ST Evaluation Program FAQ

Is The ST Evaluation Program Right For Me?

The ST Evaluation Program is super helpful, but it isn’t right for everyone.

Get answers to the most frequently asked questions so you can make the best decision for you!

1. The Program

Quick answers to the most common questions.

2. Touchstones

The pillars, the grades, the touchstones, the exercises.

3. Your Situation

Find out if the program is right for you and your horse.

4. Film & Footage

Clear answers to help you create the best footage.

1. Program Overview

The ST Evaluation Program is an online learning experience, and it's designed to help you get started and to progress on your personal path to mastery.

It gives you a pathway for making structured and consistent progress.

The ST Evaluation Program is intended to help you on your journey towards mastery in all five Training Pillars - Groundwork, Longeing, Work in Hand, Riding, and Liberty.

To achieve mastery in Straightness Training, self-evaluation is critical.

Self-evaluation is about knowing where you are, what you do well, and what you need to improve to be able to contribute to the well-being of your horse in the best possible way. 

Through assessment of a set of predefined exercises - called a Touchstone - you can demonstrate your ability to perform the ST exercises that are outlined in the ST Mastery Program.

The structured ST Evaluation Program is designed to evaluate and measure your level of skill and that of your horse. It’s about comparing yourself to a standard and your own progress.

It’s all about becoming a better version of yourself and to help you become the good horsetrainer that you're meant to be.

Focus on Growth & Contribution

The focus of the ST Evaluation Program is on your personal growth and your ability to contribute to the well-being of your horse in an even better way.

Therefore, the evaluation forms you receive should be perceived as hand-written lessons with invaluable information on how to develop, progress, and grow - even when it's a 1-star or higher pass.

An ST Evaluator will always give you feedback on what you do well, and what to improve, so you know exactly what to change to help your horse in an even better way!

World Wide Learning

Another reason why the ST Evaluation Program is vital for a student’s progress is that most Mastery students study entirely on their own.

Sometimes they are almost the only one in their country (Ecuador, Indonesia, Taiwan, Philippines).

Then, it’s easy to misunderstand or misinterpret specific concepts or instructions of the Mastery Program. 

For example, if I give you a flower, it is alive, it’s full of life, and you have to take care of it in a certain way.

But when people grab that flower and squeeze it, the flower will die right there in their hands.

Now to avoid this, we could use a plastic flower. Then we have a piece of plastic which we think is a flower.

But then, without the true essence, without the subjectivity, we create just a look-a-like. 

So the challenge is in the transmission – the way the theory of the ST Mastery Program is transmitted. 

Therefore, we need the ST Evaluation program, where the team of ST Evaluators is there to help you find the real deal and the true essence, and transform.

In the transmission from the ‘map’ to the ‘territory’, there must be subjectivity, because if you have a plastic flower, it’s not going to blossom.

So the way the concepts and instructions of the Mastery Program are transmitted is vital.

And how you receive it, is also essential.

And how you practice it, is also important.

And the ST Evaluation Program brings those crucial dimensions into the process.

Because if we just give you a bunch of instructions with only the Mastery Program, then it may become a very objectified Straightness Training if we use it to "score well on a test". That is like using an airplane as a carriage.

The ST Evaluation Program is not intended to be used to compare yourself to others.

It's also not meant as an instrument to compete with others.

The ST Evaluation Program is positioned as an Online Learning Environment, NOT as a Competition or Examination environment.

Therefore, submitting a video with the intention to only “pass the test” is beside the point. 

Remember the saying:

"If the purpose of learning is to score well on a test, you’ve lost the real reason for learning."

Therefore, the focus of the ST Evaluation Program is not on improving your significance by giving you stars and stripes and status.

Instead, it's about your personal growth and the ability to contribute to the well-being of your horse in an even better way.

Therefore, the evaluation forms you receive should NOT be perceived as "tests".

Instead, they should be perceived as hand-written lessons with invaluable information on how to develop, progress, and grow - even when you receive a 1-star or higher pass, cause the overal score mainly reflects how you perform compared to the STandard as outlined in Module 9.6.

Stars & Stripes?

A lot of people start yoga to become physically fit - but if fitness is all that we’re looking for, let’s go swim, play tennis, or climb a mountain.

Of course, yoga gives us fitness, but not just physical fitness; it gives us fitness on all levels – also mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

Now the real reason why we should practice yoga is, that we want to become one with everything.

It’s the same with doing Straightness Training (ST).

We don’t want to use our horse for ST, to score well on a test, or to get stars and stripes!

Instead, we want to use ST for our horse, and to become one with our horse - like a Centaur.

The answer to this questoin in a nutshell:

  • The Mastery Program helps you to optimize your knowledge.
  • The Evaluation Program helps you to optimize your skills.
  • As a result, you can actualize your horse's potential, both physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

To explain this in a bit more detail:

The Evaluation Program is inextricably connected with the Mastery Program, and a Student who uses them both will end up with and outcome where “The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of Its Parts”.

This is because both programs approach Straightness Training in different ways, like the yin-yang symbol.

One cannot exist without the other. And there will always be a touch of one into the other, like the yin-yang symbol.

Mastery Students need them both to become true artists and Master trainers.

In a nutshell, this is how both programs relate:

 THINK FIRST, ACT LATER

François Robichon de La Guérinière already said centuries ago:

"Without the theory, the practice will always be uncertain".

The ST Evaluation Program is meant as a way to give you feedback on how you put the theory of the ST Mastery Program into practice.

In ST, we embrace the important philophy of "Think First, Act Later":

This means, that before we start practicing ST, we need to know the clear ‘why’ behind what we are doing.

We need to be aware of the full spectrum of essences behind all ST training pillars, exercises, techniques, strategies, and concepts, before we start to submit Touchstones.

Only then we can avoid "look-a-likes" and "copy-cats". 

Therefore, to successfully submit Touchstones, the theoretical background of the encyclopedia of Straightness Training in the ST Mastery Program is a prerequisite, a must.

In general, the Touchstones in the ST Evaluation Program are meant to help you put the theory of the ST Mastery Program into practice:

  • The Mastery Program gives you the Encyclopedia of Straightness Training, including a large set of ‘how to’ instructions – so the Mastery Program gives you the global ‘map’ with a set of concepts.
  • The ST Evaluation Program is meant to help you fill in the details in your own ‘territory’.

When putting the theory into practice, the devil is often in the detail. For example, if we look at golf: If you hit the ball 2 mm ‘wrong’ at the start it ends up 200 meters off track in the end! Or if we look at footings under a house: even 2mm of uneven setting is enough to cause cracks in masonry, tile, cement or plaster! It’s the same with horses: even 2mm off track in Groundwork Grade 1 is enough to cause cracks in Groundwork Grade 2, and in Longeing, Work in hand, Riding, or Liberty Grade 1! So with the help of the team of ST Evaluators, you can kill the monsters when they are little. Their feedback is meant to help you refine your skills with 2 mm at a time, to stay on track and to avoid getting off track.

Another reason why the Touchstones are vital for a student’s progress is that most Mastery students study entirely on their own. And most of the time they are the only one in their own country (Ecuador, Indonesia, Taiwan, Philipines). Then it’s easy to misunderstand or misinterpret specific concepts or instructions of the Mastery Program. 

For example, if I give you a flower, it is alive, it’s full of life, and you have to take care of it in a certain way. But when people grab that flower and squeeze it, the flower will die right there in their hands. Now to avoid this, we could use a plastic flower. Then we have a piece of plastic which we think is a flower. But then, without the subjectivity, we create just a "look-a-like". So the challenge is in the transmission – the way the theory transmitted. So, therefore, we need the ST Evaluation program, where the team of ST Evaluators is there to help you find the real deal!

In the transmission from the ‘map’ to the ‘territory’, there must be subjectivity, because if you have a plastic flower, it’s not going to blossom. So the way the concepts and instructions of the Mastery Program are transmitted is vital. And how you receive it, is also essential. And how you practice it, is also important. And the ST Evaluation brings those crucial dimensions into the process.

Because if we just give you a bunch of instructions with only the Mastery Program, then it may become a very objectified Straightness Training if we use it to ‘score well on a test’. But that is like using an airplane as a carriage.

CONCEPTS VS DETAILS

The Mastery Program gives you the concepts, but you have to fill in the details in the ST Evaluation Program. ‍‍ ‍‍ And the Mastery Program presents ST in a sequential way, first Module 1, then 2, then 3 etc., and it presents the concepts in an isolated, separated, solitaire, and step-by-step way. ‍‍ ‍‍ But when entering the Evaluation Program, you need to combine, integrate, and unify all concepts in a compound and 3-dimensional way. You need to combine certain aids, with certain concepts, in certain exercises, in certain gaits, in certain stages. ‍‍ ‍‍ For example, if we want to teach our horse the half pass in Groundwork, we need to combine, at least, the concepts of operant conditioning, the Bingo cue, the reinforcement triad (RRR), the Teaching phase, and the stretch zone. (So that's combining at least the knowledge of Module 2.4.5 and 3.4.3 with 8.4.1. and 8.4.5., and 8.5.4, 8.5.5. and 8.5.6.) ‍‍ ‍‍ Or when we want to optimize the sequence in Work in hand, we need to integrate, at least, the concepts of the the Optimizing phase, the observing half halt, "ballet style", and the Keep Going cue. (So we need to combine at least the knowledge we can find in Module 2.4.5, 2.5.4, and 9.3.4. 9.3.5., 9.2.11, 9.4.2., 9.2.8, and 5.4.7., 5.5.3 and 5.5.8. and 8.5.3., 8.5.4. and 8.8.5.) ‍‍ ‍‍ Again, the Mastery Program gives us the theoretical concepts in an isolated, sequential way, but we have to combine, integrate and unify them when entering the practice in the Evaluation Program. ‍‍ ‍‍ And we can only do that if we no longer go vertically through all the lessons of the Modules, instead, we have to go horizontally, diagonally, forward, backward, and criss-cross through the Modules, jumping from Module 2.5.4, to module 9.3.2, to module 8.4.11, to module 5.6.7, back to module 2.4.1, and so it goes. ‍‍ ‍‍ Only by using the ST Evaluation Program, we will be able to fill in the details and find the hidden lessons of the Mastery Program. ‍‍ ‍‍ ‍‍ ‍‍

Login at the ST Evaluation Portal:

https://www.straightnesstrainingevaluation.com/

Then download and read and watch the following materials in the "About" section:

  • The ST Evaluation Brochure
  • The Introduction video
  • The Grade overview
  • The Touchstone overview

Then go to the Support section and check:

A team of evaluators that are members of Marijke’s Straightness Training Instructor Network (STIN) will evaluate your videos.

Evaluators are all licenced ST Instructors who have done additional training to evaluate. The ST Evaluators follow the 2019 STE guidelines, and evaluations will be closely monitored to guarantee a high quality

Members of the ST Evaluator team are:

  • Grade 2 ST Instructors Dora Hebrock (USA), Wendy Poore (UK), and Rosan Veer (NL)  who evaluate Groundwork, Longeing and Work in hand Touchstones at the level of Grade 1.
  • Grade 3 ST Instructors Anouk Wienia (NL) and Miriam Sherman (DE) who evaluate Touchstones in all five training pillars on the level of Grade 1.
  • Grade 3 ST Instructor Carolin Moldenhauer (DE) who evaluates Touchstones in all five training pillars on the level of Grade 1 and Grade 2 under close supervision of B-Instructor and STE Supervisor Zaneta Georgiades.
  • Grade 4 ST Instructors Rebecca Gilbert (UK) and Zaneta Georgiades (South Africa) who evaluate Touchstones on the level of Grade 1 and 2, and Grade 3 3 under the close supervision of Marijke.
  • Marijke de Jong evaluates all Touchstones at the level of Grade 4 and 5.

It is not possible to express a preference for a specific ST Evaluator.

Supervisor Zaneta Georgiades assigns all submitted Touchstones and makes a balanced spread over all evaluators.

In this assign process, she takes into account the country of the student, the pillar and grade of the student, and who has evaluated previous Touchstones of this student.

 

When you need more explanations and want more clarification on your scores and comments concerning your most recent evaluation form, you can book additional coaching. 

Note that contacting support is not the place to be if you want more clarification as support can only help you "process" wise with your Touchstones, but not "content" wise.  

So if you’d like to receive Additional Online Coaching on a submitted Touchstone of yours, we encourage you to contact an ST Instructor of your choice:

  • With this ST Instructor of your choice, you can agree on when to do the Additional Online Coaching and how (Skype/Google Hangout/Telephone/mail).
  • The expected cost will be comparable to the regular lesson rate of the ST Instructor.
  • The price agreed upon is something that is between you and the ST Instructor.
  • Also paying methods will be determined between you and the ST Instructor.

When going through the ST Evaluation Program in the ST Academy, you'll have the opportunity to purchase and submit Touchstones so you can show us your work on a video.

When your work matches a certain standard, you'll pass this Touchstone and receive a Touchstone certificate.

Once you passed all Touchstones on a certain grade, you'll receive a Grade certificate.

Once you reached Grade 2 in the ST Evaluation Program, you can be invited to the ST Instructor Program. With a good result, you'll be certified as an official ST Instructor.

Then you can be invited for the ST Evaluator Program. With a good result, you'll be certified as an official ST Evaluator.

  • To qualify for the admission to the International ST Instructor Program, an ST Mastery Student must possess good practical horse training skills, and therefore the student must have achieved the second grade with a two-star rating in the ST Evaluation Program.
  • This means that an ST Mastery student needs to have passed all Touchstones of the Training Pillars groundwork, longing, work in hand, riding, and liberty in the second grade with a two-star rating.
  • Marijke de Jong will personally invite candidates who she thinks could be successful in helping horses and riders, growing the ST movement and running a prosperous ST practice for themselves.
  • The ST Trainee Instructor should have a general talent to be able to develop up to grade 3 during the ST Instructor Program period. The ST Instructor program will take approximately one year to complete.
  • The ST Instructor Program will consist of online courses and online classes to develop didactic skills and how to set up a teaching practice.
  • The ST Instructor Program also includes practical personal one-on-one coaching by Marijke de Jong in real life to widen, deepen and broaden and to refine ST skills, and to achieve the minimum level that is required for ST Instructors: Grade 3.
  • The ST Instructor Program will be done on individual basis, so it’s not a ‘group process’. Because each individual is different, so the amount of coaching and support may differ, a tailor-made offer will be made, once the student will be invited by Marijke de Jong personally.

So to be more clear, the steps to become an ST Instructor are as follow:

1)  Join the full Mastery Program.

2) Study the theory of the Mastery Program and start training your horse(s).

3) Submit Touchstones through the Evaluation Program.

4) Pass 5 Touchstones in grade 1 to graduate on the level of Grade 1.

5) Pass another 5 Touchstones to graduate at the level of Grade 2, with a 2-star average.

6) Marijke de Jong will personally invite candidates who are on the level of Grade 2 who she thinks could be successful in helping horses and riders, growing the ST movement and running a prosperous ST practice for themselves.

We have been practicing and gaining experience with the ST Evaluation program since 2014 and after over 2250 submitted Touchstones it has grown from a simple ‘pilot try out’ to a mature and detailed program – version 2.0 –  with certified evaluators, guidelines and lessons learned.

The years of development has led to a balanced level and set of requirements that suit the ST community.

When we started the ST Evaluation Program in 2014, all 5 Grades were defined by 5 Touchstones, and all 25 Touchstones were defined by a certain set of exercises – the standard 1.0.

In 2016, we defined all 5 Grades not only in ‘exercises’, but we also defined each Grade in an ‘Overall level of skill’, a ‘Quality of skill set’ and a ‘Quality of the horse’s state’. So more modalities are defining each Grade now – which is the standard 2.0.

The ST students who were pioneers in 2014 and 2015 and dared to start submitting Touchstones in the pilot phase of the ST Evaluation system didn’t have to deal with the crystallized, balanced and mature quality system and level that we are dealing with nowadays. These students had the benefit of the pioneering, but they also have the drawback that they now have to meet the new and tighter grade definition.

When we look at history in general, in most sports disciplines the overall performance will increase the more people start to do it. So if more and more people begin to study and practice a certain discipline, the collective level goes up.

As ST students will get better and better, they will automatically start to push each other up in an empowering way, because everybody can and will learn from each other.

So we expect that within two or three years the quality of the ST Community will be even higher and we expect that new ST students will meet the accordingly improved standards to this level.

The later a student joins the club, the more solid and mature things will be, but this also has benefits and downsides. As being a pioneer has its benefits and downsides.

But whatever position you have, whenever you have started the ST Evaluation Program, you’ll learn loads of the valuable feedback, and it will help to grow as you go and to CANI as you try and you will benefit of the power and common growth of the ST Community.

2. Touchstones

There are two sides of the coin with it comes to Touchstones:

  • They can be viewed as ‘lessons’.
  • And they can also be viewed as ‘milestones’.

In general, when an evaluation form says ‘resubmit’, or the result is 1-star, it’s best to perceive a Touchstone as a ‘lesson’, so you can widen, broaden, deepen your work with the tips and feedback you gained out of the evaluation.

Only when there’s a 2-star result, we can perceive it as a ‘milestone’, where we have reached a solid base and created a stable enough platform to be able to continue with another Training Pillar or a higher Grade.

The Test Trap

People could perceive Touchstones as ‘tests’. 

However, if the purpose of learning is to score well on a ‘test’, we’ve lost the real reason for learning.

If we’re just looking for stars and stripes, well, let’s compare this to yoga:

A lot of people start yoga to become physically fit... but if fitness is all that we’re looking for, let’s go swim, play tennis, or climb a mountain.

Of course, yoga gives us fitness, but not just physical fitness; it gives us fitness on all levels – also mentally, emotionally, spiritually. 

However, the real reason why we should practice yoga is, that we want to become one with everything.

It’s the same with doing Straightness Training (ST).

We don’t want to use our horse for ST, to score well on a test, or to get stars and stripes!

Instead, we want to use ST for our horse, and to become one with our horse - as a Centaur.

The Devil is in the Detail

In general, the Touchstones in the Evaluation Program are meant to help you put the theory of the Mastery Program into practice:

  • The Mastery Program gives you the Encyclopedia of Straightness Training, including a large set of ‘how to’ instructions – so the Mastery Program gives you the global ‘map’ with a set of concepts.
  • The ST Evaluation Program is meant to help you fill in the details in your own ‘territory’.

Because when putting the theory into practice, the devil is often in the detail. 

For example, if we look at golf: If you hit the ball 2 mm ‘wrong’ at the start it ends up 200 meters off track in the end!

Or if we look at footings under a house: even 2mm of uneven setting is enough to cause cracks in masonry, tile, cement or plaster! 

It’s the same with horses: even 2mm off track in Groundwork Grade 1 is enough to cause cracks in Groundwork Grade 2, and in Longeing, Work in hand, Riding, or Liberty Grade 1!

So with the help of the team of ST Evaluators, you can kill the monster when it's little.

The Evaluator's feedback is meant to help you refine your skills with 2 mm at a time, to stay on track and to avoid getting off track.

Don't use an Airplane as a Carriage

It’s easy to misunderstand or misinterpret specific concepts or instructions of the Mastery Program. 

For example, if I give you a flower, it is alive, it’s full of life, and you have to take care of it in a certain way.

But when people grab that flower and squeeze it, the flower will die right there in their hands.

Now to avoid this, we could use a plastic flower...

Apply an avoidance strategy...

Then we have a piece of plastic which we think is a flower...

But then, without the subjectivity, we create just a look-a-like!! 

So the challenge is in the transmission – the way the theory transmitted.

So, therefore, we need the ST Evaluation program, where the team of ST Evaluators is there to help you find the real deal!

The true essence!!

In the transmission from the ‘map’ to the ‘territory’, there must be subjectivity, because if you have a plastic flower, it’s not going to blossom.

So the way the concepts and instructions of the Mastery Program are transmitted is vital.

And how you receive it, is also essential.

And how you practice it, is also important.

And the ST Evaluation Program brings those crucial dimensions into the process.

If we just give you a bunch of instructions with only the Mastery Program, and if we use it to ‘score well on a test’, then it may become a very objectified Straightness Training 

But that is like using an airplane as a carriage.

Login in the ST Evaluation Portal:

https://www.straightnesstrainingevaluation.com/

Then download and read and watch the following materials in the "About" section:

  • The ST Evaluation Brochure
  • The Introduction video
  • The Grade overview
  • The Touchstone overview

Then go to the Support section and check:

The complete ST Mastery Program gives you everything you need to progress through the entire ST Evaluation Program.

It contains all concepts you need and the exact "how-to" information on all essential Training Pillars of Straightness Training:

  1. Groundwork
  2. Longeing
  3. Work in hand
  4. Riding
  5. ST at Liberty.

The ST Mastery Program is the “Encyclopaedia of Straightness Training”.

This "ST-clopedia" consists of an extensive library of videos and documents, which covers every aspect, essence, and concept of Straightness Training.

With the ST Mastery Program, you can prepare yourself for all 5 Grades in all 5 Training Pillars.

Touchstone Examples: Yes or No?

At this moment, we have chosen not to publish example videos for each Touchstone.

The reason for this is that we do not want students to put an effort in ‘imitating’ exercises or ‘copying’ a certain style of execution of a Touchstone, ending up with 'look-a-likes'.

We don't want our students to seek to follow in the footsteps of the masters; instead, we want them to seek what they sought!

We want students to search for and work with the true essence of each exercise.

Plus, we want students to become an original by developing a personal signature style of doing the Touchstones, according to the general guidelines.

It’s our experience that the best way to study and to develop is:

  • To think first, act later, and dive deeply into the ST Mastery Program.
  • To put things into practice in your laboratory.
  • To explore and gain experience from the inside-out by doing trial-and-error.
  • To go through a learning curve with ups and downs while striving for constant and never-ending improvement with the help of an ST Evaluator.

This way you grow your knowledge and skills and create a personal style while developing towards the level of a true Master and authentic artist.

Furthermore, inspiration and a display of diversity in the style of execution of the Touchstones can be obtained by studying the library of Completed Touchstones submitted by other ST Students (see FAQ 2.4).

Also, make sure to watch the sequence videos in the ST Mastery Modules.

Plus, be sure to study the script illustration videos in the ST Evaluation Portal.

Combined with the script you’ll know what is to be expected in the Touchstone you're about to submit.

Completed Touchstones

To find evaluations forms of fellow Mastery Students, here’s what to do:

  1. Go to the menu and hover over ‘Touchstones’.
  2. Then click ‘Completed Touchstones’.
  3. Next, use the search engine to search for a particular (type of) Touchstone.

Video Reviews

For Grade 4 video reviews, check the "Touchstones" sections in the ST Live Module in the Full Mastery Program.

Visibility of Touchstones

Not all Completed Touchstones are visible, so if you can’t find a Touchtone, this may have one or more of the following reasons:

  • Only passed Touchstones are visible.
  • Only the Evaluation Forms of Mastery Students who agreed to publication are published.
  • Only a selection of completed Touchstones is visible due to the enormous amount of submitted and passed Touchstones between 2014 and up until this day. So we made an appropriate selection in the Completed Touchstones library  not to overwhelm Mastery students and to give them the best possible support in their preparation for a Touchstone.

If there are no Completed Touchstones available in a certain Touchstone (Pillar & Grade), see FAQ 2.3. on how to prepare yourself.

Old standard vs New standard

We have been practicing and experiencing with the Evaluation program for a few years now, since 2014, and after over 3250 submitted Touchstones it has grown from a simple ‘pilot try out’ in 2015/2016 to a mature and detailed program – version 2.0 – with certified evaluators, guidelines and lessons learned.  

This multi-year development has led to a balanced level and set of requirements that suit the ST community.

And there has been a major change when it comes to defining the Touchstones:  

In 2014, when we started the ST Evaluation Program, all Touchstones were defined by a certain set of exercises.  

Since 2016 we defined all 5 grades not only in ‘exercises’, but we defined each grade in: A set of exercises An overall level of skill A quality of skill set Quality of the horse’s mental state’ So more modalities are defining each grade now.

Therefore, to reach a really good overall standard in the ST community, we only present a set of Touchstones that meet those new definitions. 

Members can check out this post in the ST Members Facebook Group for more info >>

All ST Evaluators apply the "FIFO" approach, which means, “First In, First Out”.

This approach matches the actual flow of Touchstones, and we strive to go through the flow as smooth as possible with our team of ST Evaluators.

In practice, this means:

  1. You can submit your Touchstones every day of the month.
  2. As soon as your Touchstone has been evaluated, the evaluation form with feedback will be immediately returned to you.
  3. We strive to send you the evaluation form in a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 30 days.

Whether it will be 3 days or 30 days depends on the total amount of submitted Touchstones that is in the pipeline.

No matter how many touchstones a month, the ST Evaluators take the time it takes to complete a thorough evaluation.

The feedback is very detailed, will refer to specific seconds in the film, and the Evaluators not only look at the submitted Touchstone but previous ones as well to see the Bigger Picture in your development and give feedback in a compound and integrated way.

 

The stars and ratings are guidelines to access a particular skill, and they tell you how well you’ve learned it.

If you received a 1-star for a Touchstone on the level of Grade 1 in a certain Pillar you can do three things:

  • With a 1-star performance we strongly advice you to perceive the Touchtone as a ‘lesson’, and to stay in the same pillar to integrate the tips you gained and to resubmit the same Touchstone in order to get a better fundament and create a solid base. Then you don’t use the stars for significance and ‘stripes’, but for growth and ‘measurement’ where you compare yourself to a standard and to your own progress and where you use the tips to close the gap between where you are and where you want and need to be. And this way you see the Touchstones as ‘lessons’ and not as ‘tests’ and that’s the real purpose and value of the ST Evaluation Program.
  • You can also move on and focus on the next pillar within Grade 1. You will also gain more knowledge from working on all the pillars one at a time and then look back and see how far you have come. It is not about getting the highest possible ratings, stars, and grades, but finding out where you are, where you can go, and how to get there. And it’s mainly about creating a solid base and a stable enough platform so you can help your horse and make a positive difference in his development.
  • You can submit the Grade 2 Touchstone within the same Pillar, even though you had a 1 star on Grade 1 level in the same Pillar. But your chances on a proper result in the second grade might be reduced because it could be that you have a not enough solid foundation in Grade 1. The key to real beauty and excellence lies in really mastering the fundamentals. Only when you have a solid foundation, then you will be able to build a real ‘cathedral’ that can stand the test of times. When receiving a one star, most students are happy and progress with the next challenge and Touchstone. But you will discover later on, that in order to reach higher levels, you need a foundation that is stronger than a one-star result. For example: If your haunches-in on the circle in walk is not really good, then that will haunt you in the canter pirouette until you decide to step over your ambitions and disappointments and go back to the basics in walk. That is why it is so important that in ST we put so much energy and focus on the basics. So actually when you fail to pass a Touchstone or when it’s ‘only’ a 1-star performance, that is actually the best value you can get for your efforts. Looking deeply inside, working with the feedback you got, grinding it out until it’s really a great foundation, that will produce the best way to real artistry.

To qualify for the admission to the International ST Instructor Program you must possess good practical horse training skills and therefore you must have achieved the second grade with a two-star rating on average in all Training Pillars.

With a 1-star performance, we very strongly advice to stay in the same pillar to integrate the tips you gained, and to resubmit the same Touchstone in order to get a better star rating.

This way you see the Touchstones as ‘lessons’ and not as ‘tests,’ and that’s the real purpose and value of the ST Evaluation Program.

Because your chances on a proper result in the second grade might be reduced if you have only a one-star performance in Grade 1, ending up with not enough solid foundation.

The key to real beauty and excellence lies in really mastering the fundamentals. Only when you have a solid foundation, then you will be able to build a real ‘cathedral’ that can stand the test of times. When receiving a one star, most students are happy and progress with the next challenge and Touchstone. But you will discover later on, that in order to reach higher levels, you need a foundation that is stronger than a one-star result.

For example, if your haunches-in on the circle in walk is not really good, then that will haunt you in the canter pirouette until you decide to step over your ambitions and disappointments and go back to the basics in walk. That is why it is so crucial and essential that we put so much energy and focus on the fundamentals in ST. So actually when you fail to pass a Touchstone, or when it’s ‘only’ a 1-star performance, that is actually the best value you can get for your efforts. Looking deeply inside, working with the feedback you got, grinding it out until it’s really a great foundation, that will produce the best way to real artistry.

And remember:

Only when you have a 2-star performance, your work matches the standard on a 66,6% level.

This matches the 2/3 rule in Straightness Training, which says that if you can do something for 2/3, only then you are ready for the next STep.

~

Check the special items in the ST Evaluation FB Group on how to get to a 2-star performance:

Of course, you get tailor-made advice of your ST Evaluators. But there are many common "holes" to avoid.

Check out the general item in the ST Evaluation Group with 25+ tips on how to avoid the most common holes and how to improve your Touchstones:

https://bit.ly/2wq2bU1

if you’d like to receive Additional Online Coaching on a submitted Touchstone of yours, we encourage you to contact an ST Instructor of your choice:

  • With this ST Instructor of your choice, you can agree on when to do the Additional Online Coaching and how (Skype/Google Hangout/Telephone/mail).
  • The expected cost will be comparable to the regular lesson rate of the ST Instructor.
  • The price agreed upon is something that is between you and the ST Instructor.
  • Also paying methods will be determined between you and the ST Instructor.

In general, purchased Touchstones are valid for 12 months. 

Also the Touchstone students receive when they pay the course fee at once - so in one payment - is valid for 12 months.

The reason is, that your Touchstone causes a sort of agreement between students and Evaluators.

To be able to forecast the number of Touchstones we have to do each year it becomes unpredictable and unmanageable when the number of unused Touchstones starts to stack over the years.

ReSTart 2020 Package

Only the 5 Touchstones that are purchased in the reSTart 2020 package are valid for 2 years.

 

 

Yes, if a Touchstone has to be redone and resubmitted, you have to purchase a new Touchstone.

The end result of a submission can be a "pass" - where your work meets a certain standard - or a "resubmit" - where your work is not yet according to standard, so you need to tweak and refine your work to bel able to help your horse in a better way.

In both situations, the ST Evaluator has put a lot of time and effort in your evaluation form to give you the best possible feedback so you can help your horse in an even better way.

 

 

Touchstones are non-transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash.

In Straightness Training we have created an ‘online’ video evaluation system called the ST Evaluation Program and to be able to give online feedback to the video lessons we educated ST Evaluators. These online video lessons are given under supervision and responsibility of Marijke de Jong.

‘Offline’ our ST Instructors are able to give hands-on, one-on-one lessons in real life during ST workshops and clinics, and these lessons are given under the full responsibility of the particular ST Instructor.

So the ‘online’ video evaluation procedure involves a thorough quality audit (QA) and supervision procedure, to make sure the general guidelines are met.

Another part of the online procedure is that we log the progress of a Mastery student. This way we capture each touchstone in the system, so we can compare future touchstones with the touchstones that have already been submitted, also in the other pillars. This way we can monitor if former feedback has been understood and integrated and give the best advice possible to help the student to progress.

The reasons that Mastery Students cannot do a touchstone ‘offline’ and ‘live’ in a lesson, workshop or clinic are:

1. The great benefit of online video lessons is that you can both look at yourself from a distance, and at the same time you can see the Evaluator’s feedback. And you can watch and read it over and over again. This way, you will get much more out of a lesson.

2. The QA and supervision on this ‘live’ process cannot be done when the touchstone is performed live.

3. The touchstone can also not be logged since the lesson and feedback are not documented.

4. Therefore, we cannot monitor the progress of the student over time.

5. Besides this, doing touchstones live at a workshop or clinic might be more stressful, as it has to be done in front of an audience, in complete silence.

6. And when it’s a resubmit, this might be challenging to face in front of an audience.

7. Doing a touchstone ‘live’ also makes it impossible to make detailed notes, so only ratings can be made – as in competition dressage tests – there’s no time to add detailed tips and advice. Most scripts last 10-20 minutes, but an ST Evaluator normally takes at least triple that amount of minutes to evaluate and write down the feedback, because the evaluator will first watch and then write, this cannot be done at the same time.

Now we are very much aware, that doing online video lessons and submitting touchstones can be a step out of the comfort zone. Because you need a camera, a filmer, a youtube channel, software to upload the video, etc. So it’s not an easy process, but already thousands of videos have been submitted, so it’s within reach, and it’s worth it to get the detailed feedback.

We have been practicing and have experience with the ST Evaluation (STE) Program since 2014.

After over 3000 submitted Touchstones, it has grown from a simple "pilot try out" to a mature and detailed program with certified ST Evaluators, protocols, and lessons learned.  

This multi-year development has led to a balanced level and set of requirements that suit the ST Community and its horses.

Over the years, we have refined the STE Program by improving the evaluation standards, based on the results as seen in the submitted Touchstones from the previous standards, and on feedback from the Evaluators.

For the sake and benefit of the horses, there have been important changes when it comes to defining the Touchstones:

2014 Pilot Standard 1.0.

In 2014, when we started the ST Evaluation Program, all Touchstones were defined by:

  • A certain set of exercises.  

But it's important to not only do the "names" of the exercises, but to do the exercises with essence and knowledge about the "why" of each exercise. 

Therefore, we changed the definition of a Touchstone and a Grade at the start of 2016.

2016 Standard 2.0.

Since 1/1/2016, we define the Touchstones in all 5 Grades not only in "exercises", but we define each Grade in:

  1. A set of exercises.
  2. An overall level of skill.
  3. The quality of skill set.
  4. The quality of the horses' mental state.

So since 2016, more modalities are defining each grade to increase the chance of better results, and to help riders to help their horses in a more clear and better way.

Overall Level of Skill

When it comes to the ‘level of skill’, we strive for:

  1. A novice level in Grade 1.
  2. An elementary level in Grade 2.
  3. A competent level in Grade 3.
  4. An advanced level in Grade 4.
  5. The level of excellence in Grade 5.

See Mastery Module 9.6. for more details.

Quality of Skill

When it comes to the ‘quality of skill set’, we strive for a particular essence in each grade:

  1. Basic skills, and quality in the Lateral bending, Forward down, and Stepping under (LFS) in Grade 1.
  2. Integration of the fundamentals, and quality in Balance, Suppleness, Shape, Tempo and Rhythm (BSSTR) in Grade 2.
  3. Quality in Connection and Collection (CC) in Grade 3.
  4. An Athletic and Artistic (AA) performance in Grade 4.
  5. A Masterpiece in Grade 5.

And in each higher Grade, the essences and qualities of the lower Grades are integrated, so it’s about a ‘stacking’ of the Grade essences and qualities.

See Mastery Module 9.6. for more details.

Quality of Mental State

As a ‘quality of mental state’, we strive for a horse that has a:

  1. Responsive state.
  2. Searching state.
  3. Figuring Out state.
  4. Best Aikido state.
  5. A state of Synchronicity.

See Mastery Module 9.6. for more details.

2019 Standard 2.1.

In 2019, we introduced the STE 2019 Protocol as a result of Constant And Never-ending Improvement (CANI) - for the benefit of the horses. 

With the ST Evaluation Program and the process of evaluating we are always going through "the lab cycle" of ‍‍‍‍‍‍

‍‍ Think → Act → Check → Change: ‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

♻︎ So in the THINK part, we designed the ST Evaluation (STE) Program in 2014. ‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

♻︎ Then we started to ACT, and in that process, we educated new ST Evaluators in 2016 with the help of the 2016 STE Guidelines - which was a set of guidelines: one guideline for each Touchstone, so GW1, LO1, GW2 etc.

With these guidelines, all evaluators were able to evaluate according to a quality standard. ‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

♻︎ In 2016, 2017, 2018, we monitored the evaluation of Touchstones minutely, and we CHECKed what was working, and what was not working - looking at the development of the horses, as through training the trainers we can improve the well-being of the horses. 

♻︎ At the end of 2018, we learned a lot and CANI-ed a lot, and we felt that the ST Evaluation Program had come to maturity, so we decided to CHANGE our approach:

We wrote a brand new and "compound" ST Evaluator 2019 Protocol which replaces all the "isolated" 2016 guidelines.

And it's created with the purpose to serve all Mastery Students even better with high consultancy quality, just to help them serve their horses in an even better way and get long-lasting positive results. ‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

At the same time, we felt that the entire Mastery Community should be aware of the content of the brand new protocol in an easy-to-read format. ‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

That's why we published a whole series of posts* in the ST Evaluation FB Group on How to Improve Your Touchstones.

All those posts* contain materials of the 2019 STE Protocol. 

You can also find the content of those posts* in Module 9.6. and additional items in the Mastery Program - click HERE for the entire list >>

Future

The most up to date standard is the standard that will serve your horse most.

When you train your horse according to this standard, the core essence of Straightness Training will be preserved in the performance.

Only doing ST with essence and a clear "why" immediately from the beginning will create the correct fundament on which you can build to higher grades and help your horse to get long-lasting balance in body, mind, heart and soul.

It's not our intention to raise the bar of Touchstones just to make passing more difficult or keeping students resubmitting for a particular business-related reason.

On the contrary: it is our intention to make the system as "watertight" as possible for errors that will cause you to create and face obstacles when progressing into higher grades, that might be unsurpassable and might condition your Mastery horse to an almost uncorrectable physical and mental state.

At an abstract level, getting the essence right in Grade 1 might be the hardest challenge - depending on the level of talent of the student and the horse. However, we know that perseverance and willingness to learn will surpass talent in the long run.

So it's our policy to keep improving the STE standard where it needs to be.

We aim to position the STE program as the most efficient and effective online documented feedback system to help you develop into the best possible trainer for your horse that you are meant to be.

* NOTE ABOUT THE POSTS:

There is no difference between 2016 and 2019 when it come to defining the Touchstones. And all "how to" materials are available in the full Mastery Program. The additional posts in the ST Evaluation Facebook Group are just a matter of: ‍‍ ‍‍

  • Describing the same STuff in a different format. ‍‍ ‍‍
  • Giving a different "map" about the same "territory". ‍‍ ‍‍
  • Taking an eagle perspective on the same topic. ‍‍ ‍‍
  • Putting old wine in new bottles. ‍‍
  • Letting old ideas parading as new ones. ‍‍ ‍‍
  • Presenting the same subject from a different angle. ‍‍ ‍‍
  • Presenting it in a golden bar instead of golden coins. ‍‍ ‍‍

But 1kg of gold 💰 = 1kg of gold 💰.

Gold = gold = gold. ‍‍ ‍‍‍‍ ‍‍

However, we can present gold in a bar 🏆, and we can present gold in a bunch of golden coins 🎖🎖🎖, or in a piece of jewellery 📿. ‍‍ ‍‍

By doing so, it might shine a whole new light on the concept of gold. ‍‍ ‍‍

So presenting a certain concept in more than one way, might shine a new light, so a penny might finally drop. ‍‍ ‍‍

Because we never know what finally gives us the light bulb moment! ‍‍ ‍‍

And the team of Evaluators see it as their responsibility to make sure that you experience as much light bulb moments as possible. ‍‍ ‍‍

Therefore, we keep updating and creating new posts in the hope that maybe one of those will truly resonate and make a positive difference for your upcoming Touchstones! 

If you passed a Touchstone before 1/1/2016, it means that it has been evaluated and rated according to the 2014 standard.

This means:

– Before 1/1/2016, all Touchstones were defined by a specific ‘set of exercises’.

– In 2016, we started to define all Touchstones not only in ‘exercises’, but we also defined each Grade in:

  1. A set of exercises.
  2. An overall level of skill.
  3. The quality of skill set.
  4. The quality of the horses' mental state.

So since 1/1/2016, more modalities are defining each Grade and Touchstone.

Rating

In general, the star rating is a follows:

  • A 1-star performance, which means satisfactory, with the average of all exercises rated between 5.5 and 6.4.
  • A 2-star performance, which means fairly good, with the average of all exercises rated between 6.5 and 7.4.
  • A 3-star performance, which means good, with the average of all exercises rated between 7.5 and 8.4.
  • A 4-star performance, which means very good, with the average of all exercises rated between 8.5 and 10.

Now the quality of a star of a ‘before 1/1/2016’ performance doesn’t equal the quality of a star ‘after 1/1/2016’.

Therefore, if you have been doing Touchtones before 1/1/2016, and you’d like to continue with the ST Evaluation Program right now, you can do two things: upgrade or update.

UPGRADE

You can UPGRADE your Touchstone by submitting a Touchstone in a higher Grade.

For example, you passed your Liberty Grade 2 Touchstone in 2015 with a 2-star quality, so now you can continue with submitting your Liberty Grade 3 Touchstone.

UPDATE

You can UPDATE your Touchstone which is according to the 2014 standard, and submit the same Touchstone to have it evaluated according to the current standard.

For example, you passed your Groundwork Grade 3 Touchstone in 2015 with a 1-star quality, and now you submit the same Touchstone to have it evaluated according to the current standard.

 

Not all Completed Touchstones are visible, so if you cannot find a Touchstone, this may have one or more of the following three reasons:

1. Only passed Touchstones are visible.

2. Only the Evaluation Forms of Mastery Students who agreed to publication are published.

3. Only a selection of "Completed Touchstones" is visible due to the enormous amount of submitted and passed Touchstones between 2014 to the end of 2018 (over 2500 Touchstones).

Therefore, to reach a really good overall standard in the ST community, we only present a set of Touchstones that meet those new definitions. 

So we made an appropriate selection in the Completed Touchstones library not to overwhelm or confuse Mastery students, and to give them the best possible support in their preparation for a Touchstone.

If there are no Completed Touchstones available in a certain Touchstone (Pillar & Grade) you can do two things:

1. Check the same pillar in a higher grade, for example, if you are searching for Riding 2, and it's not there, you can search for Riding 3 or Riding 4.

2. The complete ST Mastery Program gives you everything you need to progress through the entire ST Evaluation Program, and contains all concepts you need and the exact "how-to" information on all essential Training Pillars of Straightness Training: Groundwork, Longeing, Work in hand, Riding and Liberty. Also, see FAQ 2.3.

Be The Change You Want To See

The international ST movement is a very young movement. 

We started in December 2013, and a bunch of pioneer students have already done some great trial and error with it...

And they didn't feel limited about what was NOT there...

No matter what, they experienced and are still experiencing great results:

  • They turned their concave Arabian into a convex Lippizanian with the help of ST.
  • They experienced wonderful breakthroughs with horses with pelvic or leg issues.
  • They figured out how to apply ST to an Icelandic horse to clean the gaits.

Now a lot of the true pioneers of 2013 achieved amazing results WITHOUT having access to the ST Evaluation Program.... It didn't even exist! They didn't have access to the "Lesson Library" that is avaible right now. 

They relied 100% on the materials in the Mastery Program.

And they got the job done!

So don't feel limited, if the example you are looking for is not there!

Just use the Mastery Program, go for it, and become the example you want to see:

  • So if you'd like to do a Touchstone with a Shetland pony, just do it!
  • If you'd like to do a Touchstone in tölt, be my guest!
  • If you'd like to do the Touchstones with one arm, we're ready when you are!
  • If you'd like to do the Touchstones in a wheelchair, go go go! Don't feel limited, because nobody has ever done it before!

To quote Steve Jobs from Apple:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” 

 

 

The Touchstones and Grades are meant as signposts and goals to encourage your personal growth and to improve and increase your contribution to your horse - they are not meant for gaining "stars and stripes" or to increase your status. For the benefit of your horse, the quality of how you train your horse is what counts.

The Touchstones and Grades are a reflection of your development as a horse trainer and can be seen as a STepping STone on your personal path to Mastery.

When it comes to a Grade Graduation, two aspects are taken into account:

1. To be able to graduate in a certain Grade, all five Touchstones need to be at least of one-star quality according to the 2016 Standard. 

This means, Touchstones done before 1/1/2016 do not meet the current standard, and are therefore not included when determining whether someone is eligible for a Grade graduation.

2. All 5 Touchstones within a certain Grade, which are all Touchstones in all five training pillars - Groundwork, Longeing, Work in hand, Riding and Liberty - need to be completed according to the minimum required standard (1-star pass or higher) within a time-span of 5 years.

For example, if the Groundwork Grade 1 Touchstone was a pass in April 2016, the other four Touchstones in the other four Training Pillars have to be a pass before April 2021.

3. Your Situation

In general, the Evaluation Program is geared for big-hearted horse lovers, novice riders, ambitious leisure riders, advanced horse trainers, and instructors. 

It’s for committed beginners and evolving professionals who want direction, clarity, and skills when it comes to Straightness Training.

It's for riders who's top two needs are growth and contribution:

Riders who focus on their personal growth so they can become the good horse trainer they are meant to be.

Riders who puts the needs of their horse first and want to contribute to the well-being of their horse, and want to  actualize their horse's full potential in body, mind, heart and soul by using the core essences of Straightness Training.

It's for riders who are willing to freeze their ice below the sea level:

Success in the ST Evaluation Program depends on the ice below the sea level:

Mastery is like an iceberg. When we see an iceberg, all we see is the tip of the iceberg, which is 10%. But a lot is going on beneath the surface: 90%. So what people see when they look at a master is his outstanding knowledge and amazing skills: 10%.
 
But what they DO NOT see is all the hard work they have put into it to get there. Plus, the passion to become the best they can be for their horse, the heartfelt dedication to make a positive difference for their horse, the persistence to keep going when other people quit, the hunger to learn, progress and develop so they can create long-lasting change.

Therefore, the ST Evaluation Program is only right for riders who are are willing to freeze their ice below the sea level. 

It's for riders who are working hard on themselves:

Attitude and emotions can change our life.

They can either build or destroy: 

Two riders can start with the program:

  • at the same time,
  • they have the same age,
  • the same type of horse,
  • the same circumstances,
  • the same challenges
  • the same evaluator...

... one achieves Grade 1 within a year, the other quits.

What's the difference? 

It's not that one had more time, or more opportunities, or a better horse, or a better evaluator, or....

The difference is working hard, and not only that, it's working hard on oneself:

  • For things to change, you have to change.
  • The only way that things get better for you is when you get better.
  • Don't wish it was easier, wish you were better.
  • Don't wish for less problems, wish for more skills.
  • Don't which for less challenges, wish for more wisdom. 
  • Don't wish for more compliments, wish you were more competent.
  • Don't wish for an easy recipe, wish you had more creativity.
  • Don’t wish for an ST Evaluator who is dedicated to your comfort, wish for one who is dedicated to you shifting boundaries within yourself.

It's for riders who realize "It's Always Me":

TheST Evaluation Program is for responsable riders who make the choice to respond to events and outcomes appropriately rather than blame and complain about it. 

It's for people who understand that excellence and mastery is grown via effort and practice. 

It's for students who realize that the major key to a better future is: me! 

It's for riders who strongly believe "It's always me".

It's for riders who don't wish for a better horse, a better riding arena, a better environment, better weather, a better season, better circumstances, a better program, a better evaluator, better lessons, better prices, better examples, better models.

We can all do extraordinary things with our horse if we make a 100% commitment, rather than focusing on what's not there, finding excuses, and blame anything around us. 

Straightness Training will become a complete way of training only when we embrace the quality of 100% responsibility.

The ST Evaluation Program is extraordinary, but it isn’t right for everyone!

It's not for riders with a strong need for significance.

The ST Evaluation Program is not for students who want to achieve “stars & stripes” and earn status. The program is designed for personal development and growth, and to help you contribute to the well-being of your horse.

It's not for riders who'd like to show off and are happy with a look-a-like.

To phrase François Robichon de La Guérinière: "Practice – stripped of sound principles – is nothing more than routine that only results in a false brilliance that fascinates the demi-connoisseurs, who are often amazed by the horse’s kindness, rather than by the rider’s skill."

The program is not for "strivers".

It's not for riders who use their horse to achieve their goals. ST is for the horse, and not the other way around.

This also means, that it's not for people who use the scripts as a goal in itself. Doing scripts in an isolated way only leads to practising the routines over and over again, letting technicals dictate practice, and losing sight of the Bigger Picture and true essence of Straightness Training. Again, ST is for the horse, and not the other way around.

It's not for blind followers

Only self-thinking people who are going through the ST lab cycle of "think-act-check-change" are ready for the program, as people who blindly follow the scripts will only end up with practising essenceless and boring routines, ending up with look-a-likes. 

Only when we check and listen to our horse in the schooling process, we know when to isolate an ST exercise, when to integrate some in a script, and when to improvise with an exercise to offer our horse a tailor-made approach.  

The ST Mastery Program gives you the concepts, the ST Evaluation Program gives you the scripts, and you have to take responsibility to search for and fill in the details. 

 

It's not right if you hope to learn by "osmosis".

The ST Evaluation Program is for action-takers, researchers, and investigators who understand that real change starts from within, through constant and never-ending improvement, and with consistent focused effort over time.

It's not for riders who lack “ice below the sea level”:  

Attitude and emotions can change your life.

And that of your horse.

They can either build or destroy.

Two riders can start with the program :

  • at the same time,
  • they have the same age,
  • the same type of horse,
  • the same circumstances,
  • the same challenges,
  • the same evaluator...

... one achieves Grade 1 within a year, the other quits.

What's the difference? 

One rider is finding a way, figuring things out, investigating, researching, searching for what the old grandmasters where searching.

The other is finding an excuse... making up a story why he cannot have what he wants... creating a long list with "reasons for not doing well":

  • There is not enough time.
  • Things are not perfect yet.
  • The weather is bad. 
  • It's too crowded in the riding arena.
  • My friends are not supporting me enough.
  • The program produces not enough results.
  • The program causes stress.
  • It puts pressure on my horse.
  • It puts pressure on my family.
  • The bar is too high.
  • My horse is not ready.
  • The script doesn't fit my horse.
  • The script is too long.
  • The script is wrong.
  • My horse gets bored with the routine.
  • My horse's habits cannot change.
  • The evaluator gave me "wrong" marks.
  • The evaluator's tips are confusing and upsetting. 
  • The evaluator just doesn't understand my very special, unique, one-of-a-kind horse.
  • There is no Touchstone example available with the specific breed my horse has.
  • There are not enough Touchstone examples available.
  • The program is too expensive.
  • The development of the program is going in the wrong direction.
  • In the early days, everything was much better.
  • It's just not the right time.

The only problem with this list that something is missing on the list:

  • The rider.

Therefore, the program is not right for people who blame everything outside themselves. 

You see, it's not what happens to you that matters - because what happens, happens to everybody in the program.

For example, the same amount of "passes" and "resubmits" happen to two different riders: one achieves Grade 4, the other quits. 

Why is that?

It's what they do - that changes everything.

The ST Evaluation Program is for riders who take full responsibility to what happens to them, and don't make a list with "reasons for not looking good" - instead, they take massive action.

Here's the thing... our biggest enemy is not lack of skill, it's lack of attitude:

Every man wants to be a body builder, but most men doesn't like to lift heavy weights day in day out. 

Only if there's a strong WHY, we'll achieve we WHAT.

And it's not about what we GET, but who we BECOME!

A person like Atlas, who is able to carry the weight of the world.

A person who really wants to find the essence of Straightness Training!!

Because only THEN a real long-lasting positive difference can be made, because:

  • It won't help if our horse keeps moving with his center of mass on (one of ) the front legs, encouraging bridle lameness or navicular disease. 
  • It won't help if we keep riding our horse against the hand, or "on the bit", developing an underneck or kissing spines.
  • It won't help if we keep using too much, too long, too often, sudden or steady pressure, lowering our horse's mental state, creating resistance. 
  • It won't help if we practice liberty but human and horse are not really thinking about the way of moving, so the true essence of ST and the quality that brings to the performance is missing. 

So when you receive a resubmit, and start to create this long list why you didn't get what you wanted, then ask yourself:

  • Am I being Atlas right now?
  • Or am I a "whiny little bitch"? 

Ultimately, if you are really honest with yourself, you are not really doing the program for you...

It’s not about Touchstones, it's not about Grades, because how many Grades can you have?

Then what?

There’s always a greater cause that drives you in the end - whether it’s your horse, your students, their horses...

So when you're feeling that you're about to quit, you have to think:

  • Why am I really doing this?
  • Who is depending on me?
  • If I am Atlas, who am I carrying?
  • What’s going to happen if I drop them?
  • What happens if I give up on my horse?
  • If I quit?


Don’t quit on your horse!

Do if for your horse!

You are doing it for your horse:

  • You want to end unnecessary suffering because of the natural asymmetry.
  • Or you want to get rid of your horse hanging on one rein, a hard mouth, or bridle lameness.
  • Or do something about the navicular disease or kissing spines.
  • You want to prevent tension during riding, a hollow back, and underneck development.
  • You want to stay away from that your horse is always moving downhill with all the weight on the front legs when you train. 
  • You want to avoid that your horse is not aware that he can use his powerful hind legs to support both his and your weight.
  • You want to clean the gaits and avoid stiff steps, disunited movement, and short strides.
  • You want to encourage the shoulder freedom and elegant and majestic moving front legs.
  • You want to have a great relationship.
  • You want your horse understands what you want and is motivated to do it.
  • You want not only psychological connection in your liberty work, but also physical essence shining through.
  • You want to be able to use tools so that it looks like "as if" you work at liberty. 
  • You want to rebalance your horse in body, heart, mind, and soul.
  • You want to reach your horse's full potential in all areas to give him a rich and fulfilled life.
  • You want to stay on track and avoid getting off track, because you know the devil is in the detail, and you want to kill the monster when it's little. 

So when you feel like quiting, remember why you started! 

You didn’t sign up for the ST Programs to get login to all the materials, and info about ST, and the right to submit Touchstones...

No, you signed up because you wanted to grow and develop.

You wanted to contribute to the well-being of your horse. 

You wanted to be a difference-maker!

A game-changer!

A rainmaker!

Atlas!

You signed up so the ST Evaluation Program and the team of Evaluators could help you become the great horse(wo)man you are meant to be!

And yes, you will have all these "luxury ‘problems":

  • It takes time
  • Investment in yourself
  • Effort
  • Practice
  • Commitment
  • Dedication
  • Perseverance
  • Constant and never-ending improvement
  • It’s hard
  • It won’t work
  • You’ll hit a plateau
  • A setback
  • You’ll have a bad month or two sometimes...

So how to keep going? 

Focus on WHAT you want and WHY you want it.


Focus on WHO you want to become!

Atlas, a difference maker, a game changer, a rainmaker.

Not a WLB.

So stop blaming.

Stop complaining.

Take responsibility.

Make a choice!

You see, every equestrian discipline and movement has people who find a way, and people who find an excuse.

Every equestrian discipline has its fans – people who see things better than they are.

They also have its haters – people who see things worse than they are.

And they all have its backseat drivers – people who easily criticize other people’s work when they’re not the one doing it.

Also, all methods and role models meet people who see things just as they are, who take what they can use, and then work hard on themselves, as hunger, heart and hard work always beat talent.

So if you believe this program is right for you - see FAQ 3.1.

If you have different dreams, ideals, values, beliefs, attitudes, and ideas about how things and people should be or develop - let's just agree to disagree, and move forward, each in our own direction.

The Evaluation program is meant as a way to give feedback to students on how they put the theory into practice. And without the theory, the practice will always be uncertain, as François Robichon de La Guérinière already said centuries ago, and we want to avoid students performing ‘look-a-likes’.

So students need to know the clear ‘why’ behind what they are doing and need to be aware of the full spectrum of essences behind all ST training components, exercises, techniques, strategies, and concepts, before they start to submit Touchstones.

Therefore, to successfully submit Touchstones, the theoretical background of the encyclopedia of Straightness Training in ST Mastery is a prerequisite, a must.

Our former Home Study Course (HSC) only partially contains the theory for Grade 1, and it doesn’t contain the theory for Grade 2 and higher, and because ST is about ‘Think First, Act Later’, the HSC is not suitable for preparing a student completely for all grades.

Therefore a student who wants to submit videos in ST Evaluation needs to be a member of the ST Academy in order to have access to the theory of the Mastery Entry Course or full Mastery Program to set him/her up for success in the ST Evaluation Program.

So to be short: the ST Evaluation Program is only available for ST Mastery Students. I you want to become a Mastery student, just contact [email protected] so we can get you sorted.

You will start in Groundwork at Grade 1. So everybody’s first ST Evaluation ever will be Groundwork – Grade 1. This Touchstone will carefully prepare you for all the other Training Pillars: Longeing, Work in hand, Riding, and Liberty.

Check also the 7 Steps To Set You And Your Horse Up For Success! post in the Support Section.

In every Training Pillar, you will start with Grade 1, no matter if you are a beginner or an advanced rider. And each Training Pillar must be built up with sequential Touchstones, starting at grade 1, followed by 2, 3, 4 and then 5.

If you don’t ride, or have an unrideable horse, you can skip the Riding Touchstones. You’ll receive Touchstone certificates for the pillars you successfully submit. However, a grade certificate can only be achieved if all pillars in a grade have been successfully completed.

If you don’t want to become an ST Instructor and if you don’t want to get certified in Grade 1 and higher, you can use any horse you’d like, such as:

  • A horse that has been educated by another STudent or that already did touchstones with another STudent.
  • A horse that has been educated by somebody else until a high level in a classical equestrian discipline.
  • A horse that has been educated by somebody else until a high level in sports dressage.

Because for sure you will also get valuable lessons from our evaluators for you and this horse.

However, if you strive for becoming an ST Instructor or if you would like to get a graduation certificate for Grade 1 and higher, make sure to do all Touchstones in all five training pillars with a horse that you have taught the ST exercises yourself. That means:

  • A horse where you are the one who taught the horse the ST exercises LFS, shoulder-in, haunches in, renvers, half pass and the pirouette to counterbalance the natural asymmetry.
  • This includes young horses that you started with from the very first start of their life as a riding horse.
  • This also includes older horses that already could do walk, trot, and canter, perhaps in an imbalanced way, or even with a lot of problems, so older horses that couldn’t do the ST exercises before you started training them.

It’s possible to start more than one horse in the ST Evaluation Program. Now here are the guidelines:

  • To achieve ‘mastery’ in Straightness Training you should strive for doing all Touchstones with the same horse. However, if your main ‘master’ horse gets injured or retires, and you have to change horses, you could bring your new horse all the way up to the Grade you reached with the former horse by using the regular and logical order of gymnastic ST exercises. So you don’t need to be reassessed with a new horse. So you can bring the new one up to the Grades in the Training Pillars you had with the former horse, and from this level, you can continue with your Touchstones with your present horse. In the end, it’s about developing your training skills and about your learning on how to become an ST trainer.
  • If you would like to start one or more additional horses besides your ‘master’ horse in the ST Evaluation program, because you would like to have this horse evaluated periodically too, you can either start from scratch with this horse – starting with Groundwork Touchstone Grade 1, if you would like the feedback to make sure you continue on the right path – or you can bring this additional horse up to the Grades in the Training Pillars you achieved with your ‘master’ horse, and continue from this level with your additional horse(s).
  • However, to be able to graduate within a certain grade, it should be the same horse in all Training Pillars in one Grade. So all 5 Training Pillars in the same grade has to be performed with the same horse, and the horse has to be educated by the rider himself. So it’s not possible to use your best horse for Groundwork and another horse that is best at Liberty for Liberty. When you graduate, you have really experienced what all 5 training pillars give to each other and to the specific horse within a particular grade.

It’s recommended, that you use a Straightness Training cavesson. There is some flexibility, but in pursuing mastery in all five grades, one would never do Straightness Training without a cavesson. It’s an essential tool in Straightness Training.

In ST, we always start bitless to spare the mouth and to preserve the sensitivity of the mouth. Because in the beginning, most horses are a kind of stiff in the body, because of the natural asymmetry. Therefore, a bit is only introduced later on in the horse's education - but ONLY if a rider would like to. So of course, a bit isn't mandatory and if you wish to carry on bitless that is fine.

However, we're not 'against' bits, so do not go "extreme" or turn "opposed" to those who want to use bits.

We have students from all over the world, and some of them work in fancy indoor riding arenas while others practice in an unlevel pasture.

And both end up with great results!

So just work with what you have, the most important thing is whether your horse is still able to perform the exercises.

When you start filming your touchstones, you can always mark a certain rectangular area in your field with some cones or moveable poles and use that area.

Because, you need a rectangular arena, paddock or pasture to work in, so it doesn’t have to be a real arena.

We recommend the following proportions:

  • 20x40m  (1 meter = approx. 3 feet)
  • 20x30m
  • 15×30 m

You cannot use a small square paddock, sized for example 10×10 m or 20x20m.

Also, you can’t use a round pen.

4. Film & Footage

We’ve had one 80+ year old student purchase his first laptop (ever) to do the program. As long as you’re hungry to learn and a researcher for life, you’ll be fine.

Use Google and you'll find many answers on how to create a Youtube Account.

Don’t worry. If you ONLY want an ST Evaluator to see your video, there are two simple things you need to do:

1. Put your video on ‘unlisted’ in YouTube. An unlisted video is a different type of private video. ‘Unlisted’ means that only people who know the link to the video can view it (such as friends or family or the ST Evaluation system to whom you send the link). An unlisted video will not appear in any of YouTube’s public spaces (such as search results, your channel, or the Browse page).

2. When you make the evaluation request on the home page of this website, make sure not to tick the box with the ‘Legal Disclaimer’. This way your video and evaluation form neither get published in the ST Community nor to the public.

With the video it’s important that we can see both you and your horse properly; otherwise we can’t evaluate you, and we can’t give you proper advice and feedback.

It’s best when you and your horse fills up the screen completely and that you keep this shot as constant as possible.

Therefore ask somebody to operate your camera, and use the camera’s zoom to film at the appropriate distance and zoom in/out gradually.

The camera should be positioned in the middle of a short side of the riding arena and please use a tripod for camera stability.

 

If you use a robot camera like Soloshot or Pixio, please make sure the zoom works fine.

With Soloshot, you can choose ‘tight’, ‘medium’, ‘wide’ and ‘extra wide’:

– Tight: 12 meters (6 meters on either side of the subject)
– Medium: 20 meters (10 meters on either side of the subject)
– Wide: 40 meters (20 meters on either side of the subject)
– Extra Wide: 80 meters (40 meters on either side of the subject)

Now when it comes to Touchstones, only the ‘tight’ option allows evaluators to see details.

But the ‘medium’ option is needed for longeing because the horse spirals out, just to keep both the rider and horse in the frame. However, the ‘medium’ option has a limited zoom, and we can hardly see any details on a video when this option is chosen.

Therefore, after evaluating many touchstones filmed with Soloshot, this is the conclusion:

  • In the ST Evaluation Program, Soloshot can be used in the Groundwork, Work in hand, Riding and Liberty Touchstones when the ‘tight’ option is chosen.
  • For the Longeing Touchstones, it’s best to find a camera person for tailor-made filming and proper zooming.

You can tighten the zoom manually after setting the Soloshot 2 up – zoom in again after you’ve completed the walk and pairing.

So some trial and error first, to fine-tune the footage with 2mm at the time, and once you figured out the best settings, feel free to submit your Touchstone.

Yes, feel free to share your youtube link and/or feedback in the ST Evaluation Facebook Group, since we can all learn from each other and you could be an inspiration to others.

And if you agreed to publication, your Evaluation might also be published in the membership area of this website. Due to the enormous amount of submitted and passed Touchstones between 2014 to the end of 2018 (over 2500 Touchstones). We made an appropriate selection in the Completed Touchstones library so as not to overwhelm Mastery students and to give them the best possible support in their preparation for a Touchstone.

It is recommended to submit only one Touchstone at a time. This way you can use the feedback from the Touchstone you have had assessed to improve the next one you submit.

So take it one Training Pillar and one Grade at a time, and don’t submit more than one Touchstone simultaneously.

If you submit more videos at once, it might be possible that the same ‘mistake’ is visible in all your submitted Touchstones, and that ‘errors’ should have been ‘corrected’ much sooner in the process, before it became an undesired and ‘hard to change’ habit.

At all times, avoid doing a ‘home run’ where you submit all five free touchstones in the very last month of your 12-month–free-touchstone-period.

We developed the ST Evaluation Program as the primary online coaching opportunity for ST Master students. And it’s a pitfall to see the ST Evaluation Program too much as a competition/examination/test instrument; it should be seen as an instrument for online lessons, and for checking if the combination of student and horse have created a stable enough platform and solid fundament to take the next step.

However, we can understand that you might want additional online contact and coaching with an ST Evaluator or ST Instructor regarding one of your submitted and evaluated Touchstones.

Therefore, we created the opportunity for “Additional Online Coaching”.

And this service is an extension to the coaching you received through the Evaluation Program.

This is how it works:

  1. The Additional Online Coaching is an extension to the coaching you received through the Evaluation Program. 
  2. The basic input for this Additional Online Coaching will always be an evaluated Touchtone of yours, because the submitted Touchtone provides a visual reference and an Evaluation form from which you can start the Additional Online Coaching.
  3. The Additional Online Coaching can be used as input for your next Touchstone evaluation that you’d like to submit.

This is how doesn’t work:

  1. You cannot use an unsubmitted Touchstone as a basis for the Additional Online Coaching in order to get a “promised pass” before you officially submit your Touchstone.
  2. You cannot use ‘free format’ footage (filmed or live broadcasted) as a basis for the Additional Online Coaching, because it will complicate the process, and it requires more preparation time and effort of the ST Instructor, which makes it unnecessarily expensive.

Now we can totally understand your wish for smaller chunk where you want to submit a shorter video clip on one aspect of a certain Touchstone, but we have decided not to go down a path where students can submit snippets of a Touchstones.

The first reason is, that the whole (sequence) is more than the sum of its parts (separate exercises) because every exercise benefits from the previous one and prepares for the next. That means, that an ‘error’ in the haunches-in can have its root in the circle. So we want to look at your work in a ‘compound’ way, not in an ‘isolated’ way, just to be able to see cause and effect.

Besides this, we don’t want students to submit whatever they WANT, but we – as a team of ST Evaluators – are here to give them what they NEED – there is the real power of our evaluating system!

So the Touchstone scripts are very well-thought-through and exactly how they have to be, and I am very proud to be achieving such great results with them for our students, and to have so many Grade 1, 2, 3 and very soon also Grade 4 graduates!

5. Last Little Details

Join the official Straightness Training (ST) Evaluation Facebook group for all members of ST Evaluation. In this exclusive group, you can post and view videos of graduates on different levels. It’s a place to inspire, support and motivate each other 24/7 on the wonderful journey of Straightness Training! It’s is a like-minded, positive and supportive community to assist you any time of the day to help you prepare your video’s, so you’ll never get stuck, and you always get quick answers to all your questions.

Click on this link and send a request to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/StraightnessTrainingEvaluation/

If you use a nick name or your company name on Facebook, please send an email to [email protected] with your original name and your nick/company name, so we know it’s you.

Click here to hear what Mastery Students have to say about their experience with the ST Evaluation Program.

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