Sandy van den Goorbergh

I believe time has come for human kind to enter in a different relationship with animals. A relationship of equality and mutual respect and not one where one species dominates the other.

Every animal has different qualities and by allowing all of these qualities we create a better and more beautiful world. I wish people with horses to develop more depth and width within their horses than they had ever thought possible, and thus they will also receive major steps in their own development.

As most of the professionals in the horse world, I was hung up, already very young, to these fantastic animals. In the riding school where I was learning to ride, I was always taking care and hugging the “poor ponies”. That was kind of strange as everything was still concentrated on the “old” way how to handle horses, as in the cavalry. Discipline and “the horse must do what you want him to do” was the normal way of treating the horses and horses were in fact exploited.

Already then my thoughts were ” what does the horse feel, what would it need to feel better ? ” Together with my sister Sylvie we let our horses run and play if they wanted.

Spencer, a far too nice New Forest dressage pony, had stolen my heart and Sylvie was attached to an Arabian pony, Noran, who was considered as dangerous as he often attacked people. Despite the differences the two ponies got along well and were placed next to each other so that it would be easier for my sister and me.

We often went riding in the woods and if the ponies needed rest, then we let them walk and graze, because they had to work so hard during the lessons in the riding school. Sometimes we hired the ponies for a certain period of time and mostly we granted them then a lot of rest (to the frustration of my parents who wanted us to ride, then that is why they rented the ponies for us)



My grandfather, who unfortunately lived far away, sometimes accompanied us and as a real horseman, gave us, sweet little girls, tips how to get more superiority over our ponies (he had worked with and taken care of horses on the farm of his parents) He had no problem with superiority as he was police dog trainer, but we also learned a lot from him about food , the use of our voice and handling of our ponies.

Then the day came, I was fourteen, and we were allowed to buy our ponies. We immediately relocated our ponies to another home, away from the riding school where they were exploited and as good as dead. I thought with some months of rest and good food all will be well, but unfortunately, Spencer did not recover.

After having followed the regular veterinary process, without the wanted result, I found a holistic veterinarian who treated Spencer. From him I learned a lot about emotions in horses, homeopathy and natural healing. I was already interested in complementary medicine and I decided that this is what I wanted for horses! So I came to Silverlinde and graduated after 5 years as certified natural veterinarian (HBO).

In the meantime Spencer had become a completely happy and healthy pony, I rode Z dressage with him. As a child I had always wanted to become veterinarian and so I added another 2 years of veterinary medicine at the University of Antwerp, but I felt that this was not really my passion.

Eventually I now needed a home for me and my pony and as Spencer was already of a certain age I bought a young “not screwed up” horse, Vana. After the sweet Spencer, Vana was a completely different story. Vana turned out to be temperamental and she challenged me in every possible way.

She showed me all corners of my riding arena and newcomers usually got kicked as milady did not wish to cooperate with what so ever. I often thought of selling her, as I felt she was too much for me. Bur of course I kept looking for solutions. As instructor, I benefitted enormously from this as there is not even 1 problem I encounter, that I have no had had and worked on with Vana. In particular aggressive, dominant and dangerous horses do not impress me as Vana taught me how to handle them.

Still not having solved all riding problems, with different instructors, I ended up with Josepha Guilliaume and a whole new world opened for me. This method was so much in line with how I felt emotionally and because it felt so good, I went forward with jumps. For a few years I rode with bitless bridle and we did a lot of ground work. Josepha, who is extensively skilled in classical riding, encountered problems with Vana that could not be solved within the standard classical riding, she therefore had to think “out of the box” and together we started experimenting together. Out of this the Equus Universalis riding was created for horses that do not meet the ideal picture and where things do not work by the book. Later Josepha started a training course where my sister and I , of course , were with the first graduates.

In the meantime, I went on to teach more and more people and often was offered horses that needed to be ” fixed” . I learned a lot from these horses by helping them with movement therapy, natural medicine, Equus Universalis training and by recognizing the essence of their being and listening to it.

On my path I also met the PRE mare Reina. It was love on first sight and riding her was easy and effortless. With Vana, I was not used to that anymore and thankfully I got the opportunity to buy Reina and continue training her. Reina had different problems, more in the mental area ( panicking, nervous) but in the dressage court we were a super team. Especially since 2016 where we started our training with Helmut Oberhauser who is Bereiter in the Spanish Riding Shool in Vienna. He is a fantastic instructor who can take out what s inside.

In 2019 Josepha Guilliaume asked me if I wanted to take over the Equus Universalis School.

Then the circle was round. Vana and I were at the source of the Equus Universalis riding and now we were allowed to continue the story by teaching it to others. I cannot imagine something more beautiful than spreading the word…For the horses…All for the horses.

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