"Nothing forced or misunderstood can ever be beautiful." Xenophon
Susie Walker is a Licensed Level 1 Teacher in the International School of Lightness - Ecole de Légèreté founded by French Classical Master Philippe Karl.
Légèreté is classical equitation at its finest. A logical and ethical concept of training. It is based on a deep knowledge of the horse and a philosophy of ease which seriously takes into account the horse’s nature, psychology, anatomy, locomotion and bio-mechanics.
The Ecole de Légèreté rejects the use of force, and has the utmost respect of the horse at its core. Click on the link below for more information about Philippe Karl & the Ecole de Légèreté.
A curious mind... for the horse
My priority is to work in synergy with the nature of the horse - its natural and individual abilities - mental and physical. With this I can develop trust, relaxation and balance in mind and body.
Considering individual needs of each horse and rider, I stay curious to analyse, and understand the background before prescribing a way forward. In my experience, there is always a reason for problem behaviour. Getting to the core of an issue is not only respectful to the horse, but an effective way to solve issues.
There is a plethora of information available on how to train a horse.
It can be difficult to untangle this spaghetti of horse training, particularly when it is buried in complicated or contradictory instructions that can muddle the minds of horses and humans alike.
Horses, as flight animals are sensitive, intuitive, cooperative and willing to please given the right conditions. But many horses are too cooperative, that is they will endure unreasonably harsh treatment and excessive pain, to reach a state of 'Learned helplessness" when they can see no other option for peace. Being so good at reading body language, they can also learn to follow several cues and signals for one response. They repeat whatever they get rewarded for. This is one of the reasons there are many different and 'marketable' methods. Just because something works at one particular time with one particular trainer doesn’t mean it’s the best way for your horse.
The desire to dominate and control is destructive, but to seek harmony and cooperation is productive and positive in the long term. This is what I work to.
I encourage you to stay inquisitive, and open minded. Be confident to ask why and how, and listen for logical answers backed up by facts and respect for the horse. Follow your gut feelings and your own journey.
The challenge to deeply understand horses can take a lifetime of listening, observing, reading, learning and practicing. The sooner you make time to deeply understand and connect with your horse the sooner your horse will do the same with you. Horses have so much to give us and to teach us about ourselves and how to be a good person.
Fundamentally, learning is about changing behaviour, and behaviour change can only come from a change in attitude. In order to do things differently, we need to think differently about how we are asking the horse to do something.
For me its not a matter of "one size fits all" or "the horse must" do this or that. More often "it depends" on the individual situation, character, conformation, conditioning, experiences, and the particular conditions on the day. The horse owes us nothing, we are the ones who have responsibility to understand the horse.
It is clear to me that most common or difficult problems with horses can be resolved safely and progressively with curiosity, knowledge, kindness, and without force. It is mostly about empathy and paying attention to what the horse is doing.
Classical Equitation embraces both art and science so It requires a thoughtful approach that responds to the way horses think and move. Logical training reduces conflict, it makes space for willingness and preserves the horse's dignity and expression.
Ease and lightness in riding are not out of reach. It is possible to find that illusive "harmony" and "partnership" when you have the tools to work with the horse's nature - not against it.
Susie grew up on Cambridge Road Riding Centre in Mooroolbark, Victoria and established ‘Equine Encounters’ in Panton Hill in 1993. She has been teaching riding for over 25 years and regularly conducts lessons and clinics throughout Victoria.
Susie has a Degree in Sociology, 10 years corporate experience in Training & Development, a Graduate Diploma in Adult Education, and a Diploma of Applied Science in Horse Management.
Susie is qualified as a Licensed Level 1 Teacher in Philippe Karl's School of Lightness (Ecole de Légèreté)
She is also an EA Accredited Coach, and an ANWE Accredited Judge of Working Equitation.
In Australia, Susie has been influenced by Andrew McLean, Monola Mendez, and Richard Weiss. She has had international training in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Germany to study the schooling methods of Philippe Karl, Bea Borelle, Sylvia Stoessel, Melanie Bulmahn, and Bertrand Ravoux.
She has participated in a residential summer course in Denmark with Klaus Hempfling, and enjoyed lessons in Portugal with Paulo Sergio & Rodrigo Matus.
"Susie, It’s been such a breath of fresh air learning from you and soaking up all your knowledge. Never a hard hand and always respecting the horse. Reading the horse's body language, relaxation, self awareness, lightness, balance and self carriage. I’m really excited to continue lessons with you!!" Justine E
Gymnastic Schooling in dressage with the use of obstacles
Improve responsiveness, balance, suppleness and versatility. It brings ease and purpose to teaching your horse advanced dressage movements.
LESSONS - CLINICS - COACHING
Lessons are tailored to individual needs of each horse and rider... whatever stage or style of riding you do.
When not teaching at home, I'm travelling out to clinics or club rallies or for lessons on private properties. I may be able to come to your area for private or group lessons.
Whatever your discipline; pleasure or trail, liberty, lunging, groundwork, dressage, Working Equitation, or 3PE; a horse is still a horse, with the same needs and desires, regardless of how its ridden or what style of saddle is on its back.
Bring out the best in you and your horse. With logical, progressive stepping stones you can develop a gymnastic training program for lightness, harmony and balance.
ONE & TWO DAY CLINICS
Develop - Grow - Expess
Weekend or midweek intensive clinics to help you progress: onward and upward.
Learn new skills, resolve problems, gain knowledge and confidence with guided practice.
Private or shared lessons tailored to individual needs of each horse and rider. Small group size ensure quality teaching time & include theory, practice and time to watch and learn from other lessons.
Shared B&B Accomodation available.
INTRODUCTION TO LÉGÈRETÉ
- LIGHTNESS CLINIC -
Classical Equitation In-hand & Ridden
Logical effective techniques for
Relaxation, Balance, Impulsion
Flexibility, Mobility, Collection
All levels and all horses and riders are welcome. Are you over the pushing and pulling methods of dressage? Are you looking for logical and effective principles that make sense to you, and that bring you joy? DO you want to develop your horse's responsiveness, suppleness and willingness to learn? This might be just the one for you.
POSITION, POSTURE & BALANCE CLINIC
Serious seat work in the saddle
Body awareness and balancing aids for creating responsiveness, suppleness, flexibility and symmetry.
Refine the breath, posture and shifting weight aids to improve and change a horse's balance in motion, through transitions, through lateral movements and in collection.
Learn how 'Position-before-Action' and 'Balance before bend' can transform your riding and take you to the next level. If you're playing with lateral work and balancing transitions within the gaits... this one is for you.
3PE / WORKING EQUITATION - CLINICS FOR CLUBS
Dressage with obstacles
Intro, basic or advanced levels
Practice with our Obstacles or provide your own. Club clinics available for small groups at your location. Learn how working with obstacles gives purpose and meaning to dressage. More than that it makes it easier to progress through the levels when your work around obstacles.
Learn WE rules and training techniques to advance your skills for competition or pleasure.
"There is nothing to be feared, it is only to be understood" (Marie Clair)
Relax and go at your own pace.
The priority is your priority - discover what you and your horse need to work on to make you both feel confident and happy.
On the ground, in hand, on the lunge or ridden. These lessons are tailored to individual needs in private or group sessions.
LEADERSHIP TO LIBERTY CLINIC
Connect on a deeper level through effective body language that leads to harmony and mutual respect.
Learn to read and send subtle cues.
Discover your horse's true nature and unique spirit in free lunging
Learn from the best master of all: the horse! Dive right into this unmounted program working with our horses to learn how rewarding it can be when the horse is really tuned into your mind and body language. This is an educational experience for any skill level. Learn by immersing yourself in the here and now of horse time - seeing, doing, feeling and exploring the joy of leadership through liberty.
60 X 20 SAND ARENA
Our arena is fully fenced, with a good sand surface and surrounded by shady trees and a peaceful outlook.
LUNGING & LIBERTY YARD
A small all weather square yard for lunging, liberty, groundwork, demonstrations etc.
Under cover saddle up area
Hot /cold horse wash
Circular driveway for float access
Working Equitation Obstacles