Franziska Löhr, Germany

Aspar, Icelandic horse

It is difficult to say when the story of Aspar and Nicole began, because the trainer-horse relationship of the two has a longer history:

Aspar was, until a fateful week in July 2016, an 11-year-old, smart, a bit spooky and sometimes easily distracted Icelandic gelding, with whom I had been able to do many beautiful and long rides alone and in groups, and who always has been loyal to me. He lived in an open stable and was in the group, the first- or at least one of, the herd leaders.

The stress began when in July 2016, a new, strong gelding moved into the open stable and immediately claimed, very clearly with chasing all herd members, the leader position for himself. All the horses, except for Aspar, gave way to the claim of leadership by the new horse after a few days. However, Aspar and the new horse fought hard for the day and night, and even lower ranked horses hid behind Aspar when they got tired of being constantly sent.

When the new horse had to move out after a week of trying to integrate, a final noisy fight night and it became clear that neither of the two horses would give up first place, I assumed the matter had been dealt with. Instead, however, the problems really started. Aspar did not want to leave his herd under any circumstances, he regularly tore himself away from the lead rope to run back to the paddock. Hacking or riding on the outside jumping place was out of the question. He always bolted back to the herd without any consideration of any attempts by the rider. The rider was only a passenger. I was desperate and with each passing day it got worse. Where was my little nervous but reliable leisure pony?

After a month of no improvement, I was desperately remembering a horsemanship course that Aspar and I had once joined with Helmut Bramesfeld and asked Helmut for help. We were lucky and Aspar and I worked with Helmut for five days straight. Many new experiences, insights and solutions paved the way for us. Our everyday life was now marked by horsemanship work. We made significant progress and riding became possible again. But, we still had not been able to leave the property, neither alone nor in company with other horses. At the property line, Aspar flipped the inner switch again. He emphatically refused to leave the yard and behaved almost hysterically.

Helmut once again helped us and recommended Nicole's work “For the health of the horse”. Aspar needed to build up his physical strength and thus regain his psychic strength. Since then, Aspar and I are working with Nicole. She managed, with her long-suffering steadiness and understanding for his fears, to relax the panicked, strained Aspar. She gave him, as a horse with a natural tölt, a swinging trot rhythm with an extended neck and arched back. For a long time, I had not seen Aspar being so all over relaxed. It was just great to experience that again. Today, Aspar is focused on the subject at hand, listens and does everything right.

The training was and still is a holistic work of gymnastics and horsemanship. Nicole works with Aspar alone or uses her own experienced and very sensible "horse-therapy horse", Minero, to relax the human-horse atmosphere. Of course I also get lessons with Aspar and Nicole to improve my own skills. I think Aspar and I have come a long way. In any case, we hear this again and again from fellow riders who have followed the whole "theatre" and are now happy for us and how well everything has developed after a year. Aspar has regained his previously lost faith in the world, and me (even rides are possible again), and I've learned so much more about horses, their behavior, their language, the relationship between man and horse, horse-friendly riding and a greater appreciation of small advances than in all years before.

Although it has been several exhausting and nerve-racking months with various desperate moments, I'm now grateful to Aspar for having "imposed" on me this training with Nicole. She has always given me confidence that Aspar's situation is not hopeless ... and she was right. We do not want to miss your expertise and assistance in the future! Of course, my thanks also go to Helmut Bramesfeld, who took his time for us when we did not know what to do anymore, showed us the first essential steps and ultimately brought us together with Nicole.

Franziska Löhr
Langeln, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Janna Steffens, Germany