Marijke de Jong's ST Academy

Mastery Student Reviews

They Did It. So Can You.

Hear from 100+ Mastery Students who made their dream with their horse come true!

Reviews From Mastery Students From Africa

"In the beginning, I was a lost soul. I didn't know myself, I didn't know my horse, life was hard. I was in search of something that will have purpose in my life, and then I saw it... ST Mastery Program! Through the Mastery Program I am walking the amazing journey of Mastery of One Self, and by improving myself, my relationship is improving with my horse. THIS IS SO AWESOME!!! My horse is a different horse, mentally and physically. I am a different person mentally and physically. The Mastery Program is shaping my diamond in the rough, and now I know how I can help others to shape their diamonds so that we all can Shine Together! I Love working with my horse in ST, and as an instructor at a riding school, I love to see the smiles on the kids' faces when I can improve them and their horse so that they can also reach their dreams and goals while having fun. ST IS FUN, and I love every second of it. It is Life Changing, and both me and my horse are happier and working in a way I have always dreamed of. Dreams can come true after all!"

Nastalia Gaude | Groblersdal, South Africa

Silver Express (Lex), TB, gelding, 6 yo

"The Mastery Program has shown me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Through this program, I have become more aware of my own presence and energy and the effect it has on my horse on any given day. I am learning to control that energy and use it in a positive way instead of a controlling way. Inner picture, inner feeling has become my mantra, and I am super impressed that my horse (for the most of the time) sees and feels my thought bubbles! Belmont has definitely benefitted from the work in-hand and despite his injuries does his absolute best to work together with me. The greatest thing about the Mastery Program is that there are no races to be won and no deadlines, and aside from a lifetime of accessibility, brings with it a whole support and advice group through its member pages on FB and practically instant response from either Marijke or one of the qualified ST Instructors from around the world."

Sue Alves | Lilongwe, Malawi


"The Mastery Program has offered me a classical and holistic method for training horses. However it is more than this, it has proven to be a personal journey of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual balance and awareness and so far, the program has aided me in laying a solid foundation on which I am building and strengthening my relationship with not only my horses but everyone around me.

The incomparable benefit of the program has been the sense of community fostered by like-minded people. I am truly blessed to be sharing this journey of responsible and accountable horsemanship and horse training with so many ST Mastery students in South Africa.

ST is not a quick-fix solution but a lifelong expedition to enrichment for horse and human alike, and for left-brained people like myself the Mastery Program is a well thought through and documented map for this expedition, while still helping me focus on the essence that it is about balance, incorporating the flow and feel required for working with horses."

Astrid van der Laan | Pretoria, South Africa

Navi, Appaloosa, gelding, 7 yo

"The Mastery Program is the best investment that I have ever made for myself and my horses. I have been passionate about horses all my life and was fairly successful in show jumping and 3-day eventing. However, I always felt the need to keep improving my knowledge of horse training and continued to research and learn as much as I could about the correct ways to train horses so that they were well prepared mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually to be equal and willing partners in my quest to be a better horse owner and trainer.

When I stumbled across the launch of the very first Mastery Program in 2013, I knew immediately that this is what I had been searching for, for all these years and jumped on board right away and have never looked back.

In no way is this a quick fix, instant gratification program. It is a program supporting our own self-mastery in order to create better horse trainers and people. The knowledge, tools and constant support for our CANI is there for life

For me, the best feedback and accolades come from my horses and to see them so happy, fit and well and willing to work with me as we dive into all the pillars in Grade 2.

ST has improved our lives completely."

Kim Alford | Durban, KZN, South Africa

Show Girl, Lusitano x Boerperd, mare, 9 yo

In this video, you can see Kim and Show Girl:


"The Mastery Program has transformed my personal views, expanded my self-awareness and established within me a desire to continuously expand my horizons. It has also elevated my relationship with my horses into a whole new realm of awesomeness I never thought possible; relationships that are now filled with abundant joy and affinity. I was introduced to ST in 2015, at the time, however, I had lost my way and was not ready to embrace “self-mastery” in my life nor the mastery of my horses for that matter. Sadly, I continued on my downward spiral until June 2017 when ST was again introduced to me "Hook, line, and sinker"… This time I was ready, and I have not regretted a single day since. I read the e-book, started playing around with the exercises, attended every workshop I could and enrolled as a full-time mastery student in November 2017. I have come to realise that mastery does not simply happen; one has to earn it and keep earning it, every day! If you are on a journey of discovery with your horse and are seeking a better, healthier and effective relationship with your horse, this program will achieve that result."

Jola Stansfield | Pretoria, South Africa

La'Zamara, Warmblood, mare, 8 yo

The photograph is somewhere in South Africa and mirrors much of my path with Straightness Training. A world opened to me as I got to know all about horses, the human connection with them and also my own strengths and shortcomings. I always strive for balance and it has brought everything together for me.

Erika Hefer | Pretoria, SA


"ST was a journey not only to be a better trainer, but I also came in a new world of horsemanship. My horse does communicate to me, and we have the greatest friendship I always was dreaming about!" 

Marlies Baumann | Western Cape, SA

Ebony, Vlaam (Frisian cross), mare, 14 yo


"What I found in the Mastery Program was far beyond my expectation. I quickly understood Marijke was the life coach I was looking for."

Nicole-Marie Iresch | Cape Town, SA

Ariel, mixed breed, mare 

"Joining the Mastery Program has allowed me to have access to a library of information as well as a great community of like-minded people. Even though I do not always participate in the chats, the reading of posts teaches me a lot, and I am also grateful for Marijke's enthusiasm, emailing coaching and energy - always being available and giving her input. Joining ST has helped my horse with recovering from a sacroiliac injury, and I am seeing him grow into a stronger horse - both physically and mentally. For myself too I feel that I have grown a lot and am still growing. I am sensitive to animals feelings and reactions, and I have always pulled away from various trainings as have felt that the horses part in the training is not taken into consideration. And in ST this is so much part of the training and learning - working with inner picture and feeling - and seeing my horse adjust himself as my inner pictures and feelings of an exercise improves. We are a real team!"

Anthea Myburgh | Winelands, South Africa

Glider, TB, gelding, 7 yo

Before I began the Mastery Program, I was doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that with my horse. It was going fine, but the question that kept bothering me was... WHERE were we going? All the courses I studied and the trainers I admired, never really gave me the BIG picture. The WHY. The step by step HOW PER 2mm - THE EXACT track to follow in order to reach my goals. They never shared their life philosophies so honestly. They never shared their struggles. They never seemed to be normal humans!!! How could I, little old me, Mommy of 2, run a business and be a master with horses all at the same time?! Marijke is honest, open and ever learning. She shares her struggles so her students can bypass them! She gives a VERY transparent pathway. She puts high-level exercises within reach because by following her steps you start to see that the horse will naturally be ready for the higher movement. No mystery and slow motion. Just hard work, dedication, and passion!

Lara Pieret | Cape Town, South Africa

Suvari Royale (Vari), TB, mare, 14 yo

"Becoming an ST Mastery student has absolutely changed my WORLD…… Looking back over the last year of studies, I feel a warm fuzzy feeling of knowledge brewing inside of me. I am super excited every day to be on this journey, really… I am barely through Grade 1 in touchstones, but WOW I’ve come so far already.

The depth at which I am beginning to understand Horses, training Horses, humans and the interaction between the two is just incredible.

In the 17 years of being a horse owner, I have always felt comfortable in my day to day interaction and training…… But joining the Mastery Program has opened my world to so many new thoughts and facts.... The WHY of absolutely everything which forms the basis of our training. I could carry on chatting forever, but the absolute cherry on the top is when your horse begins to enjoy the training … and give you his input … and when you begin to recognise this…….. an amazing feeling!"

Jenni von Willich | Cullinan, South Africa

Crusader, Warmblood, gelding, 10 yo

The Power Of Association

Posted: Friday, November 8th, 2019 by Marijke de Jong

Founders of the ST Academy Tonie, Jenni, Ansa and Diedré are based at MooiBly Stalle in Pretoria South Africa. Ansa joined the ST Academy in 2016, the others in 2017. To fast-track their process they associate, as they believe in the African Proverb which says:

  • If you want to go fast, go alone.
  • If you want to go far, go together.

If you associate with the Founders in the ST Academy today, you do not only fast-track your process... You also get life-time access to the materials! Plus, future updates are for free! 

The Mooibly Stalle group: "To people who wonder if ST would work for them: Do it! You can't lose!"

Listen what more Tonie, Jenni, Ansa and Diedré have to say:

Ansa: "The Mastery Program continues to highlight areas in my life that need further development. It is showing me a deeper understanding of true leadership. In my professional life, this continues to be useful and links in well with 'conventional' training in business management/leadership programmes. My advice to new recruits would not be to underestimate the commitment the program will require from you as a person. It is tough, it requires discipline and planning and above all, perseverance. Although it is an individual journey to a large extent, the ST community creates a truly enabling environment of encouragement and good advice. The fact that I get to do this with my best friend Romulus is a bonus really. For me, the fact that we are developing both our bodies, minds, and souls into an elevated state simultaneously is a huge benefit. I know the investment is worth it. If you are serious about living a meaningful life. This program is for you."

"Straightness Training Has Changed Our Lives"

This is the ST Cadence group from South Africa: Sarah Hugow, Lizelle van Vuuren, Nastalia Naude, and Astrid van der Laan - and their honorary ST member, Lisa Byers who’s from Canada.

They speak about that their horses are their teachers, the importance of practicing outside outside the arena what you want to achieve inside, and how self-mastery can be a big life-changer:

Nastalia Naude: "Through Straightness Training I’ve met amazing people and my work has improved so much with my horses and in my life personally as well".

Taking Her Yoga To Another Level

Germaine Horowitz-Vogel from South Africa is involved with yoga and has done a couple of yoga teachers' training in different yoga disciplines. By doing Straightness Training it has taken her yoga to another level, and ST feels as though she's doing yoga with her horse, achieving unification of mind, body and soul. In this video, you can see Germaine and her 11 yo Appaloosa mare called Red:

Germaine: "The ST Academy takes you on a positive enriching journey with no limitations - only amazing discovery about yourself and your horse and your relationship with your horse."

From Targeted To Enjoying The Process

Samantha Aronson from Cape Town, South Africa is making a positive difference for her 19 yo gelding Bolero, a Namibian Warmblood. Samantha stopped focusing on the destination and is enjoying the process, where she's paying attention to the 2mm and enjoying when she finds them.

Samantha: "The ST program focuses on making 2mm improvements each time you train. Anyone and any horse can make tiny adjustments in the right direction on a daily basis. We  just need to meet yourself where you are and go from there. And you won’t be going at it alone! You’ll have support and guidance available from Marijke, the ST instructors, and the entire community of STudents. Go for it!".

Using a Holistic and Realistic Approach

Mastery Student Gisela Marnewecke is from Cape Town, South Africa. Gisela has a background in natural horsemanship with a preference for negative reinforcement, and pressure and release techniques. Now, Gisela is doing Straightness Training using all motivation quadrants in a holistic and realistic way:

Gisela: "I can say with 100% certainty that ST will make you a better trainer. The level you reach will depend on your hard work and dedication, but even the basic levels will definitely benefit your horse training skills and therefore your horse’s overall happiness and understanding of your requests, as well as their physical balance and strength.

I joined the Mastery Program in 2014 and immediately immersed myself in the theoretical modules of the online program. I found these to be some of the most enlightening articles on horsemanship and the biomechanics of the horse's movement that I had ever come across. I finally (after many years of searching) had found an approach that, I felt, truly addressed both the physical and mental aspects of working with horses in such a way that they were not only educated but also benefitted on a number of levels from the training. I was so excited and completely sold on ST! Then, when I started with the practical training, my horses improved in strength and flexibility quite quickly and began to exhibit a softness and lightness which I found completely addictive. Fast forward another 1.5 years, and I am both enthralled and a little gobsmacked by the depth of this program. It's becoming increasingly clear to me that in order for me to reach ever higher with my horses, I have to up my game too. The mastery program, of course, challenges me on a physical and mental level, but equally so on an emotional and spiritual one and it's bringing about changes in my life. Love it!"

From a Sway-Back to a Full 17 Hands

Patsy Devine is a professional and a Mastery Student from South Africa, and has a Friesian 14 yo gelding, called Legolas.

Legolas survived a catastrophic injury, which severed most of the intercostals along his midline, and as time passed in his healing, he developed a spectacular sway-back, so they started on a journey of Straightness Training.

Thanks to Patsy's dedication to making a positive difference for her horse, Legolas is now moving far more engaged, lifting his back to a full 17 hands.

Patsy: "ST is as much a Human discipline as it is a Horse Discipline. I really, really, really am grateful to this program. The equestrian world would be a better place if every person strived even just to accomplish Grade 1 in the ST Academy. Anyone can do it....and I repeat my first comment: If you cannot do it, all the more reason you should."

This Program Has Helped Riders Just Like You

"After upgrading from the Home Study Course to the Mastery Class, my training skills and personal insights have flowered with the awareness that only a great teacher can invoke. As a trainer living in a rural, isolated environment it has opened up a global community to me and has my mature horses enjoying the rejuvenatory effect of new muscle power. "

Nadja Steil | Fouriesburg, Eastern Free State, South Africa

"A totally wonderful, most holistic system of training I have come across – The personal growth training section is so helpful - as how can I expect my horse to work with me - if I am not the best person I can be? The horse physiology and psychology theory has helped me more clearly understand why my horses react in certain situations. I have also discovered that I really enjoy that the ridden work is only a small part of the whole experience. In following the program, I know that I will end up with horses that are evenly balanced, light, responsive, AND the relationship between my horses and myself has never been better! Personally, I have become more patient and more willing to strive for tiny changes (including revisiting earlier lessons) that lead to a big improvement later on. I am also getting physically fitter too!! My horse/partner - Gitana has become much more relaxed and receptive, and even more beautiful, as her musculature evens out and develops. Awesome!"

Kat Herrington | Dargle Valley, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

"It's been one of the most amazing journeys of my life. And the greatest thing about ST is that you never get to the end of the journey! There's always something new to learn!"

Tracy Vosloo
Harare, Zimbabwe


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