Student Stories

I count myself lucky to have found Karen so early into my riding career. [For the] last 3 years we have been without an instructor, simply using the Video Classroom and DN book as our resources.

The first image is my girl a few months before I discovered Karen. It highlights how far we have come. I admit it was not an easy journey for me. Being young, inexperienced and very easily influenced by what I saw others doing, I found it difficult to have faith that taking time would work. I would often abandon mission if it took time to get a hint of hope… Now [these moments] are something I enjoy working through.

My big girl has been so forgiving of me and all the mistakes I have made in our 5 years together. Our relationship is the best it has ever been and I am slowly but steadily becoming a more aware and better rider for my girl. Thank you, Karen, for being the amazing person you are. You have truly touched my life!

-Susanna Vandermeide

There is crucial information here that you don't get with local dressage instructors or even well-known clinicians. Not just for riders just starting out in dressage, it has pearls of wisdom and handy tips for advanced dressage riders, too.
-Mary Kay Hasseman

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We have found this beautiful connection with each other [and have learned] how to be relaxed, balanced and yet still have the energy with self carriage (yes, both of us!) Our transformation has been incredible
- Debbie Lund

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I love how you always bring play/creativity/relationship to the forefront. Your tribe embodies so many of the amazing qualities you possess and encourage!
- Laura Lafferty Inman

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When Karen launched the online programs in her Virtual Arena, it felt like a buoy in the middle of the ocean: I KNEW she had all I was looking for as a mentor, and that I could not find the same quality elsewhere.

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Dressage Naturally courses have given me the knowledge, skills and the support needed to create my dream life with horses, in a way that remains true to my values.
Through the process I also learned about myself, how to be better and how to live better together [with my horses], so that we can find mutual balance, harmony and happiness in all we do.
But most of all, I’ve learnt how to connect from the heart with my horses, and for that I will be forever grateful!
- Claudelle Perreault

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April healthy biometrics with horse

I am so grateful for all the tools Dressage Naturally has given me to create a wonderful partnership with my horse. We have learned so much together, putting the relationship first and practicing healthy biomechanics.
- April Volling

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What I love the most is how clear and logical everything suddenly becomes when Karen demonstrates and explains things.
What I've learned in this course I would not have gotten from reading yet another dressage book or taking yet another set of lessons. It's been totally worth it and I would do it again!
- Marie Halvarsson

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The videos have helped me lose the doubt I had about whether I was doing something right or not. I learned I really just need to wait longer and give them time to figure it out. On the ground instructors never have time to let that happen. I have saved hundreds of dollars [by not needing so many] lessons from my local instructors.
My whole day is enhanced by learning how to hangout and be connected before I ask them to do training related to shows. There is so much more to horses than competitions.
- Jenni Haas

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Success Stories

I am so enjoying this [Virtual Arena] course. It’s amazing how just having an accountability partner makes a huge difference in my efforts and follow-through, as well as having the curriculum to help me set goals. I also love the support of a well-thought-out program–a progression of steps; otherwise sometimes I’ve just felt like I was making a stab at things in random order.

It has been hard for me to find my own way between natural horsemanship and dressage the last couple of years. I’ve had to piece things together from things I’ve read and learned at various lessons and clinics and through my own experience and have just had to hope I was on track. With your course I have a much better sense of direction and support. Thank you, thank you!

Nancy Case

Hello from Switzerland

I would like to thank Karen for the wonderful gift she made to me/ us – with writing down in details – the natural foundation and basics for riding in a Dialog with the horse. A lifelong motivated journey together with our partner – our horse.
Almost everything I experienced (mostly unconscious) myself for the last 35 years riding my fine Arabian horses – is structured and so well explained in the book – just perfect!!!!

I am a Centered Riding Instructor and combining classical riding education with natural horsemanship (leisure only) since 1999. Ja – during reading the book I could follow nearly every chapter not only with my mind – also in my body – feeling and spirit.

Also a great thank you to the translator! [Note from Karen: My book is translated into German by Cadmos Publishing]
Wishing you a very successful year. Kind regards.

Judith Trüb

As an instructor, I have found that the information that Karen calls “the Sweet Spot” to be invaluable! Not only to me, but to my students as well. I have a very sensitive, right brained mare, that can easily be pushed too far. Finding the Sweet Spot for her gave me the piece I had been looking for! She was able to find a place where she was comfortable in her own skin. She could find Energy, Relaxation, and Balance all within herself and allow me to share that experience with her. Because of that, she also became much more relaxed in everything we did. Her bond with me grew too! She wants to be with me more as she feels more relaxed around me.

I then took this information to my students. I have helped 26 horses find the “Sweet Spot”, including 5 newborn foals. I have found that it dissolves tension in ways even the horses find amazing! This information has helped in every facet of my horse training skills. It has not only helped horses release tension during dressage tests, but also during things like trail riding and even trailer loading! It helped me “Energize” horses that didn’t want to put in effort, and help tense horses “Relax”, and because of that, it has helped them all find “Balance”! I have used it to help every kind and personality of horse! Being able to have any horse find Balance, Relaxation, and Energy within their own body and let you help them access it has unbelievable results! I have attached some pictures of a few of those results!

I have had students increase their dressage scores up to 10% after just a few months of consistently finding the “Sweet Spot”! I use it often to help dressage horses to relax. I have used it on horses that are ridden by riders from PSG down to my into level riders at 7 years old. It not only helps the horse, but helps kids learn to never build the tension into the movements of their horses to begin with! And who doesn’t love to ride a Relaxed, Balanced, but energized horse!

I have ridden with Karen many times and have loved every min of it. I have come away with understanding about things I never even knew I needed! She has a excellent way of presenting material so that every students feel acknowledged and understood. She never makes anyone feel like a failure or bad for what they don’t know or understand 🙂 You can tell that her first priority is always the horse, and what they need to progress. Karen also has so many wonderful tools available to her students, such as; The Dressage Naturally Classroom via the internet. It has video’s and interviews of many problems or situations that we may find helpful with particular horses. And I love the Book and DVD combo and Reading Room that are available for study. Karen’s resourcefulness never ceases to amaze me, and she is always coming up with new inventive ways to teach people. I have found SiMoN to be an amazing example of just-such a tool! “He” has been a fabulous tool to teach movement to myself and my students!

Karen also has a wonderful way of bridging the gap between Natural Horsemanship language and the Dressage vocabulary. She can speak both! It is nice to have an instructor that you can ask in Layman’s terms anything about Dressage and have her understand what your asking! Especially for first time horse owners that may be only starting out in Dressage.

Niki Wilde

Karen Rohlf, 2 weeks in & I’m already reaping the benefits from the Virtual Arena because I feel kind of “parented” or supervised to keep on track. I find this quite motivating. By “on track”, I mean I have concrete tasks to attend to as well as concepts & philosophies to learn then apply. Magically, I’m not sure why, but keeping up my D,N tasks has taken on an importance that comfortably over-rides the usual time-sucking domestic chores. Now, because I’m comfortable with my new domestic timetable, my household has accepted the new routine without any fussy committee meetings. BONUS!!!

Gaby Beard

I feel EMPOWERED as an older horsewoman! I have no formal training, but have loved horses ALL my life. As I was older when I began riding, I was scared to &^%$ it up! This held me back with Pip. My first horse (who I had lost to EPM), was a steady freddie, forgiving type of guy and we just plodded along … Pip was the complete opposite and fear truly held us back in so many ways. I can honestly, deeply, truly, say that within 4 months, this course has changed me!

I am now searching, exploring, and playing in-saddle!!! I am no longer afraid to ^&%$ it up!

Last night as I searched for the left lead, Pip gave me a contorted “Counter-Canter Pirouette” and in lieu of freaking out, I just went with the movement (which I knew couldn’t, wouldn’t last forever) and then, just said, “Hey, Thanks for that extraordinary effort, but why don’t we go the easy route of just picking up the left lead” and then the next step was that!

Before this [Virtual Arena] course, my heart would have been pounding, dry mouth, scared of what he was doing … Now, I understand he is searching just as much as I am …

I feel more understanding and compassion for my horse today, than I have ever had in the 3 1/2 years that I have owned him (and I thought I was a compassionate horse owner!). Thank you Karen for this incredible personal growth opportunity and for the allowance and freedom to not be afraid to %$#@ it up! as that freedom gave me the path to positive progression with my beloved partner.

Heather Baskey

My horse and I have made huge progress during this six months. I was making progress with Parelli, but there was a big piece missing that I didn’t really understand, and now I do. I didn’t notice she wasn’t always relaxed, and how important that was. I knew she wasn’t balanced but I didn’t have any strategies to fix that and now I do.

I can really understand now about Karen’s saying about things will improve in ways you cannot possibly imagine – I have so experienced that! I have ridden my horse and felt things I never imagined we would feel together, and I am so excited to think how much more there still must be for us to learn. I feel freed from what I realise were my assumptions about things we would never be able to do.My aspirations are way higher now, which feels like a great place to be.

I would recommend the course unhesitatingly to anyone who really wants to experience harmony with their horse in a whole new way, and who would love their horse to be a happy athlete. It has been the biggest order of magnitude improvement for me since I first discovered Parelli. Life changing!

I’ve learned more from the DN classroom and the DN Virtual area than I have over the past 4 years taking dressage lessons. Karen, thank you so much for providing us with such valuable tools:) I am able to communicate effectively with my horse and our relationship/partnership has never been better! Although, I have completed the course, I am going back through it again…I just can’t get enough! Every time I watch a video I get another tid bit of information that I must have missed during the first go around. I am definitely interested to see what other courses you are planning for the future:) 

Christine Lakatosh

When I saw the [Virtual] Arena first advertised my eyes and ears pricked up, I was interested . However I had bought the book, the DVD and been to a clinic,was a member of the video classroom, I wasn’t sure I wanted another product , however I had been so happy with everything from Karen I took the jump. Yes I am very happy, it focused me, picked up holes, is fun , inclusive,its a really good road map. Its like a life time learning, funny thing with this horse stuff is you go over and over it, each time adding more layers. I love the calls (even at 5am) it makes it a community. I love Karen and Dana’s attitude to life.

Heather Baskey

Karen Rohlf, I am so inspired by modules 2 and 3 !!! Although I had started playing with the concepts before enrolling on the course, the course material makes it soooo clear and logical ! I am so excited to play with these concepts for a lifetime and with many different horses. It is also helping me to pinpoint my weak / unclear areas – eg that there is a difference between relax, game over and downwards transitions – and i am therefore becoming so much clearer in my conversations… I am also experimenting much more, for example, today I was searching for different ways to communicate “relax” and found that the most powerful method was to completely take my focus off Sky and pretended I wasn’t interested in him AT ALL…incredible how small things can make such a huge difference ! Thank you xx

Katrin Jahn

In the process of investing my heart and soul and money into dressage lessons over many years, it dawned on me that we should be riding with more joy. Joy is contagious and I felt the horses needed it.

I even asked some trainers around here. Seems as though my question fell on deaf ears.

Something pointed me to Dressage, Naturally and Karen’s outlook on riding and what struck me most was that her voice is full of joy, her face is full of joy and few sentences from her are missing a chuckle, a laugh or a smile.

The minute I decided to be joyful with my horse no matter what he does, my riding changed. Everyone should get to feel that!

Judy Walker

I have studied dressage for years and been so passionate about wanting to progress. I have studied and taken to heart the correct vision of what I want my riding and horses to go like, but for some reason, I had it in my brain, but couldn’t get the results out of my horses. This [Virtual Arena] course has taught me how to communicate my desires to my horse!! For years, this has been the missing link!! Thank you thank you Karen Rohlf. I am having faith in my abilities once again and so excited to have it happen.

Lisa Howell

What I love about the [Virtual Arena] course is how it is structured so that I have learnt how to ask questions of myself and my horse, and I have lots of strategies to try if I notice something isn’t working, and that means even though I am at home alone trying to improve things, I won’t get stuck in a rut.

Thanks so much Karen, for putting this out there.

Ann Bowman

Some days have gone now after coming home from your clinic here in Sweden where I participated! I have been working my horses at home and I have to let you know that my working and riding has come to a new dimension! Everything feels so much easier and the horses have so much energy that I can handle with relaxation… And we make it closer to the sweet spot! Last night I was out in the woods cantering Merlin and I had tears in my eyes of happiness. He was stunning!! Only the trees saw it and maybe the bear hehe. Keep in touch!!!

Lars-Magnus Olsson

OMG I am so in love with this course, thank you Karen for making it available to us. I moved into module 3 and played with maintain energy. Everything keeps getting better and better. Relax, energy, balance, maintain level of energy, her attention, expression and form. Words cannot express how happy I am. We also ended our session with moving massage under saddle at walk, first time we tried it. She stretched and blew out, and we called it a day. She loves moving massage. Can’t wait until tomorrow.

Annette Pedersen ‎

D,N Virtual Arena Participant

I have luckily experienced the Sweet Spot information in lessons, as an auditor, endorsed instructor, classroom member and an avid reader. It establishes a foundation for refining and progressing anyone’s horsemanship while also introducing healthy biomechanics. Karen’s gift for teaching these concepts in a clear, fun, format through written material and carefully edited videos with specific slow motion sections help insure we are developing a quality “eye” and technique.

Shelby Hume

I am loving the [Virtual Arena] course! I had no hesitation in signing up, jumping in feet first and I am so glad that I did!
The Virtual Arena is set up for the horse person with an inquiring mind. It has renewed my zest for learning and provides a flexible schedule to fit in with my life. Karen presents the material in many different ways which encompasses a range of different learning styles. Thank you Karen!

Robyn Finfer

 One of the things i love the best is I really feel Karen is empowering me and causing me to be the best I can with my horse. 

Bonny Burgess