER 1]So we have four questions that we ask every podcast guest. And the first one is, do you have a motto or a favorite saying?

[SPEAKER 2]I have two actually that I wear at my arm, which is never give up. And the other one is find a way, not an excuse.

[SPEAKER 1]That’s a good one. Who has been the most influential person in your equestrian journey?

[SPEAKER 2]I would say I had A lot of people that have been helping along the way, but if I would need to keep the key ones, let’s say it’s this way, I would say first my mother because First she taught me all the basics. Then she gave me all this opportunity to try everything and to keep an open mind and to really love my ponies for who they were and not for what they could bring me. Then it would be Hubert Perrin because he’s the one in the dressage who gave me this true key about trying to find, not doing the exercise 100 times until it works, but trying to find all the preparation exercises for each horse according to his physical state and mental state on that day in order to be able to do the exercise and that it would work in a comfortable and safe way. So that I owe it to him. And the last one would be Ismael because he gave me the basics from the Liberty work and from there I could Yeah, open really a lot of new doors, new understandings, which were very important and that I use also in my writing. So yeah, it’s, uh, uh, it was pushing my, um, understandings further. And that was, uh, another key in my journey.

[SPEAKER 1]If you could give equestrians one piece of advice, what would it be? Um,

[SPEAKER 2]That would be a good question. That’s a bit the same than the question before, keep an open mind.

[SPEAKER 1]Yes. Yeah. I mean, that’s such a good piece of advice. We can add that to that one too.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah. That’s really the key. And also try, I think, we are in a society where we are really keen on judging others. And on horses, I would say… If you don’t sit on the horse, don’t judge the rider because you’re not on him. You don’t know who is the horse physically, mentally. So be careful with judging others. Try to focus on your journey, your work, and don’t lose wrong and negative energies on some things you don’t even really, how can I say that? uh you don’t really know yeah you don’t really know so um you have to be careful with this and we’re in a society where social medias are really pushing people against each other and i don’t think that with horses this is the right way i think that at one point this is going to bring everybody down and the idea is on the contrary try to help each other to grow and to push our understandings further, because there is so much more to discover and to understand about horses. But we won’t be able to make it by fighting and judging. I am really convinced about that.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, you’re absolutely right. And that’s That’s good piece of advice to add to that one. Um, it’s been kind of a common theme in a lot of our podcast episodes with, with, um, people they’ve, they’ve mentioned a lot about the negative negativity on social media and how like as an industry, we need to be coming together, not falling apart.

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, me, I had this so much, especially from the US, misunderstanding and mixing the Spanish walk and trot with the Tennessee walk. And then you see how much these people, they don’t understand anything about what they see because Tennessee Walk is so much different than Spanish Walk or Spanish Trot. But there is no way you can discuss with these people. They are just crazily out of mind and so much convinced about this craziness that, yeah, That’s crazy, that’s crazy. And I used to be very sad and emotional about it and now I understood that these people, they are so much deeply convinced that this is what they see. that you can’t have a discussion. It’s just who they are and that’s their problem, but that’s not yours. That’s what they want to see, that they will see. And that’s the reason why you can’t talk with them. But it is dangerous for the future of the horses, I’m afraid.

[SPEAKER 1]And the final question of it is, please complete this sentence for me. For me, horses are.

[SPEAKER 2]My best friends.

[SPEAKER 1]Hmm, that’s a good one. Is there anything else you’d like to add for our listeners?

[SPEAKER 2]No, just have a lovely day and enjoy every single second of the little things. I think with horses sometimes we lose this because we live in a society where we have to run and everything needs to be higher, further and quicker and then we lose the easiest small things and sometimes the best moments we have are in the very easy things. I mean, my favorite moments in my day are when I go hiking with Mischael on the rope and we’re doing nothing, just grazing. And that’s enough. And I think that’s just never forget these small things because sometimes they are the biggest emotions.

[SPEAKER 1]I love that. Where can people find you and how can they connect with you?

[SPEAKER 2]They can find me on Instagram. I would prefer not to but that’s part of my job. So there and Facebook I always give an answer to everybody who is writing me even if it’s sometimes some very short and quick answers because I receive 300 messages every single day so I can’t make a full message to everybody but there and on my emails for the rest not that much because I’m already yeah so much running on everything that I can’t I can’t be everywhere and I have some priorities, especially now that I am a mother. So yeah.

[SPEAKER 1]Absolutely. We’ll link your Instagram and Facebook in our show notes so people can follow you. And Alize, I just want to say thank you for coming on the podcast. Just what an honor to have you and and to speak with you. So thank you so much.

[SPEAKER 2]With big pleasure. Thank you for having me.

[SPEAKER 1]Thank you for listening to this episode of the Equestrian Connection podcast by wehorse. If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a rating and review, as well as share us on social media. You can find us on Instagram at wehorse_usa, and check out our free seven-day trial on, where you can access over 175 courses with top trainers from around the world in a variety of topics and disciplines. Until next time, be kind to yourself, your horses, and others.

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