Interview with Julia Lünstedt, professional rider at the ARR Center
At the age of 13 the top-class athlete in gymnastics was at a crossroads: Because of multiple injuries – especially of the back – her doctor advised her to either do some serious physiotherapy or to learn horseback riding. Little Julia thought that fooling around with horses might be fun – and this was the foundation stone of her future professional career.
Julia, did you know from the beginning that you wanted to be a horse professional?
I don’t have a family background with horses. Therefore, I did as most young girls do: I went to a riding school, looked after someone else’s horse and finally had my first own horse just before I was 15. Of course, we didn’t have a lot of money, thus I always got either difficult or young horses to ride. And when finally they were good, they were sold. But it is true that I wanted to be a horse professional. However, my parents wanted me to learn a “decent” trade. For this reason I finished my education to be an industrial business manager as a first step.
And how did you become a professional rider?
After a rigorous selection procedure occurring over several days I was admitted to be a professional rider at the renowned stable Stall Tannenhof in Wedel, Germany. This without even having an official certificate as a professional rider. I had a hard time there. Every day I trained up to 16 horses. However, this fast-track training did not satisfy me. Therefore I decided after one year to be an independent trainer.
A courageous step!
Yes, but nothing ventured nothing gained. I was 23 back then and soon I had about 10 horses to ride. Many of those horses should have been sold because they hat some issues. But in the end, none of them was sold because I trained horse and owner to be partners again. In parallel, I successfully completed the procedure to obtain the highest degree of trainer certificate for competition riding (Trainer A Leistungssport).
What have been the next important stages in your life?
I was the manager of different stables with up to 25 horses in training. I was a riding instructor for children and teenager with competition background as well as leisure riders. For a while, my facilities were the headquarters of the regional elite young riders and I was responsible for the dressage part.
What made you settle down at the Lower Rhine?
Love… Back then, the time had come to redirect my career. I completed my studies to be an acupuncturist and physiotherapist for horses and dogs and opened my own horse tack shop “Julias Steckenpferd” in Goch.
And how did the collaboration with ARR begin?
When I moved to the Lower Rhine, I boarded my horse at Heisterfeldshof farm. And regularly, I happened to ride in the indoor arena when Gabriele Rachen-Schöneich or Klaus Schöneich were giving riding lessons. I could see how their horses moved and that everything seemed to be light and easy. That made me curious because number of instructions they gave during those lessons I already did in a quite similar way by pure intuition. Thus, I decided to give them my horse Danny to train. This was the basis for many discussions and finally, they asked me if I wanted to work for them as a rider.
At the beginning it was difficult and a bit strange for me to work with all the different breeds and equestrian disciplines. On the other hand, this challenge makes it all the more interesting. Thanks to this extension I was given new “tools” for horse training.
From your point of view, what makes ARR so special?
To start with, there is the fascination of lightness and fine riding. Moreover, I think it is great that with ARR we as riders learn to see things and to analyze horses. Today, I see those so called “smashing” horses differently… In addition, it is very interesting to realize that there isn’t just one way of training horses. There are so many possibilities to bring a horse back to competition – not excluding a roundabout way by using a western saddle, for example. It is a creative process during which the needs of the horses always have to come first.
Many people are under the false impression that ARR is only for leisure riders. I think, however, that so many competition horses could perform much better if they were trained in a more solid way, meaning by straightening their crookedness on the basis of the diagonal.
What is your experience with ARR with your own horses?
The horse that I ride on dressage M level now was stiff and lazy. I only could ride him with double bridle and spurs. After 6 Weeks of ARR longing training and thanks to the holistic approach with the expertise team he is now very supple and I can ride him with most discreet aids “with two fingers”! My other horse could not be ridden anymore and there was no more medical solution. Even though he was still young I was told to let him be quiet on the pasture. Now I show him on competition again and I can see a good potential for him!
What are your goals for the next years?
As a professional rider, I want to consolidate what I learn with ARR and I want to further develop myself and the horses. There is always something to learn and Gabriele Rachen-Schöneich and Klaus Schöneich have accumulated so much experience and knowledge to pass on! And this I want to be able to teach riders and horses.
My ambition as a competition rider is to school both of my horses to S level. One of them might reach this level next year already, the other one I want to show at L or M level dressage next year.
Thank you for this enlightening conversation and all the best for the future!