Meet Your Coach

About Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.

“I always wanted to train horses in a non-violent way.  I used reward-based training for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t always effective. Why? Because I didn’t know how to achieve my goal without (accumulating) pressure and sometimes even punishment to teach a horse what I wanted; it was not satisfying at all.

Animal Management

In 1999, during my final year studying Animal Management, I heard of equine clicker training for the first time. I learned the science behind positive reinforcement training and how to apply it correctly when training to builds trust, confidence and respect between horse and rider. This is what I had in mind when I was a little girl!

Riding instructor

In 2007, I became a certified “Basic Instructor Dressage & Jumping” at the Royal Dutch Horse Sports Federation. In 2011 I became a Level 1 Certified Centered Riding instructor, because I needed to learn more about the rider’s seat and how it influences the horse’s movement.

Horse trainer

A lot of horses of my clients had minor behavioural issues. They were hard to catch in the field, difficult to halter, bridle, saddle, deworm or trailer load. Sometimes their horses showed undesired behaviours during handling, like biting or walking away while being mounted.

This is how I started helping riders train their own horses. I see much more value in coaching a horse owner how to train their horse, than me training their horse. If I do the work, the horse will listen to me, but I am not the person working with the horse on a daily basis. What horse owners really need is that their horse behaves safe around them and respond to their cues.

Kyra, my success story: From Feral to Fantastic

My current horse Kyra was born in 2008 in a nature reserve; she was 11 months old when I got her. She didn’t accept any human contact in the beginning. I tamed and trained her myself using reward-based methods.

In just three weeks, I could halter her, touch her all over, lift her feet and lead her around the premises. After just a few months of training Kyra now seeks out human contact. I used positive reinforcement to start her under saddle and she is doing great. This convinced me that it is possible to train a horse with reward-based horse training. My relationship with Kyra is very special. She greets me with a soft nicker and always comes to the gate as soon as she sees me or hears my car.

I like classical dressage and that involves a lot of work-in-hand (alignment training) and long reining. I also like trick training, Horse Agility and I take Kyra on trail rides.  Giving positive reinforcement demo’s is on our bucket list.”