July 2019 - Meet the “Cavaletti Lady”: Erika Jansson
Written by CRM
Monday, 01 July 2019 04:22
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Fun way to work and play for better horsemanship.

Erika Jansson’s Cavaletti Clinic helps the rider create a sport horse that is highly responsive, maneuverable, can rapidly and smoothly collect or extend the gaits, stop, turn, and remain balanced. Erika’s 45 minutes of instruction deliver results that other training doesn’t accomplish in years. Best known for her ability to achieve fast results with no pressure for the horse or the rider, she supplies her students (two & four legged) with volumes of empathy and encouragement.

The motto of the clinic is “all breeds, all disciplines, all levels.”

Dubbed the “Cavaletti Lady,” Erika brings 30-plus years of exceptional knowledge and career accomplishments from her native Sweden, as well as Germany, New Zealand, and California.

Erika Jansson

Her unsurpassed equine education took off with Team Eriksson’s 120 trot horses in training. This position was followed up by two years of Horse College in Skara, Sweden. The program included horse science, shoeing, nutrition and studies on breeds and bloodlines. She pursued jumping, eventing, dressage, and four-in-hand carriage driving.


While at the Flyinge National Stud, she studied eventing with Olympic medalist, Jan Jonsson. For show jumping, Erika trained under Peter Eriksson. She completed her dressage training under Bo Jena. She rode for Kyra Kyrklund and worked with her trainer, Richard White, as well. Erika went on to work for Gaye Withers, a top FEI trainer and rider, and the most prominent breeder of Hanoverians in New Zealand. Erika was responsible for starting her young stock and competing horses through Prix St. George.

After her time in New Zealand, Erika was the first ever Swedish auction rider at the Hanoverian Society in Verden, Germany. She rode 7-10 horses a day under the constant supervision of top trainers and held this position for almost three years.

In the US, The Equestrian Facility at Chalk Hill Winery in Northern California’s Healdsburg hired Erika as their dressage trainer and stable manager in 1997. For six years, Erika enjoyed opportunities to train with Steffen Peters and Debbie McDonald. She ventured out on her own as the owner of EJ Dressage when she went back to Sweden in 2003. While Erika loves Sweden, she was chased back to California by the terrible Swedish winters.

She resides in the Sonoma wine country with her husband and daughter. These FAQs explain more about the format, philosophy, and passion behind Erika’s clinics. 

Photo: Marcie Lewis

Q: How did the Cavaletti Clinic format develop?
Initially, I started offering Cavaletti Clinics to give my students’ horses as a specific joint, mental and strengthening workout. Cavaletti is a perfect supplement for arena work and is great for building the top line, strength, and coordination. Before I knew it, jumpers and eventers at the barn where I taught started inquiring about signing up. They, too, were accomplishing great results.
I discovered that in these clinics, we could create happiness, fun, and connection not only for riders but for horses as well. The safe, carefully considered, friendly environment of Cavaletti Clinics create a space where riders and horses enjoy the workout and have fun. 

Erika Jansson with her daughter.

Q: What would you say to someone considering the clinic?
Small groups with no more than four riders in a session give every participant a lot of personalized instruction and attention. If the horse gets worried, we back up. We start with three poles and always end on a good note. We might end up with 20 poles, but we always end on what your horse is proud of. A lot of times, people ride with friends in the group. It is another beautiful way to have a fun ride with their friends, which is not always easily achievable. Your friends might do 12 poles, but we customize everything for individual riders and horses in the group, so your horse might feel accomplished with four that day, and it’s great too. There is no wrong way. You can watch the video and learn more on ejdressage.com

Q: You’ve been doing Cavaletti Clinics in different countries for over 10 years. What attracted you most to these exercises?
My zen space is when I feel and communicate with the horse’s mind and body. The greatest passion and purpose in my professional life is teaching and helping riders accomplish that state of connection with their horse. With Cavaletti Clinics, I can help more people achieve their goals in riding and create more joy and fun while they are doing it. I love witnessing the confidence build in horse and rider. It gives me such happiness to teach feeling, timing, and connection. And it is not just the rider who is happy; the horse is happy, too. What can be accomplished between the horse and rider in the short time of cavaletti session is remarkable.

Erika Janson with Sabine Schut-Kery.

Q: What inspires you in your work and life?
My daughter. I see so much love, playfulness, and free spirit in her. Her spontaneity inspires me to have more levity with my horses when I start taking things a bit too seriously. I see so much of myself in her.

Q: What is the most courageous thing you have done in your life?
I was a 20-year-old who flew 32 hours to the bottom of the world to go work with horses in New Zealand. Graduating with honors got me airfare to anywhere in the world. I didn’t know a soul in New Zealand -- just the name of the place on a piece of paper. I was in love with my boyfriend, and I still went for my passion.

Q: What else would you consider sharing with our readers?
I strive to create a fun and trusting learning environment during every ride. There are times when my students try something out of their comfort zone because they are safe. They find the feeling of being one with the horse, and it is a truly fantastic experience for all of us. It is fun to connect. I am told that studying with me is fun. I certainly hope so. 

Q: Any final advice?
Go with your gut feeling. There might be something you have in mind, but the horse might communicate with you differently. Concentrate on gaining your horse’s trust and work on building connection and strength. Be in the present with your horse and give them a variety of opportunities to learn, and they will gift you their all and more.