Nora Dalüge & Alba Basic Grade 1

Nora Dalüge graduated in the Straightness Training Academy in Grade 1 in the four unmounted training pillars: groundwork, longeing, work in hand, and Straightness Training at liberty.

Congratulations Nora, and thanks for taking the time to share your STory with us!

Nora Dalüge

❝I had my first horse for almost 20 years of my life and he accompanied me on my path. The path started with lots of fun on trailrides but also very forceful, competetive riding, and then multiple attemps at various riding and training techniques, including lots of dead-end paths, but finally all the way to the fundamentals of the old masters. I knew, if I'd ever have a young horse, I would educate it according to ST right from the very beginning. At that time, I didn't look for a young horse, but fortunately my PRE mare Alba found me in 2018. I joined ST Mastery Programm in 2019 and the ST Scholars in Summer 2021 because I felt that I really need feedback on a regular basis to put theorie into practice. The main problem was that I wanted too much too fast and didn't consider the horses point of view enough and I think I totally overwhelmed my little Alba with a lot of things.

I was frustrated that I understood all the theories in my head, but I wasn't able to teach it to my horse. I was also frustrated because I knew that sometimes I used too much/sudden and steady pressure, but I couldn't change my habits. In addition, days with my horse were either black or white - one day, I felt like we could achieve anything together, the next day nothing seemed to be possible at all and I felt like a failure. 

But I wanted to give my young horse the best education possible to become a fine riding horse and to delevop a beautiful relationship and at that time I felt like I wasn't progressing the way I'd hoped for. 

So I discovered ST in 2017 after being at a clinic of the Academic Art of Riding by searching the internet for opportunites to learn more about the art of riding according to the old masters. I wanted to develop some skills in all four pillars before starting to ride my horse. Groundwork and Longeing felt rather easy because I've beein doing that a lot before submitting Touchstones. The bigger challenge here was the "being filmed" part because when the camera is on, I used to get quite tense (sometimes this still happens). Liberty felt okay as well, and I was really surprised by how much my horse is willing to give. Work in Hand felt very strange to me in the beginning, but Alba started to shape up so nicely even though my tool handling was all over the place, and again I was blown away by how much she offers.

Where I would be right now if you hadn’t chosen to embark on this ST journey? I guess still playing with some groundwork, longeing and trying some liberty, but probably with a lot less quality. I I think we might not be doing WIH or Riding yet because progress would have been much slower or I had found reasons to postpone it again and again.

Over the last years, I became aware that everything I achieved so far in my life (university, career, sports, ...) had to do with pushing through, clenching my teeth and getting it done.  I used to be very goal-oriented, and I was - and still am sometimes - that way with horses a lot, too. Make them do it, with more or less pressure. ST has tought me that with horse training, what counts in order to achieve goals is to keep momentum, stick with it and try to improve little by little, but never by pushing through. So sometimes I actually start to use my brain to solve a situation instead of just get it over with.

Starting ST and having a young child helped me discover a lot about myself, about emotions and about relationships. I think I start to see my own needs (instead of seeing only my goals) but also I start to really take my horses needs into consideration. I also discovered how fast I go into freeze or fight as soon as I feel a little bit overwhelmed (e.g. when being filmed for a Touchstone). This discovery helps me so much to understand Alba's freeze and fight responses so much better! So I think more about what Albas needs from me instead of what I want to achieve today. And I start to value Albas feedback instead of being annoyed, because I used to be annyoed and frustrated about her feedback because I didn't know what to change... I guess Alba feels a little relief about my better understanding.

But still a looooooooong way to go, I fall back into my old habits A LOT... but I am soooooooo excited to be able to experience this journey together with my horse while growing together little by little.

~ Nora Dalüge, Germany

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