10. An Evening with Anja Beran

Michaela had arranged for our clicker group to meet with Anja on the Friday evening – the Saturday being the last day of the workshop.  This gave us all a wonderful opportunity to ask questions and learn more about her work.

Alex recorded a podcast for Equiosity .  It is presented in three parts –  you can find  Part 1 here.

I had an opportunity to ask Anja about the use of bits, whips and spurs.  I had come the previous year anti all those things – but as I gained an understanding of them – and how they were originally intended, I was able to look at it differently.  I’ve already written about this at length in 2. Anja Beran – Horses, Falconry and more.. and 3. Anja Beran – The Aids Continued…. and the ‘Spur Experiment’ .

Lisa commented on Anja’s very refined cues and asked how she trained that. And at the end of this first part, listen to Dominique Day’s comments.  She and Alex talked at length about the use – or misuse of tools.  I certainly agree if you cannot control your emotions, do not use these tools.  I’d also add – if you cannot control your emotions – take a day – or as long as you need – away from your horse.

Also, the comfort of the horse extends to the correct saddle and the expertise of the rider.  There really are so many things to take into consideration.  We  can add correct trimming of hooves, regular dental maintenance etc.  – the list is endless!  But we have to start somewhere!podcast 2

In Part 2 of the podcast, Ingrid asked if there were individual exercise programmes for the specific problems of each horse.  Anja replied, that yes, each horse may have something different – but she stressed that the horse should do something each day – even for 20 minutes – building the horse up gradually is the best approach.  They can get very fit this way as they know how to use their bodies in a much lighter, balanced way.

Caeli asked how would a person like herself, working at home on her own, evaluate whether  she was making progress.  Anja answered that she would look for lightness, amongst other things.

Rebekka asked how she would go about finding a teacher who approaches classical dressage in this way.  Anja suggested that she watch the teacher ride –  ask to see horses they have trained – have a good look at the horses – are they still in good health – ask if they have trained a young horse all the way through to advanced levels etc.

Alex and Dominique finish up this podcast with another good discussion.


Part 3 starts with Alex and Anja talking about ‘why all these exercises?”   Anja also talks about the Anja Beran Foundation.  I’m going to copy the description directly from Anja’s website:

The Anja Beran Foundation is a non-profit making foundation having legal capacity under civil law. The main focus of the foundation, set up on 9 September 2009, is to practise classical equestrianism and increase people’s awareness of it, as only horses which are treated well and gymnasticised with carefully conceived exercises remain healthy, content and able to perform until they reach an advanced age.

The Anja Beran Foundation also supports animal welfare and environmental protection because this is also an integral part of a harmony-orientated, responsible attitude to life – the objective is to encourage people to develop a profound sense of respect for animals and nature, and make this stance a fundamental position of every individual person.


These are wonderful goals – and something we should all aim for!

Anja talks in this part about the difficulty in changing the ‘system’.  The warmblood industry is big business in Germany – and stallions are put through a rigorous test at an early age, which leaves so many of them ruined for a long, healthy life.  Anja takes many of these horses.

How can we help?  Not just in that particular industry – in improving the welfare of horses in general.  Just recently in Australia there has been major media attention on what happens to racehorses when they have finished racing.  The video was shocking – and I didn’t watch it.  But it has opened up the general public’s awareness as to what really happens.  It has allowed people to expand their thinking.  This year the Melbourne Cup attendance numbers were much lower than previous years.  The racing industry has stepped up to provide more funding to retired racehorses.  There are many wonderful racehorse rehoming organisations and they are now getting more publicity.

So my belief is that we can change thinking – one step at a time!

So that ends my post on our evening with Anja Beran.  In relation to the podcasts – make sure you listen to the end.  The discussions at the end between Alex and Dominique are very much worth listening to with some important points made.



It was a great experience to have this time with someone who is doing such great work!



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