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The Whole Horse Podcast with Alexa Linton

Nov 17, 2023

Welcome to season 7 everyone! I celebrated my 20th anniversary with my mare Diva earlier this month, and it fills me with gratitude to be continuously walking this journey of learning for the betterment of the horse, and to have all of you along for the ride. 

In this episode, I sat down with Karen Rohlf of Dressage Naturally to hear her perspective on the sport and discipline of dressage, which has attracted much scrutiny in recent times for its harsh and controlling treatment of horses. Karen walked me through some of her guiding principles, such as her Happy Athlete training scale, as well as her philosophy of making training choices based on conversations with the horse versus what she thinks the horse must or should do. This attitude was also reflected in her approach to training for correct biomechanics: good biomechanics feel good for the horse! It was refreshing to imagine what’s possible for this discipline if more people learn to value building a foundation of welfare, trust and communication over simply achieving something that makes the horse “look” good. 

Learning from Karen is like having your own personal cheerleader. Her sense of responsibility to the horse, as well as her open, nonjudgmental, and fair-minded nature allows you to go beyond the rigid rules of specific disciplines and get to the heart of your mental, emotional, and physical partnership with your horse.

Through her never-ending quest for personal self-improvement and her practice of authentic communication, she has become a powerful voice that helps guide riders to better partnership and results in harmony.

Even after all the decades of being a professional trainer, instructor, and competitor at the Grand Prix level, she still wakes up everyday feeling like a little girl in love with horses… And you can too.

Discover more of Karen's work at