Maarten Ducrot & Pocholo Basic Grade 1
in STories

Maarten Ducrot & Pocholo Basic Grade 1

Maarten Ducrot from the Netherlands is a Scholar in the Basic ST Instructor Certification Program who graduated in the Straightness Training Academy in Grade 1 in the four unmounted pillars: groundwork, longeing, work in hand, and Straightness Training at liberty.

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

And thanks for taking the time to share your STory with us!


❝I am 64 years old now and started my horse riding journey 15 years ago when my daughter wanted to learn it and I just went along. What struck me the most is that lessons were all about a worried approach of a fearful animal, which led to lots of turmoil in the lessons also for my daughter. I then decided despite the fact not knowing anything about horses to find another way and to take my daughter with me on that journey. It ended up with us moving to a small farm with 2 horses 8 years ago. I was doing trails of 25 km in 2 hours, galloping through sand and bushes. I went to lots of clinics in the natural horsemanship realm even in the US with Haary Whitney and Ross Jacobs. 

But my horse told me that he was not up to the things I asked of him,  and I was not educated enough to understand him. He was very obedient but also shut down and never gained muscles. This was 5 years ago.


That’s when I learned I had to do gymnastics with my horse in another way then just running on trails with him. So I went into classical dressage, read all the books of the old masters, plus Klaus Hempfling and followed online clinics of Dominic Barbier. That meant a lot of lateral movements around the pillars for the last 2 years. But in the course of 2021 I noticed my horse was still very obedient also shut down (not like before but still) and that he was not relaxed. Above all it is a beautiful horse which moved very very stiff and not how such a horse should move.

My basic repertoire is frustration, anger even, and my response is to try harder. But that response had led to this situation. 3 years ago I was very sad about it. Then I had high hopes with the classical dressage. But still not getting the results I was looking for I sat down in kind of despair.

I only have 10 more years to learn before I’ll die :-) and I can’t find the solution. Something has to change. Besides my gut told me that I really wanted to learn and be with our horses. Doing my regular job (consultant in leadership and organizational development) I noticed I was all the time thinking about horses and how to improve as a rider. If I was going to change something in my life this is the last chance I get

I downloaded the Ebook of Marijke already 5 years ago. I got her offer in 2021 to become an instructor. That meant 2 birds with one blow (turn around as a teacher of managers and learning the horse training). 

What I only understood then is that Marijke offers no method but a way to progress. 


She told me already 5 years ago but I didn’t understand. I immediately saw now that I was starting with the end in mind but with no clue of the basics. Barbier told me to do the lateral movements everyday, but Marijke explained how you learn your horse to search, take responsibility and learn to bent in all directions. And how the horse shows you in what way he progresses. This idea of progression still is the key. It is not about learning a movement it is progressing in the ability to move your body (you and the horse) and maybe you’ll be able to do a piaffe eventually. Besides she giggles all of the time and that makes things attractive So I subscribed at the very last possible moment: December 31st.

My horse was almost piaffing already and now I had to do basic work in hand. But the feedback was very very precise which made me try to do better. Sometimes I was rebellious but only to learn she was right.


At the moment I sit on my horse only once a week, work him every day and see how he is trying to step under to bent and improves. He has gained muscles a lot and after 2 months he started to offer me movements. When I work other horses he gets in the way: he wants to be in the lesson too. It is incredible. He is relaxed and happy.

The thing that brings me joy the most is that all the work of the last years is not for nothing. Now we fill in the gaps in the basis and my eye develops I can see he is trying and improves all the time and shows me movements that are getting more beautiful. OK he loses his right outside leg when it becomes tough. But I didn’t notice that before and just pushed him. The fact that I notice and him knowing I know and wait for him, makes him very relaxed and that he tries very hard. What I really learned is that my natural energy is enough. I don’t have to push or increase it. When I just am sitting or working with the horses I can ask them anything. If they know the answer they will give it to youWhat I also learned is to be more precise in the inner feeling/picture that goes along with the energy and to have a sequence in the work. I really am preparing to start our riding school and tell everyone I am an ST instructor.

~ Maarten Ducrot, the Netherlands

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