My name is Cecile van der Wilden, founder of 'Pyramid Horsemanship' and psychologist for human and horse. Unlike many others in this occupation I did not grow up around horses. In fact, I was scared to death of them! But over the years this soon changed. I started riding English at the age of 12, but after working on a ranch in Wyoming for 4 summers, I switched to riding Western. With the work I do now, it doesn't matter with discipline it is, the basics are the same. Whether it happens to be in an English saddle, Western saddle or without saddle, I ride 'horse'.
As a Social- and Organisational psychologist and 'horse lover', the psychology of horses also piqued my interest. I took a series of courses and a bunch of international internships with instructors of Monty Roberts, including with himself in California, in training problem horses, young horses and also mustangs. Although my journey began with Monty and his instructors, it has taken a different direction and my method has changed, or better said, developed, a lot over the years. Other trainers like Buck Brannaman, Ray Hunt, Warwick Schiller, Stacy Westfall and particularly Mark Rashid and, for example, Elsa Sinclair, have had a lot of influence on my development and made me the horse(wo)man I am today. I belief that all these methods are simply tools in your toolbox and every horses needs a different tool. Always based on focus, relaxation and trust (see 'my philosophy and approach).
My motto is: "The wider the foundation, the higher you can reach."
Inspired by the pyramids in Egypt, I believe that training horses is like building a pyramid. The foundation needs to be wide and strong; in the case of training a young horse, providing natural leadership, mutual respect and trust. Once that is established, you can build upwards, teaching the horse more and more. When all the stepping stones are in place, you reach the top: having a relaxed, soft, willing, bombproof horse, ready to pursue any discipline. If you have a horse with a behavioral issue, you can review these steps, see which stone is lacking or broken, and work upwards from there. The importance of having a wide foundation counts for us, the trainer or owner of a horse, as well. There isn't one right or wrong method. We should aim to learn, or at least understand, many different methods - different tools, as mentioned earlier - so that you can treat every horse as a unique individual and use the right set of tools to bring out the best of him.
Besides training horses, I am also an 'equine assisted coach'. After a certification and intense personal development program through EQ Academy, I then became a certified 'Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator' through E3A (www.e3assoc.org), an American organisation which specializes in leadership development, personal development and team building by partnering with horses. Through Pyramid Horsemanship I mainly focus on girls and women who want to develop their personal leadership and find (more) inner peace. Others are most certainly also welcome. Furthermore I am also a student of energy healing through Reiki, Shiatsu and Healing Touch for Animals.
Have a look around on this website. If I can be of any help, whether it's regarding the training of problem horses, starting youngsters, restarting a horse, basic groundwork lessons, donkey help, life coaching or Equine Assisted Learning, let me know!