Customized Training for Horse and Rider
From 12-year-old “horse girl” to who I am today …
My name is Lisette Zandvoort and I am the owner and founder of LZ Horse Training. Born and raised in The Netherlands I have always been a horse lover and started riding at the age of 12, classically trained in dressage and show jumping. In my spare time I took every opportunity to ride horses for friends, farmers and trading stables. More than 19 years ago I went to the USA. My goal was to travel for a year, discover new cultures, see new things and learn the basics of the Western Riding disciplines. My passion for horses eventually kept me in Colorado when I had the opportunity to live and work on a horse ranch in Watkins, near Denver, first for room and board and later as an assistant trainer and instructor. In 2004 I founded LZ Horse Training and since then I have been doing what I love most… working with and for horses.
After 17 years in Colorado, USA, personal reasons brought me back to the Netherlands at the end of 2017. Once in the Netherlands, I put LZ Horse Training on the back burner and started working as an Office Manager and Management Assistant at an IT company in Amersfoort. I did, however, immediately register as a volunteer at the DAWRA (Dutch Arabian Western Riding Association). For me a way to quickly get in touch with like-minded people, people with a passion for the Arabian horse breed and driven to promote it under saddle and bring it out in the Western sport. And what a nice group of people! When I was asked to join the Board of Directors, I didn’t have to think long about it either. Of course! In 2020 as a general board member and in 2021 I will take over the competition secretariat. A very nice challenge that I am really looking forward to.
My teachers and inspiration
Over the years I have been influenced by many different people in the equestrian world and have been lucky enough to meet some very experienced trainers and coaches and learn from them and their horses. Also studying Horsemanship pioneers, like Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt, when it comes to (natural) horsemanship really opened my eyes to a different way of working with and teaching horses. As a child I was always taught how to ride a horse and how to act when the horse didn’t do what you wanted. It was never explained to me at the time why horses do what they do. And groundwork … that was completely new to me.
Now groundwork is the foundation of everything I do. For me that is not only doing exercises from the ground but it includes the entire communication with the horse. Communication always comes from 2 sides and listening is a big part of this. Every horse is different and has different reasons why it does what it does. I’ve learned that a solid foundation on the ground results in more understanding and willingness under the saddle and ultimately a more trusting, confident and willing partner in your horse. It doesn’t matter much what kind of tack you prefer (English or Western), once you ride a horse that is soft in the mouth, physically supple and emotionally prepared.. a horse that is confident and wants to work with you, you will never settle for anything less.
I will always be a student. Both of the rider and the horse. I have learned, and continue to learn, a tremendous amount from my students who always challenge me with questions. They taught and continue to teach me to communicate clearly, to break down complex concepts, maneuvers and exercises but also the mechanics of communicating with horses under saddle and on the ground.
Someone once told me that every horse has a lesson to teach you. This statement has always stayed with me and has certainly proved to be true. I have worked with countless horses and I still know them all and remember every lesson they taught me. It is the horse that taught me to step up my leadership when they needed my help. It is the horse that taught me to be kind and understanding when needed me to teach and it is the horse that humbled me when they needed me to learn. It is also the horse that has taught me to teach the rider for the horse will tell me what the rider is doing.
I love everything I do, but if you would ask me to name the 3 things that motivate and drive me I’d say:
Competition Riding. This motivates me to keep building and challenges me to become a better rider and guide for my horse. This only with a soft and supple horse that is not only physically but also emotionally balanced. In my mind this is the only way horses will stay sound under the current requirements of top sport. I have a personal passion for the Arabian horse and have shown many as well as coached rider and horse combinations to competitive level in reining, ranch versatility, trail and western pleasure. In my book I never loose. I either win or learn, and that’s what I try to instill in my students as well.
Train the Trainer. Every rider is the trainer of their own horse as a horse learns something every time it is pulled out of their pasture or stall. Whether it is standing still at the tie rail or performing a sliding stop, my goal is to teach the rider to communicate with their horse in a way that creates a partnership. For me it is important that riders know what to do and how to handle when things don’t go ‘according plan’, to have the knowledge and skill to help the horse when it is scared or troubled will create a safer environment for both horse and rider.
Teach the young horse. The first 90 days of your horse’s career are the most important days in your horse’s life. It lays the foundation for a lifetime regardless of the discipline or job you have in mind for your horse. I have started many horses under saddle and will spend the extra time to make sure that after the basis of trust and respect has been founded, the horse will accept and truly understand what is asked of him. WE choose to have horses in our life so I feel it our responsibility to show the horse how to cope with the ‘human’ world.