"If there is one thing I am always trying to convey to my students, in all of my years of education, is to give the horse a chance to develop over time. We must take time, have patience and great discipline, to use the training scale which is rhythm, looseness, contact, impulsion, straightness, and collection. Often, the training steps are rushed or even missed, which will disturb the progress of the training. Always ride the horse to the best of it's ability, without breaking it in either mind or body. Give each horse a chance to develop at its pace. For me , it is important to enjoy the daily rides and the small improvements that you make. In the end you'll be surprised how rewarding it can be."
Susanne's dressage training philosophy is deeply rooted in the classical German dressage riding scale. Each horse is different and every individual training schedule must be developed in order to bring the horse to their fullest potential It is important to maintain the basics everyday and to build the better dressage horse from them. Through experience and having a good 'horse feeling' she recognizes the strengths and weakness of the horse and their rider.
Susanne tries to improve the weak points on a daily basis, with consistent and disciplined work, that is performed in a stimulating and positive fashion. Susanne always strives to push the riders to achieve new heights, and motivates her students in a friendly atmosphere, to achieve harmony between horse and rider. The basics of a complete supple and gymnastic horse must be trained, by the classical dressage training, before the horse can move to collected work such as piaffe and passage. Susanne likes to develop a program for each horse and rider by building a relationship with the horse and the rider. It is important to recognize what the problem is, whether it rider or training error, and address it with correct riding and instruction.
With the program that Susanne develops for each training horse she feels it is not only important to address the issues of the horse but also the rider. By doing this, she first builds a relationship with the horse as a trainer and then incorporates the rider. It is important to recognize what the problem is whether it be rider or training error and address it with correct riding.
Read about Susanne and her horse Roger Rabbit
Susanne grew up on the family farm near the small town of Mayen. She was the fifth generation in the families business with horses and agriculture. As her family owns and operates a breeding and training facility in Germany, competition and training were an important part of her life. Susanne's father was a Grand Prix jumping champion, advanced event rider, who later in life became a champion in carriage driving. Continuing with family tradition, Susanne began competing in dressage and jumping, as a young and junior rider, and became a champion like father before her. She won numerous regional and county championships as a young rider and Susanne qualified for and rode in three German championships. The crowning moment of her young riding career was wining the state championship in dressage at the age of eighteen.
One year later, she choose the demanding career path of becoming a professional dressage rider and trainer, by beginning her apprenticeship as a Pferdewirt (specializing in dressage and jumping) under international FEI dressage trainer Bertin Putter. The "Pferdewirtshaftsmeister" is Germany's dressage master certification and normally takes a minimum of five years to complete. Susanne, already an accomplished rider, was able to finish this course in four years. The culmination of this outstanding education is a series of riding and written exams, in both dressage and jumping, that lasts for ten weeks. Four of the ten weeks are tests in theory, horse business practices, anatomy of the horse, diseases, and much more. At the age of twenty-three, Susanne graduated and became the youngest master rider in Germany by earning her masters degree in Equine Education and Management, known as the "Pferdewirtshaftmeister FN". She was awarded the "Stensbeck" silver medal for finishing her course with the highest scores for the year.
Susanne, as an international FEI instrucutor, practiced her profession at two prestigious dressage and jumping stables over the next eight years. First for Gestuet Gut Haidehof in Hamburg and then Reit und Fahrverein in Braunschweig where she head dressage trainer and managed up to seventy dressage horses with multiple apprentices. Here, Susanne trained one of her apprentices to achieve the "Pferdewirtshaftmeister" and this apprentice also won the "Stensbeck" silver medal as well. In Germany, Susanne trained with Willi Schultheiss, Maria Gunter, Dr. Joachim Boesche, Rolf Henn, Harry Boldt, Herbert Rehbein, Heinz Schuette, Mr. Peilicke, Mr. Festerling and others.
After a ten year career as a Pferdewirtshaftsmeister, Susanne and her husband Richard, a Florida native, moved their family and horses to Florida. Susanne quickly joined the central Florida dressage scene with her FEI mount Second Waltz and her upcoming 5 year old Hannoverian Roger Rabbit. Susanne continued to have success here in Florida and started teaching as well as riding. Demand to train with Susanne grew at such a rate that in the summer of 2004 Susanne and Richard Benne established Half Halt Stables Dressage in Cocoa, Central Florida. The once small venture has grown from an 11 stalls with six acres to a 30 stalls fourteen acre full training dressage facility and has continued to grow in 2007 with the addition of a covered arena and a third training barn 2010.