At Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship, it’s the horse that matters. On our 80-acre ranch, we provide the very best care, feed and training programs created specifically for your horse. Birgit works with you and your horse to help you achieve your goals.
Turn…
… fear into confidence
… rudeness into respect
… distraction into focus
… defiance into willingness

Birgit believes strongly that every horse is an individual and that the secret to unlocking its full potential is reached by putting the needs of the horse ahead of the handler in every context. By doing so she has many times produced amazing changes in horses and as a result in their humans too.

Birgit’s goal is to train horses, not to break them. All horses are handled and trained in accordance with Chris Irwin’s non-resistance training principles. Birgit, an Irwin Insights Level 4 Master Certified Trainer, works with the horse, and not against it, in an assertive, non-threatening way, using lots of positive reinforcement and verbal praise.

The non-resistance training principles are based on the concept of getting the horse’s body, spirit and mind ready, able and willing to say “yes” to whatever we want it to do. Click here for more info on non-resistance training.

Birgit believes in the importance of solid foundation training. Whether dealing with a young horse or an adult horse, Birgit always starts all training with ground work, which helps develop a foundation for a good relationship between the horse and trainer. Birgit also uses the principles of classical dressage, Centered Riding, as well as biomechanics in her training for every discipline.

If working with a “problem” horse or if a problem arises during training, Birgit tries to properly identify the problem and what causes it. She then focuses on eliminating the root of the problem (the cause) in order to solve the problem, instead of applying a quick-fix band-aid to solve the problem. Birgit believes that if the cause isn’t eliminated, the problem will remain or reoccur.

All of Birgit’s handling, training and riding is carefully geared to engender calmness, willingness, confidence, focus, respect, trust and sensitivity in the horse. During the training process, Birgit’s goal is to keep the stress level low by keeping things simple and consistent and to establish a positive pattern of success. Birgit wishes for the horse to become a happy, safe, sane, calm, relaxed, level-headed, reliable, willing, confident, responsive, balanced, focused and collected equine partner, instead of a scared, braced, angry, sullen, high-strung or defeated animal. It is Birgit’s belief that riding, and working with horses in general, should be a pleasure, both for the rider/handler and the horse, and not a daily struggle, exhausting for the rider and excruciating for the horse.
Patience is a key factor in the training process, and Birgit feels that it takes several years to produce a well trained, all-around horse. In Birgit’s experience, it generally takes a minimum of three month for the horse to be confident with its new skills and ready to return to the owner. Some horses may take a bit longer than three months, while others may require less time.

“You can’t teach a horse if it is afraid, confused, bored or tired.”

Owners are encouraged to observe the ongoing training during the training sessions to fully understand how the horse is being trained. Included in the training fee is one riding lesson per 30 days (sessions) of training for the owner of the horse in training. It is highly recommended that owners take the lesson(s) before taking their horse home, and are also strongly encouraged to take additional lessons with Birgit to ensure they understand how their horse is trained in order to keep working with their horse along the same lines and to make sure that the owner understands how to correctly ask the horse what it has been taught as well as developing their own skills as a horseman/woman. Just like people, horses can develop bad habits or get lazy. It is important to continually work with a horse if the rider wants the horse to mature as a mount. Birgit is always looking for the best way to communicate with each individual horse and then share the information with its owner/rider.

If the training horse has already been started on the trails, Birgit will take the owner out on the trail riding a Falling Star Ranch horse while Birgit rides the training horse. That way the owner is able to see their horse on the trail and how Birgit rides the horse. The second step involves the owner riding his/her horse on the trail while Birgit rides a Falling Star Ranch owned horse. This is to make sure that the owner and his/her horse are “on the same page”.

Assistance by phone or email is available to Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship clients after they take their horse home in case they have any additional questions regarding their horse’s training.

  • Psychological well-being of the horse
  • Safety of the horse and handler/rider
  • Consistency and clarity of requests
  • Developing mutual respect, trust and understanding between horse and rider
  • Confidence building for the horse and rider
  • Owner/handler’s active participation in the process

Basic Training

Basic training includes teaching the horse ground manners and respect for and confidence and trust in people.

Basic training includes:

  • Leading
  • Standing tied
  • Trailer-loading
  • Standing still for grooming and handling
  • Picking up feet
  • Standing still for farrier
  • Getting used to spray bottles
  • Getting used to being blanketed

Other tasks can be added according to the owner’s requests.

Ground work, if properly done, will prevent or correct many problems. It is the foundation for having a horse’s trust and respect, in other words, accept and look to the handler as its leader. The goal is to have a confident, willing, well-behaved, responsive, happy, relaxed horse so it can be a willing partner to its human.

Ground work training includes:

  • Round penning
  • In-hand leading
  • Loose leading
  • Lungeing (includes teaching voice commands for walk, trot/jog, canter/lope, stop (whoa) as well as slow down on command)
  • Lungeing over jumps
  • Long-lining (ground driving)
  • Double lungeing
  • Teaching the horse how to turn, back, sidepass, stand still, jump small obstacles, going over, under, between or over obstacles
  • ” Sacking out”/de-stressing (exposure to potentially “scary” things like plastic bags, trash bags, umbrellas, tarps, flags, ropes, etc.)
  • Lateral and vertical supplying
  • Disengaging the hindquarters
  • Teaching the horse to accept a saddle
  • Teaching the horse to accept the bridle/bit
  • Teaching the horse to accept pressure on the bit with the use of side-reins and long-lines
  • Teaching the horse how to carry himself properly with tack

Creating a solid foundation with a horse so that its mind, body and spirit are ready, willing and able to perform in any discipline.

Training is tailored to the individual needs of your horse and is focused on creating a happy, calm, relaxed, confident, willing, responsive, respectful, focused, balanced horse that says “yes” to whatever is asked.

Basic saddle training/colt starting includes:

  • Teaching the horse to stand still for saddling.
  • Teaching the horse to stand still for mounting/dismounting
  • Teaching the horse to accept a rider and carry the rider comfortably
  • Teaching the horse to walk, trot/jog, canter/lope, turn, stop, back up under saddle
  • Teaching the horse to understand the rider’s aids (seat, legs, hands, voice)
  • Teaching the horse to yield to leg and hand pressure

If your horse has had the winter off and is feeling a little fresh…
If your horse has had time off due to an injury…
If you want your horse to be exercised into a working shape…
If you want to have your horse ready for trail riding season…
… consider sending your horse to Falling Star Ranch Academy for Foundational Horsemanship for conditioning.

Conditioning is working your horse for a couple of weeks or more to take the edge off or to get your horse into working shape as well as creating a solid work ethic so your horse is ready to go for you.

Advanced saddle training not only focuses on developing a good work ethic in the equine student, it also teaches the horse in training the finer points of being ridden (true bends, canter leads, lateral movements, smooth transitions, contact, more collected gaits, etc.). It also teaches the horse to actively move forward with a steady rhythm while staying soft, supple and athletic.

Exposing the horse to trail riding is done with an older and more experienced trail horse leading the way. Birgit usually ponies the horse in training off an experienced riding horse for the first few times, and then rides the horse in training while following an other rider on an experienced trail horse before venturing out by themselves. The horse in training will be exposed to traffic, bridges, creeks, trash cans, tractors, dogs, wildlife and anything else encountered out on the trail.

We may also do some trail training in the arena first and work with trail obstacles.

Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship offers re-schooling and tune-up training for older horses in order to make them more enjoyable and safer for their rider/handler. Birgit will help your horse become softer, more supple, and more athletic.

Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship also offers training to resolve behavioural issues in horses. Preventing problems is the ideal, but at times problems arise and often escalate, becoming dangerous and potentially habitual.

Birgit works with equine massage therapists, equine chiropractors, and veterinarians/equine dentists to rule out pain as well as dental issues as causes for behavioural issues.

The training will then start with ground work in order to properly identify the problem and what causes it. She then focuses on eliminating the root of the problem (the cause) in order to solve the problem, instead of applying a quick-fix band-aid to solve the problem. Birgit believes that if the cause isn’t eliminated, the problem will remain or reoccur.

Bad habits such as bucking, rearing, kicking, striking, bolting, biting, trailer loading problems, not standing still for mounting/saddling/fly spraying/clipping, etc. will be addressed in an assertive, but non-threatening way.

All fears and problems are dealt with in a manner that creates trust and respect and builds confidence to quickly eliminate and further prevent problems and fears from reoccurring, creating a safe, relaxed, happy, confident and willing horse.

Birgit will then also work with the owner to make sure the problem isn’t caused by the owner and doesn’t resurface as soon as the horse returns home.

  • The horse in training is boarded in its own paddock or in a pen together with another training horse at Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship for the duration of the training unless otherwise agreed on by both the owner and trainer. The boarding fee is $250.00 per month (not included in training fee). If the owner wishes to board the horse in a box stall, an additional $200.00 per month will be charged for bedding and extra labour. The board includes hay/pasture turnout, minerals, salt, blanketing service, putting on/taking off fly mask, fly spraying (please provide your own blanket(s), fly mask and fly spray).
  • The horse in training is kept at its home and the trainer travels to the owner’s property for the training sessions. If the horse is kept at its home during the training period, a trip fee will be charged for each training session. The trip fee depends on the distance the trainer must travel. Please inquire for mileage.
  • The training fee is $900.00 for 30 days of training (30 sessions) or $50.00 per individual session (board not included in training fee).
  • There will be an extra fee of $300.00 per 30 days of training (30 sessions) for horses older than 5 years old to be started under saddle or who have less than 30 rides on them.
  • There will be an extra fee of $300.00 per 30 days of training (30 sessions) for stallions and horses with serious problems (such as bucking, bolting, rearing).
  • The boarding fee is $250.00 per month (not included in training fee).
  • If the owner of the horse in training wishes to board the horse in a box stall, an additional $200/month will be charged for bedding and extra labour.
  • Extra days of boarding will be charged to the owner on a pro rata basis.
  •  A trip fee will be charged if the trainer travels to the client’s place for the training sessions. Please inquire for mileage.
  • Discounts are available for multiple (three or more) horses or for horses in training for more than 90 days (to be booked and deposits paid in advance).
  • Minimum of 60 days for horses to be started under saddle. Minimum of 90 days for horses older than 5 years old to be started under saddle or who have less than 30 rides on them, and for horses with serious problems (such as bucking, bolting, rearing).
  • All payments must be made by cash, money order, personal cheque, certified cheque or through online banking prior to the beginning of each 30 days of training.
  • Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship requires a $300 deposit (deducted from the training fee) in order to hold a spot for a training horse.
  • The owner of the horse in training is responsible for all costs directly related to the training agreement, included but not limited to transportation, veterinarian bills, farrier services, and necessary special equipment.
  • In advance of a training horse’s arrival, the owner of the horse in training is required to fill out and sign a waiver, medical release form, training agreement and training information form.
  • If the horse in training is to be boarded at Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship, the owner of the horse is further required to fill out and sign a boarding contract.
  • If the horse in training is to be boarded at Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship, a current negative Coggins-test is mandatory. The horse is also required to be up-to-date on immunizations (5-way shot) and regular deworming or have a recent fecal egg count done.
  • Up-to-date dental and farrier work are highly recommended to ensure maximum benefit of the training program.
  • The owner of the horse in training will provide grain and/or any other supplementary feed (except salt and minerals) as needed for the horse during its stay at Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship. Board includes hay/pasture turnout, minerals, salt, blanketing service, putting on/taking off fly mask, fly spraying (please provide your own blanket(s), fly mask and fly spray).
  • The owner of the horse in training is asked to bring along the training horse’s grooming kit, halter (web halter preferably) and lead rope, as well as a bridle, bit (full-cheek snaffle bit for horses to be started under saddle or horses with behavioural issues; loose ring snaffle for refinement training) and saddle pad for the horse to be trained under saddle.
  • Protective boots are recommended for all types of training.
  • Blankets are recommended in the winter time and during the rainy season.
  • Fly masks and fly spray are recommended in the summer time.