Jan Symons: A Journey in Equestrian Excellence 

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The Maestro Across Breeds

In the world of horses, Jan Symons is a master. Starting in a Belgian stable overseeing 14 horses, his career expanded into both dressage and show jumping. Reflecting on this, Symons fondly recalls, “One day, I felt it was time to go somewhere else, 24 years ago, and since then, I’ve been independent.”

Breeding Beginnings: A Belgian Prelude

Symons began as a personal trainer in Belgium, overseeing 14 horses. His success led to victories, and he shares, “It was a crucial time in my career. The victories were not just about winning; they were about understanding each horse’s potential.” He emphasizes the connection formed during this period, saying, “It’s more than just training; it’s understanding the intricacies of each horse, building a relationship.”

Philosophy Unveiled: Enhancing Natural Movement 

Symons’ training philosophy focuses on elevating the natural movement of horses.  Rooted in biomechanics and avoiding forceful methods, he passionately states, “Improving the natural movement of the horse is paramount. It’s about embracing biomechanics, allowing the horse to express itself without unnecessary force.” His philosophy extends to the language between rider and horse, as he emphasizes, “Communication is not just about commands; it’s about understanding the horse’s language.”

Jumping into New Realms: A Paradigm Shift

Transitioning to show jumping was transformative for Symons. Inspired by riders like Philippe Lejeune, he learned about a horse’s energy during jumping: “The dynamics change when a horse jumps. Understanding this shift was crucial for me, and I started jumping myself to truly grasp the connection.” Symons, sharing his insights on the bond formed during jumping, says, “Jumping is a partnership; it’s a dialogue between rider and horse, understanding each other’s energy and rhythm.”

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Bridging Worlds: Dressage and Show Jumping Integration

Primarily a dressage specialist, Symons found success in uniting both disciplines: “I made a link between dressage and jumping, specializing in dressage that enhances jumping. It’s about finding a harmonious balance between the two.” Echoing the importance of harmony, he remarks, “The best results come when dressage and jumping work together seamlessly, creating a complete and versatile partnership.”

Work Methods in Detail: A Glimpse into Symons’ Training Routine

Symons details his training routine, emphasizing groundwork and biomechanics: “We start with basic dressage work, focusing on the natural movement. It’s about laying a foundation steeped in biomechanics and avoiding force, creating a language between rider and horse.” Discussing the progression, he adds, “Pole work and small jumps precede a full course or real jumping. This approach ensures the horse maintains balance, adapting naturally to both disciplines.”

Opinions on Changes in the Sport: A Deep Dive into Symons’ Perspective

Contemplating changes in equestrian sports, Symons grapples with the impact of time, money, and shifting mentalities: “In the evolving equestrian landscape, it’s a challenge. It’s too far. It’s the money that breaks everything down. It’s always that. The time and the money.” Delving deeper into his concerns, he stresses, “The soul of equestrianism gets lost in the pursuit of wealth. It’s a struggle to maintain tradition and the true spirit of our connection with horses amid the changing tides of time and monetary influence.”

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Emotional Challenges: The Trials of a Trainer

Acknowledging emotional challenges, especially when horses are sold or gratitude is lacking, Symons reflects: “The difficulty is when you get emotionally involved with your horses. One day you don’t see them anymore; they get sold, or you don’t get thanked for your work.” Sharing a heartfelt sentiment, he adds, “Horses become part of your life, and seeing them move on without acknowledgment is tough. It’s more than a job; it’s a personal investment.”

Symons’ Legacy in the Equestrian Arena

In the expansive realm of equestrian sports, Jan Symons leaves behind a legacy of tradition, integrity, and a profound connection to the horse. Reflecting on his journey, he encapsulates his philosophy: “For me, the first thing that comes first is the love of the horse and the respect for the horse and the respect for the basic work.”

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