The World of Living with Horses

Training Starts Here with Stephanie von Bidder

I’ve been riding horses for as long as I’ve been walking. Once I got the up-down school-horse thing, I moved on to a long list of horses that most people would avoid. But fearless and spunky, I thought it cool if my horse raced out of control, bucked and shook his head with enthusiasm.

I’ve since learned that this type of riding is generally reserved for children of equine professionals, which my parents were not. So I engineered my own semi-adoption by trainers who, short of letting me live at the barn, kept me busy for the hours I spent there. This included putting me on athletic animals that needed what they casually referred to as “re-training.”

The classic hunt-seat professionals I met over the years transformed me from a youngster with horse sense into a stylish and effective rider. The rest of my education came from the horses I rode. Horses are the real teachers. They ask us to think outside the box. They are candid and don’t often lie, which is why a horse’s performance, health and happiness are the true measure of any trainer.

Here at Daybreak Farm, I work with about 10 horses at a time. Some are amateur show hunters, while others are slated for the high-performance professional ranks. Some are young and pliable, while others are older and set in their ways. Some are sweet; others are bullies. Some are educated; more are clueless and confused. Some are smart and relish a challenge; others are slow and soured, having been pushed past their limits.

I approach each as an individual, as you should approach every horse you own or ride. This is an invitation for you to join me in my classroom, allowing my horses and me to blaze the trail for you and yours. Training horses is like kindergarten for big kids – really big kids. So, bring patience and a sense of humor. Remember, if I make this look easy, it’s just because I have more practice than you.

By Stephanie von Bidder

Stephanie trains horses and riders at her Daybreak Farm in Aiken, S.C.

Next: Training starts with our horses’ PHCH.


Stephanie von Bidder

Stephanie von Bidder grew up in New York’s Westchester County, where she had the opportunity to learn from Patricia Neff, Jerry Carollo, Joe Fargis and Darren Graziano. She now lives in Aiken, South Carolina at her own Daybreak Farm, a full-service hunter and equitation show stable. She trains riders of all ages and abilities in addition to their four-legged counterparts. Von Bidder holds her SCHJA judge’s card and is applying for her USEF license. In 2010, she completed her USHJA Trainer’s Certification.

Share your horse training stories or ask Stephanie about your horse training challenges by commenting on her articles.

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