Here you can find my bio and my story. Click here to find out what others think of Sandra Poppema and HippoLogic's Horse Training.
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.
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!
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 wanted to learn more about the rider's seat and how it influences the horse's movement.
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
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 practise 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 my horse on trail rides. Giving reward-based horse training demo's is on our bucket list."
Sandra Poppema-HippoLogic is featured in:
4 Week online course: Set Your Equestrian Goals & Achieve them
"Through her online course on goal setting, Sandra has given me excellent help in how to set achievable goals for my horse training. I'm now better able to see what I need to work on and enjoying achieving my goals. Thank you Sandra!" Ananja Stehouwer (The Netherlands, Europe)
"I have enjoyed all of it. The course has really helped me think about what I actually want to do with my horse. You do a good job of helping focus on a goal. Loved the advice and support."
"I have gained a lot so far. I've always had a bit of butterfly mind and tend to jump from one exercise to another too fast and not getting anywhere! Sandra have taught me to focus and take things in small steps. And its so helpful to read everyone else's progress as well" (student is referring to the Facebook support group for this online course)
"What I like is that they (the exercises) are very doable as you have to answer to one thing at a time. I appreciate the way you give support a lot. You are critical in a good way, not letting me feel like everything I do is already perfect but also giving advice in a good way and helping to keep sharp.
I also got a little more insight into why I find it hard to succeed with training plans and what I could do to help myself with this."
"I think this course is an excellent idea. You are always very supportive Sandra and make this feel like a safe place (the Facebook support group) to ask questions. Funny, but I've met a lot of R+ trainers who a very encouraging and positive with their horses but extremely critical of their human trainers. Sandra you walk and talk R+ in all areas - with horses and people :) "
"A fascinating and creative teacher. She was great help in helping me and my horse achieve our goals. Concise, clear and funny!" -Noche
Online (video) coaching sessions
Before I met Sandra I had a huge problem communicating clearly to my horse Jet what I wanted from him. Jet is a 8 year old paint gelding who acts like a stallion; I could never stand next to him without being bitten.
I asked Sandra to help me make grooming and haltering Jet safe again. Haltering Jet could take up to 5 minutes because he would try to bite me if I got near his head or neck. This caused a lot of tension between us.
Sandra coached me to turn Jets behaviour around. Now I can halter Jet within a few seconds and... without being bitten! She taught me to find the positive moments in his behaviour and helped me to pinpoint the safer behaviours to reinforce and get more of. With Sandra's help I changed Jets biting behaviour into safe behaviours.
The best side effect is now that our communication is clear: I am greeted every day by a very happy and enthusiastic horse. The best thing of our video consults is that I all did it myself, with s
support of Sandra. No instructor who did the job for me, I did it all myself. Now I have the experience too, not only the theory.
Before I started with the video consults I never thought I could make so much progression in just a few weeks. Thank you so much, Sandra. Without you our future might have not be so bright now. Cheers, Ingrid & Jet (Belgium, Europe)
I had a really empowering online coaching session from Sandra, helping me put my problems in perspective. Now my horse Iliana and I are really focusing on not grabbing for food wherever she goes, and with baby steps we are getting there. Lots of other things to train too, but one thing at a time I think. Thank you, Sandra, you are an inspiration! - Patricia Elkins (Spain, Europe)
"Really enjoyed my coaching session with Sandra today! She is a wealth of knowledge and is super easy to talk to. She really understood the issues I have been dealing with and offered up lots of very helpful suggestions to help me progress with both of my very different mares.
I also very much appreciated the detailed follow up email that Sandra sent following our talk. If you are looking for guidance with positive reinforcement training I would HIGHLY recommend Sandra. I am very much looking forward to implementing her ideas into my training sessions."- Lisa
I liked being able to practice my new skills on a horse and I also liked watching other people with their horses. It was good to see the different results. (About the organization:) I think it was really well planned and I really enjoyed it. Thanks! - Paige (Canada)
I liked the horse-handler hands-on training best. Working in groups was really educational. - Suzanne (Canada)
I liked everything about your clinic: the understanding of "why" and "how", to get reactions of the horse - Angelica (Canada)
'I had been clicker training under saddle for a year before I started working with Sandra.
I had seen a huge improvement in the attitude of my horse, a Canadian gelding, after starting clicker training, but I was still experiencing regular setbacks wherein he would shut down and be resistant to going forward under saddle. At those times, I would resort to negative reinforcement to get him responding again.
Sandra helped me understand that I needed to go back to training one criterion at a time to build up my horse’s confidence. She also encouraged me to do shorter sessions and provide more rewards to my horse.
Her advice made a huge difference in my horse’s willingness to perform; I’m happy to report that I haven’t had to resort to any negative reinforcement methods since working with her, and my horse is now happily performing movements that he would have resisted a short time ago.'
Alana & Sahara (Canada)
Sandra Poppema-HippoLogic is featured in: