Connected Riding on the Trail with an Opinionated Half-Arab
I have an athletic, confident and opinionated half-Arab mare with which I have done extensive groundwork over eight years. She is very responsive and has a ton of “try.” I have ridden her on trails with variable control nearly from the beginning, but I have not been successful in achieving a controllable / calm canter. Over these years, I have had many lessons, attended several clinics, and purchased many DVDs in pursuit of that canter. My little horse has always been twitchy and excitable; some may say “exuberant,” eager to move off at too-fast a pace in any gait, which I and others have attributed to her “Arab-ness.”
Recently I moved my horse to another stable and learned that one of the other boarders was a woman named Anke, who is a Connected Riding Practitioner. After observing a lesson, I decided to try one myself (what could it hurt?). In that first lesson, Anke made one specific suggestion which I believe will change our (my horse’s and my) lives. Immediately after the lesson, I went on a solo trail ride. There was no dancing or lurching or charging or near-explosive gait changes, despite encountering a family of noisy turkeys including one last turkey who blasted out of the grass a few feet from the trail, hitting a tree limb which caused the entire small tree to shake as the bird flapped off squawking. My usually flighty little horse stood stock still and watched all this with interest but did not attempt (should I say “offer?”) to whirl around or race off. As my adrenalin level dropped, I asked her to walk off down the trail and she did, as calmly as one could want. I could NOT believe it!
A few days later a friend and I trailered our horses to a nearby park and rode for a couple of hours. My friend, familiar with my extensive struggles with my very forward and extroverted horse, commented that her behavior change “is like a miracle!”
I have now had TWO lessons with Anke, and it feels like I have a different horse. All this time and through all the other lessons and clinics, I have been asking her to hurry while holding her back! Being the patient, merciful creature that she is, she has been forgiving me! Finally I have found a way to communicate successfully with her while riding. It feels like the first days of the rest of my life!
-D. Meyer, Madison WI
Looking Better, Feeling Great with Connected Groundwork and Riding!
“My sweet little mare’s body is in a proper frame, with her head lowered and relaxed”
This might seem no big deal if you don’t know my little right brain introverted mare. I have not had her long but our progress makes me smile just thinking about it. When I bought Pixie (QH Arab mare) she liked to raise her head and hollow her back every time I asked something of her. Backing up was the worst. But she also showed this behavior as not standing to be saddled and raising her head when bridled.
All these “bad habits” have all but disappeared since we have been practicing the Connected Groundwork and Riding we have been taught by Anke Johnson. And honestly this change has not taken a huge time investment. That is one of the wonderful things about these skills. If I only have 5 minutes to do a bit of groundwork it will still make a noticeable difference in our ride and communication.
Then there is the change in my riding also. I hate looking at previous pictures of myself on my horses. My posture, confidence and enjoyment of riding just keep getting better with the Connected Riding methods. I am a big fan and wish I had found Anke and her gentle and kind teaching ability long ago!
The “Wow” with Connected Riding and Groundwork
As a lifelong horsewoman I felt like there wasn’t too much under the sun left to “Wow” me. Then, 6 months ago a possible lease-to-buy opportunity came up for a retired show horse for my young daughter. I was interested but hesitant, due to a stifle injury and some other sport-related difficulties the horse had. Having seen some of the Connected Riding work Anke has been doing, I asked if she would help. I was skeptical about actual outcome due to the extent of the issues, but hopeful after talking with Anke.
We began with Anke doing a full assessment. She came up with a Connected Groundwork rehab plan and recommended some additional cranio-sacral work. After 3 months of regular physical therapy and follow up sessions with Anke, I got my “Wow” moment in the form of our first exercise session with NO limp! I was truly ecstatic. I watched the light come back into the horse’s eyes over the following months as the pain and discomfort left her.
Now, six months later I am pleased to say my daughter and I are the proud owners of this lovely little horse. The life and spirit have come back to this wonderful animal and we continue to use the Connected methods in our work-outs. I look forward to the joy of watching the two of them begin lessons soon and then hit the trails with me this summer! Thanks to Anke and the program she helped me implement, this wonderful horse and my daughter have a long healthy future together.
-G.M., Madison WI 2013 and ongoing
Reflections on Connected Groundwork and Riding
Since Anke introduced me to Connected Riding, I’ve seen a remarkable change in my horse, and my own riding abilities, too! After all, the connection we want to form introduces the relaxation and proper use of our muscles as well as our horse.
Before using Connected Groundwork and Riding, my horse Phantom, always seemed “off” or lame. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. I tried supplementation for his muscles and mild arthritis, but nothing seemed to work. When Anke explained how the connected riding exercises help my horse change his posture in order to allow him to use his body correctly, it all made sense! I always heard people say that the engine needed to be run from his rear end and he needed to stay rounded, etc., but Phantom always put his weight on his front end and was very stiff in his neck, shoulders and hips from years of using his body incorrectly.
Since I’ve been working with him on the Connected Groundwork and Riding, I’ve seen an amazing change in his posture, his attitude and his movement! He moves with much more freedom, his trot is springier and he is starting to learn how to canter without that stiff rocking horse movement. His unexplained lameness is also gone!
I want to thank Peggy Cummings (who founded this philosophy) and Anke for helping both Phantom and me finally figure out how to move in sync and connection. Anke is an excellent teacher and cares about her students (both the horse and the horse owner!) and is dedicated to help both of us and feel good about ourselves and our horses.
-Debby M., Madison WI 2013 and ongoing!
It’s taken me a while to write this, mostly because I don’t quite know how to put in to words how much you have helped me. “Helped” is not an adequate word for it. Encouraged, is maybe a better word for your coaching. I was a little hesitant at first, not knowing what to expect. I have a big problem with lack of motivation. I knew that I needed a kick in the pants, but it had to be in a gentle way, without judgment. Too harsh and I knew I would drop out, not enough and it wouldn’t help. That is exactly what you gave me. During the time that we were having our weekly coaching sessions, I looked forward to our calls every week. My family started looking forward to them also. :~) As you know, when I first started with you, I was ready to sell my horse and give up on riding all together. My life was just too out of control, I just didn’t have time. It was breaking my heart. You have taught me how to prioritize ME and my time with my horse, Magic. You have taught me about my Vital Self and how to honor and nurture her. You have also taught me that putting everyone else before myself is counter-productive, because if I am not nurturing myself, I will use me up. The well will dry up. You also taught me how to recognize the Gremlin who tries to sabotage my daily life and well-being. These are some of the things that have really stuck with me. I can’t thank you enough and still look forward to our calls.
-Sheri T. and Magic WA State
Coaching has gotten me out of a rut of thinking/acting that was not the real me, and has moved me forward on the path I got knocked off of due to life’s sudden lane changes. I’m more focused and feeling ready to tackle challenges again and challenges are where I shine. I had not realized how much I had withdrawn until I went through the coaching.
-Rebecca R, WI
When I first met Anke I held a passion close to my heart, my dream was (and still is!) to ride at the Olympic level as an equestrian show jumper. I had the horse, I had the drive and the dream, but I had no idea how I was going to do it. In stepped Anke! I remember watching her in a demonstration and hearing a whispering voice inside telling me this woman and her coaching technique could help achieve my goal. My intuition was correct and shortly thereafter I found myself fully immersed in her foundation programme learning tools that would lead me to success. We identified quite early that I lacked confidence, was woeful at planning my time, and had a crippling relationship with the F word – FEAR! Over the course of a year Anke and I worked out the kinks and developed tools that helped me become confident, efficient and positively believing my goals are achievable.
So how effective has the coaching really been? Proof is in the pudding as I’ve just returned from spending three months in Florida for the winter season training with my horse. Using the tools I’ve learned from Anke, I set goals for the training, achieved them and even surpassed a few. My horse and I are well positioned to move forward to the next level and I can honestly say I don’t recognize the rider I was before I left. Now it’s full steam ahead to planning the next phase of training and getting ever closer to what I now consider realistic Olympic goals.
Without Anke’s coaching techniques, I would never be where I am today.
-Annalise Simsek Equestrian Athlete
Early this spring I was devastated by an unexpected fall from my fabulous equine partner during a warm up canter in my outdoor ring. I wasn’t badly hurt, but stunned. I felt that my riding was becoming a liability after a bad fall the previous autumn on the trails. If I couldn’t stay on IN THE RING under controlled conditions, maybe I just shouldn’t ride at all. But I absolutely adore my horse and couldn’t come to grips with never riding him again.
Luckily, I had picked up a flyer on Natural Solutions by Anke and had read about her “Despook U” self study program. After putting my tack away and limping back into the house, I immediately fired up my computer, signed up and started right in on the introduction and first session. I felt better already, knowing I was taking positive steps to calm my nerves and get my head back on straight.
I studied the twelve weekly lessons and signed up for one on one additional sessions with Anke as well. I’m happy to report my relationship with my once in a lifetime horse has never been better. Anke taught me skills for those moments when stomach butterflies hit, or when the “what if” horror show started playing in my head. I am THRILLED that I followed the program to it’s completion. My riding has never been better. My horse loves me for it and our already great relationship has hit an all time high. I recommend Anke to anyone looking to gain confidence in themselves in riding or just in life in general. She has helped me take a giant step forward in riding and in finding the positive in more aspects of my life. Thank you Anke, from Archie and I, Gretchen Jaeger, DVM
-Gretchen J, WI
Anke brings a wealth of knowledge about health, nutrition, and exercise to each coaching partnership. She shares that information in a supportive, non-judgmental environment. She helped me concentrate on my priorities (her simple, no fail goals helped to provide focus while not being too overwhelming!). If you are looking for someone to help jumpstart your efforts (or hold you accountable along the way), I would recommend Anke.
Anke has a wealth of knowledge in the area of the impact of chemicals on the body and her suggestions are always helpful
-Robin P, WI
Anke helped me with a plan of action that would work for me. Instead of my usual overly ambitious goals that I always failed to meet, we set very small goals that I could do. Anke never, ever made me feel ashamed of my lapses, but instead reminded me of the successes that I tended to minimize. I began walking more, I stopped drinking completely, gave up my addiction to cake, was no longer eating high calorie snack food, began taking nutritional supplements, and accomplished a lot of things around the house that had been hanging over my head for months. Anke is very skilled and works very hard for her clients. I would not hesitate to recommend her to anyone who wants to live a healthier life.
Anke has a natural curiosity about her and is truly passionate about coaching; she will do her utmost to help you achieve the results you’re looking for! Anke also has a natural aptitude for asking great questions, which is a great coaching skill – one that’s absolutely vital to her clients’ successfully attaining their own goals.
-Kerry B, Canada
I don’t get sick and I am not overweight, so why would I hire a health coach? Because I knew that there is a better way to live and I wanted to feel it. Anke Johnson has vast knowledge about the human body, food, nutrition, exercise, muscles, techniques, the way our mind works, and has a passion for research. She helped me and my family in ways I couldn’t anticipate by (1) asking the right questions that really forced me to look at why I make the decisions I do, why I think the way I think and (2) holding me accountable for goals I could accomplish, pushing me a bit more when it she knew I could handle it, and setting me up for success. She took our coaching sessions to a very deep level without me even realizing it afterward. It was done in a comfortable, easy and enlightening way. Anke Johnson is a tough cookie with an extra dose of compassion.
-Tiffany M, FL
Entrenched health habits are difficult to change, however destructive they are. Anke Johnson not only customized a supplement and exercise plan that works for me, she also motivates, teaches, and cheers me on. I’ve lost weight, I feel better, and I sleep better. The additional energy has allowed me to procure more clients, make more money, and work more efficiently.
-Dan L, WI
I learned how to set obtainable fail proof goals that work, and to take a closer look at nutritional labels and what you’re truly ingesting, that’s paramount for me. I was able to walk away in 3 short hours with enough information to make better choices for me and my family. The great tools that got me educated on nutrition and health, really gave me food for thought. By starting small and setting realistic goals, I was able to understand better how this life information leads you to better life balance. Coaching with Anke is making the dream of riding and being with my horses more a reality instead of just a wish! By finding a person outside of family to be accountable to has helped me to actually achieve my goals, and not just hope that I achieve them.
-Rachelle E, WI
After the workshop, there was much food for thought and options to consider. The nutrition and dietary information helped me to make better choices for my families eating habits. I had so much fun, and learned about many choices in health, supplements and dietary changes to improve our overall health and energy levels. I would loved to have spent all day with you!
-Chris V, WI
Working with Anke has been great, I couldn’t ask for any more to learn. I have been able to achieve more balance in my life which helps to keep me happy. By giving myself rewards when I achieve my ridiculously small activities each week, I’m amazed at how quickly I’m moving towards my goal of learning more about nutrition, and how and what to eat.
-Diane L, WI
After our coaching, I realized how important balance is for general health. This has motivated me to enforce my knowledge that I currently have, and to seek out more. I want to encourage my husband to join me in these lifestyle changes, as I know it will result in a better use of my free time, more energy, and a more balanced life overall!
-Andrea L, WI
I am on board and buy in to what Anke has shared with us, it just makes sense. As a busy mom of two, wife and business owner, it’s not always easy to find time for everything that I have to do, let alone find time for myself. In just over a month, I’ve learned practical grocery shopping trips to improve my and my families nutrition, which has resulted in feeling healthier, less snacking and having more energy throughout the day. I’ve been able to accomplish more in the same 24 hours a day, but with a more positive attitude and with more joy. Taking small no fail steps and rewarding myself when I accomplish them has been empowering and fun! I am now riding my horse once weekly instead of just looking at him from the window, and taking long walks on my farm. I’ve changed my eating and snacking habits and moved in the right directions. Thanks for the support and tips on how to succeed at goals and why it’s so important to have them!
-Judy B, WI
I started a skeptic, but now embrace more core value in what Anke shares. I have learned how to improve my personal life, and have tools to improve my health. Balance and healthy nutrition are now an everyday part of my life!
-Sara K, WI
Wow! Anke has a way of sharing information and keeping you excited and engaged as you learn vital information that will help you to live a longer and more fulfilling life. I learned about the importance of baby steps and rewards, and the effect of food choices in regards to organic vs inorganic. I would say that everyone should learn about what they’re eating and how to achieve their goals. I’m excited to let my friends and family know what my goals are, share the plan on how I’m going to achieve them, and to reward myself for my achievements (no matter how small)!
-Elizabeth K, WI
Anke helped me to understand more about nutrition facts and helped to map out ideas that will help me to move forward towards my own nutrition goals and overall health. You really need to want to change for yourself to be better, and Anke will help you do that. What I learned was amazing, and that nutrition is the key to everything else in your life. I have only one request; a longer time frame! I’m hungry for more!
-Melissa S, WI
After Anke’s 1 day workshop “Taking Care of YOU!”, I realized for the first time that you don’t have to starve yourself to be healthy. It’s like I finally got permission to eat healthy, and not to deprive myself! Learning how nutrition effects your whole body, and how to use good nutrition to move forward with your goals really helped me to take that first step to better health. It was very informative and enlightening, I’m looking forward to much, much more!
-Gail H, WI
Anke Johnson is a health and nutrition coach that has what it takes to make a difference in people’s lives. She has certainly been an inspiration to me during the last 12 years to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
A great coach is someone who has your best interest at heart, asks the right questions, listens and works with you to create a plan for success. She has certainly been patient with me as I would start a wellness program and for some reason or another, suffer a set-back due to an injury or other barrier. Anke always encouraged me to ‘keep my eye on the prize’ and stay focused on the goal, whether it was weight loss or getting healthier as I approach my 49th birthday this year. She has worked with me to achieve a healthier lifestyle especially since my career demands a hectic travel schedule. When success is achieved she celebrates the success with you and works with you to maintain results or go for something else.
Bottom line is that Anke’s knowledge and passion to coach others to have a lifetime of wellness are keys to her success. She has made a difference in my life and I know she can help anyone who is open to creating a healthier lifestyle.
-Barbara M, Oregon
Over the 12 weeks we had together with Once and For All, I’m taking away a process to move out of stuck and overwhelmed to confidence in successful gains. My goals are now attainable and not just fading hopes. This has saved my life physically, emotionally and spiritually. My natural self is showing up again and I will always cherish her from now on out.
-Shirley D, WI
Congratulations on creating such a wonderful course. Once and for All had the way for me to change back to my natural self and you taught it with great knowledge, wisdom and humor. I felt fully responsible and fully supported at the same time, an inspiring combination. It was so much fun to choose health. While losing the 28 pounds and 24 inches was great, being happy with myself and taking charge of my life was greater still and will be the foundation for a future of health and happiness. Thank you so much.
-Shirley D, WI
Many, many gifts! I’d say the most important take-away for me is the new level of awareness I have achieved on so many levels. Awareness about decisions without judgment is just critical, and your coaching just encourages that over and over. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to understand the meaning of “ridiculously small, no fail steps” not just with my relationship to food but to many other areas of my life, as laid out very nicely with the wheel activity in the beginning. The ability to put all of this together in my mind is still a work in progress, and I have awareness of how this is all connected. There’s nothing else like it out there!
-Diane P, WI
Because of my work each week with Anke, I’ve learned how little steps lead to big changes fast! I’ve achieved more in this 12 weeks with my horse than I have in the past two years! She seems to be enjoying spending time with me, and even when the herd members are calling to her, she’s happy to be with me.
-Sue J, IL
My and Denver’s relationship has certainly grown in the past 12 weeks. I’m better able to recognize his thresholds and therefore, respect that he’s hit a threshold and not push him through it. And amazingly, he seems to be having less thresholds because of that!
I would highly recommend taking any course from Anke. I think the biggest takeaway is learning to break things down into tiny, tiny no-fail steps. It’s amazing how quickly you can move forward by doing that.
-Karen U, IL
I am an accomplished equestrian, riding every day with a premier riding instructor. However there has always been a challenge with my confidence even though it’s ever so small, which has kept me from reaching my true potential and my horse reaching his. Within the first 3 weeks of “Squash Fear Gain Confidence”, I was amazed at the small things that made such a BIG difference! As we progressed through the 12 weeks, I continued to progress with my horse so much so that we were able to accomplish flying lead changes, the start of a piaffe and feeling great cantering outside in the open! I am so happy that I was introduced to Anke and the coaching that she provides, and I know if my horse could write part of this he’d be saying thanks too!!
I have been amazed at the growth I have accomplished through taking the “Squash Fear, Gain Confidence” coaching. When I signed up, the “Squash Fear” was the part that seemed predominant in my mind. After finishing the coaching, the “Gain Confidence” is the part that stands out the most. By obtaining the knowledge and the tools and small bits of practice each week, squashing fear is “no big deal”!!! The goals I started with were adjusted to better suit my needs, and I know that in the future I will be able to expand on them and go wherever I decide to go!
I have gotten closer to my horses with regard to relationship. They are happier as am I.
-Beverly D, WI