3 March, 2016

In the meeting room behind the desk is a TV on the wall that plays his youtube  videos with breath taking film music. The freedom, communication and beauty displayed between him and the stallion in the field make our eyes tear. These are powerful scenes that moves ones soal. Then he comes, as we all waiting for -The master  of  Body Language Klaus Ferdinand  Hempfling, the famous horse trainer and life coach who a number of years ago became world famous with his revolutionary book  Dancing  with  Horses.


Text: Anneli Westlund

Foto: Klaus F Hempflings arkiv

This article and interview with Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling is also published in the magazine Hästfocus nr 3/2016 hastfocus-3-2016

With grey-blended hair and wearing a white t-shirt and black leather pants with braces, he takes the place at his desk and introduces himself to all participants. Excited people from many different countries are there.

People from Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Germany and as far away as New Zealand and Australia sit together in the newly renovated building, which had previously been a school here in Moborg in Jyllland, Denmark. Most are here just over the weekend to see what this master has to offer.

A local news program is also here to make a small tv story for the news and a full film crew from the United States to film a documentary film. It is his first seminar here at his newly purchased place that houses dormitories, kitchen, dining room, meeting room and on the outside a small stable, a picadero and a larger training track with sand and iron fences.

He explains that he is not really a horseman and if it had been possible he would not have been working with horses at all. He has no horses of his own anymore where he lives on his farm in another part of Denmark.

Klaus, who is German but for many years living in Denmark, lived a long time ago with wild horses in the Spanish Pyrenees. He has since been active for thirty years helping people with often very aggressive and dangerous stallions, who only after a few minutes meeting with Klaus, are totally transformed and do not want to leave his side.

“The horse you see here,” he says, pointing to the video on the TV screen. I only had him for a few months. This black stallion was only 1.47, a pony, but it was impossible to return him to the owner. He would have killed her.

“A lot of people come with problems,” he continues. Like this Icelandic horse who kicked the owner. She had fallen off and got 27 nails in her shoulder. Fortunately, she didn’t break her neck. Many are stallions and they are always a challenge. They always ask , “Are you ready? What kind of energy do you give me? Are you weak?” First of all, I let the horse express itself. What I really do is give the soul back to the horse and lead it to its destiny. It’s not training. You can’t train the horse.

Klaus tells us that we have well-born horses but often the stomach stands out but you can still see the ribs. At that time when you really worked with horses and depended on them, the horse was like a Rolls Roys. Very few people could afford them, and it was a full-time job.

-If you’re not rich, you can’t have a horse because you won’t be able to afford to take care of it properly. Klaus says he doesn’t understand how today you have time for more than one horse. He is totally against the modern horse keeping now to have them on free stall for the horses are fighting like hell. He thinks they should be both inside and out but in much larger stalls and less time than is the usual.

Many have horses in uneven numbers but that’s not good, he says, because they often create friendships two and two. When you take out a horse, it creates a lot of stress. You should only have them in small groups like four.

Wild horses live in small family groups. Movies like Cloud have nothing to do with reality, he explains. In reality, they do nothing, they just stand and don’t want to move that much. The quality of the hooves is terrible. The grass that horses eat like wild is completely different from what we offer and they need cereals like oats and straw for digestion. Sugar is poison, he stresses.


The Chestnut who didn´t let himself be groomed

Eventually we move outdoors to the small picadero which is a square with iron fence of about 11 x 11 meters. We’re going to see Klaus working with a horse. It is a perfectly normal horse, a large chestnut gelding of 13 years and the owner Lulu has trouble grooming the horse that bites and kicks.

The owner, an older woman, takes in the horse that looks stressed and she has some trouble leading it. She’ll let it loose. Immediately it starts to run around. Klaus stands on the outside and explains the situation to the participants.

“The horse is in a completely different world than the woman and the fact that she survives is just a coincidence,” he begins. A big horse like this with a weight of 600 kilos, a wrong movement… one wrong movement… the horse has nothing to do with the woman. No! She doesn’t exist. We have two creatures that exist in two completely different worlds.

Klaus asks the woman to stay in the middle and the spectators to remain calm and continue:

What we have here is definitely a normal situation. Think of these 600 kilos moving to the left and right and currently leading, creating the action. It’s all the horse. We can see that the horse does not pay attention to Lulu in the middle which is normality.

How is it possible to get the horse to listen to Lulu? We have to influence with mainly physical means which means grabbing the horse, holding on to the horse, risking the horse running over us, pulling us around… But here we have a horse that is a fleeing animal. Horses that are afraid of anything – flight animals. Do you think it would be a big deal for the horse if, when Lulu is standing there and the horse would like to jump right over her? he asks and turns to us who are watching. That would be… Nothing!

Klaus explains that Lulu is an experienced horse woman, an experienced rider. No beginner and that this is Lulu’s loose horse.

“I’ll try to explain slowly and step by step,” he continues. First of all, we have to announce the horse. The horse is abandoned, the horse is full of fear. It doesn’t feel at home, even if it’s with Lulu.

The horse wants to go to the other horses. The horse is not happy with the situation right now. And we have a situation that is obviously expected to be dangerous. Undoubtedly. Wherever Lulu is going to lead the horse, she will always risk her position, etc., he explains seriously. Lulu says she’s not afraid of the horse.

You should be,” Klaus said.

“I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t hurt me with meaning,” the woman continues.

“I absolutely agree with that, but the damage is there. It doesn’t matter if it’s meaning or not,” he says calmly.

The main problem Lulu has described to Klaus is that she can’t groom the horse because it’s nervous, aggressive and opposes grooming.

“I brush him, but he resists,” she explains. It’s not the biggest problem because I’m not behind him when I’m brushing but at his head, but even though I tie him up with two ropes, he threatens to bite my arm. As soon as I start brush, he tells me he doesn’t want to.

“So we have a real problem there,” Klaus says. One thing we have to think about is that the horse is essentially a flight animal and in situations of danger, it decides between two options. If it is in a large group of a herd that it is familiar with, they join forces, create a circle and fight against the wolf or whatever it is, or will flee. One of these options.

Horses by themselves, they do not struggle in this sense. They demonstrate, not only that you don’t exist, but that you are an obstacle in their life. So to say an expression towards you. Not only do you not be important except that you give some food, but also “I don’t want you”.

The other thing is, when we talk about twenty-five times more dangerous than driving a motorcycle, that a horse can’t warn more than this. The real accident begins with explanations that Lulu describes, because the horse does in reality just as if someone sits in front of me and annoys me and I say, “Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’T, DON’T DO IT”. Boom!

Because I don’t want you to do that! And in this plea of please STOP please, stop, please… suddenly it’s too much and we have the real, serious accident. Between what Lulu describes and the real accident, it’s just a matter of time. But the horse does not have any more signals to express: “Don’t do it, leave it, change something, do something different”.

Like a child soldier with a rifle

“The horse is in this world to make us adults, bring us against the knight”, Klaus continues seriously. If I look at you with authentic eyes, then I can perceive you all as children, because in the ancient world the younger ones must go through ceremonies to grow up. It is no longer in our society. So the horse sees you as a child with a whip in your hand, like a child soldier with a rifle.

He can leave you so far. He can put a lot of pressure on you of course and the child has power over the rifle and can make you do whatever the child wants you to do. But you still perceive this person as a child with the means of violence in his hands. That’s how the horse perceives you. What does it mean to be an adult? asks Klaus.

– Responsible. Also in front of the horse. We can see that this horse does not see Lulu as an adult. Lulu doesn’t exist. First we have to look at the horse’s face and check what kind of character we have here,” Klaus explains. What kind of horse we have in front of us. We can read the horse’s face like a book. Everything is written in the horse’s face and we have to see what kind of horse it is.

The ears are very remarkable and the nose and nostrils. The horse does not carry the ears straight up but a little bent to the left or right. They are long, meaty and spoony-like.  We should never characterize a horse because of details but of contact, “togetherness”, and read the characters. I don’t know the horse, but I’m going to describe it,” he continues painting. The horse is a relatively  high-ranking  horse. It is a horse that has a high level of self-esteem, self-assurance.

The horse has a tendency towards medium arrogance, aristocratic distance. He doesn’t like Lulu brushing him because you don’t brush a King without a clear permission. He doesn’t like physical contact that much. He has many feminine aspects in him, and you are also aristocratic,” Klaus says, turning to the owner. You’ve found that you match each other. You have a lot in common.

The horse is generally not afraid but relatively dominant. Lulu also has this dominance problem with him. It’s not a high-performance horse, not a high-performance dressage horse or so, just a mediocre performance horse but there’s something very important about the horse. It’s going up and down. The horse goes through periods when he is very lazy, he does not want because he can not.

And sometimes he performs quite highly and Lulu is surprised, but maybe the next day he doesn’t want to do it. This is very important to pay attention to working with the horse.

Lulu explains that he is sometimes lazy when he is without the other horses but is a good jumping horse with a lot of confidence. She’s had him for eight years. Klaus says that he believes that the horse had previously gone through a period where this was not noticed and was pushed across his borders.


Klaus´work in the Picadero

Klaus f Hempfling

Lulu leaves picaderon and Klaus goes in. When Klaus takes over, the horse almost immediately changes from nervously running around without having noted the man in the middle. Klaus stands at the far end, studies the horse and snaps his fingers. The horse pays attention to him directly and keeps its focus on Klaus.

When the horse moves a little, Klaus reflects the horse’s movements. Moves in the same way as the horse, stands still when it stops. The horse then moves in a calm walk to eventually stay completely. Klaus makes contact and then gives signs to the horse to move forward and immediately the horse offers trot on a circle. After a lap or something, Klaus pulls back and stops. The horse turns inwards and stays with him.

“I’m the leader. Now he’s starting to chew. I wanted to calm him down. So the horse is different, much calmer”. Klaus walks up and greets and caresses the horse.

-Look how he puts his head down. I observe every reaction from the horse. Chewing, is with me. I’ll do anything for you, not for myself. I don’t want anything. When I move, the horse moves. When I stay, he stops. When I longe, he longe.

Not that I want something from him, I’m just guiding to serve. Standing still, is not interested in the other horse. We’re on the same track. All we do now is communication. Now I can stand by him and he stays with me. Why not? Klaus caresses the chestnut over the cheak, brushes the horse and it stands calm and still.

– He doesn’t want to be touched – I touch him. Starting to brush. Little reaction, chews. I want him to think, what happened. I think we can all agree that the horse is more happy now. Klaus eventually disconnects the lead rope for a while and lets the horse follow him with loosely hanging line.

-It’s all done. Whatever we do with the horse, if there is any temptation: “But I would like to do this, would like to ride”… the contact will break and never return. Then you lose faith forever. The horse reacts to authentic communication, as a child. Now the horse is my horse and is looking for more and more closeness with me.

The other horses become more uninteresting. “You have to be aware of your body but it’s just authentic communication,” he said. Klaus refines the communication with free-longeing  and shows the horse on the track. He walks inside the middle of his own circle a little after the horse.

-I’ll take over his energy. Keeps the whip with my arm lowered at ninety degree angle. The horse is calm, I go very calm. A little further out to take the horse out a little more in the corner. All the moves I make, my chest to his withers… and see how steady the whip moves.

– Again, I realize he’s going to make a bigger curve. I go behind him to get him a little to the corner, stop and back up and give a very small signal to get the horse towards me and stay.

The horse turns him in and stops. Klaus walks up and caresses the horse that is very calm and does not feel to have any need to leave him.

– It’s not dressage, no training. Just be. The signal I give him to stay is so to speak that he turns into the stop and uses his hind legs. From both sides, that way, that way, that way and see how calm he gets from this exercise. Showing us immediately to wow, this is really relaxing. “This is my language and I understand this.”

He sends the horse back on to the track and starts smoothly longing with a smooth transition.

– I’m getting a little closer. The head is very low and this is very important at first. We should never force anything. The first thing the horse does now is raise his back, lower his head and relax, we have to be very careful about taking this gesture from the horse,” he explains.

– I control the speed and posture only through body language. See how he’s already using his inner hind leg differently. I’m picking up speed now.

Klaus moves faster on his own circle in the middle with a heavily bent knees and the horse goes from trot to canter. Almost immediately Klaus pulls back and stops. The horse turns in with the front and also stops.

-And even without any kind of training, you can adjust it, and when he pushes forward with his legs, you can see how much he uses, really pointing his hind legs, the inner hind leg gets closer and closer. The inner leg is placed and shapes the horse, shows the horse, more speed, less speed. It’s all from your energy center. You’re going with the horse, you’re galloping… Never by force.

We work as partners from the beginning and it is far from causing the horse any pain, and seeing how far from it is for this horse to imagine that I would cause him pain. This is an instrument of communication, he explains, gently stroking the horse with the whip over its back.

– Caress, remove flies… The horse grows every day, like a child, forces nothing. Every day new things. We start where we left off more or less, and next time we can put on a blanket, a saddle…

The horse shows all signs of relaxation and Klaus hands the horse over to the owner. She grabs the halter and the horse raises her head right away. Klaus asks her to use a gentle, slow movement and be sensitive so that the horse puts her head down instead of raising it.

Klaus explains that it’s a good sign. When she pulls the brush over the geldings spine, the horse reacts and Klaus says that you should never brush the spine because it immediately gives a reaction. Horses don’t like being groomed there, you should just make it soft with your hand.

He instructs Lulu that now she can start brush at home and start with the horse loose for a week. Suddenly the horse tries to bite Klaus who is closest to the head and he exclaims “no, no, if you do so he bites immediately”! He explains that it was actually she the horse wanted to bite.

That the horse is not a car without the fur having a clear structure and that she must always brush along the hair. She suddenly went against the direction of the hair and horses hates it. It is very sensitive due to the hairs are very thin, slide together and form a surface of protection and if you go against it, it becomes painful for the horse, Klaus describes.  He urges her to go strictly with his hair structure, especially with this horse because it wanted to immediately bite her.


Free longing in theory

Inside the theory hall we get a deeper explanation of the horse’s behavior and what it really is Klaus does when he longing  the horse freely in the picadero. This free longing made him knowned all over the world.

Horses always ask, do you lead or I? If you request the leadership of a horse without offering inner strength and show the horse that this is right and fair, then the horse continues to be the leader even if you have a rifle in your hand like the child. So the horse is genetically forced to fight, fight against you – always! I’m the leader, I’m the leader.

As in Lulu’s situation. The horse runs in front of Lulu which is simply the right decision of the horse for this horse is definitely much stronger from the inside to the outside than Lulu is. So the horse will always run in front of Lulu because it is a natural, genuine position of a creature. That’s why the horse’s running around.

He expects Lulu to run behind him and he has his head high because he thinks he has to take care of himself and not Lulu. So the horse has this genetic “Do you lead or I?” The band is absolute. The contact is what I call “The first parallelism”.

Klaus continues:

-What the horse does normally when you longe is that he moves with his head turned outwards. If it goes to the inside, the horse will use its inner hind leg. If I go like that, I have to use this muscle and I have to bend my neck down. I have to put my head down and use the inner leg, show Klaus and continue:

-I have the most positive gymnastics in comparison to lightness so if you are longing, every step you ask of the horses is energy, spiritual energy and the horse is shaped and ends up like these with well-developed muscles, he says, pointing to the picture on the tv screen.

-But people limit the horse and put an inner rein on it or on the saddle to force the horse, but what happens is that you use completely different muscles. He put his head down like this, he instructs.

-The muscles get tense, you get a tremendous tension. Then you use these muscles, the opposite muscles and you train these muscles. It will be completely the wrong image than to create the carrying muscles.

The horse uses the right muscles naturally first and foremost because it is healthy for him, but it does it just because he is dedicated to you. You can’t drag the horse’s head to the inside. If you don’t have the connection, the willingness to do it for you, you can’t achieve it!

Perfect position from the beginning. Within minutes of this exercise you can see change in the shape – how the back is lifted and how the horse starts using the inner hind leg to carry. Here you can see how the horse starts to move differently, here is the highest point, begins to balance. What happens in reality when longing, is that in the moment the horse tracks, we have two leading positions. This is the mare that moves forward,” he says, and show two wooden figures in the form of horses.


Klaus f Hempfling





Working according to two leadership positions

The mare moves completely differently from the stallion. She goes much more on the front end with her head down and presses, opens the way through the snow eg. The stallion does something else. He goes behind, leads from behind and always takes care of, so to speak other stallions who will steal the mares. And he always walks like this, always guides from here and communicates with the mare and guides in this way the pack.

But sometimes the stallion does the same in nature with selected young horses. The stallion trains this younger stallion to prepare him for the future job as the leader of the herd. So the stallion so to speak chasing the second stallion, always from behind, because the stallion wants the younger stallion to learn to use the hind legs. All kinds of communication is about the hind legs. When they fight, they stand on the hind legs, so we use the hind legs, raise our backs and use the ability of nature to use this kind of structure of hind legs.

So the stallion goes behind the young stallion and always encourages him to use the hind legs instead of walking on the front end, which is a fleeing position. When horses flee desperately, they use their front legs, their front legs and that’s the case when they ride the horse on the front and can’t stop it when they slow down. They get the feeling of falling.

That’s what’s done in nature. How do I do that? I can’t run behind the stallion because it’s much faster than me. What I do, “I remove you from the herd and then I stay in this position, behind you and with my whip and my body language, I encourage you to do the same as you would do in nature.” I can maybe do it even faster and better than the stallion because of the aids I have and the opportunity, so in reality what I do when I longe the horse freely, is nothing more than to “lead” the stallion. So in reality we have two different positions. The mare leads the horses from the front.

I take the position behind Lulu’s horse and he admits immediately and understands that this is the guy, the leader. I’m not fighting for it, I’m not questioning, I’ll take the position. It’s not dressage. And I can tell you that if you start forcing this, no matter how you do, you can never achieve it in reality. The horse will eventually give up of the obvious power you have and the pain you cause, but even if the horse is there with bloody muzzle, it fights inside because he knows he is the leader. Even though it suffers, he fights.

So we have either the normal leadership position in front of, or the leader position of the stallion. Something in between is nothing interesting. The position that Lulu had on the sidelines is just the position between the mare and the foal. You won’t find this normal in nature. If a low-ranked horse comes close to a high-ranking horse around food, they always fight and bite because they don’t want this.

In the herd you created, the structure of the hierarchy is not clear so they fight back. In nature, it’s never like this because it’s clear who’s the leader. That horse would never dare fight for it, but since you create so many problems, you think this kind of struggle is natural. No, it’s stress like hell for a horse!

That’s why the horse doesn’t gain weight. Even if you have a fat horse, the horse is thin because it just gets thick around his stomach, but not round. We create maximum horses that eat a lot, which is very bad. They seem to be fat, but it’s just the stomach that’s like that. Stress! It’s an art to keep a horse and a full-time job. And one thing is very important – you have to get rid of all illusions. Sentimental stuff. You need to observe what’s going on.

Klaus continues:

-That position, to walk next to it, in harmony you can only see between the mother and the foal. It’s the only option and if the foal does something disobedient, the mother starts biting the foal. This was the situation between Lulu and her gelding. He says to Lulu very clearly: “You’re definitely not the leader. Maybe you’re something like a foal.” It’s the weakest position you can have.

In that position, you must be strong enough to lead the horse. That’s why I always start before I longing the horse to lead it. But this is different. Then I can be very clear and I can see the horse’s consent, not because I force it. It does it voluntarily. Then I start taking the second position from here to there, in front to behind, I’m in practice never here,” he says, showing in the photo.

-I start to go from this position, Klaus continues descriptively, and I have the chance to get the horse immediately scinting, trotting, cantering. The horse is ready and it starts cantering in a nice way. But I’ll do it without anything.

If you start using the whip, just diminishing the horse and you always end up using the whip to keep the horse in the trot. You won’t have the real meaning of what riding is, that the horse does it himself. The opposite of what the majority think riding is.

So from this position I have the chance to shaping the horse, to stop the horse, bring it more to the inside, more to the outside. I can do everything from here in detail, in millimeters. Later I can follow if I go more to this position. This is a ninety degree angle from the croup and is more or less the position you always have to have, for years, because it takes time for you to understand at first, and for the horse to understand.


It’s not the whip that does it but body language and trust

Be careful never to get closer than ninety degree angle otherwise the horse will immediately go inward and it will immediately stop. Then you use the whip and everything is destroyed. The horse will not go out more and you can do whatever you want no matter what you have for experience in sending out the horse.

It doesn’t do it because everything you show, it is how he’s going to get in. Then you start having frequent contradictory signals. Your body says, “Come in.” The whip says, “Go out.” And the horse says, “Never in life”! The body language with the horse is like the finest computer language, like Chinese. You really need to understand your body.

Everything is preparation for riding, Klaus says.

-Now I can adapt the horse in a walk, trot, canter, stop, decrease, increase, from canter to walk with nothing. But never here, because if I stop the horse with something in front, always the horse will first go to the front legs, it slides out and finally down in the walk.

That’s what you achieve in riding when using the reins. I do something completely different because when I take down the horse from trotting, to the hind legs to the walk, the horse sits down, always achieves the collection of the horse that goes to the hind legs. Then the horse halts precisely and very relaxed. We dedicate everything to the hind legs.

In my videos you can see the next step. When I work with a stallion, you can see me walking by his chest and I have a whip in my hand upright and the stallion starts showing me half-step, reduces the trot. What happens in reality is that the horse has to understand that I can move from here to here without slowing down because I want to keep him in line. trotting to a walk or from trotting to halt.

In this situation, he must understand as I move forward, to stay in the trot and then my body keeps him in trot but reduces. Bring him to piaff, passage etc. without ever touching his mouth. This is unique. I don’t know anyone else in the world who does this with just body language. It’s completely different, based on real body language and trust. Without this trust, without the things you can see there, it is impossible. Because the horse wouldn’t connect with you, wouldn’t react to you. He would leave you.


Klaus f Hempfling


Without connection with the horse, it does not work

-If you don´t have the connection within at least 50-60 minutes with the horse, you have a big problem. Not only that you there after never will acheive it, but worse cause you will establish to not connect with the horse!

The horse will get used to you over time, friend with you, but connection has nothing to do with time. Connection has nothing to do with the horse liking you. The stallions I’ve worked with have no idea who I am and I mean nothing to the horse. It’s just protection. It has nothing to do with love.

If the next guy coming is stronger than I am, the horse switches to that guy.  It never ever has anything to do with sentimentality or attraction, or if you think you can have the horse as a substitute over anything in your life. The horse is happy with me because I protect it. Not because it likes me, but because I help the horse.

If you can’t offer it, the horse isn’t interested in you. The horse never recognizes you as a protector no matter how much food you give it if you are not strong on the inside. As soon as you’re strong, the horse changes. If I don’t go to the horses with clear and effective communication, I wouldn’t achieve what I achieve. I don’t expect anything, I just go there and do what needs to be done. No illusion. It’s just life!

In this seminar Klaus has worked with three different horses in picaderon  and in the larger, served the theory of our ancestors, the knights, the path of fate and practical training in  bodywork. There were no aggressive, dangerous stallions, but ordinary horses, common problems that he worked on.

We saw nothing spectacular but those who met Klaus for the first time and who came to see what he had to offer, got a brief insight into the magic that this man achieved with so many horses through his free longing, that he can be the most important horseman in the world of our time.

Klaus f Hempfling
Klaus F Hempfling






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