Josepha Guillaume

Josepha Guillaume

Wednesday, 04 December 2013 12:20

Paddock paradise or hell?

Paddock Paradise or Hell?
Lately I keep receiving the question: “Why rugs on your horses?” I even received some judgemental remarks about my horses having rugs on, or even that they are in the stable at night. But how can people make a judgement just from a picture without these people knowing my horses, me, or anything about their condition or situation?
Saturday, 30 November 2013 13:28


"Like your photos Josepha. Thanks for all the support on the CRC site. Always enjoy hearing from you"
Sylvia Loch, Schotland via Facebook 
"Josepha, You are a bright star in a dark sky! Thank you for demonstrating the epitome of what is classical and the most noble qualities in man! You are proof to all that training without force is entirely possible and I hope you continue to speak out everywhere for the sake of the horse! Yours truly,"
Margaret Kunz, Conecticut, USA 
"Just wanted to say that it seems to me I have learned more in two lessons from you than I have learned in the last 8 years... You are the first to explain about how to move with the horse and how to help the horse relax with my seat. Either there are only a few really good teachers or I never met one before you."
Charlotte Gram, Belgium 
"OMW, I am blown away!!!! Josepha is amazing, what she said just made so much sense. Seeing everyone riding having lightbulb moments and success was very, very special - especially seeing Simone so relaxed and coping - and even forgetting Olga didn't have a bit in her mouth!" 
Janet Richter Burmeister, South Africa
 "We move on with Bodyshaping and a tad of Bodylanguage so Quiny can develop further. It will take time, but she feels great now and I find her a lovely girl. Yes, we work on Ramener & follow me like a dance, without the first basic stages completed, but that is Quiny. Difficult exercises, everything you want. Simple exercises... not so much... So I am not going to nag her with those. Every horse has his own unique character and she and I are a strong headed couple, who are not able to confine ourselves to mainstream thinking and working. Nevertheless we work hard in our own way and slowly but surely we are getting where we want to be. We are just so happy that with Josepha we can stay ourselves! Thank you so much Josepha, for this, apparently seems to be a very rare thing."
Heidi Bertels, Belgium 
 "I cant believe I was actually in tears and shaking before my lesson. Josepha, Olga and I owe you a huge debt of gratitude for what you have opened my eyes to. Thank you." 
Simone Clark, Capetown, South Africa 
 "With this message I want to thank Josepha for the wonderful day I experienced during here course 'dealing with traumatised and fearful horses'. I made a huge leap forward with my horse Chinitor Z. I enjoy what we experienced during the course every day, with Chinitor but also with all my other horses! This is an absolute 'must do' for every horse lover. I have been with horses for over 50 year with good results in show jumping. After Josepha's course I came to the conclusion that there is still much to be learned. No worries, Josepha is there to help us." 
Jean André, Belgium 
"I just want to say thank you so much for the clinic and lessons, it was fantastic!"
Roxanne Leipsig, Capetown, South Africa 
"So the really exciting big thing about the SA AND clinic for me was that Josepha gave my instructor Sarah some lessons with Sarah's "difficult" horse Farry. She was thinking of "giving up" on him as he's hard to keep between hand and leg. Anyway - she ended up grinning like an idiot and riding Farry in cordeo and now she's keeping him! Also, she understood what Josepha was saying easily and "got it" real quick and now she'll work like that with me and Freckles. So our future looks easier." 
Glen Grobler, Richard's bay, South Africa 
"It was the best clinic I have been to, and for the first time ever there was not a single thing said or done that I did not agree with. So much validation to continue along the same path and now with more focus and understanding of how and why I am doing what I am..."
Annette O'Sullivan, Capetown, South Africa
Saturday, 30 November 2013 13:26

Josepha's curriculum

When Josepha was 4, people asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She always said: ‘horse rider’ on which people replied that this is not a real profession.
It shows grown ups do not always know best…
Josepha’s Curriculum in a nutshell
1974 before reaching  the age of 1, saying ‘horse’ as one of the first words, while speaking far ahead her age
1974-1980 being dragged on a daily basis to every place that had or involved horses by her grandfather, himself a passionate horse lover since birth, who drove Belgian cold blood horses for farmers as a child and worked the Belgian Cavalery stables as a young man. His idea of good riding was the Spanish Riding School of Vienna.
1980-86 spending al free time between a carnival's owner pony herd, close to her house. Josepha learned about herd dynamics, mother foal relationship and the special sensitivity that belongs with stallions.
1986-89 taking weekly lessons at the riding school while helping out as groom and helping educating young horses for backing and riding. Josepha's instructor and teacher luckily had a nowadays rarely seen classical equitation back ground. He too had the Spanish Riding School of Vienna as example of correct horse training and riding.
1989-90 She was asked to teach the children’s classes each week at the riding school at only 15, which she did with zest each week
1990 applied for Horse Riding High School in Deurne the Netherlands but could not deal with how the horses were handled and had to leave
1991 worked as a groom at a racing stable in Brussels. Parting with stallion Vita Light who was sold to UK and the misery of the very young horses in general according the Josepha made her go back home
1991 tried to live without horses because of the pain it brought Josepha to see them suffering everywhere she went
1993 In a fit of passion bought her first horse: the Ferrari like monster Holsteiner Astaire, to safe him from more abuse
1998 bought small farm together with partner Ralph to keep horses at home
1999 Ralph bought her childhood sweetheart Jimmy, who enjoyed his time of retirement while being pampered. Exhausted as he was from his hard life as a riding school horse, Jimmy passed away 11 months thereafter. Josepha still has difficulties talking about Jimmy to this day and she works restless for all the Jimmies in the world.
1996-98 worked in child protection, which later in helped Josepha to recognise mental traumas in horses
1998-2000 worked in fitness world, which later on became a huge part of how Josepha developed her training method for horses discovering the both Equine and human body are very much a like.
2001 received severely traumatised but highly trained ex bullfight (rejoneador) Don Jamie from sevilla. Josepha then started the in-depth study of the European old riding Art Masters (of which Antoine De Pluvinel is her favorite) and got to know Baroque riding and feel high School movements.
2000-2005 worked with the police and justice department as co-ordinator, which gave Josepha many insight in the different levels of society but also showed her that some forms of horse keeping are very much alike with human prison keeping, in fysical form: little rooms with bars on each side of a long corridor but also mental form: having no say over where you are placed and what you do.
2000-2006 took weekly lessons from in her region well known classical dressage trainer Marlou van de Broek and was one of the few allowed to ride her personal and precious white Belgian warmblood dressage horses. Also had several lessons from grand-prix dressage trainer David de Wispeleare, followed several instruction weekends from former Spanisch Riding School of Vienna chief oberbereiter Arthur Kottas Heldenberg, was introduced to the biomechanics of the seat and Centered Riding by Lisanne Thomas who later became a close friend, started evidence based positive reward training via Miriam Nieuwe Weme (who also became a close friend) and followed a diversity of clinics or lessons with Ellen Schuthof, Margreet Bouwmeester, Sue Leffler, Heather Moffett, Monty Roberts, Lisbeth Wijnants (Antoine De Bodt system) and Beda Steman (Doma Vaquera & Garrocha) amongst others. Josepha says: “It does not matter whether one’s views on horse training or handling differs from an other trainer. Knowledge can always be used and adjusted to ones own way and vision. We should celebrate our differences rather than fight over them”
2004-2011 started and ran the succesfull first bitless tackshop in the world: Equihof
2004 started helping others on request with Horse problems and started teaching riding lessons without planning to
2005 came in to contact with Bittless Bridle pioneer Dr. Bob Cook, received one of his famous bridles and found a big piece and corner stone of her future training technique and philosophy
2006 further developed her own training method which she then called Natural Riding Art which is a reference to the Riding Art of the old Masters and the Natural laws, needs and movements of the Horse instead of that of the human.
2007 started the Natural Riding Art forum study group together with Bianca Kersten and Miriam Nieuwe Weme which was renamed Art of Natural Dressage on the request of Miriam to be also inviting to people who did not ride their horses but nevertheless trained positive reward based. The forum has over a thousand wordwide members and millions of hits.
2007 successfully took a riding teacher exam for an international acknowledged organisation called ‘Centered Riding’ for official teaching as instructor.
2007 reintroduced Antoine De Pluvinel’s soft cavesson, also still used in the Spanish Riding School today, also designed a cordeo for in hand work, lunging and riding. This cavesson bridle remains a best selling item and ships world wide.
2007 published first book ‘Bitless without trouble’ in Dutch
2007 was invited to give seminars, demos and clinics about Natural Riding Art on many large horse events and stables in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany
2007 was invited to teach in several countries outside Belgium and the Netherlands including a 10 day tour through South Africa
2007-2009 developed ground breaking new type of courses ons horse training and was asked to write many articles for several Equine Magazines including one from Poland.
2009 Founded with Ralph the new small and private Horse & Human training centre TAONARA (The Academy of Natural Academic Riding Art) renamed Equus Universalis in 2013.
2009 assisted international personal fitness coach John Grady with a fitness program developed for riders.
2009-2011 was asked to be guest teacher on the subject of horse training, behaviour, history, bit effects and saddle fitting at the Dutch Horse Academy
2010 was asked to give a seminar about Natural Leadership to the MBA’s of Rotterdam’s Erasmus University
2011 founded the Natural Leadership project:
2011 founded a school with a two years instructor’s course of which class of 2012 started in March that year.
2012 founded together with her student instructors The Equus Universalis Foundation
2013 gives several clinics in Madrid, to amongst others several grand prix dressage riders, and works with several horses with problems.
cadmos will publish Josepha's book in German and Bueckerburgse Hofreitschule magazine interviews her about her work.
Gives a lecture at Ghent's High School on correct and beneficial training of Horses
2014 Josepha and her Equus Universalis are asked to perform at Belgium's largest horse fair Horse Expo in February and the Benelux's largest Horse fair Horse Event in September
Two classes of the instructor School Graduate
2015 Josepha's book gets published, Equus Universalis gets sponsored by Flexible saddle, Josepha and William Savat (Equus universalis instructor trained by Josepha) are asked to perform at Europe largest Horse fair Equitana at 18 and 19 March
Friday, 29 November 2013 09:52

Bitless is not always bitless

Bitless is not always bitless
Bitless is not always bitless
On facebook a vet showed pictures of a horse with a severe wound in the mouth coming from sharp teeth pressing against the cheek. The vet said the bitless bridle was to blame. He concluded bitless was not always more friendly than a bit. An important note though, the bitless bridle used in this case was a hackamore.
Sunday, 13 October 2013 16:33

Gymnasium in hand

Gymnasium in hand

The ancient noble work of the old masters: the work in hand with the horse.
During the work in hand the horse will further develop his body to become empowerd, healthy, strong and flexible and able to withstand a long happy life as riding horse. We work with the soft cavesson and long soft reins and walk next to the horse. Now the horse learns to react to light and soft reins aids, accompanied with our bodylanguage. Thus the Gymnasium in hand is a must do, if you want to start your horse in (Gymnasium) riding. Next that that the reins offer your refinement and the possibility of asking the horse 'Stellung' which is needed to relax the horse jaw, poll and neck. 

For young horses that will be educated to be ridden the gymnasium in hand is a MUST. Without the proper preparation of the Gymnasium work in hand, every horse will suffer damage under saddle sooner or later. A horse is not build to be ridden and without the gymnasium preparation horses will become worn between the age of 7 to 18 years. A horse has a lifespan up to 35 years and should be able to perform good work undersaddle up to 25 to 3 years! Millenia long this was known and practised before the 19th century. If you love your horse and you want to ride him, you must learn the Gymnasium in hand, there is no way around it.

The Gymnasium work in hand offers many benefits for:
- young horses to be educated under saddle
- retired horses
- horses that have physical or mental traumas with/from being ridden
- horses that need psychical or mental rehabiliation.
Sunday, 13 October 2013 16:10


Microshaping: The ultimate wto way lightness

Two way communication

People often remark that they need spurs and double bridle to achieve lightness from their horse. But this lightness is only on the rider's side. For the horse there is nothing light about a double bridle in the mouth or the touch or prick from the spur. even if you are such a rare good rider that only is able to make actions with hand and leg that are not perceived as painful to the horse, the only reason for the fact that the horse reacts 'light' to it is, that the horse has the experience that when he does not react at once, the bit(s) and spur will cause pain to them. That is the very reason why, without these old school artificial aids, riders complain their horses do not react light anymore. The never really reacted light from their desire to work with their human, but from fear of the artificial aids.

Within Equus Universalis we want our horse to be able to communicate back to us at all times, to enusre his wellbeing, trust and health.
So how do create true and tw way lightness with our horse within Equus Universalis? By means of Positive Reinforcement (R+). Basically this means we invite the horse to do certain actions and we he at first obliges only with the smalles gesture we reward by means of voice, caress and/or a treat. We never punish the horse by means of anything paiful or frightening.
While training Equus Universalis we only always ask for exercises we know that are of BENEFIT to the horse, never anything that might harm him.
Thus, the horse will learn that working with us and obliging or requests will always reap him double benefit: a better body and mind and a nice reward.
As the horse never has to fear any form of punishmen, he has no fear of making a mistake and becomes free to experiment and try new things to improve himself and more often then not: impress us with new exercises. This way Shoulder in leads to haunches in all by itself! And transitions between backwards to trot become the horse first proud piaffe! By using Positive Reinforment only, we make sure the horse can communicate to us at all times. And since the communicative language of the horse are the Gymnasium exercises, the circle is completed!

You will enjoy lightness, mutual understanding and a cooperative spirit of your horse, you never experienced before!
Saturday, 14 September 2013 15:46

Contra collection

I am really delighted to see that more and more people engage with the Gymnasium of the old masters again, which have been forgotten because of the ‘meat for canon’ training since the 19th century. However – as with everything – here too a lot of problems occur and many people get disappointed and horses frustrated which leaves them often to abandon their attempts towards a healthy way of going for the horse and the pure pleasure of lightness for the rider.
Friday, 07 June 2013 11:40

Not so merry go round

The round pen, rope halter and lead rope. These combination of things seem to have become as much a part of each other as bit, spurs and whip have been over the course of many centuries.

As opposed to bit and spurs, the round pen and the lead rope seems to have an image of kindness and friendliness whereas bits and spurs do not. "Working the horse gentle and without violence" is what I hear people say about it. When I ask people why it is so friendly, they mostly reply that it is natural to the horse to be handled in this way. Hence the term 'Natural Horsemanship' that is often used to describe a way of working with a horse with rope halter, rope and round pen.

Friday, 07 June 2013 11:40

Food rewards

There are people who say it is unnatural to reward a horse with food. Strangely enough, often those same people seem to think it is natural for a horse to be put in a round pen and be chased out of his wits. Personally I think when monitoring natural horses as well as the ones that live amongst humans, it seems a very natural thing to reward a horse with food.

Friday, 07 June 2013 11:20

Gymnasium Riding™

Equus Universalis™ Gymnasium riding

Riding in a way that empowers the horse!

Gymnasticizing = Communicating! 

The schooling of horses by the old master’s methods is referred to in Europe as the Gymnasium or Classical exercises. The classical exercises such as Shoulder in, Haunches in, piaffe and the airs are in fact nothing more than natural movements horses make. But why do they make them? They make them as a means of communication! The classical exercises are their language!

Riding for the benefit of the horse?
Yes it is possible! Riding does not have to be harmful if we make sure certain ground rules are adhered at all times. Within Equus Universalis™ gymnasium riding is a part of the whole program that we do to see whether our horse has improved in strength suppleness and ability. We can use our body as ‘fitness tool’ to increase the horse’s empowerment and further develop our feather light two way communication.

When we ride to make sure that our horse is absolutely safe and comfortable and our clear and pure two way communication remains, we only ride with a soft cavesson, cordeo and good fitting, light and preferably flexible saddle. We may carry a whipe or twig to assist our arm or legs, by means of touch or gentle tap. Hitting, kicking, bits and spurs are not allowed in the Riding Art of the 21st century.

Before we start riding however we prepare our horse via Bodyshaping, Microshaping, Gymnasiam play and Gymnasium in hand. So check out the other parts of Equus Universalis.

Page 3 of 4

Get in touch with us

Please contact us for more information about Clinics and Lessons.

contact us