Can animal communication improve your riding?

“When we used Ditte’s training and when I was riding and using these inputs it was like I got a bit of his happiness back!”

By Becky Murray. Photo Malin Andersson

When International dressage rider Per Sandgaard wanted to think outside of the box to
improve his dressage scores he sought the help of animal communicator Ditte Young.

Ditte Young joined Per Sandgaard at his yard Markne Academy in Sweden for a three day
clinic in order to assist Per with his connection with his Grand Prix dressage horses, Final Cut and Charmeur. Per explains:
“It’s always a wish to become an even better rider and horseman – that was the goal of the
sessions. You often say I wish I could ask the horse a question here because I’m not quite
sure what the problem is. When things are going well then you are not always thinking about the questions!”

Ditte assessed Per’s position and relationship with Charmeur and Final Cut before looking at the horses from a health perspective.

Ditte began the session by running personality profiles on Charmeur and Final Cut by
screening the horses to find which category they fit in.
Ditte explains:
“When I know the category of the personality profile, I know typically what kind of
behaviour the horse has. I sense the energy for example when the horse is sensitive or
nervous.”

The six different personality categories Ditte has made are:
1) Playful – the horse can barely focus, difficult at competitions, energetic.
2) Sensitive – a sensitive mindset or physically, reactive on the finest aid. The resource of
having a sensitive horse is perfect to work in Grand Prix Showjumping or Dressage.
3) Prince/Princess – a very dominant horse. Very proud. It’s a horse that loves to shine. I
usually say a perfect competition horse!
4) Queen/King – the true leader. It’s a loving horse and they teach the rider, typically it’s a
very patient horse.
5) Shocked/Traumatised – the horse is not born that way. The horse shows traumatized
behaviour and often afraid of everything.
6) Rigid/lazy – I hate that name but it says a lot about the horse because it’s turned off. No energy, you can’t push it forward. It looks depressed. It’s not born depressed, so I
always look at where is the motivation is and I create a new “now” to get it motivated
again.

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You can have a horse who has a mix of some of the personality profiles. Ditte next assessed Per’s position and relationship with Charmeur and Final Cut before
looking at the horses from a health perspective.

“I always look at any health problems, of course without being a veterinarian. I look for the energy and if the horse is blocked or locked. This often explains why the horse is struggling to perform certain movements. I see all of this in “pictures” gaining flashes in front of my eyes from the inner eye giving me the full picture of how Per affects the horses when he sits on them.

Ditte began the session by running personality profiles on Charmeur and Final Cut by screening the horses to find which category they fit in.

“You often say I wish I could ask the horse a question here because I’m not quite
sure what the problem is. When things are going well then you are not always thinking about the questions!”

Per Sandgaard

Charmeur
Per explains: “With Charmeur we were looking specifically at Piaffe and transitions.
Charmeur is a little like an opposite letter C in his body when you see his energy from up
above – you never have a straight horse and riders influence it too. I thought I was very
straight, but it was visible that I was falling a little on the left side and didn’t have enough
weight and my right leg was too forward.”

On screening Charmeur Ditte said:
“Charmeur is a very sensitive horse which affects him a lot. Charmeur I describe as a
“sensitive prince” and he needs a father figure, a good leader. I would place him 70%
sensitive and 30% prince.”

Ditte and Per next worked on “visualising” training.
Per explains: “I had to visualise a waterfall – creating a mental picture that Charmeur will
sense. Charmeur should see the same picture and that will help him to understand I have to stop, not go forward, because piaffe is 15 steps on the spot. That’s been my problem, he can do it on the spot and he can do it straight but it’s not every time that I can do it precisely and that’s how it’s supposed to be in a dressage! I really felt that the one time with the right focus, the visualisation of the waterfall and then I didn’t have to do so much in the piaffe! I saw the improvement that quickly.”

Final Cut
Next Ditte looked at Final Cut’s personality profile.
Ditte says: “Final Cut is sensitive, but he is more playful, so everything needs to be fun – he needs motivation constantly. I would say he is 40% sensitive; 30% playful; and 30% closed down.”

Per explains:
“We had a situation with Final Cut where he was not in the best mental state for a while. He looked unhappy and seemed exhausted in the body, both mentally and physically. He gave up a little. In the session we worked with my position and energy from behind to the front. I must say that I really felt he was off in his mental state. When we used Ditte’s training and when I was riding and using these inputs it was like I got a bit of his happiness back!

Ditte says:
When we removed the 30% closed down we could waken up the inner prince and then we got a horse who thought it’s fun again to do the training. He seemed very proud and very focused, and usually it’s rare to see a “focused playful” horse but he was super focused and such a good boy!

“When we used Ditte’s training and when I was riding and using these inputs it was like I got a bit of his happiness back!”

Per Sandgaard

Reflecting on the training with Ditte Per said: “It was fascinating when riding around, Ditte would say I feel energy blocking here and try do this instead or she would say put your leg a little more back and the horse relaxed. You really felt it! Sometimes you believe the horse has a problem and it’s your riding and precision that may block the horse in different places, I had some problems changing the new system – I had to really focus! You think you are straight and then you aren’t. If you have sensitive horses, and horses today are getting more and more sensitive the way we are breeding them, and we want them that way but of course it makes them sensitive to our aids and position and if you find that key you can ride with so much less physical help. The horse will feel it because you think it. I want a happy healthy horse so I feel that this training can really help me.”

Commenting on Per and his horses Ditte says:
“I am very pleased to see Per’s connection with him and both horses. The information I give to Per is only a confirmation of what he is feeling himself. When we work with Grand Prix we work with fine-tuning everything in a heartbeat, it needs to be perfection without being a stressful situation for the rider or the horse.”

Ditte has seen the equestrian sport become more open to the alternative way of thinking, as riders focus more on welfare.

Per explains that: “Doing this with Ditte is a step in a direction that you don’t see so often,
there is a lot of scepticism towards animal communicators, especially in sport. For me the
feeling that I got yesterday was just like an extra puzzle piece that made me come to a higher unity in my riding. It’s hard to value it because you feel wow – it’s coming to another level! It’s not like Ditte is taking over as a trainer, it’s just another tool and another piece of the puzzle to make the picture as perfect and beautiful as possible. I know working with Ditte will be looked at by other riders in the sport but I just think here goes nothing! It’s a little like throwing yourselves to the wolves – a lot will say now he really has to prove that the horses will do even better but I can live with that! I hope it’s going to be an inspiration! Ditte has seen the equestrian sport become more open to the alternative way of thinking, as riders focus more on welfare.

“More riders are becoming open to my work. When I started 16 years ago they had to
smuggle me into the stables – it was a huge secret when I worked with Olympic riders and
now I work with many riders from National teams in Denmark in all categories! They are
more open-minded, the whole energy and development now compared to 16 years ago is all about the horses’ welfare. That development isn’t going to stop – it’s going to be more and more. I think that because people want to develop and get more insight in themselves.”
“The horses in some way intercept what’s going on in our heads for good or for worse and
my goal now is to see if I can use it for the good!” concluded Per.

PER SANDGAARD 
Age: 51
Started riding: 5 years old
Country: Currently rides for Sweden after moving there from Denmark in 2001.
Olympics: Represented Denmark at the Athens Olympics in 2004
Major Championships: 2007 European Championships in La Mandria, Italy, representing
Sweden
Top Result 2018: 1 st Grand Prix Special at Vestfold CDI3* on Charmeur
2018
Goal: Falsterbo Horse Show Sweden
Other: Per is a trained primary school teacher and has a masters in economics
DITTE YOUNG
Age: 39
Born: South Korea but after being adopted as a 1 year old Ditte has lived in Copenhagen since.
About: Ditte is an equicoach, author, speaker, therapist and cranio sacral theraphist with a background working in the TV industry in the news department (DR) while she ducated herself as a clairvoyant and therapist. Ditte has success with combining the energy work and animal communication with the knowledge of therapy and psychology studies.
Ditte started working with horses 16 years ago.
Proudest achievement:  Becoming a mother because it helped develop her senses.

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