Pet Connections

Learning from Source

Kristin Hermann

The best teacher is also a good student. All disciplines regardless of activities are a learning process. Learning to ride which has been called a journey, I call a pilgrimage. When I first started my classical education with horses, I went to one of the first horsemanship schools in the country on Long Island. There I discovered a school in Pittsburgh. It turned out my Grandmother lived in Pittsburgh, so I interviewed for a job.

The owners of the Pittsburgh facility were European, and I got the job. Of course, anyone in the horse world knows if an ambitious young girl shows up at your farm she is likely to get a job! Even better as a “working student” I would slave for free. This couple was formal, I had to call them by their sir names, and I was addressed correctly too. My nickname was not used, I went immediately from Kit to Kristin. Within a week of arrival, I was given a list of books to start reading. I still have those books and recommend them to this day. These books are called the classical texts. On my barns website, I have a reading list mentioning these traditional books: Podhajski, Muesler, Seunig, DeKunffy, and Watjens. I would study these books, underline them and soon I was quoting them when I gave lessons.

Recently, I was riding at my facility (fast forward forty years) and a woman was lunging a horse she was leasing. The reins were wrapped around the stirrup irons, and a halter was over the bridle twisting the bit up into his cheek, she was utterly clueless to the fact that the horses head and neck were constrained preventing stretching or him using his neck for balance. I rarely offer advice less I am asked, but it was apparent the horse was not comfortable. I said something. And her reply was, “Oh, I have been watching professional Youtube videos, and this is how they said to lunge a horse.” Wow, I was thinking. So I dismounted and showed her how to lunge by twisting the reins under the horse’s neck and using the lunge line over the horse’s poll for stretching so he could extend and use his head and neck for balance.

I learned a long time ago always consider the source. Who were the “professional” Youtube video people? Indeed not the classical masters who are long gone. I was lucky when my “dressage” pilgrimage began in the seventies many classical masters had just moved to America to cash in on the dressage scene just taking off in America. I learned from such classically educated men as Major Bella Buttekay, Hubert Rohrer, ( Spanish Riding School) Robert Mayer, (Licenced Geman Federation FN and BHSI certified) Eicke von Veltheim (German Master Trainer), Peter Kjellerup ( Danish rider co-founder Dansko shoes) and Gerald Kirsch ( Officer of the French Cadre Noir) all men from Europe. I had already read the books and now this education with real riders from the old country, what an experience.

I often go to Youtube to search for information, but I have the education to know what is correct and what is commercial. There are a lot of good classical trainers on Youtube, but you typically have to pay to learn from them.

In America, anyone can call themselves a trainer. There is no national school like in Europe or England. There are a few programs through the United States Dressage Association, colleges, and the United States Eventing Association. If you are looking for “professional” instruction, visit the facility, watch the person teach, talk to their students, watch them handle a horse. Young girls barely out of high school are claiming to be trainers and advertising. What is their record of success? And some horse trainers don’t even ride horses. Equestrian enthusiasts, buyer beware, in America, it is a free for all.

Recommended Reading List

Creative Horsemanship – Charles De Kunffy
Training Strategies for Dressage Riders – Charles De Kunffy
Horsemanship – Waldemar Seunig
The Essence of Horsemanship – Waldemar
Seunig The Complete Training of Horse and Rider – Colonel Alois Podhajski
Dressage Riding – Richard Watjen
Riding Logic – Waldimar Muesler
Horsemanship and Horsemastership – Official Manual of the United States Calvalry at Fort Riley
The Dressage Formula – Eric Herberman
Lessons with Lendon – Lendon Gray
Dressage with Kyra – Kyra Kyrklund
That Winning Feeling – Jane Savoie
Practical Dressage Manual – Colonel Bengt Ljungquist
Dressage in Harmony – Walter Zettle
The Way to Perfect Horsemanship – Udo Burger
Basic Training of the Young Horse – Reiner Klimke
Centered Riding – Sally Swift
Connected Riding – Peggy Cummons
The Principle of Riding – German National Federation
The Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship
Happy Horsemanship – Dorothy Henderson Pinch


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023


December 14, 2023