My Journey to Mastery
Hi, my name is Jenku Dietrichsen and I am the founder of Jenku Mastery - School of Horsemanship. I am a professional horse trainer and coach with three decades of experience in the industry. I’m based in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa - But do travel around the globe, by appointment.
I was born a horse fanatic. My life’s ambition has always been to understand and communicate with horses.
It all started when my Dad lifted me onto this donkey way back in 1978. The donkey threw me off into a barbed wire fence moments after the picture below was taken. And I was hooked for life!
In 1990 my career with horses started in all earnest when I joined the Mounted Police unit for the South African Police Services (SAPS). After finishing the basic training program I went on to complete a three year Farrier’s apprenticeship specialising in hot shoeing. After qualifying I served in a mounted police unit in the Gauteng Province.
From 1990 to 1993 I was a member of the Roman Riding display team traveling throughout South Africa entertaining the crowds at equestrian shows and events.
In 1994 I went on to pursue my childhood dream and become a full time horse trainer. I made a business of starting and backing young horses, as well as retraining problem horses. Spending long days all on my own with the horses and no longer having an instructor telling me what to do, the horses became my teachers.
My belief that “there must be a better way” was what kept me searching. Reading everything I could lay my hands on and working with the feedback I got from the horses, I was constantly adapting and improving my methods.
10 000 Hours of Experience
In 1998 I had about 10 000 hours of experience trying lots of different methods and reading lots of books and articles from all around the world. It was all about learning about the Box - the size of it, as well as its limitations.
iCAN Never Give Up!
What makes my story even more remarkable is that I suffered a horse riding accident in the Southern Drakensberg in 1998, where I fractured my lowest back vertebrae in two places. Doctors said that I would never be able to ride again. Focusing on my lifelong dream to communicate with horses, sheer determination and months of physiotherapy made me strong enough to walk and move normally again.
iCAN Reinvent Myself
It was during this time I started looking for alternative training methods that would be less forceful and more mindful of the horse’s nature that I stumbled upon positive reinforcement training.
It wasn’t until 2000 when I started riding again. An article in Country Life magazine gave me some valuable exposure and soon afterwards we moved from Underberg in Natal to Gauteng with the intention to teach my methods. It was very difficult (initially) to persuade conventionally trained riders to think differently.
In 2005 I was approached by the SA Lipizzaner’s to train horses for the Cinderella Pantomime that was produced for the Nelson Mandela Civic Theatre. The show was a great success with eighty performances in total.
iCAN Fail Forward
From 2006 to 2009 I was involved with the planning and development of Running-Free Natural Horsemanship Awareness Centre in Kyalami, Johannesburg. Unfortunately the owner decided to immigrate back to America and Running-Free was put on the market. These were dark times for me. Determined not to give up, I started School of Horsemanship right in the middle of the recession. And the most beautiful thing happened - All my old clients were more than happy to have me back.
20 000 Hours of Experience
In 2009 I had about 20 000 hours of experience. The first 10 000 hours was learning and thinking how to do things conventionally. The second 10 000 hours was about learning to think outside the box - Problem solve and overcoming self-limiting belief.
iCAN Remove Mental Blocks
In 2010 I met Morten Thomsen, a Grand Prix rider and instructor from Denmark. He taught me that dressage is just a beautiful French word for training. He said I must remove the mental block that I have between Natural horsemanship and Dressage and just think of training simple behaviours before I train the complex ones. I really took what I have learned from Morten to heart and with this new focus started training more deliberately with ultimate collection in mind.
iCAN Build Long Term Relationships
In 2013 I met Amy Stovold, a Grand Prix Dressage rider and instructor from Great Britain. She taught me that training a Dressage horse to Grand Prix is like an ultra marathon and not just a whole lot of short sprints just before shows.
I have been coaching piaffe & passage clinics in the UK 5 - 6 times annually since 2014. I am now also coaching in Switzerland and France on a regular basis.
30 000 Hours of Experience
I now have about 30 000 hours of experience. I’m thinking so far outside the box that I might as well throw it away.
Together We Can
You have to fall in love with the process. To me it is not just about what I teach, but also about what I learn from my interactions with my students and their horses.
Together we are taking training to a whole new level of learning and understanding.
Unique Training for Better Results!
Clicker trained horses that have performed well in shows since 2009:
Rio Grande owned by Wilma Cruise and ridden by Rainer Korber came second in the 'Complete Horse' at the 2009 Derby.
Tin Tin ridden by Dominey Alexander came first in 'Complete Horse' at 2010 Avis Derby. Note Sabine kneeling between Tin Tin’s front legs.
Ciroc owned by Sue Cullen and shown by Jenku won the Stallion in hand class at Horse of the Year 2011.
Jenku manages to combine his gift of a “Horse Whisperer” with his sound knowledge of the classical art of dressage, to produce a calm and happy performance horse. Debby Canny, owner of Saratoga Braveheart, winner of the Champion ridden Warmblood Horse of the Year 2013.
Rio is also the horse jumping over the back of the custom Harley Davidson with Wilma riding on the bike and John enjoying the show.