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Lauren de Waal & Royman Graduate Grade 1

Lauren de Waal from Australia, graduated in the Straightness Training Academy in Grade 1 in all five training pillars: groundwork, longeing, work in hand, riding and Straightness Training at liberty.

Lauren is a Scholar in the Basic ST Instructor Certification Program and this summer, she passed her Riding Grade 1 Touchstone with her ex-racehorse Royman, and with that milestone, Lauren has passed all 5 Touchstones in Grade 1.

Congratulations Lauren, keep up the good work in the Certification Program!

And thanks, Lauren, for taking the time to share your experience with the programs:

❝I’m very excited to be graduating with Royman this month.

Royman is my ex-racehorse, turned competitive eventer and show jumper. In 2016, I came home to find him quite lame, and an MRI showed that he had a severe collateral ligament injury. The vet concluded that he wouldn’t return to work, but I wasn’t ready to let him go, so I started down a path of extensive rehabilitation.

It was because of this need to rehabilitate Royman (and some of my other horses) that I found the ST Entry Course in 2019, the Scholars Program in 2021, and now I’m looking forward to certifying as an Instructor by the end of 2022.

A big lesson from my journey has been that the rehabilitation process can be both mentally and emotionally draining. Trust me when I say that your mindset will impact your training and your interactions with your horse. I always had an A-type personality and an aggressive level of competitiveness. I came from a background where we didn’t see value in horses unless they were competitive – I used to call this ‘useful’ – and yet I had found myself in my worst-case scenario, with no active competition mount.

Luckily, part of me suspected that my thoughts were no longer serving me. I realised that to succeed with Royman’s rehabilitation, I needed to undergo a huge learning curve, regain my love of horses and rediscover my passion.

Today, I’m a totally different person – I’m confident, calm and spacious – and as a result, all of my horses have also transformed.

One of the things I really appreciate about ST is the clear and logical system of progression, coupled with the incredible level of detail. I’m always amazed by how the smallest changes make such incredible impacts to our work. I have learned to never underestimate what a horse will offer through the rehabilitation process. For example, Royman took to the liberty pillar almost immediately. Never in our former competitive lives would I have considered training him in liberty, yet from very early on I was able to communicate with him off line, and really play with our connection and our partnership.

For me, this is a moment to reflect on what Royman and I have achieved, and yet remain excited about what is still to come. I feel our biggest learning is imminent – a discovery of equine mental states and how I can best find and then engage his range of mental states. From racing, to eventing then show jumping, I find his mental state can sometimes be a bit ‘against’ rather than ‘responsive’, and I look forward to exploring this further.

I’m grateful for the path Royman has placed me on, and the lessons that he continues to teach me. Immersing myself in the world of ST has assisted me in transforming Royman into the strong, balanced and reliable partner I have today.

~ Lauren de Waal, Australia

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