Who is Nelly Abbenes?

From an early age, Nelly has been fascinated by images of baroque horses, flowing manes, circus horses and the Spanish Riding School. Early on in her career as a leisure rider she met a horse that showed perfect balance. This feeling hasn't left me since. I started a quest for the Holy Grail of riding: Balance and Lightness.

After a start in basic sports and regular dressage training she travelled to Southern Germany where she worked with the disabled. She learned to trust the sensibility of the horses used in therapy. Here she bought the horse Max with whom she achieved the Prix Saint Georges level in dressage.

Next, Nelly moved to France where she worked with a herd of Arabians living in the wild. She had to open up to the body language of the herd. At the same time Josette Fabre trained Nelly and Max according to the French Classical school. Josette also initiated her into circus training.

Back in the Netherlands Nelly owned a riding school for some time and followed classes by Henk van Bergen.

Next she worked as a stable manager for one year with Bent Branderup in Hamburg, where she also lived with my horses. She met Richard Hinnrichs here with whom she later worked for several days in Portugal.

She left Hamburg for Vienna with a horse and a pony. Arthur Kottas of the Spanish Riding School educated her for two months in long reins. With this experience Nelly and the horses travelled through Europe for a year to experience what it is that different schools in Europe have to offer. They visited Lusitano studs, bullfighters, Luis Valenca and the schools of Spain and Lissabon. Even Natural Horsemanship was included in their tour.

Presently, Nelly teaches through clinics and private training all over Europe. Her method is based on French classical riding and on her own experiences with the latter work of the Frenchman Baucher. A recurring theme in her classes is balance based on a natural posture and logic to minimize and eventually remove aids from the rider. The idea is to give the horse freedom within clear boundaries.

Nelly looks at the training from many different angles varying from the condition of the horse, the saddle, the position of the rider and the physical possibility of the horse to yield to the rider. Therefore her work is more than just dressage training. It is a whole as a sum of all parts. Therefore Nelly regards herself as as a holistic instructor.