♦ FAQ


♦ 1. What’s the purpose of the ST Evaluation Program?

To achieve “mastery” in Straightness Training, self evaluation is critical. Self evaluation is about knowing where you are and where you want to go. It gives you a pathway for making structured and consistent progress. The ST Evaluation Program is intended to help in your journey towards mastery in all five Training Pillars.

The ST Evaluation Program is NOT intended to be used to compare yourself to others or to compete with others. It’s about comparing yourself to a standard and your own progress. It’s about knowing where you are and what to do next. It’s about becoming a better version of yourself.

The structured ST Evaluation System is designed to evaluate and measure your level of skill and that of your horse. Through assessment of predefined exercises you can demonstrate your ability to perform the ST exercises that are outlined in ST Mastery. All requested exercises are presented in a script illustration video, so you know the exact format of the requested evaluations.

♦ 2. Who can submit videos in the ST Evaluation Program?

ST_Mastery_studentThe 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 basic Home Study Course 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 and ST Mastery in order to have full access to the complete encyclopedia and library ST, to set him/her up for success in all training components in all 5 grades in ST Evaluation.

So to be short: the ST Evaluation Program is only available for ST Mastery students. And if you want to become a Mastery student, just scroll down to the bottom of this FAQ page for more information on how to enroll.

♦ 3. Who will evaluate the videos?

A team of evaluators that are members of Marijke’s Straightness Training Instructor Network will evaluate your videos. These evaluators follow guidelines and instructions given by Marijke de Jong, and Marijke will monitor the results;

  • Grade 3 ST Instructors Elaine Coxon (UK), Zaneta Georgiades (South Africa), Carolin Moldenhaer (Germany), Roz Richmond (UK), Miriam Sherman (Germany),  Anouk Wienia (NL) and Kim Steutel (NL) are official ST Evaluators and they evaluate Touchstones at the level of grade 1.
  • Grade 3 ST Instructor Rebecca Gilbert is an official ST Evaluator and evaluates Touchstones on the level of grade 2.
  • Marijke will personally evaluate all Touchstones at the level of grade 3, 4 and 5.
  • Grade 2 ST Instructors Meg Brauch (USA), Wendy Poore (UK), and Marianne v/d Zande Lee (Brazil) are in the ST Evaluator Program and will get licensed as an official Groundwork Grade 1 ST Evaluator mid 2017.

EVALUATORS

From left to right: Rebecca Gilbert, Elaine Coxon, Roz Richmond, Marijke de Jong, Zaneta Georgiades, Carolin Moldenhauer, Miriam Sherman and Anouk Wienia..

ST-Evaluation-explained

♦ 4. I’m new ST Evaluation, where do I start?

You will start in Groundwork at Grade 1. So everybody’s first ST Evaluation ever will be Groundwork – Grade 1. This Touchstone will prepare you in a safe way 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.

♦ 5. I’m very advanced in ST, do I have to start in Grade 1?

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.

♦ 6. When I passed Groundwork – Grade 1, can I continue with Groundwork – Grade 2?

When you are ready with Groundwork – Grade 1 you can do a few things:

You can do an Evaluation for the next Grade in Groundwork and continue with Groundwork – Grade 2.

Or you can start in the next Training Pillar at Grade 1, Longeing – Grade 1.

You can also start with Work in hand – Grade 1. Or with Liberty – Grade 1.

You can choose your own path, however with a 1 star performance it’s a wise strategy 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 than you will be able to build a real ‘cathedral’ that can stand the test of times. When receiving a one star, most students are are happy and progress with the next challenge and Touchstone. But you will discover later on, that in order to reach to 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, than 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 your 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.

♦ 7. I don’t ride my horse, can I still send in videos for evaluation?

If you don’t ride, or have an unrideable horse, you can skip the Riding Touchstones.

♦ 8. Can I use different horses for different Touchstones?

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 components give to each other and to the specific horse within a certain grade.

♦ 9.Can I use a schooled horse for the Touchstones?

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 counter balance 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.

♦ 10. Can I use a rope halter / leather halter /  Bitless Bridle / Multibridle / …

It’s recommended that you to 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.

♦ 11. Do you have to have a proper arena to do this, or can it be improvised?

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.

You can also not use a round pen.

♦  12. Is it OK to film on ground that is not perfectly even?

Straightness training is all about balancing the horse, so if the ground is so uneven that it will bring the horse out of balance most of the time, it’s not a good idea.

♦ 13. Do I need a camera (wo)man?

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.

♦ 14. Can I submit more videos at a time?

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. If you submit more videos at  once i 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 habit.

♦ 15. When do I get feedback?

You can submit your evaluations every day of the month, but our feedback can be expected in the month following on themonth you were submitting your Touchstone. So it will be like this:

  • Submitted in January –> feedback in February
  • Submitted in February –> feedback in March
  • Submitted in March –> feedback in April
  • Submitted in April –> feedback in May
  • Submitted in May –> feedback in June
  • Submitted in June –> feedback in July
  • Submitted in July –> feedback in August
  • Submitted in August –> feedback in September
  • Submitted in September –> feedback in October
  • Submitted in October –> feedback in November
  • Submitted in November –> feedback in December
  • Submitted in December –> feedback in January

So for example, a touchstone submitted on May 1st and the one submitted on May 31 will be both evaluated in June by our team of evaluators, and feedback can be expected in the fourth week of each month.

IMPORTANT: you can submit independently from the email coaching: of course the email coaching suggests in a certain moment in time to submit Groundwork 1, and a few weeks later Longeing 1, but that is just a guideline. So you can submit at any time and you can submit at your own pace. Remember: you have 12 months time to submit your five free Touchstones, so you don’t have to submit them 5 months in a row, you can just wait for feedback on the first one and submit for example every other month.

♦ 16. How to perceive a Touchstone and how to deal with the feedback?

With the feedback it’s important to see the Touchstones as ‘lessons’, not as ‘tests’.

It’s the same with practical clinics and workshops: when Mastery students show up in a practical setting, it’s not a test either, we observe a sequence of exercises and the performance is never immediately perfect. So we start giving a lesson, we never say ‘hey, it’s okay, great work, bye‘. Then you won’t learn anything.

So both practical clinics as online evaluations are meant to widen, deepen, and broaden your skill.

And remember, most Mastery students  study completely 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 interpret things as you think they should be interpreted. And then the devil might be in the detail. For example look at golf: If you hit the ball 2 mm ‘wrong’ at the start it ends up 200 meter off track in the end!

So the evaluations are meant to help to refine your skills with 2 mm and to kill the devils that are in your details! This 2mm CANI is so important, because these tiny little devils might have a huge disempowering impact on your overall performance. So don’t worry if it’s not a pass, just celebrate all the important 2 mm you just found.

And remember: if the purpose of learning is to score well on a ‘test’, you’ve lost the real reason for learning!

The only thing that matters is constant and never-ending improvement. With that attitude you can master the fundamentals and build a solid foundation for your own unique, authentic masterpiece!

♦ 17. Can I have additional coaching?

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 evaluation and online lessons.

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. The Additional Online Coaching as an extension to the coaching you received by the Evaluation Program. This is how it works:

  • 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.
  • You cannot sent additional ‘free format’ videos to the ST Instructor, because it will complicate the additional online coaching process. It also would require more preparation time of the ST Instructor and make it unnecessary expensive.
  • The Additional Online Coaching can be used as input for your next Touchstone evaluation that you’d like to submit.
  • The Additional Online Coaching as an extension to the coaching you received by the Evaluation Program. You cannot use an unsubmitted Touchstone as basis for the additional online coaching in order to get a “promised pass” before you officially submit the Evaluation.

If you would like to receive this additional coaching 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.

TO BE EXPECTED:

At the end of 2016/beginning of 2017 this ST Evaluation Website will have an option to facilitate requests for Additional Coaching(reservations/payment).

♦ 18. How to deal with the 5 free Touchstones?

New Mastery students receive 5 free Touchstones when they start the Mastery program.  ST Mastery students are encouraged to submit 5 in the first 6 months, but the free touchstones are valid for their first 12 months in the program.

So if you are a Mastery student, we definitely recommend that you submit one video a month or every other month to get you started and to create momentum for you and your horse in the first year of your ST journey.

Remember: the 5 free evaluations are simply video lessons. It’s not that you have to be doing everything ‘correctly’ or ‘perfectly’ at all. In fact, the value is just getting feedback for where you are at this time. The learning is going to come from the ST Elevators instructions on how to make things better. So just send in a video of where you are and the evaluation will tell you where you need to go, how to stay on track and it helps you to avoid creating ‘bad’ habits.

So during the ‘free touchstones’ period, Mastery Students can submit up to 5 free Touchstones in 12 months – but of course you can also can send in more (and pay extra) to get more feedback.

After the ‘free touchstones’ period, Mastery students can continue with the ST Evaluation Program with payed Touchstones, but make sure to take advantage of the freebies while you can!

♦19. When my video has to be resubmit, do I lose my free Touchstone?

If an evaluation has to be redone and resubmitted, you have to use one of your other free Touchstones. Or if you have used them all, you have to pay an additional fee for every additional Touchstone.

♦ 20. How many stars is required to continue?

real-learningThe stars and ratings are there to access a particular skill and tell you how well you 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 it’s a wise strategy 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. 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 hightest possible ratings, stars and grades, but finding out where you can go and how to get there.
  • 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 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 than you will be able to build a real ‘cathedral’ that can stand the test of times. When receiving a one star, most students are are happy and progress with the next challenge and Touchstone. But you will discover later on, that in order to reach to 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, than 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 your 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.

♦ 21. How can I join the ST Evaluation Facebook Group?

Join the official Straightness Training (ST) Evaluation Facebook group for all members of ST Evaluation. In this exclusive group you can post and view video’s 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 preparing 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 support@straightnesstraining.com with your original name and your nick/company name, so we know it’s you.

♦ 22. Can I share my evaluations with other Mastery students?

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 in 2014, 2015 and 2016 (over 1250 Touchstones), and due to our development from the ‘pilot phase’ of the ST Evaluation system into ST Evaluation 2.0 (See FAQ ♦ 25) we made an appropriate selection in the Completed Touchstones library to better support Mastery Students in their preparation for a Touchstone.

♦ 23. Where can I find evaluations from my fellow Mastery Students?

The Evaluation Forms of Mastery Students who agreed to publication are published in the membership area of this website, in the section ‘Completed Touchstones’. Due to the enormous amount of submitted and passed Touchstones in 2014, 2015 and 2016 (over 1250 Touchstones), and due to our development from the ‘pilot phase’ of the ST Evaluation system into ST Evaluation 2.0 (See FAQ ♦ 25) we made an appropriate selection in the ‘Completed Touchstones’ library (so not all Completed Touchstones are visible) to better support Mastery Students in their preparation for a Touchstone.

♦ 25. Where can I find the ‘how to’ information?

st_mastery_program

The ST Mastery Program* gives you everything you need to progress in the ST Evaluation program. It 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 training. ST Mastery is the “Encyclopaedia of Straightness Training”. It consists of an extensive library of videos and documents, which covers every aspect and concept of Straightness Training. With this program you can prepare yourself for all 5 Grades in all 5 Training Pillars.

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 effort in ‘imitating’ exercises or ‘copying’ a certain style of execution of a Touchstone. We want students to search for and to work with the true essence of each exercise and 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 dive deeply into the ST Mastery Program, to train systematically (with trail and error) and to go through a learning curve with ups and downs whilst striving for constant and never ending improvement, in order to really create a personal style and skill set until the level of a true Master and authentic artist. On their personal path to Mastery, students can receive important feedback through submitting Touchstones and possibly Additional Touchstone Coaching and/or attending ST workshops.

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, because if the purpose of (online) learning is to score well on a test, we’ve lost the real reason for learning. Therefore the Evaluations should be perceived as lessons with invaluable information and feedback on how to improve and how to grow.

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. You can also watch the sequence videos in the ST Mastery portal – just type ‘sequence’ in the search box of portal to find these videos – and combined with the Completed Touchstones you’ll know what is to be expected in the Touchstones.

*If you are interested in the ST Mastery Program, just start with our FREE ST Mini Mastery course that consists of 4 in-dept training videos, so you’ll get an impression of what the ST Mastery Program is all about.

♦ 25. How does ST Evaluation 2.0. relate to the Pilot Phase?

We have been practising and gaining experience with the Evaluation program since 2014 and after over 1250 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 suits 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.

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.

On this ST Evaluation 2.0. website, that excists since 2016, you can watch a video about the 2.0. ‘Grade Overview’ and you can download the accompanying pdf where all Grades are explained according to the new modalities:

https://www.straightnesstrainingevaluation.com/about-st-evaluation/

The ST students who were pioneers in 2014 and 2015 and had the courage to start submitting Touchstones in the pilot phase of the ST Evaluation system didn’t have to deal with the crystallised, 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 sport disciplines the overall performance will increase the more people start to do it. So if more and more people start 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 has also 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 will 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.

♦ 26. How do I qualify for the ST Instructor Program?

  • ST_instructor_program-300x291To qualify for the admission to the International ST Instructor Program a 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 a ST Mastery student need to have passed all Touchstones of the Training Pillars groundwork, longing, work in hand, riding, and liberty at the second grade with a two star rating.
  • Marijke de Jong will personally invite candidates that 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.