On Day 3 we were introduced to The Warmblood Project. I’m going to quote directly from Anja Beran’s page.
“The Anja Beran Foundation´s warmblood-project
Under the patronage of the Anja Beran Foundation a few warmblood horses are at Gut Rosenhof for training respectively correction for about two years. They are partially from the Main and State Stud Farm in Schwaiganger. Warmblood breeding creates eagerly moving horses in modern type, with high blood ratio and highly sensitive in handling. However, the system, in which these horses have to prove themselves for breeding and equitation, is extremely wearing for their physical and mental development. Already at the age of two years the young horses have to be put in work, numerous performance tests are opposed to healthy keeping, feeding and training. Not a few horses fall by the wayside in this process, others have to struggle with early signs of wear and excessive demands. Anja Beran would like to demonstrate at the training and correction of a few of these highly talented horses that horse-friendly dressage according to classical principles provides for a solid education with healthy and happy horses, who work motivated under their rider up to an old age. In the course of the workshop you can witness the development of these horses year after year and learn which instruments Anja Beran uses to correct a wrong start with much patience and correct dressage work.”
This session was timely after our visit to Schwaiganger the previous day. Now we were to see – and hear the stories of some of these horses, started and pressured way too soon – and to see how Anja was rectifying the damage done.
Vera rode the four horses presented while Anja explained. I’m going to my notes now. I hope they make sense.
The first horse was a very nice chestnut. I have written ‘try to get ‘quick’ hind leg. The more you hold the neck, the more you ‘kill’ hind legs.’ The solution is lateral movements.
The second horse was first on the lunge. It had had problems turning right. It had also had a bladder disease but was well again. Vera has been working with the horse for a year and has built up a trusting relationship. Here is a photo courtesy Maresa Mader.
The third horse was a mare named Amazing Grace (below). I have written ‘mare with problems’ and nothing else! She’s certainly a beautiful horse!
And horse number four! The horse has an ‘unknown’ problem. It originally cost 150,000 euros – now it was worth only 500 euros. The ‘system’ had ruined this horse. Anja talked to us about this – something she is passionate about changing. This is what she said:
“He is one of thousands of cases. If we can’t change the system soon, animal protection will take over – and they know nothing about what is needed. We are destroying horses – and it’s all about money.
We must save their lives. Do not ride a horse before it is three! Human nature is the problem and we need to control this!”
When I was first introduced to Anja Beran, I knew nothing of her values. I knew that she rode beautifully and that there was obviously much to be learnt from her. Now I was learning what she was passionate about – what kept her working from dawn until the early hours of the morning – it’s her love and concern for the horse. She is living in a country where horses are a big industry – and she is working against the ‘system’.
No one can argue with her results – she is performing miracles with horses that were destined to be put to sleep. She has obviously spent years perfecting her craft – and she needs to be listened to. For anyone reading this, particularly anyone in the dressage world, please share this blog – and share her work.
If you can, visit Anja Beran before you decide to buy a horse – particularly if you are going to spend a lot of money. Listen to what she has to say – and take a look at her horses. Observe the horses moving without tension, in beautiful balance…. it’s what we need to aim for, no matter what we do in the horse world.
More to come…
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