Here at Dressage Arve for a “vacation!”

When I shared that we were looking for summer help here in Denmark, the HJU readers responded overwhelmingly! We had so many great applicants, and I wish I could have let everyone come over, but due to visa restrictions, we ended up getting two Europeans to help out.

Our first helper, Austrian amateur rider Tanja Arzberger, was here for two weeks, and it was probably the worst time to come as we started spring cleaning with a vengeance!

Power-washing the entire building was hardly the welcome Tanja expected, but she absolutely pitched in like part of the team and worked her butt off! We felt very lucky to find someone so hard working,  keen to learn, with great attention to detail, and so good with the horses. She was a delight to have here, the time went so fast and we hope she’ll come back and visit us soon. Thanks Tanja!!


And now, Tanja’s report:

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” ~ Tony Robbins

I am 28 years old and from Austria. Having spent a long time getting 3 university degrees, now working as project manager in the semiconductor industry for several years, a weird thought came to my mind: I need to go somewhere to muck stables…

In the beginning of this year, I knew that I would not enjoy going on holiday alone, so what to do? As horses are my biggest passion, it seemed somehow obvious: I should go to Germany (or elsewhere, actually, I did not care) and work in a big stable for 2 weeks in my summer holiday (instead of getting tanned in nearby Italy or Croatia…).

My friends told me that a) nobody would be interested taking me for two weeks only and b) if there was something available it might not the thing I was dreaming of: a fancy dressage stable where I have also the possibility to learn something. I am a dressage rider myself, taking my young horse to beginner level’s shows already. So I started to check on the Internet – and she was right: there was simply nothing that seemed to fit my ideals (are you in the position of having ideals when looking for work in a stable?!).

Eventually, I gave up the idea (I am happy with being alone in my holiday – really!) – until I saw the post from Eiren Crawford from Dressage Arvè in Denmark on Horse Junkies United’s Facebook fan page (which I joined just joined by chance some days earlier)! Completely naïve, I wrote an email to Eiren, telling her that I won’t be able to stay the whole summer but at least, I could take some days off from work and come for two weeks. I never thought that this would work out but it did (thank God!).

Can you imagine what people looked like at work when I was telling that I planned to go to Denmark for mucking stables? Surprisingly, eventually, they all encouraged me to grab this chance and do it. So I was booking a flight but before leaving, many of my rider friends told me that it might be a nightmare, working hard, not having the possibility to ride horses, seeing bad training methods etc. So I was expecting (really) the worst. And started to think: was that really a good idea? Italy is still here, should I change my mind?

Tanja having a lesson from Morten.

On May 19, I started my journey to Billund, not knowing what to expect 1,500 km away from home (actually, I didn’t even know at all where I was going to!). I thought, worst case scenario – I will go back home by train or whichever means necessary (I am a tough cookie!).

All I had seen before going was the website and some training videos of Danish trainer Morten Thomsen on YouTube. Then I arrived at Dressage Arvè and I found myself somewhere far beyond all my imagination and dreams: it was even nicer than on the pictures: stables full of light, windows and perfect fresh air, paddocks, green fields, horses being turned out… I could hardly believe what I was seeing!

It goes without saying that it was nicer than what I was expecting.  Also my work was far from what I was expecting: thinking of having to get up very early and working until I drop dead, it was indeed a tough but very fair job.

On top of that, I even had the chance to ride some of the horses! Eiren taught me the first week when Morten was not there and in the second week, I even got lessons from Morten himself!

I am sure that this is a once in a lifetime experience. How many people can say that they’ve been trained by an Olympian (OK I have to admit: I will never compete at the Olympics, but having lessons with him made me feel a bit like that)? But it was not only riding, Morten even  taught me things from horsemanship and working horses from the ground, which surprised me as I was not expecting this open mindedness to alternative and additional forms of training. Of course, horses had to work very hard (compared to my Hafl who runs in circles for half an hour and afterwards I am feeling sorry because he started to sweat a little bit)…but all the training and handling of horses was very horse-friendly and fair.

I learned so much in these two weeks and it was very difficult to say goodbye. Without any regret I can say I would do it again (and encourage all others who are considering to do such a thing!)! It was just like having the chance to change my life for a few days.

Once again, I would like to thank Eiren, Morten, Sarah, Bodgan and Kathryn for letting me have one of the best “vacations” ever.

To give you an idea about my stay in Denmark, I’ve made a video which can be found here:

Being a temporary groom…