Working Equitation Expert
Stefan Schneider, a horse enthusiast from Germany, was inspired by horsemen from around the world and developed a passion for various riding styles, including western riding and working equitation, emphasizing the importance of trust and good training in his approach.
Inspired by Fascinating Horsemen From All Over the World
Born into a horsey family, Stefan Schneider began riding as a little boy on their jumping horses.
Somewhat unusual for the 1970s, Stefan was curious about the styles of riding outside of Germany, finding himself interested in what was then considered quite exotic, though today in Germany are now well known and established riding disciplines.
Jean-Claude Dysli and his wife Magda, pioneers of western riding in Europe, were the first to impress Stefan, with their one-handed riding style. Regular visits to the Swiss couple in Germany and Spain inspired Stefan Schneider to find new ways of training and handling horses.
Once he successfully completed his veterinarian studies in Berlin he trained with the well known Western Trainers Reinhold and Maik Bartmann, taking part in reining and working cow-horse classes with his criollo and QH stallion.
Working Equitation as a Particular Passion
In the 1990s Stefan Schneider got to know Manolo Oliviera and Manolo Rodrigues in Spain and they introduced him to the Doma Vaquera style of riding. Together this, in conjunction with the working riding style of the Spanish cowboys, is what still fascinates him the most.
With various horses of Spanish and Portuguese breeding, he competes regularly in International Working Equitation competitions, taking part in the masterclass, the highest level, which must be ridden one-handed in a curb bit. It is made up of four separate phases; dressage, style trail, speed trail as well as working cattle.
Trust is the Foundation of Good Training
Stefan Schneider's rare ability to instantly understand every horse, as well as his extensive equine know-how, allows him to find the best approach for each horse very rapidly.
"In the daily interaction with horses, whether it be on the ground or in the saddle, it is important that you are seen as the "herd leader". The horse must have full trust in us and respect that what we say goes. This does not come about with violence but with intensive trust-building exercises from the very beginning. I work our horses, especially the youngsters, from the ground to establish trust and understanding of my voice commands and body language cues. I then take this training and apply it in the work in long reins, where the horse must confidently walk ahead of me. It is always important for me that the horses see as much as possible and get used to all kinds of things going on around them. Once a horse trusts humans, has learned to listen and knows that he is allowed to learn new things in a quiet manner, our work under saddle is far far easier.
Stefan Schneider, together with his wife, Uta Gräf, runs a training stable with a rehabilitation and equine veterinary clinic on their farm, Gut Rothenkircherhof, in Kirchheimbolanden in southern Germany.
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